Sunday, May 17, 2009

Another Reason Why ESPN Sucks

It should be no secret or shouldn't be any huge stretch of the imagination to proclaim that ESPN is a cess pit of sports journalism.

There are a myriad of reasons for this from shows like The Sports Reporters (which used to be at least semi-watchable when Schaap hosted it) and Around the Horn (which has never been watchable and is the equivalent of a sports version of The National Enquirer).

ESPN, I would argue, has done more harm to the world of sports than it has done good -- especially in the last 10 years when t he network decided it was bigger than the events it was trying to cover.

And now they keep slapping Pat Forde, their college football writer, on the Thoroughbred racing beat. Why? Um..well I have no earthly idea.

But if you watched the Preakness yesterday you saw something special -- Rachel Alexandra is a brute. A freak of the sport. 3 year old fillies rarely do that. I still think this year's Triple Crown field is terribly weak but all a horse can do is beat who's in the race.

Anyway back to Forde.

Everyone latched onto the whole "Borel on the rail" mantra from the Derby.

"Calvin loves the rail!

"How did he DO that?"

It's like no other jock tries to save ground -- only Calvin.

Case in point is today's article from Forde where he blithely says, "

But he came charging in the middle of the track under replacement jock Mike Smith this time, not saving ground on the rail under Borel as he did in an unforgettable Derby trip.

That change in path proved to be the history-making difference. Mine That Bird was too late, losing by a length.

If Borel were on Mine That Bird, we might be talking about a Triple Crown bid. Instead, we're talking about a Calvin Crown bid.

If Borel could have ridden both horses, we likely would have had a photo finish.
This is stupid -- no -- ignorant -- on a variety of levels. Forde makes Smith sound like an 18 year old apprentice jockey -- he's a Hall of Fame rider, Pat.

Borel saved ground in the Derby because other tiring horses started to 'float' -- it was a gutsy (and dangerous) move but the hole was there and Calvin ran through it. It wasn't like Borel had a megaphone and told the other jockeys to make a hole so he could run Mine That Bird through it. Believe it or not, Calvin Borel is not the only jock that knows "the shortest path to the wire is on the fence." Those other guys -- they're pretty good, too.

Now watch the Preakness and Smith comes in about 4-5 wide at the top of the lane. The novice fan (or reporter) will immediately assume that this is what cost Mine That Bird the 2nd jewel of the Triple Crown.

But that's not true.

Smith rode a suspect ride but not because he wasn't glued to the rail but because he allowed his horse to get bottled up -- steadying him on the far turn, losing his momentum and causing Mine That Bird to slow down and have to get back in gear again -- a tough chore at the top of the stretch in the Preakness.

Could Borel have stuck to the rail and pulled another Derby miracle? Nope. The rail wasn't open.
It just wasn't there. Borel isn't Moses. And horses win ...all the damn time coming out of the turn 2, 3, 4 or even 5 wide. But rarely can a horse steady or check when they are in full gear and be forced to get back into stride and catch a speed bullet like Rachel Alexandra.

But to say that if Borel had been on Mine That Bird that he would have won is so blatantly silly that it once again makes the Worldwide Leader look like the cheap suit that it is.