Farewell Il Pinturicchio, Alessandro Del Piero

Alessandro Del Piero. More than 20 years. Over 700 games. 289 goals. Countless celebratory cheers and laughter, screams of joy, tears of anguish and pride. A lifetime of memories. A true role model. And a complete legend.

Legends don’t retire or die. Hence, they are called legends.

When I recollect memories of my childhood, football plays a prominent part. I can tell you precisely where I was during each World Cup final. My Dad was a crazy soccer fan. I wanted to grow up and become a professional soccer player, but of course, girls weren’t even allowed on the same field as boys where I grew up. While I will settle for being a lawyer or professor, the love for the sport remains.

My favorite sports club outside my country of origin is Juventus in Italy. The craziness started in 1990, when I was only 5 years old. I vaguely remember watching some tapes of the 1990 World Cup and Italy playing in blue. I liked the color blue so I started cheering for the team. And then there was Roberto Baggio, scoring one of the best goals I’ve ever seen on the World Cup stage:

I became a crazy Baggio fan and would collect newspaper and magazine clippings about him. He had just transfered to a club called Juventus in Italy for the largest transfer fee in history at the time, and went on to win “World Player of the Year” in 1993. He was sought after by many clubs, including Manchester Utd, but finished his career in Italy. He was classy — not hot-headed and arrogant like the “stars” today, but a player with boundless energy, talent and creativity, who came back many times after being written off due to injuries.

I had a shaky moment when Baggio left Juventus for AC Milan in 1995. I didn’t know whether to follow him and build allegiance with a new club or whether to stick with Juventus. Fortunately, this young “golden boy” called Alessandro Del Piero made it easy to continue supporting Juventus.

At first, I didn’t like him. He was a good player, almost as good as Baggio, but it wasn’t a case of “love at first sight.” He was replacing my favorite! In my mind, there could never be another Roberto Baggio. And I was right. Del Piero has carved his own place in football history. He doesn’t need to be another Baggio, because he is Del Piero.

I grew up watching Del Piero spin his magic for Juventus and Italy. In the last 19 years, Del Piero has played 704 games for Juventus, enjoying a total of 48,785 minutes on the pitch. He has scored 289 goals, hit the woodwork 68 times and missed 12 penalties. He has won 387 games, drawn 197 and lost 120. He has been shown 50 yellow cards, and just two red.

But statistics do not do him justice. Over the last 19 years, he has stuck by Juventus, refusing to leave even when the team was relegated to Serie B following a controversial match-fixing scandal. At Juventus, he wasn’t just an important player — he was the only player that mattered. He worked hard to get the team promoted to Seria A again and rebuild the squad over many seasons. He shunned offers from big name clubs at the peak of his career. He continues to embody honesty, integrity and loyalty like no other athlete. A European Cup and World Cup winner, Del Piero may not have the fame of David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, but there is little doubt that he is one of the best footballers of this generation.

On Sunday, at the age of 37, Del Piero played his last game for Juventus, scoring his last goal for the club, and like a true captain, lifted the scudetto that Juventus won at the end of the season, unbeaten in Italian Serie A.

For Juventus, there will never be another Alessandro Del Piero.

 

#WC11

Standard cricket ball on a cricket shirt.

Image via Wikipedia

Today is the World Cup Cricket semi-final between India and Pakistan. About a billion people around the world will be less productive during the next 24 hours.

India has never won at Mohali against Pakistan. In return, Pakistan has never won against India in the World Cup. The winner will play Sri Lanka in the Finals.

The national fervor of cricket in South Asian countries is perhaps, the biggest critique of the word “post-colonial.” There’s nothing remotely post-colonial about adopting the colonizer’s passion past-time as the national sport of a new nation.

But maybe what is truly post-colonial is beating the colonizer at their own game.

Here’s to an all-South Asian World Cup Cricket Final.

Let the Battle of Mohali begin.

P.S. I bleed blue.

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World Cup 2010 Draw and Predictions

FINAL: World Cup 2010 Draw Group A South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France

Prediction: South Africa and Mexico. France qualified by cheating and unless they cheat again, they are going home after Group A.

FINAL: World Cup 2010 Draw Group B Argentina, South Korea, Nigeria, Greece

Prediction: This one is close as South Korea and Greece are known to spring surprises. Argentina and Nigeria.

FINAL: World Cup 2010 Draw Group C England, USA, Algeria, Slovenia

Prediction: This looks like a relatively easy group. England and USA unless things go terribly wrong with the North-Atlantic hegemony.

FINAL: World Cup 2010 Draw Group D Germany, Australia, Ghana, Serbia

Prediction: Another tough group as far as Germany is concerned, who underperform during qualifiers but buck-up at the World Cup finals. Australia and Germany though Ghana is also capable of surprises.

FINAL: World Cup 2010 Draw Group E Netherlands, Japan, Cameroon, Denmark

Prediction: Netherlands is a shoo-in for this one with Cameroon and Denmark battling it out.

FINAL: World Cup 2010 Draw Group F Italy, New Zealand, Paraguay, Slovakia

Prediction: Italy has a history of under-performing in the Group Stage so while this group looks easy, the Azzuri won’t make it easy for themselves. Paraguay and New Zealand would be strong contenders if they get over the initial stage fright.

FINAL: World Cup 2010 Draw Group G Brazil, North Korea, Ivory Coast, Portugal

Predictions: Brazil and Portugal will be a fire-cracker of a game and they should both qualify without much problems unless Kim Jong-il intervenes with a nuclear warhead.

FINAL: World Cup 2010 Draw Group H Spain, Honduras, Chile, Switzerland

Predictions: Spain battled a history of under performance by winning the European Championships. A qualification for Honduras would be sweet given the political upheaval in the country. For now, Spain and Chile.

There are no easy games at the World Cup Finals. It will be totally fantastic to see the Pacific, Asian and African nations spring surprises and send the European teams packing.

BART – New Media, Old Services

BART is getting new media savvy, especially since the Oscar Grant shooting incident, but unfortunately, that doesn’t translate into better services.

My bike seatpost with a women’s saddle was stolen on July 4th at Civic Center in front of the agents booth at 7th and Market.

I twittered my complaint to @sfbart, who told me:

@MaverickLal101 hi, there is contact info here where you can make a report of it: http://twurl.nl/hnc16s

So as per instructions, I emailed the Chief of BART Police and the appropriate officers with my complaint. All I got was an apology:

Dear Mr./Ms. Lal:

I regret the loss of your bicycle seatpost. One would assume that a bike would be safe and secure in front of the agent’s booth. But, unfortunately, when the booth is left unstaffed, that presents an opportunity for a thief and other wrong-doers.

Sincerely,

Gary Gee
Chief of Police

Pssst, it probably happened on their watch. The replacement for the three parts comes up to around $80-$100.

Yesterday, I went janitorial with my mom so she has promised to fork over some spare cash for it. Still, when is BART going to take responsibility for thefts that happen on their watch?!

Cricket – Sachin Tendulkar and the Subaltern

I love the contradiction and irony of this.

Source: Times of India

We have the greatest batsman in the history of cricket on the one hand, making history yet again by becoming the highest run-getter in Test Cricket.

Juxtaposing that individual brilliance is the Sensex (Indian Stock Market) dipping below 10 K yesterday thanks to the US-led global financial meltdown.

Congratulations to the Master Blaster for succeeding where neo-liberal markets have failed; after all markets are not for ‘uniting’ peoples or nations, and building solidarity. However, employing the legend of Sachin Tendulkar is a win-win game for global capitalism even if the Sensex does not show it.

Such is the strength of the human spirit and national pride, that the Indian media called Sachin Tendulkar ‘King of the World’ and announced that 1 BILLION Indians are celebrating this proud moment. It was a moment of ‘national unity’ maybe even Pan-Indian unity, in the midst of a financial crisis that has bankrupted businesses, left thousands jobless and worried about their future. I can only speak for myself; sick, hungry and fasting all the way in the United States but up at 2am to see the historic moment.

I don’t know how the subaltern feels about Sachin Tendulkar and this historic moment. Tendulkar is the Mahatma Gandhi of Indian cricket — his story, his legend perpetuates the Indian space as a universal solvent or solution for caste divisions, religious differences and communalism. From an industrialized-nation standpoint, cricket is considered a ‘subaltern sport’ and mistakenly-so.

We can hardly call it subaltern in the world of corporate sponsorship and ownership. Cricket was part of the colonial seduction, the colonial paraphernalia of the British Raj and co-option by Indians was of the utmost importance to British empire. It was only through making Indians part of the game, making them consumers of yet another colonial product that an elitist sport, considerably a ‘gentleman’s game’ like cricket instead of kabaddi or gulli danda, became a national sport, a site for national glory.

As a legacy of British colonialism, cricket presents a strong critique of the term ‘post-colonialism.’ After all, how post-colonial can India be as a country if it has simply adapted a British sport and turned it into the national sport of India?
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