Stanley Cups and Triple Crowns

Around this time 18 years ago, I developed some chronic stomach troubles. I had no appetite, and when I did eat, I felt ill. I felt queasy almost all the time. I was sure that I was developing some serious gastrointestinal ailment, and, to be honest, I was a little worried.

Fortunately, the distress was reasonably short-lived, and a diagnosis not long in coming. Late on June 14 of that year, my symptoms miraculously disappeared, and my appetite returned in full force the next day, as I watched in an endless loop footage of the Rangers’ winning the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1940.

The Rangers are a long way from another Stanley Cup – a LONG way, a really LONG way (an insurmountably long way if they keep playing as they did last night). But those butterflies have again taken up residence, and this time they’re joined by another breed, one that comes with the possibility of a 12th Triple Crown winner. I have occasionly idly wondered (only idly, of course) what it would feel like to approach the Belmont Stakes – just a plain old regular Belmont Stakes, not this kind of Belmont Stakes – during a Rangers’ playoff run, both of which just happen to coincide with the last few weeks of school. I’m not sure that I ever thought that it would actually happen.

But here we are. The Rangers are in the Conference Finals against the same team that caused that 1994 agita, and I’ll Have Another is already at Belmont, waiting to try to make history. This is my sporting dream come true, right?

Right. Except for the times when I feel like I’m going to throw up (which was a lot of last night, during the aforementioned debacle).

Last Saturday, I was glued to my screen for much of the Preakness undercard watching the Rangers beat the Devils 3-0 (there are not enough words to thank NBC for streaming the game live and free). Proof of the existence of a god of some sort arrived when the game ended at exactly the time that I had to go to work, preventing the awkwardness of my interviewing D. Wayne Lukas while scrolling through Twitter for score updates.

As the players and the coaches tell us relentlessly, it’s one game at a time. There’s no looking ahead. We’re only looking as far as the next game. Except when we’re not.

Except when we’re wondering, “Suppose I have to choose—the Belmont or the Garden?” Except when we’re wondering (idly, hypothetically, of course—of course), “Which do I want more – a Stanley Cup or a Triple Crown winner?” Except when we’re wondering, “How the hell are my nerves going to make it?”

[And except when we’re wondering, “Rangers, how can you possibly be playing this badly in the pivotal game 4 of a series against your hated rival?”]

Over the weekend I was chastised for watching hockey while at one of racing’s premier events. (Confession: I did it during the Kentucky Derby undercard, too.) The balance of sporting loyalties is precarious, and it makes me wonder…if I could have only one, a Stanley Cup or a Triple Crown, which would it be?

What say you, Rangers’ fans?

30 thoughts on “Stanley Cups and Triple Crowns

  1. In the end, the Rangers are the only thing in sports that will ever matter to me. I reserve the right to change my mind if one of my kids ever becomes a professional athlete, but who am I kidding. It has been, it is, it will always be Rangers First.

  2. As you say it’s a long way away from the Cup. But I must admit with this NYR team I believe they have already exceeded my expectations. Additionally the 1994 Cup still fully satisfies, in some sense the “now I can die in peace” sign rings true to this day. I liked that team. The only thing I hope for is for No. 30 to win a Stanley Cup, if not this year, at some point in his career, I would really like to see that. As far as the Triple Crown goes, it never seemed like a major sporting accomplishment to me, I guess lacking the human element has some significance to me. The only time in the recent attempts at a triple crown where I thought it was going to happen was with Smarty Jones, when he was running down the stretch and when the roar from the crowd erupted that was truly tremendous and once in a lifetime type event (even with Real Quiet for some reason I sensed that Victory Gallop was going to catch him). So for the sake of hearing the crowd roar again and now sustain itself until the finish really would be something to be seen and heard. Let’s hope we get at least one of these outcomes.

  3. Stanley Cup. That’s the award for that Canadian invention where men skate around with sticks and try and hit a puck into a net? We just had one of those clubs leave here in Atlanta for some Northern wilderness outpost, prompting a collective yawn from the city upon their departure. Bring on the Triple Crown!

  4. BTW – I know it’s a big deal there. Good luck to the NY Rangers and their fans. Would love to see them win it all.

  5. Nothing like being a Ranger Fan.
    I followed horse racing since 1970 and have followed the NY Rangers since mid 60’s. I have seen both, the TC winners in the 70’s and the one Cup in 1994. Secretariats win in 1973 was great. The Cup in 94 was the best. By the way. Great web site. My friend Alan in Las Vegas told me about it recently.
    Rangers need to pick up the their game, in the first period. No goals in 3 of the 4 games vs the Devs puts more pressure on the team.

