Not since Apu quit the Kwik-E-Mart have we seen a more unlikely story involving people from India. Meet Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, a pair of teenagers with dreams of playing Major League baseball. It was Walkoff Walk which first introduced the sporting blogosphere to these guys back in May, when Singh won the 'Million Dollar Arm Hunt' talent competition in India, which was run by promoter Jeff Bernstein, Barry Bonds' marketing agent. Singh was then joined by another Indian prospect, Patel, and the two were whisked to the U.S. for intensive baseball training. Both are now ready to try out for the majors, where they'll be fought over by the Yankees and Red Sox if they're good, or, you know, the Mets and Padres if they aren't. Raw was not the word for these guys. Not only did Rinku and Dinesh not even know how to play catch when they first arrived at USC for training, but they didn't know how to work a drinking fountain. Both were javelin throwers in India, and Singh also played cricket. After six months of workouts, they're now ready to try out for major league scouts, which will occur on Thursday in Tempe, Ariz.
"This is the most amazing thing I've been part of," says Tom House, University of Southern California pitching coach and former major league pitcher, who has spent the last six months training the duo. "This is like medical science. It's turning raw athletes into pitchers. You wouldn't believe how far they've come. "The first time they saw a baseball game, watching USC play Washington State, Patel was confused. "What did the shortstop do wrong?" he asked. House: "Why do you say that?" Patel: "He's the only one in the infield without a base."
How charmingly naive (slaps Patel upside head). In the talent contest in India, Singh consistently hit 87 mph and earned $100,000. When veteran major league scout Ray Poitevint went to India to see whether he had potential, he also recommended Patel, who threw harder but wasn't as accurate.
"When I first saw these guys, I thought they had maybe a 40% chance to pitch professional baseball," Poitevint says. "Now, after seeing them, I think they've got an 85% chance to be in the big leagues. I can't believe the difference."
Other fun facts from the Rinku and Dihesh files: • They learned to speak English from watching Baseball Tonight (not recommended). • When Walkoff Walk's Kris Liakos first read about them, he thought it was a Nigerian bank scam. • In their villages in India, both Patel's and Singh's families rely on well water in their dirt huts, which have electricity, but also tarps for roofs. • Ordering pizza by phone = devil's magic! • Traffic jams in India usually involve cows. • Setback in July when Singh sliced two fingers while cutting spare ribs. • Both have refused every invitation to USC campus parties. • Scouts from at least 20 MLB teams will attend tomorrow's workout. • They have a blog. And perhaps soon, a TV reality show. Singh, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound left-hander, throws 89-90 mph with a split-fingered changeup. Patel, a 5-11, 185-pound right-hander, throws 91-92 mph with a circle changeup. Patel says he's the conservative one of the two, leaving the experimenting to Singh. Good luck tomorrow, boys! Post-workout pizza is on me. Curry pepperoni OK with you? Pair Of Pitchers From India Eye Major League Opportunities [USA Today] Dammit People, The Rinku And Dinesh Story Was Mine [Walkoff Walk]