30 June 2008

The Last King Of Scotland

The match of the day, however, belonged to Andy Murray and Richard Gasquet.

Gasquet is the owner of the most beautiful one-handed backhand in the game today (he earned that title when Justine Henin abruptly retired earlier this year). Gasquet is French, and like all French tennis players, he possesses a game that is stunningly fluid and wonderful to watch, he is a shotmaker, and he is mentally very, very fragile.

Up two sets to none, and serving for the match at 5-4, he folded like the New York Mets and before you know it, Andy Murray was roaring back to win the match in five difficult sets, at 9:30 pm, in the fading light.

I like Murray, he is as laid-back and low-key as his game is dogged. He has often been described as sullen, but I always thought that it wasn't sullenness writ large all over his face, but the existential agnst that comes with carrying the hopes of a tennis-worshiping nation on your back (now that Tim Henman had gracefully faded into the sunset).

But something happened to him today. Today, he became the kind of fist-pumping, chest-thumping, roaring dervish seldom seen in British tennis (accentuating his win with a show of his rather meager biceps). And in doing so he brought the British public over to his side, once and for all.

Of course, he must enjoy this while he can, because he faces the inexorable Rafael Nadal next. But for now, he truly is...wait for it...

...wait for it...

...The Last King of Scotland


The Scotsman: Lionhearted Murray Embraced

Safin Keeps Going


My main man Marat Safin kept his unlikely streak going at Wimbledon with a routine (mixed in with the usual inexplicable blip causing a sure-fire straight-sets win to turn into a four setter) win over the other Swiss tennis player Stanislas Wawrinka (incredibly ranked at No. 9 in the world!).

Unfortunately, Safin's opponent in the quarter-finals is the hard serving lefty Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, who engineered a miraculous comeback against another of my favorites Marcos Baghdatis, while saving three consecutive match points and finally prevailing 8-6 in the fifth set. Man I do feel sorry for the irrepressible Baghdatis, if he doesn't really buckle down I fear that his time as a top-flight player may soon be coming to an end.

Our old pal Mario Ancic, the baby-faced, big-serving Croat (aren't they all?) managed to claw his way back for a victory against big-hitting Fernando Verdasco, winning the final set 13-11. Ancic, as we have been told ad nauseam, was the last man to beat Roger Federer at Wimbledon. Until his unfortunate bout with glandular fever (during which time he earned a law degree!), Ancic was a real threat, and it's wonderful to see a good guy like him slowly working his way back.

This has been a nice little Wimbledon hasn't it?


The Times: Maverick Marat Safin
The Telegraph: Ancic Survives
ESPN: Lopez Goes Through
NYT: Fourth Round Report

New Zealand Beat England On The Last Ball!

Man, New Zealand and England have been putting on quite the show.

First the English side thumped the Kiwis in the Test series.

Then there was the controversial rain-out in the ODI series.

And then...there was that incredible Game 3 which had its fair share of controversy including New Zealand winning on the last ball of the match.

The controversy happened when Ryan Sidebottom collided with Grant Elliott resulting in Elliott's run-out.

Umpire Mark Benson gave English skipper Paul Collingwood a chance to reconsider his appeal for the run-out. Collingwood, in a decision he would publicly regret the day later and which completely goes against the gentlemanly spirit of the game, stood firm and the umpire had no choice but to give Elliott out.

Of course, karma has a funny way of turning up when you least expect it.

Mark Gillespie ran a single after swatting the last ball from Luke Wright, which would have resulted in a tie when...

...Graeme Swann fielded the ball...

...and threw it back towards the stumps...

...and missed...

...and no one was there "backing up the play" (as they often say in Baseball)...

...which resulted in an over-throw...

...and the winning run scored for New Zealand!


The Kiwis used the momentum to win the next match and the ODI series and just like that a team which had been given up for dead rose from the ashes like the Phoenix and resurrected its cricketing future.

You gotta love Cricket!


Cricinfo Match Bulletin
Cricinfo Commentary: 50/50 Not Dead
Cricinfo Plays of the Day
Cricinfo News About Collingwood Ban

Australia Lose!

Well, very briefly, in the sole Twenty20 match against the West Indies.

Then, of course, the ODI series started, and Australia has been beating up on the West Indies ever since.

Still, the Windies played the Aussies much tougher than expected in the Test series, and the win in the T20 was a win nonetheless.

Hopefully other countires will learn something from the under-manned West Indies squad and will decide to show some grit and heart the next time the Aussies come knocking on their door.


Cricinfo Match Report

India Beat Pakistan!

All right, so it was a meaningless Group Match in the current Asia Cup being held in Pakistan.

Still, an emphatic victory by India against arch-rival Pakistan is very welcome in the face of that unforgivable loss in the finals of the Kitply Cup.

Some belligerent ball-striking by the renewed Virender Sehwag (a 95-ball 119) and the surprising Suresh Raina (a 69-ball 84) helped India overhaul the challenging score in a scant 42 overs.

All right boys, the easy work is done. Now go out there and get down to business and win the whole d*mn thing!


Cricinfo Match Bulletin

28 June 2008

The Massacre At Wimbledon

The Massacre at Wimbledon continues.

No.1, and newly-crowned French Open champion Ana Ivanovic was disposed of rather brutally by a Wild Card entry!

And, to top it off, my own personal favorite Amelie Mauresmo battled hard...for one set...against Serena Williams. Okay so that last one wasn't a shock, but I was pretty sad nonetheless.

This has been a crazy Wimbledon!

Here are the big names from the men's side who have dumped out, rather unceremoniously, before the second week:

Novak Djokovic, Andy Roddick, James Blake, Fernando Gonzalez, David Ferrer, David Nalbandian, and Nikolay Davydenko (check the betting patterns on that last one!).

Here's the list from the women's side:

Ana Ivanovic, Maria Sharapova, Lindsay Davenport, and Amelie Mauresmo.

To make things worse, Jelena Jankovic suffered a knee injury and just about scraped through a win.

Things are getting interesting...


NYT Story

The Bush "S" Song

From Kevin "KAL" Kallaugher of The Economist:


The Economist KAL Archive

The Clintons "Support" Obama

From Kevin "KAL" Kallaugher of The Economist:


The Economist KAL Archive

26 June 2008

Journey And The Sopranos Bump

Sent to me by my excellent colleague Matt Matyas:

Just goes to show you, my friends, that The Sopranos series finale was the best thing to happen to Journey since Steve Perry joined them.

Good for the folks at A&E to use this (now seemingly eternal) pop-cultural moment to their advantage:

Good bless Matt Matyas!

Novak Djokovic 2.0: Ernests Gulbis

Remember the name: Ernests Gulbis.

Just like Novak Djokovic was slowly making a name for himself a couple of years ago, this young man from Latvia has the powers-that-be in the ATP afraid, very afraid.

Rafael Nadal had to play very, very well to beat him in the second round at Wimbledon (5-7, 6-2, 7-6, 6-3) and his post-match conference displayed that he was taking this very seriously:

"[O]ne of the worst opponents who I can play in the second round - very aggressive, very good serve, very young."

Hopefully he doesn't go the way of other young can't miss-es that didn't quite pan out (the names Tomas Berdych and Joachim Johansson come to mind, though the name that really comes to mind was the nickname hoisted on the latter: Euro-Roddick!), but if you get the chance, check him out.

BTW, kudos to Nadal for bearing down and putting away an extremely dangerous opponenet, which is something the other favorites Andy Roddick (going down in four hard-fought sets to Janko Tipsarevic), Novak Djokovic (losing to the mercurial Marat Safin), Maria Sharapova (listless in a loss to 154th-ranked Alla Kudryavtseva), and James Blake (losing to one-time Australian Open finalist Rainer Schuettler) were unable to do.

I think Roger Federer should be nervous.

But, in the meantime, keep an eye on young Gulbis.


Story: Nadal Beats Gulbis
Wikipedia: Ernests Gulbis

Jam Of The Summer 2: Santogold!

Here's the other summer jam from Santogold, the extremely catchy "L.E.S. Artistes"

Click to play the video:

Lyrics (in case you want to sing along):

What I'm searching for
to tell it straight, I'm trying to build a wall
Walking by myself
down avenues that reek of time to kill
If you see me keep going
be a pass by waver
Build me up, bring me down
just leave me out you name dropper
Stop trying to catch my eye
I see you good you forced faker
Just make it easy
You're my enemy you fast talker

I can say I hope it will be worth what I give up
If I could stand up mean for the things that I believe

What am I here for
I left my home to disappear is all
I'm here for myself
Not to know you
I don't need no one else
Fit in so good the hope is that you cannot see me later
You don't know me
I am an introvert an excavator
I'm duckin' out for now
a face in dodgy elevators
Creep up and suddenly
I found myself
an innovator


Change, change, change,
I want to get up out of my skin
tell you what
if I can shake it
I'm 'a make this
something worth dreaming of


Jam Of The Summer: Santogold!

