Thursday, April 27, 2006

Bad Boys

Bury Bonds? Hell no!
Three away from sharing 714 home runs with Babe, four away from 715 -- breathe easy on vacation. From now the moments are long, the days of wait are longer. And the day he gets there will be marked by few. Technically the order Hank-Babe-Barry will change forever and ironically robbing our cozy "will he won't he" couch.

I don't think he wakes up thinking 714. His eyes are set where it really matters -- Hank Aaron's 755. And he knows better than anybody, with his health buckling under two decades of baseball, 755 might as well turn out to be 7555.

Bash Bonds. Everyone who thinks can pick up a pen and write a couple of words -- here I give you both -- Bash Bonds.

The much anticipated season started with 708, an unassuming number, yet so close to 714. Close enough to bother a lot of people, ruffle a lot of minds. Bash Bonds -- he is closing on Babe Ruth.

No, not just Babe. His legacy -- the myth -- the man who built the house of Yankees. Babe Ruth, the defining member of once all-white baseball era. Given the level playing field in 1920s, it is not a legacy anymore, instead it's a simple matter of being second to Henry Louis Aaron.

For argument's sake, switch the numbers of Hank and Babe. How many of you would seriously care about Bonds at 711, let alone putting in painful efforts to paint him black when his reputation is already charcoaled.

And when Bonds said the record is Aaron's and Babe is the topic, he was spot on.

Bonds never failed us. Give him that. If anything, he failed himself. To take it away is not my job, neither yours.

A mirror serves the purpose and Barry has one, I know. Let's leave it at that.

For the rest of us: tune in for 712.

Don Ron Artest
He makes a difference. On the court . You cannot deny that. For reasons I quite don't get, the reigning bad boy is routinely vilified for committing lesser troubles than many in the league.

Sal Marinello thinks the league is better off without Ron Artest. All I want to say, Ron's records appear exemplary compared to his fellow ballers who get involved in cases related to drugs, assault , rape , domestic violence -- the list goes on.

Why single out Don Ron? Because the brand -- bad boy Ron sells. Simple enough. He is labeled, tattooed forever. The league knows and the writers know that too. Get him and the message is sent. Period. The tag is there -- so are the slights from every nook and corner -- and a lot waiting for him to slip and not so much to watch him shut down a Kobe or a Tracy.

However, suggestions to deny him the right to play ball are simply absurd. The NBA rules are firmly in place. Stu Jackson loves them. David Stern loves them more. Let Ron play within the system and let the system take care of him.

We don't take away books from a smart but disruptive student. Do we?

Beating the Bush
Ok. You heard the story. I heard the story. With the draft just a couple of days from now, Reggie Bush is in the spotlight for all wrong reasons.

We already have our hands full with one Bush (in the While House). We didn't ask for another.

So what's wrong with Reggie Bush's family staying for an year at a home worth close to a million? Nothing except the house is owned by someone who wished to build his fortune on Reggie.

The wish of Michael Michaels, the owner of the house, went unfulfilled. Reggie picked a different representative. Smart move there Reggie. You see, had it not been the case, you could now be looking for bigger troubles.

Did the Bush family pay rent? Perhaps. Perhaps not. We don't know and Reggie won't clarify.

If they did, was it equal to the market value? We don't have answers either.

Should Reggie and USC be held responsible? Absolutely not.

I accept the theory Reggie never really paid serious attention to his parents moving to a new house. For him it was natural to assume an arrangement must have been worked out between Michael who also happens to be a family friend and his parents.

However the NCAA rules are pretty clear about "extra benefits." He should have been careful. His parents should have known better. But that doesn't make him unworthy of what he and the Trojans had accomplished.

To penalize USC will be downright silly - they had no knowledge whatsoever.

Reggie is all set. Any unfavorable outcome of the ongoing investigations will not jeopardize his pro-career but leave a scar through no fault of himself.

That will be unfortunate.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

NBA Playoffs - Clipped

The NBA playoff plate is sizzling!


