We like our sports to come down to its basic and logical conclusion… that there are amazing winners and there are hard-luck losers. It’s defined in part by stats, performance, human achievement, and to a certain (maybe even lesser extent)… the judges’ decision. But it’s not a perfect world the way Nadia Comaneci was in Montreal, the Miami Dolphins were in 1972, or Michael Jordan’s shooting form and follow through against the Utah Jazz in 1998.
We would be in the realm of perfect if His Airness never went on his baseball sabbatical and instead led the Chicago Bulls to eight straight NBA titles; Luis Gonzalez never hit that bloop single into shallow center field that would have allowed the New York Yankees a dramatic win in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series; and Ateneo De Manila’s JC Intal’s bank shot in the fateful final seconds of regulation of the 2006 UAAP Finals went in.
But that’s not just the beauty of sports. There are every bit as much agonizing and Homeric stories where even failed campaigns remain etched in every fiber of our being, history, and culture. And there are boners, eyebrow-raisers, or head-shaking incidents that tell us that the apocalypse is upon us…
- Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White wasn’t planning on renewing the contract of Tito Ortiz, the Bad Boy from Huntington Beach. Showing behavior uncharacteristic for a top sports league’s president, White offered no good words for Ortiz and ended his tirade by calling him “a gorilla.” But after an unpopular draw with Rashad Evans in the main card of the recently-concluded UFC 73: Stacked, and all the trash talking that ensued in the post-fight press conference between them, White saw visions of dollars and top-Nielsen ratings flash before his eyes. So he did the next best thing – he declared that return match is good to go and he’s renewing Ortiz’ contract. Hey, it’s a business.
- FIFA is financing the new headquarters of the Philippine Football Federation. It’s located at the corner of Danny Floro and Javier Streets in Pasig City. That’s right in the heart of motel alley and a literal stone’s throw away from Victoria Court. That’s great -- football on one side and footsie on the other.
- After mercilessly booing Barry Bonds in every major league city (save for San Francisco) for the better part of the past several seasons due to suspicion of taking performance-enhancing steroids, baseball fans all across America voted him to the National League All-Star team.
- After weeks of denying that there were any irregularities with Jojo Duncil’s birth certificate, UST finally admitted that there were two authentic documents in the hands of the UAAP but with different birthdates. Although Duncil was of legitimate age last year, the UAAP Board said that they would only recognize the first birth certificate that was submitted that would have placed him over the playing age limit for Season 70. To avoid any further complications, Duncil “decided” to turn pro. And to think that UST is this year’s host in the UAAP and their theme for the season is “Recreating the value of honesty through sports.”
- In 1996, Real Madrid hired Fabio Capello to manage the famous football club. They won the Spanish La Liga that year but let Capello go at the season’s end because they felt that he wasn’t a fit. They brought him back for the 2006-07 campaign where Los Blancos won their 30th league title. Top management fired him again barely two weeks after because management felt he wasn’t the man to take them into a new era of sustained success.
- After declaring himself a Gunner for life last season, Thierry Henry left Arsenal for FC Barcelona. To justify his move, Henry pointed to the resignation of David Dein from Highbury’s top management and the alleged non-renewal of manager Arsene Wenger’s contract as huge reasons for his leaving. Henry must have paid attention to the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant who said similar things a few years ago.
- Self-promotion is not something new in sports. For all the clichés of “there’s no ‘I’ in team” and yadda yadda yadda, humility in the modern athlete is definitely out of the window. Remember when Purefoods Hotdogs’ forward-center Kirby Raymundo said that he deserved to win Conference Most Valuable Player Award over former teammate Enrico Villanueva of Red Bull? Well, Talk N Text’s Mac Cardona reprised that and said, “I think I am deserving of the award. I played well in the eliminations and in the finals.” So much for thanking mom, dad, and his parents (do you remember which PBA player said that gaffe?).
- Motormouth Gary Sheffield is in the right place… with Major League Baseball’s Detroit Tigers. The slugger, in an interview with HBO’s Andrea Kremer last Saturday, said that his former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre didn’t treat black players well and that he singled them out during team meetings. White players, on the other hand, were called into his office. When asked if Torre was a racist, after a long tirade, Sheffield concluded that he didn’t believe the Yankees’ skipper was one.
- The landmark Manila Zoo is reportedly going to be torn down to give way for the construction of the Philippine Basketball Association’s permanent arena. Quite a few are thinking that they’re coming home.