Friday, April 21, 2006

When Power Cores and Powercells Collide

Everybody lately is aghast and dismayed and chagrined (what ever those terms mean) at the latest hike in gas prices which has driven the per-gallon price upwards of anywhere between $2.75 and $3.33.
Since I’m a complete advocate of that e-mail which was circulated to everyone on Earth a few years ago which informed us that gasoline is cheaper-by-the-gallon than Aquafina, Aqua Velva, Heineken and Mop N’ Glo, etc … I was definitely more taken aback (if only I knew what “aback” meant) by what I saw at the sporting goods store yesterday.
An Easton softball bat (specs = 34 in., 26 oz.) on sale for $175.
It made me think, “What price freedom?”
We Yanks pay $107 per lb. for molded aluminum.
We pay $61 per ft. to defend softball freedom.

And we're up in arms that sweet crude is $70 a barrel?

I can’t do anything to influence OPEC, but I can do my part to keep SUVmerica free by piling up baseknocks on the softball diamond.
And, another thing: I didn’t buy the bat because, well … I’m audtioning for a new softball team tonight and, well, it seems smarter not to be “too showy” on the first date.

That’s why I’m sticking with the 34/33 Easton Model S80 (purchased in 1989, I think … no intimidating words printed on the barrel, other than “EASTON” and “Power Core”) and the Worth Powercell (purchased a few years back).
To me, the art of using a round bat to hit a slo-pitched round ball squarely boils down to the utilization of power cores and powercells and not submitting to a tool which has words on the barrel such as “Ultimate Weapon” or “Wicked Insanity” or – you gotta be yankin’ me – a neon green apparatus with “ENVY” printed on the barrel???
That's Mizuno's contribution to the softball party ... “ENVY." As if it's a fragrance for men (or the sort of "envy" we're not 'sposed to talk about after holding a fallic-shaped tool).

Say ... isn't “Wicked Insanity” some type of chocolate concoction at the Cheesecake Factory?

Look … unless a bat makes a powerful statement such as “The Decapitator” or “Nut Cracker 2000” or “The Home Wrecker" then everything else is simply false advertising.
Might as well just call it “Your Typical 3-Hopper To Shortstop.”

That covers the bat – now, I have to deal with the ramifications of making a softball splash by debuting with a new glove for the first time since the 1980s.
The Wilson A2051 which I’d been using since purchasing it in 1987 has been replaced by a Worth TM140.
The Wilson slogan on the inside of the glove-thumb is “designed for the professional.” The Worth slogan on the outside of the glove-pinky is “performance through technology.”
We’ll just see about that.

The Worth glove was an out-of-season purchase from last Oct. – and I’m not sure if I fell in love with it because it’s part of the Tumble Milled Series, because of the Silencer Palm Pad or because it’s mostly black-with-gray-detailing.

Should I have asked for such customized racing stripes?

What it represents is a break from the conventional brown glove, which the Wilson was as it served me dutifully during the Calif. Softball Wars (’90 thru ’97) and The Great Mid-Atlantic Softball Ambiguity (’01 thru ’05).
Not that the Wilson’s self-proclaimed “snap action” and “deer tan lining” were unsatisfactory, per se.
It’s just that, sometimes, the spirit moves a guy to take a walk in the Tumble Milled forest and walk along the path of the Silencer Palm Pad.

Besides, I want to be prepared for the next time some jackass whips out his Palm Pilot so that I can disarm Mr. Important by boldly proclaiming, “Yeah, I’ve got one of those Silencer Palm Pads, too.”
That is, unless everyone ditched his Palm Pilot for a Blackberry, I dunno.

Hard to believe that I’ll be taking the field tonight with a bunch of strangers … and the chief weapons at my disposal will be a Worth bat and a Worth glove and a skills-set which, since it’s been a long time since the end of last season, worthless.
Seems like a long way from the days when I was contributing for the Felix Legions and the armies of the north during victories in Germania.
But, then, sometimes a soldier gets separated from his unit and he finds himself alone in the outfield with the sun on his face … but he is not troubled for he is in Elysium and he is already dead.

