Normally, May 10th is "Woolworth Day" but in 2005 maybe it should be designated "Balanced Fertilizer Day"...
I purposely avoided doing a rant yesterday wondering if anyone would send me a note asking if the reason I had not written was that I had one of the
winning superfecta tickets from the Kentucky Derby. There were seven winning one-dollar tickets sold on the superfecta and each one was worth
$864,253.50. One of the winning tickets was actually sold at Philadelphia Park, which is where I watched and wagered on Derby Day. But alas, I am not
the lucky winner. Even worse, no one thought I might be and sent me a note inquiring. For the record, even if I won a wager like that I'd be back
writing these things because it's fun.
The Kentucky Derby drew good TV ratings. At its peak, it got a rating of 11.5 and a 26 share - meaning that 26% of the sets turned on at that time
were tuned into the Derby. That will not be the case with the Preakness in two weeks, but that race should do well on TV too.
Let me say simply that Giacomo was one of the horses that I eliminated from consideration in the Derby early on, in my handicapping. I'm still not
sure how he won; I would not have had the exacta in that race even if I could have bet on the replay because second place finisher, Closing Argument,
was another of my early eliminations. Mike Smith's ride on Giacomo as seen from the overhead camera looked like a pinball weaving its way through all
the bumpers and ricochet surfaces; just getting that horse to a point in the stretch where there was daylight in front of him should get Mike Smith
some consideration for the Jockey Hall of Fame.
But let's not get carried away with the race itself. It was slow. In handicapping terms, Giacomo would have finished 16 lengths behind Secretariat
given the times of those two races. This year's Derby was a slow race; the fast early fractions might explain why some of the horses out there trying
to run with Spanish Chestnut got tired, but what happened to the others? I happen to think Andy Beyer is the single best racing writer of the last 30
years but I have to disagree with him that Bellamy Road's performance in the Wood Memorial might have shown Bellamy Road to be a super-horse. A
super-horse can run a mile and a quarter on a fast track in 2:02 2/5 on any given day and that would have won the Derby on Saturday.
As a result of Kellen Winslow II's motorcycle accident and recalling Jason Williams' motorcycle accident, it seems as if the Steelers went to Ben
Roethlisberger and asked if he might consider another mode of transportation. Big Ben said he would continue to ride motorcycles and that he would
continue to be careful. However, he does not wear a helmet and will not do so because - as he correctly points out - in Pennsylvania there is no law
requiring him to wear a helmet. You can agree of disagree with him but he is an adult and he is making a choice here and that is one of the
prerogatives of adulthood. I did, however, find one of the comments made by Roethlisberger's teammate, Joey Porter, a bit disingenuous
Porter felt compelled to put his two cents in here:
"Some guys are real good on motorcycles and know what they're doing but accidents happen. I can't knock the guy for doing it but it's probably not the
wisest thing to do. I don't own a bike because I don't trust them. If I fall off a Jet Ski, I hit the water and I like my odds. I'm going to get wet.
What I say about motorcycles is that concrete is undefeated."
That sounds like a reasoned and measured commentary from Joey Porter until you recall that it was Porter who got shot in the butt outside a late-night
watering hole in Denver. He lost most or all of a season healing from the surgery that was needed to remove the slug from the proximity of a major
nerve. His career could have been over or he could have been killed.
Memo to Joey Porter:
Some guys go to late-night clubs and they're careful but accidents happen; it's probably not the wisest thing to do. What
I say about bullets is that - like concrete - they are undefeated. Just curious, do you still frequent late-night watering holes? If so, please shut
David Ortiz observed that a large number of Latin players are getting caught in the drug testing program and said that it might be a good idea for
baseball to communicate with these Latin players in Spanish to be sure they understood what they can and cannot take. Obviously, he is right at a
certain level; explaining the rules of some game or some set of processes is best done in the language best understood by the people you are talking
to. However, I would not get carried away with the importance here because it seems as if Latin players have no difficulty understanding on their own
- or finding someone to translate for them - those aspects of the game that relate to "guaranteed contract of $20M over the next three seasons"...
Yes, MLB should take an extra step and find a way to communicate with these players in their native tongue, but "language barriers" cannot be an
acceptable defense to absolve these players of blame.
The Washington Nationals and DC United of MLS share a stadium. That means that the lines on the field have to be changed a lot. It seems as if the
people doing the changing are not quite up to the task because it was recently discovered that one of the sidelines in the soccer configuration has
been drawn six yards longer than the other one. So the soccer field has been a trapezoid and not a rectangle. In Tom Fitzgerald's syndicated column,
Open Season, he makes the following comment:
"Imagine that - - a suspicious line of white powder in Washington and Marion Barry wasn't involved."
The Nationals and DC United are also "feuding" over the way the grass is cut in the stadium. Whatever the pattern preferred by one tenant, the other
does not want it that way and there is a sniping war of words going on. A local board runs the stadium - never a good sign - and here is their
solution to the problem:
They will hire a consultant to study the issues and make recommendations on how to mow the grass.
Memo to Stadium Board:
You are being asked to cut grass not find a solution to world hunger. Make a decision here; use the money you will pay
to the consultant to make RFK Stadium infinitesimally more comfortable tomorrow than it is today. That will not be difficult either.
Finally: a note from Dave Kindred in The Sporting News:
"I like it that the Yankees and Red Sox are on TV all the time. I also like:
1. Needles in my eyes.
2. Long talks with Internal Revenue Service auditors.
3. Months of solitary confinement in a windowless room with Chris Berman's call of a Home Run Derby piped in on an endless loop.
4. Baths in tubs of Shaq's collected sweat.
5. Recurring episodes of jock itch."
But don't get me wrong, I love sports...
Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon