ESPN.com - Horse Racing - Dear Pete

Jay Cronley
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Monday, February 2
Dear Pete




Dear Pete Rose:

Hey hustler, what's up?

First of all, congratulations on all the apologies. Apologizing in public is not an easy thing to do because the people to whom you're really apologizing are the numbskull media analysts. Some of the grubbier cable news operations probably have apology consultants the way they have jury consultants.

There are three ways men can handle public apologies: sensitive misty-eyed offerings -- go ahead and let your chin quiver on the national tube, women love a single, long teardrop; slobbering, gasping, embarrassing, heaving confessions made by somebody looking at big, big trouble; and your way, a straight forward, he-man action, I did it, and if you don't like the way I apologized, you can stuff it.

So you didn't get style points for saying you were sorry, this is gambling, not needlepoint.

Let me briefly interject here that I have expertise in all that I address today, baseball, betting, apologizing.

I played baseball at the University of Oklahoma, making all-conference while patrolling the number two sack. One thing I did better than anybody else who played at this school was avoid the base on balls. I once swung at a ball that hit me on the head. What are you going to do? You didn't get write-ups for taking your base.

Concerning wagering on horses with the best of them, I was invited to the World Series of Handicapping a dozen times as a professional seed.

Concerning apologizing, I have been married twice.

I have also written some books and can understand the angle of timing a news event to sell copies. The problem you get into there is that once everybody knows essentially what's in the book, why pay around 25 bucks for something that could have been dictated in the first place?

The main point of this communication centers on the horse races.

To the uninformed casual observer, this great sport and attractive investment opportunity has had to overcome an image problem dating back to classics like "Yankee Doodle Dandy," where Cagney fixed a race and brought disgrace to himself and his homeland. Even tributes to the sport like Damon Runyon's "Guys and Dolls" featured men who answered to nicknames and needed salvation.

As long as I have mixed together in my life horse racing and people into other arts like dance and song and watercolor and film, I have found myself saying it's not like that, it's not like what you think, it not "The Days of Wine and Roses and Nags."

It's not like sports betting, like taking Princeton and laying the four with whomever, an opponent you've never even seen play the game.

It's not like the slots where your eyes glaze over and you pour good dollars after lost dollars in a humorless fashion without even know the odds you're bucking.

It's not like Keeno where there's a winner every time and most times it's them.

Horse racing is not an action kick.

It attracts its fair share of brainy writers and well-read practitioners. And just look at the way horse racing has come to be represented on television. Do you hear British announcers with perfect grammar doing the NBA game of the week? Probably not. The anchors and reporters on ESPN's regular horse racing coverage are beautifully suited individuals who look and sound as good anybody talking politics.

Through writings here and elsewhere, I have hoped to make the point that it is possible for a person to spend a day at the races in a calm and orderly manner, wagering within himself, betting here, passing there, making new friends, sharing a laugh, getting home on time.

And so now I read that with the national apology for betting on your own baseball team behind you, you will nevertheless continue to play the ponies Charley Hustle is Pete the Punter.

One small favor.

Could you call in the bets for a while?

Thanks, pal.

Jay

Write to jay at jaycronley@go.com




 




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