As if Jon Lester’s mystery goo wasn’t enough to stir up some drama during this World Series, yesterday’s Game 3 finish took the excitement to a whole new level (see video below).
With last night’s nail-biter in the books, who knows if intense endings and finger pointing will reign supreme during the fall classic?
The Red Sox and their starter Clay Buchholz will need to shake off last night’s heartbreak and prior postseason struggles respectively. Plus the Cardinal’s hurler Lance Lynn has the advantage as Buchholz brings an inflated postseason E.R.A. and shoulder fatigue to Busch Stadium.
While certain statistics geeks have primed the Cardinals to take it all (since the 16 of the last 18 World Series champions always won Game 3), a monarch can only lay claim to a kingdom with a crown, not voter projections. The St. Louis youth pitching brigade may just continue their onslaught on the Boston lineup provided there are no defensive hiccups.
To see where this soap opera of a World Series takes us, simply watch Game 5 between the two formidable teams!
Remember that abysmal finish to the 2011 season in which Boston missed the playoffs while archrival Tampa Bay reaped the benefits of a postseason birth?
Despite the sour taste that the 2011 and 2012 campaigns left in the mouths of the Red Sox nation, those years are now distant memories after Boston’s 12-2 victory over Tampa Bay last night.
After breezing through the first five batters, Rays left fielder Sean Rodriguez drilled a home run on a 3-2 pitch from ace Jon Lester. In the fourth inning another second baseman Ben Zobrist launched another Lester fastball into the Green Monster.
That was all a very versatile Rays lineup could muster against the ace.
Boston was able to catch a break against lefty Matt Moore during the fourth inning courtesy a defensive miscue by rookie Wil Myers. What seemed like a routine fly ball to Myers ended up being a ground rule double. Instead of going for the ball he called for, he gave up on catching it.
After that, it all unraveled for Matt Moore when he was given the hook after 4 2/3 innings.
However, the bullpen could not contain the offensive outburst from the Red Sox with the bullpen giving up five more runs. With a passed ball by Jose Lobaton, 4 runs scored off of reliever Jamey Wright (an RBI singles from Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes, and Mike Napoli along with a two run double from Jarrod Saltalamacchia), the Red Sox got quite the cushion. Ryan Dempster then closed out game one for the save.
After an offseason in which they were written off by the baseball world followed by a rewarding pursuit of the AL East title, October baseball has never been more exciting for Red Sox Nation. If John Lackey and the rest of the team keep the momentum alive, Alex Cobb will be the only thing standing between the Red Sox and the ALCS.
Over the last year Bollywood has seen a revival of espionage movies centered around the trials and tribulations of *Research & Analysis Wing agents. The resurgence came about with the slick but slightly prolonged Agent Vinod. About five months later arrived a spy flick graced with the grandeur that is Salman Khan, Ek Tha Tiger. More recently there was the propaganda-ridden yet entertaining D-Day.
Now Madras Café takes a few pages out of history textbooks for inspiration through the eyes of a fictitious protagonist (a la James McAvoy-Forest Whitaker starrer The Last King of Scotland). Plus, when the lead star who also happened to be the Producer, touted the intense fare as India’s Argo, expectations only soared.
Will this new political thriller be able to hold its own with Shah Rukh Khan’s latest release still dominating the box office and stiff competition from a similar genre, Satyagraha, lurking around the corner?
While the film does depict the LTTE groups in a violent light, it does not take a pro or anti stance. Protesters feel otherwise.
The film commences with former RAW agent Vikram Singh (John Abraham) during his state of self-imposed exile where he constantly drowns his sorrows in alcohol. He then ventures to an Anglican Church where he recounts his experiences as an agent who spearheaded covert operations in Sri Lanka. Through clandestine means, he was tasked with dismantling the guerilla *LTF faction that his government helped advance during the *Sinhala-Tamil conflict.
