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The Hot Seat featuring Sajid Kakana

Sajid Kakana

1. Tell us a little about yourself, your occupation and how you got started in the league?

I was born in 19….75, I work in a tech company, like most desis, that facilitates a financial and trading environment on a private hosted network. I manage a team that supports this platform and its clients. I grew up in Flushing Queens with fellow teammates Sonu Bhasin, Amit Bhasin, and my cousin Yamin. We used to play a lot of sports back in the days and at SASL inception, Sonu and Amit started in the league under Dynasty, I was not on the original roster but joined later seasons. I used to live in Brooklyn at the time, commuting for games was challenging and draining, but I loved the game and company, I continued to play. I later moved to Roslyn Heights Long Island and it became more convenient to be around the league and fellow players. We have had several early years with some of the original Dynasty together as a core, but it was never a defining moment. We suffered from lack of cohesiveness and dedication, progressing over the seasons, Sonu and I decided to reinvigorate our franchise, with help from Yamin and pinch of Amit, getting to where we are present seasons. The progression was a drift like the wind that bellows in the field, at times we wanted to quit by coming so close and failing, we endured through our broken egos and marched forward. I think the lure of the morning fields with fresh dew of dawn and the early games was an attraction that granted us the drive to keep playing.

2. Congrats on winning the 2020 Championship. What do you think enabled you to win and advice you can give to newer teams on best practices?

Thank you, always humbling to win amongst the great teams we face every season and after so long. The quench of the victory was that of an oasis in the stranglehold of the desert. Our team was built upon good guys that did not complain after games and just showed up to play. What set the winning roster apart was our efforts off the field, we continued to challenge ourselves with batting practice as often as we could. We enjoyed BP at Alley Pond park in Queens, we enjoyed the company. We took things lightly and lighthearted, we knew we can fill the gaps with unity, supporting each other when a teammate is struggling. For new teams, my advice would be to tread lightly but have a passion and fortitude, like the links on a chain you lock in unity to reach the end. Do not get discouraged with failure and keep practicing, eventually hard work pays off, stay true, stay humble.

3. After coming off a championship season, tell us about your thoughts on the cap system and rating system that ultimately led your team to break apart. Do you think you were unfairly victimized for having such a great season?

The rating system and cap have always been a subject for scrutiny. I always felt like a victim to the system but after rationalizing our contention, and using the logistics we track for every player, you press your luck and build a roster. The system is run by a few that I hope steer in the path of justice, swaying from favoritism that have diminished some and risen others. The key to a good system is to have a rational formula that applies to every player equally, I have made this argument to Ammad and Anwar in the past and they have put in the efforts. 2021 should present good parity and adjustments under our three headed Ghidorah committee.

5. How did you go about breaking up the team, many of whom you played together for several years?

There are times when you sail the water you have control and there are times when you are steered from the path by force. Ours was a success story last season, a tale of a few average individuals that strived to win. Our collective was strong, we worked in unison and cheered to the momentum of the season. Post win we celebrated at Ahkbar with a feast for champs, mounds of lamb chops and naans. We thought everyone was happy but behind the lines of smiles was a little contempt amongst a few. After some time away from the chatter of softball, we tried to rally for the new season only to learn that half the roster was moving on. Like Sandra B we were on the blind side, we had no idea that this was going to happen and had to scramble to reorganize a new roster. If you know us, you know we make rosters with new talent and intros into SASL most seasons and I personally recruit in every aspect of life, I converse with gym patrons, on random fields after games, wherever and whoever looks athletic, but we recruited guys that we like from the league and moved on this season. There were initial pains from the disrespect and misplaced fortitude for some to be straight forward but after time, the open wounds heal fast. We wish all our ex-players the best in the league till we meet again on the field. Life is too short for toxins so forgive and forget and move on…

6. If you were commissioner, what changes would you have made to address the issue of parity but also balancing that objective with ensuring teams that win fairly do not get penalized for putting up a great season?

The approach is a difficult path with many mechanics at play. The commish position is an underrated role that demonstrates an individual with thick skin as in the case of Anwar, the cloths did fit tight! Parity is achieved not just by numbers but also by observation and rationale of a committee, for example in D3 last season it was obvious the Mets were overweighted against the other teams but the CEO turned a blind eye being on that roster, and the commish did not have the experience to objectify the situation. It’s not all math, its common sense that is lacking in a system that rates a player with low defensive qualities equally to a well-rounded star because his offensive numbers are strong. Defense wins Softball. Dynasty defense was top tier last season giving us the edge to the chip. I respect what the league has progressed with the rating system and adhere to its logic, but the human touch is lacking. When a team wins the chip, the players are rated higher naturally since they produced results, nothing you can change here except the roster. The sun does outline the silver lining in every cloud and the season will endure.

7. Why do you write your name on balls?

The river of balls flows freely, some will subside some will return.

8. Who do you see as your biggest competitor for the season? Why?

Half my ex-roster is characterized as a winning breed, I have faith they will not disappoint like they did after the mounds of lamb chops and naans. The first week was impressive for many and so the path is trailed with thorns, bushes, and trees….but the sharp bat of the Dynasty will not be dulled. Good luck to everyone and have fun with it. Remember, if you don’t have a passion for this, stay in bed and spare those joints…19….75!

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