May 17, 2007

Preakness Picks


This is Part III of East Coast Bias' Preakness coverage. Part I was a list of rules for attending Preakness. Part II was a "Tale of the Tape" comparison of Preakness and the Kentucky Derby.

Now that you know why Preakness is the best of the Triple Crown races, and you know how to avoid the pitfalls of attending the race, it's time to get down to the nitty gritty. Who do you like? My Preakness handicapping track record isn't the best, but I did nail the Kentucky Derby exacta this year, so I'll let you decide how seriously to take my picks. (You can check out the Past Performances for yourself here.)

Starting at the post and working our way out:

  1. Mint Slewlep - Named after the officia drink of the Derby, that's one strike against him already. He's been blown out of the two graded stakes races he's been in, and his speed figures suck. Also, Preakness is a full furlong longer than he's ever run before. Don't throw your money away on this horse.
  2. Xchanger - Nothing much here. He's totally outclassed by the top horses in the race.
  3. Circular Quay - I liked him in the Derby, but he got bumped back in the clusterfuck of the final turn. A 6th place finish in that race is nothing to sneeze at. Let's call him a maybe.
  4. Curlin - Showed he's for real in the Derby. We'll definitely be betting on him.
  5. King of the Roxy - Caught late by Tiago in the Santa Anita Derby. I'm not sure he can handle the distance against this field. Cross him out.
  6. Flying First Class - I have no idea why D. Wayne Lukas would even bring this horse to the Preakness. He's wasting his owner's money.
  7. Hard Spun - He almost held out till the end in the Derby, running a very impressive race. If he gets out front again in the Preakness, I wouldn't want to be cheering against him.
  8. Street Sense - Got a great trip in the Derby, any number of complications could have ruined his race. I can't remember another time that I've seen a horse run so cleanly through traffic. The Preakness will be different, though. The 8 other horses will be gunning for him, anticipating that late break for the rail and then the finish line. If he's going to come from behind again, it will have to be around the outside, something that neither he nor Borel want to do. Even with the huge success Derby winners have had in the Preakness over the past years, I don't love Street Sense to contend for the Triple Crown. I'll put him in the money, but not on top.
  9. C P West - Yet another outclassed horse (why does the Preakness seem to attract this type of horse?)

So here's how we stand after going through the field:

Circular Quay
Mint Slewlep
Hard Spun

Street Sense

King of the Roxy

Flying First Class

C P West

Not surprisingly, I like the three top finishers in the Derby to repeat their performances in the Preakness. Here's how the Morning Line odds look for the horses we haven't ruled out:

  • Circular Quay: 8/1
  • Curlin: 7/2
  • Hard Spun: 5/2
  • Street Sense: 7/5
Expect those numbers to move around quite a bit, but the bottom line is that there's not much value there. An Exacta with two of those horses in it won't pay much (figure $2 gets you around $20 for anything but Circular Quay over Curlin). That means this is a great race to take a risk with a Trifecta. Here's my bet:

4,7 3,4,7,8 3,4,7,8

That's $24 ($2 each way if I did my math correctly), and it should pay out pretty well, even with the low odds.

For an added bonus, here are my picks for the Black Eyed Susan - Preakness Daily Double for those of you making your Preakness bets on Friday:
Take the 2 and 1 horses in the BES (Panty Raid, Winning Point) and the 4 and 7 in the Preakness (Curlin and Hard Spun) for $5 each way. That's a $20 bet that should pay well.

For the record, J-Red likes Curlin, Curlin, and Curlin in the Preakness.

Just in Time for the Battle of the Beltways...

From, courtesy of Drew Forrester's Blog:

Orioles to Return "Baltimore" to Away Jerseys in 2008
Without official confirmation from the Orioles (more on that below), I announced today on The Comcast Morning Show that the Orioles are going to wear NEW uniforms next season on the road...yes, for the first time since the early 1970's, I have it from several sources that the word "BALTIMORE" will appear on the front of the away jerseys in 2008. This whole story actually started about three weeks ago when a FORMER employee of the team alerted me that he/she was aware of paperwork that was being filed for 2008 that included a request to change the O's away uniforms. For the unitiated, teams must request a change with MLB and can only change their uniform and/or logo once every three years. In other words, once you change it, you're stuck it with it for at least three seasons. Although the former employee who first gave me this information is a trustworthy sort, in the back of mind I had to remember that my info was coming from a FORMER employee of the club. Still, I was intrigued enough to follow through with some inquiries to those who might be in the know. I was able to get a hold of someone currently associated with the team last week and they told me the same thing - yes, the paperwork has been filed and, yes, the word "BALTIMORE" will be going back on the uniforms next season. OK, one former employee and one person closely associated with the team - both of whom have avenues to gain this knowledge - are telling me the same thing, and they have no idea that the other has told me this information. Now, I'm ready to bite on the hook. At this point, I have three people - all independent of one another - telling me the same thing. I'm as convinced as I can be that this is the truth but I still need someone in a high-level front office position to confirm ON THE RECORD (or off the record, even...if I trusted the person) that my information is correct.


