Monday Superlatives

Even horse racing can't escape our collective replay madness

May 6, 2019
Kentucky Derby
Jamie Squire

We live in the age of rules. Sports fans understand way too much about the minutiae of the games that were once enjoyed on their own merits without obsessive checking and re-checking of every critical play, all made possible by the omnipresence of extremely powerful cameras that seem to cover every square inch of action. Was it a catch? Block or charge? Did the leg beat the tag? Did Tiger drop in the correct place, or was the eagle-eyed dude watching at home right when he actually phoned CBS?

Like everything that technology has wrought in this world, it's both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it definitely results in more correct calls being made, so on balance you can argue that the games are "fairer." On the other, replays take forever, they absolutely kill end-of-game drama, and they shift focus from the skill of the athletes to the byzantine language and bylaws and corollaries of some dense rule book that nobody except an official should ever spend one minute of their precious lives considering.

And now the scourge of video replay has hit horse racing. For the first time in Kentucky Derby history—a history that encompasses 145 races—the winner was disqualified. It had something to do with the way the fastest horse Maximum Security (terrible name) went wide in his lane and forced another horse to check up, or "steady."
Mike Tirico can explain it better than I can. Start at the 2:56 mark for the thrilling video rules replay content:

Now, look, I have no idea if this is a good call. I can see how forcing one horse to slow down screws up his ability to maintain speed and costs him a chance at the race, but from the naked eye, these races are so crowded by the pole that it's impossible to understand how that doesn't happen all the damn time. I think it's magical that horses aren't falling over and killing jockeys on a regular basis. But people who know way more about horse racing than I do say it was the closest thing to justice (note: One of the stewards who made the call is named Tyler Picklesimer, and I thought you should know that), with one caveat: The horse that finished second and ended up winning by disqualification, Country House, was not affected by the foul. That's the weird thing here: Maximum Security broke a rule, but the victims still get screwed, because you can't declare an artificial winner based on how you think a horse might have finished. So in the end, the violator gets punished, but the reward goes to some horse who had nothing to do with anything.

It's just the latest evidence that even in horse racing, rules are terrible and should be abolished in favor of total chaos. Everything should be Calvinball.

The Embarrassing Shot By a Really Good Player of the Week: Steph Curry, Amateur Dunker

One of the funniest things about the NBA is that there are Steph Curry truthers who still seem to believe (with probably 50% irony) that he can't dunk . . . even though there are many, many clips of him dunking.

However, he's not very good at it, and he doesn't do it very often.And we saw on Saturday night that there are times when Curry would be better off laying it in. Here he is on a fast break, down five in overtime against Houston, with 23 seconds left:

That's some rare humiliation for one of the coolest athletes in the world, and as Deadspin noted, his entire team just straight up conceded after the miss, even though there were 20 seconds left and crazier things have happened. There are some things you just don't come back from.

Bad Local Sports Person of the Week: Me, the Carolina Hurricanes Ignorer

The NHL playoffs are so fascinating because they depend so much on who gets hot. The best team in the league only wins the title about 33% of the time (this year's Presidents’ Trophy winners, the Tampa Bay Lightning, got swept in the first round by the Blue Jackets, who were the last team to make the playoffs), and while it's still hard for a very low seed to win, the L.A. Kings managed it as the eight-seed in 2012—the only team in the NHL or NBA to ever do so. The format is wonky now, without eight true seeds, but the Carolina Hurricanes would have been the seventh seed in the east under the old system. After taking out the Capitals in the first round, they swept the Islanders to make the Eastern Conference Finals. Here in the Triangle of North Carolina, Twitter is blowing up about the Canes.

That said, here are some facts about me and the Carolina Hurricanes:

1. It would take me like 20 minutes to get to their stadium.

2. I have never been.

3. I can quite literally not name a single player on the team, even though I wrote a feature on the franchise just four years ago.

4. I haven't watched a single minute of any playoff series, including the (apparently) exciting Game 7 playoff win against Washington.

I wrote a couple weeks ago about my issues with hockey (I used to be a big fan, now I'm clueless), but even for a non-hockey guy, this is inexcusable. I am supposed to be a sports fan. And today, on the verge of the Eastern Conference Finals, I vow this: If a free ticket drops out of the sky and lands on my porch, along with a free parking pass and some beer vouchers, I will try to go to a game.

And I'll even learn a player's name RIGHT NOW: Brock McGinn! Here he is scoring the series-winning goal against the Caps:

The Game Highlights You Can Watch 1,000 Times and Still Be Amazed of the Week: Blazers-Nuggets

Four overtimes! That's a lot! The highlights package NBC Sports Southwest put together below is just endlessly entertaining, especially the quotes from both coaches, but if you want something longer and more comprehensive—which you definitely do—check out this video, in which the end of the fourth quarter comes at the four-minute mark...in a video that is ten minutes long.

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