Winning & Musing…Volume 2.18

Finally…Spring has sprung here in The Mountain State!! It’s been 80+ degrees the past couple of days, with plentiful sunshine. However, as happy as that makes me I must temper my enthusiasm since preliminary indications are that next week will begin with a “wintry mix”. I am exercising similar caution with the sports calendar because, while some things are pointed in the right direction it is far too early for a victory lap. Let’s discuss.

 

 

 

As per usual I haven’t paid all that much attention to the NBA season. Actually I’ve probably been even less invested than usual (if that’s possible) for reasons I have covered previously. However, that all changes with the start of the playoffs, which look like this in the Eastern Conference:

Toronto Raptors                    vs.     Washington Wizards

Boston Celtics              vs.     Milwaukee Bucks

Philadelphia 76ers      vs.     Miami Heat

Cleveland Cavaliers    vs.     Indiana Pacers

Ideally we would see either the Celtics or 76ers emerge to represent their conference in the NBA Finals. All eyes will be on a Raptors-Cavs second round series if/when it happens, and I must admit that, as patriotic as I tend to be (USA!! USA!!) I am more than sick of Lebron James. He is NOT better than Michael Jordan, and some of the things he has said off the court have revealed the kind of person he really is, which isn’t positive. When one lives by the sword one dies by the sword, and since the NBA has spent decades marketing individual personalities over teams they shouldn’t be surprised that many fans react negatively when some personalities are pompous, self-righteous, & tediously egotistical. Which brings me to the Western Conference:

Houston Rockets                  vs.     Minnesota Timberwolves

Golden State Warriors         vs.     San Antonio Spurs

Portland Trail Blazers           vs.     New Orleans Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder       vs.     Utah Jazz

I am beyond thrilled that the Warriors & Spurs play each other in Round 1, because that means that one of the world’s biggest blowhard coaches will be eliminated quickly (hopefully either Portland or New Orleans will take out the remaining trash in the second round). I’d be fine with the Rockets making it to the NBA Finals, although I think the Pelicans could be a sleeper. A Philly-N’awleans Finals would be fresh & intriguing, wouldn’t it??

 

 

Congratulations to the Villanova Wildcats for winning their second National Championship in the past three seasons. The 2018 edition of March Madness will mostly be remembered for the impressive run to The Final Four of the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers, with their Gryffindor scarves and elderly nun Sister Jean, and for the history making 16th seed UMBC Retrievers’ huge upset of #1 Virginia, something that had never happened before. However, though there had been numerous teams atop the polls throughout the season and no dominant force emerged as a clear favorite to cut down the nets, hindsight is 20/20 and Villanova was always lurking near the top and seemed to be the most consistent program thru the season.

 

 

Sunday at The Masters was delightful fun as usual. Though Tiger Woods & my man Phil Mickelson made the cut and played on the weekend they were never legit factors, but luckily for fans & the folks at CBS guys like Rory McIlroy & Rickie Fowler were entertaining, and Jordan Spieth’s -8 final round of 64 was fantastic even if it came up a bit short. Initially I had no issue with winner Patrick Reed, but post-victory stories have emerged that paint him in a rather negative light. Apparently he hasn’t spoken to his own family for several years because they disapproved of his marriage. I’m not married, but I cannot imagine ever choosing a woman over my parents or sibling. From what I’ve read the family seems conciliatory and willing to resume a relationship with Reed, but he (and his wife) aren’t interested. That’s pretty sad in my humble opinion.

 

 

The NHL Playoffs are underway, but y’all know my tepid feelings about hockey. If my Pittsburgh Penguins make it thru the first couple of rounds perhaps I’ll become interested. Somebody keep me posted.

