Unless you have been living under a rock, NFL fans and even non-fans should know by now that six time Super Bowl winning QB Tom Brady will be leaving the New England Patriots after 20 years with the team, when Free Agency starts on Wednesday, March 18, 2020 at 4pm, EST. To many fans of the New England Patriots, this comes as quite a shock, as many of them grew up only knowing Tom Brady as the quarterback for their team. However, for many astute fans of the team, who were paying close attention, this moment was not much of a surprise and the writing was on the wall during many points during the season.
There was the disastrous Antonio Brown experiment, and Josh Gordon’s issues leaving the team with a dearth of wide receivers. The trade for former Atlanta Falcons WR Mohammed Sanu didn’t go well, as he had a hard time learning the system and was hampered by a high ankle sprain. The only dependable receiver, WR Julian Edelman, was injured virtually the entire season. The offensive line was in tatters, and you could see Brady’s frustrations bubbling in his press conferences and in interviews. He also negotiated a contract prior to this last season, where the team could not put the franchise tag or transition tag, and he could go test free agency. He announced on Social Media that he is leaving the Patriots and thanked the Patriots organization and the fans. An extraordinary era in not only the history of a franchise, but in the NFL, has ended.
Tom Brady is my all time favorite NFL player and my all time favorite quarterback and I have seen many greats in my 40 plus years as a fan. Tom Brady is the G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time). I have had the pleasure of seeing Tom Brady play in person many times and he is everything the experts, his teammates and even his opponents say that he is. Brady is like a surgeon, when he operates that offense. I love how he builds confidence in his teammates. I was at the game in Cleveland, OH in Week 5 of 2016, when Brady returned from that ridiculous suspension, and what a show he put on. Brady put on a clinic by marching down that field and scoring at will against the Browns. I knew immediately that this team was winning the Super Bowl and win it, they did. 28-3, anyone?
Tom Brady, this Patriots fan wants to thank you for all the great thrills you gave us. You took the Patriots from being a middling franchise at the time to being the class of the NFL. What a thrill ride you gave us. I still remember the “Snow Ball” Game, where you lead us into that famous OT win over the Oakland Raiders to send the Patriots to their first Super Bowl of the Brady Era, Super Bowl 36. I remember your leading the Patriots down the field in that very Super Bowl, so then Patriots K Adam Vinatieri kicks the winning FG to defeat QB Kurt Warner and the favored St. Louis Rams to kick off the Patriots Dynasty. I can still see your looking for your sisters in the stands in my mind. What great memories for us fans to cherish.
Thank you, Tom Brady for leading the Patriots to eight more Super Bowls. with five more wins. I loved how you out-dueled Panthers QB Jake Delhomme and the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 38 and defeated QB Donovan McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles in Super 39. Of course, even though the year didn’t end like we Pats fans wanted it, I will always appreciate your brilliant MVP 2007 season. I thank you for the great comeback in Super Bowl 49 against the Seattle Seahawks. Of course, then Patriots CB Malcolm Butler did help seal the deal. Thank you for all of these great moments and I especially thank you for the greatest comeback since Lazarus. I am, of course, referring to Super Bowl 51, when you brought the Patriots all the way back from a 25 point deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons in the first OT in a Super Bowl. The score was 28-3 and I remember how many people thought the team was left for dead. I figured as long as you were behind center, the team had a chance. That one scamper you made in the 3rd quarter of that Super Bowl to get the first down was awesome and when you threw the TD to make the score 28-9, I knew you would bring the Lombardi back to New England and you certainly did. Super Bowl 53 against the Los Angeles Rams was just icing on the cake. That throw to Gronkowski was just legendary.
To Tom, I would finally like to thank you for your charity and your integrity and grace under pressure. For those who don’t know, Tom Brady has been involved in various charities, like Best Buddies, the Boys and Girls Club of America and other charities. Brady has also shown a lot of poise and grace under pressure, especially when he suffered the ACL injury and also during the 18 month saga, where the NFL pretty much tried to smear him and destroy his good name over missing molecules of air in a football, thanks to the weather. I have never seen a sports league go out of its way to purposely attempt to discredit and destroy its best player, like what the NFL did to Brady, with the help of the mainstream media, particularly ESPN. I admired how Brady was able to hold it together and was able to lead the Patriots to the 2015 AFC Championship Game, during all the appeals and such. Of course, we all know that he wound up serving the most absurd suspension ever given to an athlete for anything for the first 4 games of the 2016 Season. We all know what happened for the Patriots, right? Psst. 28-3. Oh, did I also mention that Tom Brady was the Super Bowl MVP?
It will definitely be different in Foxborough next NFL season. I mean, to see Tom Brady in a different uniform next season will be jarring, to say the least. Who will be under center for the Patriots next year? Will it be QB Jason Stidham? Will it be a newly drafted QB? Will it be a signed veteran? We will have to see. After 20 years of saying, “Belichick and Brady,” and “Brady and Belichick,” it will take awhile to say, “Belichick and….”
I conclude this blog by simply saying, “Thank you, Mr. Tom Brady.” “Thank you for everything.”
Before I start my concert review, I want to wish all my readers a Happy Valentine’s Day, no matter if you are married, dating, in a committed relationship or single. It doesn’t matter if it is just you and your furry/hoofed friend. I hope everyone has a great Valentine’s Day with whomever you love, and that person “will be made for loving you,” and your day will be “just like paradise.” With that, I will segue with the review of the incredible concert I experienced at Lexington, KY’s Rupp Arena last night on February 13, 2020, when KISS on their “End of the Road” Tour (EOTR, from now on) and opening act, former lead singer and frontman Diamond David Lee Roth put on a rocking show.
PRE-SHOW MEET AND GREET WITH KISS
I went to the Will Call window and got my ticket and pass/wristband for the KISS Meet and Greet. I went to my seat and watched some of David Lee Roth’s set. At about 7:45, I started going towards the area where I and an a whole bunch of folks were going to be escorted to get our photos with the band. I certainly didn’t want to be late, as I had to be at the meeting place by 8. I got down to the area, and heard and watched David Lee Roth finish his set.
We all get in line, and a bunch of people with wristbands with red and blue dots got in line first. I am guessing they were either the VIP or Ultra VIP. Anyway, whatever, I was very excited, and a little nervous, as I had a present for KISS lead guitarist Tommy Thayer, one of my two favorites in the current lineup, along with Eric Singer, the drummer. It was a keychain made from wood from the White Star Liner R.M.S. Olympic, older sister of the R.M.S Titanic, an actual artifact from https://www.whitestarlines.co.uk/ , which sells actual artifacts from the Titanic, her sisters and from other liners, like Cunard. At the 2019 Indianapolis KISS Expo, back in May, Tommy Thayer and I got into a few discussions about the Titanic. A First Class passenger named John Borland Thayer II, his wife Marian and their son, Jack Thayer III sparked our conversation, so I thought this gift would be pretty cool, especially since the wood from Titanic’s sister ship and this particular ship, the R.M.S. Olympic also served in WW1 as a troop ship. Tommy, as are the rest of the band, a huge supporter of the military, as his late father was a war hero in WW2.
Anyway, a couple of people I knew from KISS Expos were ahead of me and they got their photos with the band. I was waiting for my photo and KISS manager Doc McGhee recognized me as did their bodyguard. I am watching the proceedings and Tommy sees me and waves to me. That was nice that he remembered me from all those times that he met me. My turn comes and I know I have to talk fast, so I give him the present and tell him about the keychain while showing him my own keychain, as I own one myself. Oh my goodness, you should have seen the look on his face when I told him that the wood was from the R.M.S. Olympic, the sister to the R.M.S. Titanic. He said, with amazement, “Are you serious?” I said, “Yeah.” So, I wrapped my arms around him for my photo and he said, “Aww. Sweet.” After the photo, I told him how I would miss him and I HUGGED HIM!!!!!” Yes, I HUGGED TOMMY THAYER. I gave Gene and Paul fist bumps, and I said a quick hello to Eric Singer and gave him a hug and showed him the gift really fast and had to scoot. What an experience.
