By contract, The Daily Racing Form could only be carried by liquor stores, and the stores had to be located in the sketchiest neighborhoods. At least it seemed that way.
The newspaper I worked for paid the Racing Form for the consensus picks of its handicappers for races at the Southern California tracks. This was early the 1990s. Email existed by then, but only hard-core computer nerds and university professors had it. So we got the consensus by fax.
About half the time, the fax would not get to us. If someone noticed the fax had not arrived, we could call the office in LA and get them to fax it to us again. Usually no one noticed in time, so it fell to somebody on the sports desk — often me — to go find the next day’s form.
Many an evening, The Daily Racing Form had not come in yet to the first place I stopped, so I would have to shop around. Southern California at the time was like the Wild West. Gang-related shootings and drive-bys occurring with such regularity that they no longer shocked people who were not directly involved. I never had a scary moment, but walking by a pay phone where guys were making drug deals definitely gave me pause for thought.
One night, in a half-hearted effort to get out of a shopping trip for the Racing Form, I brought up the saying, “It’s the difference of opinion that makes a horse race.”
“If that’s the case,” I said, “why are we running a consensus?”
My boss laughed. Then he suggested I pick up a TV Guide while I was out.
It is not merely a horse race where the difference of opinion makes it interesting but a pennant race as well.
So it looks like we are not going to have much in the way of pennant races.
Every prediction I have read has the same teams winning five divisions. Dodgers, Cubs, Nationals in the National League. Red Sox and Indians. Opinion is divided as to whether the Astros or Rangers will win the AL West.
I can’t remember any season since baseball went to six divisions where there seems to be such universal agreement.
Will this be the dullest season in years?
I take solace in a line I once heard from the Hon. Morris K Udall, although I don’t think he was the first to use it: “When everybody agrees on something, they’re usually wrong.”