Commentary

Duh!

Updated: June 4, 2009, 6:09 PM ET
By Jay Cronley | Special to ESPN.com

How can people be so dumb?

It's not easy. It takes time and practice. It takes the essentials like a cell phone or two, a BlackBerry, a laptop and anything else portable and electronic that can take your mind off being alone with your thoughts. So many people are reluctant to sit and think -- or don't know how to -- that the global creative crisis, ranging from Art to Zydeco, should come as no surprise. In the current rush, copying has replaced creating. Fear and dread wrote the book on dumbness; but who reads anymore? Along with going total electric all the time, not reading is another great way to stay dumb -- not reading something on paper. Reading a screen can turn into scanning, fast. Take a Kindle to the beach? Please. It could attract lightning or sharks. Sometimes nothing does it like a page-page; it's called tradition and atmosphere.

Making a mistake isn't always dumb; repeating a mistake is.

Horse players repeat so many mistakes, you'd think they want to lose. Some do, sure, but the track is no longer the junkie's superhighway to self-destruction. One race every 20 minutes; it's too slow. What's a lunatic to do between gauntlets, drink? You'll find far more dummies than gambling nuts at the horse races. The siren call of the popular addictions is speed. Horse racing is to gambling addiction as champagne is to alcoholism. The horse race road to the rehab house is a two-lane.

No wagering opportunities in any gambling setting show up as dumb as what you routinely see in horse racing.

Many horse bets are the equivalent of hitting 17 with the dealer showing a 5-spot, of letting it ride on green at the roulette wheel.

The average horse race is so surprising, it's hard to separate dumb from dumb luck. Most $100 horses look like dumb bets, at least until they turn for home.

When it comes to the Belmont Stakes, the most horse sense belongs to the runners.

During the three-week spread between the Preakness and the final Triple Crown race, the single dumbest handicapping concept ever to come down the backstretch (last) makes the rounds. It's the kind of bet Gilligan, Homer Simpson and Michael Scott, of the paper company, would borrow money to play.

Smart enough people otherwise think that the longer the race, the more apt a closer is to close. Really simply put, people bet money thinking that if a horse closed strong at a mile and three-sixteenths to lose by one length, it has a much better chance to defeat the same horse at a mile and a half. I called MIT and got an answering machine. But here's a little of the way length and pace work, in a rudimentary scientific sense. Faster fractions are run at shorter distances. Thank you and good morning. Actually, there's a little more to it, but not much. The faster the fractions at the shorter distances, the more apt a deep closer is to close. Late runners are less equipped to close on mile-and-a-half fractions. Closing is an illusion most times, anyway; it's the Mind Freak pulling a hat out of a rabbit's ear. When horses stop, the illusion of speed to the rear is magnified.

So if you want a closer like the Bird in the Belmont, here's my money; take it and use it with an eye toward the needy. Say a deep closer does win the Belmont. The play is still dumb. The closer will be a short price, and you won't win enough to cover all the losses on late runners at a mile and a half on down the road. The very face of the Belmont is of a front-runner taking the parade route home.

If I'm so smart about mile-and-a-half races, why would I make such a scene about it and possibly cost myself money? I already told you. Dumb people don't read.

Write to Jay at jaycronley@yahoo.com.

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