DAVID LEE ROTH’S SET
David Lee Roth was my first rock concert ever. I saw him in Pittsburgh, PA as a freshman at Carnegie Mellon University in September of 1986. He had the formidable Billy Sheehan on bass, Gregg Bissonette on drums and Steve Vai, who became my all time favorite guitarist. Now, much has been made about his voice at his Las Vegas show, recently. I was a little concerned, but at last night’s show, he did a very good job, vocally. Roth was working the crowd. Roth was still a hell of a showman. He was doing his kicks, of course, not like he used to do, but it was awesome. The band was awesome, performing Van Halen classics like “Ain’t Talking ‘Bout Love,” “Running With The Devil,” and “Jamie’s Crying.” David Lee Roth also performed some of his own stuff like “Tobacco Road” and “Just Like Paradise.” The only slight complaint that I had was that I wish “Just A Gigalo/Ain’t Got Nobody” was somewhere in the middle of the set, rather at the end. I thought “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love” should have been the closing number, but that is just my opinion. I loved seeing David Lee Roth and his set took me back to a lot of good memories.
What hasn’t been said about KISS that hasn’t been said? KISS is one of the greatest live acts that you will ever see, and boy, did they prove it last night at Rupp Arena. I know in my review of the March 12, 2019 EOTR Louisville stop, that it would be my final show, but when they were coming to my adopted hometown of Lexington, KY, I had to be there. I am glad I did, because this was a great show and even better than their Louisville show.
As in all their shows, KISS had the usual pyrotechnics, bombs and fire. Gene Simmons did his blood spitting and fire breathing routines. There was a great spot during the blood spitting act, which happens right after Gene’s little bass solo, before “God of Thunder,” when after he spit, Simmons said something to the effect of “God is on stage,” or something like that. It was very funny. Gene was pretty animated during this show. He threw a white, bloodied towel to someone, as well.
Anyway, Paul did his usual stage antics, like divide the crowd and have his “which side can be the loudest” contest. He did that a couple of times. Paul went out over the crowd to his little stage for “Love Gun” and “I Was Made For Loving You.” Eric Singer, who has been with KISS on and off since 1992, did his drum solo while going up in the air, and played the piano during “Beth,” with the guys coming out like on the Paul Lynde “Halloween Special,” back in 1976. Lead guitarist Tommy Thayer, who has been the band’s lead guitarist since 2002, did his guitar solo and shot rockets into the flying saucers on stage.
Musically, KISS sounded awesome, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer, in particular. Gene Simmons played very well, and I was really hearing his bass-lines. I know Simmons gets a lot of grief for his stage image, but the man really can lay down those bass lines. However, Eric Singer really drives that band forward and was amazing last night. Singer, after all these years, still has that attack, skill and is also a very entertaining drummer. Paul Stanley sang well, and was in good voice.
Tommy Thayer has really come into his own, though. Thayer was on fire all night. He played all the classic leads in songs like “Detroit, Rock City,” “Cold Gin,” and the newly added “Parasite.” Thayer was tremendous playing those licks and leads that original lead guitarist Ace Frehley had written and laid down. Ace Frehley also wrote “Cold Gin” and “Parasite,” as well, so as a big Ace Frehley fan, I was THRILLED that “Parasite” was added to the set. Thayer also has become an awesome showman. I was amazed at his playing to the crowd, and his getting the crowd going. It was very fun seeing him throwing picks to the fans and interacting with them.
Other than the previously mentioned “Parasite,” the only other song that was different was “Tears Are Falling” from 1985’s “Asylum.” It was nice to see the 1980’s era, featuring the lineup of former KISS guitarist Bruce Kulick and late drummer Eric Carr being represented. The rest of KISS’ set list included the usual suspects, such as “Detroit, Rock City,” “Deuce,” “Love Gun,” etc., and concluded with the anthem, “Rock and Roll All Nite,” with pyrotechnics and tons of confetti.
It was a fabulous night. I will never forget it. Thank you, KISS.
This blog is dedicated to the late NBA legend Kobe Bean Bryant, his daughter Gianna and the seven others who perished in a helicopter crash on January 26, 2020. My thoughts and prayers are with them and their families and friends at this difficult time.
Tomorrow, February 2, 2020, Super Bowl 54 will take place in Miami between the San Francisco 49ers vs the Kansas City Chiefs. Even though this blog is NOT about this year’s contest, I will make a brief prediction. This game is pretty much a contest of strength vs strength. Can the 49ers’ defense, led by DE Nick Bosa and the wily veteran DB Richard Sherman stifle the red hot offense of the Chiefs led by QB Patrick Mahomes and TE Travis Kelce? There is the old adage, “Offense puts butts in the seats, but defense wins championships.” However, as much as a former 49er fan, who still has a sweet spot for them, who would like to see the 49ers take home their sixth trophy, I think that the Chiefs have way too much firepower, unless Andy Reid turns Andy Reid. Reid’s bringing in former Philadelphia Eagles QB Donavon McNabb in for a pep-talk doesn’t bode well, but I think the Chiefs win. Chiefs 35-24.
The Super Bowl that this blog WILL be discussing is Super Bowl 49. Five years ago today, on February 1, 2015, the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks were playing in Super Bowl 49 against the New England Patriots, and lost to the Patriots by a score of 28-24, thanks in part to eventual Super Bowl MVP Patriots QB Tom Brady leading his team back from a ten point deficit and an unheralded and undrafted rookie defensive back named Malcolm Butler making a game saving interception in the endzone, when Seattle Seahawk coach Pete Carroll called for a pass play on 2nd and 1, intended for Seahawks WR Ricardo Lockette, sealing the win for the Patriots. The media and fans immediately blamed Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll for what was called “the worst call in Super Bowl history,” for the loss to the Patriots, as many felt he should have had his QB Russell Wilson hand the ball off to star RB Marshawn Lynch.
In this blog, I will be giving some reasons why you can NOT blame Pete Carroll’s decision to not run Marshawn Lynch at the goal line for the loss of Super Bowl 49. I will be using the format of an old ESPN television show called, “The Top Five Reasons You Can’t Blame..” For those who have never heard of the show, before ESPN became what I call a “hot take” machine and a Network which pushed certain agendas, ESPN channels ESPN 2 and ESPN Classics, used to have a show called, “The Top Five Reasons You Can’t Blame, which ran from April 2005 to April 2007.” Brian Kenny was the host of this show, which tackled sports controversies, by examining them in an entirely new light. This show would pretty much challenge conventional wisdom or what we now call “narratives” about people, known for their mistakes and controversial moments, by giving the case against the subject and then lists the top five reasons why the subject is not to be blamed. Reasons that did not make the cut were considered, “the best of the rest.” Such episodes were, “Top Five Reasons You Can’t Blame Steve Bartman for the Cubs 2003 Collapse.” (https://youtu.be/D6RPHVF-mko) and since this subject will be about a Super Bowl loss, “Top Five Reasons You Can’t Blame the Buffalo Bills for Losing Four Straight Super Bowls (https://youtu.be/byITM43MdDA ).
So, I hope you will enjoy this blog, as much as I liked writing it. I hope that you will be able to put what happened into a different perspective. Like the show’s format, I will be giving the case against Pete Carroll, and giving the reasons that didn’t make the cut and the five reasons you can’t blame Coach Carroll’s decision to not run Marshawn Lynch for the Seattle Seahawks’ losing Super Bowl 49.
A Quick Summary of Super Bowl 49 and the Incident Itself.
Leading up to Coach Pete Carroll’s fateful decision, in the middle of the second quarter of Super Bowl 49, the New England Patriots score first with QB Tom Brady throw a touchdown to Brandon LaFell. The extra point is good by Stephen Gostowski and the Patriots lead 7-0. The Seattle Seahawks tie up the game close the two minute warning when RB Marshawn Lynch scores a touchdown. Score is 7-7. With 36 seconds left in the first half, Tom Brady throws a touchdown to TE Rob Gronkowski. Score is 14-7 in favor of the Patriots. Due to defensive break downs by the Patriots, with 6 seconds to go in the first half, the Seahawks QB Russell Wilson connects with WR Chris Matthews with a touchdown and the score is tied, 14-14.
