Sunday, March 14, 2010

Seriously Chapter 77: Those Two Great Ladies

Zenyatta Vs. Rachel Alexandra, Please Oh Please

In his dogged pursuit of a stable, sober life, Seriously's had to give up the ponies. I simply can't go to the race track anymore, even though a chunk of my heart is gone because of it. I probably spent most of the 80's and 90's dozing off at Hollywood Park; on my days off and, yes, sometimes when I was on duty (full disclosure towards amends). And even though I no longer attend, due to all the accompanying bad habits and lowlifes associated with said activity, I always keep up and I still love to watch 'em run. On the split-screen feed from the track, I always stay high but then look down low at the end for the close up; I just love to see the look on the horses' faces. And did I mention I love the smell of horse manure?
While the horse game is a currently like the boxing game, in that there's not enough superstars around, Seriously is still in awe that we're fortunate enough, right now, to be bearing witness to the two greatest fillies the world has seen since Ruffian. That would be the 11-victory, first-girl-Preakness-winner-in-85-years, 2009 Horse of the Year, Rachel Alexandra; and her counterpart, the undefeated (at 15-0) first-female-consecutive-winner-of-the-Breeder's Cup in racing history, that Lady-Leviathan-of-the-Oval, the mighty Zenyatta. Like Ruffian, they said she was too fat.
Rachel, with her famous splotchy face and classic bay body and Zenyatta; long, strong and dark bay/brown. Two beautiful, powerful, lovely girls simply being the best at what they do. (??)
Since the end of 2008, the entire nation has clamored for Rachel and Zenyatta to face off and they're scheduled to do just that on April 9th with the 2010 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The impact of this race is one that will reverberate around the globe and grind this very nation to a halt, unlike any event we've seen since the last great Jack Johnson fight. However, check this out: Seriously just got off the phone with Rachel's owner, Jess Jackson, he of Kendall-Jackson fame. (You know, the shit wine that tastes like ground-up cork?) Jess, fresh off an interview with my friend Marcus Hersh over at ESPN, he proceeds to drop a big fat bomb. He says Rachel's tune-up race this weekend in New Orleans (she finished 2nd) has left her "too exhausted to compete" on April 9th in Hot Springs.
Seriously doesn't know Jess Jackson, so berating him for talking to Marcus Hersh @ ESPN before talking to me was not an option. I had to let it slide. The fact that the cat's a billionaire wouldn't have stopped me from saying something, either. You know how I am, I've lived with kings and paupers alike. I just never met the guy before.
This wildly insane turn of events, the race being off, is burning up the wires as I write this and I want to update you on what's going on behind the scenes; because I care about you like family and you deserve to know.
For the last year or so, Jess and Company (and particularly his stable guys) have openly taunted Zenyatta's owners, Jerry and Ann Moss, about the fact that they won't have their pony race outside of California "due to the potential stress of such travel," they say. Some race people understand this concern, but others have called it, "The Fear of Rachel." Suspicions were also raised on two other occasions when Rachel's people wanted their girl to compete in a couple of Cup races out in So Cal but they simply couldn't get Zenyatta's schedule pinned down. But, too-da-loo, too-da-loo, now it seems the suspicion shoe is on the other hoof. With Jerry and Ann having agreed to send Zenyatta out-of-state to Arkansas, now all of a sudden Rachel doesn't have enough time to recover for a race that she's already committed to? (Hello, is this thing on?) Give us an injury of some sort, don't sight fatigue as the reason. We've all been around the game, we know recovery times. Don't try and shit the shitters. This story's heating up big time and if the parties involved don't watch it, somebody's gonna get burned. Heck, the purse for this Apple Blossom Handicap in Arkansas stood at $500,000 until Rachel and Zenyatta signed on; then it jacked up to $5,000,000. Now it's back to half a mill and a lot of people have a lot of questions. Including certain people involved at a certain level of influence who really don't like it when a certain level of cash flow is expected and then, all of a sudden, it's not happening anymore; they get extremely angry - and that's just the Methodists in Hot Springs.
I'll keep you posted on how this thing's gonna turn out. For now, Zenyatta's in and Rachel's ixnay. Wait a second - oh, look at this. A little bird just happened to message me and the little bird says the match up "is not dead at all" and we're just at the tail end of a secret, tit-for-tat game of equine chess, he tells me. A "tit-for-tat game of equine chess?" Whatever, Professor Plum in the Library With the Wrench. My freakin' sources, sometimes, I swear. Just get me the story, jackass. Get me the info and quit trying to write your way into my stupid life. Sorry about that but in my world right now I have to deal with issues immediately.
There's only one thing we know for sure about the race; the entire country is chomping at the bit to witness this tremendous clash of the titans. Not just because it'll be a great race - it will go down in history as one of the great American cultural events of our time.

