Monday, May 28, 2007

My Last Blog for Summer

by ShagOnSports

Due to my surgery this Tuesday, the project management classes I am taking to get PM Certified and with everything I have going on at work right now and when I return to work I am going to shut down until around September when college football starts, baseball playoffs are starting and Basketball talk will be brewing…

See you then…

My Last Derby

From 1987 through the year 2000 I spent every Derby in the infield… If you have never been to the Derby through the experience of the infield then you are truly missing a really wild experience that I do not think you can get anywhere else… Maybe the concerts at Woodstock could compare… Contrary to popular belief the entire infield is not one big naked mud bath… If you go to turns three and four a naked drunken mud bath is what you get… From the middle of the infield to turns one and two the atmosphere is a bit calmer…

As Derby’s go there was the first derby, the cold derby (it was about 30 degrees), the family derby (my brother Darrell and Sister Jayne attended), cashed a ticket every race derby, did not cash a ticket in any race derby, the fight derby, Andre the Giant has a Posse Derby and the chick stuck her feet in our cooler derby and she almost met her death derby just to name a few…

From 1994 on my group always was in the same spot where we put up our tarpaulin with the metal poles we had smuggled in by my ingenious idea of duck taping the poles to my two wheeler (you could not bring in the metal poles so they had to be disguised and smuggled)… The plan was a simple one… While security was looking through all of the items for smuggled liquor no one would pay attention to the poles duck taped to the two wheeler (Churchill will not let you bring in the two wheeler so you cannot set up you tent and the tent is key whether the weather is hot or the weather is cold and to create a taped off border that is your space)…

The goal of every infielder at some point is to end up on the other side of the track in the stands with all the beautiful people… It is kind of like climbing the social ladder for someone who starts out at the bottom and through hard work and effort end up working his or her way up to the top… Hopefully you get my point and by no means are the infield attendees a lower class of people (I love the infield at Derby)… The way it works at Churchill for derby is there are passes that get you to certain level, which start out at the infield level… There are then passes issued that are for the first level only, first & second level only, first to third level only moving all the way up the sixth level or millionaires row…

In 2001 we had the usual Derby plan in place… My friend Ready would show up at our house on Thursday night (he never calls he just shows up) and then he and Reality Spin would attend the Oaks on Friday… They would return to my house that night and after a late night of partying and preparing all the items to take into the infield the next day we would crash and then be up early and off and running…

On Wednesday night of Derby week we had a family emergency that required us to drive to our hometown of Henderson for a couple of days… We left that Thursday morning with our intent to be back on Friday… While in Henderson we stopped by to see my friend Dale Sights…

Dale served as Jimmy Carter’s campaign manager in 1975 and 1979 for the Commonwealth of Kentucky and through this association he has enjoyed and still enjoys many perks… Among those are tickets to the Masters each year (I have not asked to use those yet), he has played Augusta National several times and through an appointment he had to the Kentucky Racing Commission pins that have you full track access and a parking pass for free parking at any of the tracks… As Dale said it, “We could walk into the President of Churchill Downs office if we wanted.” Great perk for Derby Day… Lucky of us on this day Dale was not using the pins or the pass and he gave them to us to use…

On Friday morning as we was heading back to Louisville we stopped in Evansville to do some shopping… To attend this event as true VIP’s we need to dress like we belonged… My wife needed a new dress, a hat, new shoes, purse, etc… and for me it was a new jacket, tie, shirt, pants, belt shoes etc… Cost became no issue as we decided we were going to do it up right… I love clothes and I love to shop for them so we had a great time picking out these items… About $1800 later we were ready to be dressed to the nines!!!

About an hour into our drive back to Louisville we were discussing what all we wanted to do that day… Go in the paddock area (not by it but walk round in it), Walk around all the levels that were restricted just see the décor, what people were wearing, who was there, etc… Derby was going to be a really exciting day for us!!! Then it hit me, What about Ready??? It was Friday morning the day of the Oaks, Ready never calls he just shows up on Thursday night… Did he come??? Did he have Mark’s number??? He did not know we were not going to be home???

Turns out that Ready did come up on Thursday night… He did not have Mark’s number so he slept in his truck in the driveway and was finally able to track Mark down late the next morning… We felt bad but it was also pretty funny…

We woke up early on Saturday morning, got all decked out and headed to the track… As we got near Churchill Downs I had the idea that we should just park somewhere outside of the track even though we had a pass to park in the lot… It would make our exit quicker… My wife said no we have a pass let’s park as close as we can…

As we entered the parking lot the attendant viewed my pass and waved us through… When we go to the first traffic divert the person viewed our pass, moved the temporary gate and we moved through while everyone else went to the right… This path continued through each divert until we pulled right up to the front entrance of the downs… We got out, people entering the track were obviously wondering who the hell we were and the valet attendant came out, took the car and off we went…

We entered through the pass gate and then walked around the first level… We got our bearings and then headed up the elevator… We got off on the third level and began walking around looking at the table set ups, the beautiful flower arrangements and how manicured and meticulous everything was for the day…

