Sports Beat “Cut Chrome’s Coburn Some Slack”

California Chrome’s co-owner, Steve Coburn, took a lot of heat from the media after Tonalist defeated his horse at the Belmont Stakes last Saturday. Coburn voiced his “Coward’s way out” comment to NBC Sports reporter Kenny Rice just minutes after learning that his horse would not be a Triple Crown winner as Tonalist, a horse that skipped both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, ruined what many thought would be a day of immortality for Coburn and California Chrome.

Coburn did not seem to care that Tonalist’s owners badly wanted to go to Churchill Downs for the Derby but a sudden illness to their pride and joy forced them to change their mind. The fact that Tonalist qualified for the Belmont Stakes by winning the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park a week after the Kentucky Derby enraged him.

After California Chrome won the Preakness all eyes were on him for the three weeks leading up to the Belmont Stakes. A lot of media and fans watched every one of Chrome’s workouts while Steve Coburn was incessantly interviewed by every conceivable media outlet. He was a good sport about it based on my observations and conversations with him the days leading up to the race.

Coburn and California Chrome had to travel from Louisville to Baltimore to Elmont over a two-week period while Tonalist, through no fault of his own, stayed in his Belmont barn without attracting much attention. Therefore you can’t blame Steve Coburn for voicing some frustrations in the emotional moments following the Belmont Stakes.

The New York Cosmos, who returned from dormancy last year, are back playing in the revitalized North American Soccer League. One of their top scorers is 22 year-old David Diosa who grew up in Corona.

On Saturday night the Cosmos will take on the New York Red Bulls of the NASL’s rival league, Major League Soccer in a US Open Cup exhibition at Hofstra University’s Shuart Stadium. For ticket info, log onto

As soon as the Mets got their fans excited by taking four out of five games from the aging Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, they quickly dashed their hopes by getting swept in Chicago and San Francisco by the Cubs and Giants respectively. The Mets probably concur with WC Fields’ 1925 joke about what he would like written on his tombstone: “On the whole I’d rather be in Philadelphia!”

As the Mets have struggled so has rookie catcher Travis d’Arnaud who couldn’t even hit a paltry .200 for the first two months of the season. In his defense, enduring two concussions probably affected both his hitting ability and confidence. Last Saturday the Mets demoted d’Arnaud to their Las Vegas AAA team. The overlooked Anthony Recker now gets a chance to prove himself.

Travis d’Arnaud will be joined in Las Vegas by pitching coach Frank Viola who is returning to duty after recovering from open heart surgery. Viola was one of the many former Major League players who were representing their old teams at the 2014 Major League Draft that was held last week.

Viola certainly looked a lot trimmer at the luncheon thrown by Major League Baseball hours before the start of the draft. “Cardiac disease is genetic in my family. I am now watching my sodium and trying to avoid fried foods as well,” Frank told me. When I mentioned to him that most ballpark foods are bad for your health, he quickly responded, “I will miss all of the fun stuff!”

Mike Piazza also represented the Mets at the draft. Piazza has no shortage of interests and he will be catching some of the World Cup action in Brazil as well as spending a little time in the Amazon jungles this month.

I kidded with Mike, a noted and proud Republican, that President Obama should not think about becoming a baseball general manager after he leaves office given the understandable controversy concerning the deal with the Taliban that freed Bowe Bergdahl. “I read on Twitter that someone called that the worst trade since the Cincinnati Reds traded Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas!” Mike chuckled.

Former Giants outfielder Jeffrey Leonard who still makes his home in the Bay Area is livid over how the Golden State Warriors fired their successful head coach, former Cambria Heights resident Mark Jackson. “They were nothing before he came here and he made them into a contender. They fired him for no reason.”

I realize that Willie Randolph’s autobiography is titled “The Yankee Way” (It Books) but it was inexcusable for him to just write a throwaway chapter about his experience managing the Mets with next to nothing about his dismissal.

Miguel Cotto dominated Sergio Martinez last Saturday night to win the middleweight championship belt. It wasn’t that long ago that Cotto looked to be a has-been whose best accomplishment was filling Madison Square Garden every year on the eve of the Puerto Rican Day Parade.

The biggest victor of the fight however was HBO which not only had another successful pay-per-view venture but also raised the profile of its HBO Latino division with its Cotto-Martinez 24/7 documentary series leading up to the fight.

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