 

 

 

I know I know…pro wrestling isn’t a “real” sport. I get it, but indulge me. My neighbor & I watched last weekend’s WrestleMania 34 event, and it was an enjoyable evening. The “mainstream” media was all over former MMA champion Ronda Rousey’s participation now that she has officially segued into a career in the WWE, and I’ll give credit where it is due…Rousey looked good in the ring. She still needs a lot of work doing promos, and the powers-that-be should keep her as far away from interviews with outlets like ESPN as they possibly can since they’ve proven to be bizarrely detrimental, but inside those ropes she acquitted herself nicely on absolutely the biggest stage she has ever been on in her entire career. People like to make fun of “wrasslin’”, but there were 78k in the Superdome, and millions watching on PPV or the WWE Network. As popular as MMA might be it can’t match those numbers. I was happy that Rousey’s mixed tag didn’t get a main event spot (Lawrence Taylor once main evented a WrestleMania, which was a slap in the face to full time wrestlers) and was instead on the mid-card where it deserved to be. Overall it was a well-constructed show and a great way to spend a Sunday evening.

 

 

I’m not emotionally invested in baseball quite yet, but I’ll get there. I think it’s hilarious that games have already been cancelled because of snow. Several years ago I proposed a plan for a shorter baseball season…maybe it’s time to take such suggestions seriously.

 

 

I’d been watching…off & on…ESPN’s Golic & Wingo on weekday mornings the past few months, but lately have given a fair opportunity to the brand new Get Up, starring Mike Greenberg, Michelle Beadle, & Jalen Rose, to wow me. Neither show is horrible. Golic & Wingo is predictably chill, while Get Up isn’t as obnoxious as it had the potential to be. Having said that, both are like buying overpriced but watered down drinks at a bar. Greeny & Golic specifically aren’t nearly as entertaining as they were while together on Mike & Mike. Neither mix is necessarily bad now, but the new shows are lacking…something. I stated awhile back that the late night shows no longer interest me and I am more likely to turn my television off at 11:30pm now than watch any of the garbage spewed forth by Kimmel, Colbert, et al. And now I no longer turn on my TV first thing in the morning to check out what Greeny or Golic have to say about sports. It wasn’t broke, but ESPN decided to “fix it” anyway. Way to go morons.

Winning & Musing…..Volume 3.11

It’s March, so that means basketball…..

Raise your hand if you had Kentucky, Connecticut, Butler, and Virginia Commonwealth in your Final Four. Now if you raised your hand put it back down…liar. Out of over 6 million individuals who entered ESPN’s Bracket Challenge only 2…TWO out of over 6 MILLION…got it exactly right. I’m a big underdog guy, so I love seeing Butler and VCU involved at the finish line. My only regret is that they’ll be playing each other in a semifinal game, eliminating the opportunity for both to prove themselves one last time on the big stage against power conference teams.

The part of all this I am enjoying most is watching VCU prove just how wrong talking heads like ESPN’s Jay Bilas & the King of Loudmouths Dick Vitale, among others, were back on Selection Sunday when they collectively went bonkers over the Rams’ inclusion in the tournament. Now, like good company puppets, both Bilas and Vitale are using an intellectually vacant argument that VCU’s success thus far is a whole separate thing and does not mean they were in error when they said the team shouldn’t have been selected in the first place. Sorry fellas…wrong answer. I love ESPN, but they employ some of the biggest assclowns alive as prognosticators and “experts”. Try something: Take a weekday sometime (which I realize is difficult for those that work a traditional 9-5) and watch all the ESPN shows…Mike & Mike, First Take, Around the Horn, Pardon the Interruption, etc. You begin to notice a pattern. More than occasionally they all ponder the same topics with the same angle, making it obvious that there is some sort of agenda in Bristol. The powers-that-be are well aware of just how much stroke they possess in the sports world, and are not afraid to steer public sentiment in a particular direction. As far as the VCU issue goes, I would have much more respect for Dickie V., Bilas, and others if they would just say “You know what…I was wrong and I am sorry. The Rams have proven they belong.”

Staying on the college basketball court…..

