Okay, I admit I’m pretty out of touch when it comes to Supercross. I enjoy watching sports that I slightly know how to participate in (even if it was decades ago), but I just haven’t ever been able to relate to that much flying through the air. I love riding dirt bikes when I get the occasional chance, but stadium Supercross has about as much to do with how I ride a dirt bike as a Saturday morning softball game has to do with the World Series; they’re almost not even recognizably similar activities. They’re really even further apart than that. I wouldn’t be afraid to stand at the plate and listen to a 100-mph fastball sizzle past me (doubt I’d be able to see it), but I’d be terrified to hit a triple wide open on a modern 450. Or a modern 250. Or a modern PW50.
But it was Saturday night at the casa and it was the season finale from Las Vegas on TV with the title on the line, so what the heck. I’ll try to rein in my fear. Hats off to Chad Reed for still being out there at 35. I remember him being a little peevish 10 years ago when I worked for Yamaha’s advertising agency, so it’s nice to see he’s had a change of heart. Seeing what other career options are available does wonders for guys born with an uncanny ability to make millions doing a thing the rest of us can only marvel at, I imagine.
I had just gone to feet up, Mr. Sulu, in the comfy recliner with fatty snacks and a beverage as the 250 Main was winding down. Charging hard from behind, after an earlier fall on the first lap, comes one Zach Osborne character on a Husqvarna, who needs to pass Joey Savatgy to win the 250 East Championship. Ain’t no way he’s going to make it. Or is he?
See it in slo-mo beginning at about 1:50 if you’re interested:
BANG! Okay, I was on Rossi’s side when he bumped Sete Gibernau off the track way back when, because from where I sat it looked like a legit accident where Rossi was doing his damndest to get his bike slowed and turned and didn’t quite make it… but Zach Osborne appeared to have not the eye of the tiger, but of the kamikaze; this was much more intentional ram than accidental bump. I waited for somebody to throw a flag or fire a Roman candle or whatever they do in SX. It never came, and in fact nobody was even outraged but me and my GF’s cats. Actually, the more aggressive cat, who’s an accomplished mouser, conveyed she thought it was a legit pass too.
Ahhh, “That was a very aggressive move,” said longtime SX announcer Jeff Emig, “a very very aggressive pass…” From my La-Z-Boy, it was more a vehicular assault. All Osborne lacked to recreate the naval battle from Ben Hur was a flaming bucket of coals jutting out from his front number plate.
Zach Osborne didn’t seem to give it a moment’s thought nor anything resembling an apology in the immediate aftermath, though he did give it up to the Lord Jesus Christ without whose grace and blessings he wouldn’t be here – along with a long list of sponsors.
Consultation with a few of my more SX-savvy pals resulted in a split decision; some agreed with me it was a truly uncalled-for premeditated takedown, while others think it’s just the nature of the Supercross game.
“Savatgy should never have been there,” said one vet MX friend. Possibly true, but if he hadn’t been, it doesn’t look like Osborne would’ve ever made the corner and would’ve wound up in the box seats. “Savatgy left the door open,” said another. Yes, and Osborne came through it and rode all the way through the foyer, across the living room and into the back wall of the den to take Savatgy out.
Not to take anything away from Osborne’s actual maniacal and amazing charge from the rear, which really was one of the most amazing motorcycle feats I’ve ever seen. But it really was a cheap low blow that gave him the win and the 250 East Championship. And he should’ve been penalized. Oh well, man, that’s like, just my opinion. Let’s move on to the 450 Main Event!
I think Ralph Sheheen said defending champ Ryan Dungey was up by nine points over Eli Tomac and only needed to finish 5th or better to clinch another championship, but I was swept away by Ralph’s “dancing with the devil of disaster” verbal flourishes and having a hard time concentrating.
Dungey got the holeshot and led a few laps. When Tomac passed him, he wasn’t able to knock Dungey down but he did make Dungey have to stop and regroup, then get going again. By now I’ve figured out modern SX is like the last lap of Daytona. Instead of wanting to be in second to draft the guy at the finish line, though, you want to be running second so he can’t ram you off the track in a corner! Dungey the champ was playing it just right, happy to follow along in second behind Tomac and take home the big trophy.
