Friday, October 07, 2005

LIFE AFTER WINNING FORMULA ONE

Renault's Fernando Alonso’s life has become a fantasy after becoming Formula One's youngest motor racing champion. Virtually his life is as normal as it was before clinching the title. The Spaniard, 24, who clinched the title with two races to spare in Brazil last month, said he had spent the time since Interlagos relaxing and comforting himself at his home in Oxford, England, with family and friends. It seems he is busy remembering the great moments of this 2005 season and his career. Now the winner of six of 17 races so far this year, is anticipating his next season, which will be full of new challenges and new rules. While Alonso has an indisputable 23-point lead over McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, Renault and McLaren, all are still battling for the constructor's title. Last year Alonso had lot of problems but still he finished fourth in the championship. This made him realize that he lacked something to win the championship and the answer was he needed a good car and a good team.

BRAVES ASTONISHING SEASON OF TRANSITION WITH SMOLTZ


The time has come when we should not suspect the grit and strong will-power of John Smoltz who has proudly lived up to the expectations of the people and has proved himself as one of the best big-game pitchers to ever come around. When he switched on to the started position the closer's role back, he emerged out as a confident player and rose to the like he did against Roger Clemens and the Astros at a misty Turner Field on Thursday night. While Roger Clemens scuffled painfully on the mound, Brian McCann emerged from the Atlanta Braves' dugout for a most unexpected curtain call. McCann hit a three-run homer off Clemens in his first postseason at-bat, sending John Smoltz and the Braves to a 7-1 victory over the Houston Astros. Smoltz's seven solid innings and Brian McCann's memorable three-run homer helped the Braves that evened their National League Division Series against the Astros at a game each.

Smoltz battled through his shoulder stiffness that was nagging him from the last three weeks, but still he limited the Astros to one run and seven hits in seven innings. Smoltz repeated the history after six years when he pitched seven strong innings in his first October start since the 1999 World Series. Smoltz's after spending the last four postseasons as a closer delivered an unexpected performance. It is indeed incredible for someone who's long been one of baseball's best big-game pitchers. Smoltz broke a one-day tie with Houston's Andy Pettitte to reclaim the title of baseball's winningest postseason pitcher. This achievement has increased his career postseason wins to 15.

YAO MING’S PERFECTION TO MAKE HIM NBA’S BIGGEST STARS


Chinese super center Yao Ming's flawless ability to play has created a buzz. On the court and off, Houston Rockets basketball star Yao Ming is a true giant. The broad shoulders with a stronger back, this sensational 7-6 tall monster created a stir in the NBA and across the globe as a rookie only. At the age of 22, he has become a NBA megastar. Like Madonna or Elvis, Yao needs only the mentioning of his first name and the crowd goes crazy. A sure a sign of superstardom as any. , it always has seemed not enough for him to be the player he is but to become the player he can be.

Supposedly, the topic is how great he can be, indeed the discussion will be enormous like him. This spring NBA teams included 65 international players from 34 countries and territories. The diverse product on the court helps attract new audiences around the world. And probably the most significant foreign player to suit up is the Rockets' Yao, but Yao has never preferred talking of himself and his potential for greatness. A true representative of the country which thinks that discussing of one’s greatness is immodest and against the culture. On the contrary he is a harsh critic of himself and is very rigid to himself. Yao has made the NBA a hot offer in the emerging markets of the Far East increasing the commercial value of NBA in Far East. Yao may be the ultimate marketing tool for the rapidly growing Chinese market. Yao was the first number one NBA draft pick to come from an international basketball league. When Yao is in action, 300 million people watch him intensely.

MIAMI TO PLAY HOST TO THE TITLE GAME IN 2010

A record 10th time Miami city will play host to the title game. Miami, Atlanta and Houston made a final bid for the gazebo event at an NFL owners meeting. Earlier New York was provisionally awarded the game out of the running, the NFL picked from three cities that lost a bid in May for the 2009 game, which went to Tampa. Houston was eliminated in the first. None of the city got the three-quarters vote on the second ballot and Miami won by a simple majority on the third. The 2008 Super Bowl will be played in suburban Phoenix. That means there will be three Super Bowls in Florida and one in Arizona.

