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A GREAT TIME OF YEAR!

8 Apr

winter to springAh what a great time of year…it’s that time when winter seems to fade into spring and the sun begins to peak out from the grey clouds.  The time of year when school enters its stretch run and the promise of summer grows ever so closer.  The time of year when…when….when the sports schedule is the best it can possibly be!  It’s a time of year when you’re TV is on 24hours a day, your home page is set to espn.com and your unlimited data plan is finally paying off as you check game after game on that contraption in your pocket that was once used to actually talk to real people.  Oh yeah, this is my favorite time of year!  (Also because new seasons of Mad Men and Game of Thrones have begun!!)

I don’t love this time because of the whole spring and sun thing; but because it’s such a hot time for sports!!  I mean, are you kidding me?!  This is most definitely a sports lover’s dream time of year.  Of course there are other great times of the year for sports too.  sports_fanYou have that time in October with the MLB playoffs, November and the start of the NCAA and NBA seasons, the time when summer collides with fall and the the stretch run of the MLB season is coupled with the beginning of college football, and of course there is February and….and….ok, February kind of sucks for sports…but you get the idea.  With all those great events throughout the year, you would think it might be tough to pick the time of year…one time that really gets the old heart racing.  But its not tough at all…this is the best sports time of the year, period (I know I actually put a period at the end of the sentence, but I wanted to type the word PERIOD to emphasize my point…Ok, gotta get back on topic).

Let’s just take a quick look at all we have going on during this epic time of year.  March brings us the greatest four word phrase in the English language:  PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT.  spring trainingOtherwise known as the start of spring training.  A time of new hope for fans of every MLB team in the league…I’m even talking to you Cubs fans!  Soon after, we get college ball at its best with conference tournaments and March Madness.  Printer ink wasted brackets all over the place, late night West Coast tournament games, and the first Thursday and Friday of the tourney…man, this is already a great time of year.  But wait, there’s more!  With April things really start to take off.  We get MLB opening day, the only day of the year where every team starts in first place.  Then we get the Final Four and the stretch run of the NBA season.  Top teams positioning for playoff seeding, bad teams tanking for that #1 draft pick, the resting of stars killing your fantasy ball title run (thanks Greg Popovich…don’t you know I have a fantasy title on the line?!)!

As if all of that wasn’t enough, we get “a tradition unlike any other with the Masters, on CBS” (thank Jimmy Nantz).tiger and phil  This year it could be Tiger and Rory…but I’m hoping for a vintage Tiger and Phil pairing!  Then the NBA regular season quickly bleeds straight into the playoffs, and before you know it the NFL draft closes out the month.  WOW!  What a great time of year.  Now you get it right?  There is something for every type of fan out there.  I didn’t even cover the NASCAR races and Euro soccer matches on the schedule.  I’ve also heard that there are actual real-life hockey games going on right now as well!!  SkylarDigginsOh and don’t forget women’s college bball too…Skylar Diggins, UCONN and the ladies from Louisville all representing on the court.  (And let’s not forget the start of new season of Game of Thrones and Mad Men!)

So enjoy this time of year sports fans.  Sure the rest of the year has its moments, but no time can compare to this time!  cubicleSo when you are ready to send your kids back to school after day #2 of summer vacation, the beach beckons from your 9-to-5 cubicle and you are forced to suffer through another freezing snow laced winter, think back to this time of year.  Think back to spring training and March Madness.   Think back to the greens of Augusta and National Anthem’s on opening day.  Back to playoff atmospheres and new breakout stars in the NBA playoffs.  And just remember, next year we get to do this all over again!cheering

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BATTLE WITH THE BRACKET!

29 Mar

THE STORY OF AN OBSESSIVE FAN FILLING OUT HIS NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKET

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The clock approached 8am…my hands were sweaty and my eyes were bloodshot.  The fluorescent lights above felt like the middle eastern sun on my face.  A TV blurred in the background with another talking head pushing their agenda on the world…and the silence around me was unnerving. But the job still had to be done…I had to finish my bracket

insomnia-computer-flickr-vibrant_artThat’s right, it was early Thursday morning.  Just hours before the tip of the greatest present the Sports Gods have ever given fans:  the first 2 days of the NCAA Tournament.  And I had brackets spread out all over my kitchen table…no, my desk would not hold the 10 or so brackets I had laid out before me.  And now my table was looking like the Situation Room on the West Wing…or maybe the actual Situation Room from the actual White House.  And why 10 brackets?  Well I need my initial bracket, the one I fill out as soon as the Selection Show airs.  Then I need an Upset A and an Upset B bracket.  And don’t forget the Favorites Bracket…you get the point.

As I stared at my already completed brackets, searching for answers, a few Cinderellas, and maybe my dignity, there was still one blank sheet before me.  This was my Best Bracket.  The bracket that I would take into battle with me.  The bracket that I would use to conquer the ridiculous number of pools I was about to enter (don’t worry Government, they are all “just for fun” pools).  One bracket to rule them…ok sorry, I couldn’t resist the obligatory Lord of the Rings reference!

As my half open eyes gazed over the matchups once again, I saw little mascots dancing on my paper, shouting at me like my mother calling me in for dinner when I stayed outside past dark…LOUSIVILE ALL THE WAY, KANSAS WILL GET UPSET, BELMONT AS THE CINDERELLA.

kenny-and-charlesAnd the so called experts that were now circling through my head were just as obnoxious:  GIANT KILLERS, OFFENSIVE REBOUNDS, DEFENSIVE EFFECIENCY, FINAL FOUR PEDIGREE, SIZE, TURNOVERS….Shut up Seth Davis!  Be quiet Doug Gottlieb!  Stop shouting Dickie V!!  Oh great, now the entire TNT crew is there too….make it stop, get Chuck and Kenny out of my head!!!

“Deep breaths, deep breaths” I tell myself.  “You can do this, you have done this about 20 times before.”  Just focus!  I try my best to block out the “experts”.  I try my best to not pick based on my emotions.  I try my best to get that Call Me Maybe song out of my head…not that it’s affecting my bracket, I just get annoyed when that song gets stuck in my head.  So I pick up my pencil, give the sheet a last once over, and I’m off.  Suddenly, the stats and picks I’ve been hearing about all week are starting to make sense.  So place a 1seed here, and a 12seed there.  I’ve got a Big East team dancing through rounds, and a Cinderella wearing the glass slipper past a few favorites.  I’m in the zone and I feel like my father’s son again!  Like I’m writing a mission statement that may get me eliminated early, but is revolutionary…Jerry Maguire style!  Breakdown?  No, breakthrough (thanks Cameron Crowe).

jerry_maguire

And just like that…its over.  Well….almost over.  Now that I have filled out my bracket, its time for one last check of all my picks.  So I roll over my upsets and my Final Four selections.  I second guess this 12 over a 5 and second guess taking the new “hot” selection that all of the experts are going with…I’m talking to you New Mexico!  And then, it’s a stare down.  One last battle with my bracket.  We stare into each others’ souls…well I stare into its NCAA logo, but my bracket is for sure staring into my soul.  I can feel it judging me…laughing at me…questioning my every pick.  But there is no time for a hearT to heart with my bracket.  For one, it’s a piece of paper, so I probably need to remember that.  But more importantly, I give my watch a quick glance and realize the deadline to enter my picks is just minutes away.  So I log on, enter the picks in all of my pools, and click that horrific button that brings fear in the hearts of all men everywhere…the save button!  Entries complete, time to start the tourney.  Life is good…but then an Elite 8 pick is out before things get going…and the 2nd guessing starts all over again…

ENJOY THE MADNESS EVERYONE!!