As Vikram delved deeper into his mission, he learned of a larger conspiracy amidst the Sri Lankan Civil War to assassinate the *ex Prime Minister. Aiding him in his pursuit of truth is idealistic British journalist Jaya Sahni (Nargis Fakhri). The mission’s consequences also began to take a toll on the RAW officer’s personal life which further motivates him to uncover the conspiracy. The fact that Vikram’s bureaucratic handler Bala (Prakash Belawadi) makes life difficult for him only adds another layer to the conflict.
First and foremost, John Abraham deserves great adulation since he banked on the brilliant script written by Somnath Dey, Shubendu Bhattacharya, and Juhi Chaturvedi. His cinematic acumen is clearly serving him well in that he has switched gears from the delightful comedy Vicky Donor to this unorthodox political thriller. The screenplay keeps you hooked from the get go especially considering the lack of stereotypical Bollywood elements. Whether you are an avid politico or apathetic towards international relations, thankfully the film does not presuppose too much familiarity with the Sri Lankan civil war. The writers cleverly depict the vested commercial/diplomatic interests rampant in world affairs.
Director Shoojit Sircar was the right choice to man the ship because his vision complements the screenwriters’ historical research and watertight plot. He effortlessly tests the political waters like he did in his directorial debut, Yahaan. However, this time romantic sub plots or colorful song & dance sequences are nowhere to be seen. Chandrashekar Prajapati’s crisp editing is worthy of praise as assembling material chronicling a decade long war into two hours is no laughing matter.
For those who have visited Sri Lanka or lived in India during the 80s/90s, Madras Café will take them back into time. Such is the authenticity of the production design, camerawork, and locations.
In his previous outing, Action Abraham delivered the most bludgeoning performance as Manya Surve. This time as Vikram Singh, he enacts his part with the right mix of subtlety and intensity. New Yorker Narghis Fakhri clearly has a long way to go before her Hindi becomes flawless. Luckily she only speaks English throughout the movie even when the whole cast predominantly converses with her in Hindi and Tamil. Nonetheless with the linguistic barrier taken care of, Fakhri’s histrionics, not her dubbed Hindi, speak volumes. Prakash Belawadi’s portrayal of the antagonistic and compromised RAW Director is enough of a reason for major award functions to bring back the Best Performance in a Negative Role accolade. Ajay Ratnam resurrects brings slain LTTE chief Vellupillai Prabhakaran back to life via his rendition of *Anna Bhaskaran. Raashi Khanna does well in her brief but important role.
The movie’s only blemishes lie in minute details though. For instance, one of Madras Café’s central themes elaborates on the negative consequences of *blowback resulting from intervention in other countries’ affairs. This was briefly touched on in the first half when Jaya states, “initially we supported and furthered the LTF, now we have switched sides to the *TNA out of opportunism.”
Not to justify Rajiv Gandhi’s slaying, but it was his turncoat behavior that planted the seeds for his untimely death. Madras Café downplays that fact and instead attributes the overall blame for his killing solely to Machiavellian entities that felt threatened by the leader of an upcoming nation. Additionally, why does Nargis Fakhri’s character have an American accent despite being a British national?
All in all, this is a treat for those who enjoy the interweaving of historical fact and fiction. Get off the train(wreck) that is Chennai Express and head to Madras Café for some appetizing South Indian filter coffee.
*Sinhala-Tamil conflict – The ethnic demographics of Sri Lanka consist of the Sinhala majority, roughly 70 percent of the population and the Tamil minorities, 30 percent of the population. After independence from the British in 1948, Prime Minister Solomon Bandranaike implemented certain language policies and educational legislations that began the gradual process of marginalizing the Tamil population. The Sinhalese believed that prior to independence they had been disenfranchised by the British while the Tamils rose to prominence. Hence the special interests (certain backward Sinhala communities) pushed for policies that the educational gerrymandering and unfair ‘Sinhala-Only’ Language Policy. As Tamils’ were relegated to the sidelines, a militant group known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (which was the breakaway faction of Tamil nationalist parties/movements) used guerilla tactics to advocate for Tamil rights. Yes, the LTTE may have legitimate qualms, they resorted to terrorist tactics for the Tamil Agenda. India furthered the group by providing arms and training to them. India did this while acting both as a mediator between the LTTE and Sri Lanka and simultaneously propping up the group. All this just to appeal to the Indian Tamils who were also a major voter base. Eventually the Indian government deemed the LTTE of no use were of no use which is why they the group was rebuffed.
