Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

The art of winning


Our modern age says it‘s all about winning whether we are talking about sports, elections, wars or the Oscars, Grammys or last night’s Tony Awards. The common denominator here says that you must win because second place means you are the first loser.

Yesterday our beloved Minnesota Twins became a winner by accomplishing something they haven’t done for quite some time. They not only won their ballgame, they now own the best record in the American League. However, the St. Louis Cardinals from the National League own the best record in the Major Leagues. In one way the Twins are winners and in another odd way they are losers by the fact they only have the second best record in all of baseball.

The concept that Americans love winners and shun losers came to light very early in the 2015 baseball season. The Twins started out of the gate the first week with a lousy record of one win and six losses. Their home at Target Field soon had more empty seats than the ones filled with only the most die-hard of Twins fans. Since that first week, the Twins have earned the best record in the American League by presenting an exciting product both on and off the field. One would think that would be reflected at the box office with their fans returning to the ballpark in droves. Although attendance has gradually been recovering, they are still not meeting projected expectations. Evidently people have a long memory regarding a "loser" status that takes a protracted amount of time to overcome.

Let’s rewind the clock a few decades back to an era when car rental advertisements came into my life. As my wife and I took up flying around the country, we often found ourselves a long way from home and no vehicle to get around in. Renting a car was the easiest option. To this day, cost is the number one factor in which rental agency we use. After all, they are all about the same as far as I am concerned.

Back then there was an advertisement that traveled through the radio, television, newspapers, magazines and billboards all over America that touted their "loser" status of being number two. Avis, the first car rental agency to offer on-site locations at airports, came up with their legendary underdog slogan, “We Try Harder.” The actual wording from the first marketing campaign that fueled a rivalry with Hertz was worded like this; “When you’re only No. 2, you try harder. Or else.”

After a half-century of the “We Try Harder” campaign, Avis finally threw in the towel. They never did surpass Hertz and become number one. They still remain solidly entrenched behind Hertz despite no longer being number two. Hertz has dropped to second place and Avis is third. The number one car rental agency in the country today is Enterprise.

A few months ago, if I asked you to name the number one horse in the world, most of you would have replied Secretariat. Last Saturday, a horse named American Pharoah, became the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed won it 37 years ago.

Despite his status as a ridgling (a horse with only one descended testicle) rather than a colt, his most interesting feature is his short tail. Two theories abound as to how this tail came to be. The first theory claims it was chewed off by a horse named Mr. Z with whom he boarded. A more vivid tale of the short tail is offered by American Pharoah’s trainer, Bob Baffert, who theorized “I think he was in the pasture one day and there was a mountain lion chasing him — that was the closest he could get …”

You may ask, why the misspelling of American Pharoah? Evidently the owner’s son Justin held a horse-naming contest on social media. Justin claims he cut and pasted the named from the winner’s email, as it was written. The winner was Marsha Baumgartner who most likely had a hard enough time spelling her own name. Marsha defended herself by claiming, “I looked up the spelling before I entered.”

Taking it all in stride, Marsha added, “Horses can’t spell anyway.”

Despite the controversy, the fact remains that American Pharoah came in first place in each of the three legs of horse racing’s Triple Crown and Marsha came in first place in the horse-naming contest. That makes them both winners.


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