The second half starts and the Seahawks receive the ball and take a three point lead on a Steven Hauschka field goal, making it a 17-14 score in favor of the Seattle Seahawks. Additionally, with about 5 minutes to go in the Third Quarter, the Seahawks extend their lead to 10 points with a touchdown from Wilson to WR Doug Baldwin, who also got a 15 yard penalty for Unsportsmanlike Conduct. The score is now 24-14, in favor of the Seahawks. In the Fourth Quarter, with 8 minutes to, Patriots QB Tom Brady cuts the Seahawks’ lead to 3 with a touchdown throw to WR Danny Amendola. The score is now, 24-21, in favor of the Seahawks. Brady then put the Patriots in front, by a score of 28-24, with a touchdown to WR Julian Edelman at the 2:06 mark in the Fourth Quarter.
Now, we get to the incident. At the 2:02 mark, at Seattle’s 20 Yard Line, Seahawks QB Russell Wilson completes a 31 yard pass to Marshawn Lynch, who takes it 31 yards. The Seahawks took their first timeout after an incomplete pass to Jermaine Kearse. The next completed pass goes to WR Ricardo Lockette at the 1:49 mark for 11 yards. At the 1:14 mark, Jermaine Kearse catches a pass for 33 yards and the Seahawks take another time out. This particular catch was known as the “basket catch,” and more on this later. At the 1:06 mark, RB Marshawn Lynch runs for 4 yards from the New England 5 Yard Line and gets up to the New England 1 yard line, but is stopped by Donte’ Hightower. Carroll calls for a pass play on second down at the New England 1 and the following happens: https://youtu.be/U7rPIg7ZNQ8
The Case Against Pete Carroll
The case against Pete Carroll that the majority of pundits on shows like ESPN, Youtubers, bloggers and internet fans make can be summed up by the name of one man. His name is Marshawn Lynch. After all, Lynch, or “Beast Mode,” as he is nicknamed, was very dependable and had been virtually unstoppable in the goal-line situation, especially during Super Bowl 49. After all, it took all that Patriots’ LB Donta Hightower had to make that play to stop Lynch from scoring the go-ahead touchdown. Some even suggested that Carroll should have used Lynch as a decoy, so Wilson could run a bootleg and score. No way should the Seahawks have passed. If you had listened to NBC announcer Cris Collinsworth, he immediately condemned the play-call.
Now, my readers, you have read about the game and the incident. You have read the case AGAINST Coach Pete Carroll’s decision to not run Marshawn Lynch at the goal line, causing the Seahawks to lose Super Bowl 49. Let’s examine some factors that are in his favor. These are choices that just missed the cut, and they’re the “best of the rest.”
The Best of the Rest
Repeat that, please?
Not since the New England Patriots, with their 2003-04 and 2004-05 Super Bowl teams, has a team won back to back titles. It is a difficult feat to get to a Super Bowl and harder to win it. It is even a tougher task to get back and win it again, because of various reasons, such as free agency, injuries to key players during the season and many other factors. Also, as defending champion, you are getting every team’s best shot, so if you are fortunate to get to a second consecutive Super Bowl, your opponent is going to give you their best shot. The Patriots certainly did not play like they were scared of Seattle, despite all the media touting the Seahawks as a potential new “Dynasty” and the second coming of the “Steel Curtain.”
The Legion of Boom were Busted Up.
In the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers, then Seahawks CB Richard Sherman came out of the game with an elbow injury, but fully practiced during Super Bowl week. Safety Earl Thomas fully practiced with a shoulder injury and Safety Kam Chancellor was a late edition with a knee. Even though they played, I was sure they were not 100% and that was a contributing factor as to why the Patriots offense for about 3/4ths of the game was able to march up and down the field on the “Legion of Boom.” Even when Brady uncharacteristically threw two interceptions, it was bad news for the Legion of Boom. CB Jeremy Lane, who intercepted the first ball, got injured and his backup, Tharold Simon (first name is not a typo) was just abused by Brady and Cliff Avril also suffered a concussion, when he intercepted Brady.
Now, onto the countdown
Reason #5: The Green Bay Packers
The 2014 NFC Championship Game was played in Seattle between the Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers. Even though Packers QB Aaron Rodgers was still battling a bad calf, the team had plenty of chances to knock off the defending Super Bowl Champions. I mean, this team had the Seahawks on the ropes. They should have beaten the Seahawks. If Rodgers had been healthy, or had then head coach Mike McCarthy called a better game or had Brandon Bostick had done his job with that onside kick, in my view, the Packers would have won, and gone onto the Super Bowl. Therefore, Pete Carroll would not have even HAD to have made that fateful decision.
If reason #5 didn’t convince you, let’s try this one.
Reason #4:The Mirage of David Tyree or Lightning Fails to Strike Twice
Super Bowl 49 took place at the University of Phoenix Stadium. This is the same stadium where in Super Bowl 42, the 2007 Patriots saw their hopes of a perfect season dashed, thanks in part to the famous David Tyre “Helmet Catch,” as shown in the video: https://youtu.be/CxiHMIM4NWI .The “Helmet Catch” put the New York Giants in position for the now retired QB Eli Manning to throw the game-winning TD to WR Plaxico Burress. Likewise, in Super Bowl 49, at least in the minds of the Patriots and their fans, it was deja vu all over again, as Seattle Seahawks WR Jermaine Kearse made a similar catch, known as the “Basket Catch,” as demonstrated in the following video: https://youtu.be/fKOLqM-LnA0 . While the “Basket Catch” was able to get the Seahawks in position to win the game, had Malcolm Butler not been able to tackle Kearse, Kearse would have been able to pretty much walk into the endzone. If Kearse walks into the endzone, again, coach Carroll never makes that decision.
Are you starting to change your mind? Let’s try this one for size.
Reason #3: The Final Countdown
I am not referring to that dreadful song by the band Europe. I am referring to what “down” the team was on. When Carroll made that fateful decision, it was only 2nd down. This was a four down situation. They were down by four points. To win the game, the Seahawks had to score a touchdown. The Patriots were in a goal line defense, and just by the skin of their collective teeth had just stopped Marshawn Lynch on the first down play. Why not try a pass?
Reason #2: The Game was not over, yet.
After the Malcolm Butler interception, the Patriots were assessed a celebration penalty for getting on the field. They were backed up on their own endzone with 20 seconds left. The Seattle Seahawks defense could have done some damage in that 20 seconds. DE Michael Bennett, who unfortunately for the Seahawks was penalized for encroachment, could have wrecked havoc on the Patriots offensive line and had gotten to Brady, like he had all game and had gotten to the ball. Bennett and the other defenders could have maybe got possession of the ball and scored for a touchdown or at least get the ball back for Seattle.
Here is Reason #1…
Reason #1: The New England Patriots were the better team.
Patriots players said all Super Bowl week how they had to prepare for the Seahawks. In one of his press conference, Patriots QB Tom Brady said that he “never had to watch so much film in his life.” Brady had a monster game against the Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom,” with 4 touchdowns against 2 interceptions and threw for 328 yards. Brady was named MVP of the Super Bowl. TE Rob Gronkowski, wide receivers Julian Edelman, and Danny Amendola not only scored touchdowns, but made crucial catches that helped move the chains for the Patriots offense. As I previously mentioned, the Patriots offense just had their way with the Seahawks defense.
The Patriots defense also came through at critical moments, especially LB Donta Hightower in making that incredible stop at the 1 yard line, in preventing Marshawn Lynch from scoring in the first place. As for Malcolm Butler interception, he made a great play. The man made a great play that swung the win probability from the Seahawks’ direction to the Patriots’ direction in seconds. This play is arguably the greatest play in NFL history for that reason alone. You can’t blame Carroll for not running Lynch, because he was up against a better team that day.
So, there you have it. Those are my top five reasons you CAN’T blame Pete Carroll’s decision to not run Marshawn Lynch at the goal line on the Seahawk’s losing Super Bowl 49. I hope that you will consider some of what I said and will give Pete Carroll a break. Feedback is welcome and encouraged.
There have been very few occasions when the loss of a favorite celebrity, or as the subject of this blog suggests, a racehorse, has moved me to tears. I am talking about openly weeping. I think the passing of the brilliant Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury was the last time I openly wept over a human celebrity’s passing. Yes, I was very upset to hear about the most recent passing of the equally brilliant Rush drummer Neil Peart, but I was more shocked and saddened. As far as racehorses go, when my all-time favorite racehorse Alydar tragically died on November 15, 1990, that was the last time I openly wept. His passing still hurts today, nearly 30 years later. Other than that, I hardly wept openly over any celebrity’s passing, human or equine.