*ex Prime Minister – the ex PM was modeled after former PM Rajiv Gandhi
*Anna Bhaskaran – a character heavily based upon LTTE chief Vellupillai Prabhakaran
*blowback – unintended consequences of a covert operation that are suffered by the civil population of the aggressor government
*TNA – Tamil National Alliance, a rival group of the LTTE
For baseball enthusiasts, the suspension of Ryan Braun is not recent news since the press is having a field day with it. If one were to aggregate the coverage (both scornful and sympathetic) of the latest PED saga, there are plenty of real world lessons to be grasped from this debacle. Lessons that are Machiavellian truths indicative of our times.
“I would bet my life that I am safe and that any substance never entered my body.”
1) The truth may not be cunning but it is no coward like the lie (which is why it will set you free)
Fans and thought leaders have had various takes on the Milwaukee Brewers’ franchise player. While there are no two opinions on his guilt, reactions have been very encompassing in terms of the types of pieces churned out by the media. Some stories contained the most unadulterated contempt while other ones were probably ghost written by Braun’s publicists. Commentary of the latter category went so far as to suggest that fans love watching hitters belt home runs courtesy of the juice.
2) Dear future sports agents, lawyers and publicists are your best friends
In the event that an agent’s client gets implicated in a steroid scandal, having a sharp high-priced litigation team along with a high-powered sports media relations firm at his/her disposal is imperative. Guilty or innocent, lawyers and publicists will help clients navigate their way out of the woods unscathed (for a year at least until another scandal from which they cannot escape emerges).
3) “A lie told a thousand times becomes the truth” – Joseph Goebbels
Mr. Braun’s rousing press conference after his exoneration (see video underneath) may have restored some faith in both sympathizers and skeptics. Yet there were some people such as myself who did not have any judgment as to whether he was guilty or innocent.
However, after hearing the line ‘today is about everybody who has been wrongly accused,’ I became a skeptic right away. What were his crisis communications flacks trying to frame him as through this PRised speech? Baseball’s version of Nelson Mandela subjected to the oppressive apartheid scheme that is the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program? Perpetual reinforcement of that sentiment definitely went a long way in further positioning him as the victim of circumstances beyond his control. The league shortly fired Shyam Das, the arbitrator whose tie-breaking vote acquitted Braun. News of his sacking is all a smart person would need to confirm the left fielder’s guilt.
Other consequences (besides losing some pocket change $3.5 million dollars, the joy of taking the field with your teammates, and goodwill) have begun to take their toll on the Hebrew Hammer. For instance, prominent convenience store chain Kwik Trip will willingly no longer receive Ryan Braun’s eloquent testimonials. More so with the Brewers’ playoff prospects looking bleak, the absence of Braun’s bat would not mean much in the grander scheme of the 2013 season. Instead of losing close to $6 million and being banned for more than 50 games, it was wise to go for the mere slap on the wrist.
5) The brighter the picture, the darker the negative
All because after spending years as a journeyman utility player, at age 29 the Blue Jays right fielder suddenly emerged from obscurity to hit 54 home runs. That sort of treatment from the Player’s Association and Testing program only motivated Bautista to silence his critics.
Of course Milwaukee’s overnight sensation who has been hitting above .300 since his rookie year seemed squeaky clean to everyone. On the other hand everybody was looking for some tainted explanation for why the late bloomer suddenly found success after struggling for six years in the bigs?
6) “Using an unfair technique in a card game is cheating, but applying Vaseline to your fingers to give a curveball more snap is called competing”
Obviously Mr. Braun’s PR team will do some damage control by reaching out to thought leaders who endorse cheating. These are thought leaders of the “why should us fans worry about the 2011 MVP’s falsehoods when prominent world leaders lie everyday?” mindset. While that outlook true, there is no reason why this should not be of concern to fans that flock to Miller Park and help pay Braun’s salary.
