Greetings from the Hoodwood, where the locals are entering treatment for their college basketball withdrawal. After the completion of this column I will be heading for my group therapy session.
This is the only time you will EVER see me with anything giving dap or positive acknowledgement to the University of Kentucky in this column but Ashley Judd is always welcome in the Hoodwood
Well the champ has been crowned. Kentucky and its precocious band of freshmen and sophomores more or less toyed with Kansas to win its 8th national title and since the lovely Princess Jasmyne lives in the bluegrass state I will have to endure her family's endless reminding me of the fact that they are UK fans. Led by player of the year Anthony Davis great all around game, the Wildcats won a school (and NCAA record) 38th game and can very well stake its claim as one of the best teams ever. Its pretty much conceded that Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague will jump to the NBA, Calipari himself said that there could be as many a 6 1st round draft picks on the team. I will restrain myself from throwing up in my mouth in chagrin and give grudging dap to the Wildcats who were clearly the best team in the country. Now, how long they will keep that title may be another story. It will remain to be seen if the cloud that always seems to follow John Calipari around from UMass to Memphis will follow him to Kentucky. Not to mention, the rumors already swirling that the New York Knicks covet Calipari and may throw a boatload of money and an ownership stake to lure him to Gotham...that would be a fascinating storyline and another round of comeuppance for the haughty Wildcat fans whom I so dearly love to antagonize. But for now, UK has the title and there is little that can be disputed there.
So with that the College basketball season ends with a slam bang finish and for many like myself that feed on the constant stream of college hoops over the past six weeks, the finale is the last bit of pure hardwood hoops for the better part of six months and having it taken in an almost sudden fashion is a bit disheartening. I used to produce a radio show during the basketball season and the guy who ran the show, said he went through a kind mourning phase. The games were over and he had nothing left to say. I kinda feel the same way. Football and basketball make the crux of my column from September to late March so its tough to transition
Baseball: Is it still relevant?
The 2012 season is actually underway. Did you notice? Or even care? The A’s and Mariners played a pair of games in Japan last week. These games were scheduled as part of the relief effort from the earthquake and tsunami that devastated parts of Japan last March. The A’s were the home team, not like it would matter to fan attendance at the majors smallest park. The majors play their “opening day” stateside as the newly monikered Miami Marlins formally christen their new stadium against the defending World Series Champ St. Louis Cardinals in a one game series on April 4th. The Marlins then head to Cincinnati to play the Reds in their season opener on April 5th. I grew up in Cincinnati and unlike a lot cities Opening Day is a big deal. Kids will “call in sick” to school in the greater Cincinnati area and there will be a lot of sick days used at businesses. The opening day parade is attended by tens of thousands of fans each year and the toughest ticket in town is opening day. For the longest time Cincinnati, long recognized as the birthplace of professional baseball had the honor starting the season. Until the old Washington Senators moved to Minnesota and the 2nd version moved to Texas there would be two games on opening day Cincinnati would start then Washington soon after. Then from 1972 to the mid 90s it was always Cincinnati first. Well of course MLB has to stir things up, to suit ESPN they decided on an opening Night, which of course didn’t play too well in Cincy…especially since it was Easter Sunday night, the Reds played before a decent (but not sellout) crowd and lost. The next day was a day game and the Reds stubbornly called it “opening day” and had all the festivities. The Reds of course won that game. MLB, has eschewed some of its traditional habits and started opening games in other cities and venues and has started the season in Japan a few years. I have followed the game since my youth and in some respects consider myself a traditionalist. I think that the first game of the season for every team should be a day game. Cincinnati should open the season with the first game. I think that the Florida, Texas and California teams the bulk of the warm weather venues should get a good chunk of the first couple weeks of the season. No one wants to see snow outs. This year might be a rare exception but I have seen way too many snowy and cold venues played to half empty stands. Get every team their opening day within the first couple weeks but have the schedule so that the warmer climates see more games in April.
Now on to my point about baseball, I do truly love the game. I cherish its historical relevance and the timeless quality of the game. Ive been to countless games and will continue to watch and enjoy the sport, but in this day and age. Is baseball really the national pastime? There was a time when the offseason , better known as the hot stove league garnered tons of interest. From the day after the World Series champ was crowned to the first day the pitchers and catchers reported but that time is long since past. With the aforementioned basketball frenzy which ramps up right after the Super Bowl climaxes five months of wall to wall football. Baseball in is simplicity seems almost outdated. Yes the game is exciting, in some parts. I have long appreciated the subtleties of the game and love to second guess managers calls. I think as I approached 40, that Im becoming a minority. I did take Princess Katie to a Reds-Phillies game in 2010 and she had a good time but you can almost sense that this generation who is used to things being quick fast and urgent right now based, seems almost bored with the game. I love this game, but I wonder how many others will keep the fires burning for it like I do.
