Major League Baseball seeks faster games, so call more strikes

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error But anybody who thinks you speed up a game by decreasing the strikes is probably an advocate of the Blueberry Muffin Weight-Loss Plan.The new pace-of-play measures are not all bad. In games that are not nationally televised, the first pitch will be thrown 2:25 after the previous third out was recorded. If that cuts down on the skits, Kiss-Cams and other non-essential activity that is known as “in-game entertainment,” that is a major plus.(Sudden thought: Isn’t the game supposed to be “the entertainment”?)The rest of it is largely cosmetic. The rule that forces the hitter to keep one foot in the box at all times will supposedly be enforced. The rule that forces pitchers to deliver the ball within 20 seconds probably will not be.But that is a function of player routine. Such routines are being established in the minor leagues, which are enforcing pace of play already. Those players will be in tune with faster play.To mess with a veteran’s methods of stepping out and collecting himself is arbitrary and unnecessary.To improve the rhythm of the game, call more strikes.There is sentiment within MLB to bring up the lower end of the zone. The current borderline is the “hollow” below the kneecap. The top end is the midpoint between the shoulder and the top of the pants. It once was the armpit, and it also was the top of the shoulder.Thanks to technology, umpires are calling more strikes and calling them more uniformly. For the first time since 1968, there were fewer than three walks per game in 2014. That’s all good.Why can’t technology call those strikes? Why can’t managers can’t use a certain number of challenges on ball-strike calls, the way tennis players do? The video board shows the tennis ball approaching the line, the crowd oohs and aahs, the image lands, everyone cheers or boos, and the player no longer likens the chair umpire to a stray dog. It’s great stuff, and nobody cares if it slows down the match.There were 4.07 runs scored per game, per team, in 2014. That is the lowest for a full season since 1976 (3.99). In 1977, it rose to 4.47. What changed? Expansion, with Seattle and Toronto, meaning more unworthy pitchers.It drifted downward to 4.12 in 1992 and then jumped to 4.60 in 1993. What changed? Expansion, with Florida and Colorado. Before baseball could restock its pitching, Arizona and Tampa Bay came along in 1998. Sixteen seasons have come and gone since, without new teams, and the runs-per-game has dwindled by .79 since 2006.And you thought steroids were the difference. The unsurprising truth is baseball, when not artificially stimulated by expansion, will always skew toward pitching. It is difficult to prove that defense is damaging baseball’s appeal. Attendance did drop in 2014 by 84 fans per game, but it improved for 18 of 30 teams. This does not mean apathy is triumphant.A great pitcher is more compelling than a great hitter. Stanton may attract fans, but he is one-ninth of Florida’s batting order. A pitcher like Clayton Kershaw is out there for 27 outs, potentially. When he loads the bases and then escapes, that’s when the game reaches crescendo. The World Series revolved around Madison Bumgarner last year and did not suffer for it.Are the games too long? Depends on whom you ask. Orioles manager Buck Showalter says it’s a media fixation. He might be right, but the NHL has shaved 20 minutes off its average game times, and everybody approved.Meanwhile, college football games drag like “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” and nobody says a thing.So keep calling the strikes you see and maybe a few more. And maybe the Red Sox and Yankees won’t both miss the playoffs this year, as they did last year for the first time since 1993. That, of course, is why there’s a problem. Major League Baseball wants faster games.Fine. Call more strikes.But Major League Baseball also wants a smaller strike zone and, thus, more offense.Fine. Cut off one 30-second commercial per inning.center_img But Major League Baseball wants more money.Fine. Hold the line on player salaries.But Major League Baseball pays Giancarlo Stanton $325 million over 13 years.Fine. Let’s get back to faster games.You all know such people. They live in the land of No Good Options.last_img read more

Penza: As June turns to July, the Humboldt Crabs are truly hitting their stride

first_imgIt’s almost always a good sign when you’re entering the second Sunday in July and you can still count on one hand how many losses on the season you currently have.That’s the case for the Humboldt Crabs, who have certainly made the most of Robin Guiver’s first season as the club’s manager and his return to the Humboldt County baseball scene.At 22-3 as we hit the official midway point of the 2017 season, Guiver and the Crabs have set quite a pace.And that’s before you even take into …last_img

Patrick Marleau may get big role with Sharks right away

first_imgMarleau joined the Sharks for practice Wednesday afternoon and was immediately placed on the top line with captain and center Logan Couture and fellow winger Timo Meier. The Sharks face the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Thursday looking for their first win of the … Mr. Shark, back in No. 12 pic.twitter.com/eLpwpBlfQe— Curtis Pashelka (@CurtisPashelka) October 9, 2019CHICAGO — It appears there will be no easing into things for Patrick Marleau in his return to the Sharks.last_img

Lines Drawn on Proposed WOTUS Rule

