Because it’s all about the page views these days, there’s an outside chance AJC.com will lead a story with something like: “Sources indicate Matthew Stafford and Lindsay Lohan are dating and plan to attend next year’s Georgia-Florida game, which by the way could be moved to Atlanta, and for more on the LATEST RECRUITING WARS, CLICK HERE!!!!!”
This makes it difficult when the actual story is about topics that generally don’t generate as much Internet traffic, like, say, the economy or world peace. But that’s what transitions are for.
Which leads me to the leadoff item in this week’s Tuesday Countdown: Horse racing.
NO WAIT! COME BACK! THIS IS REALLY GOOD!
It’s also about SEX!
See. It works.
Take it, Count.
If you missed Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, it was won by a horse named Mine That Bird. This is the sports equivalent of the Nationals winning the World Series, if most of the Nationals’ players actually worked at a Burger King the year before, which, come to think of it, they were. Mine That Bird was a 50-1 longshot. Mine That Bird was sold at auction in 2007 for $9,500 (I think that was with a Kroger Plus Card). And best of all: Mine That Bird is a GELDING!
Know how sometimes male soccer players all stand in a line and use their hands to protect their, um, midfielders, just before an opponent’s direct kick? I think that’s what male horses do when they hear, “Gelding!” Horses are gelded (or de-manhooded) when their owners believe they won’t be put out to stud (see below; no, not that far below) and for other reasons. From a Wikipedia definition: “Castration, and the elimination of hormonally-driven behavior associated with a stallion, allows a male horse to be calmer and better-behaved, making the animal quieter, gentler and potentially more suitable as an everyday working animal.” Question: More suitable for who?
Back to the Derby: Winning the race can be worth millions to the owner and several weeks of heaven for the horse. How so? Stud fees. According to my pal Jay Privman, a national correspondent for the Racing Form: “It depends on the pedigree he has and how he does after the Derby, and the economy. But in round numbers, you can make $40,000 per mare.” (A mare is a female horse over the age of 3, when, I believe, it becomes consensual in most states.)
How many mares?
“Maybe 150, over 4 ½ months. They’re like Hugh Hefner.”
Is this a straight-cash deal? Do the mares leave the money on the nightstand?
“No. But she does say, ‘Call me.’ And of course, they never do.”
But Man That Bird could win the Triple Crown and it wouldn’t significantly change his retirement plans.
Stud plans: dead.
And you think a devalued 401k is depressing?
I did some research. Other famous geldings include John Henry and Funny Cide. But the most famous of all was Bamboo Harvester. He played the talking horse, “Mr. Ed,” in the old TV series. But much like a Kentucky Derby winner, being a gelded Hollywood celebrity has its limitations. Take note of the Mr. Ed photos.
Rumors are afoot that Brett Favre is un-retiring (again) and wants to play for the Minnesota Vikings (still) so that he can stick it to the Green Bay Packers (who dared to call his retirement bluff the first time). My colleague, Mark Bradley, recently called Favre “the most overrated athlete of our time.” Gotta disagree with him there. Favre will and should go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. That said, he’s rapidly become one of the most obnoxious creatures of all-time and is devaluing his legacy, much like a certain former heavyweight champion who just won’t go away. I was trying to think of the best way to put this, until former NFLer Randy Cross did it for me in consecutive Twitters: “Brett Favre hurt his legacy if he comes back — again? To play for a division rival to spite Ted Thompson + Mike McCarthy? … Shouldn’t hurt his legacy a bit if his legacy is as a self-absorbed, petty and delusional has-been. I prefer to remember him as a HOF cinch.”
People couldn’t dump on Andruw Jones fast enough after his last-season slide with the Braves and his first disastrous year in Los Angeles. He was called fat, lazy, drunk and stupid so often, you would’ve thought he was Flounder from Animal House. He finally accepted a minor-league contract to go to spring training in Texas. OK. So where are the naysayers now? Have you looked, recently? Jones is hitting .333 with three homers and eight RBI in 13 games (39 at-bats) as a backup outfielder and DH. Yes, it’s early. But get this: Jones actually has more walks (12) than strikeouts (10) and a career-high on-base percentage of .500. So it turns out he does have some pride.
Spoke to Dan Reeves. His son-in-law and former assistant coach with the Falcons, Joe DeCamillis, is doing better after surgery to repair broken vertebrae, suffered in the collapse of the Dallas Cowboys’ indoor practice facility after a tornado the other day. “Doctors said everything looks good,” said Reeves, who almost went to work for the Cowboys as a consultant recently. “The only thing they have to watch for now is bleeding, swelling and infection, which is always the concern after surgery.” DeCamillis, the Dallas special teams’ coach, is married to Reeves’ oldest daughter, Dana.
So how confident do you feel after the Hawks eliminated Miami? Because if you really believe an upset of LeBron James and Cleveland is in the cards, you can set yourself up for life. For tonight’s game alone, the Cavaliers are 11 1/2 point favorites, or 12-1 favorites on the money line, according to BetUS.com. The online sportsbook also has Cleveland as lopsided 2-13 favorites to win the East and 3-2 to win the NBA title. The Hawks: 20-1 to win the series, 35-1 to win the East and 100-1 to win the NBA championship. Another online sportsbook, Bodog, lists Cleveland as slightly better than even money to sweep the Hawks (5-4) or win the series in five games (11-10). They’re 9-2 to win in six games and 7-1 to win in seven. The Hawks are 100-1 to sweep, 75-1 to win in five, 40-1 to win in six and 50-1 to win in seven. Or, you can always go with a scratch-off ticket.
I asked Hawks owner Michael Gearon Jr. that. No, the Atlanta Spirit is not suddenly in the black because the Hawks are guaranteed at least six home playoff games (four in round one, two in round two). But it does help significantly in other areas. “The more playoff games you play, it obviously helps,” Gearon said, adding he didn’t know even ballpark numbers. “What’s most important is we’re doing very well as far as new ticket sales go. The city is responding. We’re building up a fan-base. This isn’t a one-shot deal. That’s what matters most.”
Grilled brats last night. My wife made me look at the label, which indicated there were 22 grams of fat in each, further evidence why there are no Victoria Secret models from Green Bay or Sheboygan. Damn right I ate two.
Still can’t get over the whole 150 mares in 4 1/2 months thing. I mean, is this Wilt Chamberlain-like exaggeration. And how big do they make those blue pills, anyway?
Jeff Schultz can be reached via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), Facebook, Tweeter (SchultzAJC) or carrier pigeon (make a right off 400).