BALTIMORE -- Few things related to the consumption of sports have changed more in the last decade than their measurability. The fan (or the writer) knows more now about what he has seen than ever before. This is a deliciously good thing, an endlessly clickable supply of statistics to better define performance beyond the final score and the often duplicitous eye test. But in the end, sports are still a zero sum operation, where somebody wins and everybody else doesn't. That's the simplest statistic of all, yet it occasionally gets lost.
Consider the May 5 Kentucky Derby. Late on that Saturday afternoon, I stood at the outside edge of the track with a group of writers, just inside the rail, and watched first as the field of 20 thoroughbreds rumbled past the clubhouse, fans in full throat, and then on the infield video monitors as the horses circled the huge oval. (From track level, you can't see the backstretch or far turn, because of the hospitality tents on the infield; but in order to snag postrace interviews, you have to be near the finish line. That's the way it works).