To even romanticize Braun as a archetypal villain as per Sportsnet analyst’s Dirk Hayhurst musings below is laughable.
“It takes an amazing amount of strength and narcissism or whatever commitment really to boldface lie to the degree he did to keep it up that long. A lesser man would have been like my cousin told me to do it…. I think there is apart of me that respects what Ryan Braun did.” (see the complete video below)
There is nothing respectable about what Braun did. While one can admire the brilliance through which the lies were cemented, it is preposterous to associate respectability with the circus that lead to his exoneration last year.
7) Saviors sometimes come in the form of indirect subtleties
Another topic of contention is whether Dino Laurenzi Jr. did his job in handling the urine sample that tested positive for PEDs. Some believe he is owed an apology from Braun because Laurenzi was slandered in last year’s fiasco. Others like Bill Parker over-analyzed the legal proceedings to claim that Braun did not directly attack the handler. Hence Laurenzi Jr. should not expect the words “I am sorry” from the Califronia native. Parker explains why in his nit-picky ramblings:
Moreover, Braun didn’t attack Laurenzi personally. He said:
‘There were a lot of things that we learned about the collector, about the collection process, about the way that the entire thing worked, that made us very concerned and very suspicious about what could have actually happened.’
Sure, “things we learned about the collector” could insinuate something unsavory. It could also mean, translated from lawyer-speak into baseball-player-speak, that they learned that the collector may not have handled the sample in strict accordance with the procedures.
The boldfaced rationalization above wastes time on indirect subtleties which are used to diplomatically slander the collector. Sometimes those numerous subtleties give way to countless means of spinning words to underhanded agendas.
In this case, Bill Parker exploited that politically correct verbiage to imply that Braun’s camp did not ‘directly’ defame the sample collector. All this so that Braun will not have to give an apology to the man who deserves it the most.
With all that being said, there is still hope for the Hebrew Hammer’s reputation. In a Ted Reed authored piece for The Street, crisis management and PR veteran Bruce Hicks opines that Braun needs to acknowledge the specifics of his wrongdoings rather than just say ‘sorry I messed up…now lets move on.’ And he needs to do it soon before the ship of amnesty sails away.
I doubt that will happen anytime soon because due to the agreement between MLB and the player’s association, the details of Braun’s revelation will not be made public. He has quite the long road back to forgiveness.
Nonetheless, if Andy Petitte can still be revered despite his mishaps, Ryan Braun is not any less deserving of such reverence. All he has to do is genuinely heed Bruce Hick’s wise words and continue producing (without extra PED help of course).
The sensationalizing of certain murder cases by the media is nothing new in this day and age. Just google Casey Anthony and you will have yourself a plethora of case studies regarding this phenomena.
The recent Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman verdict and all the coverage surrounding it is proof that the sensationalizing of vicious tragedies also veers into even dirtier territories like politicization.
Politicizing and sensationalizing are merely two different sides of the same coin that is the national media. Policy Mic writer Zainab Akende is spot on when it comes to describing the journalistic travesty of modern times. The lack of attention received by the Jordan Davis murder makes one wonder why news networks are not discussing whether the phrase “driving while black (and listening to hip-hop music)” should/should not apply to this recent Jacksonville, FL murder.
With the political and media honchos placing the Jacksonville trial story on the back burner, the only trial on people’s minds will be that of George Zimmerman’s. My dearest apologies if this comes off as me belittling one tragedy to aggrandize another. That is certainly not my intention but it is just hard not to be perplexed by the agenda-driven hype selectively plaguing particular calamities.
Plus President Obama has already used Martin’s death as talking point during his 2012 relection campaign. It is not like he is running for a third term so why even mention Jordan Davis and publicly condemn his murder? The reason for this is because if Obama had a son, chances of him looking like Davis would be very slim (see video below).
Actually I do not see why I am whining about this because the Jim Morrison fanatic inside my head has been telling me “please son, give the complaints a rest, The Doors frontman spoke of this reality when he claimed he who controls the media controls the mind.”
