It’s Mea Culpa Wednesday.
In the spirit of apology, I’ll start with myself for the careless use of a word in a column that appeared on May 30.
That prompted reader Ronald W. Winters to write a letter to the editor that ran last week in which he took me to task for my “disturbing lack of sensitivity.”
And he was right.
The line in question came in a column praising the Tewaaraton Trophy selection committee for naming brothers Miles and Lyle Thompson of UAlbany co-winners of the college lacrosse equivalent of the Heisman Trophy.
Because the sport is closely intertwined with the Iroquois culture and religion, I made reference to the Creator, the god from whom all life sprang, the Iroquois believe, also known as the Great Spirit.
In my haste, I attached the adjective “mythological” to qualify the word “god,” to which Mr. Winters objected.
While I could argue that any god could be considered mythological based on the fact that they’re the subject of stories that attempt to explain the unexplainable, there was no need to describe the Iroquois god in a way that suggests that I believe the Creator to be fictitious or false.
Of course, I meant no disrespect, but words are powerful tools and should be used carefully, especially when you have the privilege of a public forum like this.
Sorry about that.
That brings us to our buddy Steve Coburn, who sounded off after his horse, California Chrome, lost the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, then made matters worse by angrily and defiantly reiterating his position on Sunday in interviews with “Good Morning America” and ESPN radio.
“I don’t regret a damn thing.”
He’s welcome to his opinion, but in the process, he not only came off as a sore loser, but insulted the Tonalist camp by calling them cowards, repeatedly, for jumping into the Belmont with a fresh horse who did not run in the Kentucky Derby or Preakness.
Somebody must have talked some sense into him, perhaps his wife Carolyn, because there was Coburn in front of the TV cameras again on Monday, this time to apologize, primarily to the Tonalist camp.
“I’m very ashamed of myself and need to apologize to a lot of people,” he told Robin Roberts on ABC with his wife sitting next to him.
“The winners ran a beautiful race, and I did not mean to take anything away from them. I sincerely apologize to [trainer] Christophe Clement and all the horse racing world. Tonalist deserved to win, and won fair and square.”
He began to tear up when he apologized to the fans who have supported California Chrome and said, “This is America’s horse, and I wanted this horse to win the Triple Crown for America.”
OK. He didn’t say anything about whether he still wants the Belmont and Preakness to be restricted to Derby runners, but at least he did the right thing by apologizing for insulting the Tonalist camp and for drawing so much attention away from what was a good story.
It should be noted that it’s possible to lose a big race with class and dignity, and all the evidence you needed could be found after Princess of Sylmar came up a nose short of Close Hatches in the Ogden Phipps.
Ed Stanco and his King of Prussia partners, friends and family were deeply disappointed about the loss, but they congratulated the winning connections, and didn’t make any excuses.
Or Coburn could’ve followed the example set by his own trainer, Art Sherman, who was all class on Saturday and on the follow-up Sunday. Art also nailed it on the head when he pointed out that Coburn is a newbie owner who had never faced a heart-breaking loss like that.
CHRIS KAY NEXT?
We’re still waiting to see how NYRA president Chris “Enhanced Guest Experience” Kay will address and respond to the many, many customer service complaints from Belmont Day. This is supposed to be his department, isn’t it?
One reader who left a message on my voicemail said it was “absolutely unbelievable . . . NYRA should be ashamed of themselves.”
On a day that drew 102,199 to Belmont, NYRA crushed records for on-track handle ($19,105,877) and all-sources handle ($150,249,399), which was one of the objectives of moving all those stakes to create a Breeders’ Cup-like card.
You shouldn’t go to an event like this and expect to not encounter long lines and high prices. When we go to NFL games, we plan on hanging out in the parking lot for at least an hour after the game before even thinking about attempting to leave.
NYRA is drawing fire for a variety of shortcomings on Saturday, though. People with reserved seats found general admission people sitting in them, concession stands ran out of food, beer and water and the wifi and cell service did not come close to living up to demand.
I couldn’t pull up NYRA Rewards on my phone and had a text message rejected as undeliverable, which never happens.
The worst came after the card, when a disorganized (non-existent?) exit plan left many people stuck in dark parking lots for hours. Some have described it as the zombie apocalypse.
I spent a few hours roaming the plant and wagering on Sunday before heading back to Schenectady and found areas that had not been cleaned up and huge piles of garbage waiting for removal.
You could label any of these as quibbles on their own, but taken as a whole, it paints an ugly picture of how unprepared NYRA was to handle a huge day that they knew was coming.