If 666 is The Mark of the Beast, then today's date must be the birthday of The Beast-In-Waiting. Or not...
ESPN spent an hour yesterday televising the post position draw for the Kentucky Derby. I know they have done this before, but I still marvel at the
thought processes that go on in the programming department at ESPN. Horseracing is a sport that I love and follow, but the fact of the matter is that
it is a sport in decline and one with a limited and shrinking following. Even an avid horseplayer is not going to adjust his schedule to tune into a
TV program to watch the post position draw so I have no idea how the ESPN execs think this will be a big deal. And then, how do they get sponsors to
pay actual cash money for time on that program?
Yes, I watched the show, but I'll be very surprised if you did too.
I was very surprised when the horse with the first pick of post position (Bandini) took the 15th post position. The Derby will have 20 entries, which
is a huge field. I know that there will be a traffic problem going into the first turn and horses on the rail may get squeezed and shuffled back in
the pack - unless they gun it out of the gate to establish a front spot on the rail in that first turn. By the same token, horses on the outside need
to gun it out of the gate or they risk being 6 or 7 horses wide going into that first turn and losing a lot of ground.
The other place where "traffic congestion" is going to happen in this race is just off the turn coming into the stretch. At that point, ten or twelve
of these animals will be giving up the ghost in terms of running a mile and a quarter because they just aren't capable of top-flight racing at that
distance. So the "dead closer" who wants to come from last place and circle the field - the way Don't Get Mad did in the Derby Trial last week - is
going to have to weave through traffic or go so wide that he might trample a spectator.
Based on the Derby prep races, I liked Bellamy Road and Noble Causeway and High Fly the best of the entrants. Actually, I really liked Declan Moon
whole lot, but he's not going to run on Saturday; too bad. Given the post positions, I now like Noble Causeway and High Fly as the key horses for
exactas and trifectas with Bellamy Road, Bandini, Coin Silver and Greeley's Galaxy as the horses to fill out the exotics.
George Steinbrenner owns Bellamy Road and stands to collect about a million dollars if Bellamy Road wins on Saturday. If he has another million at his
disposal, I hope he spends it on building his racing stable and not on the Yankees because the spending effort there seems to have gotten off-track
– so to speak. The Yankees' payroll is $205M and they are starting Tony Womack in left field. How did that happen? If he continues on this course,
they may need to rename the trophy given out to the most feckless spending by a sports owner; of course, that award is currently called the Danny Boy
Snyder Loving Cup.
Now that Division 1-A and 1-AA schools can schedule a 12th football game, there will be a flurry of activity among schools to find additional
opponents who can fill out the schedules. And of course, they won't want the added opponent to be too fierce lest it hang a loss on the record that
costs them "position" in the Bowl Game Sweepstakes. So, here is an idea. Start up a college - call it the American Institute for Asthmatics and
Amputees or A-I-Double-A for short - and field a football team. Play all of your games away so you don't have the expense of a stadium and take a nice
chunk of guarantee money from all the opponents you will visit so they can crush you. So how come Donald Trump hasn't come up with this moneymaking
idea and gotten his "apprentice-wannabes" to flesh it out?
Speaking of college football, there was some twitter about former Heisman winner Jason White not being drafted and then being released by the KC
Chiefs only a couple of days after they signed him as an undrafted free agent. Lots of folks went off on the litany of former Heisman Trophy winners
who never did diddley-squat in the NFL. I thought about it differently. The Big 12 is simply not a conference that produces quarterbacks. I can only
think of three QBs in the NFL who came from Big-12 schools - and it is not worth the effort to go and search every roster to check out where the 4th
string strap-hanging QB who may or may not make it out of minicamp went to school. Sage Rosenfels was in Miami last year playing behind AJ Feeley and
Jay Fiedler, Koy Detmer held for placekicks in Philly and Chris Simms might in fact become the QB in Tampa Bay.
For a conference that is usually considered to be among the elite of the football conferences, this is a pretty meager showing. The Big 12 has three
QBs in the league showing modest levels of accomplishments; Marshall University has two starters in the league (Jags and Jets); Tulane will have two
starters in the league as of this September (Bills and Redskins); even the state of Mississippi produced three starting QBs in the league (Titans,
Packers, and Giants).
I never seriously wish injuries on players and so I hope that Kellen Winslow II recovers from his motorcycle accident. Having said that, Kellen
Winslow II is a bonehead. Yes, he has the right to buy a motorcycle and ride it; yes, he could be injured just walking to the grocery store if an
eagle flying overhead drops a mackerel on his dome from 2,000 feet. But with the Jay Williams lesson in front of him and contract language that could
negate some of the millions of dollars in his contract and the fact that there are incentive clauses in his contract MIGHT lead you to believe that he
would think about motorcycling as something to put off for another day. According to one report I read, he might have to pay back some of last year's
signing bonus and all of the $4.5M roster bonus he just got on 1 March of this year. That seems to be an awfully big stake to risk just to learn to
ride a motorcycle...
John Rocker is in the news yet again. This time he was in Atlantic City and got shelled in a relief appearance. A fan was heckling Rocker and
reportedly yelled, "It's a long way from Atlanta." Rocker responded with, "I'm still a millionaire..." and then a string of words that would get your
mouth washed out with soap. So, the bottom line scouting assessment here is this:
Pitching Skills: Not yet ready for signing and assigning to a farm team in an A League.
Social Skills: At a dinner party, you seat him at a table with Dr. Mengele, Vlad the Impaler, Ming the Merciless and B.O. Plenty.
Finally, here's a commentary about ESPN coverage of the NFL draft from Norman Chad in his syndicated column, The Couch Slouch:
"ESPN keeps running a crawl, 'For more extensive draft coverage, log on to ESPN.com.' More extensive? What do they do there, provide DNA analysis?"
But don't get me wrong, I love sports...
Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon