Finally someone (Steve Coburn) had the guts to say out loud how ridiculous it is to let horses who have not raced in the Derby and the Preakness to run in what is the hardest of the three races. What does it prove except that a well-rested horse has a great chance of besting a horse who has raced twice in the last five weeks. Why don't we just let any team compete for the Super Bowl, the World Series and the NBA championship without having to earn their way to the finals? That sounds ridiculous and it is, but it is allowed in the "sport of kings."
California Chrome only was beaten by 13/4 lengths by horses that had rested while he ran. He's the winner to me.
California Chrome was on the lead and on the rail on a very slow pace. He should have stayed there. No dirt in his face, no worry about getting trapped. Everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes, really great riders.
Rancho Palos Verdes
I have sympathy for Steve Coburn, co-owner of California Chrome. I love his horse and was pulling for him to win. However, the Triple Crown is not supposed to be easy. To win it, you have to be great! That is the way it has always been, and that is the way it should be.
Paul L. Hovsepian
It is so typical of the media; you put someone on a grand pedestal and then gleefully rip them to shreds when they screw up.
The media celebrated California Chrome's unsophisticated background. How refreshing it was, this Cinderella story. Then when a less-sophisticated guy acts in a manner that is unsophisticated, you unleash on him. Personally, I find it refreshing when people in sports actually exhibit unbridled emotions — like Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks did before the Super Bowl, for example.
At any rate, the issues Coburn brought up have merit. It is somewhat unfair for the winner of both the Derby and Preakness to have to compete against fresh horses. More important, the races are too close. It would be better to have them all a month apart and then "fresh" wouldn't be much of an issue.
But I am against changing the way it's done now. If we did, any future Triple Crown winner would go into the history books with the proverbial asterisk, because the past Triple Crown winners did it the hard way: against all qualified challengers, and with the races close together. Keep it as it is, and while you're at it, try to focus on that spectacularly beautiful and still impressive young racehorse, California Chrome. He still has a lot of good races in him.
Let's see — Scott Van Slyke has a better average, better OBP, better slugging and better OPS than both Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford. He also has more home runs and far more runs batted in per at-bat compared to the others. Yet, all we hear about is Kemp and Crawford. Isn't it obvious that both Kemp's and Crawford's best days are far, far behind them? The Dodgers need to trade both of them as soon as possible. I don't care if they only get back a bag of balls or IOUs, Kemp and Crawford are bad for this team and the dollar amounts after their names are the only reason Dodgers fans are stuck with them.
I watched last year as Kemp's lack of hustle resulted in the serious injury he suffered when landing awkwardly on home plate. It may well have cost the Dodgers a championship and obviously still affects his play. I had hoped he had learned his lesson, but watching him easing his way between first and second on a double Monday night convinced me otherwise. He did speed up at the end so he made it and fortunately did not injure himself. Nonetheless, he does not play at full speed and his statements reflect a selfishness, which does not bode well for the Dodgers as a team. It is time to get rid of him even if it means eating part of his bloated contract.
After continuing to watch Matt Kemp strike out, whine about it, get ejected and lose his composure, it's time to cut bait. Get what you can for him. His bat speed is slower and he is slowly declining. He continues to think he can hit outside curves that are balls and has very little plate discipline.
Such a shame too.
My misguided, much loved and lost Lakers, in their exhaustive search for a coach, have ruled out Derek Fisher as a candidate. Well that was good enough for the Zen Master to snatch up Fisher as well as Lakers favorite Kurt Rambis for the next five years. And that's good enough for me. It has been a long and wonderful relationship but I need a break, and New York is my kind of town. I'll check back in a couple of years.
In the modern era of the NBA, after Magic Johnson and Larry Bird joined the league in 1979, the most successful coaches in winning championships have been Pat Riley, Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich, and if the Heat wins again this year, Erik Spoelstra. What do these coaches have in common? None of them was ever a head coach in the NBA before being hired as head coaches by the Lakers, Bulls, Spurs and Heat, respectively, and all are great leaders. By hiring Derek Fisher to coach the Knicks, Jackson is following this blueprint for championship basketball success, while the Lakers, who passed over Fisher to hire a proven coach with NBA head coaching experience may just end up hiring another proven loser to follow in the footsteps of Mike Brown and Mike D'Antoni.
