Aloha dear readers, welcome back to Life, Love? Sport (Optimism Edition). Due to the start of spring training, and the beginning of the bickering that precedes Selection Sunday, fans of every team have a right to be optimistic (except the fans of the Royals). We shall not cover the NFL scouting combine today – that is a topic for another time. Spring training, however, is fair game. Also, Selection Sunday is around the corner. I will remind all of my faithful readers that I semi-predicted George Mason to make the Final Four last year. We’ve got a lot to cover, so let us commence.
I present to you the ridiculousness of spring training, where even the Kansas City Royals are allowed to say things like, “We believe we have a shot at the playoffs.” One of the biggest storylines this year has been the many Japanese players that are making the transition to the big leagues. Some, like Daisuke Matsuzaka, are followed by a mob of reporters from both sides of the Pacific, while others, like reliever Hideki Okajima, are less famous.
While I am sure that getting a foothold in Japan is important for the Red Sox, let us not forget that this means that Fenway Park, already the oldest, dirtiest, smallest stadium in the majors, will be bursting at the seams. Also, the seats don’t face home plate. How the architects didn’t figure that one out is a mystery.
So not only will there be the usual drunk Bostonian at every game now, there will also be a sake-filled Japanese fan. I don’t want to start any riots, but I feel like many of the “regulars” at Fenway will be less than friendly if their seats are taken by someone who doesn’t speak English.
The rides home will be full of good, clean discussions about the differences in culture or foulmouthed tirades, but either way I am definitely going to Fenway this year.
Selection Sunday is almost upon us, which means that, during the next several weeks, everyone from Dick Vitale to your neighborhood barber will be offering their picks to make it to the Final Four. It all started with Vegas. Now it has become one of the most gambled on events of the year.
This brings us to another point: how powerful is Vegas? So powerful that they enticed the NBA to potentially start a team there and popularized whole industries (hookers and gamblers).
You know the town is over the top when Pacman Jones can bite a stripper, have his posse shoot up a night club and just leave. Not only do most people not care, but it’s not even the biggest story of the weekend. The lesson as always is don’t go around biting strippers. Personally, I think Las Vegas needs to have a team from all four major sports. Add to that the fact that Vegas might break the record for “most athlete-related homicides in one calendar year,” and you potentially have the most explosive situation ever. In fact, Nevada might just spontaneously combust if this ever happens.
This week’s list will deal with the best of the best. Namely the best teams in the NCAAs. These teams have a good chance of making the Final Four. I will also include a mid-major team that has a chance to crash the party, a la George Mason last year. In no particular order:
1 – Kansas: The Jayhawks may be the most explosive team in the country (five straight wins by at least 27 points). Also, it’s been far too long since they made any noise in the tournament, so I think they will come out and kick ass (or I lose $20).
2 – UCLA: As much as it hurts me to say this, the Bruins can follow up their runner-up status by making it back to the Final Four and beyond. Because no one remembers the loser.
3 – Texas A&M: Acie Law will probably win the Big 12 Player of the Year. This might not mean much to you, but for me it shows final four potential.
4 – Ohio State: Greg Oden’s dad recently implied that his son might not be entering the draft. Raise your hand if you believed that any part of that statement was true. Neither did I. Well done sir, you have officially given every Celtics fan a mini heart attack.
5 – Winthrop: This team almost beat Tennessee last year as a 15-seed. Expect them to get a 12-seed, beat up on some poor unsuspecting team and watch the mid-major Cinderella stories pile up.
The first players elected to Baseball Hall of Fame were Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson in 1936.
Maystrovsky’s article appears weekly. Maystrovsky is a member of the class of 2009.