Dude, I'm totally into MIA-clone Santogold.

"Lights Out" is the jam of the Summer!

And now the Bud Light Remix is available for free (see link below).

Totally cool.

Here is a user-generated video of the song:


Free Download

Wimbledon Fashion!

No seriously, ESPN has been breathlessly covering Wimbledon fashion this year.

This used to be the domain of the women players, until good old Roger Federer decided to take matters into his own hands with his blazer a few years ago (and continued that trend at the other Grand Slams, one elegantly sartorial statement after another) and instantly became a fashion icon (he is now fast friends with Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief at Vogue), something the hum-drum Tiger Woods has not managed to do (surprisingly enough the Nike Swoosh does not qualify as a fashion statement).

Now the women have followed suit (umm, no pun intended).

There's Serena Williams with her trench coat (very The Avengers Emma Peel cool!):

There's Maria Sharapova with her tuxedo top and boy shorts (I'm not a fan):

And then, of course, is the great Roger Federer with his cardigan (valued at a cool US$ 520):

Top that Tiger!


ESPN Story
NYT Story

25 June 2008

Suddenly Safin!

A funny thing happened on the way to the much anticipated Novak Djokovic - Roger Federer semi-final Wimbledon clash.

Marat Safin.

Yup, the mercurial Russian (the very epitome of that description), for whom the phrase "on any given day..." was practically invented, sent the World No. 3 and champion Federer trash-talker packing in the second round.

Man, I was kinda hoping for a Federer - Djokovic clash because it would be a nice way for Federer to answer his critics by taking out his two biggest rivals for his sixth Wimbledon title (the other rival would be Rafael Nadal, who he is slated to meet in the final).

But I'll take a Safin Surprise any day of the week!

Of course the crazy Russian will lose in the very next round, but for a brief second it was nice to have been reminded about his singular brilliance.



NYT Story
ESPN Story

23 June 2008

Another Reason Why Roger Federer Is Greater Than Tiger Woods

After his First Round win at Wimbledon, Roger Federer (in his very stylish new cardigan, thusly described by that fine purveyor of fashion ESPN: "a herringbone-pattern, four-button cardigan with gold trim and a stylized F on a badge on his left chest. The insignia on the buttons represent his five Wimbledon titles") visited with Patrick McEnroe and Chris Fowler at the ESPN studios.

That just goes to show you what a great guy he is. He takes the time out during his most important tournament, thereby potentially upsetting his routine (so important to elite athletes) to visit with a network where the language is not his preferred spoken language (though he is fluent in seemingly every other language out there) and where Tennis is just a blip on the radar, to try and help sell his sport. This is what being an "ambassador of his sport" (that oft-used cliche...um, which is a cliche in and of itself...which is also a cliche, all right fine, never mind) really means.

And no, Tiger Woods would not have done this (I've seen Tiger totally blow off post-match interviews after losses with the interviewers being too scared to follow-up).

Another reason why Roger > Tiger.

Here is the video:


ESPN Match Report

Federer and Hrbaty: BFF

Nope, that's not a mistake, that's Dominik Hrbaty sitting side-by-side with Roger Federer...and it's a singles match!

Hrbaty was once a player viewed with a lot of potential, which, unfortunately, he never quite fulfilled. Instead he had a solid career that is quickly winding down (precipitated by a rash of injuries).

So while Federer was dispatching him on Centre Court on Day 1 of Wimbledon 2008, he walked over to Federer's side during the last change0ver and just hung out for a bit. After all, this was going to be Hrbaty's last Wimbledon, and he's old pals with Federer (they are former doubles and practice partners), so why not go out with some style?

Somehow, I don't see Tiger Woods being as courteous to his opponent.

And this is why Tennis is great and why Federer is great.


ESPN Day 1 Recap

Viva La Vida (Or How To Sound Like U2 By Really Trying Hard)!

I've been listening to the new Coldplay album Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends and I think the jury is still out.