Today, January 20, 2020, at about 12:30 PM, EST or so, that all changed as I read one of the worst pieces of news ever on Facebook. I had a sick feeling this morning, when I got up, that something awful was going to happen today, but I had no idea that what I read was going to be this awful, to the point where I just lost it and bawled like a baby. What I read was that horrible. I still can’t believe it, as I write about it.
On Saturday, January 18, 2020, one of my all time favorite racehorses and stallions, Empire Maker, had passed away from “a rare disease that compromised his immune system.” (https://www.thoroughbreddailynews.com/empire-maker-dies/) Empire Maker was 20 years old, as of January 1st, as North American born racehorses have their official birthdays on that date, even though Empire Maker’s actual birthday is April 27, 2000. I also wish to extend my heartfelt prayers and condolences to Gainesway Farm, Don Alberto Farm, his former jockey Jerry Bailey and especially the staff at Gainesway who saw him and worked with him every day.
Empire Maker’s passing has hit me so hard, because he was my 2003 Kentucky Derby pick. Empire Maker’s sire, Unbridled, was one of my all time favorite horses and Derby winners. I was a huge fan of Empire Maker’s trainer, Bobby Frankel. Being originally from the NY/NJ area, like Bobby Frankel, I always loved his brash attitude and the man was also a hell of a trainer. At the time that Frankel had Empire Maker in his barn for Juddmonte Farms, which owned the horse, Frankel had won just about the majority of the major stakes races, with the exception of the three Triple Crown races, the Kentucky Derby (G1), the Preakness(G1), and the Belmont Stakes (G1).
I felt that the lack of a Triple Crown race win was an unfair knock on the Hall of Fame trainer. However, as most racing fans know, Empire Maker finished second in the 2003 Derby to Funny Cide, skipped the Preakness and played spoiler in the Belmont, defeating Ten Most Wanted by about 3/4th of a length, with Funny Cide, who was going for the Triple Crown, back in third, giving Bobby Frankel his Triple Crown race at last. Besides the Belmont Stakes, at 3, Empire Maker won the Wood Memorial (G1) and the Florida Derby (G1).
Retired to stud at Juddmonte Farm, after a second place finish in the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2), Empire Maker has become a great sire. Some of Empire Maker’s offspring are the late champion mare, Royal Delta, Sky Kingdom, Pioneerof the Nile and Bodemeister. Empire Maker stood for five seasons in Japan at the Shizunai Stallion Station, where he sired runners, such as Power Gal (JPN) and Eterna Minoru (Jpn), a Group 3 winner, before being repatriated back to the United States to Gainesway Farm in an equal partnership with Don Alberto Stable.
Empire Maker has become a great sire of sires, as his late son, Pioneerof the Nile sired the great American Pharoah, who not only won the first Triple Crown in 37 years in 2015 and also won the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic, thus winning the “Grand Slam,” but he lead the 2019 First Crop Sire list. Pioneerof the Nile also sired 2YO Champion Classic Empire, as well. Bodemeister, who now stands in Turkey, sired Always Dreaming, the 2017 Kentucky Derby winner. I want to add that Empire Maker’s daughters are becoming influential to the breed. Seperationofpowers and Outwork are good examples of this.
Empire Maker, no doubt has had a huge part in shaping the breed, and leaves a great legacy, as well as continues the legacy of his sire, Unbridled. The sport will miss him, as will the staff at Gainesway Farm, who worked with him every day. I certainly will miss him terribly, when I go to the Open Houses that Gainesway graciously hosts. I remember how Empire Maker loved to play with the chain and when I took photos of him, there were times where he would pose and give me great shots. There were times, where he was just not having any of it and gave me some of the goofiest looks. It was during the January Open Houses, where he was a bit goofy. The grooms said that on a nice, warm sunny day, he’d stay out there all day, but when it was cold, he’d want to go back inside. Well, I could not blame Empire Maker a bit. After all, he was the ruler of his empire. He was a sweet boy, as well. The last time I ever saw him at an Open House was in November of 2019 and I got to pet him and, give him some attention. I even got my photo with him. God, do I love this horse.
On January 17, 2020, the day before Empire Maker would sadly pass, I did go to Gainesway’s Open House. I knew I wouldn’t get to see him, but I felt his presence somehow. I knew I was on the same grounds as he was. Little did I know that God was going to call Empire Maker home the following day.
Thank you, Empire Maker for shaping this breed. Thank you for American Pharoah. Without you, there would be no American Pharoah. Most of all, Empire Maker, thank you for making fans like myself so happy, either on the track, or by getting to see you at Gainesway. I miss you very much. Until we meet again, thank you for everything, Empire Maker.
Week 13 of the 2019-20 NFL season has come and gone. That means the 32 NFL teams are at the three quarter pole in the season, to use a racing term. We are at the point of the season where fans and experts have to keep up with which of the playoff contenders can clink playoff spots and seeds, etc. I jokingly call this point of the season, “NFL headache” season, because trying to keep up with all the scenarios gives me a “headache.”
Much has gone on during the NFL season, up to this point. There have been the usual and the unusual happenings during the season. In this blog, I will be discussing all that has been going on up to this point, by giving you the ups and the downs of the season, emphasizing the more recent events. I hope you will enjoy this blog. Feedback is welcomed and encouraged.
Lamar Jackson’s leading the MVP race.
Baltimore’s dynamic QB Lamar Jackson, who played for the University of Louisville, has been amazing. I can not find anymore words to describe this wonderful player. Jackson makes great throws with his arms and is dangerous when he runs out of the pocket. Even though he was held to 105 passing yards against the San Francisco 49ers, Jackson made great plays with his legs and lead his team down the field for the game winning field goal, kicked by Justin Tucker.
I do agree with the experts that Lamar Jackson is an outstanding player. I am not trying to take that away from him. What concerns me with Jackson is how the experts say, “Jackson has changed the game.” Well, they said that about the following quarterbacks: Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs), Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers), Michael Vick *(Atlanta Falcons), Robert Griffin III* (Washington Redskins) and Randall Cunningham*(Philadelphia Eagles), as well. Well, Jackson has a very similar style to the QBs I mentioned. Some of these quarterbacks suffered serious injuries because of the way they played. I also would like to know if Jackson can last 15 years, like Saints QB Drew Brees, Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, Patriots QB Tom Brady, etc., playing the style of quarterback the way he does. He is fun to watch. I just hope he can last.
*= As these quarterbacks played on multiple teams, I just mentioned the teams that drafted them.
Richard Sherman pays off school lunch debt.
This is a bit of an off the field newsbit, but San Francisco 49ers DB Richard Sherman paid $27,000 in student lunch debt to two schools, one in California and the other in Washington State, per ABC News’ website. Per the article, Sherman “gave the principal at Cabrillo Middle School in Santa Clara, California, a “personal check” for $7,491.27 to clear the cafeteria’s outstanding bill” on November 23rd. The day prior, Sherman received the NFLPA’s award as Week 11 Community MVP. Sherman won the award for his work with his organizations, the Richard Sherman Family Foundation and Blanket Coverage Foundation. Last month, Sherman gave over $20,000 to the Tacoma Public Schools to wipe out the students’ lunch debt.
First of all, I think this is a great gesture by Sherman. We fans, bloggers and all need to hear and report more positive news about the players and what they do for the community. I think it is wonderful to see Richard Sherman paying off the debts, so kids can get their school lunches. Great job, Mr. Sherman.
Carolina Panthers fire head coach Ron Rivera.
First, Washington fired Jay Gruden in-season, now the Carolina Panthers shockingly fired head coach Ron Rivera on December 3rd, with four games left. I had a sick feeling that Rivera would be fired, but I thought it would be after the season. I knew that he was in trouble, when the Panthers lost to the aforementioned Washington team, but I didn’t think he’d be fired. What also hurt him was missing the playoffs in the last few years, and I don’t think QB Cam Newton’s health, or rather, the lack of it, helped Rivera’s case at all. I am pretty sure when other job openings come up at the end of the season, Rivera’s name will pop up. I wish him the best.