Seriously, I don’t know if I can help Elysium reach the playoffs. It’s just that I enlisted for volunteer softball duty with a stranger I’d been talkin’ to for an hour … and now I’m on the squad as, like they say in the biz, “a non-roster invitee.”
Sure wish I knew if my new teammates more closely resemble the lineup for the Gashouse Gorillas (access your vintage Bugs Bunny cartoon file) or just a bunch of squids like the doofus patrol that I was pitching for at this time a year ago (I fashioned a nifty 3-13 record with an ERA probably somewhere between 13.38 and 17.54).
That team disbanded due to a corporation which imploded, so, for those dorks, well … that’s why God gave them golf.

What I DO know about tonight is that the opponent on the schedule is something known as "the Maulers."
That’s worth rolling my eyes – and then formulating a workable logistics matrix which’ll turn the Maulers to “The Mauled.”
I never liked those gimmicky team nicknames which are not directly tied to sponsorship. I mean, if you’re not “Gideon's 7th Avenue Texaco,” y'need to come up with a more-creative team name.
Y'know, it can be anything which'll fit a range of motifs, from musical ("2 Legit 2 Quit") to political ("Softball Jihad") to theatrical ("The Naturals") to extravagant ("Softballapalooza") to real-world pragmaticism ("Unable To Process Self-Loathing").
It's best to steer clear of impractical, nonsensical team names such as “Fellowship of the Onion Rings."
Maulers ... gotta change that one ...

Anyway, if I am to join forces with strangers and lead the transformation of Maulers to Mauled, we’ll see what dividends were paid by some cagework on Mon. and Thurs.
“Cagework” … that’s what we softballers call sessions spent fine-tuning mechanics in the batting cage.
What I SAW the other day was 10-year-old (I’m guessing) Erin making occasional contact and her pudgy sister 9-year-old Brittany getting frustrated.
My conclusions about hitting were these:
Seven years from now, Erin’s gonna have college boys hittin’ on her. And, seven years from now, Brittany’s STILL gonna be hittin’ Mickey Dee’s pretty hard after school.

What valuable self-discoveries were revealed from cagework? Well, five minutes after Erin and Brittany departed, an Asian man stepped into the cage as he wore his Goodyear sneakers.
Apparently, Goodyear makes a sneaker.
Evidently, it's available only on the Pacific Rim's black market.
And, as far as we know, Goodyear makes a fielder's glove with more bells and whistles than the tumble-milled Silencer Palm Pad.

Well, at least I learned a lot about Erin and Brittany and the guy with the Goodyear sneakers.
Self-exploration seemed like a waste of time because, let's face it, in my first AB, I’m likely to snap a deltoid or wrench my back while jogging toward first base following that neck-straining pop-up to shallow RCF.
What I hope to do is "be there" emotionally and spiritually for my new mates. If that means leading the pre-game and post-game team prayer, then so be it.
In these softball experiences of Biblical implications, I usually tend to lean toward the New Testament and the Book of Revelation, particularly Chapter 12, Verses 3 and 4: "Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born" -- and
Chapter 13, Verses 1 and 2: "And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each heada blasphemous name. The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority."
Wait ... Revelation 12: 3-4 = Red dragon w/ 7 heads, 10 horns, 7 crowns on his 7 heads ...
Revelation 13:1-2 = Beast w/ 10 horns, 7 heads, 10 crowns on his 10 horns ...
That's the thing about the New Testament ... we never know why the Beaast has 3 more crowns than the Dragon.

