The Fistful of Sports
by Reid Kerr
Now the field of 64 is set. Or actually 65. Or is it 66 this year? I'm not sure, but I think Coke and Nabisco reserve the right to enter at least one team in the bracket every year. My upset pick to win it all? The Fighting Palindromes of IUPUI. Their opponents won't know if they're coming or going.
Now that the brackets are set, I'm all ready for the NCAA Tournament, or as I like to call it, the biggest casual gambling event of the year. You've got everything from high school classes to church groups setting up their brackets and plunking down a couple of bucks. It's the only time of the year where people pay more attention to Dick Vitale than to their immediate families, and "How's your bracket?" replaces "Hello" as an acceptable greeting.
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The strong possibility of war beginning this weekend could force CBS to move some of its NCAA Tournament games to its sister stations, like MTV. This creates the terrifying crossover prospect of Digger Phelps hosting "Total Request Live," or worse, "The Real World: Gonzaga."
In burst bubble news, Texas Tech coach Bobby Knight says his Red Raiders didn't play up to his expectations this year, and he didn't deserve his paycheck. Knight is returning his two hundred and fifty thousand dollar salary for this year. Knight said if it happens again, he'll rearrange all the furniture in the locker room for free. I think this shows Knight is a man of integrity, and I think this should start a trend. I hope Chris Webber decides to return his year's salary for calling that timeout against Duke in the championship game.
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Billionaire B. Thomas Golisano has put in a bid to buy the NHL's bankrupt Buffalo Sabres. Golisano, who's worth about 1.2 billion dollars, was noteworthy for spending $75 million last year in his third failed attempt to become governor of New York. It's a great situation for the Sabres. However, with a track record of spending so much money and not getting any results, wouldn't Golisano be a better owner for the New York Rangers?
In other NHL payroll news, Phoenix Coyotes owner Steve Ellman defaulted on a $7 million loan tied to property around the team's arena. What is the problem with NHL finances? The Senators are a Chapter 13 seed, the Penguins are trading everyone who won't work hourly, and now the Coyotes can't even pay their landscaping bills. It seems like everybody involved with hockey is still confused about the Canadian exchange rate.
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Major League Baseball has suspended Expos outfielder Vladimir Guerrero for three games after a brawl in a spring training game. Boy that'll show him, eh? Not only does the poor guy not speak English, his team is owned by Major League Baseball, he plays more than half of his games on the road, and he has no idea where he'll be next year. I think we could cut Vlad some slack, don't you?
The fallout continues in baseball. It was revealed this week a booklet published nearly two years ago by Major League Baseball and the player's union warned players about the dangers of using ephedra. No offense, but simply putting out a pamphlet is not going to reach the majority of baseball players. If you really want them to see your information, print it in "Jugs Magazine," or "TV Guide," or something these guys will pick up and look at.
The Oakland A's announced this week they will not be able to resign AL MVP Miguel Tejada next season, and they'll probably lose him just like they lost 2000 MVP Jason Giambi. The A's have been exceptional over the past few years at identifying talent, then losing it. The A's are losing quality bats like they've signed Ruben Rivera.
For further proof on why people don't understand baseball players being the highest paid athletes, look no further than San Diego. Padres pitcher Jay Witasick knocked himself out for a week, and nearly the whole season, taking out the trash. No, really. Witasick strained his elbow throwing out garbage, an injury Chan Ho Park has somehow been able to avoid his entire career. See, that's why people don't take baseball seriously. Hockey players skate on fresh stitches and basketball has Willis Reed and Jordan's performance with the flu. Football has memories of guys like Emmitt Smith running against the Giants with a separated shoulder. Baseball players are still losing games to garbage-related injuries, blisters, and sunburns.
In recurring NBA news, whoever had "March 14" in the office pool for the day Grant Hill's season ended is due some cash. Hill's ankle has taken him out again, leaving him with only 47 games in uniform over the last three years in Orlando. The Magic have paid Hill over $32 million since 2000, which averages out to about $16 million for each three-pointer he's hit. He's due over $40 million more in the next three years, so expect to see Hill the "World's Highest Paid Peanut Vendor" over that span. It's funny, we kept slapping guys like Hill, and Penny Hardaway, and Harold Miner with the "Next Jordan" label. Meanwhile, the next Jordan we were looking for just turned out to be the first Jordan, again and again.
Indiana Pacer Ron Artest has been suspended for the fourth time this season after accumulating six flagrant foul points. The most interesting thing in the NBA this season to me is watching Isiah Thomas have to deal with the next generation of bad boy. I haven't seen such a perfect example of karma since Rush Limbaugh had hearing trouble.
And finally, an AP report states the NFL is asking eight of its officials to resign or be fired. What's the big deal here? Jim Fassel has been begging for the same thing since last year's wild card playoff round.