Betting On Winners & Losers
And you thought flunking a test at school was a big deal?!
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: We know that cheating has been around forever, but somehow when it comes to sports, it seems so shocking (not to mention, so unsportsmanlike), especially when you stop to consider the ripple effect.
It all began on a beautiful Saturday at Churchill Downs, with roses and a victory for Medina Spirit, and the seventh Kentucky Derby win for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. And as is usually the case, while still celebrating the win, the focus quickly turns to the Preakness, the second leg of the Triple Crown. Until … the breaking news that the thoroughbred had failed its post-race drug test, which, if not shocking enough, was the fifth horse trained by Baffert to have failed a drug test in just over a year.
Initially, Red had little more than a passing interest in the story, although it sounded like a movie script, complete with denials, a potential "conspiracy theory" raised by the trainer, and hopes riding (pun intended) on the results of the second drug test. But when Black mentioned the post-race drama, it caused an unexpected reaction in Red,
As the mother of a very competitive volleyball player, I totally understand the desire to win. But what I don't understand is feeling compelled to go to any length to win. Sawyer works extra hard – both on and off the court – to be the best she can be. I'm not being naïve but isn't sports about competing to be the best, and I don't mean best cheater? And I'd think the greater you are, the more you're risking.
Black pointed out that cheating at sports isn't new. And, doping goes back almost a hundred years, and although it's been banned for decades, that hasn't stopped athletes from trying to get away with it. Probably the most notorious being cyclist Lance Armstrong, who was not only stripped of his seven Tour de France titles but also banned for life from competitive cycling.
However, Black couldn't help but have a different perspective, one focused on winners and losers,
I fully understand your perspective, especially as you were a straight-A student who worked hard for your grades. (Ok, I used negotiating skills. Which, technically, was not cheating.) But this is about more than who won the Kentucky Derby. If Medina Spirit is stripped of the title, the $1.86 million winning purse will go to the horse that currently finished second (Mandaloun, who is not running at the Preakness, so no chance at the Triple Crown), but there will no change to the millions of dollars of bets placed. Once the race is declared official, all bets are final.
Today’s a national holiday … for a reason. And although it may be a day of fun, festivities, and maybe even relaxation, it’s important to stop and think about the true meaning of the day …
We all “celebrate” Memorial Day differently, but we all should remember it’s a day to honor those who gave their lives serving this country.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Memorial Day may be the unofficial start of summer, and Red remembers celebrating over the years with family get-togethers, barbeques, and pool parties; whereas Black “celebrates” most holidays by having a quiet day to work uninterrupted, but it’s important never to forget the significance of the holiday.
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the festivities, but as a lover of history, I was fascinated to learn the history of Memorial Day goes back to the Civil War. But what’s most important is that we each find a way to remember that Memorial Day honors those men and women who’ve given their lives for this country.While Black believes,
Today is a day to put aside politics and think about patriotism. It is about gratitude. About sacrifice. About honoring those who paid the greatest price for believing in something that is bigger than all of us.
Think about what the day means to you or read the words of others who pay respect to fallen members of the military (here and here). And join us in observing the National Moment of Remembrance at 3:00 p.m. local time.
If you’re looking for a reason not to mow, there’s logic behind letting it grow …
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: As is often the case, Red hadn’t heard of the latest trend, “No Mow May,” which is all about lawn maintenance (or the lack of it) until Black started sending her articles about it.
Growing up on Long Island, everyone in our neighborhood wanted a lush, green lawn. It wasn’t until we were older that we realized how much time and money it required to achieve it. That it doesn’t just happen. But now, it has become the latest environmental issue.
At first, Red thought that not cutting your lawn for an entire month might be a joke. But then she read a few articles (here and here) explaining how leaving your yard alone could help Mother Nature by positively impacting bees and other pollinators. Plus, giving your lawn a rest from fertilizers, lawn mowers, and leaf blowers is good for the environment.
It made sense to Red, except right now, she’s been working hard to turn a collection of bare patches in her front yard into an “acceptable” lawn,
My yard’s a mess. Weeds so numerous they look like ground cover, just enough grass to suggest there might be hope, and big, beautiful oak trees that insist on “drinking” all the water. Which means I’m having to deal with my homeowner’s association (HOA) and their “dire” letters of warning. (This isn’t an exaggeration, as anyone who lives under a strict HOA knows all too well.)
Red doubted she could stall the HOA with an environmental excuse, but remembered that when she lived in England, she was struck by how yards seemed more natural vs. “perfectly landscaped” – what she thought of as a carefully planned mess. So, she now wondered if the English were onto something way before “No Mow May” ever came along.
Black admits to having a black thumb (seems rather appropriate) and claims she could kill a silk plant, but that didn’t stop her from wanting to know whether “No Mow May” was as beneficial as it sounded,
Of course, there are pros and cons to “No Mow May.” Interestingly, neither side disputes the importance of the underlying logic behind the first two words (“No Mow”), but as an ongoing approach, not a one-month experiment.
If you’ve never thought about May Day, don’t worry, most of us haven’t.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Red appreciates that some holidays have historical significance, some have ancient traditions, and some are opportunities for one of Black’s unexpected, but often amusing and clever, comments, but May Day checks all those boxes.
As soon as Black mentioned pole dancing, Red, a lover of movies, immediately thought of “Hustlers.” No, not “ The Hustler,” the 1961 classic with Paul Newman as a small-time pool hustler. Instead, “Hustlers,” the 2019 release with Jennifer Lopez about pole dancing hustlers that showed it took more than a desire to make money, but skill and athleticism.
But Red had no idea the significance of May Day Maypole dancing. When she lived in England, May Day was a bank holiday, and she knew it had a long history that went back to the Celts, but that’s all she knew. Until recently, when she learned it’s an ancient and festive holiday filled with history and folklore, started by the Celts who thought May 1st was the most important day of the year as it separated the year into light and dark.
Which explains the beginning of a celebration of spring with singing, dancing, and bonfires that still continues. However, it doesn’t explain how in the late 19th century, May Day became known as International Workers’ Day to celebrate workers and promote labor rights.
And what about the Maypoles? Well, as Red discovered,
It was during the Middle Ages when the now famous Maypoles were believed to become popular, not only to welcome in spring but as a symbol of fertility, as the pole symbolized male fertility, with baskets and wreaths symbolizing female fertility.
When Red felt the need to share all this history with Black, her sister couldn’t help but respond with,
Although this has nothing to do with May Day, all I can say is “ Mayday. Mayday.” Which, if you do not speak French, is based on m’aider and means “Help me.”