Sunday, 19 June 2011

The Nicolas Cage Decision

Tyrone Roberts was MIA, regardless of what the Late Mail said.

Having built an impressive body of work in character-driven dramas from 1985-1995, including a Best Actor Oscar for his performance in Leaving Las Vegas, Nicolas Cage seemingly decided to steer away from intense method acting roles, instead growing a series of weird hairdos and churning out a multitude of D-grade action movies like Drive Angry, Season of the Witch, Knowing and Ghost Rider. While Cage is often criticized for not pursuing Academy Awards, he still gets to cash eight-figure cheques and perhaps not devote as much time and effort to each role, and most of his movies are still big box office successes anyway.

Well like Cage's career, there comes a point in every serious NRL Dreamteamer's season when he/she makes the tough decision to forfeit any challenge to the overall rankings and instead just focus on their head-to-head leagues and the eliminator. Sure, you may not be able to win the car and bragging rights over 83,076 other players, but at least you don't have to pump in as many painstaking hours around the bye weeks and you can still make some easy cash if you placed pre-season wagers with your league mates. Well, for me and my team Gobias Industries, this point was precisely 5:30pm on Saturday, 18th June. For those still in the hunt for the FJ Cruiser, I will try and retroactively chronicle all the significant moments that led to this decision*, in the hope that you can perhaps see the warning signs in the future and not feel a sense of monumental failure like I currently do.

* I had originally intended to film an hour long interview for ESPN regarding my decision, but it appears I was beaten by a bloke in the States who thought of this ingenious idea 11 months ago. I suppose now Lebron can say he at least won something this year. Too soon, Miami fans?

Friday, 10th June: Round 13 Lockout
Despite the early season benchings of Sam Rapira and Shaun Fensom, as well as Simon Mannering and Matt Prior's unexpected shift into the centres, Gobias Industries is sitting pretty in 22nd place overall with $175,000 in the kitty and 15 trades remaining. Just prior to lockout I flirt with the idea of bringing in a basement-cheap Corey Norman for Beau Henry, however I decide to save the trade since Henry will start in round 17 anyway.

Saturday the 11th June: Titans announce Henry signing
For the second time in 12 months, Wayne Bennett forces the 2010 Toyota Cup Player of the Year out of his club for the following season, with Beau Henry joining the Gold Coast effective immediately. My master plan of keeping him for round 17 falls apart like Lebron in crunch time, since the Titans have the bye then. If they had announced the signing 18 hours earlier, Gobias Industries would have offered Corey Norman a contract and cleared him to play in round 13.

Sunday, 12th June: Things start to fall apart
Norman sends a big eff-you to Gobias Industries management with not only a massive 51 points, but also a victory over my beloved Raiders. Across the ditch, Lewis Brown is outscored by even Krisnan Inu, while James Maloney has forgotten how to tackle AND kick goals.

Monday, 13th June: Bellamy botches interchange rule
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves puts a huge shot on Gobias Industries' Adam Woolnough, while Frank-Paul Nu'uausala is placed on report for a proceeding swinging arm. Thinking he had earned a free interchange, Craig Bellamy mistakenly substitutes Woolnough 5-10 minutes earlier than usual. The interchange is eventually stripped from the Storm, and Woolnough doesn't play another minute. At this stage I am beginning to feel cursed like Red Sox fans from 1918-2004.

Tuesday, 14th June: Post-lockout and round 14 teams announced
Gobias Industries slips nine places to 31st overall. Tyrone Roberts is named to start at 5/8 for Newcastle, and at $94000 is set to see large price rises - especially if he replicates the 32 that he produced last start against the Warriors (with a now injured Mullen doing all the kicking back then). Of greater concern is Glen Fisiiahi's return for the Warriors, as he will now replace the solid Jack Reed as Lowest Scorer in Case of an Emergency. And with scores of 2 and 6 on his resume, that is a terrifying thought, especially after the Luke MacDougal Emergency Fiascos of 2010 (let's not go there).

Having a player like Fisiiahi in your squad is like going to a nightclub with an ex who is still keen on you, only she looks like George Rose*. You would much rather try your luck with the elite, attractive women at the club, but if something goes wrong she will jump in and unsuccessfully try to fill the void.

* I don't have any ex's that look like George Rose.

Friday, 17th June: Trading Day
Corey Parker is scratched from the Brisbane-Saints showdown after failing to recover from niggles sustained in Origin II. Since Tyrone Roberts should see about a $40k price rise by round 17, I decide to take a big gamble and trade Henry for him now and hope he outscores Reed and Woolnough (which is likely for a starting half). The late mail provided by the Daily Telegraph, Sportsnewsfirst,, Peter Sterling, Twitter and individual club websites say the Knights' only concerns are with the fitness of James McManus and Dan Tolar. I bring Roberts in as fourth reserve, along with Nathan Smith for Lewis Brown.