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Todd NeeleyDTN Staff ReporterKANSAS CITY, Kan. (DTN) — A clear line was drawn in the sand between those who support and those who oppose the proposed revision of the waters of the United States, or WOTUS, rule, during an EPA public hearing held here on Thursday.Agriculture and other industry interests came out in support of the rule they say will provide more certainty for farmers and ranchers and make it easier for water-challenged regions to complete important drinking water projects.On the flip side, many concerns were raised by environmental, health and public interest group representatives that lifting federal protections for isolated wetlands and some streams would have a detrimental effect on drinking water.“The 2015 WOTUS rule was a complete and total disaster,” Steve Nelson, president of the Nebraska Farm Bureau, said during his testimony.“It was never about clean water, it was about expanding the role of the federal government. America’s farmers, ranchers and other landowners shouldn’t need a team of attorneys and consultants to tell them what they can and can’t do with their property. This new proposal eliminates regulatory uncertainty brought by the 2015 WOTUS rule.”Nelson, a farmer from Axtell, Nebraska, lauded the new rule for representing the “historical role of the federal government” as a partner with states in regulating water and said it “respects states’ rights” to regulate water.“All of us want clean water; water is the lifeblood of our state,” he said.Despite calls for expanded federal jurisdiction over waters from supporters of the 2015 rule, Iowa Farm Bureau President Craig Hill said it was time farmers receive credit for being stewards of the environment.“We have every intention to leave the resources in better condition for the next generation,” Hill said during his testimony.“Farmers and ranchers want clean water and clear rules,” Hill said. “Farmers are concerned about federal rules about water. It determines what they can and cannot do on the land. Because of the potential for large fines, it’s important for farmers to be able to tell what is jurisdictional in the Clean Water Act. Farmers should be able to look at land and tell what’s in and what isn’t.”The EPA launched a 60-day public comment period on the rule. The comment period is set to expire on April 15. The agency held a public hearing, also in Kansas City, on Wednesday evening. The proposed rule makes a number of key changes to the definition of WOTUS that are important to farmers.Only wetlands that are adjacent to jurisdictional waters would be considered to be a water of the U.S., essentially removing isolated wetlands from jurisdiction. In addition, the new rule would continue to consider impoundments as jurisdictional.However, the newly proposed rule would require less downstream mitigation work to account for damming streams.WATER CHALLENGES FACEDFor rural residents in north-central Missouri, the proposed rule could make it less costly to provide a much-needed drinking water source.County government and engineering representatives involved in the Little Otter Creek Lake project in Caldwell County came out in support of the new rule at the public hearing.The region has sustained five droughts in the past 40 years. Most recently in 2018, three communities came within weeks of running out of drinking water.On Jan. 7, 2002, the Caldwell County Commission asked the Natural Resources Conservation Service to design a reservoir in the Little Otter Creek watershed, just east of Hamilton, Missouri.During the past 17 years, county officials have continued to work on acquiring property and obtaining permits to complete the reservoir, which is expected to provide at least 1.2 million gallons of water daily. County voters approved a 0.5% sales tax to help fund the project. The project expects to break ground within the next couple of years.John Holmes, a civil engineer working on the project, said during the public hearing the new rule would help reduce the costs of the reservoir project. That’s because mitigation is a sizable cost.“The proposed rule would result in an 8% decrease (in jurisdictional streams) from the 2015 rule,” Holmes said.Randy Railsback, executive director of the Green Hills Regional Planning Commission, said all of the 11 Missouri counties he represents have seen water supplies diminish.“In the last 11 years, we have spent $13 million on band aids to connect to existing water supplies,” he said. “We are all for clean water, but the costs of these projects are enormous.”HEADWATER CONCERNSBonnie McGill, a postdoctoral researcher for the Kansas Biological Survey, said EPA should leave in place the significant nexus test found in the 2015 rule. The significant nexus test relied on science to determine whether a water body as small as a tributary headwater physically or chemically affects a larger navigable water such as a river or lake.“I lived in Flint (Michigan) during the water crisis, and I’ve lived in areas where water nitrate levels were three times higher,” McGill said during the public hearing.That water crisis first began in 2014 when Flint officials changed the city’s drinking water source from Lake Huron and the Detroit River to Flint River. As a result of poor water treatment, lead leached from lead water pipes, exposing more than 100,000 residents to poor water quality.“The proposed rule does not allow nature to do the work for you,” McGill said. “Headwater systems are not allowed to provide benefits.”She said what has happened in Iowa is an example of why wetlands and headwaters need protection.“Iowa has lost 90% of its wetlands,” McGill said. “Iowa is now fourth in floods, and billions of lost dollars. The 2015 rule was much simpler. It should be based on science and not preference.”Jennifer Peters, national waters coordinator with Clean Water Action, said she opposes the rule because it “puts drinking water last.”