Times, of course, have changed. The biggest Derby-related story is that Rick Pitino owns part of a horse that's running. The boxing match is stuck on pay-per-view. (Seriously? $59.99, in the era of UFC for free on television?) And baseball has become a sport that's based on local television, a sport that still gets huge ratings except that those ratings are split 15 ways every day.
It makes you wonder what the next sport to fall will be, like horse racing and boxing before them. Football is the biggest sport in North America, and is on TV so much that it'll always do well unless television somehow becomes unpopular. Basketball keeps getting better at the pro level, thanks to its growth around the world, and is the only sport in which the college game might actually be more popular. Hockey, never that nationally popular in the USA, will always have its Canadian bulwark to fall back on. Soccer's trajectory is only headed upwards. Auto racing has been fun in every era, whether NASCAR or Formula One.
For now, though, it'd be a good day to relieve the past. Put on a suit and tie and, crucially, a hat, get yourself some form of health-giving tobacco product, and sit down and watch the ponies run, and a couple of gentlemen try to beat each other's skulls flat. Turn on the Yankees game. It'll be your very own sports version of "Mad Men."
*On with the links:
*Given that it's Derby day, it's a good chance to link again to Grantland's director's cut of Hunter S. Thompson's famous "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved."
*I'm not entirely sure what's going on in Portland. They have one of the two best game-day atmospheres in Major League Soccer, along with Seattle. They sold 7,000+ season tickets for their women's pro team, more than any other team in the league has drawn for a game. And they drew more than 3,000 fans -- really -- for a Make-A-Wish Foundation game against an eight-year-old's team. The fans even created banners for the youth team, the Green Machine. Yeah, I know hipsters and fixed-gear bikes and craft beer, but seriously: why has Portland embraced soccer at all its levels more than maybe anywhere else in the world?
*The Wild drew their highest-ever rating on Fox Sports North on Tuesday, which is impressive. Given that the Game 7 of the Wild-Canucks series in 2003 drew a 67 share on FOX 9, though - that's two out of every three people watching TV - there's still some room to grow.
*I enjoyed this David Kahn exit post from Patrick Reusse, which does point out one thing about Kahn: despite being a woeful president of basketball operations for the Timberwolves, he was always polite and decent, despite the over-the-top criticism he received. I don't think I'd have been able to do the same.
*And finally, let's go back to horse racing, where Spencer Hall, Jon Bois, and Martin Rickman have combined to come up with a list of the worst possible horse names. Key entry: "Ketchup Sandwich, in Lieu of a Family."