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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This week the NASCAR cup series heads to the world center of racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the inaugural fourth of July version of the Brickyard 400. This is unprecedented for NASCAR considering over the course of 50 years they are usually in Daytona around this time. While this move was met with a lot of criticism from fans, there is a positive to come from this move though, as the sport will hold their first doubleheader with Indycar. This has been talked about for many years and now it has finally come to fruition. Another new facet of this weekend will be the Xfinity Series running on the road course configuration. This could very well lead to the cup series transitioning from the oval to the road course next season should everything go well when the Xfinity series does it. It will definitely be an interesting weekend.

Last week, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin dominated the first-ever doubleheader at Pocono. The two drivers finished first and second in both races with Harvick taking race one and Hamlin winning race two. Both of these races came down to pit-road strategy as Harvick was able to eke out a victory by taking two tires and fuel while his teammate Aric Almirola took four. The next day Denny Hamlin pretty much had the whole field covered as he went on to claim his fourth victory of the season. Overall, the idea of two races in a weekend went over well but for the racing itself, it was hard to watch. One of the main issues I had was how the drivers didn't have to shift this week. In my opinion, that was what made this track so unique. It was an oval that had road course characteristics and it usually produced some pretty good finishes. Hopefully this will be addressed when the new car makes its debut in 2022.

One of the big stories going into this week is the announcement a couple of weeks ago that NASCAR will be moving their all-star event to Bristol Motor Speedway. Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a whirlwind of news from the Bubba Wallace story at Talladega, to the doubleheader races last week. A lot of this has put this announcement on the back burner but this is a huge story. The race will be held on Wednesday, July 15th as NASCAR continues with midweek races. This is the first time since 1986 that the race will not be run at NASCAR's home track in Charlotte back when it took place at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The format will be pretty much the same as all the winners from 2019 and 2020 will all have an automatic birth into the race while the rest of the field will run in the open event the day before. The main event will feature four stages including a 15 lap closer around one of NASCAR's most popular race tracks. I think this move was long overdue and I hope that they continue with it in the future. Don't get me wrong, there isn't anything wrong with the race at Charlotte but I think a change of pace would be welcomed. I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

As we move on to Indy this weekend, the driver I have winning is Kurt Busch. This weekend will be the 2004 Cup Series champion's 700th career start, and he's won just about every race that there is to be won except this one here at the Brickyard. This week, that is going to change. It hasn't been the most consistent season for the Vegas native, but he still sits tenth in points and right in the thick of the playoff battle. This track isn't his best as he currently has a 19.42 average finish, including a dismal 30th place finish last year. But this week, I think he gets back on track with a victory as he starts second. The veteran has flown under the radar this year, but he has definitely shown spurts where we think he is going to break-out. He also has runs where it seems like him and his team are mid-pack, but there aren't many drivers out there that have the experience he has. And a talented driver like him always finds a way to bounce back. Look for Kurt Busch to take the #1 Monster Energy Camaro to victory lane.

All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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