Excellent news. It's time for Baltimore to have their team again. If people from Washington want to continue to support a team that hails from Baltimore according to their jerseys, I've got no problem with that if they were raised lifelong O's fans. But I think that this is a sign that the O's accept that the Nats are here to stay, accept the fact that there is a big block of Nats fans who are not coming back to roost with the O's, and want to reconnect with their base supporters, those who identify best with Baltimore sports teams. Finally, could Cuban Pete be getting something right???

May 16, 2007

Watching America's Cup

Now that the Louis Vuitton Semifinals have started, Versus has full coverage of the races each day. I missed the races Monday, but yesterday I sat down to watch day 2 of the semifinals.

Though I've been following the lead up to the America's Cup on the excellent Valencia Sailing blog, I haven't spent 2 hours watching a yacht race since 2003 (the last America's Cup). To be honest, I was a little worried that I would be bored. I remember enjoying watching the races 4 years ago with my roommates in college, but that seems like a long time ago. Really? We watched 2 hours of freaking yacht racing every night?

The Emirates Team New Zealand v. Desafio Espanol race was a snoozer from the start, but luckily the second race, BMW Oracle v. Luna Rossa was anything but. The race was of key importance to BMW Oracle (the lone American entry). Down 1-0 already in the best of 9 series, the Americans couldn't afford to spot the Italians any more of a lead. Luna Rossa absolutely embarrassed BMW Oracle in the pre-start and staked out a 58 second lead in the first leg of the race (that's a very, very big lead in sailing). Starting in the first downwind leg, the Americans mounted an amazing comeback that had me on the edge of my seat. I actually put down my laptop to focus on watching the last leg. Keep in mind that these boats are going around 10 knots downwind. That's slower than a good marathon runner. But watching the strategy, the back and forth of the two boats is riveting.

If you have a couple hours to spend, check out one of the America's Cup races. If you give it a chance, you just might be surprised at how much fun it is to watch.

May 15, 2007

Michael Vick Dogfight Saga Worsens is reporting that witnesses can place Michael Vick AT dogfights on his property.

You may remember that I wrote on this site that the dogfight scandal would sink Vick's career.

The story is even more interesting. Surry County, Virginia, Commonwealth's Attorney Gerald Poindexter is being pressed to file charges in the case. Mr. Poindexter's son was my teammate on the case I worked on in my last job.

So far, Mr. Poindexter is showing that he has learned from past high-profile prosecutions, most notably the Duke rape fiasco. Mr. Poindexter was quoted by to say, "I don't try cases in the press...Lawyers who do that are despicable." On the other hand, Kathy Strouse, the animal control coordinator for Chesapeake, Virginia, is defaming Mr. Poindexter for not bringing charges prematurely.

Ms. Strouse, apparently, has learned nothing about the judicial process from the missteps in Durham and other places. Rather than allowing Mr. Poindexter to properly develop the case and serve the interests of the people of Surry County and the Commonwealth of Virginia, she wants a public spectacle and a premature indictment. I applaud Mr. Poindexter for the poise and diligence which he has displayed in this investigation.

There's a reason attorneys handle prosecutions rather than dog catchers. I hope the national media respects Mr. Poindexter's investigation rather than latching on to Ms. Strouse's inflammatory comments. Justice will be served in the end through his patience. If Vick has committed a crime today, he will still have committed that crime tomorrow, and a week from now, and a month from now. I certainly hope we would all like Surry County to bring the strongest case possible, rather than react to knee-jerk pressures.

Idol Recap 5/15

So here we are, down to 3. This is one of the toughest calls I've had to make. Last week was a relatively easy prediction so I can't take too much credit for nailing it. But here's how I see things shaking down...

He's in. He's got enough of the teenage and preteen girl vote to push him through. He was in the bottom last week, but I think he's got a strong enough block behind him to get him to the championship. I thought his Roxanne performance was miserable, but I really liked his last two performances. I also liked that all-Idol long I've been waiting for him to bust out with some Maroon 5 and he came out with it tonight. And it was pretty damn good. He's actually better without the beat boxing. Still the weakest talent out of the 3, and I'm still not sure I forgive him for shredding Bon Jovi, but I think he's in.

