Posts Tagged ‘athletes


Glad Steffi Graf is retired


Back when she was an active player, Steffi Graf was the only female tennis player whose matches I watched on tv. Since she retired in 1999, women’s tennis has lost its appeal to me.

I watched her last match, the Wimbledon finals in 1999, in which she lost to Lindsey Davenport, 6-4 7-5.

After 10 years, I watched her play again last Sunday. I would have missed it had I not been alerted by another Graf fan.

Steffi Graf, playing in two exhibition matches at the grand opening or closing of the retractable roof at the center court of the All England Club, was the same Steffi Graf I last saw play. Well, not exactly the same. She was laughing and smiling this time, a far cry from her stolid demeanor she put on during competitions when she was still in the women’s circuit.

Turning 40 next month, Steffi Graf epitomizes fitness and health. She doesn’t look a pound heavier than she was in 1999 despite having given birth to two children. Her long, toned legs–which have carried her to 22 Grand Slam titles–have always been a source of envy for me and my female friends.

Like what happened in the past whenever I watched her play, I sighed in resignation to the fact that I can never have legs like hers unless I amputate mine and wear prostheses molded like her legs. But even if I did this, I would have to cut my arms as well because they would now be disproportionate to my new legs. Then I would have to wear arm prostheses molded like Graf’s. But even if I now had arms and legs like Steffi’s, I would need to pare my torso, which in its present condition, is not anywhere like Graf’s.

Oh, just kill me.

I’m glad Steffi Graf has retired.


The doctor is late

pacquiao-honoris-causaDr. Manny Pacquiao (with plaque) / Photo by Amper

When Manny Pacquiao delivered his prepared speech after being conferred Doctor in Humanities honoris causa, his heart was beating so fast that it could have been a speed bag he hits at practise.

He was nervous, he told a jampacked ballroom of Waterfront Cebu City Hotel at about 7 o’clock tonight.

Indeed he was because he mispronounced the name of the school that conferred on him the doctorate. He had to be corrected that it was “Southwestern University,” not “Southern Western University.” As he is wont to add “s” to words English, he referred to himself as “doctors.” For words unfamiliar to him, “kinetics” became “kinestetics” but he got “humanities” right.

Lest we forget, a boxer doesn’t declaim in the ring. And so despite his mispronunciations, Pacquiao was widely applauded at his conferment.

He was widely applauded by a crowd that had waited for three hours for him to arrive at the ceremony that was scheduled at 4:30 p.m. He came in late and apologized for his tardiness, which he attributed to a delayed flight from Manila. At about 7 p.m., a choral rendition of his signature song, “Para Sa Iyo Ang Laban Na To” began the ceremony.

The conferment rite was exclusive to Pacquiao. That he arrived very late for it doesn’t befit a man SWU looks up to as one who has “captured excellence and exemplary performance in what he does.” Pacquiao could have been advised to come on time and give importance to the event. He could have arranged for a morning flight.

The humanitarianism he showed for the victims of typhoon Frank in July 2008 earned him the honorary doctorate in humanities, SWU president Eldigardio Gonzales said. SWU originally wanted to confer on him a doctorate in human kinetics for espousing the value of physical fitness but the Commission on Education (Ched) wouldn’t allow it.

Just as well because Pacquiao would have called himself  “doctors of human kinestetics.”

So in his speech, prepared and brief, he said with a note of nervousness in his voice, “You cannot measure how smart a person is by how many books he reads. You can measure how smart a person is through his good nature, his love for the country, his love for his family and most importantly, his faith in God.”

For that, Dr. Manny Pacquiao heard a thunder of applause from SWU students, faculty and officers he had kept waiting for almost three hours.

(Many thanks to Beth B.)


The Education of Manny Pacquiao

Because he is Manny Pacquiao, he gets privileges and honors that no ordinary Filipino can ever hope to get without a sweat.

Take the case of his education.

