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ESPN 2 and the McGrath Conspiracy

At Anaheim III, Ricky Carmichael was 11 seconds faster than Jeremy McGrath in his heat race. Then, in the main event, Carmichael came from a tenth place start to beat McGrath, obviously posting consistently faster lap times throughout the race. According the ESPN 2′s Davey Coombs, however, McGrath lost the main event due to one small mistake, where McGrath could not make a triple jump late in the race (with Carmichael on his ass, pressuring him).

Instead of simply congratulating Carmichael on an incredible performance, Coombs, either deliberately or through blind adoration of Jeremy McGrath, turned the focus to McGrath and what was essentially an inconsequential mistake forced upon him by a much faster Ricky Carmichael.

McGrath has been a great champion, and is riding as well as he ever has. He doesn’t need excuses, from Davey Coombs or anybody else. The reality is that McGrath got spanked at Anaheim III, and spanked pretty hard by a younger, more aggressive rider. The average fan in the stands at Anaheim had no doubt about this fact, but apparently ESPN 2 and its commentators were watching a different race.

According to David Bailey, Carmichael was “riding over his head”, and “getting away with it”. Bailey, more than anyone, ought to realize that Carmichael has been riding pretty much on the edge for years, and has ridden this way en route to 34 Outdoor National victories and four National championships.

Let’s not cheapen McGrath’s accomplishments by being less than objective about what is happening this year. Carmichael may or may not win this championship, but he has flat out-rode Jeremy McGrath more than once this year, and he is creating, with McGrath, the most interesting and exciting AMA 250 Supercross series in a long time.

Coombs mentions in his own Racerhead article this week that, after the race, he climbed into the Kawasaki semi to talk with Carmichael, and walked into a room in the semi and observed Carmichael surrounded by Jeff Ward, Jeff Emig, Greg Albertyn, and Johnny O’Mara. Coombs, somewhat embarrassed, and feeling a bit out-classed by these former World and National champions, shyly congratulated Carmichael and quickly left the room. Perhaps, Coombs realized that these champions were giving Carmichael his due, rather than telling him he had “ridden over his head” and won because of a McGrath bobble near the end of the race. Maybe Coombs realized this was not an opportune moment to lay more McGrath bullshit on the young champion. Those four champions were undoubtedly there because they recognized what Carmichael had accomplished. He had hunted down, and convincingly passed, the greatest supercross racer of all time . . . in a way McGrath had never been beaten before (with the possible exception of Ezra Lusk several years ago).