“Drinking water systems have the burden of cleanup,” she said. “Only a handful of industries benefit from a free pass to pollute waters.”Peters urged the EPA to extend the current public comment period.“The agency should withdraw this proposal,” she said.Drue Winters, policy director for the American Fisheries Society, said reducing protections for headwaters puts fisheries in jeopardy.“We are deeply concerned with the rule,” she said. “The rule is inconsistent with science.” Winters said headwaters are a key to sustaining river basins and fisheries.Former EPA Region 7 Administrator Mark Hague said the EPA needs to do more with the proposed rule.“Science should be guiding this rulemaking,” he said. “You should explain why the changes are necessary. The difference in this rule is it is removing a number of jurisdictional waters. Removing waters and wetlands could have the unintended consequences of telling people they don’t need protections.”Todd Neeley can be reached at [email protected] him on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN(CC/AG)© Copyright 2019 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Returns for Ohio corn at RMA projected prices

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Ben Brown, Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics, The Ohio State UniversityThe month of February represents the price discovery period for projected price of corn. The projected price represents the Risk Management Associations (RMA) baseline for establishing federally sponsored corn insurance products for 2019. The projected price for corn is the average of the February settlement prices for the December futures contract. The subsequent harvest price is the average of the October settlement prices for the same December futures contract. The projected price and the harvest price are used to identify the guaranteed revenue for revenue based crop insurance products. However, neither price takes into account local cash basis.The projected price established by RMA for 2019 corn revenue is $4 per bushel. This is up $0.04 per bushel from the 2018 and 2017 projected prices of $3.96 per bushel representing the increase in corn prices during the last few months of 2018 after a drop during the summer months. Price volatility is considered when setting premium levels for insurance products. A higher volatility increases the premium paid by the producer if all else is equal. Volatility rates are set by averaging the volatility of the most recent five trading days. Corn volatility has continued decreasing and since 2011 is at its lowest point of 0.15.In October, RMA will calculate the 2019 harvest price to set guaranteed revenue for the year. The projected price for corn has been higher than the harvest price the last six years after two years of increases in 2011 and 2012. For the entire series 2011-2018, the projected price was above the harvest price by $0.21 per bushel. Looking at only the last six years of high production values across the country, the projected price exceeded the harvest price by $0.64 per bushel. The December Futures contract is averaging below the Projected Price halfway through March. Several factors will determine the final harvest price for the December Futures contract between now and the discovery period in October. Returns for Ohio corn based on 2019 projected pricesTo calculate a cost of production for each crop reporting district in Ohio, OSU enterprise budgets were used along with inputs from credible sources. Yield estimates for each crop reporting district came from the most current 5 years of National Agricultural Statistic Service (NASS) data.Insurance policies are based on an Actual Production History (APH), which represents a maximum of 10 previous years of yield records for a particular field or enterprise. Since the 2012 crop year, these yields have been adjusted to account for improved crop genetics and current practices. The Federal Crop Insurance Corporation Board approves a trend adjustment factor for corn and soybeans in each county. This factor is equal to the annual increase in yield, and is based on county average yields determined by NASS each year. For the calculations, a corn trend adjustment factor of 1.6 bushels is multiplied to the difference in the current year to the base year and then added to the yield of the base year. As an example, consider a county that has a yield in 2013 of 164 bushels per acre. Using 2017 as the current year, the adjustment would be ((2017-2013) 1.6) + 164) for an adjusted yield of 170 bushels per acre. Seeding rates for cost estimates were taken from the 2018 eField Report published by The Ohio State University. The most profitable seeding rate based on a $3.50 per 1,000 seeds was used in these cost calculations. Cash rent estimates for each crop reporting district were reported by NASS in 2017.Ohio producers have the option to select coverage levels from 50% of APH to 85% of APH. Using the Summary of Business operations from the RMA website, the most popular coverage level for Ohio corn producers is 80%. For this article, it is assumed that an 80% APH coverage level is selected for revenue insurance products. An 80% coverage level means that the projected price is only covered on 80% of bushels not the total number of bushels.When considering all acres, the uninsured acres have no direct revenue insurance coverage. In this case, it would equal the remaining 20% based on the 80% coverage level. The 2018 Farm Bill signed into law on Dec. 20, 2018 raised the marketing loan rates for covered commodities. These loan rates are often considered a price floor under commodity markets. In the case of corn, the marketing loan rate is $2.20 per bushel. If