Entertainment & Events
Media blowing Tequila and Merriman coverage, Del Mar races ending
There is no doubt that the arrest of Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman is an untimely and hideous distracton for the team, preparing to open their season on Monday, September 14 at the Oakland Raiders. It is a juicy story involving a local star athlete. As such, the incident is ripe for local news outlets to be all over the story, with everyone trying to include thier own exclusive tidbits. Still, some of the things said and written about this incident are way over the top.
For those who do not know, Merriman was arrested early Sunday morning at his home in Poway for battery and false imprisonment, after allegedly choking his girlfriend, Tila Nguyen (better known as reality TV personality “Tila Tequila“) and refusing to let her leave. Though facts are few and far between at this point, the Entertainer has learned from sources that Merriman refused to let Nguyen leave because she was intoxicated and did not have safe transportation. Merriman told Entertainer sources that he “absolutley did not” choke her. He also said there were about a dozen people at the home who were all witnesses and can support his claims. (The Entertainer was unable to contact Merriman, but did hear from a source who spoke with him briefly after he returned home from the San Diego Central Jail in downtown.)
Some of the sensationalism surrounding the event is positively silly. Take, for instance, the news on the local Fox affiliate, remarking that the incident endangers Merriman’s football career. Please, talk about making your own news. While there is a good chance the NFL will suspend Merriman, it is almost guaranteed that he’ll play the entire 2009 season, barring injury, because any repercussions stemming from this incident will not be meted out by the NFL until the legal process has played out. How long will that take? Who knows. But it’s a good bet there won’t be a resolution until after the NFL season. There’s also a good chance Merriman will never be officially charged, and in that scenario, it’s highly unlikely he would face any discipline from the NFL. Not that that makes any of it OK, but can we control ourselves with the hyperbole?
Another TV station, the local CBS affiliate, followed up their news segment of the story with a segment getting fan reaction, which, near as this viewer could tell, consisted of walking into a sports bar and asking customers what they think of the situation. Predictably, some guy who’d probably had ten beers said “It’s despicable what he did, he should rot in jail for years.” Way to wait for the facts to come out, but then again, that’s what you get when you try to make a bad segment news. I realize the situation is serious and not all the facts are out, but isn’t that even more of a reason to report it the old fashioned way instead of speculating about Merriman’s career being over and giving air time to random bar customers? It ultimately makes what is an unfunny situation laughable.
Maybe I’m expecting too much from these news outlets, but sensationalizing stories with factual errors, wild speculation and inebriated, uninformed barflys is no way to cover a news story.
On a lighter note, the 19th annual Pacific Classic was held at Del Mar on Sunday. The Entertainer was on hand as the day was jam-packed with 11 races and a Ziggy Marley concert that followed.
Because of the volumous number of races being held, the first post was at 1:00 pm. The day was highlighted by long-shot Richard’s Kid winning the Pacific Classic. The Pacific Classic, a champions-only race held annually at Del Mar, has the largest purse for any race of the Del Mar season, at $1 million. Trained by the famous Bob Baffert, Richard’s Kid did not come in to the Classic with very good odds, but made an impressive late run to win.
Notable among the amenities at Del Mar is the abundance of food and drink, if you want to pay for it, that is. An import beer for $8.50? No thanks. I did, however, take the bait and spend $4 on a hot dog, since I was starving. Still, when you go to a place like the races, or any sporting event for that matter, one should expect to pay a premium for food and the truth is, Del Mar’s prices are reasonable, comparitively speaking. Moreover, Del Mar is just an impressive experience that unfortunatley is leaving, not to be heard from again until next summer. The final day for races is Wednesday and I highly recommend going since the experience won’t be around again for about 9 1/2 months. The ambiance is spectacular, with the view of the ocean, the idylllic breeze, and amazing horses. And of course, the entertainment of gambling.
Boy, those casual bets can add up, particulalry when you’re not winning any of them. Familiar with the feeling? Join the club. I’ve been to Del Mar three times this season and the first two times, I haven’t won anything. Of course, I’ve been told I try too many difficult bets going for the kill shot. And the people that tell me that are right. Still, imagine my elation when I finally hit one of my bets, a $2 Quinella (in which the bettor picks the two horses they think will come in first and second and so long as the horses finish in first and second, regardless of order, the bettor wins) and I proudly go to collect my money, only to be informed that my bet won a whopping $11. Ouch. So much for the big payoff.
Anyhow, toward the end of the races, and particulalry after the Classic, which was the ninth race, the clientele noticeably started changing. Many of the suits and ties were being replaced by a younger, more herbally inclined crowd, no doubt looking forward to the reggae concert. Personally, I find the wide array of people at Del Mar to be a pleasure and another reason why everyone should experience the races.
The concert lasted about an hour and sources told the Entertainer that it wasn’t one of Ziggy’s best, but still a great way to wind down from the races.
The last races this season at Del Mar will be held this Wednesday, September 9th.
San Diego, and yours truly, is sad to see the races leave, along with $8 beers, $5 hot dogs, $5 sodas and untold sums going into their bet-taking coffers. Still, the charm of Del Mar is worth it. Us San Diegans know it could be worse (try Qualcomm’s concession prices during football season, which is upon us).