Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A Cautionary Tale

Yours Truly used to be impressed with Roman Fenati, last year's runner-up in Moto3.

The first thing Yours Truly noticed was his apparently huge helmet. Being predominantly white without any noticeable patterns unlike other helmets, it has created the illusion of a gigantic head.

The other thing Yours Truly noticed was his race craft in Moto3. Yours Truly has lost count on how many occasions Fenati would be engaged in a huge battle with a bunch of other riders, and somehow eventually emerge near the top.

Fenati was supposed to have a bright future, and was on the Moto3 team of Valentino Rossi, of all people, as late as early 2016 when he won in the USA and finished second in France. However, not long afterwards he was kicked off the team for what later revealed to be frequent and heated argument with Rossi's right-hand man, Uccio Salucci.

He came back with a new team in 2017 and finished a distant second to Joan Mir, one of the hottest prospects in MotoGP right now, and thus earned a promotion to Moto2 this season. However, while Mir continued to flourish in Moto2, Fenati struggled and a seventh in France was his best result.

Yours Truly always kept a close eye on him and thought what he needed was time. But then, came last Sunday race in Rimini where he inexplicably grabbed the brake lever of fellow competitor Stefano Manzi while they were both travelling at a speed of over 200 km/h. Apparently it was an act of retribution for being forced off the track by Manzi during a botched over-taking move earlier on.

It was an act of utmost stupidity and recklessness, and an act that could have seriously injured if not killed Manzi.

Fenati was promptly disqualified from the race and given a two-race ban. Subsequently, he was rightfully fired by his team and his contract signed with a new team, which ironically would have paired him up with Manzi next season, had also been voided.

It was not the first time Fenati had messed with other riders' bikes. He was involved in a spat with Nikolas Ajo in 2015 where he kicked out Ajo and pressed the kill switch on his bike while the latter was preparing for a practice start.



Yours Truly does believe that this is the end of Fenati’s once-promising top-level racing career. While Fenati could still possibly secure a ride somehow somewhere, the issue is no top team is willing to risk its reputation by hiring someone who may implode in any minute.

Yours Truly feels sorry for him, but at the same time, Yours Truly can't really feel sorry for him.

It was nothing but his own undoing.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Age-Old Foes

President of the United States, Donald Trump, criticised the National Football League (NFL) and drew the ire of its players recently over his comments on players not standing for the national anthem.

His deputy, Vice-President Mike Pence, even left the game between the Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers early to protest against the players' kneeling during the national anthem. Some called it a publicity stunt which stole the limelight away from Peyton Manning, whose number was retired by the Colts during the half-time ceremony of that game.

Yours Truly is not going to talk politics here. He just wants to remind the readers of some major issues between Trump and the NFL in the past.

Trump was the majority owner of New Jersey Generals, a team in the United States Football League (USFL) founded in the early eighties.

Initially, the USFL wanted to fill the gaps of the NFL by playing its games in spring and summer, and in cities that did not have NFL teams.

And because the USFL did not have a hard salary cap, it managed to capture many players who eventually be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, such as Reggie White and Jim Kelly.

Later on, however, they decided to move its schedule to autumn (allegedly at the urging of Trump) which meant their games would be in direct competition against the NFL games. Soon, they found themselves struggling to survive against the more well-established counterpart.

Then they decided to file an anti-trust lawsuit against the NFL for their monopoly.

Back in the late 1960s, there was another upstart league, the American Football League (AFL) which managed to eventually merge with the NFL. Now most of the teams in the American Football Conference (AFC) of the NFL can trace their roots to the AFL days.

Many thought that the USFL probably wanted a merger too, which was the real aim behind their lawsuit.

When the case went to court, the USFL actually won. And they also got triple the damage from the NFL under anti-trust laws.

But there was one problem: The damage awarded by the court was only US$1.

ONE UNITED STATES DOLLAR.

And under anti-trust laws, they got three times of that. It meant that the USFL was awarded US$3.

THREE UNITED STATES DOLLARS.

Yours Truly is not going into the specifics behind the judgement. Eventually, the USFL received the award (US$3.76 in cheque in 1990, adjusted due to inflation), but folded soon afterwards due to huge financial losses.

And none of the teams managed to join the NFL, unlike those in the AFL.