the marketing loan rate is used as the price floor for the remaining 20% bushels that are left uncovered then an adjustment can be made to cover all acres within a unit. The $3.64 per bushel represents the complete coverage of all acres: (0.80 x $4.00/ bu.) + ($2.20 x 0.20) = $3.64 per bushel.Four of Ohio’s nine crop reporting districts showed higher costs of production compared to the $4 projected price. However, eight of the nine districts showed higher costs of production than the “Complete” coverage when adjusting for 80% revenue coverage. Southeast Ohio was the only crop reporting district to show gains compared to the projected price set by RMA for both covered bushels only and all bushels using the marketing loan rate of $2.20 as a price floor. The districts of Central, North Central and Northwest are at best meeting their cost of production, while West Central has cost of production above the revenue guarantee. These districts represent the majority of corn revenue policies and corn production for the state.Many producers reported higher than normal yields in 2018. If higher than historical average yields appear again in 2019, cost of production per bushel will be reduced below these calculations. In 2019, these programs are protecting the downside risk for producers as proponents argue they were designed to do. Districts having net returns above cost of production have low production and low insurance coverage. Thus, these insurance programs are providing a risk management tool for Ohio producers.last_img read more

PH coach confident of chances against Cambodia in men’s U-22 football

first_imgPhoto by Marc Reyes/INQUIRERKUALA LUMPUR — Nine points to the semifinals.That’s the immediate goal of the Philippine men’s under-22 football team here as it embarks against Cambodia Tuesday in the Southeast Asian Games at Selayang Stadium.ADVERTISEMENT Metta World Peace not closing door on playing in PH WATCH: Streetboys show off slick dance moves in Vhong Navarro’s wedding Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH UPLB exempted from SEA Games class suspension Read Next Despite that, Maro said the Philippines will have a very strong chance of winning in the 8:30 p.m. match.“They beat us 1-0 with the Philippines having a depleted team and Cambodia playing in their home turf,” said Maro.Now, according to Maro, the PH strikers are “healthy, very strong and very excited to play.”However, Games officials didn’t allow the Philippines to train in the evening for “lack of lighted stadium.”“I don’t understand that because they have so many football stadium with flood lights,” said Maro. “But we will still practice in the morning and the afternoon.”ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ The country needs to score nine points — a win is worth three points — to make the semifinals.“I think it’s doable because if there’s one team to dominate it would be (defending champion) Thailand, the rest will split points,” said Maro.The country’s best performance in the SEAG was bronze in the 1977 SEA Games. PH billiards team upbeat about gold medal chances in SEA Games PLAY LIST 03:07PH billiards team upbeat about gold medal chances in SEA Games00:45Onyok Velasco see bright future for PH boxing in Olympics05:25PH boxing team determined to deliver gold medals for PH00:50Trending Articles01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games03:04Filipino athletes share their expectations for 2019 SEA Games02:25PH women’s volleyball team motivated to deliver in front of hometown crowd01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Games LOOK: Venues for 2019 SEA Games Head coach Marlon Maro said the Philippines have a more potent lineup — compared to winless squad in Singapore SEAG — composed of several club players like Kou Ichi Belgira.But they are up against a motivated Cambodia side whose prime minister reportedly promised them $1,000 each for every won game.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutPosted on the aseanfootball.org, Prime minister Hun Sen was also said to have dangled $10,000 each if they win the gold, $7,500 for silver and $4,000 for bronze.Cambodia’s sponsor Angkor Beer Company reportedly promised $5,000 for a semifinal finish and $8,000 for a gold medal feat. Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Catriona Gray spends Thanksgiving by preparing meals for people with illnesses K-pop star Jung Joon-young convicted of gang rape, spycam crimes LATEST STORIES SEA Games in Calabarzon safe, secure – Solcom chief View commentslast_img read more

Lyceum crushes Arellano for 4-0 start in NCAA

first_imgQuarters: 20-11, 40-30, 63-49, 99-65. CJ Perez once again imposed his might, racking 16 points, three rebounds, two assists, and a steal, but this time, he allowed his teammates to also flourish in the spotlight.Jaycee Marcelino fired 13 markers, six boards, and two dimes, MJ Ayaay went on a perfect 3-of-3 from beyond the arc to wound up with 13 points and nine rebounds, and Ralph Tansingco also had 13 markers and five boards in the win.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool starsLyceum also matched its longest winning streak at four, equaling the feat set under coach Bonnie Tan in 2013.Still, coach Topex Robinson downplayed the win, saying that his players simply manned up to the task on a night when with Arellano fired blanks. For the complete collegiate sports coverage including scores, schedules and stories, visit Inquirer Varsity. Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next View comments Jaycee Marcelino. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/ INQUIRER.netContinuing its dream streak this NCAA Season 93 men’s basketball tournament, Lyceum coasted to a 99-65 thumping of Arellano to stay unscathed Tuesday in the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.It was a complete domination for the Pirates as this season’s dark horses showed no mercy against last year’s runner-up,  pulling away from the Chiefs, 63-49, in the third quarter before pushing the lead to as high as 35, 99-64, late in the game.ADVERTISEMENT “We just caught them in a bad afternoon and we took advantage. The players were playing well and they’re up to the challenge,” he said.Zach Nicholls topscored for the Chiefs with 12 points on a paltry 4-of-11 shooting from the field, while Kent Salado was limited to 11 markers, seven rebounds, four assists, and two steals in the defeat.The Scores:LYCEUM 99 – Perez 16, Jc. Marcelino 13, Ayaay 13, Tansingco 13, Nzeusseu 8, Ibanez 8, Jv. Marcelino 8, Caduyac 6, Serrano 5, Pretta 3, Marata 2, Baltazar 2, Liwag 2, Santos 0.ARELLANO 65 – Nicholls 12, Salado 11, Concepcion 9, Canete 7, Meca 6, Alcoriza 5, Dela Cruz 4, Enriquez 4, Flores 3, Ongolo Ongolo 2, Rivera 2, Abanes 0, Taywan 0, Villoria 0, Padilla 0.ADVERTISEMENT Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Robredo should’ve resigned as drug czar after lack of trust issue – Panelo Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games LATEST STORIEScenter_img National Coffee Research Development and Extension Center brews the 2nd National Coffee Education Congress Church, environmentalists ask DENR to revoke ECC of Quezon province coal plant Engel, Davidson homer as White Sox end 9-game losing streak Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ MOST READ Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ Trump strips away truth with hunky topless photo tweet FEU Auditorium’s 70th year celebrated with FEU Theater Guild’s ‘The Dreamweavers’ El Nido residents told to vacate beach homeslast_img read more

Delhi gears up for ninth Asian Games to be held in November 1982

first_imgA cheery elephant called Appu was the character uppermost in the minds of most Indian sportsmen all through 1981. Appu is the mascot for the ninth Asian Games, which will be held in Delhi in November 1982, and all over the country athletes, matmen, hockey stick artists, footballers, swimmers and,A cheery elephant called Appu was the character uppermost in the minds of most Indian sportsmen all through 1981. Appu is the mascot for the ninth Asian Games, which will be held in Delhi in November 1982, and all over the country athletes, matmen, hockey stick artists, footballers, swimmers and other adherents of the body triumphant were sweating it out on the playing fields with an eye to the gold, the silver and the bronze.The coming contests in the as yet incomplete stadia in the capital added a new, urgent zest to the competitions and the training, resulting in sharper performances, both home and abroad.Thus Indian athletes went to Tokyo for the Asian Track and Field Meet in May and returned with a glittering haul of 17 medals, including five golds. The national football team gave a good account of itself at the Merdeka Football Tournament in Kuala Lumpur, getting as far as the semi-finals where it lost to the powerful Sao Paulo Club of Brazil. And the women’s hockey team beat Japan at Kyodo to become Asian champions.Cricket Defeats: For the spectator, however, cricket was the only game. Millions tuned in to the cackle of the running commentary from Australia and New Zealand, where Sunil Gavaskar’s men were running into heavy weather. India, puffed up by victories over Australia and Pakistan in 1980, were brought quickly down lo earth when Australia whipped them by an innings in three days at Sydney. India were saved by a narrow draw in the second Test at Adelaide, and salvaged some honour by winning at the last Test at Melbourne, notwithstanding a threatened walkout by Gavaskar when a belligerent Dennis Lillee got him with a hotly disputed l.b.w. decision. Kapil Dev Nikhanj, India’s wonder boy, did yeoman service by bowling Australia out for a paltry score with his thigh strapped in supporters.If the Australian tour threw up another Gavaskar “first’ – he lost his First Test as captain at Sydney-New Zealand was worse. India lost the first Test at Wellington by 59 runs, going on to draw the next two encounters at Christchurch and Auckland, totting up another Gavaskar ‘first’-the first series he had lost as captain. For the diminutive, successful cricketer, it was one of the worst series ever, and his failure with the willow was backed up by weak-kneed batting by the rest of the team, especially G.R. Vishwanath and Dilip Vengsarkar. Injuries and bad form resulted in young Ravi Shastri, left arm spinner of Bombay, being sent to New Zealand in dramatic fashion and he ultimately emerged from his first series with 15 wickets, the biggest individual haul.Back home, Bombay won the Ranji Trophy for the 28th time in their golden jubilee year, beating Delhi convincingly by an innings and 46 runs – a victory all the sweeter because it was achieved without the help of their stalwarts who were away getting a beating in New Zealand and Australia. Bombay also won the limited overs Wills Trophy at Kanpur and the Irani Trophy at Indore. To round off a successful season for the west, the zone won the Duleep Trophy defeating East Zone at Bombay jn November.