Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sports Roundup

After two straight championship runs, in the likely final year of "Zen master" Phil Jackson as coach, the Los Angeles Lakers get swept in the Western Conference semi-finals by the Dallas Mavericks. Not only did they get blown out in the final game (122-86) they played cheap-shot basketball, with both Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom getting ejected for flagrant fouls...

L.A. loses, embarrasses itself in Phil Jackson’s last game as coach
Kelly Dwyer
Sun May 08, 2011


Animal Kingdom won the Kentucky Derby. Meanwhile, this may be a little late, but here's a drink recipe for next year's race:

Bobby Flay's Mint Julep

Chef offers his recipe for a Kentucky Derby tradition

Serves: 1


4 mint leaves
1 teaspoon sugar
Splash of water
Shaved ice
2 1/2 oz Bourbon Whiskey


Place mint, sugar and water into a silver Julep cup or a 12-ounce Tom Collins glass.

Muddle the mint, sugar and water together with the tip of the handle of a wooden spoon.

Fill the glass with shaved ice, add the bourbon and stir until combined.

Garnish with orange or lemon slice or a cherry.


With Francisco Liriano & Justin Verlander pitching no-hitters in the first week of May, it's looking like a pretty good year for pitchers again...

Hitters beware! It's the Year of the Pitcher II


Manny Pacquiao defeated Shane Mosley, cementing his place as the biggest name in boxing. As big as he is in boxing, he's even bigger in his home country of the Philippines. The World Socialist Web Site ( ) had a good piece on the phenomenon:

Both the Philippine and international press has depicted Pacquiao’s fame in the Philippines as the result of the racial and national pride of millions of Filipinos in the triumphs of a ‘great Filipino.’ But is this truly what is at stake?

There is no disputing that Manny Pacquiao is a great boxer. He has remarkable athletic prowess and fights with a speed and agility that have overwhelmed his opponents over the past decade. Pacquiao has won world titles in eight different weight classes from flyweight—below 112 pounds — to super welterweight — above 147 pounds, an accomplishment unique in boxing history.

Like almost every boxing figure before him, Pacquiao came from a life of grinding poverty. It is this history — the intimate shared reality of suffering and struggle and hunger — that the vast majority Filipinos identify with.

Pacquiao was born in the rice-growing region of the war-torn southern island of Mindanao in 1978. He was the fourth of six siblings. His father abandoned the family when he was six and his mother managed to eke out a living in General Santos City by running a sari-sari store, a makeshift corner shop where goods are sold through a window. This is the life of millions of Filipinos: days spent repackaging peppercorns, salt, sugar or oil into one inch square plastic sachets for resale. The practice is called tingi and is widespread because entire communities cannot afford to purchase basic necessaries in any larger quantity.

Pacquiao dropped out of school in sixth grade and began working in the marketplace to help support his family. At fourteen he ran away from home, and stowed away on a boat bound for Manila, hoping to become a boxer. He wound up living in a run-down training facility for boxers, sleeping in the ring. He was not fighting, he was working in a metal recycling facility in Taguig, Metro Manila, scraping rust off of old scraps of metal. He was paid 160 pesos a day, well below minimum wage.

Throughout the streets of the Philippines, there are people who push kariton—carts constructed from whatever scraps of wood are at hand. They collect used bottles and metal scrap—bote’t bakal. These recyclable materials find their way into factories such as the one where Pacquiao worked alongside hundreds of others, scraping away at rust.

Pacquiao got his boxing break at the age of 16 when a spot opened up for him. Pacquiao had travelled from General Santos City with Eugene Barutag, another teenager who aspired to boxing. Barutag boxed two matches, winning one by knockout. In his third fight he was beaten unconscious in the eighth round and died. Pacquiao took his place in an upcoming fight. He stood 4 foot 11 and weighed in at 98 pounds. He had to put scraps of metal in his shoes to reach the needed minimum weight.

His early fights were in seedy, raucous arenas in crowded, rundown neighborhoods. Each pitted one desperate, starved youth against another. The boxers flailed at each other without finesse or grace, blows driven by hunger and the promise of a 100-peso peso purse. Pacquiao won. And then won again and again.

Pacquiao’s rise to fame, first in the Philippines and then internationally, is the story of his athleticism, and a courage born of desperation, but it is also the story of lucky break upon lucky break. In 2001, Pacquiao was given the chance to fight in the United States in Las Vegas when another boxer dropped out of the Super Bantamweight match and Pacquiao was brought in on two weeks’ notice. This was his international break.

Heavyweight boxing, long the mainstay of income for the financiers of gladiatorial sports, has been in the doldrums for the past decade. The energy and excitement of a Pacqiuao fight has become the primary source of income for the boxing industry.

As Pacquiao gained international prestige, Philippine politicians glommed onto him with their customary parasitism. Chavit Singson, governor of the northern province of Ilocos Sur and self-confessed head of a massive illegal gambling organization, follows Pacquiao to the ring in every fight. He can be seen hovering over Pacquiao’s shoulder during post fight interviews. Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo made speeches about the ‘heroism’ of Pacquiao and the restoration of Philippine national pride.

The Philippine mainstream media has told the same story. Pacquiao is the story of ‘the Filipino’ proving his worth to the world. This is not the reason why millions of Filipinos follow Pacquiao’s fights. It is the story of Pacquiao’s life, and the poverty from which he emerged, which have made his bouts so compelling...

The Pacquiao phenomenon in the Philippines
Joseph Santolan
9 May 2011


From Yahoo Sports:

That New York Rangers winger Sean Avery is an advocate for gay rights isn't news. When asked earlier this year about a gay player coming out in the NHL, Avery said "I'll stand beside him in the dressing room while he tells his teammates he is gay. Maybe if Sean Avery is there, they would have less of a problem with it."

That New York Rangers winger Sean Avery has politicized that advocacy is news. Because no matter how outspoken a professional hockey player is, they rarely give voice to an issue in a formal campaign.

Yet here's Avery, in an endorsement ad for Human Rights Campaign's "New Yorkers for Marriage Equality Campaign" that was released this week. And hockey's better for it...

Why Sean Avery’s endorsement of gay marriage is important
Greg Wyshynski
Sun May 08, 2011


RIP Seve Ballesteros, winner of 3 British Opens and two Masters, the golfer was described as "swashbuckling" so often you'd think he played in pirate outfits...

Seve Ballesteros dies at 54; audacious Spaniard won five major golf titles
Chuck Culpepper
May 8, 2011,0,4348582,full.story

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