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.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

4 sports shows to watch in this time of lockdown

4 sports shows to watch in this time of lockdown
By Rick Olivares

With Covid-19 putting sporting events around the world to stop, the action – at least online – hasn’t stopped heating up.

Here are four worthwhile and hilarious sports shows, documentaries, or even videos to watch in this time of covid-19.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup Film (YouTube)
This was previously only available on Amazon Prime, but on March 21, FIFA uploaded this onto YouTube. This 80-minute film – expertly narrated by British actor Damian Lewis – takes you back to the FIFA World Cup in Russia from two years back.

What I have loved about the FIFA World Cup films since I began watching them over a decade ago is they use footage from their own cameras and not the television cameras on hand. So what you get a more intimate, close up, and behind-the-scenes shots using high definition cameras. You miss out on the expansive shots of the goals such as France’s Benjamin Pavard’s wicked rifle of a shot that was one of the tournament’s best.  But having said that, there are other venues to watch those.

The FIFA films are minimalist in its script writing. Lewis keeps an even keep and very coolly describes the action. And for the most part, he allows the footage to say it all. The footage is a joy to watch.

Lewis, who came to international fame for his role in the HBO series Band of Brothers has been in demand for documentary narration. You might want to view his documentaries such as Hang Tough, that tells of the monument to Dick Winters, who the former portrayed in Band of Brothers, as a statue of his is unveiled in Normandy, France, and Keep On Running: 50 Years of Island Records. 

F1 Drive to Survive Season 2 (Netflix)
As a fan of Formula 1 racing, this series (including Season One) is a Godsend. It brings to life the competition as it tells all the intoxicating subplots of the various drivers, managers, and teams and their owners of an entire racing season in 10 episodes (for each season). I’ve watched F1 from the stands in Singapore and that’s from a distance. This brings you up close and you understand a lot more. 

Season 2 finds Mercedes and Ferrari finally allowing the Netflix cameras inside their headquarters, paddocks, and more (they must have seen the effect on the other teams in Season One). To finally have the world’s best driver in Lewis Hamilton and Sebastien Vettel in the spotlight is a huge treat for race fans. 

Even behind the scenes, nothing slows down in F1 Drive to Survive.

The English Game (Netflix)
This six-part series tells the story of Scottish footballer Fergus Suter who moves to England. Created by Downton Abbey’s Julian Fellowes, he mixes reality with plots perhaps created to push the story forward and make it more interesting. While I am not particularly crazy about these, I understand. Otherwise, it would have been a little boring because not everyone’s life is eventful. 

So take it like you did with Escape to Victory (that 1980s football film starring Sylvester Stallone, Max Von Sydow, Michael Caine, and Pele as well as professional footballers Bobby Moore, Osvaldo Ardilles, Mike Summerbee, Werner Roth, and others. It’s set in a real time, but kind of fictional.  

Icarus (Netflix)
One of the most powerful sports films ever. This film helped bring about the suspension of Russian athletes for their doping program. How Russia was able to participate in the last Olympics – short-handed though – I have no idea. It is sad to see the world’s sports authorities bow down to Russia (and they even haven’t touched China yet). 

But cyclist and filmmaker Bryan Fogel starts out what seems to be cycling’s version of Super-Size me when he becomes friends with Russian Grigory Rodchenkov who is the director of Moscow’s anti-doping center. Rodchenkov teaches him all the tricks of doping which is a surprise. But even more telling is that he goes on record to say that many Russian athletes cheat. After the World Anti-Doping Association comes out with a report on state-sponsored cheating, Rodchenkov departs for the USA where all of a sudden, his simple project with Fogel becomes a gold mine investigative reporting. 

You simply cannot make up these things. It’s riveting. 

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