Daily Archives: March 26, 2010

Counting Down the Twelve Days of Baseball

Okay, so we’re roughly ten days out, but twelve has a much nicer ring to it. Cowabunga dude… Opening Day is fast approaching. This weekend will be the final one for baseball in Arizona. Beginning the middle of next week, teams will be filtering out and making their way home to prepare for the start of the regular season. Next weekend will be a hodgpodge of exhibition games and then the magic happens. The magic that is Opening Day. I’ve always said I’m not big on party holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween, New Year’s Eve et cetera. My stance is, who needs an excuse to party? If I wanna get drunk with a bunch of people in green, I’ll go to an A’s game – waaay better than St. Patty’s. Nah, I’m more for the laid back, family holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving. You know, the ones that actually mean something. In that fashion, I’m hereby declaring Major League Baseball Opening Day an official holiday for myself. I’m going to ask for work off that day. I don’t see why not. If I were Jewish I’d ask for Rosh Hashanah off. If I were Christian I’d ask for Easter off. But I’m don’t take any religious holidays, so why can’t I take Opening Day? If I were to rank specific days of the year based on their importance and the amount I look forward to them, I’m willing to bet MLB Opening Day makes the top 10, maybe even the top 5.

It wasn’t always the most, wonderful time of the year. Baseball and I had a huge falling out that lasted the greater part of the 90s. Neither of us could really tell you what it was. I just wasn’t interested in baseball anymore, and baseball wasn’t interested in piquing mine. The irony of it all is that logic would say I wasn’t a fan of the steroid era. I’m always a fan of the smaller, faster guys, so it would make sense that I lost interest as guys started to beef up. But, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest otherwise. I was a big fan of the speedy Ray Lankford, for instance, and suddenly, rather than  swiping 40 bags a year, he’s jacking 30 homers a year instead. I still rooted for him. Then of course there was the Summer of 98: McGwire and Sosa. I won’t go into detail because we were all there. I think it brought a lot of us back, whether or not we want to admit it. There was something about one particular game late down the stretch of that season that resonated with me through to this day. I wanna say it was the game McGwire hit #62, but after my Adam Morrison memory debacle, I’d say it very well could’ve been #61, or #70, or even #65 or 66. The point is – and it was a day game, this I remember – there came a moment as McGwire’s monumental home run sailed over the fence in the clear blue St. Louis sunshine, where it all came back to me. All the possibilities that baseball presents, where anything can happen on any given day, any given at-bat, and any given pitch. The NBA can claim it all they want, but Baseball is really where amazing happens. And Opening Day is the most wide open day of them all. A fan in Kansas City can look at the standings and see their team in first place, or Skip Schumacher can lead the big leagues in home runs for a day. What am I wishing for this year? That, on the first day of baseball, Roy Steele says to me, “in to pitch the ninth, Andrew Bailey.”

March Madness, Turner/Wall

Well its late March, and we’re closing in on the 2010 NCAA Final Four –

Can Turner lead OSU to the Final Four?

This season’s rendition of the tournament has had its pros & cons.  For one, aside from John Wall, and lately, Evan Turner, there’s not that many big names in college hoops.  John Wall is an amazing prospect, but Evan Turner is NBA ready, now.  This begs the question – does America want a Ohio State/Kentucky championship game?  I do.

We’ll get back to that question in a bit, but I must say this – why am I not shocked that there were so many “upsets” in the tournament this year?  We’re not even done yet.  This has to be one of the most even fielded tournaments ever.  If Northern Iowa played Kansas in a best-of-five series, I’m not sure Kansas moves on –

Originally I had hoped that all four #1 seeds would reach the Final Four.  What an amazing draw that would be, right?  Kansas vs. Syracuse (sounds familiar) and Kentucky vs. Duke (I’d say there’s history there).  So much tradition.  Maybe next year.  I think now that the dust has settled, slightly, the Kentucky/Duke game for all intent and purposes, will be the real championship game.  Duke has been underrated all-season long, and they would like nothing more than to stun mighty Kentucky.  Coach K has done a fine job with the Blue Devils this season, but, Kentucky will win that game – which sets this up:

Ohio State vs. Kentucky

Will John Wall deliver the goods for UK?

Evan Turner vs. John Wall.  To a lesser extent, Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson.  Now, obviously neither Turner or Wall is at the level of the two legends I mentioned, but – hear me out now, the “buzz” surrounding a Turner/Wall showdown is definitely circulating.  It’s growing.  That’s something you can’t deny, and with the way the media works nowadays, expect the hype to blow out of proportion the closer we get to a Buckeyes/Wildcats championship game.  I’m buying into this little rivalry, and they haven’t even faced off yet.  I hope this happens –

So there might not be a Carmelo Anthony, or a Derrick Rose in college basketball this season, but hey – it’s still March Madness, baby!  For most of these kids, this is it.  There’s no bright lights and million dollar bank rolls on the other side.  So they play with heart and passion, and nothing more, which makes for great basketball, stars or no stars.

Enjoy the rest of the tournament people!