At 16, when he should have been in a classroom doodling, Pacquiao was in a boxing ring punching a man in the face. He had dropped out of school and found money and glory in boxing. As his fame spread overseas and his wealth expanded, he realized that to get full respect, he would need to have an education. He would distinguish himself from other top boxers. He would get a college degree.

Pacquiao would get more than a college degree.

He hurdled high school by getting an accreditation from the Department of Education for its Alternative Learning System. The ALS, whose tests cover multiple choice and composition writing, allows the passer to enrol in a college course. In 2007, at age 29 and after more than 10 years of being out of school, Pacquiao got his high school diploma.

He had jocosely said he would enrol in Ateneo, a university known for its academic excellence but which the Philippine Idol is hardly known for.  In the end, he settled for Notre Dame of Dadiangas University in General Santos City, where he lives when he is in the country and where he is considered a living patron. He’s taking up business administration, a course that he says will prepare him “to manage my finances myself.”

Because he is Manny Pacquiao, he has a special arrangement with the school that allows him one-on-one lessons with his teachers. There has been no report yet that he has flirted with one or two of his female teachers, maybe because none of them comes close to looking like the movie starlet Ara Mina.

Because he is Manny Pacquiao, his education is unorthodox like his punches. He will get a doctorate ahead of a baccalaureate.

mps-pacmanOn Feb. 18, the Cebu-based Southwestern University (SWU) will confer honoris causa a doctorate of human kinetics on Emmanuel Pacquiao for his achievement in the field of boxing.

Some people are green with envy, especially those who have been seriously working on getting a doctorate on human kinetics the orthodox way.

Some people are appalled, especially those in the academe who think that the conferment is irregular and “cheapens the degree.”

Sketch by Josua Cabrera

Going by what the Commission on Higher Education (Ched)  allows, honorary doctorates extend only to law, humanities, music, pedagogy and science. Human kinetics–the study of sports, fitness and health–is not in the list. But SWU said it has sought an exemption from Ched, explaining to the commission that Pacquiao’s achievements are unequalled by any Asian and that he deserves the honor.

It seems that Ched did not grant the exemption because as published in newspaper ads on Feb. 17, SWU will confer on Pacquiao an honorary doctorate in humanities instead of human kinetics.

Since SWU had already announced the honorary conferment, it could no longer retract its announcement. The university had to save itself and Pacquiao from embarrassment and ridicule. It settled for a doctorate in humanities,  the branch of knowledge that allows liberal interpretation of things not covered by natural science and which the school offers.

What has Pacquiao contributed to literature and philosophy that he would deserve such conferment? Maybe, just maybe, Pacquiao had uttered something like, “What you feel is not my punch but the essence of my punch” and that blew his listeners away. Still another maybe, Pacquiao’s column, which many believe is ghost-written at times, could have swayed the vote in favor of humanities, not pedagogy.

Such is the education of Manny Pacquiao, who missed out on being called “Your Honor” when he lost his congressional bid in 2007 yet will soon find “Honorary Doctor” appended to his name.


Honoring mangroves & planting Federer

I’m glad the ATP season is over and I can now commit my time to people other than RF.

RF didn’t get back his top rank and he failed to defend his Shanghai Masters title, but he closed the year with an extraordinary and back-inconvenienced three-setter against Andy Murray.

His loss to Murray at the Shanghai Masters didn’t rankle as much as his loss to Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon did because Murray eventually lost to Nikolay Davydenko in the semis.

This time, I vented my disappointment by planting mangroves in Olango Island the next day. And so, unknown to my host, a mangrove in Olango is being grown in honor of Roger Federer. Hah! Not even Mirka has ever done that for RF.


The tennis masters (Photo from AFP)

I enjoyed the Shanghai Masters because it gathered some of the more goodlooking players and the best players in the ATP. It was unfortunate that Nadal, who qualifies in both categories, missed out on this year’s Masters Cup due to tendinitis.

