Derby Stuff – - And More

When NBC acquired the television rights to the Kentucky Derby, one of the positive parts of its bid was that it wanted to do a one-hour show leading up to the race itself. That show caught on and developed good ratings and was expanded to two hours either last year or the year before that. This year, it was a program that took the better part of three hours. Folks, there isn’t that much to say about a single horse race to fill three hours on TV; I don’t care how many “up close and personal” features they make or how many stories of “tragedies overcome” they put together, three hours is too much.

And then comes what they like to call “the most exciting two minutes in sports.” Well, before anyone gets all lathered up about the sterling performance exhibited by Big Brown on Saturday, here’s something to consider. Using fairly standard handicapping techniques, Big Brown would have finished 13 lengths behind Secretariat had he been in Secretariat’s Derby. So, pardon me if I don’t fall all over myself in ecstasy over a race won by the least worst of a sorry crop of three-year olds.

One other thing about the race that makes me a bit edgy is that Big Brown’s trainer, Rick Dutrow, has more than a checkered past. He has been fined or suspended by the racing authorities in six different states and every year for about the past five years some of his horses have had “issues” involving illegal substances. Does winning the Derby vindicate him or give him stature? Or does his prior behavior taint “the most exciting two minutes in sports”? You make the call…

And by the way, “the most exciting two minutes in sports” compared to what? Compared to:

    Some diva stretching out her less than artistic rendition of the National Anthem?

    The time it takes an NFL referee to review a replay tape?

    The two minutes it takes some batters to scratch, spit, adjust the batting glove, scratch again, scrape dirt in the batters’ box, spit again, scratch yet another time …?

    The two minutes it takes a PGA golfer to line up a putt?

I agree. Saturday’s Derby race was more exciting than those sports happenings…

Another thing that was less exciting than it could have been over the weekend was the Celtics/Hawks Game 7 of their playoff series. Atlanta scored 26 points in the first half of that game; the outcome was not really in doubt at any point in the second half. The defensive stats for the Celtics demonstrate the reason for the rout. The Celtics blocked ten shots had eleven steals and forced sixteen turnovers in the game. The Hawks blocked only five shots, had only two steals and forced only eight turnovers. That’s dominating the stat sheet; that’s not an intriguing game to watch; the outcome was not in doubt for very long.

Lots of people in sports media decry the use of “new stadium blackmail” used by rich and powerful team owners to get taxpayer money to feather their already well-feathered nests. But I don’t see or hear too many folks screeching about the same kind of arm-twisting done by the US Olympic Committee. USOC claimed that their office space was inadequate for its staff and all the important work that staff does. They threatened to move their HQS out of Colorado Springs. In case you didn’t know, the USOC offices were on the site of the US Olympic Training facility in Colorado Springs which came about without members of the USOC sitting on street corners with tin cups in hand…

Somehow, Chicago became the rumored relocation site – - and remember that Chicago wants the USOC’s blessing to bid for the 2016 Olympics. That was enough of a credible threat that the mahoofs running Colorado Springs capitulated and came up with a “public/private funding package” worth more than $50M including 90,000 square feet of top-shelf office space in downtown Colorado Springs. The city is on the hook for a little more than $25M but the USOC will stay in town for the next 25 years.

Please remember that the “relocation three-card-monte game” isn’t always played by team owners. The USOC takes its regular turn slopping up goodies from the public trough.

Meanwhile, the reason that Houston has the MLS soccer team that it does is because the team used to be in San José and could not get a new stadium built for them there. So it relocated. However, the Houston area is not exactly falling all over itself to get a new stadium done for the Dynamo either. One proposal called for the Dynamo to pay for the stadium to be built on land owned by the city; and in the end, the city would own the stadium. Needless to say, the Dynamo didn’t buy that one.

Now the Dynamo has played the “relocation card” and maybe they have found out that it is not a trump card. Houston’s mayor isn’t budging and the Dynamo has already been moved once. Stay tuned in to this one…

The CBS College Sports Network and the Association of Independent Competitive Eaters staged the first College National Eating Championship a couple of weeks ago in San Diego. Contestants ate plates of “college food” such as cheeseburgers and fries. How long until the NCAA steps in to try to regulate this latest sporting competition?

The National Association of Sports Commissions named the Cleveland Sports Commission the “2007 Sports Commission of the Year”. I’m having a tough time figuring out what a city or state sports commission does that is important enough to justify an award. Moreover, I have exactly no idea why the world is a better place because of the existence of the National Association of Sports Commissions.

Ryan Perrilloux was kicked off the LSU football team permanently and looks for a place to transfer where he can play football. Going to a Division I-AA school would allow him to play without sitting out a year. Perrilloux reportedly failed a drug test and that was the final straw. He had previously been associated with a counterfeiting investigation, using phony ID to get into a gaming casino and a contretemps at a Baton Rouge nightspot. Perrilloux was a top recruit and had made an oral commitment to Texas and swerved at the last minute going to LSU. That is probably the best thing to happen to Texas in that recruiting year.

Interestingly, one of the players at LSU who might replace Perrilloux at QB for the Tigers is Andrew Hatch – - who is a transfer to LSU from Harvard. Yes, that Harvard…

Finally, here’s an item from Dwight Perry’s column in the Seattle Times:

“Transplanted San Antonians John and Rhonda Till of Greensboro, N.C., are such big fans of the Spurs that their 2-year-old son is named Parker Duncan Ginobili Till.

“Just be glad he wasn’t born back when Dampier, Olberding and Paultz were playing.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…

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