Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"OUR BASEBALL YATRA" ---Rinku Singh, Dinesh Kumar Patel



2008 "Blackened Gold" award winning story


Yātrā (Sanskrit: यात्रा, 'journey', 'procession'), in Hinduism and other Indian religions,
generally means pilgrimage to holy places such as confluences of sacred rivers, places associated
with Hindu epics such as the Mahabharata and Ramayana, and other sacred pilgrimage sites.

In one of the most unusual developments in the entire fabled history of the Pittsburgh Pirates, few events, if any, have been as completely out of "left field" than the announcement this week that the team had signed the two finalists in the "Million Dollar Arm" competition that took place over the last several months in India.
In one of the most unusual developments in the entire fabled history of the Pittsburgh Pirates, few events, if any, have been so completely out of "left field" than the announcement this week that the team had signed two finalists in the "Million Dollar Arm" competition that took place over the last several months in India.

The contest, sponsored by a U.S. based sports management company, was designed to find the strongest arm(s) in the nation of India, a country of 1.1 billion people. The logic was that surely, with that many possibilities, that the law of averages would produce a major league arm and the first representative from this Hindu nation into Major League Baseball. You must admit, it is an intriguing idea.

Amazingly, in a land where baseball is largely unknown, over 30,000 contestants applied and competed to land the $1 million prize AND the coveted major league contract.

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"We are thanking the Pittsburgh Pirates and will work very hard to make them proud of our results" ---Singh & Patel

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Could this be one of the most memorable "early photos" in team history? Lefty 20-year-old Rinku Singh goes into his windup along with 19-year-old righthander, Dinesh Kumar Patel. We can expect to see both in the rotation before you know it. They couldn't do any worse than last year's staff did, that's for sure (except for Paul Maholm, of course).

In researching this story, I discovered that these two have started a blog together! http://wwwthemilliondollararm.com/blog/ and to read this, and hear their words spoken in uncommon English phraseology, is to immediately begin pulling for these two guys like no two prospects we've ever had. When you hear two young men talking about someday going back home to their villages but only if it doesn't interfere with baseball...well how can't you root for that kind of enthusiasm?

Posing with their newly signed Bucco minor league contracts.
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"We hope to pitch for you soon and we not let you down" --Singh & Patel
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Wearing their new Pirate hats for the first time, the two have become a "cause celebre" both here in the U.S. and in their native India.



Righthander Patel works out for Bucco brass. Well at least he looks like a pitcher (so, unfortunately, have a host of other Pirate prospects).

As you sit and analyze this situation, you have to admire the Pirates' moxie for making such a radical move. Surely they knew that they would be the butt of many Harold & Kumar jokes. But so determined to leave no stone unturned is this current regime that they would even go so far as India to sign a couple live arms.

To those naysayers conjuring up a new batch of Pirate jokes, I say, "This is great" and also "Gutsy move Neil". Unfortunately, I must also say, "God help us, they must have absolutely nothing in the minor leagues".

But admit it, who will you be pulling more for, these two guys from poor Indian villages or Pedro Alvarez whose sleazy agent wouldn't let him sign a $6 million contract? I predict that given Pittsburgh's appreciation for a great work ethic and humility (see Crosby, Sidney) Singh and Patel could become a sensation here if they were to one day make it to the "Burgh and don the Black & Gold. They already have one big big fan who'll be pulling for them here at "Pittsburgh's Black and Gold". We promise to keep you posted.


ABOVE:Pedro Alvarez: Number one draft pick has some much-needed p.r. work to get started on.