Whether it is about baseball, the Bretton Woods System, or any other topic, I really do not like to repeat what has already been said before. As much as I admire the guy, I wanted to avoid writing about Munenori Kawasaki since every baseball beat writer and blogger has been churning out glowing pieces on him. Although I had to relent after watching his first home run and the reception afforded to him by the Rogers Centre faithful during the Orioles-Jays game on June 20. So here it goes : )
Time away from the field, rink, or court because of an injury is what every athlete hopes to avoid during his/her career. However injury prone physiques or inevitable freak-accidents not only get the best of star players, but their teams too.
The sprained ankle of Toronto Blue Jays shortstop José Reyes on April 12 is a prime example. A slow start due to a 3-7 win loss record resulted in early calls for the Toronto GM-Manager duo’s heads along with reports of absent clubhouse chemistry. Something was rotten in the state of Blue Jay land.
One of the few bright spots was the newly acquired shortstop, a major centerpiece of the mammoth trade with the Marlins that arguably mortgaged the Jays’ future. The .365/.465/.526 stat line does not even began to explain Reyes’ value during the phase when the team struggled out of the gates. Plus, his jovial persona was the only thing holding this team together.
However, now the team has clicked and the offseason acquisitions are coming around. Nevertheless José’s stint on the Disabled List meant that GM Alex Anthopoulos would be shopping around for someone to fill that irreplaceable void.
Enter the Japanese ‘Munenori Kawasaki’ Dragon
Rival GMs exploit such dilemmas by offering a trade piece (that may even be a bust) to fill the baseball club’s glaring hole SOLELY to pry away its coveted prospect and/or established player. These prospects and/or established players would be untouchable otherwise, but glaring holes created by unforeseen circumstances may force some GMs to overpay. Hence the GM is at the mercy of the glaring hole and sometimes relents to the rival executive’s demands for a stopgap solution. Long story short, the GM looking to stop the bleeding is vulnerable to getting fleeced.
Luckily this did not happen with the Blue Jays as an offseason minor-league deal offered to infielder Munenori Kawasaki paid off. Forgive the generalization but clubs can derive a valuable lesson from this. During times of unexpected calamity which creates more clubhouse doom and gloom, always call on the South East Asian to set the ship aright.
Ethnic references aside, by no means did he replace or surpass Reyes’ abilities. Nonetheless Kawasaki’s serviceable bat, sharp glove, and lively personality (even with his so-so proficiency in English) contributed to the current turnaround of the Blue Jays. I really do not need to elaborate on the intangibles and awesomeness he brings to the team. For more on that, read this Sports Illustrated article.
It was almost baseball’s version of the The Karate Kid. Despite moving from New Jersey to the very different California, the status of a cellar dweller to a sure shot contender, the fan expectations just became overwhelming. Just when fans thought the wheels were falling off the car that is the 2013 Blue Jays season, a Mr. Miyagi like Japanese figure not only lightened the burden of expectations, but somehow influenced the team. For a more baseball-centric cinematic comparison, look no further than Hiroshi Kamikaze Tanaka in Major League 2. Check out the video below containing all Tanaka scenes from the the epic baseball classic. Watch the scene from 1:53 – 2:53 where Tanaka hilariously tries to motivate slumping power hitter Pedro Cerrano. For all we know, Kawasaki may have tried the same motivation technique with Adam Lind to help him break out of his funk.
While Kawasaki may not swing the hottest bat, his eye enabled him to milk most opposing hurlers for a good 10 pitches. For a lineup predominantly containing Home Run addicts and a newly christened hitting coach with a radically different plate approach, Munenori Kawasaki’s plate discipline has fortunately rubbed off on his trigger-happy teammates.
With José Reyes’ return nearing this week, some tough roster decisions loom for the Blue Jays. Chances are he will be sent back to the Blue Jays triple-A affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons, especially since the bench is stacked.
If our brain trust does not find a creative way to keep you on our roster sayonara and domo arigato Munenori Kawasaki. If you are not traded, see you during the September roster expansions!
