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, December 29, 2015

The Ninth Annual Brewskies (or Dubious Achievements in sports for 2015)

This appears in the Monday, January 4, 2015 edition of the Business Mirror.

The Ninth Annual Brewskies
by rick olivares 

By year’s end, Bleachers Brew hands out awards to the news and controversy makers. Here are the winners for 2015.

The Latrell Sprewell Award goes to Jonathan Papelbon. The Washington Nationals’ closer got upset at teammate Bryce Harper after he popped out during a match against the Philadelphia Phillies. The two got into an argument in the Nats’ dugout with the tempestuous Papelbon choking his teammate before they got separated.

Knockout of the Year Award goes to Sepp Blatter. The longtime president of FIFA thought that he could get away scot free with all his shenanigans in world football. The funny thing is he accused Mohamad Bin Hamman, one of his erstwhile colleagues, of corruption in the Asian Football Confederation. But only a fool would believe that Blatter was clean as other long time colleagues of his such as Chuck Blazer and Jack Warner of CONCACAF and Juan Angel Napout of CONMEBOL to name a few were all arrested on corruption charges. Following the arrest of senior FIFA officials in Switzerland last May, the dominoes fell culminating in an eight-year ban for Blatter that will forever  tarnish whatever great legacy he thought he’d leave the game. 

Letdown of the Year Award goes to the Mayweather-Pacquiao bout. This is also a candidate for Heist of the Year as the fight of the century certainly it wasn’t. Floyd Mayweather Jr. jabbed and danced his way to victory sending Manny Pacquiao to another loss. Whether rightly or wrongly, Mayweather ended the year and his career with a 49-0 record tying the unbeaten record of the late Rocky Marciano. Pacquiao? He went from being one of the best of all time to a fighter who stayed longer than he should have taking his third loss in his last six outings.

It didn’t help that the post-fight talk centered on Pacquiao injuring his shoulder before the bout and Mayweather taking an illegal IV the day before he stepped into the ring. 

The John McEnroe Award for Congeniality goes to Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios. During a match against Swiss tennis player Stan Wawrinka during the Rogers Cup at Montreal, Canada, Kyrgios made a lewd in-match comment about his opponent's girlfriend that was caught on camera (although Wawrinka initially missed hearing it until after the match). Kyrgios later apologized but Wawrinka and the ATP weren’t amused. Wawrinka confronted Kyrgios in the locker room although what happened there stayed there. The ATP fined the Aussie $10,000. 

The Feud of the Year Award is a tie between Tom Brady and the NFL and Bill Simmons and ESPN. After Deflategate where the NFL fined and suspended Brady for four matches for allegedly playing a role in deflating footballs in a match against the New York Jets, the New England Patriots Quarterback appealed and won. Furthermore, Brady’s Patriots have continued to win while Goodell’s NFL was battered in the public eye.

As for the latter, ESPN didn’t renew Simmons’ contract after it ran out. There are numerous theories why Simmons, who went from a mere blogger to a hotly-pursued sports pundit who put up the pop culture microsite Grantland on ESPN, was let go. One theory is Simmons’ projects weren’t doing too well financially and they ultimately didn’t justify costs and salaries; and second, he appeared on the Dan Patrick Show (a Sports Illustrated property that is a ESPN rival) where he lambasted the NFL’s Roger Goodell). During his time with ESPN, Simmons was suspended three times for taking shots at his own employer. Now with HBO, Simmons still cannot get over it and continues to take shots at his former employer.

MMA Fight of the Year Award goes to the Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters and the Talk ’N Text Tropang Texters. Both teams played a highly physical and contentious Commissioner’s Cup Finals during the PBA’s 40th season. At one point, RoS gunner Paul Lee lost a tooth after taking a nasty elbow from TNT import Ivan Johnson. Johnson even bumped Elasto Painters coach Yeng Guiao sending him to the bench that nearly caused a fracas between the two squads. The series was marked by its roughhousing more than its play.

The Dysfunctional Award goes to the Philippine Volleyball Scene. With the recent success and ascension to the spotlight of volleyball, different factions arose to seek the leadership of the growing sports. There was the incumbent PVF, the new LVP, and the warfare between the longtime volleyball organizer V-League and the Philippine Super Liga. The row reached the Asian Volleyball Confederation and when the dust settled the LVP remained standing yet was wracked by infighting as well. 

The Loose Lips Award is a tie between Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls and James Harden of the Houston Rockets. Rose, despite missing a large chunk of games the past few years sounded off about testing the free agency waters with the current season not yet even played. While his play on the court has been sterling his quotes have not. And he came off as someone without any sense of gratitude considering the Bulls stayed with him and surrounded him with good players. Harden on the other hand felt that he should have been NBA MVP last season and not Steph Curry. While the NBA Players Association gave him the nod as MVP over Curry, he should just leave his talking on the court as his Rockets have been underachievers.

The Last Word Award goes to Steph Curry. The 6’3” son of former Charlotte Hornets guard Dell Curry wasn’t recruited by the big schools, was rated poorly in a pre-NBA Draft scouting report, and was deemed too injury prone to make a name for himself in the Association. Well, Curry has turned himself not only into a better player but was named league MVP last year. He also led the Golden State Warriors to a six-game victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. Curry has won almost every major award in pro basketball the past year and so while his Warriors are looking good to repeat as champs.

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