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