Thursday, March 19, 2015

March Madness

Yes, it's that time again. The college basketball national tournament, AND the start of the REAL spring classics of cycling. This weekend in cycling we have Milano-Sanremo, the first of the Monuments! And as such, you can bet there will be a real fight for that title. This year will be awesome, as there are so many that could win it (and that's not even counting the dark-horses who could come out nowhere and steal the show). Kristoff is the odds-on favorite as the reigning champ...but it's a bike race and anything can happen on any given day. Others that I see who have very high odds of making the podium are Greipel, Cav, Degencolb, Sagan and yes, let's NOT forget Spartacus!

This year they moved the finish line back to it's original location, which bodes well for the sprinters. Fabian isn't necessarily a sprinter and I don't see him out-gunning Cav if that came down to it, but he's a very powerful and cagey rider who has proved he can win from a LONG ways off if he gets a chance to break away from the front. Sagan isn't really looking as good as he has in the past, but he did just recently win a stage, so I'm sure that will give him a real mental boost. Greipel is one of the strong-men of cycling, much like Sagan and Fabian...he can climb well and thus be there for a chance to win over the pure sprinters if they can't stay with the lead group. I think this could very well be one of the most exciting Classics seasons in a long while if all these guys can stay healthy. And of course, I'm rooting for Fabian.

OK...enough on that...lets step back to the basketball tourney. My dad is a HUGE BB fan, and his alma-mater Wyoming is IN the tourney as the #12 seed for the East (how is it that Wyoming in the East bracket btw?) They play UNI (Univ. of Northern Iowa) in the first round tomorrow (Friday), who are ranked #5 in the East, and of course are predicted to win.

I know my dad played some BB as a youngster, but not sure if it was at Wyoming or at the Sheridan Junior college (where  I know that he's in their BB hall of fame, which I found out a year or so ago) or both...I'll have to remember to ask one day.

Personally I'm not a huge BB fan. However. March Madness changes all that, and almost every single game is exciting. The thing I LOVE about this tourney is that ANY team in the country (if they can make it to the tourney) has a chance to be the National Champion. Can't really say that for any other college sport. Football just doesn't have a big enough tournament (due to the nature of the sport) to pick 64 teams and let them go on a single elimination bracket. I wish they could...but with 64 teams you need to WIN 5 games in order to go to the championship game.

Plus, I always love rooting for the underdog teams...praying for that Cinderella Story of a nobody team making it into the third or fourth round (or higher?). Doesn't happen very often though...but they at least have a chance. Just making it into the "Dance" is quite an honor....however the lower seeds really have their work cut out for them due to the nature of the brackets (#16 seeds play #1 seeds in the first round...YIKES!). But consider this: the #16 (and 15, and 14, and so on) teams aren't really expected to have ANY chance. So they are very dangerous teams with nothing to lose. AND, they wouldn't be IN the tournament if they weren't pretty good.

Remember when the US Olympic hockey team beat the Russians in Lake Placid? THAT'S the kind of thing I'm always looking for. I'd say that even in the #1/#16 games, sure...the #1 would win that game 99 out of 100 times. But that 100th game is what it's all about. A few breaks here and there, players going above and beyond their usual abilities and you have a GAME out of what should be a knockout. THOSE are the moments I look for. And who knows. Maybe we'll get one this year. I saw n the news the other day that the odds of picking the entire tournament bracket correctly (every game) is something like a ga-zillion to 1 (your odds of winning the Powerball lottery are much higher).

And so...the tournament begins, and so do the real classics. Hopefully spring has sprung for most of the country...I know here we just had a crazy heat-wave last week, and all our nice green is quickly going brown already. And the Sierra snowpack is somewhere between 10 and 14% of normal, which bodes VERY BAD for our spring/summer and the upcoming fire-season next fall. We are officially in our 4th year of drought, and it's going to be ugly. Not sure where we (the state of CA) is going to get enough water for all the people AND all the crops...our groundwater level is the lowest in recorded history. Everybody is talking about conserving...but even that won't solve our woes. Don't know where this is going, but maybe instead of the Keystone oil pipeline, they should be making a WATER pipeline...seems over half the country has WAY WAY WAY too much water, and we NEED it. So pipe it over please...we could fill our reservoirs AND put water back into the ground.

