Derby Picks – For What They’re Worth…

The Kentucky Derby will happen tomorrow.  With 2 horses scratched, the field will be 19 horses this year.  Favorites have dominated the Derby for the last 6 years, but for a while there it seemed as if longshots would win every time out.  I am not thrilled by any of the favorites this year so here are two longshots for anyone who is betting on this race to consider for exactas and other exotic bets:

  1. By My Standards – First in the Louisiana Derby last time out
  2. Spinoff – Second in the Louisiana Derby last time out.

Reports yesterday said that ESPN will not replace Jason Witten as part of the Monday Night Football announcing team.  Witten is returning to the Cowboys’ roster and by all accounts ESPN had conversations with Peyton Manning to join the MNF team; when those conversations did not go anywhere, the decision was made to revert to a “two-man booth”.  I think that is a good way for ESPN to go.

Joe Tessitore is good on play-by-play; and if, somehow, he – and the ESPN overlords – can find a way to meter out his hyper-enthusiastic calls such that they only happen on big plays, I think he can become a top-shelf announcer.  More importantly for me, is that this move gives Booger McFarland a level of prominence he has not had in the past.  I believe that Booger McFarland is very good now and will blossom into a star in the sports broadcasting cosmos.  He is insightful; he is candid, and he has a natural sense of humor.  This move will get him in the booth and out of that stupid “Boogermobile” that ESPN used for most of last season.  [Aside: Whoever thought up that idea and whoever else “green-lighted it”, should be made to wear dunce caps and sit in the corner for 2 hours.]  Personally, what I would do now with the Boogermobile itself would be to dismantle it; put the parts in a steel container and jettison the whole thing into the Marianas Trench.  But that’s another issue…

There is an interesting – to me – angle to the assignment of NFL color commentators by the networks.  This year will be the final year of Tony Romo’s contract with CBS; he will be the announcers’ version of an unrestricted free agent.  Moreover, his tenure with CBS has been an unmitigated success.  I have to think that there will be a bidding war for his services for all the networks that carry NFL games – – except for NFL Network itself.

Added to that potentially intriguing set of circumstances that will unfold at the end of this NFL season, Peyton Manning has not said he has no interest in announcing and every network that carries NFL games would want him if he ever hinted at being interested.  So, there are two huge names and personalities out there overhanging all the existing announcing teams for NFL games.

The Super Bowl will be televised by FOX this year so Tony Romo’s last game for CBS under his current contract will be the AFC Championship Game on January 19, 2020.  Meanwhile, this summer, Peyton Manning will host a 5-part series celebrating the 100th “birthday” of the NFL – not a game announcing position to be sure but a “television-related activity”.  As they say in the business, stay tuned and don’t touch that dial…

I read a report recently that a school district in Central New York will not use any pesticides on any of the athletic fields in the district.  Folks there have run across some “organic stuff” that will be applied to the fields and that will supposedly take care of all the pests that might be associated with large grass fields in that climate zone. How ecologically friendly is that?

I wonder why they don’t take the next rather obvious step here and end the use of mowing equipment whose 2-cycle engines spew all sorts of environmental nasties into the air.  For the cost of a bit of fencing the school district managers could get a few goats and turn them loose on the field to let Mother Nature really take over there…

The under-achieving Washington Nationals fired their pitching coach, Derek Lilliquist, earlier this week.  To be sure, the Nats’ staff – and very particularly the bullpen staff – has been butt-ugly awful so far this year.  How much of the blame belongs to Lilliquist is up in the air as far as I am concerned.  Let me explain:

  • The Nats signed Trevor Rosenthal as a free agent reliever in the offseason.  In six prior seasons with the Cardinals, Rosenthal recorded 121 saves and an ERA of 2.99.  Not exactly Hall of Fame numbers, but reasonable ones for a guy whose slot was “8th inning bridge to the closer.”
  • In his first four appearances with the Nats, Rosenthal failed to get a single batter out.  His ERA was infinite for those games.
  • Rosenthal’s stats as of this morning go like this.  He has been in 7 games; he has thrown a total of 3 innings; he has given up 12 earned runs on 7 hits with 9 walks and 5 wild pitches.  His WHIP is 5.33.

Someone will have to explain to me how it is Derek Lilliquist’s fault that a pitcher who only threw 14 wild pitches in 6 years and 325 innings with the Cardinals has now thrown 5 wild pitches in 1 month and 3 innings with the Nats.  Moreover, will someone explain why it took until this week to discover that Rosenthal “has a virus” and needs to go on the 30-day IL so that he can get in some rehab work at the minor-league level?  The pitching coach makes those sorts of decisions?

I have my own explanation for the Nats’ under-achievement from 2018 and into the first month of 2019 and none of it has to do with Derek Lilliquist and his abilities or shortcomings as the pitching coach.  Please remember, the same guy that signed Trevor Rosenthal also hired Derek Lilliquist in the first place.

Finally, speaking of pitching woes, here is an item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:

“Seven consecutive Mets batters reached base via walk or hit by pitch in the fifth inning against the Twins last week, the first to do it since:

  • “a) the Yankees, in 1994
  • “b) 2,178 Little League teams, just 24 hours earlier.”

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



2 thoughts on “Derby Picks – For What They’re Worth…”

  1. I think ESPN would be smart to have former GT coach Paul Johnson as part of their college football programming this Fall. If he is not in a booth doing color, then have him at the studio doing analysis. He knows football inside out and has a natural self deprecating sense of humor that could add a ton to the games.

  2. Doug:

    I always liked listening to Paul Johnson, so I agree with you here. However, when he retired from coaching, I thought I remembered him saying that he wanted time to spend with family and seeing his daughter perform onstage. Assuming those statements were genuine – and I have no reason to suspect otherwise – he might not want the time commitment that even a studio job would entail. But he would be good…

Comments are closed.