Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Despite no grass being visible on this first day of spring (thanks to another snow dump last night on the North Coast), there is no question that the three week stretch that we are embarking on remains a highlight of the sports calendar every year. Between the NCAA Tournament, the final Spring Training games, the anticipation of Opening Day, and that final realization that a long winter has reached its conclusion as the first pitch of the MLB season pounds into the catcher’s mitt – it just doesn’t get much better than this.

Beginning with a Gaelic Storm concert in Milwaukee and despite spending a better part of St. Patrick’s Day in the Milwaukee airport (which Kevin Smith memorably identified as a place of eternal condemnation in “Dogma”) and traveling with a 15 month-old, this past week got off to a rousing start full of pints of Guinness (albeit from a can) and corned beef sandwiches that I’ve only been able to truly find in greasy diners in Cleveland. Continuing with a Dayton win over Cleveland State (sorry Viking fans…all 12 of you); the momentum is rolling to get into the throes of some solid sports.

Now we get into the three weeks and change that caused countless missed days of school for me as a child with various “maladies” as my Mom was never able to piece together the consistency of their frequency (on the Thursday and Friday of the opening round of March Madness) until about 9th grade. After that point, of course, the marvelous educators at St. Ignatius (well, some of them, at least) were not above bringing TV’s into the classroom to watch games under the guise of showing some educational video that was cued up in the VCR, with the remote in the teacher’s hand, finger on “PLAY” prepared for the rare chance that an administrator heard cheering and attempted to enter the room.

Players like Bryce Drew, Miles Simon, Tate George, Tyus Edney, and Rumeal Robinson figure to enter the lexicon of any sports fan as March Madness descends on the country like no other sporting event during the year, with people who think they know something about hoops (my final – UCLA over UNC…I know, careful on that limb, right?) and people who make no claims of being experts in College Basketball (the DiaBride’s final – Wisconsin over Arizona) filling out brackets for office pools with, truthfully, everyone having about the same chance of hitting more than they miss.

But the Madness is just the beginning…
The day after the Sweet Sixteen is whittled to the Final Four, Opening Day arrives to signal that the conjecture and projections are finally done and REAL baseball takes center stage. Whether snow will accompany the first pitch (more snow is expected this Saturday) on March 31st is arbitrary because the games mean something and wins and losses actually count in the standings as the drive to defend the AL Central begins in earnest.
But, there’s plenty of time to continue to delve into that and next week promises to be chock full of pieces to get everyone properly amped up for the MLB season.

Back to this stretch of blocks on the calendar, though, as the NCAA Final occurs as Tribe travels from Oakland to Anaheim (how nice is it to talk about regular season games in concrete terms in the very near future?) on Monday, April 7th. And just when you thought that the bliss was coming to an end, the PGA’s best tee off at Augusta three days later for the Opening Round of The Masters. This story may be old hat for longtime readers, but The Masters will always remind me of taking Thursday and Friday classes off at University of Dayton with my buddy Russ so we could watch golf on TV. Perhaps a few cold ones were cracked at that time (proving, obviously, that college kids need little reason to drink); but to this day, Russ calls me on the Thursday of The Masters weekend to catch up, serving as a great opening to watching the “majesty of Augusta” all weekend, culminating with the bestowal of the Green Jacket on Sunday.

All told, not a bad little three week stretch.
What makes it all better though?
Yesterday, with the obvious idea that this string of sports was coming and the MLB season was in view, I floated out the notion to The DiaBride that the reception on our 48” TV (non-HD) just wasn’t up to snuff after spending the weekend at my in-laws’ house watching their HD TV.
Her response?
“That sounds good, let’s do some research and get a new one.”
The sweetest time of the year, sports-wise, just got a little sweeter.


t-bone said...

Wow, God Bless the DiaBride!

Also, the debut of was delayed another few days, but I'm sure she'll be up and running on Tuesday.

Paul Cousineau said...

It is high comedy to see her "fill out a bracket", with the process involving me saying the teams' names and her just randomly picking a team.

She doesn't want to know anything about the teams and generally picks programs that she recognizes as historically being strong (her Final Four also includes Indiana).

Of course, when it comes to Wisconsin, that's a quick decision - though I was fully expecting a Wisconsin-Marquette final in her bracket.

Her reasoning for not going with Marquette, one of the only teams she's seen this year?
"Too cocky".

With the Arizona loss, her bracket is a mess (even though she only has one more miss in the 1st round than me so far) without even mentioning how the dismissal of Cornell blew her South picks apart.
Yes...the Cornell loss.

Cy Slapnicka said...

Diabride, don't worry....when picking the total points for a potential tiebreaker my wife picked 187....and she thought she was being conservative and picking a low total.

Hermano said...

I was the beneficiary of some St. I teachers bringing in the TV for tourney games as well. Good times.

The best of all time was spring of my freshman year (1995). Gus Caliguire was my History teacher, and he vowed that he was quitting baseball forever after the strike. I was in his class when the first game of the season started. He made it 11 minutes before running out of the room and returning with a TV to turn on the game.

LargeBill said...

Regardless what the wife may say, there is no such thing as too big when it comes to TV's.