I want American Pharoah, or any horse for that matter, to win the Triple Crown. Yes, it would be great for racing, but it would also be great for me.
The longer we go without a Triple Crown winner, the more embedded I become in a dubious fraternity; one whose membership requires only a single qualification – you have to be old.
After all, people now in their early 40s were too young to have any idea what a Triple Crown was or who or what Affirmed was. The only horses they knew about were those in their collection of My Little Ponies. Heck, someone who is 50 now was getting Bar Mitzvahed or Confirmed when Affirmed was winning the Triple Crown. Someone who is 55 now was graduating high school and waiting for their skin to clear.
All I hear now is, “Wow, you were there for all those Triple Crown sweeps of the ‘70s, that is so great; I envy you having witnessed it with your own eyes. You actually saw Secretariat race.” Under their breath, however, they’re saying, “Man, you’re old.”
I know how I would have felt had I met someone who saw Babe Ruth play or Man o’War race.
That is why, once we finally get a Triple Crown winner, that exclusive fraternity of old geezers can welcome in pre-teens and up, and no longer will I feel like Methuselah. We’d all be just one big happy family -- frolicking, joyous children feeling like Ralphie getting his Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle (girls can use their own example).
Look, I’ve been through it already. When Citation swept the Triple Crown I had just blown out one candle on my birthday cake two months earlier. Ten years later, I had this little horse racing game that had five famous horses represented by a color. You would spin the needle and whatever color it came up, you would move the corresponding horse up one space. It was the most mindless board game imaginable, but I remember it because, despite its totally random nature, Citation used to win almost every time. Could that have been my first exposure to race fixing? A loaded spinner? By the time I was 26, Citation’s name had taken on a more profound meaning until Secretariat came along, breaking a 25-year drought.
The downside of a Triple Crown winner is that people outside of racing no longer will care much if a horse sweeps the Triple Crown once it’s been done. They flock to Belmont in droves to be part of history, but once something historic happens it might as well be ancient history. Our society has undergone drastic changes since the 1970s, and with every aspect of our life revolving around cell phones and iPads, and with 7-year-old computer whizzes, our attention span has grown much shorter. When I was a kid, we were baffled trying to figure out how a Slinky was able to go down the stairs by itself. To this current generation, a link to history is acquiring a 1956 Mickey Mantle baseball card.
Look, I admit we were guilty of under-appreciation back in 1979 when Spectacular Bid was (ho-hum) trying to become the third consecutive Triple Crown winner and the fourth in seven years. We were spoiled rotten until a safety pin burst our bubble, and we have been unable to blow another bubble for nearly four decades.
But we can deal with the repercussions of a Triple Crown sweep later. Let’s get this first one out of the way, so I can stop thinking about walk-in bathtubs, waiting for my AARP magazine to arrive, and shouting to no one, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”
I want to let the young folks into our fraternity so we can all be equals again. I’m not being unreasonable. I only ask for two things – a Triple Crown winner and a zit.