She's consistently good, gave another rendition of I'm a Woman tonight and both with her performance and with her choreography showed us that she really is no back-up singer anymore. Her Whitney was fantastic and Whitney is pretty damn hard to pull off. But most importantly, I think that the millions of Lakisha votes have to go someplace. I think they're most likely to go to Melinda. I am slightly troubled by many of Melinda's songs sounding oddly alike. It's like a Tina Turner cover of everything she sings. However, due to the residual votes, and due to some great performances, I see Melinda squaring off in the finals against Blake.

Which leaves...

poor, poor Jordin Sparks
Her performance of I Who Have Nothing actually gave me goosebumps. The first and only performance this entire season to do that to me. However, she showed off some ignorance trying to fight with Simon by saying that a Rolls Royce was a car from the 1970s and therefore I Who Have Nothing could not have been 60 years old. Her first two songs were totally forgettable. The producers screwed her over with the arrangment on the first song. And I thought she pretty much walked through She Works Hard for the Money. I think without a doubt she's got the most commercial pop appeal of any of these three, including Blake. I also think that she's tremendously talented, and has the biggest Broadway-type voice out of the three competitors. But I think that it's going to be a girl versus a guy in the finals because I just see of the two women left, only one making it through.

So there you have it... a prediction for a Blake/Melinda final, with your next Idol champion being Melinda Doolittle (before I even hear a single championship song). And did anybody else notice how 2 of the first 4 performances tonight involved songs about prostitution? Oddly ironic given how Idol prostitutes itself out to corporate America. Sorry to sound like Bono.

Sean O'Hairy Balls at TPC Sawgrass

The Orioles suck. Danys Baez is the worst reliever ever (or at least since Kline)...blah blah blah.

Now onto something EXCITING!

On Sunday, Sean O'Hair and Phil Mickelson approach the famous island 17th at The Players' Championship at Sawgrass. O'Hair was two strokes off the lead with two to play, basically meaning he either had to play 17 safe and eagle 18 (or hope for a Phil at Wingfoot moment) or try to end the tourney birdie-birdie.

Mickleson set the tone by hitting his shot just about in the geographical center of the green. That mean Phil was scoring par. O'Hair went for the pin on the island green. He thought he had struck his 9-iron perfectly, but the ball carried the pin and bounced over the bulkhead and into the water. After finding the wet from the relief area, he posted a 7 on the 17th and plummeted from 2nd to 11th, a loss of approximately $750,000.

And so the debate began. Is the guy an idiot or a competitor? They say the TPC Sawgrass is like the 5th major, but winning it does not provide the accoutrement of winning a major (exemptions, sponsorships, etc.)

TheManInTheGreenShoForget Hulk Hogan, this is a real American.

I, personally, don't know anything about Sean O'Hair's financial situation. I do know that he has been very confident about Sawgrass, even last year. If he was not jeopardizing his future (i.e., not gambling with the lives of others) then he made the right choice. If you are still kicking, try to win the damn thing. You wouldn't punt on 4th and 1 from midfield down 10. As Herm Edwards said, "YOU PLAY......TO WIN...........THE GAME!"

I think that O'Hair really believes he is going to be big shit on the tour. I think he felt like Sawgrass was just another early step on his way to being a top-tier golfer in the PGA. For those reasons, he made the right choice. If Corey Pavin or Tom Kite or Olazabel or even Vijay were in the same spot tomorrow, I'd condemn them for not taking 2nd place. This guy apprently has a big career ahead of him, in a year where the no-names are outperforming the big-names. He played to win, and he fell short. To me, it's no different from pressing to make up 10 pts late in an NFL game only to throw a pick-six. Yeah, you lost badly, but you lost trying to be a winner.

[And for the record, Brien would have laid up on the hill to the left and then tried his signature loft wedge to plop it within par distance]

May 14, 2007

The Preakness vs. The Kentucky Derby - Tale of the Tape

Part II of East Coast Bias' ongoing Preakness coverage. Part I was an overview of rules for attending Preakness.

It seems to be "common knowledge" that the Kentucky Derby is the premier race of the Triple Crown. Sure, there will always be those arrogant New Yorkers who claim the Belmont is better solely by virtue of being held in the great state of New York. But by that logic, the Knicks wouldn't be in their current "situation." True Triple Crown aficionados know that when debating the relative merits of the three races, no infield = no dice. Belmont doesn't allow rowdy fans to pollute its pristine infield, so we can immediately rule it out of the best race discussion, even though I love its length (double entendre intended).

