Thursday, June 30, 2005

Sheer coincidence? :)

In 1981, Prince Charles got married and Liverpool were crowned Champions of Europe.

This year (2005), the Pope died, Prince Charles got married and Liverpool were crowned Champions of Europe.

from an email forward from Maverick

updated on 7/4; 4:30 PM EST - Deleted all references to Pope dying in 1981. Apparently no Pope died in 1981. The Pope died in 1978. Thanks Robert & ‘Anonymous’ for pointing it out. Apologies for the faux pas, the mistake was unintentional.

Adv. of globalization - Indian Sports?!

After my Indianapolis trip, I could not stop thinking about the effect of India’s globalization. Hundreds came from far by places to support Narain & wave the Indian flag proudly. Jordan & Narain were disappointing from the start of the season, but that did not deter any of the Indians from turning up to Indianapolis. And in what style, did they turn up! The yellow of Jordan & the saffron, white & green of India were proudly displayed for all to see.

I couldn’t stop wondering if ‘sports’ has been the silent beneficiary in the liberation of the Indian economy. Is it just a mere coincidence that the last 15 years has seen an emergence of a lot of sports stars in varied fields apart from Cricket? Or is there a correlation with India’s liberalization? Have the Baichung Bhutia (played for second divison club in England), Gopichand, Jeev Mikha Singh, Rathore, Anju George, Sania Mirza, Narain Karthikeyan…etc benefited due to India’s new found economic importance? Would all this be possible 20 years ago?

Corporate honchos have also realized the potential that sports and are hoping to cash in on the untapped Indian sports market (apart from cricket). From the support that Narain received in Indianapolis, it looks like their bets are paying off. F1’s popularity is spreading in India like wild fire and it is becoming a big market that sponsors can hardly offer to ignore. There is a lot of money to be made. When the F1 team managers sit & decide their team for next year, Narain Karthikeyan (and thousands of Indian F1 fans) will be hoping that they see/judge him as India’s fastest man & not as ‘One of the top 20 drivers in the World’!

Updated: 7/1 benefactor with beneficiary ;-)

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Disappointing, disgusting, ridiculous, stupid…yet patriotic!

At 12:59 PM Central time, 20 cars that lined up at the starting grid started the engines, revved it up. The noise was unmistakable & all too familiar. It was my third formula 1 live race. The mechanics & team personnel started to leave the starting grid. The engines were still being revved up. The crowd whistled & cheered wildly in anticipation of a great race. At 1 PM, the green lights came on and the formation lap begun. We were on our feet. Everyone was standing up to get the best glimpse of the start. A start in Formula 1 is the highlight of the is like watching Sachin in full flow. It’s when the adrenalin is fully pumped up. The race is usually won or lost in the start. We were watching it from the grand stands (a.k.a the Penthouse), and were waiting for the formation lap to complete. As we turned right to see the cars coming back after the formation lap..the tifosy cheered widly since the Ferrari cars were coming first. But the cheers lasted just a second. We could now see a lot of the cars going in to the pit lane..not unusual for formula 1 (for cars to start from pit lane). But then the inexplicable happened, the cars headed right into the pits (except Mclaren, Mclaren Mercedes for some reason had both the cars in the pit lane & were working on them. After some time, they did call both the cars in). They did not even stop in the lane. It didn’t take too much of a time for f1 connoisseurs to understand that Michelin cars were out & it must have been a problem with the tires.

Whatever the problems, we were trying to understand what the fcuk was going on. We were robbed…robbed in broad daylight. But we didn’t know who the thieves were. By then, lap 1 had already started. The crowd booed & shouted ‘Bullshit’ with a middle finger salute aimed at anyone associated with F1. We did not know that this was coming our way…I heard from my friends later that there were rumors well before the race that this might happen. But you must remember that for spectators on the track, we had no access to live tv commentary or live came out of the blue & it came as a shock. We thought that the FIA were the culprits.

But now in hindsight, that I have read all the news..I must tell you this. The problem was caused only due to 1 party: Michelin. They screwed up & then decided to take the high road. Imagine this scenario…a fast bowler is charging at 150 mph & bowling. He bowls a no ball. The Batsman hears the no ball call & thrashes the bowler for a six. The bowler then consistently keeps bowling no balls…the batsman consistently keep hitting him for a six of every single no ball. Then the bowler & coach come up with a plan…they tell the umpire that the game is boring since the batsman is dominating so much, so they ask the umpire to redraw the bowling crease, they ask him to draw it two feet ahead of the existing line!. This is exactly what Michelin & the other 7 teams wanted to do. The track has been around for ages…f1 has been going on in this track for 5 years. The track has not changed even a wee bit. But, because they did not prepare properly, they wanted FIA to build a chicane. I will say the same that I said on the race.. “BULLSHIT”. To have come unprepared for this race was the fault of Michelin and ONLY Michelin.

Since the race, I have been hearing/reading many views on the fiasco. Yes, the spectators on track & off track have been cheated because of the in competency of Michelin. But then that is the beauty of sports, it is unpredictable. The forms of the players/team fluctuate on any given day. Isn’t this what sport all about? Thousands of dollars are spent on boxing matches..only for the opponent to be knocked out in the first 1 minute…games that are billed up as classics, have ended lopsided….Champions have pulled out from games in last minute & games have lost its luster. That’s the beauty of sports.

So stop the obituaries, punish Michelin..ONLY Michelin, I feel the teams with Michelin tires have already been punished. They have lost valuable championship points. Also with the way, qualifying process is set-up; they are screwed in Magny Cours (next race) as well. F1 is too big a sport to have one party holds it to ransom. The guilty must be punished & care should be taken so that this is not repeated and then the show will go on…(it might have some hiccups in US…of all the places it happened in US…where they have the least following & are trying to build up a base! ;-) Murphy’s Law! )

But hey, Hang on a minute, if you thought that this whole event was spoilt by the shenanigans of one stupid tire manufacturer…you are wrong…read on…

This race event, personally to me was one of the most satisfying. Not the race itself (the race was screwed, lets forget that), but the pre race events. What happened prior to the race was what dreams are made of. Having grown up watching f1 races & seeing German, Italian, English, Finnish…Brazilian flags, June 19th 2005 was the D-day when I could proudly wave an Indian Flag myself in the F1 circuit. Never ever thought that this would be possible! But it was not just me, what an Indian (‘desi’ as called affectionately ;-) crowd that had descended to Indianapolis to support India’s fastest man! Unbelievable crowd (what was even more surprising were the presence of the fairer sex..almost 25 – 30% of the Indian crowd!) AND all of them supporting Narain Karthikeyan & Jordan (yes, lots of them had Ferrari/Mclaren caps, tshirts, flags but their heart was with Narain). Cries of ‘Hindustan Jitega’ rented the air. It could have been a scene straight out of an Indo-Pak cricket match. India has arrived in the F1 circuit. We were not the size of the Colombian fans but we were certainly one of the noisiest crowd that day (just in case you did not know this. Indianapolis represents mini Colombia on the race day, they are second only to the tifosi’s in Indy)

Take a look at the pictures…

Narain was a revelation, as soon as he saw the huge crowd & the support; he crossed the pit lane & came down to the stands. It was an honest, spur of the moment reaction. Something that deserves a lot of praise. (a lot of superstars never acknowledge the crowd, but this was refreshing) None of the other drivers did this. Narain – Thank You. You made our day!

5 points for Narain. But he will be disappointed. The unwritten rule in F1 is that your success is benchmarked based on where your team mate finishes. Every formula 1 driver’s main objective is to finish ahead of his team mate. In that count, Narain will be disappointed.

