Tuesday, March 27

Laker forever, Derek Fisher

It’s been almost two weeks, but it’s still a little hard to write about Derek Fisher’s departure from LA Lakers.

As we all know, on March 15, responding to pressure and pleas for a trade that could offer a jolt in the diminishing power voltage to one of the greatest franchises in sports, Jim Buss and the rest of the Lakers management answered with a thundering surprise that left many of us, fans and haters alike, in shock to this very day.

They traded Derek Fisher.

To the many of us in Lakernation, this was the day that came to be known as the day the Los Angeles Lakers lost its soul.

The trade felt so horribly wrong and cheap. I personally felt offended.

For a typical, occasional sports fan, it is difficult to wrap your head around why a lot of us felt wronged about that obvious salary dump of a trade. It is ridiculous to grieve and hurt with a man most of us haven’t met or spoken to and be intensely involved in a life-altering moment that has completely nothing to do with our own. But whenever a class-act player gets a treatment like this, it always hits the heart.

I don’t care if Derek Fisher is 37 years old, aging, and his sprints dwindled down to jogs across the court. He is still Derek Fisher, capable of running last minute clutch plays and, as far as I know, the single player that holds the Lakers ‘culture’ together.

He was the constant glue between the Lakers’ new blood and the Championship Lakers of the past. When there were uncertainties surrounding the team, Fisher called, presided, and ended meetings to patch things up. Even when the 2011-2012 NBA season came to a threat, Fisher was the one who stood tall for all the players; negotiating with them big bad bullies.

In 2010, Fisher was instrumental in the NBA Finals Game 7 thriller against long-time rival Boston Celtics.

But what really cemented him in the many hearts of the Purple & Gold fans everywhere was the buzzer-beater game winning shot he took off an inbound pass with 0.4 seconds left in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against then defending champions San Antonio Spurs.

I remember watching that game with my brothers back in 2004. Although that same year brought a collapse for the team (Finals upset vs Detroit, Shaq traded to Miami, Phil Jackson retired, and Fish transferred to Golden State for a higher salary), that 0.4 in ’04 was one of the few victorious moments fans relived again and again until the team got back on its feet to win a three-peat.

You don’t trade local legends just like that. Same way die-hard fans feel guilty for cheering on another team.

For everything it’s worth, Derek Fisher deserved to retire as a Laker. He would’ve welcomed the diminishing minutes, even if it meant sliding further at the end of the bench. He would accept it, like how many great players in their twilight careers will–knowing that there will always be someone younger than you, faster than you, shoots better than you. Fisher understood that. He said repetitively in interviews that he would accept the demotion, because he wanted to retire in the same team he started with as a rookie back in 1996.

It would’ve been the more gentlemanly gesture for someone who has brought the team 5 championship rings out of its 16 NBA titles, in his being a Laker for 13 seasons spanning 12 years.

But there’s very little room for gratitude in a cutthroat business like the NBA. Sadly, the management saw Fisher more of tradable liability than an asset.

But the fans will always remember Derek Fisher as a Laker… forever.

Tuesday, March 13

SATG's 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball Bracket Revealed

Let the Madness begin!

(Click for bigger image.)

Monday, March 12

SATG’s Guide to NCAA: March Madness and Bracketology 101

Ladies, it’s that most unproductive month of the year yet again for many of our boys. While we can just click our knee-high boots and gladly walk away, you might be surprised to know that March Madness can be enjoyed by women as much as men. After all, it has our two innate attributes: women’s intuition and the chance to be right 63 times. This is a whole lot of fun! It ain’t called March ‘Madness’ for nothing!

Seriously, stay with me as I bestow a few little nuggets of bracketing wisdom I picked between ‘Oooh I like that team’s colors!’ and ‘That point guard is really cute!’ to ‘What does Joe Lunardi have to say about this?’

What is March Madness?

March Madness, or The Big Dance, is the name given by the powers that be referring to the madness that goes along with the NCAA Men’s Basketball Division I Championship Tournament–an annual single elimination tournament featuring 65 college basketball teams. They are divided into four regions namely South, East, West and Midwest Regions. Why there’s no North, I have absolutely no idea. The games are spread and played over three weeks in different ‘neutral’ areas across the USA.

On ‘Selection Sunday,’ the NCAA Selection Committee (yes, there is such a thing) announces the 68 teams that are qualified for the tournament and ‘seeds’ them according to their ranking and performance (1-16). I’m not going to insult your intelligence so it goes without saying that 1 is ‘better’ than 16.

What is bracketing?

Bracketing is the style adopted by the tournament in organizing what teams will go against each other. As discussed above, the 68 teams that are participating are seeded or ranked from 1-16 for each of the four regions. After which, the bracketing is arranged. The #1 seeded team is pitted against the #16 team, the #2 against #15, the #3 against #14, ETC. The winners of the first round will be pitted against each other and so on.

The third round is called ‘Sweet Sixteen‘, the fourth ‘Elite Eight‘ and the fifth ‘Final Four‘–all corresponding the number of teams left in the particular round.