Sure ... I've thought about sticking to the Old Testament as my softball playbook, specifically Deuteronomy 19:5: "For instance, a man may go into the forest with his neighbor to cut wood, and as he swings his ax to fell a tree, the head may fall off and hit his neighbor and kill him."
Even though it seems like a Biblical bloodbath, I find it less-confusing than thinking about what I need to say when one of my new teammated gets a solid basehit.
Do I go with "Nice rip, buddy" or "That was a solid 'knock" -- or do I simply scream "No, you DITT-INT! No, you DITT-INT!"
(Note: "We must protect this house!" has become so terribly passe)

Apprehensive though I may be, I haven't lost sight of the two activities which made this nation great: 1) Rec league, slo-pitch softball and 2) Getting dressed for rec league, slo-pitch softball.
I like to personalize my statement (y’know, stick it to the Establishment and to Deuteronomy) by goin’ w/ white cleats, the lid turned backwards and an incessant chomping of two pieces of grape Bubble Yum.
Not Bubblicious.
Does it say Bubblicious?
Then why are you asking about Bubblicious?

It's too early to predict if this new adventure will be the equivalent of winning a truckload of trophies (as it was in California) – but it probably won’t be like some of the recent memories when I’d come to bat leading off the third inning and we’d be trailing, 20-0, and I'd try to tie the game by hitting five grand slams in one at-bat.
It’s about always having two Sharpies in your equipment bag in case there’s A LOT of kids waitin’ for ya to autograph their packs of Marlboros and Camels after the game …

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Wacky-Yet-Prudent Ballot Initiatives

As you would expect, I missed Chapter 3 of “Bonds On Bonds” last night because I just knew that it was NOT going to be Bobby Bonds, Jr. (Barry’s brother) paying tribute to Bobby Bonds, Sr. (Barry’s daddy), so …
Also, my doctor says I need less contrived and artificial “reality shows” in my diet, so … ummm, y’know … doctor’s orders.
Besides, the Birds and the Tribe were on the telly, so …

This definitely looks like the year for the Orioles.
That is, “the year that O’s fans make Angelos pay for his sins.”
Ol’ Fish-Faced Pete’s gonna have to rustle up more cases than usual in his litigious ways against the big-money tobacco and those hard-working asbestos producers.
The turnstiles at Camden Yards … they ain’t turnin’ like they used to.

The announced crowds during three gorgeous (weather-wise) days and evenings (Sun.-Mon.-Tues.) for games against quality opponents (the Angels and the Indians) have failed to crack 20,000, which may mean that the fans are finally sending a message to Angelos.
Here’s what that new message seems to be:
“Give us a new stadium!”

Nobody’s talking about it, but doesn’t the hidden agenda seem quite obvious (which, in a literal sense, doesn’t exactly make it “hidden,” does it?).
But, y'see, the baseball team from Cleveland coming to town provides an interesting parallel. After all, it was merely a decade ago when Baltimore and Cleveland rose to power as The MLB pulled itself out of The Strike of ’94.
It was a time of great nostalgia for the two cities, which, at that time, fostered a strong sisterhood -- that is, until it was declared null-and-void once Art Modell moved his Browns away from that metropolis by the lake and moved it to one by the ocean.
NFL transgressions aside, the mid- to late-‘90s represented a baseball renaissance in Baltimore and Cleveland which had been somewhat dormant for decades.
And, most of us tied that rekindling of MLB love to the christening of Oriole Park (which opened in ’92) and Jacobs Field (which opened in ’94).

Of course, a “winning formula” helps when you have a lineup which has either Alomar, Ripken and Palmeiro or Thome, Belle and Ramirez to go with strong pitching staffs.
But, we should remember that sometimes it's not about the quality of the product on the field as much as it is about the field itself.

To wit, when the Yankees posted their astonishing 116-46 record in ’98, they finished third in A.L. attendance that year behind the Orioles and the Indians.
So much for that mighty relic in the Bronx and the Bronx Bombers who dwell within it.