The Sinkerball has arrived in Toronto
Since we are on the subject of South East Asians who act as stabilizing forces on tumultuous major league teams, how about Chien Ming Wang? While the offense awoke with Kawasaki’s presence, the injury bug also bit the pitching staff. Ergo Josh Johnson, JA Happ, and Brandon Morrow landed on the DL. The former is back but the latter two still have strides to make in their recoveries.
While it is early to claim that Chien Ming Wang has fully resurrected himself from the dead, early signs are pointing to an all out career resurgence. During Wang’s tenure with the Yankees, the sinker pitch was his bread and butter. On the other hand, some of his worst outings came as a result of his inability to command that sinker.
I am not one to count my eggs before they hatch but the Tainan City native seems to be on the verge of a comeback. His reliance on other pitches besides the sinker has yielded great returns. Even more noteworthy is the fact that he is filling in admirably for Brandon Morrow.
Welcome to Toronto Wang! May your revival contribute to a Blue Jays postseason berth.
As clichéd as it is to start any piece with an oft quoted saying, I just could not resist it this time because it very much applies to the current state of our world. Plus what seems like real estate advice has instead become the law of the land. So here goes nothing.
Baron de Rothschild, member of the French-Jewish banking dynasty shrewdly advised, “Where there is blood on the streets, buy property.” Before I get accused of anti-Semitism, let me state that one of my best friends is a Long Island Jew and I was invited to his sister’s Bat-Mitzvah.
The past, present, and the most probable future indicate that this trend is alive and flourishing. Whether it is Iraq or Libya, so much blood has been spilled in the name of delivering democracy to the deserts and disposing of tyrannical despots. Let me further preface this by stating that by no means am I an apologist for these oppressive dictators and the terror(ism) which their regimes breed.
After this Al-Arabiya story of the Hezbollah’s alleged attack on the Syrian Rebel group FSA (Free Syrian Army) broke, I knew I was witnessing a classic case of divide and conquer which only furthers the bloodshed Rothschild speaks of.
Rewind back to 2003 when George W. Bush directly invaded Iraq to topple tyrant Saddam Hussein and in hopes of uncovering Weapons of Mass Destruction. Even though at least the former goal was accomplished, the country is rife with more sectarian violence and a puppet Prime Minister who ‘cannot’ stand for the next elections. At least the then Commander and Chief invaded Iraq with American troops.
Now however, instead of directly taking military action in Libya or Syria, American foreign policy is going back to its roots by just providing insurgents with Uncle Sam’s finest weaponry. It is like they took a page from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. Rule six in the third section, Attack by Stratagem, reads “Therefore the skillful leader subdues the enemy’s troops without any fighting, he captures their cities without laying siege to them, he overthrows their kingdom without lengthy operations in the field.”
Recall the time when the Afghan Mujahideen got similar assistance against the Soviets from the US. We remember how that turned out right?
While Republicans and Democrats continue acting like rival detectives trying to blame each other for the botched up investigation that is Benghazi, Libyan rebels continue to receive the same support. Former Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) describes it best,
“Republicans smell a political opportunity over evidence that the Administration heavily edited initial intelligence community talking points about the attack to remove/soften anything that might reflect badly on the president or State Department. Dems in Congress have offered the even less convincing explanation for Benghazi, that somehow the attack occurred due to GOP sponsored cuts in the security budget at facilities overseas. With a one trillion dollar military budget, it is hard to take this seriously. It appears that the Administration scrubbed initial intelligence reports of references to extremist Islamist involvement in the attacks, preferring to craft a lie that the demonstrations were a spontaneous response to an anti-Islamic video that developed into a full-out attack on the US outpost.”
He also goes onto state that the extremist rebels who destroyed the US consulate in Benghazi were the ones propped up by the United States to oust Muammar Gaddafi. All this so that most NATO members can ensure the sustenance of their war-based economies during the Great Recession.
Mr. Rothschild, you still remain immortal till this day as is evident through this perpetual war on terror and the vested interests of so called democratization. If one has failed to grasp how any of this applies to the aforementioned aphorism, I’ll put it this way. This is not a conspiracy theory. It is just a study of history that just keeps repeating itself.
“Where there is blood on the streets, buy property”