India CallingWednesday, September 6, 2006 | 7:38 AM
In this article…
Our fearless contributor G. Venkat Ganeshan, from somewhere in India—and now Philly—wanted to weigh in on RC’s season. Here’s how GVG sees the GOAT in his getting-better-all-the-time English.
Of course, RC hasn't hung up his boots yet or, for that matter, his champagne-soaked leather jacket for us to jump on and write a paean for him. It's just that he is going to take it easy on the schedule and participate in a select few events next season. But I can't comprehend a less crazed-out schedule that RC is going to do from next year.
Let me do a Dr. Phil here (yes, they have TVs in India). The gleaming bike sure would look inviting. So does the prospect of watching James “Bubba” Stewart and Kevin Windham duel out on a Sunday afternoon. Would that force RC to swear at himself looking in the mirror?
The key to this decision is how far RC can control his instincts on any given Sunday. I would love to be a fly on the wall to watch how RC can stomach the idea of watching someone else race in the outdoors when he pretty much knows he has way more aura and invincibility than anyone in the entire MX world right now. Maybe it's time to call on the reality TV folks at OLN or any other channel and do a play-by-play on how Ricky feels about not racing on Sundays.
It's an alien notion, for sure. But one thing the decision shows is Ricky's maturity. The most difficult decision that sports stars ever comprehend is to when it call it quits or when to take it easy. It's especially difficult in the case of individual sports.
In football and baseball, you are just a cog in the wheel. Mind you, not a key cog, unless you happen to be the quarterback or Big Papi. Whereas in individual sports, you drive your destiny, you are the creator of your fame and fortune and likewise you can dump the hard-earned name by a boneheaded move in a jiffy. Ask Mike Alessi.
The conundrum that sports stars always confront is the timing of their announcements. It's something like putting a block pass on a rival: You've got to get your timing and precision right. It looks like Ricky, by announcing his decision, has made a perfect holeshot.
Not everyone has the moxie to do that. To arrive at this decision, Ricky might've spent quite a few sleepless nights, but whatever it is, it's his decision. We ought to respect that.
We might now prod Ricky to stay on the bike for a few more seasons, be it the track promoter or an ordinary fan or a cynical journalist. Everyone wants Ricky to continue what he is doing right now for a few more years for purely selfish reasons (well, accept those other 39 guys maybe). And if Ricky does a Junior Seau and comes back and doesn't live up to the lofty expectations he has set for whatever reasons, imagine the backlash. Do you think will you cut some slack because he is Ricky? Well, no. It's his records that might act against his favor. You don't want to see champ exit in a slump like Cal Ripken Jr. did, do you? You would sound off every message board saying that Ricky should've quit a few years ago; every journalist would start using his pen as a weapon and make scathing remarks at the champ. By announcing his decision, Ricky certainly has put a rev limiter to such unnecessary gobbledygook in the future.
The competition, or the abject lack of it outdoors, might've forced him to arrive at this conclusion. He doesn't need to prove his talent to anyone or any longer in the sport. He's achieved whatever he had set out to do when he started off in the sand and red-clay tracks in Florida when he used to diligently practice under the watchful eyes of his mom.
If he had found a worthy challenger who could go shoulder-to-shoulder and kept him on tenterhooks, maybe he would've found the competitive gas to do the full season for a few more years. But the competition is in a shambles. Bubba offers a glimpse or two of his potential but is often prone to the dirt and takes took many walks/rides to the Asterisk Mobile Medics. Chad Reed, Kevin Windham and the rest seem to be in a different planet that it will take light years for them to catch up.
And to think that RC has accomplished the sky-high status riding various manufacturers to the title seems staggering. What else does one would want to achieve? If the said person has obliterated the competition, has won on every single manufacturer, proving that the man is more important than the machine, what else does he need to stoke his championship fire?
Spoken like a true champ. For a change, fans can put on a show to the champ at Glen Helen this coming weekend just like those tennis buffs did to Andre Agassi at the Big Apple. That's the way you can give back something to RC who has given us many a cherished moment and lots of flash-bulb-popping events.
Thank you, RC.