I'm back from a long weekend feeling rested and well-entertained.
The Craig Ferguson show I attended on Friday was hilarious. I was curious to see if it would be vastly different from the “Late Late Show”, but it really wasn't. Besides not having to censor his curse words (which is done in a uniquely entertaining manner on the show), the basic style was very similar. Similar, but extended as the show went about an hour and a half, and there were no annoying guests pimping movies to deal with.
It was a really fun night with some good friends. Well worth the money and the vacation day!
But my entertainment wasn't the only thing happening this weekend. Time to get caught up with some Notes.
Let's do this...
”Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.”
- Voltaire (1694 - 1778), French Enlightenment writer and philosopher
I wish I'd had a little more certainty on Saturday, even if it would've been a little absurd. I'll explain in my...
Super Saver won the Kentucky Derby... and I failed to capitalize on giving you all a winning Exacta bet.
Yup, that's right. For the first time in 5 years I decided to take a pass on the Derby and boy oh boy was it a costly one.
In Wednesday's column I gave you my picks for the Derby. My winner, Ice Box, didn't come through, but had I followed my instincts I would've cleaned up.
First off, as the race drew closer, I started to feel that like last year, the muddy track conditions might give jockey Calvin Borel an edge with his “stick to the rail” strategy. A friend, Paul in Omaha, sent me a message Saturday morning asking for advice. What I told him was, “my best advice is to not bet, but if you have to bet, don't leave Super Saver (Borel's mount) out of your consideration.”
Okay, that's not a call, but I likely would've hedged my Win bet on Ice Box, with another Win bet on Super Saver. He ended up paying $18 to a $2 Win bet. My standard Derby Win bet is $10, so there's $90 I missed out on.
I did tell you that my Exact box would include Lookin at Lucky, Ice Box and Super Saver. Since Super Saver and Ice Box finished 1-2, that bet would've hit too. A $2 Exacta wager on Super Saver, Ice Box paid $152.40. My standard Derby Exacta wager is $5, so that's $381 I missed out on.
So, $471 non-won later... I'm feeling pretty dumb about not getting my bets in.
Why didn't I then?
Because my doubts (thanks Voltaire) in the quality of the field and in the quality of the racing surface convinced me that something goofy would happen. And in essence, it sort of did.
The favorite, Looking at Lucky, got a horrible trip, getting cut off at least twice down the front-stretch and never firing after that. My pick, Ice Box, also had a terrible trip. Just when his jockey had him set to make a move, he got cut off and had to swing out so wide that by the time he finally did fire, there wasn't enough time to catch Super Saver. If that was the Belmont instead of the Derby and all other things were equal, Ice Box would've caught Super Saver and won the race. Meanwhile Super Saver got about as perfect a trip as he could've asked for. All due credit to Calvin Borel for guiding him, but there was a lot of luck in that trip, as could be said about most Derby-winning rides I suppose.
Washington Post columnist Andrew Beyer said it best in his column when he said:
“The result confirmed the pre-race impression that, after the injury to the star colt Eskendereya, this is an unexceptional group of 3-year-olds and none has a significant advantage over the rest.”
So even though I was correct enough to have potentially pocketed a tidy sum, I was also correct in my misgivings headed into the race. How's that for playing both sides of the fence?
It appears a re-match is in the offing for the Preakness Stakes one week from this coming Saturday. If so, we'll find out for sure if Beyer's correct.
Joe Mauer's got a bum heel... and backup catcher Drew Butera is sweating bullets.
But wait... if Mauer's on the shelf for an indeterminate amount of time, wouldn't that benefit Butera?
Yes and no.
Butera certainly benefits by getting an increased amount of playing time. But he also has to be checking over his shoulder, wondering if he's about to lose his spot to Wilson Ramos, who was called up to make sure there were two healthy catchers on the roster.
Ramos is a star prospect in the Twins minor league system, and he made his Major League debut on Sunday. He's long been considered a better offensive than defensive player. And Sunday's performance bore that out. Ramos went 4-for-5 with a run scored, but was also tested defensively. Cleveland only stole one base off of Ramos, but they tried a lot of plays to force the kid to make quick decisions.
Oh, by the way, the last Twin to go 4-for-5 in his big league debut? Kirby Puckett in 1984. No pressure kid. Welcome to the big leagues!
There are reports that Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire wanted Ramos as the back-up catcher to Joe Mauer out of Spring Training, but was over-ruled by GM Billy Smith who believed that Ramos would be better served by getting more playing time at Triple-A Rochester. After this weekend's games, you can certainly see what Gardy was thinking. Butera came up in a critical situation in extra innings in Saturday's game - bases loaded, one out - and promptly grounded into a rally-killing double-play. The Twins wound up losing that one. Ramos joined the team in time for Sunday's game, got his first start, went 4-for-5 and the Twins won going away.
Mind you, those results aren't directly connected. The Twins had plenty of other chances besides Butera's on Saturday, and Ramos only accounted for one of the Twins' eight runs on Sunday. Still, you can see the potential and promise that Ramos provides that Butera doesn't.
All of which leaves the Twins with a big decision once Mauer's heel is back to 100%. If Ramos goes on a tear at the plate and shows that he can provide some added pop to the Twins line-up, then is it he that gets the ticket back to Rochester so he can keep getting regular work? Or will the Twins perhaps keep him in the big leagues, give Mauer more regular rest, and ship Butera back to Rochester?
It's not an easy call, but I suppose you could say it's one of those “nice problems to have”. An abundance of talent is generally preferable to, say, being the Pittsburgh Pirates. (Cheap shot? Yes. Untrue? No.)
Favre-Watch 2010 is on... and I can barely feign interest.
Okay, technically this didn't start over the weekend. But since I failed to comment on it last week, I figured I'd give it a go today.
Late last week, ESPN's Ed Werder posted this column which is summed up nicely in this first paragraph:
Brett Favre has been informed he requires surgery on his left ankle to play the upcoming season for the Minnesota Vikings, and the quarterback is deliberating whether to have the procedure or simply to end his 19-year NFL career by retiring.
So there we have it. Let the “Will He/Won't He” speculation begin!
Or will it?
ESPN's NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert immediately followed up Werder's report with this column where he claims that Favre's potential ankle surgery is nothing more than “this year's excuse to avoid Training Camp.”
And I have a sneaking suspicion that he's right. Not that Brett's lying about needing the surgery. Just that he'll time the surgery so that he'll miss Training Camp while he's rehabbing from the operation.
I suppose he could go the other way and just retire. But has anybody seen any evidence that he will? He's flat out said, “I'm done” in the past, and still come back and played. Now he's just “deliberating”. Anyone else want to lay odds that he's coming back?
I thought you might.
Look, we've all seen this movie before. Do yourself a favor. Go see “Iron Man 2” on Friday and wait til September to see how all this Favre melodrama works out. It'll be a better use of your time, trust me.
That's going to wrap it up for today. I'll be back on Wednesday with more of the usually ramblings and nonsense.
Until then, thanks for reading!