The fact worth noticing is that the officials prefer to award the game to those cities that generally have warmer topography. In Miami the weather is the best with the best hotels, the best restaurants, the best beaches and the best golf courses. Three off the first five Super Bowls -- in 1968, 1969 and 1971 -- were in Miami and the last one there was in 1999. Atlanta (1999 and 1994) and Houston (2004 and 1974) has each hosted the Super Bowl twice. The 2010 Super Bowl that was originally awarded to New York only on the condition that a new stadium be built failed to win government approval.

WAYNE GRETZKY'S SIGH OF DEPRESSION


The Los Angeles Kings defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 on Thursday night, registering Gretzky’s second loss behind the bench. Wayne Gretzky committed the first major mistake of his NHL coaching career against his old team. Alexander Frolov of Los Angeles scored the go-ahead goal on a power play in the second period, giving the Los Angeles Kings a 3-2 victory over the Phoenix Coyote, giving Gretzky a winless start. With this Andy Murray became the Kings’ all-time winningest coach with his 179th victory. However, Gretzky persona was not any less, he still earned the limelight due to his new incarnation as a head coach with the long underachieving Phoenix Coyotes. Gretzky has realized that his numbers are now sounding basic and meager since coaching has a different magnitude. For a position that is all about teaching and guidance, he has accepted the fact that the appraisal of all coaches begins and ends either wins or losses, which determine their stay in a particular team.

Gretzky in his eight seasons in Los Angeles led the Kings to the Stanley Cup finals in 1993 and surpassed Gordie Howe as hockey's all-time leading goal scorer at the old Forum in Inglewood. The crowd of 18,118 was simply moved by his presence when he was shown on the scoreboard late in the second period.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

WHITE SOX PITCHING VS. WHITE SOX HITTING


It seems that White Sox are in a chase to end their title drought. After such a powerful start they stunned the World Series Champions with five homers. This is indeed an opportunity to avail for the White Sox presented by the American League Division Series to prove that, Yes! They are worthy contenders after winning their first AL Central title in five years. Chicago retreated the Red Sox by 14-2 in their playoff opener. Paul Konerko’s frustration and desperateness becomes clear when he quoted ``It's nice when you get a game like this, but we've played enough of the other ones to not expect this, I don't think we really felt comfortable until we were up eight, 10 runs.'' For Game 1 starter Jose Contreras it is also another chance to prove he's the big-game pitcher the New York Yankees once envisaged.

And when the White Sox have emerged out as serious contenders it is time for the Red Sox to begin defense of its World Series title. If the White Sox’s pitching competently stands against the Red Sox hitting there chances to appear postseason contenders will become bright. It is all about how White Sox’s chances unfold and their attitude and style towards these chances. Boston’s previous season’s Fall Classic victory was something they hadn't done since 1918 and in case of the White Sox they haven't won the coveted title since 1917. Veteran player A-J Pierzynski hit two homers and drove in four runs to give the Chicago White Sox a 14-to-2 win over Boston in game one of their American League Divisional Series. Great Going!!!

KNICKS IGNORES CURRY’S DNA TEST


The Bulls sidelined Curry in the final 13 games of last season due to an irregular heartbeat and this season they finally traded their most effective offensive player after a dispute over a DNA test for his heart ailment (diagnosed with ventricular arrhythmia). It landed Curry in a fight with Bulls management his lawyer called "far bigger than just the sports world." It was not easy for Bulls to replace Curry since his production was matchless. Last season with the Bulls he averaged 16.1 points on 54 percent with 5.4 rebounds in 63 games. His presence helped the Bulls to clinch their first playoff berth in seven years. The Bulls new acquisitions who will fit into the role of Curry are Michael Sweetney and Tim Thomas. Sweetney will start at power forward while Tyson Chandler at center position. But still it is very indistinguishable to decide whether Sweetney or Chandler will be able to shot even better than Curry. The only potential drawback of the Bulls is that they are dangerously emaciated at center.