Had Nadal played, the dynamics of the matches would have been different. Had he and RF faced off again, it would have been torture for me. A win or loss by RF in this match would probably send me planting mangroves in the entire Olango island and I would never be able to stand up straight again and then I would send RF a picture of me with my curved back along with a note: “This is what I have become because of you. Lovelots.”


Post script on Jayson Werth

BBA-WORLD-SERIES-The mitt of the matter (Photo from AFP)

A father holds sentimental thoughts about his son and contemplates a future for him that brings with it his father’s past.

Whatever hopes Jayson Werth has for his son most likely include a spot in the baseball field in the major league.

Werth comes from a long line of baseball players. His grandfather and an uncle had played in MLB, and his dad in the minor league. His stepfather had also played with the NY Yankees. At one point in their baseball careers, Werth, his grandfather and his uncle had played for the LA Dodgers.

For Jayson Werth and his son, there will be more runs batted in, assuming, of course, his son won’t turn to wrestling. In that case, there will be smackdowns instead of homeruns.

BBA-WORLD-SERIES-Perfect! (Photo from AFP)


Werth’s cleats hanger

Victory on a dogpile

The Phillies won the World Series again after 28 years and Jayson Werth, who was only a year old when the Philadelphia baseball team won it first in 1980, finds his cleats heading to the Hall of Fame.

On the sixth inning of Game 5, resumed after 46 hours of delay caused by rain, Jayson Werth hit an RBI single and sent Geoff Jenkins to the home plate for a short-lived 3-2 lead. The Phillies eventually went to win the championship at 4-3 after Eric Bruntlett made the winning run on the seventh inning, in which the Rays likewise scored one. Neither team made it to home after that.

Safe to the plate for Jayson Werth, 5G, 3RBI, 1HR, 3SB

Werth, voice raspy from getting the colds, said of his spikes fame: “Gosh, what an honor… I mean, really, step back and think about that. I come from a long line of baseball players, and I’m thankful to them. My grandfather was a ballplayer. My stepdad [Dennis Werth] played in the big leagues. We’re just baseball players, not Hall of Famers. For me to have something go there to Cooperstown, that’s unbelievable.” (Quote from

So there, I got my answer to my question about Jayson Werth’s worth in the MLB.

Photos from AFP; more about Jayson Werth on


Jayson Werth

Jayson Werth, No. 28, Phillies outfielder (Photo from AFP)

Major League Baseball (MLB) had never interested me until I saw Jayson Werth in the World Series Game 3 of the Phillies and Rays. I was surfing the sports channels to catch RF’s Basel matches when a handsome face appeared on ESPN. The Phillies lineup was being introduced.

I stopped clicking on the remote.

That’s how I got hooked on this year’s World Series–seeing Jayson Werth and finding him very maaaan.

The little knowledge I have about baseball comes from my having played softball in high school. (I was a terrible player, minding second base.) So I know when a pitch is a ball or a strike, when a batted ball is out, a slug or a bunt. But high school softball is a midget compared to league baseball.

I didn’t know what the stat initials that were being flashed on the tv screen during the games meant until I checked them out in all the sport books I have that mention baseball and in the comfortably reliable Wikipedia.

That’s why the book “Baseball: A Literary Anthology” that I bought online in 2002 finally got to be read, in part. The book includes articles by Stephen King and Richard Ford but I read only about why umpires are the most hated during a game.

I looked up Jayson Werth’s player stats but have yet to know how he ranks in the league. It doesn’t matter because I like what I see. He’s a right fielder, bats right, hits right. The Phillies is his third team, joining it in December 2007. He debuted in 2002 with the Toronto Blue Jays and was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2004 .

This post-season, he has hit two homeruns and has been caught stealing a base. I know because I watched Games 3, 4 and the rain-suspended 5.

Seeing him tower over the other players, who have an average height of six, I guessed that Jayson Werth is 6’5. I was right. He’s 29 and married with two kids.

Because of Jayson Werth, I’ve found MLB exciting to watch even if the scores are zero-zero in most of the nine innings. But really, Jayson Werth is worth watching.

June 2018
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