The one event in Kentucky capable of drawing a coast-to-coast crowd larger than a basketball or football game involving Universities of Kentucky and Louisville is the Kentucky Derby.
We arrive at our state’s pinnacle party time for the 137th springtime. A kaleidoscopic pageant just when the Commonwealth is green as a mint julep, a parade of celebs view for face time, all surrounded by glitterati and armies of tulips standing at attention while women try to out-hat each other.
Derby 137. If you flick on the TV at call-to-the-post time as I do, the way to this finish line will be another cavalry charge by three-year-olds facing the most exhausting run this side of the four miles and four furlongs of Britain’s Grand National.
Our Kentucky Derby is prime reality show. Contestants give their all and never attend a post race press conference.
Beauty of another Derby? Pundits wink, nod and Twitter, bettors call a friend, use a system, and Calvin Borel and his pals have made this trip before — and still nobody has a clue. If a hole opens at the last corner, every entry has a shot.
My card, in no particular order, reads – Dialed In and Midnight Interlude.
So, call ‘em to the post, Cawood. With due apologies to crooners Sheryl Crow and Eric Clapton, “Run Baby Run!”
24 Reasons to Put April Away
A word to describe Sports In Kentucky’s April? Loud.
1. Big winds and tornadoes.
2. Kentucky’s Randall Cobb got a phone call from the Green Bay Packers. No surprise gimpy Derrick Locke’s phone didn’t ring.
3. The NFL’s twin to Dick Vitale, Mel Kiper, has gone home again from another over-analyzed and overrated NFL Draft.
4. Newly minted millionaire Cameron Newton can stop smiling, have his dad come out of hiding, and stick a sock into skeptic mouths.
5. No more Bruce Pearl jokes … for now.
6. More tornadoes.
Also in the review mirror …
7. UConn coach Jim Calhoun whining about no respect for his program. Nine months from now, Calhoun begins a three game Big East Conference suspension for cheating. Says here, NCAA should review player academic progress toward a degree.
8. Kemba Walker, Josh Selby and a dozen other pretenders won’t be back. See ya!
9. Senior-to-be DeAndre Liggins put his name into the NBA Draft.
10. Brandon Knight has 48 hours to remove his.
11. Ohio State’s head football coach hasn’t had so bad an April since Woody Hayes punched Clemson’s Charlie Bauman (1978).
12. Jim Tressel may be dead coach walking in Columbus.
13. Not a good April for Joker Phillips at Kentucky either. Arguably the state’s premier high school prospect, 6-6, 225-pound five-star rated quarterback Zeke Pike at Dixie Heights, has committed to Auburn.
14. Tornadoes and flash floods.
Good stuff in April
15. John Calipari visited a coal mine. Can anyone imagine Rick Pitino doing the same?
16. Fifteenth time in 16 season Kentucky fans made Rupp Arena number one nationally in attendance, averaging 23,603 for 15 dates. Louisville fans made Yum Center third, 21,832, behind Syracuse.
17. At the conference level, for the 25th year in a row, the Big Ten was best, attracting 2.4 million fans. Big East was second and SEC third.
18. Enes Kanter’s year-in-Lexington sabbatical did no harm to NBA prospect. Wonder how his grades were?
19. Beginning mid-April 2012, college players applying for the NBA Draft must withdraw before first day of spring signing period to stay eligible instead of May 8, the NCAA has ruled.
Whatever limits professional basketball’s influence on the college game is a good thing. Separate pretenders from college studentathletes as soon as possible.
20. Anyone seen Chris Andersen of the Denver Nuggets? Candidate for the Face of Today’s NBA. Look him up.
21. God’s Gift Achiuwa is headed to St. John’s, and headline writers are warming up in a bullpen near you. Gift, is a 6-9 240-pound Nigerian whose four siblings are brothers Promise and Precious and sisters Grace and Peace.
22. Record setting rain and flash floods.
April Low Points? Could Be …
23. A Madison, Indiana man, whose wife is a county prosecutor, faced a battery charge for allegedly choking a referee at their daughter’s basketball game. Fortyone year- old Robert Hensley was arrested after an altercation at Muncie Elementary School in Madison.
Police Chief Yancy Denning told a local reporter the incident occurred after a referee made foul calls on two girls in a game between Madison’s eighth-grade girls and Switzerland County’s team.
Hensley and another parent left the stands, went onto the floor to argue a call and put the referee in a choke hold .
Hensley’s wife is Switzerland County Prosecutor Monica Hensley.
24. Economic hard times may prevail at your house, but UK director of athletics Mitch Barnhart was forced into a hasty retreat after critics questioned his decision to spend thousands on video board upgrades at Commonwealth Stadium.
In a statement, Barnhart said, “Reports by local media outlets and recent responses to plans of purchasing new video boards at Commonwealth Stadium paint a picture of an athletics department that not only swims in cash but borrows from a cash-strapped university. It appears to be a case of the rich not only neglecting the poor, but taking from them as well.”
UK’s director of athletics went on to portray his department as “a vital partner” with the university.
Partner? A university’s athletics department is a partner? What’s wrong with that picture?
And so it goes.
You may reach Bob Watkins at Sprtsinky@aol.com.