The Notorious B.I.G. and P. Diddy said it best. I’d also add to that: as a writer (a freelance rapper (no, not really)) and shoe salesman, No money, mo’ problems also applies.
I know winter brings on seasonal depression (you should have heard my existential monologue on the way to work this morning), but the sports landscape is like the egg from the Zoloft commercials. It’s like Charlie Brown’s tree is eating more than just a bi-polar child’s kite.
Just look at what’s going on:
1. The National Football League is mired in collective bargaining talks.
2. Carmelo Anthony weighs whether or not to sign an extension for $65 million or go along with a trade.
3. Albert Pujols’ self-imposed deadline passed without $300 million inked and
4. Suffolk Downs can’t get no love!
The New England Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (NEHBPA) withdrew the simulcasting signal for all tracks of significance nationwide like the New York Racing Association and others. Since no live racing takes place at Suffolk Downs these days this was its only chance at generating revenue. Now it makes the property in East Boston as pretty as Commentator’s rectum.
My good friend, suffolkdownslova, has to drive all the way to Raynham-Taunton Greyhound Park to place the bets he so lovingly needs. Frankly, I need them too, because he’s always got a good story about being alive to a 15-1 horse in the last leg of the Pick 4. These stories are never funny when you win.
He’s getting dragged through the muck because the NEHBPA wants 100 days of live racing with an average of $100,000 in purses a day. It maintains that it needs this to pay bills and adequately support the livestock.
Suffolk Downs says it can only afford 67 days. It can increase that number to 76 days if they get alternative gaming — ssssslots — legislation passed. How long did it take New York to do that? See you in 2020.
Reporter Lynne Snierson of The Blood-Horse reported that Suffolk Downs CEO Chip Tuttle wrote in a letter, “'went on to write that the horsemen in New England and around the country have shown a “complete lack of respect” to the loyal customers who raise purse revenue by betting at Suffolk. He termed this disregard as “most troubling” and “most stunning.'”
NEHBPA attorney Frank Frisoli dugs his heals in telling The Blood-Horse, “This appears to be heating up. I don’t know if we’re headed to court or to a resolution.”
The best part is that the 82-year-old owner of Brockton Fair Grounds, George Carney, is circling this carrion like a hyena. While Suffolk consumes itself with war, the balance of power and sovereignty of Massachusetts racing could be slipping into the hands of Gollum. “This might be an opportunity to get back into the ballgame,” Carney told the Brockton Enterprise. “I’m optimistic.”
When it comes to money in sports I’m always in favor of the player. After all, if Alex Rodriguez, Peyton Manning, and Kevin Garnett can make the money they make, just think of how much money the owners go to bed with at night. Wal-Mart CEO Michael Duke makes $35 million a year — more than A-Rod — and nobody brings the pikes to impale his head.
The fans of the sport get mighty mad and I can understand that, but let these guys get theirs.
The difference in horse racing is that major fans — the ones who slog to the track to bet on this game — drive the sport and they’re the ones who get pulled through the manure again and again.
Suffolkdownslova shouldn’t have to drive an hour through traffic to an equally depressing place to throw down money for the early Pick 4.
The Suffolk Downs mess is just another example of misplaced priorities and the sad state of affairs that is this once-cherished sport.
Brendan O'Meara is the author of the forthcoming book "Six Weeks in Saratoga: How Three-Year-Old Filly Rachel Alexandra Beat the Boys and Became Horse of the Year. You can learn more at The Blog Itself, follow @BrendanOMeara, or go to his web site http://www.brendanomeara.com.