Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Racing's Version of Mark Sanchez, Tuesday Notes

I went to a Bills-Dolphins game about ten or so years ago. Starting for the Bills was Rob Johnson, the former Jacksonville quarterback. Johnson was a big signing. The owner appeared to like him and they gave him a nice sized contract. He was their future - the new Jim Kelly.

But a wrench was thrown into that plan - he was awful. That day, and every day.

After a first half when the Bills could barely make a first down, Johnson was throwing balls a grade six quarterback wouldn't throw in a schoolyard and looking particularly horrible, he trotted out for the second half. Flutie did come in about four series later, and led the team to a couple of touchdown drives, but I wasn't there, I had gone home.

Doug Flutie won games but rode pine. Johnson played, series after series, looking horrible. The team stuck with Johnson because they had put their money where their mouth is; they had to. Or they'd be proven wrong.

Simlarly last evening, a quarterback who looks to be playing worse than Johnson ever played, again trotted out series after series. Committing five turnovers didn't seem to matter. It's like the coaching staff has a "fatal attraction" to the quarterback.

Why is this happening? In the New York Times today this was not lost on one reader:
  •  “A simple reason: politics. Specifically, the politics of managerial self-preservation. The GM, Mike Tannebuam, had made too many bad picks and too many bad signings over too long a period to concede that Mark Sanchez was another. He saw it as the straw that might break the camel’s back. So rather than admit as much, the Jets fashioned an Orwellian environment in which they consistently denied a reality that was obvious to everyone. Tannenbaum is obviously of the mind that if he refuses to admit the existence of a problem, no one else will figure it out. The organization’s motto has effectively become “Just deny it, baby.” But now, after another bad season, the emperor’s clothes are becoming so sheer that even Tannenbaum will have a hard time insisting that they’re silk.”
Which brings us to racing.

We've seen decisions over and over again that did not work, won't work, and will never will work. Things like the preservation of the current outdated pari-mutuel system, high takeout, or a reliance on slots (which will be taken away.)

These ideas have been clung to like Rex Ryan or Ralph Wilson clung to a quarterback. If they're turned on their head and changed, everyone has to admit what they've believed, pushed and advocated was wrong. It too is Orwellian.

For every story from Andy Beyer saying "give slot money back with a takeout reduction", there is another from a slots horseman executive saying their 30% rakes are just fine. When Australian executives go "all in" in 2008, saying that Betfair will destroy racing if they're let in, but when they are, two years later we see record handles and purse hikes, they cling to their original warnings (and a year later succeed in hurting them with new rules).

Racing has its own Mark Sanchez, and it's the status quo. Racing is married to it, and despite these policy failures, they're staying married, come hell or high water.

Notes:

Jen Morrison reports Woodbine is laying off 20 in the TV department, and the first high profile person to go is Renee Kierans. I liked her. She seemed to always have a smile for everyone at the track.

I'm a pretty live and let live dude, but allowing slots and other casino games in New Jersey on the web seems a little crazy to me. It's more than a tax on the stupid. Giving someone a quick fix on a game they are 100% sure to lose on, and placing it on the web, in the long-run is bad policy.  Only skill games should be on the web, in my opinion.

I get an inordinate number of hits from weird places. Yesterday's satirical Doug O'Neill post was no exception. The interweb is a big place.

Jay Bergman's use of the word "takeout hawk" as a pejorative in the DRF did not sit well with many on twitter yesterday, and rightfully so. There are scores of academic studies saying takeout is too high. Racing is losing market share, Pennsylvania tracks are among the worst in terms of losses. Costco is not a "hawk" for offering low margins, neither is Etrade, nor is a craps table and nor are the people who advocate it. They are simply advocating proper pricing, and good business.

Funnily enough, Andy Beyer wrote a pro-lower rake article yesterday in the Washington Post. I guess Andy is a "takeout hawk" too.




1 comment:

Pacingguy said...

I hate to see Renee gone as well. You have to wonder if they went for a high profile person to make a point and gain attention to their plight as well.

I wish Renee all the best regardless of what she choses to do in the future.