NCAA and WBC Tournaments

I guess the topic at hand is the NCAA Tournament and yeah it’s great. But I’m sick of the media and their love affair with the NCAA Tournament. Granted it’s a fantastic sporting event… but did they all decide not to watch the World Baseball Classic on Sunday or yesterday? It was, hands down, better than most of the NCAA games this weekend (Boston College played two good games and a few others were okay).

Sunday’s Japan/United States game was fantastic. It was a close game, well pitched, well played, featured a close (and blown call), and the US getting a clutch hit from A-Rod to win the game. As it turned out, it was a huge win since the US last yesterday to South Korea, now they need to beat Mexico to advance to the next round.

Yesterday we enjoyed the Puerto Rico and Venezuela game, a game which was a must win for the Venezuelans. They pulled out the victory to create a log game in Pool B of the WBC. It all comes down to the final games… Venezuela plays the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico plays Cuba. The winner of those two games move on to the semis in San Diego and the losers go home (or to spring training). How can anyone not enjoy this? Win or go home…

And the crowd in San Juan was absolutely fantastic. They were loud, they were into the game, they were making noise, and they were rooting on their country (in this case mostly Puerto Rico). The atmosphere must have been fantastic, since even the announcers where falling all over themselves about how ‘great’ it was. I really can’t get over the passion of the Caribbean teams. They way the play and care about the game and their team. It’s really a special sight and I can only hope we’ll see the US in the final against one of those four teams. A US vs Cuba final would be unbelievable. A US vs Venezuela final would be more intense than anyone would expect. A US vs Puerto Rico final would be crazy. And I’m not sure anything would be more fun than a US vs Dominican final.

So good for the WBC and good for baseball. Everyone that doubt this tournament looks stupid right now. No it hasn’t reached Super Bowl like levels or even baseball playoff like levels. But the games have been fun. There’s been a ton of energy and passion in these games, and it seems like the fans can’t get enough of it. It’s a fun tournament and creates interesting teams each of whom have different strengths and weaknesses. The collection of talent on display is enormous and good baseball with passionate crowds has been the result. It’s hard to say this has been a flop.

Moving on to the NCAA…. First of all Billy Packer can go call middle school basketball for all I care. I’m sick of the guy and his “I’m smarter than everyone who’s ever lived” routine which makes me wonder why he’s not figuring out more important issues like Iraq or poverty. Instead we get Packer’s ‘insight’ on issues such as why the 10th place team in the ACC is better than the second place team in the Missouri Valley or how everyone sucks at life but him. So Billy Packer, go take your bald little head and go rot in a corner some where. No one likes you.

I’m also convinced now that Jim Nantz is Al Gore’s long lost brother. I’m not sure if Nantz could be any more wooden, cliché, and socially awkward at this point. I can imagine meeting Jim Nantz at a party and him just looking off in the distance with a fixed glare stating the obvious the entire time and not listening to a word that anyone was saying. The man has zero repertoire with his color guys, be it the NFL or now with Packer. I know, he’s working with Simms and Packer, but Phil Simms doesn’t seem to be that lame and couldn’t Nantz question Packer once in a while?

Now, as for some of the team selections themselves… I think only one team got snubbed, and it was a big time snub. Cincinnati not making the field of 64 is a joke. You’re telling me that if Gerry McNamara’s three doesn’t fall, Cincinnati is in… but since it fell the Bearcats are out of the Tourney? And didn’t Seton Hall, who made the tourney, lose to Rutgers in the first round of the Big East Tournament… yet they make it? Give me a break. Cincinnati should be in and Seaton Hall should be out. Case closed.

As for the mid-majors. Put them in… for the love of God those teams are 100 times more interesting to watch than average to bad Michigan, Florida State, or Maryland teams. Maryland can complain all they want about playing in the ACC, but the fact is they didn’t win games in the ACC. I don’t care if you play in a tough league, if you don’t win, you don’t get in. Can or do the Cleveland Indians bitch about having to play in the American League Central (or the American League period) when the National League Central (National League period) stinks? No. If Maryland won three more games in the ACC, they’d be a Tourney team. But they didn’t get the job done. So I’d rather watch Bradley try to beat Kansas than Maryland lose to Kansas in on Friday. But that’s me. But that’s what makes the Tourney great… that Bradley/Kansas game in the first round. That gets me excited. Florida State/Kansas doesn’t do it for me. And the case and point is this Texas A&M/Syracuse game. Who cares about this game unless you went to one of those two schools? I don’t… and that’s why the Bradley/Kansas game is much more interesting.

But let’s move on to my picks… I stink at the first round. Every few years I nail the Final Four and get six or seven of the Elite Eight picks. I don’t feel good about this year for the record, but bellow is my bracket [click on it to make it BIGGER!!!] (and note, we’ve got a few things in the pipeline, just been a bit busy).

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