Jason Beem's Thursday Column for Nov. 16, 2023

November 16th, 2023

Jason writes about jealousy and bitterness and how they often they fail to serve us in any ways in racing. 

A good Thursday morning to you all! I was texting with my pal Matt Dinerman the other day while he was calling the races at Golden Gate Fields and thought a little bit about today’s blog topic and how it ties into Matt. Matt is finishing up the fall at Golden Gate Fields before heading to Arkansas to call races at historic Oaklawn Park. I’m so excited for him and think it will be very fun to watch him start this new journey in his career. 

The topic I wanted to write about is jealousy. Or maybe it’s bitterness. I’ll let you decide. But for me it was also a learning opportunity. Let’s go back to the winter of 2015. I had just started at Louisiana Downs and got an email from a higher up at Emerald Downs. They said in so many words “Robert Geller is going to Woodbine, we’d like you to interview with us here if you’re interested.”  Was I interested?! Emerald Downs had always been my dream job. I grew up 10 minutes north of the track, I’d spent countless days there as a fan, and the Longacres Mile was my favorite race. I told them “tell me a day and time and I’d be there.” Louisiana Downs was on the break between the Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred meet, so I was just sitting around my apartment miserable the whole time. I was already struggling with my mental health again at Louisiana Downs and truthfully I hated being so far away from home so I got in my car and drove the 2300 miles back to the Seattle area. 

I remember walking into the interview and sitting down and the first thing the boss at Emerald Downs said to me was “We were really hoping some young people or women would apply for this job, we really want to do something different.” My heart sank because I realized I had no shot now. I think they were just giving me a pity interview because I was from there and they knew how much I would covet the position. 

A couple weeks later, the marketing manager from Emerald called me and told me they were hiring the above-mentioned Matt Dinerman. Now truth be told, I would have been annoyed if they hired anyone but me. But I sulked for a while after that. I felt entitled to that job. I kept telling myself “I’d paid my dues for 10 years at Portland to be ready for that job.” I was jealous and bitter. I quit Louisiana Downs a couple days later because I just didn’t want to go back. I told everyone it was homesickness, which in part it was, but really, I was just in a bad place in my health and life. I was done working in racing and started doing Uber and other odd jobs until I could figure out what to do with the rest of my life. I didn’t go to Emerald Downs at all that summer because it just made me sad that I was out of the game. Matt of course, excelled, and grew as a racecaller right from the opening bell. I think the fact that he was so good, so young, made me even more jealous.  

I met Matt a couple times at Emerald over the next few years and he was just as he seems online or on video. Polite, kind, curious, and just a good guy. My jealousy and frustrations about what happened started to pass and I started going to Emerald again. I started my podcast and was sort of back into racing and things were going ok. 

Looking back I’m embarrassed by how I felt. I suppose we’re all justified at times to be bitter or jealous, but I also realize how stuck in those feelings we can get sometimes. And I don’t think they really serve us much. I think this experience helped me to learn that there are a lot of things that are not in my control. And I’m entitled to nothing when it comes to my career. Now granted it’s easier to say that now that I’ve got some jobs that I love, but I really do believe that a lot of getting these jobs is just dumb luck. Knowing the right people, or just happens that the hiring manager likes your work. But how we react to that luck, whether it goes in our favor or not, I think says a lot about us. We’re all blessed with different skills and personality traits. I think the best thing to do is just work to maximize whatever ability and skills we do have. I find now whenever the threads about announcers come up, I don’t even think twice when someone says someone else is better than me. They probably are haha. I can only try to do my best and I think when we judge ourselves against others we set ourselves up to fall short. 

We all have our own journeys in our careers and in life. They’re almost never straight or exactly as we planned them. But I think those meanders off of the road are where you learn a lot of life’s important lessons. It’s where the character gets tested and hopefully built. I know mine certainly needed a lot of building at that time. Looking back I’m very grateful things played out the way they did. And I’m very grateful to call Matt a friend and I’m so excited to see his journey continue to the “Natural State.” Go get em pal!