(From left) Padukone makes a forehand return, Ferreira tenses for a shot, Surjit Singh (third from left) and team-mates argue with Pakktani umpire Raghdadi during Bombay Test and. (below) Kapil Dev watches his shot go to the boundaryPolitical Intrigues: For the north, however, the season was clouded by politics: the cricketers in Delhi split into two camps, the Delhi State Cricketers Association (DSCA) led by retired Test spinner Bishan Singh Bedi – who said goodbye to the game after collecting 266 Test wickets and was made an honorary member of the Marylebone Cricket Club – and the established Delhi and District Cricketers Association (DDCA). The whole thing became ridiculous when both groups arrived with separate teams to play against Punjab in a Ranji tie. The quarrel nearly resulted in the third Test against England in December being shifted from Delhi’s Ferozeshah Kotla ground after charges were instituted against the ddca by 45 of its own members. However, the Test was conducted by a committee appointed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).Politics put on an international face when it seemed as if the current tour of India by England would never take place. The South African sporting links of the two Geoffs, Boycott and Cook, held the tour in suspense for quite some time, until the clouds cleared. As if in celebration, the Indians beat England by 138 runs in the first Test at Bombay, following a superb exhibition by pacers Kapil Dev and Madan Lal the latter making a comeback after four years, aided by a wicket which shifted character in bewildering fashion.The season threw up at least one promising hopeful for the years to come – K. Srikkanth, opening batsman from Tamil Nadu, made a dull debut at Bombay, but recovered brilliantly in Bangalore to produce a swashbuckling 65 in the one and only innings that India was able to play. Ravi Shastri consolidated his position, but Kirti Azad did not seem to fit in either as a middle order bat or a supporting spin bowler. On an older note, Haryana veteran Rajinder Goel, 39, earned the distinction of being the only one to play in 100 Ranji Trophy matches and also capture 500 wickets in the national championships. Goel started his Ranji spell in 1958.Controversial Selection: Hockey vied with cricket for attention in 1981. December would seethe World Cup in hockey being fought for in Bombay, and on this all eyes were set. Unfortunately the year began with a whimper – l.M. Mahajan, the newly elected president of the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF), who took over from M.A.M.Ramaswamy. withdrew the Indian team for the PIA Champions Trophy tournament in Karachi and the Asian Cup tournament in Lahore on the plea that the team selected by the previous selection committee was not good enough: said Mahajan: “A thrashing in Karachi would be demoralising for our boys.”Later in May, India’s captain for the 1980 Moscow Olympics, Arjuna Award winner Vasudevan Bhaskaran, was dropped reportedly to rehabilitate Surjit Singh-the levers of control had obviously swung from south to north. Singh led the team on a long tour of Europe which ended on a sour note when India refused to play Holland in one match, claiming that the referees were partial.Back home, traditional rivals Pakistan and India clashed in a four-Test series. The first two matches were reduced to farces when the referees, one each from the two countries, indulged in lusty oneupmanship. For the two Tests in Pakistan, two Dutch referees were pressed into service – Pakistan won the series 2-1, and the Indians, the deficiencies of their forward line completely exposed, left for a month-long coaching camp in Bombay to limber up and tighten their game for the World Cup.India’s Mihir Bose attempting to clear the ball past the Malaysians at the Merdeka tournamentComeback Trail: Personalities grabbed the limelight as much as the teams. Prakash Padukone’s rise and fall and rise made headlines all through the year. The All-England champion for 1980 seemed to have lost his deft touch when he lost the national title – which he had held nine times-to Syed Modi at Vijayawada.advertisementadvertisementA few weeks later he lost the All-England crown to Liem Swie King of Indonesia. Then he blazed a comeback trail winning the inaugural World Cup championship at Kuala Lumpur and the Indian Masters at Pune. Pune saw Padukone score a spectacular victory over Chinese No I Han Jian.Unfortunately, Padukone apprears to be the only international class player on the Indian badminton scene. The others, like Syed Modi, have not been able to make much headway. although Modi and Ami Ghia won the men’s and women’s titles in the Brisbane Mini-Commonwealth Games in October, admittedly against limited opposition. The shallowness of the Indian badminton challenge was underscored when, to gain international experience. Indian men and women teams toured England and the continent, faring poorly in the process, India losing the Test series against England. Aspiring prospects such as Vimal Kumar, Vikram Singh and Sanat Mishra will have to work hard to achieve what Padukone has.Another personality made his mark in one of the most secluded of games-billiards. This is the only game which has given India two world champions, in Wilson Jones and Michael Ferreira. Ferreira won the World Amateur title in 1977 in Melbourne and won it again last November, defeating Norman Dagley of Britain by a slender margin in the final. In the course of the tournament, Ferreira also totted up a record break of 630 while playing against another Indian, Subhash Agarwal.advertisementHis success is all the more creditable for he had injured his shoulder in an accident barely eight days before the championship was due to begin and was able to resume practice only two days before his first match. It looks as if the Indian challenge in billiards will be healthy for a long time, what with Ferreira, Agarwal, and Geet Sethi of Gujarat cueing their shots with professional ease.Football Fireworks: Away from the tense calm of the green baize and on to the brawling football field, and the volatile players of West Bengal provided entertainment and fireworks. At