Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The perfect end for an imperfect year

Last night's UNC demolition of Michigan State was a fitting end to a hugely disappointing NCAA tournament. I can't remember one that's offered us fewer memorable games. Even the upsets weren't fun to watch. The Spartans knocked off two number seeds to get to last night, but made the games fairly dull by controlling the entire second half in each. It's probably appropriate that what turned out to be the least enjoyable Final Four in years happened in one of America's least enjoyable cities. Ask the mayor of Indianapolis how much fun Detroit is. Hopefully next year the games will be more intriguing and I'll be somewhere in person covering them again.

Leonard Hamilton will remain as FSU's coach, making him the final guy to take advantage of Memphis's overmatched AD as a way to get a new deal. Instead, the Tigers will be coached by 31 year old assistant Josh Pastner, who had been expected to go with John Calipari to Kentucky. This means Calipari has to go find a new top recruiter, and he may need to find two staff members since the word is John Robic will likely stay as Pastner's top assistant. It'll be interesting to see what direction Calipari goes in to fill the vacancies, since that will give us the first clue whether his recruiting approach may change in Lexington. Right now he needs to focus on convincing Jodie Meeks, who's reportedly declaring for the draft, to stick around. Hopefully he likes cornbread.

We all know that the first day, week or even month of baseball's schedule mean very little. The odds are very strong that at the end of this season the Yankees will be back in the playoffs. None of that made it any less enjoyable to see one of their big ticket free agent acquisitions melt down yesterday. CC Sabathia got lit up by Baltimore. There's no reason he shouldn't be able to succeed in the Bronx, but sometimes strange things happen when a player goes to New York. I'd love to see the Yanks find out the hard way again that you can't just buy a championship, although charging your fans nine dollars a can for Schlitz and Pabst Blue Ribbon makes it easier to try.

The Basketball Hall of Fame has announced its 2009 class. These are the five members: Michael Jordan, David Robinson, John Stockton, Jerry Sloan, and Vivian Stringer. Which one of these things is not like the others? The NBA needs its own Hall of Fame. It's ridiculous to have college players, womens coaches and players, foreign coaches and players, and contributors to the game being put to the same vote as pro legends. Vivian Stringer is a Hall of Famer in her own sport. There's no reason she should be up for the same hall of fame as Chris Mullin, and even less reason for her to be in when he's not.

Back to the NCAA tournament for a moment. Every year there are two things I look forward to regardless of how good the game was. One is trying to predict what lame thing Jim Nantz has come up with to say at the end of the game. I basically got it right last night figuring he'd go for the "nothing could be finer" Carolina thing although the wording was slightly different. The other is "One Shining Moment". There are many who do not care for the song, but I think it's a terrific tradition. Having the kids watch it together on the court was a brilliant improvement - both times the UF guys couldn't wait to see it. Here's 2006 and the 2007 versions. (That last one is worth watching just for the shots of the Oregon cheerleaders, who were the best thing about the trip to St. Louis for the Midwest regional.) I was at Super Bowl XXXVII when the NFL had Bon Jovi come out and play "It's My Life" postgame, something they claimed was going to be their "One Shining Moment". It was lame, and the idea went away. This is something that works specifically for college hoops, and I hope it's around as long as the tournament is.

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