Falcon Points

It's time to retire the *-asterisk talk in sports

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Sports talk, Twitter and TV are loaded with lazy cliches.

The Mt. Rushmore of...

It is what it is.

The greatest of all time is...

Houston, you have a problem...

Let's add a new one to the list.

"Does it deserve an asterisk?"

This lame, lazy take is particularly chafing to the Houston sports fan. Michael Jordan wasn't there. Those two titles deserve an asterisk. (Actually, he was there for the second. The Bulls weren't good enough). The Astros cheated. The title deserves an asterisk. Yes, they did. Get over it. Many teams won titles by cheating. Let's put an asterisk over the entire steroid era.

Expect a lot of that talk over the coming months, because as sports leagues return, this will not be business as usual. Some MLB team will win a World Series after an 82-game schedule. Asterisk! Some NBA and NHL team will hoist trophies after an abbreviated playoff. Asterisks! The big talk lately is in horse racing, where the Triple Crown has been modified due to the Rona.

Usually, the Triple Crown consists of the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May, followed by the Preakness two weeks later and the Belmont, run at a mile and a half, three weeks after that. Sir Barton was the first to win all three in 1919. In the century since, only 12 others have accomplished the feat, ranging from the brilliant Secretariat, Seattle Slew and American Pharoah to the decidedly average Justify, who simply outlasted an awful group. But it has been one of the toughest feats in all of sports.

Now, due to changes in the schedule due to an unprecedented pandemic, the Triple Crown will look a lot different. The Belmont has been shortened to 1 1/8 miles and will be run on June 20, the first of the three races. The Derby will be run in September, and the Preakness in October. Fans immediately went to the "any horse that wins the Triple Crown deserves an asterisk" argument.

The same will be made for the major sports. But consider this, in unprecedented times, would these accomplishments be even more impressive? Winning a Triple Crown in such a spaced out schedule with other, late-blooming horses getting better and better would be unprecedented. In this format, it is nearly impossible. So what if they don't run three races in five weeks and have to go a mile and a half? Horses are fragile creatures. Keeping them in top form for this long is almost impossible. The winner will have to likely run at least one race between the Belmont and Derby, maybe two.

NBA and NHL players will have to get back in game shape, re-learn their teammates, and figure out how to play at a high level on short notice, all while being limited due to virus restrictions. Would that be more impressive than a full season or less?

The vote here is more.

For baseball, regular season games will actually mean something. A bad losing streak could eliminate a serious contender. Teams will have to be at their best for the entire season. All that while on lockdown. Again, more impressive.

The asterisk came into being when Roger Maris broke the legendary Babe Ruth's home run record. Baseball added the shameful mark because he played more games. It was a desperate, pathetic attempt to preserve Ruth's legacy. It should have never been there.

Nor should the talk of asterisks for any sports accomplishment in a year unlike any we have ever seen and hopefully will never see again.

Let's all do the right thing and retire the *-asterisk.

*-Exception: Using it as a footnote to a story. Let's get it the hell out of sports.


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Martin Truex Jr. won his 2nd race of the season last week. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

NASCAR returns to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway. This is the first of two races here at this track as they will race on Sunday afternoon. This will be different from the normal night race they usually have here as this will definitely affect the racing surface considering how much the sun could make the track slick. It should be a fun race come Sunday.

Last week, Martin Truex Jr. passed Denny Hamlin to capture his second win of the season after rain moved the race to Sunday. He became the first driver to win multiple races after a fierce battle with his teammate Denny Hamlin. The race was filled with tons of wrecks including a fifteen car pileup including Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. It was one of the better races of the season as there was lots of beating and banging.

The race was not without controversy but not the kind you would expect. Early in the race Rick Ware Racing teammates Cody Ware and James Davison were involved in an altercation. The two were battling towards the back of the pack when Ware decided to drive through his teammate in turn four. The race got much worse for Cody Ware as he was involved in three more cautions all throughout the race. Many people around the sport were quite perturbed by his antics including broadcaster Mike Joy as he was audibly annoyed after Ware spun out later in the race. Many have questioned if the fifth-year driver should even be in the car and overall I can understand why some of those people think that. In his five years of driving, he has finished on the lead lap one time. I hope that he is able to figure it out and find success in the future, but this was not a good look.

The slump continues for two-time champion Kyle Busch

Throughout the race, Busch was running okay for the most part but towards the closing laps of the race he and Chris Buescher got together triggering a fifteen car pileup. Despite all this, he was able to rebound to a respectable tenth place finish. This has been more than likely the toughest stretch of his career since his championship in 2019. Many would say that the omission of Practice and Qualifying has really affected his performance. Whatever the issue is, this team really needs to find some speed, or he could be in danger of missing the playoffs. I look for this team to bounce back considering how talented he is.

Prediction

The driver that I have winning this week is Kyle Larson. This has been an incredible rebound season for Larson as he currently sits fourth in points. He is also second in laps led only to Denny Hamlin. Richmond has been a great track for him as it fits his driving style perfectly as he can run the outside line and find grip where others can't. This track is also rather sentimental to him considering he won his first pole award here during his rookie season in 2014. While he may not have the results he would want he has always been extremely fast here and even won back in 2017. I look for him to capture his second victory of 2021 come Sunday.

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