The difficulty in accomplishing one of the rarest feats in sports is precisely what makes it so appealing
For the 36th year in a row, American horse racing fans were denied a Triple Crown winner, as California Chrome tied for fourth in the Belmont Stakes after winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. This has led to what are becoming annual cries that the rules or the schedule of the thoroughbred racing season need to be changed—for instance, by extending the time in which the three races are run. In response, I will invoke the words of the Kinks and/or the Pretenders: Stop your sobbing.
The gripes are rooted in a false premise—that we are somehow entitled to have a Triple Crown winner. We aren’t, any more than I’m entitled to see the Chicago Cubs win the World Series in my lifetime. Winning a Triple Crown is supposed to be hard. It is reserved for the most exceptional of horses. In fact, there have been more humans who have walked on the moon (12) than horses who have won the Triple Crown (11). Those horses are legendary because what they did was so rare. We should resist the temptation to make the ordinary legendary by changing the rules. If we are patient, another super horse will come along, and it will make us appreciate the accomplishment that much more. The exceptional does not come around on any schedule. It is born out of a rare confluence of circumstances and ability, and that’s the beauty of it. We went 45 years without a player winning baseball’s Triple Crown, from Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 to Miguel Cabrera in 2012. There was an 18-year drought in MLB’s pitching Triple Crown between Hal Newhouser in 1945 and Sandy Koufax in 1963. Koufax, the pitching equivalent of a super horse, then accomplished the feat three out of four years.