As we were walking around someone began yelling my name… We looked around and it was Union Counties finest citizen Billy Thompson who was a guy I worked and hew was decked out in his seersucker suit… I worked with Billy and his wife was an executive at a local bank so he got to go to the Derby every year at their expense… Not bad for a guy who used to work in the coal mines in Union County…

We then made are way up to the sixth which is Millionaire’s Row… The area was smaller then I thought it would be but each table had balcony access, a large private food buffet, it’s own betting windows, etc… We did not have an actual seat but we had access to the balconies which was without a doubt this was the spot to view the races for us that day…

There were not many people around when we got there so we just kind of looked around and stood out on the balcony gazing down on the track from the Heavens of Churchill Downs… The view was awesome… You could see the entire track and most of the surrounding area of Louisville looking South and West… While we standing out on the balcony gazing out to heavens a gentlemen came up and asked us who we were and why we were there… He then asked if he could take a couple of pictures of us out on the balcony and we agreed… At the time we did not know this was a photographer for the Courier Journal…

Later in the day a reporter from the CJ came and asked us who we were and why we were there and then the next day our picture was on the main page for the Derby with a little blurb of who we were and how we got there… It was kewl to have those five minutes of fame…

We spent most of the day on this floor observing the people, viewing the sights of the infield, drinking (two drinks with a tip was twenty dollars a pop) and betting an occasional race… With all of the distractions of the day it was really hard to handicap the races so we did win any money and we sure spent a hell of allot of it though… We loved our view and we loved the area we were in so we did not venture very far from our perch… We did see a few movie stars, sports figures and some very rich people and my wife and I fit right in with that crowd on this day…

What a Day!!!

We are planning to go back in the next couple of years with this level of access and this time we are going to be a little more adventurous and move around a bit more to take in all of the sights and sounds…

Derby Day 2007

Due to work and school commitments I was unable to put any Derby Picks out there before the race… I did finally handicap everything on Friday night before the races and here are my results…

First Race – Trifecta, Daily Double
Second Race – No Bets
Third Race – No Bets
Fourth Race – Trifecta
Fifth Race – Trifecta
Sixth Race – Had Tri and did not bet it (do not like Turf races), had the place horse across the board
Seventh Race- Horses ran 1, 2 & 4
Eighth Race – Horses ran 1, 3 & 4
Ninth Race – Did not bet (turf race)
Derby – Had Hard Spun to place

I had the Trfecta in the Derby and let the Courier Journal web page talk me out of betting it due to the fact that Curelin had not raced as a two year old… Not racing as a two-year-old means a horse does not win but can still run in the money… No Courier Journal for me next year…

This was a big day after a dry spell the last two years… How come??? This is the first year I did not have a derby party and was able to focus on handicapping and not worried about entertaining… For the day I ended up $103 to the good…

For the Preakness I bet Street Sense over all in an exacta ($16 bet) hoping a long shot would come in… The bet should have been a five-dollar Trifecta box ($30 bet) with Hard Spun, Curelin and Street Sense, which would have returned $125… I am learning!!!

I am disappointed that we will not have Triple Crown winner once again… This horse had a nice chance but was unable to overcome Curelin… The pundits say that jockey Calvin Borel made the move to soon with Street Sense… Could be the case but it did not look like the wrong time when he let the horse run… The trainer indicated that the horse had a tendency to slow up when not challenged and Curelin challenged late…

I heard someone say that one time that horses like people will speed up or slow down depending on who is running or not running with them… For example last night when I was running I heard someone running up behind me and I sped up until the person finally passed me at a much quicker pace…

Kentucky Wildcats Football

I will have to say that after attending UK’s Spring Practice I am as excited about UK Football as I have ever been going into a season… This is the opportunity that as a UK football fan I have waited for for many years… An opportunity!!! A good opportunity even if the even with a tough schedule…

A senior experienced quarterback, two solid and very experienced tailbacks, a third tailback who has speed and raw talent, two playmakers at wideout, an all SEC tight end and a defense that played well the last two games of the year with most of it’s personnel back… This could and should be a breakthrough year for this team…

First of all on defense… I like the new defensive coordinator Steve Brown and from what I hear the players like him too… This unit has depth and the opportunity to be a solid… The linebackers Woodyard, Micah Johnson and Johnny Williams should be solid and could be something special… The secondary still has some things to learn but have allot to build on from the end of last year...

The one thing I really liked about what I saw from the defense in this practice was how they moved around before the play… They were not just stationary and kept the offense on their toes… In today’s game of constant audibles it is just as important for the defense to think you are going to blitz, as it is to blitz…

On offense Andre Woodson proved last year that he has the tools and the talent and thanks to Coach Randy Sanders Andre has a breakout year… This offense should be exciting and as long as the group stays healthy and the issues on the offensive line can be addressed then this should be a great year for the offense…

I am going to withdraw any predictions I have made about this team to this point… I predict now that they will be very competitive!!!

Weekend Travels

My wife and I made a little road trip this Memorial Day weekend… We went to Fort Boonesborough and visited the replica of the fort (the original fort was about a mile down the road)… They were having trade fair there and with allot of people dressed in the traditional clothing of the 1700’s… They were making pottery, cooking on open fires and had allot of traditional items for sale… We also visited the forts original site and toured the completely restored lock house where the lock master lived for the dam…

After leaving there we went south on 75 got off at Berea and then took Highway 52 to Danville… Danville is the Home of Centre College and the town as well as the college is one the most beautiful places I have ever visited… Centre has stuck with the traditional architecture when buildings have been added and a wonderful sports complex that has a football field, baseball field a field hockey stadium, swimming pool (indoor) and a basketball arena with a nice training area that would could see surrounding the gymnasium... Centre is also one of the top 50 liberal arts colleges in the country and from what I have been told from people who attended there a great college experience (only about 1200 students)…

Centre a football powerhouse??? There is plaque beside the sports complex that honors coach Moran Banner who coached Centre to the 1921 National Championship…

Coach Banner was an assistant at the famed Carlisle Indian College in the early 1900’s under head coach Pop Warner… Carlisle was a powerhouse in the 1900’s under the tool age of coach Warner and was the home of famed running back Jim Thorpe… More on Carlisle later…

The 1921 Centre did not give up a point in the regular season and was named National Champions at the end of the year… They beat Clemson, VPI, St Xavier College, Transy, Kentucky, Auburn, Washington and Lee, Tulane and Arizona… In the middle of the season Centre beat the football powerhouse of the early 1900’s Harvard 6 to 0… A game that ESPN has said should rank as the biggest upset in college football of the first half of the 20th Century…

From 1919 to 1922 Centre was 44 and 5 with three of those losses coming to the powerhouse of Harvard (Georgia Tech and Texas A & M were the others)…

If you have not visited Danville and Centre College then you should add it to your list… The drive from Berea to Danville was beautiful and I recommend that route…

This summer my wife and I are going to day trip around the Commonwealth to see the sites…

Random Thoughts

- Although they do not get credit for it Carlisle Indian College was the first college team to use the forward pass and had quite a run during the time period of the 1910’s… There is a book by Sally Jenkins called the Real Americans that you should read to get the full story of Carlisle… To quote the author, “They were the first team that mastered and astounding array of trick plays, reverses, end arounds, flea flickers and the forward pass”… SI did a nice article on the one of the Carlisle teams a few weeks back…

- Henderson’s Will Fidler did not have a good day at QB for UK in the Spring Practice… You can tell he has allot to learn and was really shaky on his throws… If Pulley comes back and is your starter for two years at quarterback then Fidlers opportunity to start at quarterback for UK looks to be one year…

- Charles Barkley talked at great length the other night during an NBA game about a study that claimed the referees in the NBA are racist… The study indicated that the majority of the fouls called by white refs were on black players and that black players accounted the most fouls during the time period of the study… To quote Charles, “The guys who did this study are freaking idiots!!! Do they not realize that over 70% of the players in the NBA are black???” I like Barkley’s crude but honest approach to most issues…

- My St Louis Cardinals are in a funk… The death of Josh Hancock is a tragedy that creates a very difficult time for a team that was already struggling… Maybe this team has World Series hangover also... I think all the pieces are in place for a successful run… I would have liked to have seen the Cardinals not resign Preston Wilson or Jim Edmonds and taken that money to sign a proven free agent outfielder but I also like the loyalty they showed to these players… The NL Central is weak again this year and the Cardinals can still make a run…

- I got to hear Wookosh Orbzut on a local radio program for about and hour this week… He is a very intelligent person and has a great sense of humor… He has adapted really well to American Culture and loves living in the Commonwealth… I hope he is able to play professionally somewhere (I think there is allot of unearthed talent there) but I have no doubt he will be successful based on his demeanor and level of intelligence…

- UK is in a pinch when it comes to scheduling its Spring Game… Right now it is the Saturday of Thunder over Louisville and Lexington Stakes day at Keenland… This impacts the crowd… Friday night is a bad option due to the amount of people who travel from out in the state… The thing to do is do it a week later… This would help form a marketing standpoint… The Spring Game is NOT for the fans but for the team and coaches so however it works for them is the best thing…

- My fantasy baseball team the Scuffletown Mudcats have made there way into first place in the ShagOnSports league... The league has been very competitive and anyone of the tweleve teams could still make a run... I spent the first month in sixth to tenth place but started a run three weeks ago that took me to the top at least for one day... The key is no injuries!!! I have made a few nice moves and my stalwarts have been Calos Beltran, Kevin Youkalis, Victor Martinez, Aaron Hill, Shawn Green, JJ Hardy, Oliver Perez, Randy Wolf, AJ Burnett, Jason Israghausen and Tom Glavine... To this point I have had one player on the DL...

- After winning the first half of the Scuffletown Country Clubs fantasy golf league ShagOnGolf got off to a bad start in the second half and lost the overall lead to Rubbersoul... After this weekend Rubbersoul has a commanding second half lead but is only up ten points overall... Why do we play fantasy sports??? Sounds like a blog for a later date...


ShagOnMusic


Snow Patrol… That is the latest addition to my CD collection… They rock!!!