Among the shysters and snake oil salesman of the world there are words and phrases used as effective marketing ploys to get your attention. “FREE.” “NEW AND IMPROVED.” “LIVE NUDE GIRLS.” All tried and true sales tactics that unfortunately have no bearing on the sports world. No, here, “FREE” comes with $10 Parking and equally priced beer … ”NEW AND IMPROVED” usually means something got cheaper and worse … and “LIVE NUDE GIRLS” got legislated out of the Snake Pit long ago.
But there is a word to which sports marketers cling tightly, as it never fails increase ticket sales. That word is “REMATCH.”
In order to market a rematch an event needs to have had an initial conflict, and lucky for us some of the most exciting conflicts in ages were brought out in the Mean Streets of Toronto last weekend. Vitriol, finger-pointing, bent metal, and at least one post-race outburst of violence left competitors departing picturesque Ontario with the bitter taste of animosity, and in the world of athletic and technological competition animosity is the fuel that stokes the sport’s fire … and I’ll hit the brakes right there with the half-assed attempt at poetic overtones before turning this into a Metallica song.
In case you’ve slept in the last two weeks, here is a brief recap of the rematches Edmonton shall feature.
Jimmy Vasser vs Brian Barnhart
The conflict:Vasser, co-owner of the KV Racing Team, saw his other driver (Paul Tracy) in third when Dario Franchitti went to make a pit stop. As Franchitti headed towards his pit box the caution came out on the course, and an official signaled to Franchitti the pits were closed. Dario still made his stop, Barnhart indicated to the official that the stop is OK, and after supposedly beating Tracy to the ever mysterious “blend line” (which TOTALLY needs to be renamed before the DEA tries to get involved) Dario was listed on the charts ahead of Tracy.
The winner:Dario Franchitti. The Iron Hand of Justice unleashed a blizzard of telemetric data immediately after the race to support his case, which didn’t matter because the pits were closed to all drivers – unless of course your name was “Dario Franchitti,” who went on to win the race thankyouverymuch.
The rematch:On a certain level I feel for Jimmy Vasser, because his KV Racing Team is putting as good of a car together as anyone not named “Penske” or “Ganassi.” Unfortunately, his only regular driver is a 20-year-old racing sociopath, which means Vasser’s lone shot at any redemption would be to have Moraes apply some recklessness in Franchitti’s direction this weekend. From what we’ve seen of Mario, this could already happen on any given weekend.
Tomas Scheckter vs Alex Tagliani
The conflict: While attempting to make a pass on Mario Moraes, Tomas was punted by Alex, sending all three cars skidding. Unfortunately safety crews locked down Scheckter’s car despite it not being damaged, prematurely ending his race day. Fortunately for viewers, they didn’t lock down Tomas, who threw his gloves at Tagliani as he passed the scene.
The winner:Scheckter. If you get in an accident that isn’t your fault, you throw your gloves and make SportsCenter, and you say in your post-race interview that the other guy made a “non-brain move,” then you win the media war. It’s unfortunate that it even came to this because Alex had been running a great race – even leading for a while – before he got burned having to pit under yellow. Such is life for drivers not named “Franchitti.”
The rematch:Not sure how much play is left after Scheckter said on his twitter pagethat he “had a word with tag. We spoke and sorted it out……but he still owes me a new pair of gloves.” I suggest that the next time this happens – and knowing Scheckter, there WILL be a next time – Tomas should throw a MonaVie product instead of his gloves, just to keep his sponsor happy.
Rahal vs Doornbos
The conflict:Generally speaking, Graham Rahal has been faster than his Newman/Haas/Lanigan teammate for much of this season, and at Toronto he was more than a little miffed that his Dutch teammate wasn’t getting out of his way. Likewise, Doornbos was miffed that he didn’t get the memo instructing that he’s supposed to be racing against every driver except his teammate. Things are turning rather icy at N/H/L.
The winner: No one. With post-race quotes like these Graham is creeping ever so close to being labeled by some (you know, some!) a “whiner”, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s closer to the front a lot more than Doornbos. Meanwhile Doornbos has gone from being considered a pre-season lock to win the Rookie of the Year to a guy people (you know, people!) are saying could be replaced before the season ends.
The rematch: Even without his superior performance, this is Graham’s team. Just ask Justin Wilson. However, this will continue to be a problematic relationship with no clear victor unless Graham and Bobby have a very public and fully-televised meltdown. And should that happen, the clear winner would be the fans and the media.
