- 01/06/2011, 09:57AM ET
gigi_iv said 01/06, 09:57 AM
The most difficult 'last leg' of a Triple Crown is the Belmont Stakes, and I'm not saying just because I???m a horse racing homer (is that really even possible?).
Of the 3895 individual entrants to the three races, only 60* have won at least 2 of the races. Of the 49* that have won only 2, more won the Derby & Preakness than other combination. 21 horses have gone into the Belmont with the hopes of being the next TC winner and failed. The short turnaround time, the excessive traveling, the distance of the race, and the health of the horse are all serious factors.
Especially the distance. Horses today are bred for a very specific purpose, they either run on dirt or they run grass. They are either sprinters, middle distance, or distance runners. The difference between a mile and a 1/4 and a mile and a 1/2 is huge. The reason why the 30s & 40s brought us so many winners was because those horses ran everything. You don???t see that today.
With baseball???s TC, you have 4 opportunities every year to win it. Even if you just look at batting, that???s still 2 opportunities each year. With horse racing, there is only one chance to win it every year.
Mondo Jay said 01/06, 02:48 PM
Only 13 men have ever won the triple crown in baseball. To accomplish this feat, you must lead the league in batting average, RBIs, and Homeruns. The last time it occurred was in 1967 (Yaz). Although this TD is a bit of an apples vs oranges debate, I contend that achieving the batting average part of the triple crown is harder than winning the Belmont.
As many of us know, baseball is the best sport of all time. It is also the most difficult, especially hitting. A player can fail 7 out of 10 times as a hitter and be considered great. Even a great athlete like Michael Jordan looked bad trying to play baseball at the minor league level. Hitting is hard!
Assuming a player has enough RBIs and Homers to qualify for the triple crown, the pressure (internal and external) begin to build as that player goes out everyday and tries to attain the highest batting average. Every pitcher is out to stop you, because their jobs depend on it.
As far as difficulty, in regards to horse racing, are we talking about difficulty for the horse, the jokey, or both?
I'm not sure what Gigi meant by "you have 4 opportunities every year to win it"...
gigi_iv said 01/07, 09:05 AM
the 4 chances a year refer to the fact that there is a TC for both batting and pitching in both the NL & AL. I know you are just talking batting here, but that still means that you have 2 chances. Unless I'm misunderstanding something here, which wouldn't be the first time...
Hitting is hard, I agree with you on that. However, hitting is about the batter, the pitcher, a ball, and a stike zone. There really aren't too many other conditions that come into play there. With a horse race, you have to deal with the weather, track conditions, other horses, the starting gate, and the jockeys. There are so many things that are outside of the control of the competitor with a race than there are with a batter.
Also, a great batter has spent years perfecting his hitting in all areas. A three year old colt** has bred and trained to run only a certain distance and over certian ground. There are sprinters (6-8 furlongs), middle distance (8-10), and distance (10+) runners. The 2 legs of the TC are 10 furlongs. A sprint horse could go that distance, but it would not be able to continually win at it. The Belmont is 12 furlongs.
There is a reason only 11 horses have ever won the TC.
Mondo Jay said 01/07, 02:13 PM
We have established that the triple crowns we are debating are horse racing vs batting.. Specifically, the batting average title vs winning the Belmont)
The variables that a batter must face are unique to every at-bat, pitch, pitcher and game situation. During the course of one game a hitter often faces multiple pitchers that throw different types of pitches, at different speeds, with different arm-angles. In Horse racing, the conditions are basically the same for all the horses and jockeys. (Except gate position)
Horses that seek the triple crown have spent just about every moment of their short lives preparing/training to race. Baseball players are humans (even the Yankees) and must concern themselves with the trials and tribulations of everyday life. Achieving the focus necessary to succeed in baseball (let alone having the best batting average in the league), with all the external/internal concerns is extremely difficult. Horses are actually bred to do what they do naturally.
The last triple crown winner in the American League occurred 43 years ago. No one has achieved the TC in the National League since 1937.
Rare and difficult indeed!
Mondo Jay said 01/09, 12:29 AM
To hit a baseball you must hit a round ball with a round bat and connect squarely. The guy paid to stop you is most likely throwing a fastball at 90+ MPH (often with movement) and you have a fraction of a second to decide to swing our not. If you happen to make contact, there are 9 fielders that are there to catch the ball. It isn't easy to "hit it where they aint". These are just some of the variables a hitter must face and conquer (at a 70% failure rate no less) to even begin to make a run at a batting title (highest average).
Hitting would be very difficult if the batter only had to face one pitcher per game, but we live in the era of specialization now, when teams will routinely use several "specialists" after the starting pitcher leaves the game. The "closer" often throws 95+ MPH and their only job is to slam the proverbial door in your face in the 9th inning. Those guys are nasty..
Running 3 horse races takes less than 10 minutes total. Playing baseball is a brutal, daily marathon that lasts 162 games. Horses don't succumb to media pressure (I think) or worry about how their agents are doing with their next contract. They are bred and born to run.
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