’98 was the fourth year in a row that the O’s topped the league in attendance – and, despite losing records during each of the seven seasons since, the O’s haven’t slipped out of the Top 5 in A.L. attendance.
Cleveland, meanwhile, had sellouts at The Jake for a record 455 home dates from June ’95 thru the first game of the ’01 season.
However, after leading the league in attendance in ’99 and ’00, the Tribe’s tumble in attendance began in ’01 (third) and ’02 (fifth) until the mighty fall-off to 12th (out of 14 teams) in each of the past three seasons.
Either Clevelanders aren’t keen on manager Eric Wedge’s version of “WedgieBall” – or maybe they simply weren’t thrilled that Jody Gerut (who?) was the top home run guy (with 22) and top RBI guy (with 75) for their 94-loss squad of two seasons ago.

Unlike Indian fans who bailed on their Mistake By The Lake, O’s fans remained true to their Birds.
Or did they?
Funny coincidence: I was in attendance (free tix from my boss) for the O’s FINAL home game of last season (vs. the Yanks) and I was in attendance (free tix from my wife’s client) for the O’s season opener at the Yards two weeks ago (vs. Team Sting Ray).
The running joke ‘round these parts is that the O’s ballpark serves as a satellite office for Yankees and Red Sox fans. So, while the stadium may “officially” seat 48,190, rest assured that sellouts during Yankee series are usually the result of 12,000 girls wearing #2 JETER t-shirts and 13,000 guys with man-crushes on Derek Jeter.

Now, while I don’t know if A.L. attendance is still calculated based on “tickets sold” and the N.L. is tallying its attendance in terms of “actual turnstile totals” – as was the way it was tabulated in the past – I do know this:
For the opener against Tampa Bay, the reported attendance of 46,986 for a 48,190-seat stadium was inaccurate.
I know this because as I was shuttling between Section 87 and Club Level Suite 14, it was quite noticeable that anywhere from 12,000 to 15,000 seats were unfilled.

Ergo, 46,986 = "tickets sold" not "butts in the seats."

But, if it makes those no-shows feel any better, the 16 or 17 freebie skewers of tangy sausage which I helped myself to … first-rate all the way.
Let’s play two!

So, that’s where we stand: Getting a stadium initiative on the ballot so that the ballgame-attending voter base can get behind something worth believing in again.
New ballparks stimulate the local economy and they foster good will and serve as effective role models for our children.

And they hardly cost a thing.
In this era of military spending and over-taxation, it's high time that we stop dumping $$$ into government programs which simply don't work (such as publicly-funded K-thru-12 school systems) and join forces in laying the bricks and mortar which will provide new ballparks which our grandchildren and our grandchildren's grandchildren can enjoy during the heyday of global warming.

How this scenario can become a viable option for my beloved Phillies while they attempt to resuscitate an ’06 season which is slipping away fast, well ... that's the next stop for this Haystack hay ride ....

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Game of Shadow Puppets

(And double-dang!)
I forgot to watch the second episode of "Bonds On Bonds" last night.
Luckily, the endless and tiresome flow of commercials and mini-promos on EspyTime Theater remind me when it's on next.
Just so I can miss it again.

Bondzilla, that super-'roided freakizoid, tells me in those ads that, if I watch, he'll reveal unto me the truth.
The truth? As if it really matters to me how many CC's of HGH he may've scarfed down or how many elephant tranquilizers he wolfed down or the OtiFoam and the OtoMax (my dog's ear medicine) he'd gobble up if we put it on a Ritz cracker.
I mean, that issue is secondary, in my mind, because, well ... EVERY one of us puts several types of crazy poisons into our systems every day -- just so, one day, our colons can get good n' clogged (which, as it happens, I just stated for the record as I had a Marlboro in one hand, a Pop-Tart in the other and a Molson in another ... leaving me with only one hand to type that).

