Some thoughts on the Kentucky Derby, the most exciting 22 minutes in sports:
There was a replay of the controversial Kentucky Derby going around Twitter on Monday. It showed a new angle of the horse Maximum Security, veering over like a car in the left lane cutting across four lanes to exit on the right.
Instant replay is ruining sports, and now it’s reached the biggest horse race in the world. Our sports and the people who play them are so imperfect. Why do we expect the games to be perfect? We’ll watch replays over and over until we can decide if a basketball came off a fingertip and out of bounds.
The replays led to more reaction. Instant replays followed by instant reaction. We’ve got more than enough of those in sports today.
What I’d like to see is some context. Some nuance, if you will.
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Very few horse and track experts disputed that the foul that disqualified Gary and Mary West’s horse was a foul. The debate was whether or not it should have been called.
It’s the old “a foul is a foul in the first quarter and the last two minutes of a game” debate. There are those who say a rule is a rule. And those who say the rules should have a conscience.
For me, the biggest foul that was committed on Saturday was when the Kentucky Derby stewards didn’t take questions.
I’d like to know if the stewards themselves saw the foul occur in real time, or had to have it pointed out later. And whether this decision was based on “a foul is a foul,” and how the stewards felt about the horses who were impacted apparently having no chance to win. Should interpretation of a hard and fast rule matter? And why did it take 22 minutes to figure out?
Sit up at a table and take some questions. Explain it to the world. I feel the same way about umpires and football and basketball officials. A statement doesn’t always explain the decision. If a call or ruling in particular decides a game, we’d like to hear what went into it. Same as when a coach has to explain a play call or in-game strategy.
Is it too much to ask for a little context? It would make our imperfect sports a bit more perfect.
» Meanwhile, I’d like to see West reconsider and enter Maximum Security in the Preakness. Emotions are running high now. But why deny the best horse in last week’s Derby a shot at a major trophy? Congratulate Country House and go win the Preakness. That would be a win-win for West and the sport.
» I had several people comment to me last week that Creighton assistant coach Preston Murphy was “vindicated” by agent Christian Dawkins’ comments in court. But does that get him back on the Jays’ bench?
Murphy remains suspended at CU. On Monday, the school said that it still had no comment on the matter.
Dawkins’ testimony seemed to indicate that there was no bribe to Murphy, who Dawkins said gave him the $6,000 back once they were out of the room. And that money went back into Dawkins’ bank account — presumably to go toward paying other college players.
A lot of folks, including national media, championed Dawkins as honest and refreshing. He admits that he has worked with coaches to pay money to players, who Dawkins feels should get their fair share. That’s a popular sentiment these days.
But until the NCAA changes the rules, that’s still a violation. Meanwhile, Murphy is tight enough with Dawkins that they are playing a con game against an undercover FBI agent.
I don’t know what Creighton will do. I do know that Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen is a former chair of the NCAA Basketball Committee and is highly thought of in the NCAA. He’s seen as one of the leaders in college sports.
If Murphy came back, a cloud would follow. Anytime he recruited a player, you’d wonder if Dawkins had any influence. The optics would not be good.
We’ve still yet to hear about the findings in Creighton’s own investigation, and whether coach Greg McDermott had any part. The bribe part of the story may be over. But there are still a lot of questions to be answered.
» Last month I wrote that Nebraska baseball was in good shape, but we would see how the Huskers would finish. Right now Husker fans are hiding their eyes.
NU won’t win the Big Ten regular-season title. Oh, well. The Huskers did it two years ago and all anyone remembered was how they flopped in the postseason. That’s where Nebraska baseball is now: It’s all about the postseason. The Huskers can still change the narrative there. But they have to get there first.
The Huskers are likely to play at the Big Ten tourney in Omaha. But suddenly they are booting away a certain NCAA regional bid. NU’s RPI going into Monday’s game was 47, with eight games left — including three against Arizona State (43) and three against Michigan (35).
» I always appreciate when a coach like Darin Erstad admits that he got “out-coached,” but you can’t say it too often or people start to believe you.
» Can Nebraska get out of its slump and turn the sloppy play around? Erstad said the Huskers have to go back to having fun. Winning is fun.
» Oklahoma announced a future nonconference football game with Georgia. The Sooners, who play just three nonconference games in the Big 12, already have Alabama, Clemson, LSU, Michigan, Nebraska and Tennessee on future nonconference slates. That’s how you football.
» One more and I’m outta here: Creighton baseball’s “Military and First Responders Night” has become one of my favorite events of the year. This year’s game is Saturday night (St. John’s) at TD Ameritrade Park and will feature the tributes to veterans, active duty, National Guard, first responders, law enforcement and fire department. There’s great fireworks, and you can’t beat the cool camo hats the Jays wear.