Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

My Clockwork Oranje


I remember when the 1981 World Series was sponsored by Traders Royal Bank and it was shown live in the Philippines. But whatever excitement I had with regards to seeing the New York Yankees play soon gave to horror as they gave up a 2-0 lead and lost the last four to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The entire series was replayed endlessly on television much to my chagrin.

I would watch the Olympics when it was on. Not really caring for what sport there was. It could have been gymnastics or ice skating and I would watch it still. It was hard being a football fan at this time because for one there weren't any matches shown locally outside the World Cup. Even for that I would more often than not miss it because it was either early in the morning (I had to be in school) or late at night (I had to be in bed).

By the mid-80's the North American Soccer League had folded and there was no cause in rooting for the New York Cosmos. Pele had retired and since there were no magazines or internet back then, I didn't know whom to follow. Obviously, I wasn't a die-hard Liverpool fan back then.

One of my dad's Canadian friends one time brought with him a newspaper that featured a team that seemed to be winning everything in sight. It was AC Milan with their great attacking side of Marco Van Basten, Frank Rijkaard (who actually played midfield), and Ruud Gullit. And to see pictures (because there was no footage shown domestically then) of Gullit and Rijkaard with their dreadlocks flowing in the air was quite a sight.


Would you believe they had a young defender by the name of Paolo Maldini then? That seems an awful long time ago.

It was also the three Dutchmen who helped the Netherlands win its only major title so far, Euro 88.

In my own sports world then, all I knew was the NBA, the Denver Broncos, and the New York Islanders. I had sort of lost touch with the Yankees occasionally catching news about Donnie Baseball and Dave Winfield waging yearly wars for the batting crown.

I think I was more fascinated by Holland rather than AC Milan. Of three men of African-descent leading the Clockwork Oranje side to one victory after another. I guess, that's why later on I also rooted for Ajax Amsterdam when they had Patrick Kluivert as their striker. Ironically, Kluivert would also follow in his countrymen's footsteps and join AC Milan (where he sucked). He never recovered from his form when he was with Ajax and Barcelona where he was at his most productive.

It's funny that I remembered them now some 30 years after Euro 88. Yes, it's going to be Euro 08 in a few months right about the time of the Beijing Olympics.

But in those years when the Philippines was a wasteland of no football news, Van Basten, Gullit, and Rijkaard kept the fires burning.

And these three great players are still involved with football: Gullit is the coach of the LA Galaxy, Rijkaard with FC Barcelona, and Van Basten the coach of the Dutch national side.


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