Now, coming to the actual result, it could have been better… had Narain scored a podium…But then, if wishes were formula1 cars…:)

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Lara flights it up!

pic courtesy: bbc; this was in the tsunami fund-raiser in Lords.

cool...Lara bowling!....a collectors item!

And talking of lara…the brilliant Harsha Bhogle in his latest article analyzes Lara’s brilliance even at this age (Lara is 36!). But it is the end of the article that leaves a lasting impression.

To quote from the article:

Now two records approach Lara, one good the other bitter. Soon, he will be the greatest run-getter in the history of the game and, if this purple patch lasts, he will also score more hundreds than anyone else. And almost inevitably he will have played more losing matches than anyone else in the history of the game.
(emphasis mine)

ha..oh! oh! Oh!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Cheers to good old times

Nothing has changed.

Two Ferraris and a McLaren on the podium

Ganguly back among the runs (so what if its county? ;-)

Australia starting on an Ashes tour & England actually thinking that they can win this time!

Detroit pistons are in NBA finals & so are San Antonio spurs

Tyson is still fighting!...though he calls it quits after that!

Let it continue….


Unrelated notes:

Common sense prevails!

My plan is back on! ;-) main reason being to see an Indian drive a F1 car! & more importantly to see god once again! :)

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Clay is for Bulls!

If “Grass is for Cows”, I think “Clay is for Bulls”! Nadal was a bull & it was a bullish performance!

Rank outsiders ending up as finalists & one time wonders can happen only on Clay! Rafael Nadal though looks impressive for more grand slams.

Simple Solution

With so much speculation surrounding Liverpool’s inclusion in next years Champions league, I think the simple solution would be for Liverpool to play Everton in a pre qualifying game. Every party would be happy with this arrangement. UEFA will be happy that it is still only 4 English teams, English FA & Liverpool will be happy that UEFA has at least agreed to give Liverpool a chance to make it to next year. Everton might be little upset about it. But they cannot complain too much, since they have to anyway play the prequalification games to qualify for Champions League. It is just that instead of playing some Romanian or Turkish second string team, they are playing Liverpool. UEFA could also make a concession that the winner of Liverpool vs. Everton goes through directly to next years Champions league without playing any other extra games.

UEFA ~ are you listening?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

From bikinis to test status…the weekend beat!

Btw did you know that the show on Sunday night was called Miss Universe…believe it or not? Yes it’s called Miss Universe. They had the majority of judges from NBC, made sure that the show was telecast live on 9:00 PM EST when prime time starts…which means that the show had to start in Bangkok at 8:00 AM local time. Yes 8:00 AM start! But who cares… what the heck…its owned by NBC & Trump and they had it their way. Had 5 finalists from continent ‘America’ (but to be fair, they were definitely the best)…yet they called it Miss Universe? ;-)…someones got to be kidding. After all this, some of the prizes that they announced for the winner were so paltry; (winners of reality shows & tv shows in US get 5 – 10 times more than that) If US is not interested in it, why continue to meddle with it? But am happy with the winner..;-)…the first time I saw her on the show was convinced that she was the favorite…had a familiar looking face, for a moment I thought she might be one of the very many Punjabi kudis that have settled there!

Anyway during the same time…the Suns Vs Spurs was going on…In the battle of flesh vs Nash, I went in for flesh ;-) but switched back in time to see Stoudemire & Nash prevent a sweep. Not sure for how long. Spurs are too good for Suns. One man stands out for me: Ginobili

In F1, the god continues to disappoint. But some thing tells me Montreal could be the turning point (partly cos he has won there 7 times) for at least a podium finish. Really disappointed for Raikonen in Nurburgring! Such a nice, cool guy…why him?...why not Alonso? ;-)

Bangladesh continues to ask questions, not on the pitch, but off it…should they be a test playing nation? It’s a perfect catch 22 situation, only if they get more opportunities will they improve, but if you give them opportunities, they embarrass themselves & test cricket. Hopefully the next test will go at least till tea on third day! ;-)