Monday, June 09, 2014

Thinking Out Loud: California Chrome Fails, So Do Hockey Fans

Listen, I'll be the first to admit. I'm not a horse racing guy. I bet on the Kentucky Derby in Vegas four years ago (won), but it was nothing more than a lucky guess.

I'm a passive fan when it comes to the Triple Crown, but I'm fully aware of how it works. When a horse wins the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, he will inevitably face a horse in the Belmont that did not run each of the first two legs.

The co-owner of California Chrome, Steve Coburn, clearly isn't happy about this fact. Here is his rant from after Saturday's Belmont Stakes.

Coburn didn't back off Sunday.

"It says Triple Crown. You nominate your horse for the Triple Crown. That means three," Coburn said in the track-side interview with ESPN on Sunday. "Even the Triple Crown trophy has three points on it. So when you earn enough points to run in the Kentucky Derby, those 20 horses that start in the Kentucky Derby should be the only 20 allowed to run in the Preakness and the Belmont for the Triple Crown."

He also made a questionable analogy of why Tonalist's participation Saturday was unfair.

"These people nominate their horses for the Triple Crown and then they hold out two [races] and then come back and run one," Coburn told ESPN. "That would be like me at 6-2 playing basketball with a kid in a wheelchair. They haven't done anything with their horses in the Triple Crown. There were three horses in this race that ran in the first two -- California Chrome, Ride on Curlin and General a Rod -- none of the other horses did.  You figure out. You ask yourself, 'Would it be fair if I played basketball with a child in a wheel chair?"

Coburn made the analogy in both interviews Sunday morning. He was asked in the "Good Morning America interview" if he considered the comparison offensive.

"No, I'm just trying to compare the two," he said. "Is it fair for me to play with this child in a wheelchair? Is it fair for them to hold their horses back?"

Coburn said he has no problems if people label him a "sore loser" and even proceeded to give out his phone number so people can call him with their complaints.

Listen, I'm not an expert on this. But the Triple Crown has been run the same way for 146 years. When Affirmed won in 1973, he beat horses that didn't run all three races. When Secretariat won two years earlier, same story.

Whether Coburn likes it or not, this is how the sport works. If he doesn't like it, maybe he should bring it up with racing commissions who run the Triple Crown. I highly doubt anything will change, but perhaps Coburn will feel better.

I get that it's a quick turnaround for the horses who run, but I'm not in favor of anything that will make the Triple Crown easier to win. It's been done 11 times, and it should be difficult. Otherwise, it wouldn't carry nearly the prestige it does. Then the sport suffers, and horse racing has suffered enough over the years.


Coburn wasn't the only person putting his foot squarely in his mouth over the weekend.

Hello, hockey fans.

As soon as LeBron James left Game 1 of the NBA Finals Thursday because of leg cramps, the internet started in.

I'm as pro-NHL as the next guy, but this is a great example of hockey fans' inferiority complex. The sport doesn't do as well on television as the NBA does, and that drives people crazy, because they don't think there's any competition when it comes to the quality of the games.

I don't argue that. What I argue is how NHL fans choose to articulate themselves.

LeBron James might be an egomaniac, but he's a two-time NBA champion, NBA MVP, and an Olympic gold medalist. He isn't a quitter. If he's not finishing an NBA Finals game, something is wrong.

And I've seen what leg cramps can do to elite athletes. I've seen some of the best marathon runners in the world crippled by cramps less than halfway into a 26-mile race. These folks train their entire lives to run distance, but end up unable to stand without help when the heat and humidity prove to be too much for them.

Comparing LeBron James to a hockey player just doesn't work. All it does it make hockey fans look petty and silly.