Howard Herman | Designated Hitter: From Churchill Downs to NBA referees, and Red Sox catch a 2nd wind


In the hours after last Saturday's Kentucky Derby, my social media timeline erupted over Maximum Security's disqualification.

The horse was the first to cross the finish line at Churchill Downs. But on appeal, Country House was declared the winner. The decision came after a lengthy review of video.

The comments ranged from how replay is ruining another sport, to how minor the infraction was and shouldn't have been called.

That segued beautifully into basketball and hockey playoff games where fans and social media commentators criticized foul and penalty calls — particularly those that come in the final moments of games.

"Don't call those," the commentators cry. After all, it impacts the game. Let the players decided the outcome, not the officials.

Here's where I say that those bloviators are all wrong.

Sure, a late call in the fourth quarter of an NBA playoff game might impact the outcome. That call impacts the outcome no less than a non-call by an NBA official.

Now, if we want to discuss whether said foul was actually a foul and should not have been called, I'll be happy to go into that conversation. That, however, is not what people really complain about. It's all about just not blowing that whistle.

Take Friday's Houston-Golden State game for example. Say it's a three-point game in the final minute when James Harden fouls Stephen Curry. Now it's not any kind of a flagrant foul, but there was contact. Should the officials not call it? They have to, because not calling it will impact the game just as much as calling it.

Which leads me back to the home of really expensive hats and mint juleps.

I am not an expert when it comes to horse racing, and admittedly could not tell you if Maximum Security had truly interfered with other horses in the field. I will, however, take my cues from a majority of writers who believed the call was in fact correct.

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Had the stewards seen the interference and not made the call, that would have been a far greater foul than the one the three-year old horse committed in the slop at Churchill Downs.

So can we please stop with the idea of not calling something late because it impacts the game. If it's a foul/penalty/interference at the beginning of a game/race, it's the same toward the end of the event.


Raise your hands if you had the Boston Red Sox dead and buried last month? Six-straight wins will help a fandom raise a team from the dead.

One hundred, sixty-two games makes for a lot of baseball. The first month can easily be forgotten by July.

It is said in baseball that a team cannot win a division title in April, but it is possible to lose one in April. For a while, it looked like Boston was going to lose one in the first six weeks.

But the Sox got hot just as the Tampa Bay Rays started cooling off, and the Yankees continued to battle through a slew of injuries. Had that six-game winning streak not come to pass, we might be having a different discussion today.

Boston has a chance to sweep Seattle this afternoon. Colorado will visit for two games and then powerful Houston arrives in Boston for a three-game weekend series.

If the Red Sox can go at worst 4-2 over the next six games, they will be in the thick of things in the American League East.

It is a cliche that a baseball season is a marathon and not a sprint. Sometimes, however, cliches are true.

Howard Herman can be reached at, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.


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