When Tomac mistimed a quad, though, Dungey had to pass him into the lead. Shit!, he must’ve been thinking. Sure enough, it took Tomac about three more corners to find a spot to shove Dungey off the track. But four-time champ Dungey’s obviously nobody’s fool and appeared to have a prearranged plan to re-enter, which he did, still in second. On the last lap and still in second, Dungey couldn’t help himself and passed Tomac again (maybe because Tomac slowed intentionally), looking back at him in mid-air and probably sticking out his tongue. Tomac had one last shot at shoving him off the outside of the track, but Dungey of course knew it was coming, stayed upright and finished fourth to take the title.
Actually none of Tomac’s tactics were nearly as egregious as Osborne’s in the 250 race, but they were still obvious enough even to me, and as he climbed off the bike Dungey said he couldn’t believe all the “cheap shots” out there tonight. Later, after he’d cooled down for the official interview, I didn’t hear mention anything about cheap shots, but he did profess his undying respect for Tomac and all the other competitors. (Maybe he’s looking for a Kawasaki ride next year or something?)
You get the impression everybody’s on notice that SX wants to attract more viewers by being more like the rapidly expanding World Wrestling Entertainment or UFC franchises, and anybody who’s not down – including the announcers – are just a bunch of big whiners who don’t understand how to generate revenue. I almost expressed myself on a forum, but I didn’t want anybody to call me “a queer ass quad-riding bunch of sandy vagina pussies” like they called these other guys who called out Osborne. Not being a real dirt guy, I have no comeback for that.
The only thing I could find in the Supercross Rulebook addressing safety says, in section 4.16: No rider may ride in such a manner as to endanger life or limb of other riders, officials or the public. Osborne’s takedown was really the only incident I saw where somebody could’ve got really jacked up, but I have to ask, what ever happened to sportsmanship, man? The thing that separates us from the beasts. Speaking of which, the rulebook also says: Riders or crewmembers observed to be relieving themselves anywhere other than in a fixed or portable restroom will be penalized.
Even when the takedown moves are only half-hearted, they’re still takedown moves. I don’t remember why I quit paying attention to Supercross, I sort of tuned out when my son moved on to other things, but there really is some amazing moto-talent on full display and I was on the edge of my La-Z-Boy through the whole thing. It’s always been a contact sport, but not like this.
It’s a shame if we’re going to let it go the way of all that’s worst in America, the mentality that winning is the only thing that matters. That succeeding by any means necessary, even illegal ones, is acceptable, because Jesus is on our side, and everybody else is a sandy-vagina loser. If you don’t like it, you’re fired.
At least none of the little dudes in the KTM 50 race took each other out. I suppose they’ll have to learn, though, if this is how we want to teach them to play. But since most people are always going to retain at least a vestigial sense of fair play (I’m still an optimist!), and since nobody wants to see their child get hurt, I’m going to postulate that all the barbarization of the most popular form of bike racing in the USA means is that we can expect to see fewer players going forward. I hope everybody’s down with that.
WAIT! HOLD IT!
STOP THE PRESSES!!
There is some justice. Not enough but some. This just in from the AMA this morning:
Monster Energy AMA Supercross an FIM World Championship
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Decision of the Race Director,
Las Vegas, Nev., Supercross
On May 6, 2017, after the 250SX main event, a protest was filed in regards to an on track incident involving rider #17 Joey Savatgy and rider #16 Zach Osborne. After a complete review of the incident, including video and eyewitness accounts, it was determined by the Race Director that rider #16 Zach Osborne was in violation of the rule Appendix A.2.c.17.
A2 General Offenses and Penalties
It was determined that the pass was aggressive in nature and per the 2017 Monster Energy AMA Supercross an FIM World Championship rulebook, the current action in Las Vegas caused a fine of $7,500.00 to be issued.
The protesting party did not agree with the severity of the penalty and chose to appeal the Race Director’s decision. An appeal hearing was then convened and all evidence presented by both parties were reviewed. It was determined by the appeals panel that the penalty was justified. The decision of the Race Director was confirmed and the decision of the appeals panel is final. No further appeal is possible.
PS: I came across Dirtiest Block Passes on the Youtube. Not sure how old the vid is, but none of them seemed all that dirty in comparison.