Friday morning quick picks

I don’t have HBO, so I didn’t see the episode of Costas Now in which noted sportswriter Buzz Bissinger went off on Deadspin’s Will Leitch on the subject of blogging vs. journalism. I did (as who did not?) read/hear about Bissinger’s bizarrely agitated and profane rant, and thus when I was recently catching up on podcasts, I was intrigued to listen to what appeared to be Round II, in which Bissinger took on Nik Richie of on NPR’s weekly sports show, Only A Game.

Why on earth Only A Game would invite someone from TheDirty on the show is beyond me; I can’t see the value of the site, which, to put it charitably, lacks Deadspin’s cleverness and intelligence. Nonetheless, while I’d have preferred to see the conversation happen with the writer of a more worthy site, the conversation itself is good and Mr. Richie comes across as a reasoned, thoughtful writer. While Bissinger appears to have learned a little from his appearance on Costas Now, he is unable to resist dissolving into sputtering and apoplectic rage on the subject of blogging, and particularly sports blogging. Bill Littlefield, the host of Only A Game, skillfully moderates, and the segment is worth a listen. Only A Game also regularly features segments on horse racing, and not only during the Triple Crown season.

The Blood-Horse reports that the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association will hold a forum on July 18th in Hershey, PA:

The…forum, titled “Welfare and Safety of the Horse—Where We Are and Where We Are Going”—will look at equine health and welfare from a practical perspective for
horsemen. The horsemen’s organization, with about 30 affiliates, also will
discuss medication and wagering-related economic issues during its

Part of a two-day convention, the event will also take into consideration any recommendations that emerge from this month’s Congressional hearings into horse racing.

I’m not going to pretend to understand the details of the economics behind New York State’s Off-Track Betting, but I will say that I have a hard time with OTB’s resistance to maintaining its current fees to the racing industry. It seems simple: OTB is making a profit entirely off the efforts of horses, trainers, jockeys, racetracks, etc. OTB then sets up shop and takes in the money. OK, maybe their current model isn’t profitable, but how can you sanely say that you shouldn’t pay generously the purveyors/creators of the very product off of which you’re making a profit?

On a more personal note, another academic year came to an end last night, and we successfully graduated another class of seniors. Best of luck to the class of 2008 and their families; we’ll miss you.

To celebrate, I’m headed to Saratoga. Mr. Saratoga Russell, I’m hoping to catch the workouts on Sunday morning…might your horse be out at some point?

One thought on “Friday morning quick picks

  1. I need to write this one stealthly, but there should be no question that it is absolutely insane and wrong that New York’s Byzantine OTB networks are not dismantled and reformed under the umbrella of NYRA. And, to my knowledge, no New York journalist (or blogger) has summoned the fortitude necessary to peel back the layers of politics, muscle and overall dysfunctional rot that act like slow-killing cancers on what should be the healthiest and most robust racing program in the country. Teresa’s point about the various New York OTBs couldn’t be more right or, to me, more obvious. The OTBs are attached to New York racing like a body infestation of ticks that do nothing but suck from the host. If the OTBs can’t make it under their present structure, which benefits them in every single way imaginable, then the entire stinking patronage hotel should be shut down. The best racing and government minds available need to come together and reinvent the entirety of off-track betting in the state and come up with a way that the lifeblood of the apparatus — the horses, the tracks, the horsemen, the jockeys, the owners, and, yes, the fans — are always the first to prosper from the money that comes in from betting shops around the state. That money should flow to and from the source rather than be diluted and dispersed. Every good engineer knows dams and diversions might harness and provide power and sustenance for those who take it, but the cost is often the very health of the mighty river. You see it all the time in this country of entitlement, where political self-preservation always trumps higher ideals and decisions that hurt those enjoying the good life in the short to the benefit of all in the long term — the inability and refusal to call for sacrifice and say, “Fellas, the party’s over.”

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