|random thoughts and thoroughbred selections|
|"All life is 6-5 against" - Damon Runyon|
Friday, April 29, 2005
Need Your Help...
Send me, the wise and all-knowing expert, your questions in regards to online poker. Stuff like, "Why do I always lose after I withdraw money?" Stuff like that. No conspiracy theory is too dumb.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
With a shameless assist from the ESPN SportsCentury episode, quotes transcribed and attributed as best possible.
Secretariat's win at the Belmont Stakes handed him the Triple Crown, but stands on its own as one of the greatest individual accomplishments in the history of sports. There are very few moments of sports perfection - Don Larsen's perfect game, Tiger Woods demolishing fields in the Masters and US Open by record scores - but this is one of the most oft-overlooked moments of them all. If you get the chance to see this SportsCentury episode, please do. It's astonishing.
William Nack, Biographer: I've never seen him walk like this before. He's like the execution man. He's going to the gallows. He's about to dispatch somebody.
Cut to the start of the race. In the Derby and Preakness, Secretariat broke from the gate sluggishly. Not this time. From his post position at the rail, he immediately goes up to join the leaders. Sham, his main rival, is predictably right up front with him.
Jerry Izenberg, Writer: Sham had been such a tough competitor for him in the first two races, you had to wonder if this would be Sham's day.
Laffit Pincay, Jockey, Sham: My instructions were to be very close to Secretariat from the word "go."
Around the first turn it's Secretariat and Sham a few lengths in front of the rest of the pack. They're dueling up front through the turn.
Penny Chenery, Owner: He just felt like running. That was the day he felt terrific.
Lucien Lauren, Trainer: I said, "Just leave him alone." I said, "Just take a long load and let him run his own race."
Clem Florio, Writer: Ron Turcotte (the jockey) - he let him run. Come on. Let's see what he's got. You've done the Derby, you've done the Preakness. Come on. Let's see him go all out. How good can this guy go?
Secretariat and Sham are barely into the backstretch at Belmont Park. It's an interminably long run just to hit the next turn. Sham concedes just a bit of ground to Secretariat, willing to run just outside, just off his back flank.
Nack: I looked at the teletimer and saw that the horse had gone three-quarters of a mile in 1:09:20, which is the fastest three-quarter mile ever run in the Belmont Stakes, and he's leaving Sham at this point.
At the top of the final turn, Secretariat has extended a one length lead into three in about two strides. Pincay is wisely holding Sham steady. There is nearly another three-quarters of a mile to run at this point, and you've got to save some of your horse for the home stretch - don't you?
Some Writer: He is running, and running, and running, and running. And I turn to the guy next to me and I say, "He's lost the horse."
Track Announcer: Three and a half! He's moving into the turn. Secretariat is holding on to a large lead, Sham is second, and it's a long way back...
Nack: And I'm thinking, "He has gone insane." I'm cursing him. Under my breath, "You moron! What are you doing?" you know? "You're going to kill the horse! You're going to lose the Triple Crown! Don't you know how fast you're going?"
Penny Chenery: Nobody knew that was going to happen. Not the rider, not the trainer, not the owner... I think probably not the horse.
Half mile to run, and Secretariat is into the turn. Sham is at least ten back at this point holding steady. There's no one else in the shot.
Track Announcer: Secretariat is widening now! He is moving like a tremendous machine! Secretariat by twelve! Secretariat by fourteen lengths!
Nack: And he still has a quarter of a mile to go. And I'm thinking to myself, he's totally going to collapse in the stretch. He can't keep this up. And I'm asking other guys around the track, "What are you thinking?" Everybody to a man is thinking, "He's going too damn fast."
Secretariat hits the quarter mile pole which marks the end of the final turn. Most of the other horses have caught Sham at this point, but those four are easily fifteen back of Secretariat, without a lot of race remaining for making up ground.
Track Announcer: Secretariat is in a position where he's impossible to catch. Coming into the stretch, Secretariat leads this field by eighteen lengths.
Penny Chenery: Lucien said to me, "Oh my god Ronnie, just don't fall off. Just don't fall off."
Ronnie Turcotte: Finally, after I turned for home, my curiosity got the best of me. I had to turn around. When I look at it (the picture), I scare myself.
Track Announcer: Secretariat has opened a twenty two length lead! He is going to be the Triple Crown Winner!
There's less than an eighth of a mile left, and the impossible is happening. Secretariat is widening his lead.
Track Announcer: Here comes Secretariat to the wire! An unbelievable, an amazing performance!
There's no one within twenty five lengths, and there's no other horses in the wide angle camera shot either.
Track Announcer: He hits the finish... Twenty five lengths in front!
He won by 31 lengths, officially.
Pat Lynch, Writer: I believed in Pegasus that day, because I saw... I never saw anything like that in my life. Thirty one lengths? I mean, think of what that... it's unbelievable! It's like they were racing on two different racetracks.
Other Writer: It was like the Lord was holding the reins. Secretariat was one of his creatures, and he maybe whispered to him, "Go," and that horse really went. It was almost a supernatural experience. It really was.
Nack: I leaped up out of my chair at Belmont Park shouting, "We'll never see this again." And I get to the elevator to go down to the winner's circle, and I'm standing next to Pete Axthelm, and he said, "I used to think the Ali-Frazier fight in Madison Square Garden was the greatest thing I've ever seen. This was even greater."
Jack Whitaker: Everybody was speechless. And then, when it set in, people started crying. I actually saw people crying at this affair. It was an overwhelming thing.
George Plimpton: There were these co-eds lining the rail. This sounds hard to believe, but I swear, half of them were weeping as the horse went by.
Heywood, CBS Color Guy: Jack Nickalus once called me over and said, "You were at the Belmont, you saw that race." I said yes. He said, "I was all alone in my living room watching, and as he came down the stretch - pulling away - I applauded, and I cried."
Nack: And Heywood said to him, in a brilliant moment of epiphany and insight, "Jack, don't you understand? All of your life in your game you've been striving for perfection. And at the end of the Belmont, you saw it."
It's the greatest thing I've ever seen as well, and wish I could have been alive to witness it. Horse racing can sometimes be dismissed as a gambler's game, but sometimes when perfection demands your attention, it's impossible to deny its presence.
The Derby is in eight days.
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Bi-Polar, Insane, and Violent
I've had an epiphany. One of those lightbulb moments that bumps a mediocre mindstate into an excited frenzy of possibilities.
Are you ready for it?
Are you sitting down?
OK... My revolutionary idea? Eight Layer Salad. That's over 13% more layers than a Seven Layer Salad, and so far as I can tell no one has beaten me to the...
What? Shit. Let me check Google real quick and...
...My friends, it is time to get excited about Thirteen Layer Salad! Spread the word.
OK, the real reason I'm here today is to make sure y'all understood that post below was meant to be funny, not bitter. G-Rob's sarcasm level runs pretty high, but I'm not sure, so you get a post-disclaimer. Whew.
So in other news, my ex-wife emailed yesterday and we spent quite a bit of time on the instant messenger talking. I'm not going to rehash the whole transcript, but will note that it was generally a pleasant conversation reasonably bereft of finger-pointing nonsense. A choice snippet:
Here's me hoping I don't have to have the discussion about our weirdo Clockwork Orange incident when she was drunk and took too much pain medication.
Actually, check that. Here's hoping I can someday cut-and-paste that for you there gentle reader. You've dealt with my whining long enough, I should be able to throw you a nugget of fun every now and again.
Monday, April 25, 2005
I spent some time late last week Googling and decided to see what I could find out, if anything, about some of my old classmates at the high school out west at which I spent a couple of years.
What I found was an obituary.
I didn't know the guy, but he was in the graduating class in which I would have walked. Apparently, late in 2004 he died in a hot air balloon accident back east.
What struck me about the article was that he had married his "high school sweetheart," a girl with a name familiar to me. We ran in the same crowd, and as a matter of fact, I had taken her to a dance our Junior year.
This really got me thinking... I mean, had this girl paid a little more attention to me instead of some fucking basket-dangling daredevil, she wouldn't be less one husband at this point.
Well, que sera sera I suppose.
So I had my yearly performance review last week, and was told that I adequately meet the criteria to continue to keep my job.
Terrific. Crack the champagne.
It wasn't that the review was lukewarm because my manager is ambivalent towards my performance. It's that, according to corporate directive, I have to pull a litter of puppies from a burning well to be graded as exceptional. Even then? If my manager had asked me to do it (as opposed to taking my own initiative), I would be graded as performing to expectations.
So congratulations to me, I can continue to come to work.
I kid, I kid... This isn't really that ludicrous. I mean, if we all got gold stars, then what would a gold star be worth, really?
There is, however, something horrifically ludicrous that I saw from my employer today that I want to talk about - but I can't. I'm actually at this very moment trying to channel the intended rant to you telepathically, so if you're laughing right now, it's working.
Anyway, as I continue to meet expectations and play to the fat part of the bell curve, Bob has to go and screw with our travel arrangements by winning the WSOP satellite last night. Yep, we had to change our tickets, and are $163 lighter each as a result.
Actually, I knew Bob had a big tournament score in him at some point. I'm the type of player that may never get past a big final table appearance, but Bob's style of gambling in general is just perfect for No Limit Hold Em.
Look at one hand last night as an example... Bob starts the hand with something like T48,000, and his opponent with maybe T22,000. Bob has K6 offsuit and sees a flop - catching middle pair with his six.
If I remember right, he bet out, other guy raised all-in, and Bob called. The other guy had made a set of sixes with his pocket pair, and took Bob down to about T26,000 in the process.
But that's Bob. Probably not the greatest play in the world at that point, but symbolic of the type of gambler he is. Bob will walk right on that edge between "aggressive," "playing with abandon," and "reckless," and if he actually or accidentally makes the right play, more often than not with that aggression, he'll get paid off.
I can assure you he's not calculating pot odds in his head or chasing a draw because he knows he has an X% chance of hitting it. It's far more of a gut feel thing with him, and it's an instinct that can really work for him if the stars are in alignment - which they absolutely were last night.
Congrats Bob. You adequately meet the criteria to go play in the WSOP event in June.
So no BadBlood WSOP Fantasy Fiction Writeup from BG?
Nope. I feel like I already wrote that post. Go check it out:
Sunday, April 24, 2005
Lions Day One Draft Analysis
Yes Virginia, the Lions did just draft another top ten wide receiver.
Even scarier is that it absolutely does not mean that we are giving up on the freakishly oft-injured Charles Rogers. No, instead we're removing excuses and opening up the offense.
The happiest guy in Detroit this morning is Kevin Jones, who's going to run for about eleventy jillion yards if he can face nothing but nickels and dimes all day long. I mean, putting three receivers out there means that a base package defense has to commit a safety or OLB to the guy in the slot, but what if all three of your receivers are as ridiculously dangerous and skilled like these guys? Opposing coaches are going to have to face the Lions in a base nickel at minimum. Add Marcus Pollard to the mix in single back sets, and defenses are going to have to pick their poison and hope Harrington can't dissect the secondary before they put him on his ass.
Was it a "need" pick? No, but was it a "reach?" Absolutely not. This is a classic case of taking the best player available and not reaching for someone to take in the wrong spot.
The moral to the story is that three uber-talented receivers all wanting the ball is probably a pretty nice problem to have. Well, at least until they start to have to negotiate their second deals...
Williams is the right third receiver for this team. In Roy Williams and Charles Rogers you have Randy Moss types (read: tall, lanky, fast outside guys), but Mike Williams gives you the Terrell Owens/Keyshawn Johnson hybrid who can be a wider target over the middle for Harrington. He'll be perfect in the slot, and could easily turn out to be the most dangerous guy in this bunch.
In short, I love this pick. In the wake of Tagliabue's announcement yesterday, I was as energized as I've ever been as a Lions fan. The national columnists who are going to attribute this pick to "injury uncertainties" about the other two receivers, or slam the Lions for devoting "too much of their cap to one position" have it all wrong. This is about making an offense more explosive, plain and simple. Nine games (minimum) in a dome every season, why not turn those games into track meets?
In round two we traded up a few spots for Shaun Cody, a DT/DE from USC. Millen loves guys who can be moved around effectively on the D-Line, and with Dan Wilkinson growing older by the day, getting Shaun Rogers a big fella to groom for the future makes a lot of sense. What this pick does is improve our depth. What it doesn't do is improve our pass rush, which is inarguably the weakest link on the roster. Still, a good pick.
The Stanley Wilson (DB, Stanford) pick in the third round is one that I'm not really that happy with. He's a developmental prospect at best, and we already have one of those on the roster in Keith Smith. Justin Tuck (DE, Notre Dame) was on the board, and I liked that kid as a rush end, but what do I know, I'm just an idiot with a website.
All in all, I trust Millen in the draft, as he has certainly showed an aptitude for finding young talent, and I think the Lions are just that much more dangerous today. That's a good thing. I'm definitely a happy guy today.
Bill Simmons @ ESPN
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