bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Another year without a Triple Crown winner

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The Belmont Stakes was run on Sunday in New York, 147 years after the first one. It was an eventful race, as California Chrome was attempting to become the first horse to win horse racing’s Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978. He fell short, finishing in a dead heat for fourth, a couple of lengths back of winner Tonalist. California Chrome’s owner, Steve Coburn, was unhappy with the result and he made it known very publicly.

Before the race, I said that there was no way California Chrome would win. He became the 13th horse since 1978 to win both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness but fail to win the Belmont. It is no coincidence that this keeps happening. The Belmont is far too tall an order for a horse to run on only two weeks rest after having run the Derby and the Preakness only three weeks apart. The mile and a half length is longer than any of these horses run any other time. In addition, the horse who is aiming for history has to contend with horses that have had far more rest. That was Coburn’s complaint, actually. He thinks that horses should not run in the Belmont if they have not already run the first two legs of the Triple Crown. He went as far as calling Tonalist and some of the other horses and their owners “cheaters.” This is where he went off the rails.

When I stated that California Chrome would not win, I actually said some things that were very much like what Coburn said. The only way we are going to see a Triple Crown winner is if the horses don’t have to run against other horses that skipped one or two of the other legs. It’s just too difficult. That said, to call the other teams cheaters is wrong. The Belmont Stakes is a huge race on its own, with a whole lot of prize money available to the winner. The race does not exist merely to be the final race in the Triple Crown. If entry in the Preakness and the Belmont required horses to have run the preceding races, we would end up with only four or five horses in the Belmont every year. Sure, we would see Triple Crown winners, but wouldn’t the value of that then be greatly diminished? It’s the Triple Crown…it’s supposed to be hard to accomplish. It would be foolish to cheapen it by making that sort of change.

I do believe there is a change that could be made that would help the situation without going too far. The idea is that they should spread the races out just a bit. Instead of three weeks and then two between them, there could be four weeks between each. That is a reasonable amount of rest and would reduce the advantage that a horse who skipped the Preakness would have over a horse who ran all three. This would also help the general health of these horses, who really aren’t meant to run races this long with so little rest in between.

Bad sports, continued:

2) Leading well into the fourth quarter, the Miami Heat fell apart and lost to the San Antonio Spurs in game one of the NBA Finals on Thursday night when LeBron James had to be removed from the game due to severe cramps in his legs. The AT&T Center in San Antonio was unusually hot due to the air conditioning breaking. James is the biggest star in the league, and he is also a constant target for people who don’t like him. The internet went crazy with attacks on James, mocking his cramps and his heart. I don’t like him myself (yes, someone else nicknamed him King James, but he surely created his own Twitter handle as @KingJames…bleah), but it’s silly to take away from his game or criticize him for supposedly quitting. The people saying he should have played through the cramps must never have actually had a bad cramp.

3) Continuing a long stretch of bad stuff for the University of North Carolina’s athletics programs (not that the NCAA is the least bit interested), former Tarheels basketball player Rashad McCants claimed this week that he was enrolled in fake classes during his time at the school in order to keep him eligible to play basketball. We’ll see if this one is enough to merit an actual investigation.

4) One pitch after being brushed back by a Fernando Abad pitch on Sunday, Baltimore Orioles star Manny Machado threw his bat down the third base line, nearly hitting Oakland A’s infielder Alberto Collaspo. Machado claimed that he simply lost his grip on the bat, but it sure looked like he threw it on purpose.

Good Sports

1) Chad Greenway, a linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings, was a bit of a hero last Monday when he helped two stranded boaters who were in danger of slipping down a spillway in their disabled boat until Greenway jumped from his own boat, swam over, and helped push the boat to safety.

2) Between the third and sixth inning of the Cleveland Indians game against the Boston Red Sox last Monday, Indians pitcher Justin Masterson threw 25 consecutive strikes. Pretty good. The fourth inning was a rare nine-pitch, three strikeout inning.

3) Harriette Thompson completed the San Diego Marathon in just over seven hours last weekend. Why is this notable? She is 91 years old. Her time set a new U.S. record for fastest marathon time in the over-90 age group.

4) Rafael Nadal beat Novak Djokovic in 4 sets on Sunday to win his record ninth French Open title.

5) Wimbledon champion Andy Murray hired Amelie Mauresmo as his new coach this week. Mauresmo was once the top-ranked women’s tennis player in the world and won her own Wimbledon title back in 2006. I love that Murray is not too macho to hire the person he thinks would be the best coach for him, man or woman.

Bad sports, good sports appears early each week

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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