But what about the Preakness vs. Derby debate? It seems like a slam dunk for the Derby at first glance, but the only way to be sure is to break it down, Nick Bakay style:

Kentucky Derby
Preakness Advantage
Official Drink

Early Times Mint Julep

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • Sprigs of fresh mint
  • Crushed ice
  • Early Times Kentucky Whiskey
  • Silver Julep Cups

Black Eyed Susan

  • 1 part Cointreau
  • 1 part Mount Gay rum
  • 1 part Vodka
  • Pineapple Juice
  • Orange Juice
The Black Eyed Susan's connotations of domestic violence certainly didn't help its cause, but in the end, how do you pick a Rum and Vodka based drink over a Whiskey one?

Advantage: Derby
Unofficial Drink
Jack Daniels
Natty Boh
Blue collar whiskey vs. blue collar beer

Advantage: Push
1¼ miles 1 3/16 miles Who doesn't love odd fractions?

Advantage: Preakness
Queen Elizabeth II, Vince Young, Kid Rock, Gary Williams
The Junkies
Gary Williams tips the scales.

Advantage: Derby
Eye Candy
It's times like this I feel like a blackjack dealer who just busted. "Everyone's a winner!"

Advantage: Push
Crowd Profile
Old and stuffy
Young and partying
Advantage: Preakness
Louisville, KY
Baltimore, MD
This is a totally unbiased selection.
Advantage: Preakness
Classic spires vs. what looks to be an abandoned auto parts factory

Advantage: Derby
Crazy Incident
OJ Simpson gets thrown out of a steakhouse Crazy man runs on track and tries to punch horse. Advantage: Preakness
Quirky Tradition
Crazy hats
Paying locals to park in their yards
Much as I love high society ladies in ugly hats, I like turfing lawns in the ghetto better.
Advantage: Preakness

Motives for Attending
Socializing, see and be seen,
Drinking, gambling, yelling "Show your tits!"
Advantage: Preakness
Triple Crown Allure
It's all about the race
It's all about a horse trying to make history (except Bernadini)
No one is thinking about the Triple Crown before the Derby, and the Belmont is often meaningless for Triple Crown purposes, but the Preakness always has the sense that this could be the year.

Advantage: Preakness

The final tally:
  • Preakness: 7
  • Derby: 3
  • Push: 2
There you have it. The numbers never lie, The Preakness is better than the Kentucky Derby. Now go out and buy your infield tickets, it's going to be a beautiful day Saturday.

Photo Credit: paulsisler, Carrie J, Mosdurf, Speedy314.

Sopranos ***SPOILER ALERT***

It's Tuesday night, I'm taking out the blanks over the spoilers!!!! If you haven't watched it by now, you're not going to!

In one of those "huge gasp" moments on The Sopranos last night, Tony ended Chris' life with his own hands after a horrific car accident left Chris incapacitated. Whether Chris could have been resuscitated is a matter for discussion, and the true reasons for Tony doing what he did are also a matter of hot debate. I'll save those for the comments section. But I would like to honor the life of Christopher Moltisanti with a list of the best "Chris-tah-phuuuh" moments over the 6 seasons of The Sopranos:

1) Finding out that Adriana was a snitch, having a total breakdown, almost beating her to death, then sobbing in her arms, before entertaining her thoughts of entering the Witness Protection Program. Then, going to Tony with the news and having Adriana whacked. (Season 5)

2) Robbing Lauren Bacall of her swag bag after unsuccessfully pitching Cleaver to Ben Kingsley. (Season 6a)

3) Christopher surviving a mock execution by an angered Uncle Junior after hijacking trucks that the family was using to smuggle goods. Of course, surviving only after he was scared enough to shit all over himself. (Season 1)

4) Christopher's role in the disposal of Richie Aprile's body post-Janice killing, and in the disposal of Ralphie Cifaretto, awoken by Tony from a smack and coke induced-haze to help him with the job. (Seasons 2, 4)

5) Christopher getting stuck overnight in the freezing cold wilderness of Pine Barrens with Paulie in their attempt to bury the Russian who they thought they had killed, and who ended up still alive in their trunk and beat the crap out of Christopher when they attempted to make him dig his own grave. The Russian escaped into the wilderness, and Chris and Paulie were always haunted as to whether he would be waiting for them around the corner. (Season 3)

6) Christopher accidentally kills Adriana's lapdog, Cosette, by sitting on the thing, while high on smack. Which leads to an all-family intervention, one of the funniest scenes in the history of the show, concluding with Paulie beating the crap out of Christopher after Christopher insults his own mother. (Season 4)

RIP Chris-tah-phuuuh. You will be missed.