Curry’s new team Knicks look more practical since they are anticipating that at least one can fill the team’s center position competently. But the Knicks should not forget that while Curry is undoubtedly talented, his heart problems are enough of a risk that can even cost him his life. Isiah Thomas seems to have captivated with his size, age and potential that he was unable to resist adding Curry who either will become the Knicks' best player at center position or the worst deal Thomas ever has made.

NFL DOOMED TO MEDIOCRITY

Has anybody ever pondered why the teams in the NFL are destined to mediocrity when injuries befall on the franchise? It makes it clear that the criterion in the professional World of football isn't more like baseball. In baseball, at least fan can be given hopes to anticipate. This thing came to my notice when a false rumor last week made a commotion. The rumor was the Packers intention to trade Brett Favre, who still can compete, to the New York Jets. Moreover the Packers also proved in Carolina that they don't have enough competent players to win a significant road game. Their only hope is that they exist in in the league's worst division, the NFC North. But where Favre is concerned, I think if he goes on to play with the Jets, the Jets will take the chance. They will once again come back in business. Playing for either of the teams will only add to Favre’s experience and even if he decides to retire after the season, he will definitely close out his career on a winning note. But here! here! it is just a cloud-cuckoo-land because of the rigid rules of the NFL salary cap since the Jets money is stuck up into quarterback Chad Pennington who isn't keeping good health, while Favre is the Packers' No. 1 salaried player. And if the Jets acquire Favre they will have to pay Favre's salary (and also Pennington's), but in return this will affect their salary. In that case the Packers would also be allowed to take Favre's base salary off of their cap.

There is one more reason that this trade won’t ever happen. Let’s face it! General Managers of most NFL teams always prefer the players with status quo and are wealthy because in this case their only worry is to pick the right players in the draft.

NHL TO ADORN NEW LOOK

Now NHL a whole new game. NHL hockey heading into the 2005-06 season is a sport of new rules with new standard of enforcement in the exhibition season. It is better and faster, with more scoring opportunities and no ties. Most of the rules have been changed to improve the offense. The new rules will allow the players to pass from behind their net all the way to the rival blue line. The offensive zones have been made bigger and the net has been moved back a couple of feet. The movements of the goalies have been restricted. The players will be penalized if they toss the puck into the stands from their defensive zone. No longer can a defenseman can hold up a checker at the offensive blue line when the puck is cleared into the neutral zone. When two players are in a chase of puck into the corner, no deliberate contact will be entertained unless one has touched the puck last.

The parameters of the new standard will give more flow to the games. The changed rules will now feature lots of penalties and lots of power plays with privileges to special teams. The players and the teams will have to adjust accordingly. They're calling the rules as they should. Plenty of other twists are expected to catch your eyes. All in all it’s going to be salary-capped NHL, where everyone, will have a chance to win. Now when the NHL has entered into a new era, let’s cross our fingers and see whether the fans stung by the lockout accept and buy the overhauled product or not.

Monday, October 03, 2005

THE WILDEST RACETRACK IN NASCAR: TALLADEGA


The largest track in the Nextel Cup Series, Talladega is the fastest and scariest — crapshoot in racing. The reduced power affects not only the maximum speed reached by the cars but the time it takes them to achieve their full speed as well, which can be nearly one full circuit of the track.