The Cleveland Browns are nothing but clowns.
Remember all the pre-season hype about the Cleveland Browns? You had all the ESPN and FS1 experts and hot takers putting them in the playoffs and in the Super Bowl. Some called them the best team in the AFC, before a regular season game was even played, based on all the talent the team had. Well, there is a book by Geoffrey Colvin named, ” Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else.” The main point of the book is that people who are great at their craft, such as New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, the late Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Chuck Noll, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady and Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers become great not because of their natural talent, but because they are diligent at practicing their craft. It is their discipline to perfecting their craft that that makes them great at what they do. The same goes for geniuses like composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig Van Beethoven, etc.
The Cleveland Browns DO have talent, if you look at the team. They have QB Baker Mayfield, two talented WRs in Odell Beckham Jr., and Jarvis Landry, and a very talented defense. However, this team can not seem to put it all together. The main reason is that they create too many penalties and judging from that melee with the Pittsburgh Steelers on national television, which saw their star defender, Myles Garrett, suspended for the rest of the 2019 season at the very least, the Browns are a very undisciplined team in general. Unless you have been living under a rock, Garrett has been suspended, because he hit Steelers QB Mason Rudolph in the head with Rudolph’s own helmet, which Garrett ripped off in said melee.
This all comes back to coaching. Freddie Kitchens, who is the head coach of the Cleveland Browns needed to be fired, yesterday. This man has no business being a head coach. The man’s decision making is horrendous. Against the New England Patriots, Kitchens had the offense take a 5 yard penalty, making it 4th and 16, claiming it would make it easier on the offense to convert, as he “didn’t want to take a timeout.” On the play, Mayfield got sacked, and the hapless Browns lost all chance to make a comeback. I still, to this day, could not believe he did that. More recently, Kitchens and his family went to see the new film, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” about Mr. Rodgers, who was based in Pittsburgh. At the behest of one of his daughters, Kitchens wore a sweatshirt stating, “Pittsburgh started it,” referring to the melee. As everyone knows, the Steelers “ended it,” by defeating the Browns in their Week 13 rematch. Kitchens should have known better than to wear such a shirt. It looked unprofessional on his part. He needs to go.
Please, NFL. Ditch the Pass Interference (PI) rule.
I am just joking now, but boy, do I want to strangle Saints head coach Sean Payton, the New Orleans Saints front office and anyone with Saints gear on. This Pass Interference rule has to go. I don’t get it. If teams are going to be able to challenge PI, I would like to know how “clear and obvious” does the PI have to be for Al Riveron, the Senior Vice President of Officiating of the NFL, to overturn it? One example was during the Week 11 meeting between the Baltimore Ravens and the Houston Texans, Baltimore CB Marlon Humphrey appeared to have committed a textbook example of defensive pass interference against Houston WR D’Andre Hopkins, which wasn’t called. The Texans challenged and lost. I watched the replay over and over, and it surely looked like pass interference to me. I wondered if Riveron and the refs were the Three Blind Mice.
I really don’t understand why this rule exists at all. As we NFL fans know, pass interference is a judgement call. Referees are already under pressure to get these call right, and they are ruining the game as it is with many of these ticky tack calls. Let’s face it. That call that went against the Saints in that NFC Championship game was horrible. No one is disputing this. However, earlier in the game, the Saints got away with a facemask penalty, when one of their defenders grabbed Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff by his facemask.
Besides, good teams overcome bad calls. If you remember, the bad no-call happened at the end of the FOURTH QUARTER of said NFC Championship game. The game also went into OVERTIME, if people remember. The Saints STILL had a chance to overcome the bad call by marching down the field in overtime and scoring the TD, and the game would have been over, and the Saints would have gone to SB53. What happened? Saints QB Drew Brees threw an INT, and we all know the rest.
My point is that I just didn’t see the need for a rule change, just because the NFL decided to overreact to an obviously bad call.
Tom Brady bashing is a cottage industry.
Well, when the New England Patriots lost to the Houston Texans in their Week 13 matchup, it was as predictable as KISS ending their shows with “Rock and Roll All Night.” The Tom Brady bashing cottage industry was up and running. You had Shannon Sharpe on FS1 saying, “Brady’s mediocre.” You had Max Kellerman spewing his usual nonsense. FS1’s Nick Wright spews such stupidity about Tom Brady that it’s not even WORTH writing about. The Boston media, and even some fans are even slamming the man who has led this team to 9 Super Bowl appearances and has won 6 titles.
Tom Brady has to be the most hated and envied athlete in sports, or at least ONE of them. Much of the stuff being said about him this season is intellectually dishonest. I mean, he is being blamed for the offensive woes in New England. Let’s discuss this. The receiving core all season has been outright horrendous. WR Josh Gordon didn’t work out, and is now in Seattle. The team could not replace the now-retired TE Rob Gronkowski, who is sorely missed. Unless you are living under a rock, WR Antonio Brown lasted 9 days with the team, because he and his representatives did not tell the Patriots that a lawsuit could possibly be coming and the guy could not stay off social media for five minutes, figuratively speaking. Brown’s taking shots at Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s legal issues did not help him, either.
Let’s see. Brady is throwing to WR Jakobi Meyers, a rookie, WR Phillip Dorsett, Mohamed Sanu, rookie and 2019 first round draft pick Harry and a 34 year old Julian Edelman. TE Matt LaCosse is the main TE. I am not bashing any of these guys, but Edelman is the only one that Brady seems to trust the most. The rest of the guys need to pick it up. These guys also need to do better at getting open. Brady is also playing behind an offensive line that has not been as stable as years past. Center David Andrews is out for the year with blood clots. Backup center Ted Karras has been doing a pretty decent job, but went down with an MCL injury against the Texans, and it looks like Jim Ferentz will be taking over as center for a few games. Left Tackle Isaiah Wynn has missed over half the season with a toe/foot injury and has just come back, so the offensive line has not been protecting Brady as well as usual. Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels’ play-calling at times leaves something to be desired as well.
Brady’s mood has become a “thing.” I have never seen a player’s mood be discussed and scrutinized. Well, if your arm strength is still good, which Brady’s is, and if your football and general intellect is still great, which Brady’s is, despite what the prognosticators of doom say, and all the front office gives you to “go to battle on the football field” is the equivalent of a knife to a gun fight, I would think that Brady would be in a sour mood at times. I am not in Brady’s head, and I don’t work for the Patriots, but I am guessing that if I, as a blogger can see that the offense is having a hard time putting up points with those weapons he has, Brady can figure it out as well.
Do I hold Brady responsible for some of the issues on offense? Sure, but I would say about 10% at most. My point is that I am just tired of seeing Brady put under so much scrutiny, when others are given passes. On Sunday Night Football, in their Week 12 game against the San Francisco 49ers, the Packers got smoked by a score of 37-8. Well, pundits like Stephen A. Smith and others said that Packers QB Aaron Rodgers deserved “no blame” for the loss. When Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes threw his first INT, Max Kellerman tried to make excuses for it and said on TV that it didn’t really count. However, when Brady threw an INT and even with this latest loss to the Texans, these pundits start this “Brady is washed up.” nonsense. I hear this double standard, and it drives me up the wall.
Brady is the greatest NFL QB ever, in my opinion and in the opinion of many others who know the sport better than I. Brady deserves a ton better than what he is getting from disrespectful hot takers like Shannon Sharpe, Max Kellerman, Nick Wright, Bart Scott, Stephen A Smith, Rob Parker, Mike Greenberg, and others, especially those on ESPN. These people never treated Peyton Manning this way, especially when Manning was about to end his career. Tom Brady’s set records and has accomplished so much in his NFL career and in his life. Brady deserves better treatment and more respect. Brady is nearing the end of his career. People should be giving Brady the respect he deserves on his way out. When Tom Brady finally retires, the Brady bashing cottage industry will shut down, and the aforementioned haters won’t have Brady “to kick around anymore.”
