Three noses for the Roses, babies, and Old Yeller

Shots in the Darke

What a weekend of thrilling finishes!! The 150th running of the Kentucky Derby will certainly go down in history as one of the great “Run for the Roses” as Mystik Dan held off Sierra Leone and Forever Young to claim the $3.1 million first prize in front of a crowd of 156,710 race fans and celebrants. The narrow victory was the first since 1996 to have a winner by the proverbial nose and sets up Mystik Dan to claim a second leg of the Triple Crown at the May 18th  Preakness. The winning time in the 1 1/4 mile run was 2:03.34—it makes you appreciate the true greatness of Secretariat who still holds the Derby record of 1:59.40, set during his legendary 1973 race season! 

Meanwhile, nothing stirs passions among hockey fans like a Game Seven in a Stanley Cup  Playoff series. For those of you who missed it, the Boston Bruins held “home ice” as they defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs in overtime Saturday night 2-1 to advance to the second round and claim a seventh consecutive series win over the Leafs. Even in low-scoring games, the non-stop action and emotional swings make hockey one of the most interesting and exciting sports to watch once you understand the few simple rules that govern play. Here’s today’s first trivia question—hockey is Canada’s national sport; can you name the last  Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup? 

While we’re talking about playoff series, the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets received a slap in the face, losing Game One of their second-round matchup to the young and impressive Minnesota Timberwolves. The Nuggets face tough going as not only the ‘Wolves but also the equally young Oklahoma City Thunder stand in their way of reaching a second consecutive Finals. Evidently youth will be served at some point in the league’s Western  Conference! 

Trivia question number two—who is the hottest team in baseball as of Sunday morning May  5th? 

The Ohio High School Athletic Association, as mentioned in previous columns, has added divisions in several sports, necessitating a reworking of state tournament final schedules and sites. For example both boys and girls basketball will now have seven divisions instead of four,  which has its pros and cons both schedule wise and in the minds of fans. UD Arena and the  OHSAA just reached agreement on UD hosting the 2025 and 2026 state finals again—the  Arena is the perfect host for the events as we’ve discussed several times. However, with the increase in divisions, state semifinals will now be played at various sites around the state with only the championship games being held at UD the following weekend. The same basic scenario applies to several of the other sports as well—quite a departure from the traditional format of the past and one that will be debated for the first few years in the minds of many. 

How about some odds and ends?  

—Seems like South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem stirred up some controversy with her new book in which she wrote about putting down her 14-month-old dog. Think she’ll receive 

holiday greetings this Christmas from the American Kennel Club? How many of you old-timers remember the 1957 film Old Yeller? 

—How about the heroics of the beekeeper who got a swarm of bees under control after a two hour delay of a Arizona Diamondbacks baseball game earlier this week? He certainly deserved  “being” honored to throw out the first ceremonial opening pitch! 

—What college football team could open the season with a former Alabama center snapping the ball to a former Kansas State quarterback who hands off to a former Ole Miss running back? If you guessed THE, pass go and collect $200 (add some zeros to that if you’ve entered the portal!). Sadly, at least in my opinion, this will be the case throughout college sports for the foreseeable future—smaller conferences outside of the Power Four (Big Ten, SEC, Big 12, and  ACC) seem to have become nothing but minor league feeder systems to the rich and famous! 

—Speaking of college sports, of the top 100 college athletes who have profited from name and-image licensing deals, 52 are women. Topping the list is LSU gymnast and social media sensation Olivia Dunne with $3.7 million in annual deals, mainly with activewear brand Vuori. 

—The US birth rate has dropped 11 percent since 2000 with “only” 3.59 million babies born last year, the lowest number since 1979. To stop the population from shrinking a “replacement level” of 2.1 percent (between 5-6 million yearly) is needed. Lots of thoughts about that aren’t  there? 

Finally, the last Canadian team to win a Stanley Cup was the appropriately named Montreal  Canadiens way back in 1993!! As they say up North, what’s up with that, eh? Also, those red-hot Minnesota Twins have a 12-game winning streak going into Sunday’s game with the Red Sox. My brother Mark and his family in Rochester and fellow Minnesota friends Jere and  Michele Rambow are flying high right now! Have a great week, stay active and healthy!