In not so distant past when I used to be a Los Angelion, the Lakers were having their dream run as Phil Jackson, a.k.a PJ, unleashed the Zen wearing his trademark slippers. Somehow PJ makes things work when it is near impossible to even show up every day without losing your basic sense of sanity. Yet his place as the greatest coach of all time is repeatedly questioned. His methods might seem unconventional, borderline butt of wise cracks and quite rightly so but you get to see the results yourself. Behind his Zen mask lives a conjurer, an astute, supremely down to floor intellect that goes beyond the right way. Never mind. Enough digression.

The Zen-men in all those years ridiculed the opponents with amazing ease, consistently delivering when it matters and in the process broke a million hearts billion times - particularly if your address is in the Cowbell County.

And nobody really, really, really cared about the Clippers and serious Clippers fans couldn't even claim having a good day in their life. Believe me, owner Donald Sterling committed the biggest heist of his life -- for him the franchise brought millions to his already big fat pot and yet he did nothing to show he cares. Let's just say that he is the living proof that you can get away with almost anything in LA.

The times surely they are a-changin'. So much that, the transmogrified Clippers are not only enjoying their best times in 30 years -- turning the habitual sighs and groans into chuckles and smiles -- but are showing signs of becoming the focal point in the postseason. Of course, Clippers being Clippers, they are still owned by Donald and managed by Elgin Baylor (but let's forget that for now).

Flash forward - Game Two: Clippers vs Nuggets

Right now Clippers have a lead 62-37 and Mike Dunleavy is looking like he has been promised a new head with hairs that are never going to fall again. His furious counterpart is now hoping for a quick technical to spare himself the embarrassment-in-waiting over the remaining 18 minutes and 15 seconds.

TNT's David Aldridge is in a quick courtside chat with Billy Crystal. Billy goes, "We had so many tough seasons" What? You call them tough? Just tough?! I don't get it, may be that's Billy's way of making fun of Donald.

The Clippers' Shaun Livingston had a breakaway and analyst Doug Collins almost ran out of words. Honestly, with Doug, the fun in watching a ball game increases exponentially. Why can't there be more like him? I guess it is like asking why there is only one Einstein. (Ok, that was pushing the analogy a bit too far, but you get the point.)

This game looks safely tucked inside my hip-pocket.

The TNT crew went crazy. It's a Donald Sterling close up. You can even count the wrinkles! Why are we forced to watch a Donald Sterling close up for seven seconds? I always thought this is a land of law. But guess I am wrong. Even Elgin Baylor is getting kudos for putting together this bunch. See, I am telling you the "Free Kandi" days are finally over.

Even the Clipper girls are getting noticed. May be some of them can find a date now.

Game Update: End of the game quote from "Sam-I-Am," Sam Cassell: "Clippers, baby!"

Playoff Round One

The series:

... making your family yawn: Pistons plowing the Bucks in four (let's get over it with real quick, please)

... showing consistent flashes of future: Cavaliers casually dispatching the Wizards in six (unless "The King," LeBron James, decides he can do it all by himself).

... turning remotely interesting: Heat burning the Bulls in five.
The series generating enough subplots only to die in about 34 seconds: Spurs spurning the Kings in five (Here I can be flat out wrong about five - this could go to seven. The only relevant word is "Artest").

... potentially causing changing your pick every other game: Nets netting the Pacers in seven.

... that would go down in history as 2006 liberation from the clutches of destined for doom: Clippers clipping the Nuggets in five.

... that I wouldn't be watching: Mavericks manhandling the Grizzlies in four.

... to watch: Lakers zenning the setting Suns.

More MVP Musings

Kobe kObe koBe kobE

The "K-O-B-E FOR MVP" noise became louder every day in the last couple of weeks. Yikes! May be it's just me - the last three minutes of the 81 point game is a classic Kobe who is all about himself. Sorry, I can't even raise a finger for someone who has so little respect for the game. But I agree as Blogcritics' Adam Hoff pointed out -- he has a shot winning it this season.

That Chauncey's name appears in the short list of everyone is in my opinion a reflection of his contribution to the Pistons' success. He is again a fantasy case that people love to toy with but deep down they know his chance of winning the MVP is as much as that Rafael Araujo's. Zero. Sorry, Pistons fans. You got a great city and a fantastic franchise. Be thankful.

Credit LeBron for getting the Cavaliers this far. He has only handful of flaws, particularly his defense and clutch shooting (but who doesn't?). But MVP? Not yet.

