Aftermath Of The Derby Tragedy

Long-term readers of these rants know that I have a longstanding fondness for betting on horse races. They also know that I am anything but enamored by the goofs that run horseracing and the politicians who legislate about it. Now, in the aftermath of Eight Belles horrible demise at the end of the Kentucky Derby, lots has been written – and said – about that incident and what it may or may not mean. I’ve read a lot of it and I think there are three columns out there that are excellent and stand out from most of the rest. As I would have expected, Andy Beyer had a thoughtful analysis in the Washington Post.

Also in the Washington Post, Sally Jenkins had some useful suggestions and keen observations about the matter.

And on the other side of the country, Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times had this to say about the tragic events of last weekend and how the people who run racing need to take heed.

I suggest that you read these columns for yourself as you try to make up your mind about what might be done to minimize the occurrence of such fatal breakdowns in future races. And I suggest at the same time that you ignore the outrageous call by PETA for the suspension of the jockey who rode Eight Belles. I’ve watched that race on tape at least a half-dozen times; that jockey did no more whipping than I’ve seen in a thousand other races where the jockey on the horse in second place was trying to catch the leader AND maintain his second place position against other horses. If that ride merits a suspension for Gabriel Saez, then every jockey in every race will need to be suspended and there will be no more horseracing. But of course, that’s what PETA wants and that’s what they know they cannot achieve with a direct appeal/approach.

With regard to the coaching carousel in the NBA, the word is that Rick Carlisle has the inside track for the head-coaching job in Dallas. Obviously, I have no inside information to drop on you with regard to that coaching sweepstakes, but I do have some questions in my mind as to why Rick Carlisle should be a shoo-in there. Consider:

    In Indiana, Carlisle won 61 games one season and took the Pacers to the NBA Finals.

    In Detroit, Carlisle had back-to-back 50+ game winning seasons and went to the NBA Finals.

    AND, Rick Carlisle was fired from both jobs.

Sorry, but something here just doesn’t seem to compute…

Sticking with the NBA for a moment, the league announced last week that 69 US underclassmen and 22 players from overseas had filed to be “early entry candidates for the 2008 NBA Draft”. That’s 91 players who want to get into the league early because they think it is time for them to “take their game to the next level”. Folks, here is some math that will bring the cool light of reality onto some of those dreams.

There are 30 NBA teams and each of them gets 2 draft choices. That means there will be 60 players selected in the 2008 NBA Draft. If there are 91 players who think they are good enough to get into the NBA with an early entry, then at the very least, two-thirds of them are deluding themselves about being drafted. That is not some curmudgeonly sentiment; that is the way the math works out; that is reality.

There are rumors floating out there that the NFL wants to stage an awards show on the Friday night before the Super Bowl where they will hand out league awards such as the MVP and the RoY and that kind of thing. You can think of this as the Oscars with steroids and without cleavage. I doubt that I would be compelled to tune into this program but if it really does come to pass, here is an idea – provided at no cost – for the NFL to create a win/win situation:

    Such a new program will create a new revenue stream – and probably not an inconsequential one.

    The NFL should take the net proceeds from this show and put it into a trust fund to provide health care for older NFL players who are in need.

    Everyone wins. The NFL gets a new showcase for itself and it provides new monies to the health care of older players to negate some of the very bad publicity it has been getting on that issue.

    Roger Goodell need not thank me – - although I’d love to join him in an owners’ box at a game some day…

I’ve read that the Buffalo Bills will get $78M from sources in Canada to play eight Bills’ home games in Toronto over the next five years. That’s almost $10M per game and obviously the Bills will also get a share of the live gate. That is a significant amount of money for a “small market franchise”. Here is what I wonder:

    How many Buffalonians will the Bills alienate with this move?

    How badly will those Buffalonians be alienated and will they disassociate themselves from the Bills?

Perhaps this is a sign of the apocalypse. I saw a headline last week for an article about a mock fantasy draft for next football season. That is just wrong.

Finally, with all the spelling lessons and all the practice that Jets’ fans get during Jets games, how come one of them doesn’t win the National Spelling Bee every year?

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

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