Saturday, 18th June: The Decision
I tune into Fox Sports 2 to see some bloke called Ryan Stigg confidently striding out onto Ausgrid Stadium as a "late" replacement for Tyrone Roberts. I briefly wonder if it's physically possible to fly to Townsville and kidnap Fisiiahi before his kickoff, but instead just decide to sit through the horrendous Knights-Penrith game, filled with penalties and Nathan Smith errors. Post game, the Stigg reveals he knew he would be playing on Tuesday. Tuesday! Either Rick Stone is as helpful as Johnny Tightlips when asked about team news, or our Late Mail providers are about as competent as these guys.

Fisiiahi gets torn to shreds by Kalifi Faifai Loa, and is lucky to score 11 points. If they subtracted points for atrocious reads in defense, the Fish would have scored about -25. The Warriors decide to abandon long range kicking in the second half in exchange for low percentage chip-and-chase plays, and Maloney scores just 10 fantasy points. I spend the rest of the night moping around like Tobias when George Michael took his hard-boiled eggs.

So that's how Corey Parker, Beau Henry, Wayne Bennett, Rick Stone, Tyrone Roberts, Peter Sterling and Glen Fisiiahi all inadvertedly combined to obliterate the countless hours of hard work I have devoted to acheiving Dreamteam glory since early February. Like Nick Cage, I will now spend my time in the D-grade action-adventure world of league play and eliminator showdowns. That's if I don't light myself on fire first...


Saturday, 18 June 2011

Chathu's Classroom - The Stanley Cup Finals

Some thoughts on the Bruins first Stanley Cup in 39 years:

  • Tim Thomas deserved to win the Conn Smyth Trophy and will win the Vezina. He was near impenetrable, letting in only 8 goals in 7 games. Pink Floyd were so impressed with him that when Thomas was 5 they named their 3rd studio album and seminal work progressive rock after him.
  • Roberto Luongo on the other hand was more like a sponge. He could only absord so much, but eventually he leaks.
  • It may not be as good as this, but hearing the packed TD Garden sing Shipping Up to Boston is pretty awesome.
  • I'll be honest, after watching the Canucks leading up to the finals I was worried about the Sedin twins. But not only did the Bruins' 1st line of Seidenburg and Chara shut them down, the Sedins earned themselves the ''sisters'' tag. And there's nothing wrong with identical twin sisters from Sweden.
  • In general the Bruins outhit the Canucks. Someone should tell Vancouncer that you don't win physical battles by giving away embellishment penalites.
  • Brad Marchand went from 20 games with a lone assist and no goals last season to being Boston's most potent attacking weapon against the Canucks, with the highlight no doubt being his shorthanded goal in Game 3.
  • Like most cricket teams around the world, Boston were unimaginative and dull with their powerplay for all of the playoffs. While it was still fairly anaemic in the finals, the Bruins' penalty kill made their special teams look fantastic compared to the Canucks.
  • Kevin Bieksa is a champion. He was the only Canucks defenseman who contributed meaningfully on offense, an aspect in which the Bruins had a clear edge.
  • Zdeno Chara is now my number one favourite Slovakian athlete*.
  • If you're going to a game 7 at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, take public transport. Don't drive.


* Editor's note: Personally, I would still pick Daniela Hantuchova at #1 in my Slovak athlete Draft.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Chathu's Classroom - Things I'd rather do

Things I would rather do than watch Farveez Maharoof bowl:

  • Tackle Akuila Uate. Just ask Benji Marshall.
  • Watch Craig McLachlan perform stand-up.
  • Stand under a window at Lord's.
  • Be an NFL fan in 2011. Oh wait...damnit.
  • Ice-skate near Aaron Rome.
  • Step into the Octagon with Cain Velasquez.
  • Be US Congressman Anthony Weiner right now.
  • Goaltend for the Vancouver Canucks.
  • Defend Dirk Nowitzki.
  • Make out with Snooki.
  • Go on a date with Francesca Schiavone.
  • Watch this season of 'Dancing with the Stars'.
  • Visit Kim Duthie in a hotel room.
  • Go on a bender like Stu in The Hangover II.

    Hashan Tillakaratne should do Sri Lankan fans and the whole cricketing world a favour and blame him for match fixing.

    Or they could just not pick him. Either way works for me.


    (Editors Note: 'Things I'd rather do than watch Alistair Cook and Jonathan Trott score runs' was the second option for the title of this article. The two are mutually inclusive.)

    Tuesday, 7 June 2011

    Cricket Australia's 25 man 2011-12 contract list announced

    Simon Katich is not the only one scratching his head.

    Assessing CA's annual contract list is like trawling through the line-up of acts at an upcoming music festival. Each list invariably contains the following ingredients:

    Major Headliners: These guys are hugely popular, have obtained a large following over a number of years and command the largest pay packets - so they had better sell tickets and perform on the biggest stage. Typical major headliners are Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey, Shane Watson, Metallica, Van Halen, U2 and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

    Over-rated Minor Headliners: Generally these guys had an immediate impact on the industry and became "it" guys, but as their fame and popularity grew exponentially they became over-commercialised to the point where their original fans struggle to relate to them any more. Now they get paid too much, are seen and heard in every commercial, and end up robbing deserved performers of time on the main stage. Michael Clarke, Mitchell Johnson, Kings of Leon and 30 Seconds to Mars are all examples of these guys.

