In name, Kentucky’s first Saturday in May is international. The “Run For the Roses.”
This week, Kentucky Derby history is stirred to life in a rush of Bluegrass springtime. A pageant comes to us in shades of green, golden rod yellows, white, black and stone fences and roses of course. Among the fixtures? Mint Juleps, a who’s who list of celebrities, and women prancing about in immodest hats.
Parties pop up like mushrooms, the biggest, loudest, longest socials possible, all arranged around a six o’clock call to the post Saturday at Churchill Downs.
Oh yes, the horses. The race features a gang of three-year-olds who are, uh, one-and-doners.
Who will win and wear the 554- rose blanket? Nobody has a clue, including pundits, handicappers, writers, broadcasters or ladies in fancy hats.
Thing is, the $2 million prizewinner and stud fee profiteers aside, who cares?
In some order, my list says Gemologist, Creative Cause and Alpha. But my favorites are Union Rags and Hansen.
Boos for Coach Cal?
From the Lemme see if I have this straight department, UK Coach John Calipari showed up at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati to throw out the first pitch at a Reds game early last week. Fans booed and Reds radio voice Marty Brennaman raged. His target: Both the boo birds and some members of Big Blue Nation.
Kentucky fans should have been at the park in greater numbers, Brennaman scolded, to show Calipari love and support.
Love it when Marty sounds off? I do.
Why the boos for Cal? The Queen City is after all home to the Cincinnati Bearcats and Xavier Musketeers. But, a more intriguing reason could be linked to a Cincinnati Enquirer column days before Cal’s visit. When the Reds announced Calipari’s coming visit, radio call-in shows lit up with fans raging against UK’s coach and Big Blue fans.
Under a headline “Why UK fans are despised,” John Popovich wrote, “I am truly baffled by the distaste that some in Greater Cincinnati have for UK basketball and more specifically, its loud, proud and often arrogant fans.”
“What the hell am I missing,” he continued. “Have we become so uncivil, so intolerant, so misguided that we can’t appreciate what a school or a team has achieved.”
Answer is yes, with a semi in front.
• Only because Kentucky is national champion is Duke being spared the annual venom reserved for elite programs.
• Popovich’s characterization of UK fans as loud, proud and often arrogant is not proportional of course. Only a slice of winning-iseverything Wildcat fans make the loudest and longest noise.
• Boos for Calipari? His oneand done model is one reason why.
While Cal apologists in Big Blue Nation defend their coach, the coach himself condemns the NBA rule for 19-yearolds. However, Cal is not bound by the spirit of the rule and sounds of winning drown out any moral dilemma.
Tyndall: His Lips Moved
Latest ball coach to move his lips was Donnie Tyndall, formerly of Morehead State. Early last week, Tyndall was introduced as the new basketball coach at Southern Mississippi, replacing Larry Eustachy who cashed his $385,000-a-year contract in Hattiesburg for another job.
Last spring, Tyndall signed a contract renewal with Morehead for four years ($230,000 each). Pretty fair security, 230 grand in Morehead, Kentucky, right? Wrong.
What makes Tyndall’s job jump interesting is six seasons ago he begged school officials for “a chance” to coach at his alma mater. The arrival and development of Kenneth Faried gave Tyndall the pulpit to become a quote machine and media darling. A signature win over Louisville in the NCAA Tournament and high NBA draft spot for Faried added just the right glitter to his résumé.
Tyndall’s move to greener pastures is the American way. Go with God. Yet, if a ball coach cannot honor a six-figure contract for multiple years then he should sign for one and include coach/school mutual option to renew or not.
If Southern Mississippi’s new coach came recruiting, your son should ask these questions: “Coach, if I sign, will you be there for me? Can I count on your commitment to me? Didn’t you just break a commitment to Morehead State?” Then lean back on the sofa and watch carefully. See how the ball coach moves his lips.
Clutching his left knee and grimacing in pain, Derrick Rose’s season with the Chicago Bulls ended last week. Torn anterior cruciate ligament. With modern medical techniques and the Bulls paying for Rose’s knee repair and rehabilitation, he should be ready for next season.
But what if Rose is not able to be the player he was before last week? Presumably, he has cash in the bank. But what future for Rose, a one-and-doner at Memphis, if he is unable to play ball again?
Suddenly, Derrick Rose would be a 23-year-old high school graduate whose only documented skill is bouncing a ball.
And so it goes.