And so...enjoy the cycling and BB, and hopefully you can get outside and have fun too...I sure will be.

Cheers (and GO WYOMING and FABIAN!)


  1. Darn! I was typing up a comment & hit some key by mistake & POOF! ARGGHHHH!!

    Anyhoo, I will keep my fingers crossed for Wyoming, Matt. Unfortunately, I don't watch much of March Madness anymore. From about age 11 until 12-14 years ago, I was GLUED to the TV for all of it. Even took vacation hours those 1st Thursdays & Fridays so I could see it LIVE on TV. Since the late 90s, I started watching less college bb during the season (Dean Smith retired in 97) & then thanks to the NBA who started taking the top kids right from high school, it was the beginning of the END. Although they now have that RIDICULOUS 'One & Done' thing, it is still ruined. Still, up until about 3 years ago, I still watched the Tournament coverage at night & weekends, but since I watch NONE of the regular season now & know zilch about the teams, I only click over from time to time. However, for some strange reason, I STILL fill in the winners of every game on my printed-out bracket. I have these from the last 20 years stashed in folders in my house. I used to have the ones going all the way back to the late 70s, but I lost them in one of my moves. If they ever go back to making the kids stay at least 2 years in college before the NBA, I may start watching again.

    I do get a kick out of the "upsets" & buzzer beaters but man, unless I sport-hate the losing team, I always feel SO bad for those kids who lose by 1-2 points on a last second shot. For MOST of these kids, this tournament is the peak of their basketball career & to lose like that is just heartbreaking! Even worse is when a bad ref-call decides the game. Yesterday saw a bunch of ALL of this! Five, count 'em, FIVE games decided by 1 point & at least one game decided by a ref's call (goaltending - from the clip I saw, the ball would NOT have even gone in!). Hope you were hooting & hollering, Matt!

  2. As for cycling, well, since I can see almost NONE of it on TV, I pay attention less & less. I still click on cyclingnews & velonews every day but mostly just scan the headlines. It was nice to see NBC-SN show Paris-Nice but the coverage was on so late & at different times each night that I missed most of it. And I'll have to check, but I think the only Classic they'll broadcast is Paris-Roubaix. Since NBC-SN has gotten more & more into EUROPEAN soccer, NFL, & now AUTO RACING (!), there has been increasingly LESS of cycling. Exactly as I predicted in 2010. Let's say it all together now - that USADA report did SO much to help this sport! Whoo-eeee, we are living in a freakin paradise now, peeps!

    I cannot stand the HYPOCRISY of the sport right now AND the media. Does ANYONE in this country give a damn what PED an NFL player takes? They just want to see him on the field. The ABSURDITY of INCREASING a doping penalty to FOUR years has almost pushed me over the edge. In the REAL pro sports, where they barely test at all, the "1st" time penalty is at most a couple GAMES. That means not even a quarter of a season let alone FOUR YEARS! This drives me INSANE.

    And did you see that 'CIRC du So What' report? WHAT a joke. Did you know only a HANDFUL of current riders even bothered to speak with them? The mainstream media picked up on the ONE quote by I believe ONE anonymous rider who said up to 90% (!) of current riders are still doping. Yeah, remember when we thought doping was "over"? Hah! It is my perception that some doping has continued since 2007 but I THINK it is less, but how the hell do I know? I will always think haughty big-bucks Team Sky has been dirty from the beginning. Don't know what they are using, but I don't think their results are all legit. And there's LAST YEAR'S Tour de France winning team - Astana. LOL! Anybody want to bet their life savings NOW that Nibbles not just rode but ZOOMED away from EVERYone last year 'CLEAN'?