The antonym for Dirk Nowitzki is defense. Mark Cuban won't agree. But his favorite pastime is to disagree -- which is OK given that he wears a blue T-shirt and waves hands like a stranded hitchhiker.

My pick: Dwyane Wade. You don't think so?

Reality order: Kobe, Nash, LBJ.

By the way, Messiah sounds precariously close to a combination of "Mess" and "Isiah." It may not be a coincidence after all.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Naked King

Guess where team India for test matches is headed right now - vacation, and a well deserved one at that. At least they don't have to play test cricket and make a mockery of their talent. Nor do they have to sweat it out on tailor-made pitches only to disgrace themselves. For the thinking Coach it is a good break for his thoughts too. Nothing personal Mr. Chappell, but your ideas have resulted in a premature demise of what we knew a good enough test team - good enough to hold its ground in this part of the world, good enough to command respect and not contributing to the fond memories of an England team that could barely field eleven gentlemen.

Coach, in cricket that matters, otherwise known as test cricket, you have been out thought by your counterpart Duncan Fletcher. Does it bother you?

Apparently the way we surrendered in the Karachi test and scraped our way to a drawn series against an England C team was not shameful enough. Since then, the trumpet blowers of Chappell-Dravid are playing the familiar "all is well" theme. May be only the cynics like us are crying foul.

For the record, during the Wright-Ganguly years, our overall score card reads 3-2 against Pakistan (one home and one away), 2-1 against England (one home and one away) and an immensely respectable 4-4 in the 11 tests against the Aussies when they routinely demolished every other side in the world (here I am willing to ignore how the petty board politics lead to the green top at Nagpur during the last home series; all conspiracy theorists - think of the same pitch when we played against England).

How exactly does our previous record fit into our recent 0-1 showing in Pakistan and humbling against a broken beyond repair England team that even managed a rare win after twenty years?

To be honest with you, I am not surprised. This bias is nothing new. The conveniently misguided souls would be singing a different tune had Dravid or Tendulkar paired with the polite New Zealander instead of a certain arrogant and passionate bengali from Kolkata. Success buys enemies and Ganguly never made many friends in the media anyway. Even worse are the deliberate attempts to discredit the wonderful run team India had. And for what? To cover up the embarrassment inflicted upon us by the so called preachers of taking team India to the next level. Amazing.

Surely we have found the next level in the reverse direction. We should just start viewing the world upside down to appreciate Coach Chappell.

Questions were raised about the authenticity of the wins before Chappell-Dravid raised our bar. People forget that a victory against any team, stronger or weaker (based on factual records and statistics) stands out simply on cricketing merits. Every one of them requires effort, no less sweat for that matter.

You need proof?

Just ask our current outfit that played the England team (and managed to bring themselves to their knees). Had we won, would you acknowledge the victory or choose not to because more than half the opponents were a bunch of no-namers? Seriously write down the playing eleven of the England team right now if you can.

Make no mistake, Chappell might be the architect of a faulty design but he is not alone. The senior players who sent their cricketing acumen to exile and stopped questioning the coach should share the blame as well.

Perhaps we needed to be wiped away in the England series for the sleepwalkers to wake up and find the King truly naked! It is easy not to acknowledge the rude facts that are only a curtain of truth away for they might compromise the agendas.

Now why did I start this rambling in the first place (of course why should you care)?

A week ago fellow Desicritics Angshuman Hazra and Nanda Kishore politely stirred the issue with bits and pieces of scepticism thrown in the mix for good taste. Nevertheless they offered fairly balanced views, appeared supportive of the coach, and ready for more suffering. I assume they are bravehearts which is good in a way. Now cricinfo has got the issue rolling in their home turf with Ashoke Malik driving his point home while the others to their credit continued the mission of diluting one of the most successful eras of Indian cricket. For some, truth is fuzzy and agendas are proven theorems.

It is also equally painful to find cheerleaders only for certain individuals in hard fought wins (in the past). This is just not a case of bad taste but a case of serious disrespect to the rest of the team.

The ride with Wright and Ganguly was never dull. We accomplished a lot, missed a few chances but the playing eleven always fought with pride and passion.