Carpenter vs Street courses
The conflict: Ed Carpenter, God love him, is not by any reasonable determination ever going to be considered a “road course specialist.” In battling the track at Toronto, he spun out least twice, was involved in an accident that ended Graham Rahal’s day, and generally participated as a the race’s proverbial “moving chicane.”
The winner:The Streets of Toronto. Ed finished the race like the 0-16 Detroit Lions finished their football season. Does this make Ed a bad person? No. Certainly not. Does that make him a bad driver? Well, let’s just say that if there are 20 IndyCar drivers entered in the Edmonton street race, he may not be one of the 20 best drivers at the track. On courses with right turns Ed exhibits the precision, skill and effort of a teenage Jack in the backseat with Diane.
The rematch: More chicanery. *rimshot* Hopefully now when you see him spin out this weekend you can at least hum to yourself “Suckin’ on a chili dog outside the Tastee FreeEEEEeeze …”
Jack Arute vs AIRCOM
The conflict:During pre-race coverage, Jack Arute was attempting to give precious, insightful analysis, but was suddenly drowned out by a low-flying member of the Canadian Forces Air Command. Undaunted, Arute continued to speak LOUDER, though nonetheless still unintelligibly, until the jet flew off to defend the Northern Territories.
The winner:Arute. Short of dropping a “Daisy Cutter” on the circuit, you can’t stop Arute; you can only hope to momentarily contain the madness by drowning him out.
The rematch:Unfortunately there will be no rematch, since we have just been notified that Jack Arute will NOT be participating in the Edmonton race.
**From the Office of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police**
To Whom It May Concern,
Please be advised that the following have been recently added to the list individuals who are forbidden entry into Canada for the threat posed by their presence in our great and soverign nation.
*Kaaveh Akbari – For posing a viable threat to our national food supply.
*Wayne Gretzky – On the off chance he wants to come back and ruin one of our few domestic Hockey franchises like he did that one in Arizona.
*Alan Thicke – For obvious reasons.
*Jack Arute – For possession of a tan so abnormal it insults every red-blodded and pasty-white Canadian unfortunate enough to gaze upon it.
We will provide further updates to this list as necessary. Good day.
Good luck this weekend to his replacement, the consummate professional and substantially less tanned Kevin Lee.
Mario Moraes vs EJ Viso
The conflict:Late in the race Moraes attempted to pass Viso, who may or may not have thrown a block. The two collided, resulting in a damaged front wing for Moraes and a costly spin on the track for Viso. Later, on the cool down lap at the race’s end, Moraes then followed Viso around the track and may or may not have intentionally speared into the #13, damaging both cars.
The winner:EJ Viso. It wasn’t published, but I have it on good authority that after the race Mr Viso had a lively discussion with Mr Moraes. Allegedly, after not getting a satsifactory answer to the question “What the f–k, dude?”, Viso pancaked Moares against a trailer, grabbed him by the hair, and attempted to scalp him like a hellbent Iroquois. Moraes was rescued by fellow members of the KV Racing crew, but not before Viso made threats involving voodoo dolls, shrunken heads, and a machete. And he called Moraes a wealthy monkey of some sort.
The rematch:Maybe it’s just me, but the more I see of him the more EJ reminds me of Jean Claude Van Damme. Seriously. EJ has roughly the same build, he’s got that same quiet presence, and he’s possibly as lethal as the fictional “Universal Soldier.” And to that end I say “Run Mario, Run” before you get yourself a well-deserved roundhouse kick to the neck.
Paul Tracy vs Helio Castroneves
The conflict:With 15 laps to go, Paul Tracy makes an attempt to pass Helio Castroneves for second place. Helio initially gives room but doesn’t concede the position. Tracy pulls even but not beyond the #3. The two go side-by-side through a handful of turns before Helio’s car veers sharply to the right, sending Tracy to the wall and mortally damaging both cars.
The winner:Tracy. Having had previous moments of IndyCar glory seized by Helio, Tracy after the race did not throw words or fists at Helio (although that wouldn’t have necessarily been a bad thing). Instead he took the high road blamed the accident on hard racing, and even shook Helio’s hand after the race – but not before the residents of Toronto gave Castroneves such vociferous boos and cat calls that Security Chief Charles had to be called to the scene to escort Helio to a secure location.
The rematch:Helio has defeated drivers, dancers and even overzealous prosecutors, but even he knows that if he races anywhere near Tracy this weekend he could have an entire nation up in arms against him. Should be fun to watch though so enjoy the fight card, race fans!