the first Asian Games camp at Salt Lake, Calcutta, 21 players who either belonged to the big three-East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting-or were to join them the next season, staged a walkout. They left the camp in cars provided by the clubs, and their behaviour provoked West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu to remark: “We are ashamed of such players who put their personal interest above that of the country.” In a dramatic about-face, all but one of the players apologised.After the Federation Cup at Madras was won by Mohun Bagan, who beat East Bengal in the semi-final and Mohammedan Sporting in the final, a second coaching camp was held at Barrackpore to choose the team for the President’s Cup tournament in Seoul.Unfortunately, the trip fell through reportedly because the Calcutta clubs wanted to retain their best players during the Calcutta soccer league. A third camp to pick the team for the Merdeka tournament in Malaysia was held at Secunderabad, and later shifted to Calcutta, again for the same reason.The creditable performance at Merdeka could not be sustained at a four-leam tournament in Pyongyang, North Korea. Poor thinking on the feet showed when India lost to both the senior and junior North Korean sides and defeated China’s second string for its only victory. Later in the year, an Indian team toured the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and lost to both the junior and senior teams. Finally, the King’s Cupencounters at Bangkok. Thailand,saw India being thrashed by South Korea 6-0.While India was having traumatic encounters abroad, the national trophies were distributed on predictable lines. Punjab defeated the Railways in a disappointing National Championship final at Cuttack. Mohun Bagan and East Bengal shared the IFA shield for the fourth time. Bengal football continued to provide good copy when one of the smaller clubs, Mirzapur Union, went to court contending that players who file income-tax returns were professionals who should not be allowed to play in an amateur league. Meanwhile, down south in Kerala, seven-a-side football was growing in popularity.P.T. Usha burns up the track, Sanjay Ghorpade concentrates on his serve and Vijay Amritraj strokes backPretensions Exposed: It has been a dismal year for table tennis. At home. V. Chandrasekhar beat Raj Kathuria to retain the national singles title for 1980. while Delhi won the team title. The country’s pretensions to any sort of position on the world scene were totally exposed at the World Championships at Novi Sad, Yugoslavia. The men finished in 26th place, their lowest ever ranking, and the women slipped to 16th and last place in their group. The fall came as a shock because the Indian team had been put through some intensive training at a selection camp in Bangalore and a final camp at Patiala.The reason for the stagnation is that India has been relying for too long on players who are not getting any better. Old warhorses Manjit Dua and Chandrasekhar were the mainstay of the team at Novi Sad but their play lacks bite. In the women’s section, likewise, the tried and tested duo of Shailaja Salokhe and Indu Puri are not the same force they were two years earlier. In fact, the only player to win any sort of prize at Novi Sad was Vyoma Shah, who came away with a consolation prize.A silver lining to the otherwise dismal picture is the emergence of Sanjay Ghorpade as a player of immense potential. He won the intab cup for juniors at Pune in June, and gained his India colours for the trip to North Korea for the Pyongyang International. Oilier players of promise are Rajat Kathuria, Kamlesh Mehta and S. Sriram among the men, and Niyoti Roy, the national junior champion, among the women.Exciting Prospects: The picture is very much brighter for Indian athletes. The emergence of K.K. Premchandran on the sprint scene was the highlight of the year, after the haul of five golds at Tokyo. Premchandran. a crane operator from Cochin Port Trust, registered a spring triple of 100 metres, 200 metres and 400 metres at the Open Athletics Championships at Lucknow, emulating the great Milkha Singh’s 1960 feat. P.T. Usha staged a welcome comeback as the country’s top woman sprinter after a long lay off due to an injury. Coming back to her old form she won the sprint double in all three international meets recently. Teammates Sreekuman Amrna and Mangalore girl Vandana Rao are hard on her heels.Among Asia’s best and most consistent athletes is Geeiha Zutshi who won the 800 metres gold and the 1,500 metres silver at Tokyo. Another stalwart, the ailing Angel Mary Joseph, may not recover in time for the Asiad. Long jumper Mercy Mathew is in erratic form and lost the top spot to E.J. Molly at Lueknow. Hurdler M.D. Valsamma has a challenger in Hamida Banu. who is not going to be awed by Valsamma’s bronze at Tokyo.The prospects born over the year will be able to prove their mettle at the inter-state athletics championship in Calicut at the end of January. The competitive spirit is as strong among the men as it is among the women – Asian gold medallists Sabir Ali (decathlon) and Chand Ram (20-kilometre walk) are more or less sure to hold their own during this year’s Asiad, but other gold medallists Gopal Saini (5,000 metres) and A. Rajan (800 metres) cannot be so sure of victory. Saini, for instance, is literally being chased by his protege Raj Kumar who, perhaps out of reverence for his “guru”, finished 0.2 seconds behind him ai Lueknow in the 5.000 metres. Saini also faces a fierce challenge in the 3.000 metres steeplechase from an exciting new prospect Pradeep Kumar.Mild Sensation: The tennis event of the year took place in Calcutta and saw a thrilling final between