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Thursday, November 15, 2007

He's A Beaut Alright!

- Alex Rodriguez looks to be headed back to the Yanks. Hank Steinbrenner said of the situation: "It’s no different than bidding on a racehorse at an auction. ” [NY Times]

Well, I wouldn't go that far. There are no Sheikhs around, and no guy waiting to sweep up the manure. But it does inspire a funny visual, players with hip numbers on their uniforms being led into the ring, the Yanks' Brian Cashman huddled in the tunnel behind, and the Red Sox' Theo Epstein stationed surreptitiously towards the back of the pavilion. Seems as if the action would have been somewhat subdued if A-Rod was led out with the bidding starting at the $350 million that his agent Scott Boras was seeking for the next ten years. Even the Sheikh wouldn't pay that kind of money for a guy with his postseason stats. I imagine the bidding, or lack thereof, would have been interrupted by that guy who admonishes the crowd when the action is disappointing. C'mon people, have a look, he's a beaut! 54 homers, 156 RBI's, no steroids! And from a nice family too!

- Racing was canceled at the Big A today when the jocks refused to ride after two races on the sloppy track.

Three horses were eased in the stretch in the first race and Silver Paradise took a bad step in the second while rolling along on the lead.

"We were going nice and easy on the lead," jockey Javier Castellano said. "There was nothing wrong with the horse. She took a bad step in a hole. The track doesn't look even. I moved her out one more lane to keep her safe and she did it again. Then I took her way wide to the outside." [DRF]
I recall from last year that there are (expensive to fix) issues with the main track that cause problems like this when it gets very wet. Another reason why something needs to get done in Albany and soon.

Gee, it's a good thing that the Breeders' Cup wasn't scheduled for Aqueduct this year (as if). But seriously, what if the jockeys decided that a track on BC day was unsafe, and refused to ride? I've wondered if, somewhere in the files at Breeders' Cup Ltd and ESPN, there's a contingency plan for them being unable to conduct the races as scheduled. What if there was a power failure, or a storm severe enough to make racing downright impossible? Gotta be a plan, doncha think? And assuming there is, that brings me back to the question, posed by some in jest at first but more seriously as the big day approached, why couldn't the races have been postponed to Sunday, when, by all indications, the weather was supposed to clear, which it did, and in a big way. Yeah, I know it's totally impractical if not virtually impossible in many ways. Imagine all the people who bought expensive seats but would be unable to stay for the extra day. But assuming there is such a plan somewhere - and there has to be, I'm sure - what constitutes a sufficient emergency to implement it? I guess just a plain old sloppy track doesn't qualify. But, I dunno, maybe, under certain circumstances, it should, you think?

Back to NYRA, trainer Jimmy Toner wrote a letter to the editor in the Albany Times-Union pleading the Senate to put their partisan politics aside and get on with awarding the franchise to NYRA. I've seen horsemen urge the state to settle the matter, but this is the first such appeal I've read that specifically endorses the incumbent.
Since then, and after years of hearings, lawsuits, recommendations and cooperating with a federal court-appointed monitor, NYRA was given a clean bill of health. Whether someone in the Legislature believes it or not, this is a new NYRA.

Yet its progress has been constantly impeded by vindictive and personal agendas of those who are supposed to be leading the state of New York.
NYRA has been recommended by Gov. Eliot Spitzer and the state Assembly. Furthermore, biddings have gone by and still NYRA is the only organization willing to carry on with the best racing in the country. Most of the bidders were really interested in the gambling aspects of the franchise. [Albany Times-Union]


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the Toner link/info. Those "vindictive" politicians---aren't they embarrassed by how outrageously obvious their "personal agendas" are?

Disgusting. What a waste of years and years.

Anonymous said...

What's going to happen w/ the OTB issue Bloomberg keeps bringing up? Is he really going to close them?

Anonymous said...

Of course Toner endorses NYRA, his wife is employed by NYRA MANAGEMENT for many years.

Anonymous said...

Do you really feel the track surface problems need to be addressed by Albany? When NYRA had starter problems they replaced the starter and hired a consultant. Track problems... no change. Remember Hayward's comments after speaking to Rick Violet early September? (Sealing the track etc...)Same old NYRA blame it on someone or something else. They should stop tearing up the base with double harrows pulled by tractors that buck down the track. Fix the base and restore the faith of the jocks in the track's safety

Alan Mann said...

>>Of course Toner endorses NYRA, his wife is employed by NYRA MANAGEMENT for many years.

Oh. :-/

Anonymous said...

I agree, Alan: the A-Rod auction turned out to be a bust. I keep thinking we've turned the corner on ballplayers going to the highest bidder- I love it when that smarmy little leech Boras from San Diego gets the no bid response for his big names. I think putting the club first is the secret of the Red Sox and Patriots success, i.e., they are seeking "value" ballplayers who can fit into their clubhouses, and view being a member of The Winning Team, The Winning Club, as providing additional value to a less-than-#1 contract. /S/Green Mtn Punter

Anonymous said...

While it's good for the BC to consider creating a contingency plan, I don't recall people complaining so loudly about the '88 BC at Churchill, where the track and turf were obviously no better than Monmouth.

Anonymous said...

Toner better watch out for a NY State Tax audit notice after those comments.

As far as postponements, one issue to consider is timing. Once the horses are given their meds they need a withdrawl period, so the decision must be made the night before, especially in juridictions with the detention barn.

Never understood why, with today's mostly accurate weather information, NYRA or other operators would not cancel the night before and reschedule the entire card the next dark day.

Unless it is a "big" race day (of which there are two in the six months the Big A is open) this should be the rule.

There are employee and union implications, but MLB surely has the same problems and can reschedule a ball game in an instant.

And just rescheduling the card as drawn is a lot easier, and more fair, than opening the whole thing up again.