    Blue Seat Fan Forever.
    Section 415/412 Row C Seat 6

  6. I say Triple Crown. Wasn’t Pimlico just magical??? Hopefully, we can say hello at Belmont. If Kathy’s feeling up to it, we’ll be there. She handled Pimlico just fine.

  7. Perhaps considered blasphemous in the confines of this remarkable address, but the Islanders were my team of the 1970s and 1980s. My agent was Art Kaminsky, I had season tickets at the Coliseum and the Stanley Playoffs always seemed to coincide with our Belmont Stakes day. Sometimes, it was the NBA and all those guys in shorts, and sometimes it was both vying for our crowd and headlines that one weekend.

    Yes, we looked forward to knocking off the New York Rangers, but, come Belmont Day, both the New York Rangers and my homies, the Islanders, lost the focus of my attention. We had work to do and a trophy to deliver!

    Now, however, GO RANGERS!

  8. Thanks for the comments, everyone! Nice to see some other Rangers’ fans out there, and welcome, Ira! We’re neighbors — My seats are just a couple of sections away from yours.

    Good news about Kathy, Rich, and it would be great to say hello at Belmont…if the madness permits.

    Marshall, an Islanders fan rooting for the Rangers? I don’t know what to say!

  9. It’s just a matter of expediency. Art is no longer my agent and I have mixed feelings about this year’s Triple Crown candidate. Add those two together and it’s a slam dunk: Lord Stanley and the New York Rangers … makes perfect sense to me.

  10. Not a big hockey fan but I’ll go with the Stanley Cup over the Triple Crown. Like Marshall I am not overly enamoured of this year’s TC candidate.

  11. It’s Go Rangers, of course, Teresa! It’s in our blood. The team has been grinding it out all season, a triple overtime win against the Senators, and that incredible goal tieing the score, with 6.6 seconds left in Game 5 against the Capitals, and winning it in overtime, can it get any better than this? This Rangers team seems like a team of destiny to me.

    As far as a Triple Crown, I not into it, mainly because the horse is trained by Doug O’Neill. The horse, I’ll Have Another, was on the Vet’s List up until a couple of weeks before the Derby because he was receiving shock therapy treatments. O’Neill claimed the horse suffered from a stiff back. And then, there’s this:

    For years, he was referred to with the moniker “Drug” O’Neill, instead of Doug O’Neill. I’m all for seeing another Triple Crown, just not won by the likes of a O’Neill, or a Richard Dutrow. I’ll Be Rooting against I’ll Have Another. There are so many other worthy trainers, that the sport can be truly proud of winning a Triple Crown. I hope the racing gods are able intervene and foil this attempt.

  12. Bob,

    Your sense of propriety might be just where it belongs: The Rangers have sealed their deal; Art was always right; Teresa’s attention need no longer be divided; and NYRA’s positive revaluation in the public eye can now regain the focus.

    As to I’ll Have Another, if this three-year-old can accomplish what the Rangers could not, I’ll be surprised; but if he does, American Racing will be in for the most perilous review it’s ever experienced. And, if he does not, New York Racing still faces its terrible challenge: New York’s Genting/NYRA best of times quickly melting before governor Andrew Cuomo’s worst of times revision of NYRA’s business management.

    Could it all work out in the end? Teresa will tell the story.

  13. O’Neill as someone wrote will be the face of thoroughbred horseracing for the next two weeks. Then, he serves a 45 day suspension for a positive drug test on one of his horses. Seems like Chapter Two all over again, after going through a similiar saga with Richard Dutrow. Oh, that’s right, Dutrow stopped giving Big Brown anabolic steroids a few weeks before his Belmont. Hmmm, people could be wondering what O’Neill stopped giving I’ll Have Another before his Derby, won’t they? He had to stop the shockwave therapy treatments on the horse because horses have to be off them a certain number of days before they would be able to race. Milkshakes, shockwave therapy, nasal strips? It sounds like O’Neill tries to cover all bases. He makes a wonderful impression of how a horse trainer should be, doesn’t he?

  14. August, O’Neill isn’t being suspended for a positive drug test, but for a CO2 overage, which, I’ve learned in the last few days, can be caused by a number of things; the CHRB found that the overage was not due to milkshaking.

    The nasal strips are acceptable and legal in other jurisdictions, and several reputable horsemen to whom I spoke don’t understand why they’re not permitted here. They’re no different from the nasal strips many human athletes wear. Knowing little about them, I offer no opinion.

  15. Why Teresa, with your considerable talents do you continue to be a shill for the “can’t race without drugs” and other horse racing bottom feeders.

