For those wondering, egg comes off your face easily. It’s just a bit embarrassing to know how many people are aware you’re spending your Saturday night with a wash rag in front of a mirror.
After the race O’Neill and Gutierrez were quick to deflect credit to the champion horse. “He deserves the credit” said Gutierrez. “It’s all about the horse” noted O’Neill. They were right, as there was now no way the doubt the exceptional nature of the victor. With Mariano Rivera sidelined, there’s no question as to where to find sport’s greatest active closer. He’ll be residing at Belmont Park for the next few weeks before attempting to achieve immortality June 9th.
The time between now and then will be incredible for a sport that could use the positive attention. It won’t just be me talking about horse racing between the second and third of the American classics. Morning TV and radio shows throughout the country will tell the story of the California thoroughbred and his connections. Websites will dedicate unprecedented coverage to the pursuit of the first Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978. Scriptwriters will begin imaging which actor will play the role of O’Neill in the movie, hoping for a portrayal as compelling as John Malkovich’s turn as Lucien Laurin in “Secretariat.”
The next three weeks will give horse racing what boxing has been unable to create without Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao.
Well, almost anyway. If Bodemesiter were coming back for a third duel he could certainly create a “Sham” of a foil to I’ll Have Another’s “Big Red.” Some of the electricity will be missing without Baffert’s colt back in the mix, but the celebration of the sport will be incredible anyway.
It won’t change anything about the overall problems with horse racing. It won’t give Charm City a new facility to replace rusty Old Hilltop. It won’t drive record crowds to Charles Town or Delaware Park or Keeneland or Gulfstream any time this year. It won’t lift ratings points for HRTV or TVG.
Even if I’ll Have Another wins at Belmont Park, the horse racing industry will be as troubled as the newspaper industry in the future. It will exist and can survive, but it will never be as significant as it was in the mid-1900’s.
I know I’ll personally have no trouble celebrating the horse and the sport for the time being even if I know the long term issues.
It’s remarkably similar to how I’ve had no problem celebrating the opening run of the Baltimore Orioles despite knowing the organization is FAR from having all of their problems solved. Peter Angelos didn’t suddenly figure out how to successfully run a baseball team in the last six months.
Adam Jones’ red hot start doesn’t guarantee the team will continue to make winning a priority moving into the future. As his price tag goes up, the ownership group might decide that keeping him around hurts the pursuit of their REAL priority, which we are aware is making a profit. That said, I’d much rather see him hit a home run when he comes to the plate than ground out. He’s done a nice job of that thus far.
There will undoubtedly be trouble looming in the future for a team that has been run the wrong way for nearly two decades. The trouble could come later this season or later down the road. It doesn’t make winning any less fun in the moment. If the bottom falls out in August, I’m glad I got to enjoy winning baseball for a few months. If it doesn’t happen until the offseason, I’ll be grateful for a season of winning baseball. If it doesn’t happen for two years I’ll be just as grateful.
Even if success is fleeting, I’ll enjoy the success.
Perhaps it’s fitting both the Birds and the ponies will be celebrating a revival during the coming weeks. It doesn’t take ignorance to celebrate them, just a good-hearted naivety.
I’m not going to fight the trouble surrounding the state of the entity, I’m just going to choose to enjoy it anyway.