The Ninth Annual Brewskies

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column-rick olivaresBY calendar year-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 International Football Federation (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 longtime colleagues of his, such as Chuck Blazer and Jack Warner of Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Football Association and Juan Angel Napout of South Ameican Football Association, to name a few, were all arrested on corruption charges. Following the arrest of senior Fifa officials in Switzerland in 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. Mayweather jabbed and danced his way to victory, sending 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 intravenous medication 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 in 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 Association of Tennis Professionals (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 National Football League (NFL) and Bill Simmons of 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’s 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’s 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.

Mixed-martial arts (MMA) Fight of the Year Award goes to the Rain or Shine (RoS) Elasto Painters and the Talk ’N Text (TNT) Tropang Texters. Both teams played a highly physical and contentious Commissioner’s Cup Finals during the Philippine Basketball Association’s (PBA) 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 Philippine Volleyball Federation (PVF), the new Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas (LVP), and the warfare between the longtime volleyball organizer V-League and the Philippine Superliga. 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 Most Valuable Player (MVP) last season and not Steph Curry. While NBA players 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-foot-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.