My favorite songs so far:

1. Life in Technicolor (mostly for the cool Indian instrumentation)

2. Cemeteries Of London (the sing-along portion is very much early U2)

3. Lost! (comes this close to Fix You status)
5. Lovers In Japan / Reign Of Love (Dude I know nothing about music and even I could tell that this was a Brian Eno song)

6. Yes (Hey, did The Edge join Coldplay?)

9. Strawberry Swing (How much reverb can you put in one song?)

10. Death And All His Friends (The Fix You of this album, all post-XY Coldplay albums must have their own Fix You apparently)


Google Search: Album Reviews

22 June 2008

Roger Federer's Moment Of Truth

There's an excellent article on ESPN detailing how this could be it for Roger Federer.

I mean, of course, this isn't the end of his career, but with Tiger Woods out, this could be his shot to finally overcome all the adversaties that have befallen him over the last half-year or so and climb back to the summit like all the all-time greats who came before him did in their own careers.

Wimbledon starts in a few hours, and with the ascent of the Serbians (both men and women), Rafael Nadal knocking on Federer's door, the Williams Sisters in a state of flux, this could be one of the most compelling fortnights at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, ever!

Stay tuned...


ESPN Story

20 June 2008

Stream Of Life

The song used in the Matt Harding video is adapted from the great poem "Stream of Life" by noted Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore.

Here is the poem (beautiful, no?).

The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day
runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.

It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth
in numberless blades of grass
and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.

It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth
and of death, in ebb and in flow.

I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life.

And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.


Wikipedia: Rabindranath Tagore

Bringing The World Together One Idiot Dancing Software Engineer At A Time

Matt Harding became an internet sensation with his clip reel of himself dancing in front of some of the world's most famous monuments.

He's been busy visiting some 42 countries in 14 months (according to my esteemed colleague Bon Mercado) which has produced his newest video.

This time there's a twist, he invites the locals to join him and it all becomes one giant, sweet dance-athon, bringing the world together.

Sigh, can't you just feel the love?


Official Website
Wikipedia: Matt Harding

19 June 2008

Video Conferencing With A Dog

Yup, that's my colleague Mark "The Natural" Contreras video conferencing with his cute little dog Peanut using his fancy Macbook Pro iSight.

See, Macs can do anything!

Now I Feel Bad

Okay, after bagging on both Tiger Woods and Kobe Bryant, I totally feel bad.

Apparently, Tiger was playing with a torn ACL (it had been torn for almost a year) and a double stress fracture in his left leg! And now he's out for the rest of year. Let the national mourning begin - what will we do without the great Woods?

And then, of course, Kobe gets blasted by the Boston Celtics. I did feel bad for him, poor chap, he looked so thin and small compared to the Celtics, bringing the ball up the court only to get confused and pass off to his hapless supporting cast. So sad, like a small little boy playing against schoolyard bullies.

I do feel bad.


Golf.com: Tiger Out
NYT: Kobe No MJ

H*ll Is...

...being stuck in Los Angeles traffic for almost an hour and a half on my way home from work and having to listen to every single ESPN podcast talk about Tiger Bloody Woods...ad nauseam...on and on and on and on...knee...Tiger Woods...heroic...Golf can't survive without him...and on and on and on...

Dude, it's been four days already, is there really nothing else to talk about in the world of Sports?

16 June 2008

I'm Back...And Things Are Already Going Badly

So I returned from my two-week French adventure to the good ol' United States of America and already things are going badly.

First, freakin' Tiger Woods has to go all legendary on us, twice birdieing the final hole (first during the final round and then during the 18-hole playoff) to win the US Open at Torrey Pines against all-around good guy Rocco Mediate.

Fine, this puts a stake in my claim that Roger Federer > Tiger Woods but c'mon, all that limping and grimacing on that surgically repaired knee? Give the theatrics a rest Tiger!

Then, after the Boston Celtics came all the way back to tie things up in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, bloody Kobe Bryant makes a great play in stealing the ball from Paul Pierce, thereby sealing the game for the Los Angeles Lakers. Great, now the series shifts back to Boston where we know how well Kevin Garnett performs under pressure (that is, not at all).

And, finally, after thrashing the competition during the Kitply Cup, India gets beaten thoroughly beaten by arch-rival Pakistan when it matters most, in the final.

Great, just bloody great.

After a wonderful sojourn in France when everything seemed right with the world, it all seems to be going horribly, horribly wrong now.


NYT: Tiger Wins
NYT: Lakers Win
Cricinfo: Pakistan Wins