And you can just imagine how pissed the owners of USFL teams were, or are, with the NFL in that pyrrhic victory.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Giant-Normous Problems for New York

As a diehard Dallas Cowboys fan, Yours Truly always wishes ill on their hated rivals, especially those in the NFC East like the New York Giants and company.

Yet what transpired on Sunday made Yours Truly sick and feel for the luckless Giants.

For once, Yours Truly decided to watch a game between two winless teams, the Giants and the San Diego, oops, Los Angeles Chargers live on TV.

It was a snoozefest which clearly showed why these two teams were winless. They were just not very good. But then, fate decided to add some spice into this dreadful game.

Late in the first half, wide receivers Sterling Shepard and Brandon Marshall both suffered left ankle injuries ON THE SAME DRIVE and had to leave the game.

As a Cowboys homie, Yours Truly wondered if that would mean former-Cowboy Dwayne Harris would play more snaps as a wide receiver in addition to a kick-returner. Alas, just as Yours Truly went back to his seat after the halftime break, he learned that Harris had broken his left foot during the second-half kick-off.

Well, at least they still had all-world wideout Odell Beckham Jr. in the fold. But NFL does really stand for Not For Long, as OBJ's left foot was caught under a defender while trying to catch a pass from Eli Manning in the fourth quarter. When the Chargers defenders frantically called for medics on the field and when a tearful OBJ had to be carted off, it meant that the Giants had lost four of their top five receivers that very day.

(And Yours Truly is sure that you can't name the lone-surviving wideout among their top five. See answer below.)

For the Giants, the bad news was confirmed after the game in which they lost 22-27 to remain winless. OBJ, Marshall and Harris are all out for the rest of the season after season-ending surgeries. While Shepard (a player Yours Truly wanted the Cowboys to draft last year) escaped serious injuries, he would likely miss a couple of games down the road.

Before the game, critics lamented the Giants for their woeful running game. Well, at least they do have some healthy bodies like Orleans Darkwa (who ran well in the Chargers game), Paul Perkins and Wayne Gallman who may one day emerge as a competent runner.

But for wide receivers, the Giants simply don't have enough healthy bodies just to line up properly. Perhaps they will have to rely strongly on 13 personnel (1 running back and 3 tight ends) for the rest of the season.

Or they will have to lure Victor Cruz and his bad knees out of retirement?

(Answer to the trivial question: Roger Lewis.)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Trouble in Dallas?

Jason Garrett has lost his mind.

In the lopsided 17-42 defeat at the hands of the Denver Broncos, he let himself fall into an old trap.

That is, abandoning the running game.

Totally.

Look, Yours Truly understands that the Cowboys were playing catch-up all day. But don't forget this: Their offensive line is arguably the best in the NFL. They have three first-round picks (Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zach Martin) plus another first-round talent (La'el Collins, who should have been a first-round pick but for off-field concerns) who paved the way to the success of Ezekiel Elliott last year. They should have kept pounding the ball to keep the Broncos' defense, especially defensive linemen, on the field to tire them down.

Instead, they quickly gave up the running game which made the Broncos' linemen fresh, resulting in a couple of sacks and a 103-yard pick-six.

Two years ago, the Cowboys stumbled to a 4-12 record because they could never establish a running game and relied heavily on the passing game, which was unfortunately decimated by injuries to Tony Romo.

Two years later, there are signs that Garrett is heading for the same direction.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Launch of an Wehrlein

In his brief career, Pascal Wehrlein is regarded as a driver with huge potential.

However, he is also known for his knack for being stuck in a flipped-over car.

He first did that in the Race of Champions in Miami early this year, when he tried desperately, but in vain, to catch Felipe Massa.


Then he did it again in Monaco on Sunday, thanks to an over-ambitious move by F1 returnee Jenson Button.


He cracked several vertebrae in the first crash which cost him a couple of F1 races early in the season. Luckily, he appeared to have escaped unharmed in the second one.

Yours Truly just hopes that there will not be a third crash like this for him. Otherwise he may have to start thinking about his post-F1 career and, perhaps, launch an airline, no pun intended, like Niki Lauda.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Two Entries Eleven Years Apart

They say that motorcycling is a dangerous sport. To Yours Truly, cycling is just as dicey.

Sadly, that assertion was once again proven to be true as Nicky Hayden, the 2006 MotoGP World Champion, died from a cycling accident in Italy a couple of days ago.


It was a tragic accident, especially when you realise that he has largely avoided major accidents on motorcycles during his career, only to lose his life on the innocent-looking two-wheel cousin. Reportedly, he was distracted by his iPod and failed to stop at a junction and collided with a car.


He was a relative unknown to the European circles when he joined the MotoGP circuit in 2003, after winning the AMA Superbike Championship in the US in 2002. Landed on the Repsol Honda team alongside the almighty Valentino Rossi, Hayden struggled early on, but gradually improved and secured two podiums that year and failed to finish a race only once.


Of course, he would win the championship in 2006 in dramatic fashion. While Toni Elias did do him a huge favour in Portugal




many could not forget the amazing finish in Assen that year, when he and fellow countryman Colin Edwards clashed at the very last corner and went off-track together, only for Edwards to take a tumble just metres away from the chequered flag allowing Hayden to pick up his first win of the season?

Edwards-Hayden Assen 2006 by nopeoplethere
 
Yours Truly still cannot. He was watching it live on TV.


After leaving MotoGP at the end of 2015, he joined the World Superbike circuit next year and picked up a win in Sepang en route to a fifth place finish in the standings. When Jack Miller was ruled out of the race in Aragon due to injury late in the year, Hayden got the call from Honda and eventually made his last two appearances in MotoGP.


Unfortunately, his journey came to a premature end. Incidentally, his death came exactly a month after a similar accident which took the life of star cyclist Michele Scarponi who was preparing for the Giro d'Italia.


When Yours Truly looks back at Hayden's career, he sees someone surprisingly reliable and consistent despite his wild image and surly physique. Sadly, he would meet his end while doing a cycling ride for relaxation between races.


In a related note, it dawned on Yours Truly that time is ticking past quickly, as he last wrote about Hayden some 11 years ago, which means that Yours Truly has been writing about sports from his usual non-sensical, incoherent and discombobulated perspectives for at least A DECADE.


RIP #69.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Feeling the Draft 2017

Here comes Yours Truly's non-scientific and non-sensible takes of the upcoming NFL Draft:

- At number one, the Cleveland Browns "should" select Texas A&M's defensive end Myles Garrett, the consensus best player available. Notice the word "should" here. Yours Truly has serious doubt as to whether the perpetually-cursed Browns, now run by a former baseball executive (a good one, to be fair), will do the sensible thing. Given the rumours that they love the hugely-inexperienced North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Turbisky and that they passed up Carson Wentz last year, a move that they still regret, Yours Truly boldly predicts that they will select Turbisky first overall and let Garrett slide down the board.

- And Garrett's slide will be minimal, as the San Francisco 49ers will not believe their good fortune and gladly pick up the Aggie at number two.

- For the third pick, the Chicago Bears can go many directions. Yours Truly always believes that if a team doesn't have a good quarterback (like the Bears, even though they have just signed Mike Glennon, technically speaking a career backup) and like to draft one in the draft (like the Bears), they should do it high and early and shouldn't get too cute by trading down to pick up more picks. So the Bears should go ahead and draft one and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, who thrived in big games during his collegiate career, should be their choice.

- The Jacksonville Jaguars will rue the Bears' choice of Watson as it's been rumoured that they want Watson to eventually replace Blake Bortles, who was a disappointment last year. Yours Truly believes that instead of replacing Bortles, why not give him help by drafting a workhorse running back in LSU's Leonard Fournette? Remember the Dallas Cowboys drafted Ezekiel Elliot at number four last year and it worked out not bad.

- Tennessee Titans will pick fifth after last year's trade with the Los Angeles Rams involving the first pick overall. Their glaring need is wide receiver but unlike quarterback, they can always find a good one later in the draft. So Yours Truly will give them Solomon Thomas, defensive end from Stanford who has been rumoured to go as high as number two in a lot of mock drafts.

So to recap:

1. Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Cleveland Browns
2. Myles Garrett, DE, San Francisco 49ers
3. Deshaun Watson, QB, Chicago Bears
4. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
5. Solomon Thomas, DE, Tennessee Titans

Of course, these predictions are likely to be way off, just like any other mock drafts by the experts.