On November 1-2, 2019, Santa Anita Racetrack will be hosting the 36th annual Breeders’ Cup World Championships. The Breeders’ Cup World Championships are the equivalent of the Super Bowl, or the just completed World Series for horse racing, where thoroughbreds come from all over the world to compete for championships in all different categories. Races will be run on turf and on dirt surfaces, and will be run in sprint races and in races up to a mile and a half. NBCSN and NBC will be showing the races live with over 10 hours of live coverage. Viewers can catch coverage on TVG as well. Racing fans like myself wait all year for this event and come from all over to attend. Next year, the event comes to Keeneland Racetrack in Lexington, KY where I live and I can’t wait to attend. I went in 2015, when Keeneland first hosted the event, when 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah just obliterated that field in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and had so much fun.
In this blog, I will be giving a preview of each race and giving my top three horses and a long shot special, along with the horse I think will win. I am also going to add a little twist to this. I am also going to add which horse I WANT to win. If I don’t have a preference as to who wins, I will say so. I hope that you will enjoy this blog. This is one of my favorite blogs to do, as horse racing is my favorite sport. Feedback is welcome and encouraged.
Day 1 of the 36th Annual Breeders’ Cup World Championships:
Date: November 1, 2019
Track: Santa Anita Racetrack
Time: 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. EDT
Post Time: 4:12 PM EDT
We are starting with the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. I am not familiar with a lot of these horses, so this will be a guess. It is going to be hard to go against the Wesley Ward horses, Kimari and Four Wheel Drive.Chimney Rock looked like he had won the Indian Summer Stakes at Keeneland, but Kimari came from last to first to run him and the rest of the horses down. The Ward trained Cambria has won all three of her races, but they have been at Presque Isle Downs and Kentucky Downs.
Top Three: Four Wheel Drive, Kimari, Chimney Rock
Long Shot Special: Cambria
Who I want to win: No favorite.
Winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf: Kimari
The next race will be the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Presented by Coolmore America.
Post Time: 4:52 PM EDT
Again, I am going to make a couple of guesses here. There are a few horses I like, just on instinct. I know Chad Brown has Structor, and I should know better than to try to beat Mr. Brown, especially on turf, but Christophe Clement is no slouch on the turf, and I think he is due for his first Breeders’ Cup victory with , Decorated Invader, a son of Declaration of War, who also has another son running named Peace Achieved, who Mark Casse trains. Aidan O’Brien trains the favorite, Arizona. Mr. O’Brien won this race in 2017 with Mendelssohn, who now stands stud at Ashford Stud in Versailles, KY. If you are looking for a long shot, and are a fan of the film, “Goodfellas,” the horse for you is the Peter Miller trained Billy Batts. I wonder if he will tell the other horses to “go home and get their bleeping shineboxes.” if he wins.
Top Three: Peace Achieved, Structor, Decorated Invador
Long Shot Special: Billy Batts
Who I want to win: Billy Batts or either of the two horses sired by Declaration of War.
Winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Presented by Coolmore America: Peace Achieved
The next race will be the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filles.
Post Time: 5:32 PM EDT
There are a few horses that could win this race, but the ones I like are Bast, trained by Bob Baffert, the Doug O’Neill trained Lazy Daisy, who is sired by miracle horse Paynter, and Wicked Whisper, trained by Steven Asmussen. Bast has been training well, and has been sensational in her preps for the Juvenile Fillies. I thought Lazy Daisy was very impressive in the Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill Downs, and I think she moves forward. Wicked Whisper is undefeated in two starts, including the Frizette Stakes. I really like the daughter of Liam’s Map here.
Top Three: Bast, Lazy Daisy, Wicked Whisper
Long Shot Special: Two Sixty
Who I want to win: Lazy Daisy or Bast
Winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filles: Bast
The next race will be the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Post Time: 6:12 PM EDT
Well, this is another race that I am going to try to analyze. The race favorite appears to be Albigna (IRE), trained by Mrs. John Harrington. Albigna has won 3 out of 4 starts. Her last win was the Qatar Prix Marcel Boussac-Criterium des Pouliches at Longchamp. Another favorite is Sweet Melania, trained by Todd Pletcher. Sweet Melania has been in the money in all 5 of her starts and she won the JPMorgan Chase Jessamine Stakes at Keeneland, last time out. It is tough to overlook another Chad Brown entry in Selflessly, who won the Miss Grillo Stakes back in late September, last time out. Both Selflessly and Sweet Melania drew poorly for their running styles. My picks here are going to be guesses. One of the other Euros, such as Daahyeh or the Aidan O’Brien trained Tango could put the upset, if the favorites fail to fire.
Top Three: Sweet Melania, Tango, Selflessly
Long Shot Special: Etoile
Who I want to win: Don’t care.
Winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf: Selflessly
The next race will be the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Post Time: 7:03 PM EDT
I should start by saying that unfortunately, #9 Maxfield has been scratched due to some injury to his right front leg. It is NOT SERIOUS. I am glad to see that the connections put the horse first. I do hope that Maxfield gets better soon. I feel badly for the horse and his connections as this is a big moment and I thought that he had a huge shot at this race, but as we racing fans know, the horse’s health comes first, and even though we are disappointed when they can’t perform due to health reasons, we fans understand and are supportive. I just wish fans of HUMAN athletes were as understanding when their HUMAN athletes or celebrities can’t perform due to health reasons.
Alright, I will get off the soapbox, and continue the analysis. This is a race where a couple of horses could win this. Let’s start with the beautifully bred, but quirky favorite Eight Rings. He is trained by Bob Baffert, and recently won the American Pharoah Stakes by six lengths. Eight Rings is sired by 2003 Belmont Winner Empire Maker out of an Arch mare named Purely Hot. Eight Rings is also very quirky, as he threw his then jockey Drayden Van Dyke in the Del Mar Futurity. Eight Rings has a new jockey in John Velasquez, who rode the horse to victory in the American Phoroah, and wears blinkers. I expect him to be in the mix for this race. The Dale Romans trained Dennis’ Moment is another horse that I like to win this race. Dennis’ Moment made a very nice move in a stalking position in the Iriquois Stakes at Churchill Downs, last time. He held off a late charging Scabbard in that race, who had some trouble trying to get through on the rail. If a fast pace develops in the race and falls apart, I think Scabbard could possibly make some noise. I would definitely use him in your exotic wager. Storm the Court has already tangled with Eight Rings. However, he has a good record at Santa Anita and could surprise.
Top Three: Eight Rings, Dennis’ Moment, Scabbard
Who I want to win: Eight Rings or Dennis’ Moment
Winner of the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile: Eight Rings
Day 2 of the 36th Annual Breeders’ Cup World Championships:
Date: November 2, 2019
Track: Santa Anita Racetrack
Network (First 8 BC Races): NBCSN
Network (BC Classic): NBC
Time (First 8 BC Races): 3:30 – 8:00 p.m. EDT
Time (BC Classic) : 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. EDT
Post Time: 2:55 PM EDT Note: Per Breederscup.com, it says coverage starts at 3:30pm EST on NBCSN. I would advise if you have that channel to turn it on early or check TVG, or if you have a Twinspires account like I do, go to that.
Breeders’ Cup Saturday kicks off with the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. This field is jammed pack with some excellent filly sprinters. Even though she drew poorly, I still like the favorite, Covfefe. The daughter of Into Mischief has been sensational both at Keeneland and at Churchill Downs. I have been fortunate to have seen her race at Keeneland. She is something special. The one hole is not exactly where I’d want her to be, but I think Joel Rosario will be able to ration out her speed. Come Dancing, Bellafina and Spiced Perfection will be Covfefe’s main challengers, and I like any of them to hit the board.
The next race will be the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
Post Time: 3:33 PM EDT
Can Stormy Liberal find his form? How about Om, one of only two horses to ever defeat American Pharoah? The horse that I like is Pure Sensation, trained by Christophe Clement. Other than that, I really don’t have much of an opinion on this race.
Winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint: Pure Sensation
The next race will be the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
Post Time: 4:10 PM EDT
There are a few horses that I like in this race. The favorite is obviously the Richard Mandella trained Omaha Beach, who has had a very up and down year, to say the least. He was scratched from the Kentucky Derby as the favorite, because of a trapped epiglottis. He took a longer than usual time to recover. He returned to the races with a victory in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship Stakes and is entered in this race. Another horse that I like is Improbable, the Baffert trainee. Mr. Money last finished second in the Pennsylvania Derby, cuts back to a mile. I like his chances here.