    • Bob, pointing out an inaccuracy isn’t “shilling” for anyone, and I’m sorry that you can’t see the difference. I neither defended nor supported any of Mr. O’Neill’s actions, but to say that he’s being suspended for a positive drug test is incorrect.

      I’ve no idea how the CO2 level in Mr. O’Neill’s horse came to be elevated, but the CHRB, in its ruling, said that it was not the result of milkshaking. The CHRB site seems to be down, or I’d link to the ruling itself. If you or August have other information about a drug test, I hope that you’ll share them here.

      If you’re interested, here’s are two other articles in which milkshaking is discussed: one a Rick Violette case from several years ago, the other from the Michigan Racing Commission.

      And I’ve never said that horses can’t race without drugs. I have said, and continue to, that those who support racing with salix have presented a more compelling and scientifically based case for their point of view than those who oppose it. I’ve never taken a stance for what racing should do on that issue.

  16. And I guess all those other CO2 drug positives, were not caused by O’Neill milkshaking, either?

    I’m still wondering if Burna Dette forgives O’Neill?

    We’re a tough group to please, Teresa. I would love to see a Triple Crown won but, not by one of these repeat drug offenders, who only obeys the rules of racing when “the sun is shining.” I love our sport, and I expect the most from those, who are supposed to represent the best our sport can offer. O’Neill and Dutrow signify that cheaters win, and only serve to make a mockery of the sport and values we deem important.

    • August, why are you calling an elevated CO2 level a drug positive? What medication/drug is involved?

      I’m glad that the readers of this blog offer challenging points of view; I learn from all of you. I don’t think it’s fair, though, to attribute to me positions I’ve never taken simply when I point out a fact. I’ve never said a word in favor of or against O’Neill. I’ve never defended anything he’s done. Medication and other issues are not one-dimensional, no matter how much people here and elsewhere would like to paint them that way, and an awful lot of incorrect information gets passed around without being challenged.

      If positive changes are going to be made in racing–and clearly they need to be–I hope that they will be made based on facts, not on perception, agenda, or anecdotes. The industry and everyone involved in it, horses and humans, deserve that.

  17. Any foreign substance injected, ingested or topically applied to a horse that enhances performance or eliminates pain above the allowable limit while racing is a drug violation. The term drug is all encompassing.

    • Bob,

      Wondering whether you read the link to the Michigan Racing Commission I posted earlier. And here’s the link to the CHRB ruling. Could you pass on the link to the information that you provided in your last comment? And is that specific to one jurisdiction or in general use in racing? Thanks for passing it on.

  18. Teresa, The CHRB and the Michigan Racing Commission reports are consistent. The TC02 threshold may vary from region to region but when the threshold is exceeded it is a violation. No matter the cause. If ground up Chocolate Chip Cookies mixed with Oats produced an over the limit TC02 level it would be a violation. The CHRB ruled out the Milkshake process because it couldn’t be proved, I assume? Actually, I think the CHRB may have cut O’Neil some slack on this issue. If Milkshaking were determined, considering past violations the penalties might have been more severe or required a different course of action. This murky administration of rule violations from region to region is a significant problem for racing.

    My last point is a general concept which again may vary slightly from region to region.

    The CHRB ruling gave O’Neil some breathing room so if “I’ll Have Another” wins the TC the long knives might not get him but it will be messy.

    • Of course it’s a violation, Bob. I was wondering why it was being classified here as a drug violation, which it doesn’t seem to be by the CHRB.

  19. I tried to convey, Teresa. The CHRB ruling was murky by design. They cut O’Neil some slack for obvious reasons even though he has a history of drug type problems. We could call it west coast bias.

    45 day suspension, 15K fine might seem harsh but was actually soft considering. As you noticed the wording of the ruling was evasive.

  20. I am not an expert but here’s my two cents. While they vary from region to region, there are ‘tolerable limits’ established for various substances. It seems those are in place to account for the natural variations from horse to horse (i.e., metabolic rate), different testing methods, etc. When a horse tests over those limits, it points to something being introduced into the horse and a violation is rightly noted. Yes an elevated TCO2 level can occur ‘naturally’ but should still fall within the tolerable limit. When a horse tests three times over the limit, that seems to point to something being introduced into the horse or else the horse should be thoroughly examined for any underlying medical issue.
    The argument is being made all over that because TCO2 is not a ‘drug’ these violations are ‘not so bad’. IF something was given to the horse to ease muscle fatigue, etc, IMO that substance was given for medicinal purposes and should be noted as such.
    Maybe DON has had a ‘come to Jesus’ moment and changed his ways, I don’t know. Just seems like he’s dragging a whole lot of baggage along the Triple Crown trail.

  21. To clarify: The horse in question tested over the TCO2 limit three times, not three times over the limit.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s