My topical rant about the Preakness makes it clear that I don't think much of the venue for the race but I want to watch it and wager on it anyway -
so long as I don't have to be at Pimlico to do so. So, here's how I see the race.
First of all, I think that the Derby was more of a melee than a race and even with tighter turns at Pimlico than at Churchill Downs, I don't think
this race will be as chaotic. I threw out Giacomo last race and I'll throw him out again. The Derby was a slow race and the final quarter of that race
was run in over 26 seconds; that is Clydesdale speed, folks.
I threw out Afleet Alex in the Derby but he ran a good race under the circumstances so I'll put him in my picks here. I liked Noble Causeway in the
Derby and he got mugged in the race to the first turn so I'll spot him his bad race and keep him in here. I liked Greeley's Galaxy in the Derby and he
too was bounced around like a pinball so I'll keep him in here too. And I liked High Fly in the Derby and he ran all the way to the end so I'll keep
him in here too. Two of my picks are at morning line odds of 10-1 or more so just box all four of these horses in the exacta and the trifecta and the
price could be very good - - although nothing even approaching the prices for the Derby.
Here is something from the baseball page of the Washington Post that ought to make the Houston Astros' fans cringe:
"The Astros are 0-16 when trailing after 6 innings, 0-17 when trailing after seven and 0-20 when trailing after eight."
Sounds like a good reason to leave early and beat the traffic...
I'm sure you've been made aware of the fact that Jon Garland has started out with an 8-0 record for the White Sox and that is the best start for a Sox
pitcher in over 50 years. Here is a comparison that might be interesting. The Cubs starting pitching was supposed to be the strength of the team with
Prior, Wood, Maddux and Zambrano. Those four pitchers have a combined record to date of 9-5. And Garland was projected to be the #5 guy in the White
Speaking obliquely of Greg Maddux, he has won 15 or more games in each of the last 17 seasons and that record is in jeopardy. At the moment, he is 2-1
in 8 starts. The Cubs have played 38 games or 23.5% of the schedule. At that pace, Maddux will only win 9 games this year. Looking at it another way,
a solid starting pitcher can work in 35 starts in a season. That means that Maddux would have 27 starts remaining and would have to win 13 of the 27
starts to keep his streak of 15-win seasons alive. That is a percentage he is capable of so long as he gets decisions in the games but so far this
year he is only involved in the decision 37.5% of the times that he starts. Unless that changes, he can't get to 15 wins even if he wins every game
under that regime.
The Braves have demoted Danny Kolb from closer to set-up man. He has already blown 3 saves and lost 4 games. Obviously, they could put John Smoltz
back in the bullpen, but that would not do them any good in the starting rotation so here is an idea. The Phillies are going nowhere this year; if the
people running that franchise have half a synapse, they will recognize that reality. So, maybe the Braves and Phillies make a deal for Billy Wagner
where the Phillies get some young players and the Braves get the closer they need and both teams get better? I can see the Braves' front office
figuring this one out; but for the Phillies' management, this would be a challenge. To get the concept here, one needs to be able to understand how to
play chess and think a couple of moves ahead; the Phillies' front office seems addicted to "tic-tac-toe".
The folks in Dade County in Florida have voted down the concept of a new stadium for the Marlins for the third - or is it the fourth? - time. Even
with two World Series wins in the last decade under their belt, the Marlins do not draw; maybe a new stadium is the answer or maybe not. So, the
ever-aggressive mayor of Las Vegas who made a push to get the Expos relocated there can now turn his attention to the Marlins because Las Vegas is a
place that has three assets that management can use to its advantage to make money:
A generously, cooperative local government.
A construction industry that can build a stadium in no time flat.
A population - albeit a transitory one - with disposable income.
Just a quick update on the NHL labor situation. Nothing of substance has happened yet but major sponsors for the league have let folks know that if
things don't resolve themselves soon, these sponsors will be placing their ads and their backing elsewhere. Ford and Sony are among the companies who
have expressed a need for some clarity as to what might be happening with the NHL season next year. At the same time, ESPN execs have to be looking at
the fact that poker re-runs and billiards competitions and stupid shows such as Teammates - that's The Newlywed Game for sports figures if you haven't
seen it yet - have drawn higher ratings than did NHL games last year. AND it has cost ESPN far less to put those things on TV than it did to put the
NHL on TV; so the NHL's $60M TV deal ought to be "in play". One story out of Toronto said that the union and the league are now talking conceptually
about a salary cap that is linked to league revenues but a stumbling block is that they can't agree on what ought to constitute "revenues". Come on
folks. This has been going on for a couple of years now and at least one team opened its books to an outside inspector; are you telling me that you
haven't yet agreed on what "revenue" means? Is this the 2005 version of, "It depends on the meaning of 'is'?"
Staring the NHL stupidity in the face, the NBA and the NBA Players' Association have broken off talks with their CBA expiring on 30 June. Even the
thought that the NBA might follow in the outrageously stupid footsteps of the NHL is repulsive. The NBA has its problems and its less than loveable
figures, but they really don't need to add "greedy", "stupid" and "obstinate" to their repertoire of descriptive adjectives. The league now charges
that the agents have inserted themselves into the talks. And that would be a surprise to whom? The agents represent the players more intimately than
does the union; of course, they are going to insert themselves into the talks.
Speaking of the NBA, Ralph Sampson was arrested on two "felony counts of failing to pay court-ordered child support". He could face a maximum sentence
of two years in jail and a fine of $250K per charge. Seems to me that if he doesn't have the money to pay the child-support, fining him will only make
that situation worse. If he actually has the $500K, why not give it to his kids?
Finally, St. Francis (Pa) announced that junior guard, Darshan Luckey, will forego the rest of his eligibility and make himself available for the NBA
draft. You might say he is hoping to be "Darshan Luckey" and get drafted in the first round...
But don't get me wrong, I love sports...
Copyright the Sports Curmudgeon