Top Three: Omaha Beach, Mr. Money, Improbable
Long Shot Special: Giant Expectations
Who I want to win: Omaha Beach
Winner of the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile: Omaha Beach
The next race will be the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.
Post Time: 4:54 PM EDT
First of all, THAIS has been scratched from this race, per Breederscup.com. I feel badly for the connections, and hope she is going to be okay.
Now, to the race, the horse to beat in this race is trained by, you guessed it, Chad Brown. Her name is Sistercharlie (IRE) and she has been sensational. She has won all three of her starts this year, albeit on the East Coast. Chad Brown has done a great job with her. The only other challengers I see are Vasilika and the Aidan O’Brien horse, Fleeting. I recommend Mirth as your long shot special.
Top Three: Fleeting, Vasilika, Sistercharlie
Long Shot Special: Mirth
Who I want to win: Sistercharlie
Winner of the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf: Sistercharlie
5:36 PM EDT
This race is Mitole’s to lose. He is no doubt the best sprinter in the field. Unless he has a bad start, I think he is the winner. Other horses who might have a shot are Shancelot, Imperial Hint and Catalina Cruiser. I do think Catalina Cruiser and Shancelot have the best chances to put the upset, as they have experience over the Santa Anita track. Imperial Hint did beat Mitole in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap this year as well. My long shots are either Firenze Fire or Whitmore, if either can return to previous form.
Top Three: Mitole, Imperial Hint, Catalina Cruiser
Long Shot Special: Whitmore
Who I want to win: Mitole
Winner of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint: Mitole
The next race will be the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile.
Post Time: 6:20 PM EDT
Again, we have Uni (GB), another favorite trained by Chad Brown. What else is new? The next thing we will know that water is wet. Seriously though, I think this race will come down between Uni and the filly Got Stormy, who is facing males in this race. Other than another favorite named Circus Maximus (IRE), trained by Aidan O’Brien, I see mostly long shots, including Bolo who finished 10th in the City of Hope Mile at Santa Anita last time out. This race should be interesting, to say the least.
Top Three: Get Stormy, Uni, Circus Maximus
Long Shot Special: Without Parole
Who I want to win: Get Stormy
Winner of the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile: Uni
The next race will be the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
Post Time: 7:00 PM EDT
Just like the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, this is another race where you can make a case for a few horses. I want to add that in my opinion, this race has the best field as far as talent from top to bottom. With the exception of maybe a couple of horses, it wouldn’t surprise me if any of them won it, given their talent. If you want some value and want to try to beat the heavy favorite Midnight Bisou, I would go with Ollie’s Candy as your long shot special. She has run well at Santa Anita, and she has a great backstory ( https://www.drf.com/news/ollies-candy-breeders-cup-distaff-surprise-package-plain-brown-wrapper?type= ) . Dunbar Road is also high on my list of possible winners, being that she won the Alabama and Mother Goose Stakes. Can she win coming to the West Coast? Paradise Woods runs well at Santa Anita and was last seen winning the Zenatta Stakes last time out. I would include her in your exotics. Street Band won the Cotillion at Parx Racing last time out. If there is a fast pace up front, I think she may come flying at the end.
Of course, there is Horse of the Year candidate and the heavily favored Midnight Bisou. I admit I am a huge fan of this mare. She will be sold after this race at the November Fasig-Tipton Sales in Lexington, KY. She is undefeated in 7 starts this year. Should she win on Saturday, she will be in the running for Horse of the Year.
Top Three: Midnight Bisou, Dunbar Road, Paradise Woods
Long Shot Special: Ollie’s Candy
Who I want to win: Midnight Bisou
Winner of the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff: Midnight Bisou
The next race will be the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf.
Post Time: 7:40 PM EDT
I don’t know how anyone can go against the favorite Bricks and Mortar. This will be his last race before he starts stud duty in Japan. It has been a pleasure to watch this horse run, and he will be missed. Running him at 1 1/2 miles after a layoff will be a challenge, but Chad Brown will have him ready. The other two horses that I like in here are the other favorite, Anthony Van Dyck (IRE) and Old Persian (GB). Should Bricks and Mortar win this race, I think he would be named Horse of the Year, should Midnight Bisou lose the Distaff. It is kind of sad that for one horse to have a better chance of winning an end of the year award, another has to lose, but that is how it goes sometimes. Good luck to all and safe trip, regardless.
Top Three: Bricks and Morter, Anthony Van Dyck, Old Persian
Long Shot Special: Acclimate
Who I want to win: Bricks and Mortar
Winner of the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf: Bricks and Mortar
Finally, we will discuss the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Post Time: 8:44 PM EDT on NBC. This is the ONLY Breeders” Cup that will be on NBC.
Finally, we are at the grand finale of the 36th annual Breeders’ Cup World Championships, the Breeders’ Cup Classic. In years past, this race has decided the coveted title of the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year. However, in recent past, winners of this race have not won Horse of the Year for various reasons such as last year’s winner, Accelerate (Justify‘s Triple Crown win), the 2008 winner Raven’s Pass (Curlin had a better overall year), and most notably the 2010 winner Blame (a makeup HOY award for Zenyatta). I don’t think this year’s race will determine Horse of the Year either, unless the top candidates (Bricks and Mortar and Midnight Bisou) both lose their races. However, should one of the 3YOs win it, I think this race could help determine the Outstanding 3YO contest.
There are a few horses in in here, who I think have a real shot to win this race. Code of Honor, who was placed second in the 2019 Kentucky Derby and won the Travers Stakes has a real shot to win this. He also was placed first in the Jockey Gold Cup as Vino Rosso was disqualified from first. Vino Rosso also has a great shot in here, and has won the Gold Cup at this very track. Should he run his race, even with that #10 position, I think he may be the horse to beat. Higher Power could be one to watch. He finished third in the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita, despite starting poorly. I love McKenzie, who is trained by Bob Baffert. As much as I love him, I would advise bettors to put him in their exotics, but I don’t think he is a mile and a quarter horse. I think he might hit the board, but that is all. Elate has a chance to become the second female horse to win the Classic since Zenyatta. I love this filly, and outside of Vino Rosso and Code of Honor, this field is just so so. I think she has a shot.
Top Three: Vino Rosso, Elate, Code of Honor
Long Shot Special: Mongolian Groom
Who I want to win: Elate and Vino Rosso
Winner of the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic: Vino Rosso
Well, that wraps up my blog. I hope you enjoyed it. I want to emphasized that these picks are just my opinion. I am not a racing or betting expert by any means. If you are going to bet, please bet WITH your head and NOT OVER it. Good luck betting.
I also want to wish all the horses and their connections good luck, and I wish all the horses and jockeys a safe trip, no matter the results. Come back safely. I wish a safe and successful Breeders’ Cup for all involved.
The first half of the 2019-20 NFL Season has flown by, and there has been some very interesting things going on in the National Football League. At this writing, the trading deadline is fast approaching and there has been some trading. During the first half of the current season, there has been some great playing, poor playing, and of course drama and controversy, much of it media driven. Who needs Soap Operas, when the NFL will suffice?
In this blog, I will be discussing all the ups and downs of the 2019-20 NFL Season. I will discuss what is awesome and what is not. Trust me. There is plenty of events that have happened in the first eight weeks of the NFL season to put in both categories. So without further ado, here is my blog. Feedback is welcome and encouraged.
An ACTUAL race for the MVP of the league.
Yes, my readers, there is an actual race for the MVP of the NFL. There are several players who have a great chance at this point in the season to walk away with the top prize. Let’s look at them. They are, along with their stats as follows: Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes (2,180 yards for 15 TDs against 1 INT), Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey (735 yards for 8 TDs and had 39 receiving yards), Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (2,324 yards for 16 TDs against 2 INTs, Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (2,127 yards for 17 TDs against 1 INT), and Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson (2,233 yards for 16 TDs against 5 INTs.) I realize that in the minds of the experts, the race is in between Aaron Rodgers and the ailing Patrick Mahomes. Before I continue, I want to wish Mahomes a speedy recovery and I am praying for him.