Bracketology, on the other hand, is the process of picking or predicting which teams will move forward in the tournament before it even begins. This is typically done on Selection Sunday itself, although can be finished before the first game of the tournament is played. Below is the bracket for this year’s NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament.

(Click to enlarge)

But, SATG, I haven’t even heard half of the teams in this list! How do I pick the teams? Are there rules?

Ah, we have come to the most exciting part of this tutorial: filling out your brackets. As you can see in the image above, only the first round of the bracket is filled. These are the 65 teams that I have talked about earlier in this post. It is your job to predict the winners of the second round moving forward to the ultimate champion of the tournament as accurately as possible. If there’s one thing great about this tournament is that it packs a lot of drama in the short span of time it is on. The tournament is rife with upsets year after year. It basically puts the ‘madness‘ in March Madness. Since this is a single elimination competition, expect that each team will give it their best, there being no second chances.

Every once in a while, and in many dances that we go to, Cinderella shows up. In March Madness speak, Cinderella is the term used to call a team that’s not expected to win but advances through the tournament. Or in layman’s term, it is simply called an upset. But hey, we like to use Cinderella because this is, after all, the Big Dance.

So, before filling out your bracket sheet,  you may want to consider the following basics in Bracketology for Women 101 (also known as the course for women who can’t be bothered to look up those boring stats):

1. In the history of the tournament, never has a #16 team win over a #1 team in the first round. I repeat, NEVER HAS A #16 TEAM WIN OVER A #1 TEAM IN THE FIRST ROUND. Go ahead and advance all the #1 seeded teams through second round. However, it’s not entirely taboo to pick a Cinderella as early as the first round, especially with teams seeded from 9 through 12. Rarely pick a #13 seed or lower to win in the second round. Only 9% of teams advancing past second round are seeded that low.

2. Speaking of #9, some believe that such seed is luckier against #8. The former tend to do better that the latter. So if you have to choose between the two, odds are more in favor of #9.

3. Play safe, woman! Stick to the big names and take into consideration their ranking. It isn’t put there for decorations. But, if you have absolutely ZERO idea whether a team is ‘big’ or not or if you are stuck between two teams, feel free to pick the team based on who has the better looking uniforms. Or cuter mascot. Or cuter players. Or if you’re hardcore, the team with the cuter coach.

4. Trust your womanly intuition! Knowledge isn’t necessarily power. Most guys spend hours, nay days, in perfecting their brackets. They do tons of research, watch ESPN every chance they get, read sports blog and pay hefty sums of money just to get a glimpse of Joe Lunardi’s ‘Inside’ bracket guide. On the other hand, many girls randomly select their brackets largely based on their gut feelings. How awesome would it be to beat these guys who have devoted so much time and effort into winning and hold it over their heads?

5. Get into it and make it fun! This is a really fun way to engage with the man in your life. Stakes are a great way to make it more personal. Throw down some girly stakes, most likely he will bite.

Watch and enjoy the games; ogle at those muscles and cute point guards. Take part in a pool. Who knows, it can be the source of next month’s shopping money. So, stop being a party pooper and join the March Madness festivities. You won’t regret it. In the words of legendary college hoops analyst Dick Vitale “It’s awesome, baby!”

Saturday, March 3

Lamenting Ricky Rubio’s injury: Excuse me while I go cry in the corner.

Oh, poor baby!

By now, everybody has heard about the collision between Kobe Bryant and the Spanish rookie sensation Ricky Rubio, which abruptly ended the season of one of the league’s most exciting point guards. My first thought when the news broke out that Rubio was out for the rest of the season was they’d probably made a mistake. Looking back at the clip of the collision, it didn’t seem that it was that serious. But the Gods of the hardwood can be cruel masters. After the MRI, it was confirmed that NBA’s King of Baby Faces has suffered from the curse of the torn ACL and had to sit the rest of the season out, with the possibility of rehabbing into the next one.

I join the millions of sports fans around the world grieving the loss of this hardwood cutie, with those kind eyes and gumdrop smile, the tussled mop hair that minces a little bit with every physics-defying pass. This rook will be badly missed for sure.

Rubio, in a remarkably short space of time, had become a shining beacon of hope for Minneapolis, a fresh and lovable elixir for a franchise that has suffered more than its fair share of problems (many of them self-inflicted) in recent seasons. For Wolves fans his carefree brilliance represented a form of salvation, deliverance from the lower reaches of the Western Conference. For neutrals he had become the innocent, playful alternative to a league filled with a few too many self-obsessed stars and cynical executives. Rubio was the perfect distraction from the occasionally depressing realities of the professional game. With him running the offense it was possible to watch the Timberwolves and feel, despite all the murky stuff that has a nasty habit of surrounding the operations of the NBA, sort of wholesome. Basketball was fun again.

Get well soon, Ricardo! We’ll see your sexy Spanish ass next season.

Friday, March 2

Fat Girls’ Guide to Running: The Fat Runner’s Couch-to-5K training plan

When I first started running in late October of last year, I didn’t have any solid training plans, didn’t read any manual/advice on running with an overweight body, nor did I have any idea how I’m going to do it. I just remember waking up one morning and telling myself ‘This is it.’ Honestly, I didn’t think I’d last a full week doing the routine of waking up at 5AM and heading out to run. Trust me, I’m that lazy.

But I overcame the laziness (HA! Take that, Bruno Mars!) and after a month, ran my first ever 5K race. However, I had a little accident a week ago which left me unable to do my usual routine. Haven’t had a decent run in 7 days, so technically I am in one might call a ‘slump’. Just yesterday, the doctor gave me a go signal that I can carry on with running and tried to on that evening. Oh boy, it felt like I haven’t run in ages. The dreadful has happened: I am back to square one.

As the diligent and resourceful blogger that I am (wink), I have scoured the world wide web to look for a training regimen I could follow to get me back on track. I stumbled upon Cool Running’s Couch-to-5K Running Plan. Read through it and it’s a pretty good training plan. Decided to follow it and put a few tweaks to the plan.

Basically, I have shortened it to 7 weeks (instead of 9) and do the routine between 30-45 minutes 4-5 times a week (instead of 3). I have also incorporated short distance running on weekdays and long ones for weekends. If you are a first time runner, you can try this training plan with me, because if I can do it, so can you! :) ))

The first step to this plan is COMMITMENT. The start of everything is the hardest, but you have to decide that NOW is the best time. Saying YES to this training plan is already a fourth of the battle. Decide to commit to begin with it and stick through it and half of the battle is won.

For the next few weeks, this is the routine you and I need to follow:
**Do stretching each and every time you begin your training**
**Alternate run days with your rest days. (Eg. Mon-run, Tue-rest, Wed-run, Thu-rest, Fri-run, Sat-rest, Sun-run)

WEEK ONE: DAYS 1, 2, & 3: Start with a 5-minute brisk walk for warm-up, then alternate 60 seconds of running with 90 seconds of walking. Bring your total minutes to 30 minutes. (You do 15 rounds of walking and 10 rounds of jogging, ALTERNATELY.) DAY 4: Do the same routine for 45 minutes.

WEEK TWO: DAYS 1, 2, & 3: Start with a 5-minute brisk walk for warm-up, then alternate 90 seconds of running with 2 minutes of walking. Bring your total minutes to 30 minutes. DAY 4: Do the same routine for 45 minutes.

WEEK THREE: DAYS 1, 2, & 3: Start with a 5-minute brisk walk for warm-up, then alternate 2 minutes of running with 60 seconds of walking. Bring your total minutes to 30 minutes. DAY 4: Do the same routine for 45 minutes.

WEEK FOUR: (This is tricky, but you’ll get it) DAYS 1, 2, & 3: Start with a 5-minute brisk walk for warm-up, then alternate 2 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking with 3 minutes of running and 2 minutes of walking. (2 min run, 1 min walk, 3 min run, 2 min walk x 5) Bring your total minutes to 40 minutes. DAY 4: Run/walk freely with a 3K distance.

WEEK FIVE: DAYS 1, 2, & 3: Start with a 5-minute brisk walk for warm-up, then alternate 3 minutes of running and 1.5 minutes of walking with 5 minutes of running and 2.5 minutes of walking. (3 min run, 1.5 min walk, 5 min run, 2.5 min walk x 3) Bring your total minutes to 36 minutes. DAY 4: Run/walk freely with a 3K distance.

WEEK SIX: DAYS 1, & 2: Start with a 5-minute brisk walk for warm-up, then alternate 5 minutes of running and 2 minutes of walking with 8 minutes of running and 3 minutes of walking. (5 min run, 2 min walk, 8 min run, 3 min walk x 2) Bring your total minutes to 36 minutes. DAYS 3 & 4: Alternate running for 15 minutes with walking for 3 minutes x 2. Bring your total minutes to 36 minutes.

WEEK SEVEN: DAYS 1 & 2: Start with a 5-minute brisk walk for warm-up, then alternate 10 minutes of running and 2 minutes of walking with 15 minutes of running and 3 minutes of walking. Bring your total minutes to 35 minutes. DAYS 3 & 4: Alternate running for 20 minutes with walking for 3 minutes x 2. Bring your total minutes to 46 minutes.

In following this training plan, keep the following in mind:
  • Assess yourself. None of these weeks will be easy, but you have to keep trying and trying. If you fail a week, don’t hesitate to repeat it. It doesn’t matter if you fall off schedule, as long as you finish the whole plan.
  • Take it easy. You will feel terrible body aches especially at the beginning, so take two successive rest days if you must. You will also feel that you can run in successive days sometimes. If you are fit, then it might be okay. But if you are on the heavy side, take precaution and watch out for injuries.
  • Stretching is very important to prevent injuries. Don’t forget to do this before beginning any workout.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
  • And most importantly… HAVE FUN! Load up your iPod with songs that can carry you through the long runs and have a friend do this program with you.
Let me know about your progress! :) )
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(Originally posted at http://thefatrunner.tumblr.com/post/14208945032/couch25k)