The ride with Chappell and Dravid, two all time greats of different eras is going to be bumpy. Here is hoping the bumps will even out with time. Also once in a while they should know where they stand. They are accountable too. To us - the fans of Indian cricket.


Thursday, April 06, 2006

Nash for NBA MVP? Not again

Steve Nash won the NBA MVP race last year. Sigh.

If he wins it again, and going by the "experts" he seems a lock, I swear I am going to file a motion in the court of David Stern.

The bottom line is, Steve Nash shouldn't win the Maurice Podoloff trophy this year. And let me assure you, he wasn't the most deserving candidate last year either.

Look. Basketball is a simple game. Score and stop. Find ways to score and find ways to stop others from scoring. This is no String Theory. This is the right and only way to play ball.

Want your name to be floated in the MVP race? You gotta impact both ends of the floor. Period.

The only way I see Nash making a twopeat is if the people who voted for him before do it again -- not for basketball reasons but only to vindicate themselves. Come on, who would not? Are you willing to accept that you made a blunder last season? Very few would.

Come April, as the MVP race heats up (assuming it is a bona fide race with at least two legit candidates; the only exception was of course when MJ was playing, there wouldn't be a second one), the age old recycled arguments appear time and time again -- a fine job though, year after year without the colored bins.

Who are we kidding here?

Clearly what defines the MVP is fairly subjective with opinions as diverse as the statistical conclusions from a sample size of five. While I understand Commissioner Stern came up with a dress code for players (would eventually be recognized as The Stern Commandments), the fact that the most prestigious individual basketball honor is left to the free-flowing interpretations of the pundits with agenda of their own is a bit sad.

I am not complaining. In democracy, for every Bill Clinton there is a George Bush.

(However, to keep the sanctity of the award I hereby request the Commissioner to whisper a few choice words through the proper channels.)

I love Steve Nash. He is one heck of a baller. I fully appreciate what he did last season. I marvel at what he is doing now without the services of a certain Amare Stoudemire. I am aware of every argument the educated analysts are going to pour over in the next few weeks.

True, the Phoenix Suns are a joy to watch and it starts with their master conductor Steve Nash. Night in and night out they play the team ball rarely skipping a beat or two. A perfect harmony for all there to see and feel good. The blending is a smoothie. But make no mistake, the credit here must go to Mike D'Antoni (who got the Coach of the Year award quite deservingly, and I don't have a problem with that).

If I recall correctly, it was Eric Neel of ESPN Page 2 who started the Nash for MVP ball rolling last year and he turned out to be dead on.

As the Nash for MVP movement gained steam, my feelings were mixed. I was disappointed because deep down, I felt, Nash, no matter how good, is simply not MVP-caliber. At the same time I was happily amused watching the whole saga unfold in layers with more twists than in The Sopranos. After all, here is a MVP debate where basketball took a backseat giving way to hogwashing. For good measure, Dan LeBatard threw in his theory of color and the world went nuts.

Don't you love free speech and democracy?

The controversies, however, had little to do with Nash's proficiency with basketball, and more to do with his so called underdog status and he being a small (NBA size and not Wal-Mart) white guy with freaky hairdo.

This is America. You mention a color from the visible spectrum of light you are labeled as a racist. Let me tell you this, no matter how sick it sounds on your face, Dan LeBatard of the Miami Herald had a point.

Coming back to Nash for MVP movement, you would never ever hear the pundits talk about his defense or lack of it. The same pundits would go on and on and on how defense wins championships. Disgusting.

How can you legitimately argue for a MVP case without mentioning his ability to play defense? Beyond me.

Yes, I too have an agenda. It is basketball.

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Saturday, April 01, 2006

Atomic size computers

AFP via Yahoo News reports,
Scientists at an IBM research center in Silicon Valley have created a magnetism-manipulating tool suited to building molecular computers, the company revealed.

Click here for the full report.

Now for the grain of salt. Don't go WOW. The news is fascinating by itself - a real technological breakthrough but extrapolating the ramifications to atomic size computers is a bit too much. It could have been worse if you remember there are objects smaller than an atom!! I am glad they made a conscious decision not to go beyond.

I plan to post a couple of articles on the promises and viability of quantum computers asap.

posted in Miscellaneous

from QbiT