Ivan Lendl and John Alexander. Otherwise. Vijay Amritraj continued to go down lighting at Wimbledon – this time to Jimmy Connors in the quarterfinals. Ramesh Krishnan created a mild sensation in the US Open when he took a set off champion John McEnroe and led 5-4 before losing in the quarter-finals. For the rest, tennis in India is very far from big time – the Asian junior championship was won by Deepak Bhargava who beat Mayank Capoor; both are from Allahabad.At a time when Indian volleyball was looking up with India finishing third at the Commonwealth championships in London. Arab money is luring away the best players to the Middle East. The famous Balwant Singh – ‘Ballu’ to volleyball aficionados – and Abdul Basith followed Jimmy George and Suresh Mishra to Abu Dhabi and the Gulf threat now hangs over another star spiker Abdul Razak.The Volleyball Federation of India hopes to bring them back for the coaching camps and the Asiad; the loss of these players is serious – Punjab without Balwant Singh was knocked out of the nationals at the league stage, a shock for a team which has won the championship 18 limes out of 23.As for basketball, India finished a poor fifth in the Asian Basketball Confederation championship at Calcutta, despite the three coaching camps held earlier and the Russian coach Sergei who had taken charge of the team a month before the contest. The cause of the sad showing was given as differences among coaches and not enough international experience – a tour to Europe was cancelled. Though the team has a sharp-shooter like Ajmer Singh and the seven-foot-two Sunil Panda, the Indians’ game is relatively slow and in sharp contrast to that of China, South Korea and Japan.Anita Sood makes a splash and a poster builds up expectation for the forth coming gamesRecords Broken: Aquatics found a perfect queen in Anita Sood. At the last nationals held in November, she proved her versatility by winning the breast and butterfly sprints in addition to her customary clean sweep in the freestyle events and the individual medley. In the process she rewrote six records she had set the previous year. Backstroke specialist and Kerala collegian Wilson Cherian also made a big splash winning three events.The musclemen had a good year. With four gold medals in international contests, flyweight Ekambaram Karunakaran is the best lifter of 1981, Unfortunately, there is little encouragement and spectator support for a sport that brought India a gold, two silver and one bronze medal from the Auckland Commonwealth championship and three gold, one silver, and one bronze medal from the Mini-Commonwealth games at Brisbane. The iron men of the Railways were in full steam at the nationals and they edged out Services to second place for the third successive year in Delhi.Indian wrestlers slipped a bit at the Asian championships at Lahore by losing the second place to Japan – Iran are the undisputed leaders in Asia – and got only six silver and two bronze medals. The consolation is that all grapplers got a medal each in a different weight class. Earlier, at the Ajmer nationals, Delhi held sway in the freestyle and Services in the greco-roman category. Expectedly Delhi’s Rustam-e-Hind Satpal Singh won in the super-heavyweight class (over 100 kg) for the tenth consecutive time.From brawn to brain, and the story of Indian chess was one of ratings. Raja Ravisekhar joined Manuel Aaron and V. Ravikumar in the International Master (IM) slot while T.N. Parmeswaran, P.M. Thipsay and Dibyendu Barua gained the first of the two norms for becoming an IM. In the Delhi nationals 15-year-old Barua was involved in a four-way tie with Aaron, Ravisekhar and Parmeswaran which ultimately went Aaron’s way.The Khadilkar sisters continued their relentless domination of the 64 squares. Rohini, the youngest, won the inaugural Asian women’s chess championship in Hyderabad; she also won the zonal qualifying tournament at Sharjah in the UAE that takes her into the next round of the 1984 world championship. The Hyderabad victory brought her the International Woman Master rating which her sister Jayashree gained a couple of years ago.Flawed Fabric: There were notable blemishes on the Indian sports fabric. The discipline at some of the Asiad coaching camps left much to be desired and during one athletics camp at Bangalore, five probables were arrested following a complaint against them of holding a woman in wrongful confinement and raping her. At Patiala’s National Institute of Sports, gymnast Mohinder Singh Chhabra, 17, tried to perform the double somersault on the roman rings, fell on ill-prepared cushions, injured his spine and died in hospital the next day. And one -time national champion Pan Singh Tomar – 5,000 metres and 3,000 metres steeplechase-was killed during the year’s combing operations in the Chambal ravines: Tomar had turned dacoit.These events were drowned out in the general clamour of preparation for the Asian Games. Even as the sportsmen get into shape, the stadia and other accessories crucial to an international sporting event have fallen behind schedule. Admits a member of the organising committee: “We are trying to do in two years what other special organising committees do in five or six years for the Commonwealth or Olympic Games.” Perhaps the best comment on the state of Indian sports officialdom is that the term of the All India Council of Sports (AICS), the supreme sports body which oversees the activities of the various games federations, has just expired and no one knows if the body is being recast or being disbanded. With such confusion and backstairs intrigue at the top. it will be quite a job for the genial Appu to cheer Indians to more of the gold, silver and bronze.last_img read more