    Exciting Underground Performers: Promising prospects who have been hugely impressive during smaller gigs, and are surrounded by alot of buzz but have not yet gone "mainsteam". Pat Cummins, John Hastings, Ryan Harris, Stone Sour, Billy Talent and A Day to Remember are all Underground guys.

    Recurring Acts: These guys perform at the same level every year, and will continue to be awarded the gig unless poor form or injury/illness strikes. Most of the names on each list fall under the Recurring Acts category, such as Brad Haddin, Peter Siddle, Cameron White, Birds of Tokyo and Grinspoon.

    Unfortunately, each list is always missing two or three performers you wish the governing body had signed, especially when the Chairman of selectors of that governing body is a full-time lawyer who "couldn't select a Sutherland 1st grade side" (Source: Sutherland 3rd grade captain at the time) in the 1980s. To continue the music analogy, these guys are proven big stage performers, have just released a great new album and have gone on a critically acclaimed world tour, but for whatever reason the organisers feel like it is just not "the right time". Here are the top three snubs (in my opinion) of this year's contract list, in reverse order:

    3. Ed Cowan
    Scored a tough, gritty 133 in the Sheffield Shield final against a fired up Cummins and metronomic Trent Copeland. Is made of the right stuff for Test cricket: patience, good temperament, toughness and most importantly given the recent Ashes series, an ability to leave the ball outside off stump (I still can't get the nicking montages out of my head from last summer). Especially given how ordinary Phil Hughes was against England (avg 16), Cowan seems like the logical man for the job.

    2. Trent Copeland
    Am I missing something here? This guy is 6'5, swings the ball both ways with McGrath-like accuracy, has the engine to bowl all day (he trundled in for a whopping 56.2 overs in the Shield final!), has taken an astonishing 80 Shield wickets in just 15 matches AND comes from New South Wales! Usually that last factor alone is enough to get you an Australian gig. Given Mitchell Johnson's propensity to bowl at least one horrible ball every over, Australia needs an accurate presence at the other end to create pressure. There is no way Brett Lee would have been as effective as he was in the early 2000s without McGrath and Warne at the other end to tie the opposition batsmen down. At just 25 years of age as well, it just seems unfathomable that Copeland has not been considered.

    1. Simon Katich
    After being dropped following a reasonably poor 2005 Ashes series (he averaged 27.55, which incidentally is higher than Clarke's 21.44 and Ponting's 16.14 from last summer's series), Katich re-earned his position in the side the old-fashioned way; by sheer weight of runs. He set a Sheffield Shield record for most runs in a single season with a whopping 1506 at a Bradman-esque average of 94.12. Okay, so he was "only" facing domestic bowlers, but are there any other batsmen in the country capable of producing those numbers?

    Since getting the opportunity to open the batting for Australia during the 2008 tour of the West Indies, Katich has been Australia's most consistent batsmen, averaging 50.94 and scoring Test centuries in the Caribbean, India, South Africa, New Zealand, England and Australia. In addition, he added the toughness and leadership to the side that once had Steve Waugh proclaiming him to be a future Australian captain. In the three Ashes tests that Katich was injured for, Australia averaged a pathetic 249, including being embarrassed on Boxing Day for 98 all out on a greenish wicket similar to the Gabba in 2008 where Katich defiantly carried his bat for 131* against New Zealand.

    At today's press conference, Andrew Hilditch said the reason for Katich's axing was to "start blooding our next opening partnership in preparation for the Ashes two years from now". Presumably this means sticking with the same Watson-Hughes partnership that yielded a disgraceful run-out in Melbourne and an average opening partnership of just 33.67. Hilditch implying that Katich at 35, is too old is also curious given he selected Hussey (36) and Ponting (36) in precisely the same squad. Also, if Hilditch's law firm offices picked up Fox Sports he would have noticed that the likes of Sachin Tendulkar (38), Rahul Dravid (36) and Jacques Kallis (35) all averaged well over 40 in 2010 - in fact Tendulkar scored more Test runs than anyone in 2010, amassing 1562 runs at 78.10.

    Of course the conspiracy theory doing the rounds on Twitter is that the frosty relationship between Katich and new captain Clarke was a contributor to the axing. There was the infamous "Song-gate" incident in 2009, where Katich allegedly grabbed Clarke by the throat following Australia's thrilling win over South Africa because Clarke wanted to sing the team song early to spend time with his girlfriend Lara Bingle. There were also persistent rumours that the older members of the team didn't respect Clarke as a captain. If these whispers were somehow true, surely that is just another reason to vote Lara off Dancing with the Stars. 

    (Note: I'm not sure if she is even still on that show - I refused to watch it after learning that Bingle, Nathan AND Haley Bracken, Steve Bracks' son and that busty wife of some AFL identity were this season's "stars".)

    The Australian cricket team have a couple of huge tours in the next 12 months, and only time will tell how each guy will perform. However, based on the current line-up, it unfortunately looks like it could be more like Stewie at Woodstock than Hendrix.