The Fourth: Wieners, Wimbledon, Woods & Wheeling through Gaul

(Seedy Slog Note, pre-posting: I planned on having this up before noon, this Independence Day. Well, you can tell I didn’t make it. Sooooo, from the get go, I can report that Joey Chestnut repeated at Coney Island and is now six time champ. But I’ll post this as if it didn’t happen . . . yet.)

Have to wonder if my interest in THE sporting event of Independence Day in recent years has waned?

ESPN’s infatuation certainly has lessened. The Worldwide Leader is televising some twee tennis tourney from Wimbledon live instead of Joey Chestnut @ noon defending his Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Championship from Coney Island. You can catch all the wiener action live on ESPN3, but it’s certainly a blow to the prestige of the event that it’s not being televised live on one of the network’s 114 stations, like, say, ESPNFood.

Frankly, the contest lost its luster for me when, a couple years back, Major League Eating — the sanctioning organization for such affairs — banned Takeru Kobayashi, the groundbreaking Babe Ruth of the “sport.”

* * * * *

Speaking of sports that have lost luster, let me broach the topic of horse racing for a moment.

A fan of this blog recently asked my opinion on the debate over the use of lasix for thoroughbreds? At which point, I asked if he had me confused with my compatriot, for whom such matters are a concern, Bill Doolittle?

“You write a sports blog, don’t you?”

“Well, yes,” I responded, “but I really could care less about the ponies. I haven’t been in town for the Derby in years.”

Which disinterest shall not prevent me from commenting on Jennie Rees’s Churchill Downs Spring Meet wrap up in this morning’s C-J.

Essentially she said there were more worthless nags racing on Central Ave this year than in the last three decades she’s been covering the Sport of Kings. (Most excellently covering it, I might add.)

If the purses were higher consistently on a daily basis, there would obviously be more of the better stables and horses on the grounds for the entire meet. Instead, they’ve journied to those tracks where the pots are bigger.

This is obviously an issue for the inveterate horse player. Short fields. Inconsistent talent. Speed ratings that induce yawns. Makes betting less fun. Or, so I’m advised.

I’m wondering though whether it matters to the casual player, to the folks who show up on Tuesday afternoon when the boss says “Let’s take off and go to the track for a couple races.” To the hotties who dress Kardashian on Friday nights, and the fellows who show up to ogle and flirt.

I guess the folks at the Downs have to look at the bottom line and have a business conundrum. Which is that if they raise the purses with the commensurate upgrade of quality of horse flesh that would follow, will it increase attendance and betting enough to make it financially feasible?

So far, they’ve opted out.

I’m reminded of hockey in Louisville. The era of the Louisville Blades and Louisville Rebels and Louisville Shooting Stars ended when JFK took office. The sport returned in ’90 with the Icehawks then Riverfrogs, both of the lowest minors, the East Coast Hockey League. They skated at Broadbent before loyal, enthusiastic, small but apparently financially sustaining crowds. It was fun. The locals, experts in college hoops but relatively ignorant about back checking, didn’t care about such as quality of play.

Then the Florida NHL franchise made a bold but really stupid move, putting their AAA American League team in Freedom Hall, where the same small rowds showed up. For awhile anyway, since it was more expensive. The locals could have cared less that the hockey was significantly of a higher quality.

That, one guy’s opinion, is an analagous situation to the decision Churchill faces. More or less. Except for the presence of that event on May’s first Saturday.

* * * * *

As I write, British favorite son, Andy Murray, is not looking good. The 4th seeded homie is down to #7 seed, David Ferrer. It would be a pity if he lost without making it to Sunday for a shot at winning the championship. A Brit hasn’t won at Wimbledon since just after the Norman Conquest.

His path is relatively clear, meaning he wouldn’t have to beat Raffie Nadal to make it to Breakfast at Wimbledon on Sunday. Of course, all the others on that side of the bracket — Ferrer, Tsonga and Kohlschrieber — are thinking the same thing.

What I find fascinating is how they seeded the players this year. On the other side, #3 Roger Federer is facing #1 Novak Dkjokovic in the semis. Which means they seeded the top players 1 vs. 3 and 2 vs. 4 instead of the more common 1/4 and 2/3.

If there’s some tennis follower more knowledgeable than me out there who can explain that, please feel free to post a comment.

* * * * *

Tiger Woods.

* * * * *

Have I mentioned how much I love watching the Tour de France, even though I know little of the subtleties of big time bicycle road racing. (Nor do I understand why in track racing, the competitors often ride as slowly as possible. But that’s a discussion for my Olympics coverage next month.)

Luxembourg’s Fabian Cancellara still wears the yellow jersey, won on the first day’s time trials.

I’m fascinated by the strategies employed in different stages of the three week competition. There are always three or four or several guys who speed out from the peloton and get a five minutes or more advantage. Early in the race, the field reels them in. Later on, teams and individuals get more defensive. If the break out riders have no chance of gaining on the race leaders, the peloton lets them go. Or, so I would observe.

I trust if I’m wrong I’ll hear from one of my readers who knows a lot more than I do.

I really love watching the stages each morning, especially the sprints and the mountain stages when stamina rules.

– Seedy K

4 Comments

  1. fred
    Posted July 6, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    You know that section is Sport Illustrated titled The Sign the Apocalypse is Upon Us? My entry would be that anyone would a) pay attention to a hotdog eating contest and b) that anyone would consider it a sport.

  2. c d kaplan
    Posted July 6, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    It’s become a Fourth of July tradition around our house. 

  3. Wildcat
    Posted July 6, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    Hey Maven. Fabian is Swiss….not from Luxembourg. My kids are half Swiss. We need all the glory we can get. So get your facts straight. And I am not talking about Fabian Forte.

  4. Seedy K
    Posted July 6, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I now understand he was born in Switzerland. However, as you can see from the attached link, the official Tour website identifies him as being from Luxembourg.

    http://www.letour.fr/le-tour/2012/us/riders/radioshack-nissan/cancellara-fabian.html

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