Bruce Lee
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Sinking feeling as rivals beat me to the punch

Bruce Lee

ALTHOUGH I am still reeling from the cancelled High Noon (or Ding Dong) in Hong Kong boxing extravaganza, thinking back I am not too surprised.

When it comes to fighting, my luck has run remarkably similar to my record with women and plants - I tend to over-water the women, and run from my plants . . . you get what I mean.

My first fight, I lost on a technicality. I ran. What was to be my lightweight debut, dubbed the 'Big Duel After School' at Hill Street Elementary, quickly turned into the Roadrunner's 500.

Quick footwork and mounting fear kept me a car's distance from the Creature from East L.A. (not her real name) as I was chased round and round the same Buick in the parking lot, praying that the bell would save me.

The judges ruled for the Creature.

The next fight was a draw. It started with the customary 'your mama' jabs/insults, the shove, counter-shove, then Paco Gonzalez moved in close and stared real tough at me. My knees shook . . . but he blinked first.

The series of bouts from third through the ninth grades - my martial arts era - were all no contests, especially when word got around, somehow, that my uncle was Bruce Lee.

Another case of pre-bout PR knocking out the main event, much like the High Noon fiasco.

So this week the only hits and runs came from the Japan Series, featuring the Yomiuri Giants - Japan's most popular baseball team - against the Seibu Lions.

Yes, I know, I practically swore to give it up but like a depraved junkie, that first shot of 'besuballu' from Prime Sports, after months of deprivation, was aaaaaahhhhhhhh . . . and had me practically turning Japanese.

It was not the World Series: you should have seen some of the pitches the Japanese were swinging at - didn't any of them see Bull Durham ? But at least the Giants, who have not won the series since 1989, and department store Lions looked like players rather than millionaires disguised as ball players, rewarding their fans with live baseball . . . before the start of the next sumo tournament.

Life in Japan stood still during the games as everyone crowded around the nearest TV sets. The packed stadium was full of plastic-bat banging fanatics. None of the batters charged the mound after a close pitch, benches emptied only after the game in a celebration of victory, and consolation of close defeat.

They might have lost a world war but the Japanese haven't lost their sense of wa. In Cantonese, wahhhhh.

For me, even Prime's announcer with his American accent and baseball commentator's lingo and cadence - as he tongue-wrestled with the Japanese names - brought back memories when North Americans had a series and a team to cheer for.

During Game Five, the same announcer said that the Japanese players were fundamentally sound but predictable. Yes, so predictable that they actually held their championship series and everyone showed up.

Major League Baseball could have used a bit of that predictability. Or is it responsibility? Meanwhile, the players back in North America were busy congratulating themselves as the Baseball Writers' Association of America handed out the Cy Young and the Most Valuable Player awards on a strike-shortened, international disgrace of a season. Why didn't the writers vote on the greediest owners, the most valueless players and the biggest losers? In contrast, yesterday's Game Six at the Tokyo Dome, the winners and losers were decided on the playing field. As it should be.

The mighty Yomiuri won 3-1, clinching the championship series four games to two, and bringing to mind the words of a Japanese man who predicted: 'If the Giants win, the world will change for the better.' Let's hope that change extends to North American sports.