No halo effect
As I watched Albert Pujols, who is batting .147 with runners in scoring position, limp through third base coach Gary DiSarcina's stop sign during Tuesday's game and get thrown out at the plate by a mile, a thought came to mind: Has there ever been a bigger blunder than the Angels' decision to sign this aging has-been to a $254-million contract? And Mike Scioscia is compounding the front office's mistake by leaving Pujols in the third spot, effectively clogging up the lineup with a rally-killer. The saddest thing of all is the fact that Pujols will be around for another seven years. Ouch!
Look, no one respects what Albert Pujols has accomplished in his career any more than I do. But aging star or not, his caliber of play over the last several weeks has been pathetic. At the plate, he tries to pull everything — likely because he's too interested in adding to his home run total — which results in repeated groundouts to third, double-play balls, etc. His baserunning is ridiculous — ignoring his third base coach while getting thrown out at home one night, trying to stretch a double into a triple with the Angels down three runs and getting nailed by the AL's top outfield arm the next. He doesn't adjust. He's worthless in the clutch. He's even resorted to bailing on hard-hit balls right at him at first base, turning his back as he tries to stab the ball instead of manning up and getting in front of it. This is what the Angels paid for?
One shining light
Some 70% of Southland television viewers are quite fortunate they are unable to watch or hear the vocal menagerie that has taken over the Dodgers' TV booth in Vin Scully's absence for Eastern/Central road games to which he does not travel.
It was bad enough over the past few years, with "visiting Midwesterner" Eric Collins and blabbermouth Steve Lyons (who constantly rambled on about his unspectacular exploits while playing for a whole string of MLB teams during his mediocre career). And it was wonderful when we learned that new Dodgers management had issued long-overdue "pink slips" to Collins and Lyons after last season.
Knowing that Vin would continue to limit his schedule by continuing to call home and West Coast games, at least it appeared that a good road alternative would be having Charley Steiner and Orel Hershiser in the TV broadcast booth. But then, someone apparently decided to beef up the announcing lineup by adding a third voice to the TV booth.
Nomar Garciaparra was a tremendous and popular Dodger. But was adding that chatterbox and apprentice announcer to the TV booth really necessary? He constantly rambles on (a la Steve Lyons), talking over and in between Charley and Orel, rarely leaving a moment of silence —from the first pitch to the game's final out. "Blah, blah, blah" seems to be Nomar's game plan, and it is obvious he never learned that one factor in Vin's effectiveness is pausing, and accepting the fact that taking a breath or having a little dead time is not a bad thing.
Listening to Nomar & Co. for nine innings is an exhausting experience.
We don't need any more evidence that Vin Scully is a pretty good broadcaster, but we got more recently when Mr. Scully reminisced after the passing of old buddy, Don Zimmer. He told a funny self-deprecating story of a game when Scully sat in the Dodgers dugout in a uniform to avoid being noticed. After the first inning Zimmer sent over a baseball from the visitors' dugout with a message, "If a fight breaks out, Scully, I want you." He wove in other stories of a wonderful, fun-loving, baseball lifer, who now feels like a friend to me too. As he has done for 65 years, Scully made a masterful performance seem effortless. Mr. Scully, whenever there's a Dodgers game to announce over the next 65 years, I want you.
Pucks stop here
Stanley Cup: 60 minutes of nonstop action.
World Cup: Five minutes of action.
The Los Angeles Times welcomes expressions of all views. Letters should be brief and become the property of The Times. They may be edited and republished in any format. Each must include a valid mailing address and telephone number. Pseudonyms will not be used.
Mail: Sports Viewpoint
Los Angeles Times
202 W. 1st St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Fax: (213) 237-4322
Email:Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times