It is scary in the sense that it turns drivers into potential victims who wait helplessly for “The Big One.” Undoubtedly the showbiz created by the collapsing of cars created here excite the folks, but it gives a real nightmare to the challengers. The terror and wreckage has led to the style of racing to be somewhat different than that at other superspeedways and is referred to by NASCAR fans as "restrictor-plate racing." It isn’t easy for the drivers, who spend more than three hours racing at speed near 200 mph, often with cars nearly touching on every side. Stewart, who bounced back from an 18th-place finish that sent him from the points lead to fifth place coming into Talladega, called the plate races “an aerodynamic chess match.” Here the races are something to be dealt with. Jeff Gordon wins the Aaron's 499, the longest Cup race in Talladega history, 516 miles (194 laps).

SOX’S ENTRY AS A WILD CARD TEAM


With the White Sox's sweep of the Indians, Boston locks up wild card yet again. The Indians completely collapsed its season finale by 3-1 to the Chicago White Sox adding another uncanny chapter to the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry and hitting the headlines. The Sox celebrated after clinching the wild card berth celebrated their victory in the same way the Yankees did. They danced on the Fenway Park turf, and then disappeared into their clubhouse where they cut loose themselves and sprayed the champagne. The entire weekend was a complete package of mystery, fun and an odd feel, recording probably the most-hyped regular-season series in history. The Red Sox and Yankees each finished with records of 95-67, but the division title went to the Yankees because they went 10-9 against the Red Sox. It was the Indians' loss on Saturday that gave them the Yankees division title victory. It was the Indians loss on Sunday that gave the Red Sox won the wild card berth. The loss concluded a disastrous final week for the Indians.

DAVID HARRISON ON A YEAR OF PROBATION


David Harrison of the Indiana Pacers was sentenced to a year of probation after demanding no contest to a transgression assault charge curtailing from one of the worst scuffles in U.S. sports history following the last week’s transgression charges sentenced to his teammates Ron Artest, Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson. The brawl took place at the Palace of Auburn Hills. David has also been sentenced community service, treatment for anger management counseling and a penalty of $250. Several fans at The Palace of Auburn Hills also were charged in the Nov. 19 brawl including Artest for the rest of the season, Jackson for 30 games, O'Neal for 25 and Johnson for five. The league did not suspend Harrison.

Community service makes more sense than jail time…………….

HAS HARRISON’S KNEE INJURY ENDED HIS SEASON OR CAREER?


It's just a matter of how hard and how bad Harrison wants to do it. One of the hardest working guys on the team who puts everything into this game is suffering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament that will sideline him for the rest of the season probably his career. Harrison, a strong safety who started every game since he arrived from San Diego in 2003, was hurt in the first quarter of New England's 23-20 win. His helplessness to not to play the game became more explicit when he had tears in his eyes because of his fondness for the game and it really hurts to know that you might not be able to play. Harrison, whose physical style and competency will be highly missed by the team. The Patriots have already started feeling the painful omen. The first painful omen came when the Patriots first test without Rodney Harrison was a miserable failure. The probability is that the Patriots might face their most difficult challenge this season, trying to win a third consecutive Super Bowl, facing every team's best effort and losing key players early, but we should not forget that might is not always right.

VAGUE RED WINGS

Injuries to key players like Yzerman, Kronwall has made the coach Babcock unsure about his lineup. The Detroit Red Wings will likely play much of the season without rookie defenseman Niklas Kronwall, who was injured by a hit late in the first period of Tuesday's game in Denver. Damage caused to his medial collateral and anterior cruciate ligaments has made his injury so wrenching that Kronwall wasn't even in the original lineup. He was filling in for Jamie Rivers, who was idled by a groin injury. The Red Wings had their complete Sunday off with no practice, no games, and no scrimmages. After playing nine games in 14 nights, the Wings were apparently lackluster. Even Babcok’s strategy to put his reguar lineup on the ice for the back-to-back weekend series against Toronto went in vain due to the Wings' rash of injuries. Another key player Steve Yzerman is sidelined with a groin injury.

Now the conclusion of the narration is that the Red Wings will have count on their younger players or veterans to fill in the gaps to substitute their injured players due to the NHL's collective bargaining agreement which limits them to a salary cap of $39 million.