So let the girls run. For God's sake, let the girls run.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Seriously Chapter 76: Sights & Smells; Vin Scully Is Exempt

The sweet din of baseball has returned once again, like an old family friend, your most favorite pair of comfortable shoes; or any of that other horse shit writers always write when talking about an upcoming major league baseball season.

Welcome to My World, Friends

Where good people with good intentions do every scribe/journalist in the business a horrible disservice by WAY over-writing the majesty of spring baseball.

Window Into the Sports News Business - You're Behind the Scenes Right Now

Seriously is currently surrounded, via conference call, by three sports media jackasses who shall remain mostly nameless. One is my guy at ESPN, another is the executive producer of a very serious NBC Sports program (and sadly a gambler), and the third is a nearly-retarded individual who runs the sports desk at the L.A. Shrunken Times. Even though a couple of these guys probably make more money than I do, they know Seriously's doing the talking right now. Listen in as he discusses what most sports writers invariably do in the run-up to opening day.


... Let me live my own Field of Dreams, writer
man. I can paint the picture on my own, just
fine. The saccharine angle has been done to
death and in words for more beautiful and
brilliant than anything you could ever come
up with, so spare me the sepia tone and just
tell me about the game, what's on the field,
what's going on in the clubhouse. ...

Some grumble, mumble from a couple of the gathered idiots.


... Forgive me if I don't necessarily care about
your relationship with your dad, and how you
used to go to Brewers' games together, and
have hot dogs and now he's on a breathing tube.
Hell, my old man was on a breathing tube
when he was dying, but he also had his foot so
far up my ass that it was tapping on my chin.
I hated my dad's guts. He kicked my ass and
smacked the crap out of my sister. Does that
make sense to any of you sons of

None of the other three says a thing, just the sound of sips from their respective cocktails.


Yeah, you all drink and I don't, and I know
you want to taunt me and make fun of me.
But all kidding aside; I'm reaching through
the b.s. and calling you to the carpet right
now, boys, so let me get this out before you
guys go in. You, the work you do personally,
and all the baseball writers you boss around
(trust me, I've bossed a few writers around).
The message to your respective people has
simply got to be, "Quit trying to evoke the
`The Boys of Summer' and get the goddamn
stories out." We got rosters full of guys, most
of them have to go, and there's a whole flippin',
frickin' season to cover. Hey, you don't think
I'm emotional or feel moved about the
prospect of baseball? Baseball season starting
once again is like me having my meds just
right. I feel a beautiful, golden hum to depth
of my soul. Seriously's a beaten down hack of
a sports reporter (half my life spent as a
drunk and a lounge lizard) but with baseball
in season, I can survive anything. But that's
not my point. I'm Joe Q. Public, just get me
the information.

A few other choice insults get passed back and forth and it's agreed upon by all four that Seriously has a valid point regarding spring training coverage. Then a few bromides of agreement are tossed, "Less syrup, more steak," and what-not, followed by a few "I'll bring it up in my staff meetings'," etc.

End of Conference Call

There you have it. I get in conversations about crap like this all the time because I care and I know you care.

An Interview With The Cuban

There's a 30 million-dollar rookie pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds named Aroldis Chapman and he throws 100 MPH. I've just spoken with manager Dusty Baker and I hope to be announcing a sit down with this Cuban baseball Jesus (who is blowing the lid off the Cactus League) in the next couple days. I'll keep you posted and let you know if Seriously will be flying to Arizona. The kid's minder is Tony Fossas, my old Cubano hermano, so I know we're going to get this done.

Stay tuned.