Votto: Call him Mr. Get Paid Red now
Quick blurb on the Cincinnati Reds making slugging first baseman Joey Votto their cornerstone. The Reds did not want to chance Votto getting his head turned by a big money offer from the Mets or Blue Jays so they slammed a 10 year $225 million dollar deal on him and ensure that the Canadian Club will be a Reds for the better part of his career. Did Votto deserve Pujols or Fielder money??? Maybe, but the Reds were unwilling to part with the quiet slugger who has become a fan favorite in Cincy. Only time will tell if its money well spent and one has to wonder if that means they will part with the likable Brandon Phillips who is in the final year of his deal with the Reds. With the Reds being a small market team, you wonder if the pursestrings will draw close for a deserving player.
Tuna in the Big Easy???
As reported here last week, the New Orleans Saints are trying to lure Bill Parcells to coach the team on an interim basis while Sean Payton serves his season long suspension. Parcells has long been a grinding offensive type coach, more interested in his defense than offense and has long had hate-hate relationships with his quarterbacks, go through the list from Phil Simms, Jeff Hostetler, Drew Bledsoe, Vinny Testeaverde, Quincy Carter, Bledsoe again, and Tony Romo Parcells has never had a bona fide superstar quarterback (Shaddap Poke fans, Romo aint no superstar!) Parcells has one in Drew Brees the very public face of the Saints. Parcells is as combative with his quarterback as he is with the press and you can bet that he and Brees may butt heads. You know that Parcells who would rather win with a punishing ground attack and a 17-7 score is gritting his teeth at the thought of the wide open style of Brees’s offense. The storm clouds are a brewing in the Big Easy and I get the feeling that if Tuna is the head man even for a year it could damage the Saints even further.
One point that no one has bothered to considered. The Rooney Rule, what assistant coach is gonna want to interview in N'Awlins knowing that the job is not only temporary but the the Saints have a hard-on for Bill Parcells? None, its almost as bad as when the Lions openly coveted Steve Mariucci and more or less made a mockery of the Rooney Rule by bringing in a couple of "tokens" to interview. Its a sham and no one is saying much about even Sheriff...uhhh Commissioner Roger Goodell has more or less signed off on Saints hiring of Parcells saying "If they want to, thats their choice."
Miller: Hall Bound
He looked like a goof on the court, Bill Simmons in his massive tome The Book of Basketball described him as someone that “would run through a set of picks like a mouse through a maze to get open” But Reggie Miller was an assassin. I was stunned to learn that he never made an All-NBA team once in his 17 year career all with the Indiana Pacers. Miller was of course famous for his running verbal battle with film director and ardent Knick Fan Spike Lee during the 1994 NBA Eastern Conference Finals in which Miller scored 25 points in the 4th quarter. Take a look here at this excellent clip of how Miller did the Knicks in that night.
I was in college at the time and hanging with a bunch of my homies on that Wednesday Night, we were supposed to be studying for Finals but we were taking in the game. As Reggie got hotter and hotter my man Jin Su who was a diehard Knicks fan got madder and madder. At games conclusion he was beet red and as he stormed out of the dorm room we were watching the game, he said in his thick accent “I want keel that fucking Reggie Meeler, keel him and that Spika Lee!” Miller of course had another memorable scene in MSG barely a year later when he scored 8 points in 9 seconds…Impossible you say…heres more tape…
I always was amused by Lee having a conniption on the sidelines as Miller was bombing away. I do like Lee and his memoir Best Seats In The House is a great read, I do have to give him a head slap for his careless re-tweet of the address an innocent elderly couple in Sanford, Fla that he thought was the address of the shooter in the wake of the Trayvon Martin saga.
Miller could be the most dead eye of shooters and I always thought it cool that he wore 31 to honor his sister Cheryl who has been in the Basketball Hall of Fame since 1995.
I would be greatly remiss if I didnt give some dap to Don Nelson (NBA's winningest coach), Ralph Sampson, Jamaal Wilkes, Katrina McClain, NCAA Ref Hank Nichols, and the All American Red Heads Womens Basketball team (A female version of the Harlem Globetrotters) who are also being inducted in this years Basketball Hall of Fame class as well
Phat Dap/Head Slap
to James Justice of Martin Methodist College. The 5’9”guard from the NAIA school from Pulaski, TN (yes I had to look that up just shut down the college slam dunk contest with this are you kidding me dunk…
Justice who made the field as a popular vote entry brought the house down with this dunk. His final round competitor gave him the champions belt and the judges were so stunned that they threw away their score cards and "walked off" in stunned shock. Needless to say, Justice was ummm served and he got a perfect score.
To the leader of the drunken neighborhood called Margaritaville, Jimmy Buffett.
The erstwhile parrothead singer wore a Free Sean Payton shirt in his concert recently in New Orleans. Payton played the congas in a couple of Buffett's songs, which I had no problem with and it was obvious that Buffett was playing to the crowd but I think it was a stupid gesture. Payton is being punished for allowing a program designed to injure, that’s nothing to protest.
I usually don’t preview a column, cause I usually make it up on the fly. But next week I will discuss 25 years since Campanis and the “necessities” to manage baseball or coach any pro sport. Until next post fellow sports fans!