The Layup Drill: Coach Spo, Timmy, and Inbee! — The no-no’s and yes-yes’s that happened in July

By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly

Lincecum throws a No-No

Tim Lincecum has done it all in major league baseball, save for one thing: throwing a no-hitter. But, on July 13, the University of Washington alum no-hit the San Diego Padres. Lincecum has won two Cy Young awards — awards given to the best pitcher in the major leagues, he’s won two World Series and has been picked for multiple All Star Games. The no-hitter is the perfect complement for a pitcher that’s done basically everything else. This year, Lincecum, who is part-Filipino, has shared time between the bullpen and starting for the San Francisco Giants.  Obviously, Tim will be starting again for the Giants this season.

Coach Spoelstra wins back-to-back NBA Championships

While this year’s quest for the title was a nail biter, the Miami Heat won back-to-back NBA Championships. The title marked the second NBA Championship under Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra. While LeBron James was highlighted throughout the series, it was Spoelstra that orchestrated the team’s chemistry and game plan. Despite this, the media criticized Spoelstra for some of his personnel decisions during the NBA Finals series against the San Antonio Spurs.

Some believed Spoelstra was being “outcoached” by the more experienced Greg Poppovich. Yet, in the end it was Spoelstra that had the last laugh.

Coach Spoelstra does not get enough credit. Once the Heat won the championship this year, the media immediately went to LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and the rest of the supporting cast. It then went to Heat president Pat Riley for obtaining the pieces to win another championship. But there was no credit for Spoelstra. Heading into next season, the Heat have to be considered the favorites to win three in a row. At only 42 years of age, Spoelstra will be steering the ship for the Heat for a while and with his coaching ability and the talent on the team, there is no telling how many more titles he will win.

Inbee Park dominates women’s golf

In what has become our monthly look at the dominance of Asians in golf, South Korean Inbee Park is currently the No. 1 ranked woman golfer in the world. The 25 year old may also be the best all-around golfer in the world even. In June, she won the U.S. Women’s Open, her third straight major golf championship and sixth first place finish this year alone.

Park started playing golf at 10 years old — a little late in life compared to some child prodigies nowadays. She left South Korea for the United States at age 12 to pursue a career in golf. She was an outstanding junior golfer and her transition to the professional ranks shows she can be a force for a long time. After her recent major victory she remarked, “It’s scary to think of what else I could do,” in reference to her potential dominance of the women’s game.

Park’s success exemplifies the continued success of Asians in golf. At the U.S. Women’s Open the top three were South Korean women. Perhaps it’s the attention to detail, work ethic, or another positive stereotype that one might have about Asians. Whatever it is, it’s working.

From obese to beast, Mark Munoz lost nearly 100 pounds to get back in shape for his latest fight.

Mark Munoz bulked up in wrong way

Obese to beast. This was the mantra spread by UFC fighter, “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Mark Munoz in the days before his return fight this past July. The last time we left Mark Munoz he was battling a string of injuries to get back to fighting in the UFC. A tough loss last year caused deep wounds in Munoz’s head and psyche.  Munoz admitted that he suffered depression and ballooned up in weight to 261 pounds from his normal fighting weight of 185 pounds.  Munoz borrowed a line from a villain in an Austin Powers movie to describe his reason for his weight gain: “I ate because I was sad, and I was sad because I ate.”  Munoz ate anything and everything and in part attributed Filipino foods as a reason for his increase in weight.

Instead of hiding his weight gain, Munoz released a “Before and After” picture of his incredible discipline to lose weight.

Munoz got back into training and motivated himself to lose the weight. He called his transformation “Obese to Beast.” A strict diet, training, and a positive attitude got Munoz down to his fighting weight in time for his return bout where he defeated his opponent in impressive fashion. Munoz hoped that his story would help others who are battling depression and weight. As always, Munoz is an inspiration to others and hopefully his positive attitude will lead to a UFC title.

Zou Shiming put on a show for the hometown crowd during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Now, he’s try to put on a show professionally.

Zou Shiming: China’s Boxing Star

After only one professional fight, a lot is expected of China’s Zou Shiming. A two-time gold medalist in the Summer Olympics, many hope that Shiming will succeed and open up a huge market of fans in China. The 32 year old is training with famed boxing trainer Freddie Roach, Manny Pacquiao’s trainer, in preperation for his second pro fight. Shiming will fight again at the end of July and state television in China will air his fight with potentially hundreds of millions having a chance to see China’s great hope in the sport of boxing. Although Shiming won his debut fight, he did not provide the knockout that fans wanted to see. Shiming started out watching boxing on television and its his dream that one day he will make it big by fighting in the United States.  With his potential, he could be there sooner than later.

The Pirates’ Dinesh Patel and Rinku Singh

Million Dollar Pitch

A couple years ago, we featured Dinesh Patel and Rinku Singh. The two Indian cricket players won a reality show contest with the winners getting contracts with a Major League Baseball team. Patel and Singh, the winners of the show, were signed to minor league contracts with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Now, the show is going to be made into a movie by Walt Disney Pictures. Entitled “Million Dollar Arm,” it will follow the sports agent that came up with the out-of-the-box idea to find baseball’s next best arm by holding tryouts for Indian cricket players. The winners won $100,000 and a trip to the United States. The movie is due out in 2014.

Not to spoil the ending, but Patel and Singh have not made the majors since signing on with the Pirates organization.

They were signed in 2009 and given contracts of $10,000 each.  In 2010, Patel was released by the Pirates and moved back to India. Singh remains in the Pirates minor league organization and is still trying to make it in baseball.  However, Singh made history when he won his first start as a pitcher and became the first person of Indian descent to win a professional baseball game in the United States.

Patel and Singh became the first Indian-born players to play professional ball in America but they may not be the last. A reality show along the same lines attracted 200,000 applicants in 2011 and another is set for 2014. Major League Baseball is lending its support to the new show as well. One day we may have a player from India in the big leagues.  (end)

Jason Cruz can be reached at

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