Monday, March 24, 2008

March Sadness?

I know there are a lot of sports fans out there who, like me, have the end of March blues. You're favorite College Hoops team just lost in the Tournament (National Invitation, that is), you're brackets have more red ink than MC Hammer's bank statement and you're favorite NBA team can't win a court case, let alone a basketball game. The week until MLB season begins feels like year.
For fans like me, I give you this list of things to look forward to:

Lottery Watch: For fans of the Pistons, Celtics, Lakers and anyone in Texas, this time of the year is about watching your favorite NBA team fight for the top seed in their conference or claw for a playoff spot. For fans like me, it’s about watching the Knicks fight just as hard for ping pong balls in the NBA Draft Lottery. Right now, the ‘Bockers have the fifth worst record in the league with 19 wins. However, they stand only one game ahead of Minnesota and Memphis in the win column, and are getting cold at the right time with a 1-9 record in their last ten games. With every Crawford miss, every key injury, and every poor Isiah coaching decision the Knicks are moving one step closer to having a shot at landing the next superstar.

Unfortunately, the NBA Draft is only for players. The Knicks cannot draft an owner, coach, or GM.

Barry Watch: If you’re dumb enough to think that Barry will quietly ride off into the sunset, then you’re probably also na├»ve enough to think the moon landing was real and Oswald acted alone. While it is certainly possible that an AL team will snag him in the next week, I think it is pretty likely that he will start the season without a contract and have to follow in the footsteps of Ricky Henderson and play in the Independent League. When by the end of April he already has thirty home runs, an underachieving AL team will finally say “ah, what the heck” and the Barry Bonds chronicles will be resumed.

Mitchell Report Fever: It’s a no win for a baseball announcer early in the season. Whenever a player comes to the plate or the mound who was mentioned in the MR, the announcer will be faced with the question of “do I talk about the report, or awkwardly avoid the 300 ton elephant?” For the fans, I say, have fun with it. You can even make a drinking game out of it. You drink whenever they say the word “Mitchell,” drink twice when they awkwardly hint at it (eg “On the mound for the Yankees is Andy Pettitte, who had a tumultuous off season”) and chug the rest of your beer when the announcer says, “PLAYER A made a mistake, but now he has straightened himself out and is eager to earn back the trust of the fans.”

Hank Wisdom: Hank Steinbrenner showed a lot of promise last season with some great trash talking, and it seems like he has elevated his game during the off season. He is primed for a breakout year, and may be the next budding superstar in the world of trash talk. What separates Hank from trash talkers like Ozzie Guillen or Curt Schilling is that he mixes some cleverness and even occasionally tact into his rants. Most people are either so angry and off the wall or try so hard to be clever and tactful that it’s hard to take them seriously. Hank has a good balance of both. He is like a less offensive version of John Rocker, who also was a great trash talker but for some reason inexcusably took out his wrath on New Yorkers, homosexuals, minorities and people with a terminal illness instead of opposing baseball players.

The next ‘George Mason’: In the Sweet 16, there are two 12 seeds and a 10 seed. At least one will probably make the Elite Eight, and I’d say there is a decent chance one of them (probably Davidson, who I almost took to beat Georgetown) makes the Final Four. My biggest curiosity is how George Mason feels about potentially having a double digit seed equal their feat. If UCLA tops Western Kentucky, will they pop champagne like the ’72 Dolphins? Will we hear Jai Lewis declare after a Davidson loss: “This just shows that no low seed can make the Final Four. Except in 2006”? I anxiously await.
-By Andrew Vitelli
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