I’m not a fan at all of women’s basketball (or any other women’s sports…call me sexist if you must, I’m just being honest), but I did happen to catch one of Baylor’s NCAA Tournament games and saw an interview with 6ft8 sophomore Brittney Griner. Let me just say this…that’s a MAN baby!! I think there needs to be some sort of investigation. She’s got an Adam’s apple and a deeper voice than that cracked out homeless radio announcer from the mean streets of Columbus, OH that was famous for about 5 minutes a couple months back.

A few weeks ago ESPN aired a documentary about Michigan’s famous Fab 5 that went to two straight national title games in the mid 1990’s. It was interesting enough, but controversy arose and is still simmering because of comments made by Fab 5’ers in regards to their rivals at Duke. They said they hated the Dukies and considered their black players “Uncle Toms”. Now I am about as white as they come, but I know that calling someone an Uncle Tom is fightin’ words. My question is this: Why, amongst the black community, is being educated, well-spoken, and upwardly mobile considered a negative trait?? Why is being a thug considered to be more “genuine”?? Would one rather matriculate to a highly regarded university and leave with a meaningful degree and the opportunity to make a positive impact on society, or is it somehow cooler to be an illiterate, Welfare dependent drug addict who ends up in jail leaving behind a trail of illegitimate children and broken homes?? History shows that many of the Dukies go on to semi-successful pro careers or achieve good things in other fields, while The Fab 5 were proven to be a bunch of cheaters who were way overhyped and never lived up to their supposed potential. My Dad always told me that there is a difference between two things. I will leave it up to the reader to deduce what those two things are, but suffice to say that the Dukies seem to be one thing and The Fab 5 seem to be the other, and the latter is nothing to be proud of.

Don’t look for a 2011 Baseball Preview from your humble Potentate of Profundity. I just cannot seem to get into it. Decades of being a disenfranchised Pittsburgh Pirates fan have worn me down to the point where I am devoid of any excitement or anticipation for Opening Day. I have written about it elsewhere here, but the Pirates’ ineptitude combined with a steady stream of steroid/cheating scandals and the annual foregone conclusion that there are only a handful of teams that stand a chance at post-season glory have numbed me to the magic of The National Pastime. I am honestly looking forward to The Masters and WrestleMania more than the start of the baseball season.

I am still not paying too much attention to the NFL lockout, if for no other reason than there has been no significant movement either way for a couple of weeks. I am still hopeful that all will be resolved and that the 2011 season will not be affected, but there is a little less hope than a few weeks ago. It still seems kind of silly from a fan perspective, although I am sure both the players and the owners perceive their particular beefs to be quite important.

Speaking of the NFL…..

I very seriously pondered doing my own mock draft and I suppose there is an outside shot I still may, but it seems unlikely. I’ll say this though, it feels like there is too much analysis and scrutiny of potential picks. It seems fairly simple to me…can a guy play football or not?? Does he fit your particular system and/or fill a major need?? In the space of a month Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley, a proven monster, has gone from a potential #1 overall choice to being surpassed by a couple of guys just at his own position. Conversely QB Cam Newton has gone from a major question mark to very much in the conversation for being the #1 overall. And these guys haven’t played a game since early January!! For pete’s sake what has changed so dramatically?? Maybe nothing has changed and too many people are getting paid far too much money to spend way too much time picking apart something that isn’t really that complicated. As far as that top pick goes, the Carolina Panthers are crazy if they don’t trade it, and even crazier if they take a QB since they just drafted one last year (Jimmy Clausen from Notre Dame). I’m not a Notre Dame fan at all, and the history of Irish quarterbacks has been pretty suspect over the past couple of decades (Brady Quinn, Ron Powlus, Rick Mirer), but Clausen should be given more than just one year to prove his worth. The only potential out I see is if Carolina trades Clausen to a team with a veteran QB, allowing him to learn for a year or two without the pressure of being The Man, while Newton or Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert end up with a Panthers team that also scores an extra draft pick or two in the trade.