Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
Live Impressions from the Derby
2007-05-05 14:15
by Mark T.R. Donohue

2:41 MDT Because Major League Baseball hates its fans, the only game available for me to watch this afternoon is Seattle vs. the Yankees. Big pass on that one. So instead, it's the Kentucky Derby! Look at all of the amazing celebrities who have gathered together (in silly hats) to watch "the most exciting two minutes in sports." Jenny McCarthy! Jennifer Tilly! The dude who plays Parkman on "Heroes!" The Queen! Wow, no wonder the women have to wear giant headwear, otherwise they'd risk being blinded by all the star power.

3:00 MDT I feel sorry for Bob Costas. It's not his fault he has a deal for life with the Titanic of major TV networks, except in the sense that it is. But still, he should be doing baseball games, not wandering around trying to find human interest at the Derby and quietly twitching his off-camera digits to mark the number of seconds left until the next Olympics.

3:11 MDT They just showed some jockeys playing pool in, I dunno, the official pre-Derby jockeys-only billiard room. It's a little creepy seeing jockeys engaged in any activity other than riding. They have the heads and hands of men, but the bodies of 12-year-old girls. I'm reminded of the "House" episode where House is at the OTB and explains to Cynthia Nixon that he always bets on the jockeys who have forced themselves to vomit immediately before the race. I thought at the time that I would never be able to watch horse racing the same way again, even though I pretty much just watch the Kentucky Derby every year. Well, when we get closer to post time, I'm going to be watching those silks pretty closely for any telltale stains.

3:23 MDT They're showing the current odds, and I have to say, I am disappointed by this group of horse names. Horse names are one of the best things about the last page of your local sports section, where they print the handicappers' grids in unbelievably tiny little print. That's where I learned what Lasix was, later leading to much confusion the first time I met someone who was having the Lasik eye surgery procedure done. In retrospect, asking the girl from my Catholic teen youth group whether there was any chance she was going to have some amazingly powerful horse drugs left over to sell was not a smooth move. But yeah, there is a unique poetry to horse names, which are often baroque and bizarre and just too too too to be the name of something. Like "Hopeful Welfare for Chappaquiddick II," or "Seems To Me Like This Is An Awfully Long Name for a Horse, But I am an Inbred Southern Rich Person and Not Inclined to Care." Nothing really sexy in the field this year, though; my favorites are Teuflesberg at 44-1 and Circular Quay at 14-1. Circular Quay? What, did you name your horse after the place you park your boat? That's what I call conspicuous consumption.

3:37 MDT Now comes maybe my favorite part of the Derby, besides the moment when whichever horse wins it loses in the Preakness or Belmont and 99.996% of America goes right back to ignoring horse racing. It's the parade of hangers-on! All of the people who paid for these horses get to walk them out to the post, all in their cotillion finery. Would you look at the size of that infield? At least now I have a better understanding of NASCAR's roots. With horses, though, the chances of being killed by a piece of flying debris have to be somewhat lower.

3:44 MDT Oh, wow, they just interviewed a jockey and he had a high-pitched squeaky helium voice just like on that "Simpsons" episode. I can die in peace.

3:48 MDT The lettering on the stable plaque for the horse Hard Spun makes it really, really look like the title card for a porno. Hard Spun. I can't say I have ever seen a horse-racing themed porno, but I would have to say the market is there, seeing that they opened the gates for this event at 8 local time and it was full by noon. And women wearing elaborate dress hats and absolutely nothing else sounds pretty enticing to me.

3:50 MDT The following horses have names that sound like monsters Godzilla could have fought: Zanjero, Tiago, Stormello. The following horse names could all be the title of a business strategy book, with the addition of a colon and a long and meaningless subtitle: Street Sense, Great Hunter, Liquidity. The following horse names could be actors in Hard Spun: Scat Daddy, Cowtown Cat, Bwana Bull.

3:58 MDT A fast-motion video shows a trainer who has five horses in the race, saddling each of them one by one. I don't know, it didn't look that hard. Some things are actually less impressive in fast-motion. But still, I've never ridden a horse in my life, and I feel fairly confident that I could saddle one in a few minutes. This guy has done it his whole life, and it's a big deal that he could do five? I'm unimpressed. But the bugler, now that was some good work. Why do they rise for "My Old Kentucky Home?" My goodness, the Confederacy lives.

4:04 MDT Nice touch by NBC putting the song's lyrics on a crawl for those of us singing along at home, but from the look of it a lot of the people in attendance could have used prompting as well. I suppose four or five mint juleps into the day I might forget my old Kentucky home as well, which is just as well as it was actually in Illinois.

4:08 MDT You know what, there's no shame in admitting it, I didn't know either. Mint, bourbon, sugar, and water.

4:11 MDT This race has been "moments away" since 2:30. If I don't see some horses running fast really soon, I might really go watch that baseball game. It's not too late to JINX CHIEN-MIEN WANG is it? That sure would be bad if I JINXED CHIEN-MIEN WANG. Would hate to see his PERFECT GAME GET BROKEN UP.

4:14 MDT And they're off.

4:16 MDT Well, wow, that was actually pretty cool! Street Sense, the favorite, just put it into absolute overdrive down the last quarter and pretty much wrecked the whole field, save for a not-so-closely trailing Hard Spun, who set the pace for most of the derby. Curlin nosed the rest of the field to show. Total race time: two minutes, two seconds. Well, see you next year!

2007-05-05 14:31:32
1.   Bob Timmermann
Are you sure you don't want to check the Yankees-Mariners game for a bit?
2007-05-05 14:34:22
2.   Vishal
i second bob's suggestion.

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