On the eve of the Preakness Stakes, the famed California Chrome has captured the world’s attention. He has a chance to do what no horse has in almost four decades: win the Triple Crown. Excitement has been building since the Preakness three weeks ago, and will continue up to and through the starting gun tomorrow.
Good things come in threes, as the saying goes. And while winning the Triple Crown is a rarity, the world of sports all but runs on the number 3. Name a sport and odds are that the number 3 figures prominently.
1. Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing
The Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing includes three races for three-year-old horses. The last horse to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes in the same year was Affirmed in 1977. Previous winners include War Admiral, Seattle Slew and Secretariat, three of the sport’s household names.
2. Baseball Triple Crown
Major League Baseball, not to be outdone by a bunch of horses, has it’s own versions of the Triple Crown: batting and pitching. And the Triple Crown for batting, when a player leads the league in average, home runs and RBIs, is no less rare. Before Miguel Cabrera swung it in 2012, baseball had not seen one in 45 years. The pitching Triple Crown requires a player to finish the season tops in wins, strikeouts and ERA. Five players have accomplished the feat since the turn of the century.
One… two… three strikes your out at the old ball game. I suppose a strikeout is only good if you’re a pitcher, or tanking the season for a better position in the draft. But regardless of where you stand, the strikeout is integral to the game of baseball in more ways than I can list here.
If you watched the Spurs quell the Heat last night, you know how important the three-pointer can be. San Antonio buried 13 of 25 from beyond the arc while LeBron mainlined Powerade from the bench. The three-pointer can change a game at almost any moment. And multiple well-timed threes will put you up 1-0 in the NBA Finals.
5. Field Goals
Fans usually boo when their football team settles for a field goal. But three points can (and often does) win or lose games. Seven Super Bowls have been decided by three points of fewer, three of those involved the Patriots. Just think, the Pats could just as easily be 0-5 in the big game, and we’d have something legitimate to belittle their fans about. (Fun fact: With 10 more field goals, the Washington Redskins would’ve won Super Bowl XVIII against the Los Angeles Raiders.)
6. The Start of My Sports Career
At the early age of three, I could throw a ball in the vague direction of another person. I couldn’t catch the ball yet, through I was pretty good at letting it hit me in the head. The Mets offered me a minor league contract, but I decided to pursue my nursery studies instead. I eventually learned how to throw and catch, making me ineligible to play for New York’s other baseball franchise.
Norm Elrod likes sports and other sanctioned forms of craziness.