Measuring greatness I and many other racing fans would...


May 14, 2000

Measuring greatness

I and many other racing fans would beg to differ with Tom Keyser's post-Kentucky Derby assessment that Fusaichi Pegasus is "the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 perhaps worthy of the Triple Crown."

A strong argument can be made that an injury incurred shortly before the 1979 Belmont was all that kept Maryland-owned Spectacular Bid from sweeping the Triple Crown that year. In a poll published last year in the Blood-Horse magazine, racing writers ranked "Bid" as the 10th-greatest racehorse of the 20th century, two spots ahead of Triple Crown winner Affirmed.

The overwhelming ease with which Fusaichi Pegasus won this year's Kentucky Derby has stamped him as a great racehorse, and a likely candidate to win the Triple Crown.

But win or lose that elusive prize, the ultimate measure of his greatness, like that of Spectacular Bid, or that of Native Dancer, another all-time great (seventh in the Blood-Horse poll) who failed in his quest for the Triple Crown, may very well lie in the races that await him after the spring classics.

Susan Meckel, Baltimore

Another prima donna

Of all players in baseball, you would think Cal Ripken's teammates would be most sensitive to how great an impact giving a little extra outside the lines can have.

Instead, we read that Delino DeShields, a relative newcomer to town, has chosen to disdain the media, and, by extension, their audience.

That audience is where the money comes from to pay his salary. Instead of emulating Cal, he chose to enroll in the Albert Belle School of Charm and took the mandatory vow of silence.

Of course, it's of no consequence to Delino. Whether the stands are packed or empty, his salary is guaranteed, so why worry?

Ostensibly, he feels that he was treated unfairly during his disappointing '99 season. Does he suppose that this prima-donna-like behavior is the solution? Why soil yourself by giving the time of day to the underpaid proles who buy the tickets?

When there is labor strife in baseball, the players wonder why their cause is greeted with antipathy. They suspect it has to do with how much money they make. I'm sure that's true in some cases. I'm sure it's also true in some cases that rather than how much they make, it's how little they give.

Sig Seidenman, Owings Mills

Mussina not dominant

Why should Mike Mussina be immune from criticism?

Take a look at the facts. His hits allowed to innings pitched ratio has been remarkably inferior for more than a year. He's allowing home runs at a record pace, and his ERA is closing in on 5 per game.

Are these the stats of a dominant pitcher seeking a salary of $14 million to $15 million a year? I don't think so.

Sure, Mussina is better than any other pitcher on the Orioles' staff, but that's not saying very much. He has never been a true "stopper," a pitcher you could count on to end a losing streak.

Moreover, what's the big deal about the Orioles not scoring enough runs for him? Low-scoring games occur frequently, and that's when you depend on your ace to win a 2-1 or 3-2 game.

Don't get me wrong - I'd like to see Mussina stay in Baltimore. However, contrary to public opinion, I believe a five-year, $60 million offer by the Orioles is more than fair.

Morton D. Marcus, Baltimore

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