    And then there's Lance. The continual scapegoat for the sport. Can someone tell me, I mean REALLY write it ALL out whose lives he "RUINED"? Are they dead because of him? In prison? Did he steal their money like Floyd 'PIECE OF SHIT' Landis STOLE MINE (& some of yours)? Or was he just a nasty jerk who said "mean things"? For god sake, that this man is being held up as the "dregs of humanity" , "the devil himself" (actual quotes I've read & heard many times the past 4 years), is PATHETIC! There is REAL evil in this world & Lance Armstrong AIN'T IT! I am sure he upset & even hurt various people, but I am sick of hearing how he "ruined lives". Really? Prove it. (BTW, a "ruined life" is RUINED FOREVER, not for a day or a month or even a year). Pretty much EVERY big-shot billionaire in this world has done FAR worse than Armstrong. Where is the PERSPECTIVE? Why has the average American just accepted the "bullying is a crime & Lance is the devil' bullshit pedaled by B.A.? And for god sake, WHY won't SHE LET IT GO? She is STILL bitching about him on FB & who knows where else. She WON- LET. IT. GO!

    And then last year, when Lance was prevented from riding friend George's Grand Fondo for CHARITY?!! That pushed me completely over the edge. I no longer even care that he doped AT ALL!


  3. Yo Susie...welcome BACK (with a VENGENCE!) I didn't get to watch any of the games last night, saw the same clips you did about all the buzzer-beaters (I think they said FIVE of the games were 1 pointers, which his a record). Sure it's tough on the teams that lose...but hey...that's sports. Lose by 1 point in the final tenths of a second, or lose by 20...a loss is a loss. Suck it up and move coddling Makes people stronger...none of this "Barney" BS that is hampering an entire generation of our kids....the "timeout" generation. Take responsibility for your actions, take your beating/punishment and get over it and move on. Tough love. And hey...1 point games are as good as it gets in my a football game that is decided on the LAST play. THAT is sports! The THRILL of victory, and the AGONY of defeat! (Wasn't that the NBC Sports tagline a few decades ago?)

    As to the doping...I can't freaking believe Astana still has a license. And as to Lance and his doping...I agree...don't care. And I think I'm pretty much over ALL the doping in PRO sports...quit wasting money and let them do their jobs (to be the BEST they can be at their sport). THAT'S what they are paid to do, and now everybody is crying foul cuz they DID. Take all that testing money and use it in High Schools...where they KIDS are doing it. Adults (the PRO'S) are big boyz n girlz and can make their own decisions. PRO sports are PAID ENTERTAINMENT. Amateur sports (kiddies, Jr High, High School, and even College (though not so much anymore) are recreational. THAT's where you use your anti-doping money.

    Just my 2 cents worth. Oh...and your comparison of billionaires vs Lance is spot on...think of the LIVES TRULY RUINED by rich people who are above the law and can do whatever they want. Money buys power. I still can't believe that the TDF still shows "those years" with no winners. Even MLB has Barry Bonds in their record books, albeit with an asterix. So put a stupid asterix by those 7 years (and actually many more...the EPO era was longer than his reign). The lifetime ban is ridiculous considering others STILL in the sport who were dopers. VINO is STILL a Pro-Tour team manager for crying out loud? SERIOUSLY? And yet LANCE has a lifetime ban? Give me a BREAK! (and Johnny Bench still has HIS lifetime ban? For betting on HIS team to win? Isn't a coach of ANY pro sport doing that EVERY SINGLE GAME THEY PLAY? Betting with their JOBS?) Need to get over that and let Johnny into the BB hall of fame for crying out loud, where he belongs. What he did as a coach has ZERO to do with what he did as a player. Get OVER it. you've got ME ranting!

    Happy Friday! Woo-HOO!