Preakness: Fun and frolic, within reason
Trust me, you don't want to see me get my Preak on. I'm not sure it will even fit anymore. But I've always enjoyed the annual rite of spring that is the Preakness infield party, even if I only get to watch from a distance.
I also enjoy the annual attempt by the Maryland Jockey Club and the city mothers and fathers to come to grips with what the infield celebration represents, when what it really represents is something that they just don't understand anymore. It's a limited-time-only opportunity for teenagers and young adults to wallow in the sheer joy of being young and -- well -- drunk and stupid.
The trick for race and city officials is to allow that while protecting the craziest of the crazies from themselves, and you can read more about the effort to do that in today's print edition or right here.
If we didn't live in a society where the real national pastime is litigation, I suppose they could just let everybody do what they want and guard the perimeter so some idiot doesn't jump in front of the horses -- as happened quite frightfully a few years ago. But we live in a world where somebody has to be responsible for all those drunk people, so the recent attempts at controlling the environment were as logical as they were unpopular.
While we're on the subject, however, I'd like to relate my favorite infield memory. I was assigned the infield story one year during the 1990s, and it was one of the times when the infield had been turned into a swamp by heavy rain. That certainly didn't stop anyone from having a ball, including one young man who had overindulged so heavily that he was sleeping it off behind one of the parimutual structures.
When I happened upon him, he was lying on his back fast asleep and his friends had piled a small mound of mud on top of his ample belly and -- I'm not making this up -- planted a tiny tree in it.
I wish there were cell phone cameras in those days, so I could prove it.