May 13, 2007

Formula1 Spanish GP Recap

Short recap of today's race. It was a fairly exciting race. Well, except for any overtaking at the front of the field.

  • Alonso has huge balls. He laid it all on the line going into the first corner to get past Massa, but instead ended up in the gravel trap and fourth place.
  • Kimi has the worst luck. He always seems to get caught by mechanical failure. I still think he's faster than Massa, but maybe I'll have to start rethinking it.
  • Scott Speed is in trouble. Speed still doesn't have that signature race where he does better than expected and finds a way into the points. It looked like he had a chance to beat expectations today until a spectacular tire failure.
  • Pit problems are good TV. Today we had two exciting problems in the pits: Massa's fire and Heidfeld's wheel nut. It's those unexpected surprises that make F1 so enjoyable.
  • Hamilton leads the points. But not for long if Massa keeps on this tear. Massa's poor performance in Australia under pressure from Hamilton seems like ages ago.
So it's off to Monaco with a tight championship race. I guess all things considered, that's a good season so far. I'd just like to see more overtaking (as I'm sure everyone would), but that's not likely at Monaco.

Trading Crap for Crap

So the Marlins and Rockies pulled off the trade of the season on Sunday, finally pulling these two teams together who have been on very divergent paths since they both came into the league together in 1992.

The Marlins sent stud closer Jorge Julio (see: two blown saves against the pitiful Nationals this season) to Colorado. In return, they get submarining Korean ace Byung-Hyun Kim (who seems to cause something resembling Tourette's Syndrome to appear when his name is mentioned around diehard Red Sox fans).

I'm certain this trade will be the start of both teams' eventual ascension to the tops of their respective divisions.

The "Camden Yards Effect"

So I took in the Nats-Marlins game on this beautiful Mother's Day with my boy Seth... some of you may remember Seth as the guy who joined in with Jason in bashing me for being a total moron way back when I posted the thread about why I'm a Nats fan. Seth himself was born in Montgomery County, but has chosen to stick with his boyhood team, the O's.

As we were walking down the ramps out of the stadium postgame, Seth remarked to me that at both Nats games he's been to at RFK, the fans were "way more into the game than at Camden Yards." Which, putting my best neutral-colored glasses on, after going to 20+ games at Camden Yards each of the past three summers, and many, many games the summers before that, I had to agree with.

The reasons why are undeniable... the Nats stink, RFK is one step above tolerable, and there is not much sensory entertainment going on besides the ballgame. If you're not a true baseball fan, you simply won't enjoy a Nats game at RFK and you probably won't go (see: Fiancee, Jeremy's). At Nats games, you could probably go up to just about any male fan in the stadium, and without looking at the scoreboard, they could tell you the score, the inning, who's pitching, and how many outs there are. I am pretty sure it's not the same way at Camden Yards. You've got a bunch of baseball guys at RFK who love to come to a game on a beautiful spring day, have a few beers, and score the game.

Living in Baltimore, I always heard people wax nostalgic for the days of Memorial Stadium. While my own recollections of Memorial Stadium are very foggy and involve Kirby Puckett, Eddie Murray, Randy Milligan, and Sam Horn, I think I can understand what these people are saying. At Camden Yards, the game is a minor part of the overall ballpark experience. Eutaw Street, Boogs, the surrounding bars, the wide concourse with all the concession options, the Jumbotron flashing when to cheer, the pulsating music in between every at bat... it all makes watching the game almost secondary. Which is fine... don't get me wrong, I'm not writing this like George Will as some baseball purist. But it's very interesting to compare the two experiences. And don't worry... I have no doubt that when Nationals Ballpark opens next season, the Nats ballgame experience will more closely parallel the O's current experience than the Nats' current experience. However, because so much of the Nats' hopes are tied in to the success of the new ballpark, I doubt that Nats fans will wax nostalgic for RFK the same way O's fans wax nostalgic for Memorial Stadium.

Oh yes... seeing the Nats actually pull a sweep with 20,100 of my closest friends on a 69 degree bright sunny May day was excellent. Next weekend, bring on the team from Syphillis City.

1) I realize that one of the reasons for the nostalgia for Memorial Stadium is the amount of team history tied up at that stadium. The Nats/Senators experience at RFK includes three years as the Nationals, and two renditions of the Senators fleeing town.

2) You could really describe the effect of many new arenas this way. I could just as easily have called this the "Comcast Center Effect" (goddamn Comcast Center, BRING BACK COLE). I just wanted to use the two teams that the majority of our 9 readers follow.