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.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bleachers' Brew #278 What's my age again?

This appears in the Monday September 26, 2011 edition of the Business Mirror.

What’s my age again?
by rick olivares

Anyone watch that movie “Space Cowboys” that starred Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, and James Garner? In that 2000 film that was directed and produced by Eastwood, the four play the role of former astronauts (read senior citizens) who are sent into outer space on one final mission to repair an old Soviet satellite.

That might be only a Hollywood film but it does make a case that being older doesn’t necessarily mean “broken down.”

Larry Merchant
After the controversial ending to the Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz fight, boxing analyst Larry Merchant cornered the new WBC champ to ask about that sucker one-two punch that Mayweather delivered. Mayweather was evasive and when Merchant pressed for answers, he tore into him. "I'm going to do you a favor and let you talk to Victor Ortiz," snarled Mayweather. "You never gave me a fair shake. HBO needs to fire you. You don't know s--- about boxing. You ain't s---."

Snapped back Merchant: “I wish I was 50 years younger and I’d kick your ass!”

Some quarters have taken shots at Merchant for trying to steal the show and being unprofessional with his riposte. I disagree. I think there was nothing wrong with the line of questioning that Mayweather clearly tried to dodge. When pressed once more, that’s when he snapped. Had Merchant not shot back then everyone’d get on Mayweather. Just like how he was crucified for his shocking lack of respect for his father in an episode of HBO 24/7.

The hit, while legal, was shockingly done without any class or semblance of sportsmanship regardless whether Ortiz headbutted him or not. Two wrongs do not make a right. Maybe, Merchant was out of line, but he did stand up for the older generation.

Maybe if Merchant were 50 years younger he could kick Mayweather’s ass. Maybe not even. But then again, who knows? Unless another sucker punch is thrown.

Mariano Rivera
For years, the New York Yankees’ closer Mariano Rivera has been proclaimed the best closer of all time despite Trevor Hoffman, the great San Diego Padres relief pitcher having the most number of wins with 601. The praise heaped on Rivera was because of his five World Series rings and numerous playoff wins and saves to go with his regular season totals.

Last week, he finally passed Hoffman and claimed the record for his own (where it currently stands at #603). Rivera, who will turn 42 on November 29 and match the number on his jersey, is in fine form and has helped New York to its 16th post-season berth in the last 17 years and its 17th American League East Division title. What also makes his achievements more spectacular aside from having one devastating pitch in the cutter is how he has accomplished all of them wearing only one uniform. That of the New York Yankees.

The Yankees currently have a 96-61 record and with five matches left on their schedule, can match or even surpass the Philadelphia Phillies (98-60) for the best record in baseball. But the Bronx Bombers are not out for records (despite this being a record breaking season for Derek Jeter and Rivera). The common consensus when you play in pinstripes is that the World Series trophy is all that matters. And the opportunity for title #28.

Should New York win it all, there’s a possibility that this could be Rivera’s last. He did say that every spring, it is harder and harder to leave his young children behind. Should he pitch for one more year then that might not be such a bad thing at all, because Rivera, ages like win. He just gets better and better all the time.

Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney? Seriously? The bloke is but a few weeks shy of his 26th birthday.

Before Manchester United drew 1-1 with Stoke City this past weekend, the Red Devils won their fist five matches of the new English Premier League season with Rooney having scored nine goals.

United’s top striker, who turns 26 this coming October 24, has been bothered by his baldness at a relatively young age. He sought the help of a London clinic whose procedure was to plant hair follicles in the bald areas. "I was going bald at 25 why not. I'm delighted with the result.”

That delight has manifested itself in the striker tearing up the competition. And Rooney attributed his success to his £30,526 hair transplant and his barber’s sharpishness. According to the (UK) Daily Mirror, Rooney believes that "Daniel J. (his barber) always keeps me looking sharp. And when I look sharp, I feel sharp. I don't know what it is but it's like his haircuts have magical powers because every time he gives me a trim I seem to go and score."

Matt Hughes
I’ve been a fan of Matt Hughes (45-8) for as long as I have been a fan of Mixed Martial Arts. Up against Josh Koscheck in UFC 135, Hughes, at 37 years of age and fighting in his last match of his UFC contract, was knocked out by Josh Koscheck with time running down in the first round.

Hughes is one of the all-time greats at the welterweight division along with Georges St. Pierre. It was a painful loss but it is clear that he is in the twilight of his career.

Not sure if he should have called it a career earlier after that loss to BJ Penn in UFC 123.

After watching Hughes get kayoed by the unpopular Koscheck, I thought of “the old Perfessor” – the late New York Yankees manager Casey Stengel who after losing the 1960 World Series to Pittsburgh on Bill Mazeroski’s series clinching home run quipped: "I'll never make the mistake of being 70 again.”

I guess, Hughes will not make the mistake of getting back in that ring at 37 again.

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