The candidate that I personally like is Deshaun Watson of the Texans. This young man is electrifying to watch. He has the stats to match, and since the offensive line is starting to play together a lot better, Watson is at the point where he can put the team on his shoulders. The team is going to need to depend more on Watson even more, now that DT J.J. Watt is once again out for the season with a pectoral muscle tear. I also pray for Watt to come back healthy.
I do have to add that if a one Dante Scarnecchia, the offensive line coach in New England can get the New England Patriots’ offensive line straightened out, as he admittedly said he needs to do, I think a one Tom Brady, who plays quarterback could make a run in the deep stretch and make a case for himself. I am looking at his stats up to this point where Brady has thrown for 2,251 yards and 13 TDs and 4 INTs, and I think he might have a puncher’s chance at the title as well.
Two Undefeated Teams Left
In speaking of the New England Patriots, they and and the San Francisco 49ers are the two undefeated teams left at this point in the season. Much of the media attention is going to a possible “undefeated season” for the Patriots, as they went 16-0 in 2007. However, I think what should get some attention is the fact that there is a possibility that the 49ers could go undefeated or maybe BOTH could go undefeated. I am on record as saying that I don’t think any team with go undefeated because there are just too many variables like a bad day at the office, and the usual, “any given Sunday or Monday Night or Thursday Night.” I think this is a great accomplishment for both teams to have achieved at this point.
Carolina Panther DE Gerald McCoy got a little help from his friends.
This is one of the most positive stories I have heard all season. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers DE Gerald McCoy, who now plays for the Carolina Panthers, could not make his son Marcellus’ “Senior Night” at Tampa Catholic High School, because the Panthers had already flown to California for their Week 8 matchup against the 49ers. Well, three of McCoy’s friends and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers teammates QB Jameis Winston, linebacker Lavonte David, wide receiver Mike Evans and offensive lineman Donavan Smith went to the “Senior Night” in support. They sent McCoy a video as well. ( https://www.panthers.com/news/gerald-mccoy-humbled-by-former-buccaneers-teammates-attending-his-son-s-senior-d )
This story nearly moved me to tears. It showed me that sports in general brings people together. Even if teammates move on to other teams, there is a brother and/or sisterhood when you play with someone for a long period of time. Over that time, you can develop a bond with people that in cases like this are never broken. We can all learn from this.
Bill Belichick gets 300th win.
In their Week 8 win against the Cleveland Browns, the New England Patriots reached a new landmark for their famous coach, Bill Belichick. Belichick won his 300th game, including playoffs. There is also something interesting about that win. Belichick’s first victory as a head coach was when he was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns, they beat the New England Patriots. Well, his 300th victory came at the expense of the Cleveland Browns. Seriously, this is a great milestone, and while people either love him or hate him, the man is one of, if not the greatest coach ever. Congratulations Coach Belichick.
BOTH Ohio based NFL teams.
Both NFL teams in the state of Ohio are dumpster fires this year. One has been for years, and continues to be. That would be the Cincinnati Bengals. The other got a little bit of success, and got all these talented players in the off-season, and then many of the so-called “experts” started handing them the AFC North and even started putting them in the Super Bowl. This team also features one of the most arrogant QBs I have seen. That would be the Cleveland Browns.
Let me start with the Cincinnati Bengals. I don’t know if ineptitude is in the motto of the team, but this team is going nowhere fast. The trade deadline is past. WR A.J. Green is gone after the season is over and the Bengals wouldn’t move him and get SOMETHING for him? The team also evidently wanted the moon for TE Tyler Eifert. The Bengals just benched their starting QB Andy Dalton. What is wrong with this team? They are 0-8. This team needs a new owner. Period.
Now, let’s discuss the OTHER Ohio team. Oh brother, what a mess. If you watched their Week 8 match-up against the Patriots, you would have seen their ineptitude in a nutshell. With the exception of periods where the team ran the ball well with RB Nick Chubb, the Cleveland Browns showed a national audience that they surely were not ready for the big time. They were not deserving of all the hype they were getting. Right out of the starting gate, this team was unprepared, and they had a bye week, and they were going up against the Patriots who were coming off of a short week. The first three Browns offensive drives were: Fumble by Chubb returned by Patriots defense for TD, Chubb runs and almost makes it to the endzone when caught by Patriots DB Jonathan Jones who causes Chubb to fumble it again and Patriots recover, and interception to Patriots defender Laurence Guy.
The Browns’ were so undisciplined. Just like the game against the Seahawks, the Browns could not get out of their own way. The Browns made so many penalties in the Patriot game. There were so many false starts and holding penalties. It comes from poor coaching. Head coach Freddie Kitchens was awful. The team ran out of challenges because Kitchens made two bone-headed challenges and lost both of them. The first one was when it was clear to anyone, including Ray Charles, that Patriots WR Mohammed Sanu got the first down and the other was when the Browns were nailed for pass interference on a pick play. Whomever gave Kitchens advice to challenge both of those needs to be fired. Losing the challenges also hurt the team when it came to their timeouts, as when you lose a challenge, you have a timeout taken from you.
The sad thing is that in many of these games, the Browns defense usually plays well enough for the team to win, like against the Patriots. The Browns team has a lot of talent, especially on offense. The team needs a head coach that can soothe all these egos and be able to get them to play together as a well oiled machine. Kitchens may be a good offensive coordinator, but I don’t think he is a good coach.
You all didn’t think I would NOT comment about the refereeing in the NFL, did you? Tampa Bay Buccaneer head coach Bruce Arians and others have been quite vocal about the inconsistent refereeing. I agree with him. One thing I totally agree with him is that incompetent referees need to be held accountable. There is so much riding on these games, such as playoff positions, wins, seasons, and jobs. I know there is the “human element,” but I am tired of the excuses. These referees have jobs. They need to do their jobs correctly. They need to be held accountable for the jobs they do.
Is Sports Media becoming TMZ?
I am not an either/or person. I usually don’t like what society and discussion has become lately, this zero-sum routine. However, I do wonder about sports media and what it is becoming, especially concerning the NFL, and how it reports on certain teams, especially how it reports on one particular team. I know sports is entertainment. I get that. However, do sports fans really need to know about which sports star is in some “Twitter feud” with another sports star? Is that really important? Some time ago, on the ESPN show, “Get Up,” former NFL head coach Rex Ryan and show regular said that Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield was “overrated.” Well, Mayfield, who has an opinion on EVERYTHING, responded and then we had a little back and forth between Mayfield and Ryan. Why is this necessary?
I now will talk about the most recent drama that ESPN, of course, cooked up about, who else, Tom Brady. ESPN’s obsession with trying to discredit Tom Brady and the Patriots for the past 20 years is something I will never understand. On Monday Night Football, during Week 7 when the Patriots just destroyed the New York Jets, ESPN’s Adam Schefter made some claim that Tom Brady might be leaving New England on the basis that he is selling his house and Brady’s trainer, Alex Guerrero is also selling his house. When the pre-game co-host profootball Hall of Famer Randy Moss pressed Schefter about it, Schefter clammed up.
So, now this “issue” about “Brady’s future” has become a story. We have Schefter and his fellow minions in other media parroting something that has been known since AUGUST. Everyone, including Schefter, already knew that Brady’s contract ends after this season. Everyone, including Schefter, already knew that Brady is selling his house. Everyone, including Schefter, already knew that Brady will be a free agent. Everyone, including Schefter, already knew that Brady could go back to the Patriots, sign with someone else, or retire after this season. Everyone, including Schefter, already knew that Bill Belichick coaches the team and Bob Kraft owns the team, and that would attract Brady. Why is this a story NOW? Even Brady doesn’t even know.
Of course, there is the usual discrediting of the Patriots by the media. The new line is “they haven’t beaten anybody.” These media folks are saying this about the 49ers as well, but not as much as about the Patriots. Well, that expression is one of the dumbest expressions ever. The Patriots don’t make the schedule. No team makes the schedule. People need to stop being lazy and go to a search engine and look up how the NFL schedule is made. Every team plays the teams on the schedule at the time they get that team. I even heard this about 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. “He didn’t beat anybody.” Likewise, American Pharoah beat only the horses who faced him in the three Triple Crown races.