The 'roid issue didn't play as much into my self-righteous indignation and condemnation about Barry The Drama Queen (those were some reeel purrrdee waterworks he turned on during the Week 1 episode ... highlights thrusted on me by those EspyPimps at EspyTime).
What rankles me about Mister Misunderstood is the fact that most people give this dude a free pass when it comes to the fact that, unless I'm way off base with my timeline (which I'm not), he's a freakin' predicate adulterer.
Whereas the Good Book doesn't say jack about ingesting my doggie's ear medicine, but it's pretty clear about establishing guidelines about fornication with those who are not your wife.
It's a sin, jackass.
(Note: When I refer to "the Good Book," it may be Cosmopolitan or Popular Mechanics, I can't remember which ... )

So, to bottom-line it: I'd say that 68 percent of what Bonds says is the HGH talkin' -- and the other 32 percent is the flat-out lying from an adulterer who, not so long ago, had an agenda of furthering adultery.
Either way, there's ZERO credibility to basically every statement he's made because, well ... adulterers lie to (say it together) further an agenda of adultery.
"C'mon, baby, you understand how it is ..."
"Your breasts are nice. They're real?"
"I'm going to jump off the Empire State Building ..."

So, I'm supposed to care about a guy who can mash a baseball, but can't muscle up with fidelity in his personal life?
As previously stated, the issue isn't really how much dippin' of his wick was done before his nuts turned to sawdust from all the freeze-dried/reconstituted rhino semen he may've syringed into his buttocks.
However, to drop trow and take care of bidniss with those who weren't Mrs. Bee, he had to deliver the brand of contrived "tenderness" (read: unadulterated B.S.) which America saw (except me) last night.

His story kinda makes me wax nostalgic about the days when I worked for that CEO who, after dumping his mistress of 10 years, knocked up the daughter of his Hall of Fame chum.
Ah, yes ... the days of dealing with CEO malfeasance, such as standing in the kitchen and offering a quizzical look as clamato-and-vodka was guzzled pre-10 a.m. and four Marlboro Reds were power-smoked in a 14-minute span.
That's hardcore.
Good stuff when you're gettin' a taste of a word called "wedlock."

Anyway, messed-up folks who micturate on the most-important relationship in their lives (one which was sealed with an oath before God, in most cases), can't be trusted to provide a smidgen (read: one iota) of "truth."
I'm not allowed to cheat on my Mrs. because it would mean that I'd have to answer to the big, brown eyes of that SuperPup who's in the Planet Haystack starting lineup every day, rain or shine.
Usually with a fuzzy, squeaky squirrel-toy in his mouth.
The only sad part of our relationship is that when I'm applying his ear medicine, there's no disclaimer on the bottle which reads: "Barry Bonds Approved!"
It calls into question the effectiveness of the product.

Anyway, "Bonds Blowing Bonds" simply is not an adequate option on my Mackey-less Tuesday nights. I mean, Vic and the Strike Team were always there for me ... then Shane, obviously acting alone, rubbed out Lem.
Such an ending to a season finale made me uncomfortable -- but not as alienated as what I saw when the TV was on for 15 minutes on Tuesday morning.

On NBC's "Today" show, America was introduced to the Chicago-area teacher who intends to give one of her kindeys to her 10-year-old student (a kid named Brandon Shafer) so that he can remain active and play the game he loves ... basketball.
Brandon, his mom and the teacher had a sit-down with Ann Curry, the "accomplished" Today show news anchor for these past 10 years.
Yeah yeah yeah, we know she has a laundry list of news "accomplishments" a mile long, but, c'mon ... Curry for Couric?
Everybody knows that a story like this has to be handled by the warmer, friendlier Hoda Kotb.

Secondly, most of America doesn't want female teacher/boy student stories unless we can apply a LeTourneau/LaFave angle into it.
Mary Kay and Debra didn't offer one of their kidneys to a student. No, they went south of the border and volunteered some quality inner thigh.

OK ... so maybe Ann Curry knows all the right questions to ask a brigadeer general in Kuwait or the Gaza Strip, but watching her interact with a 10-year-old was downright painful.
It reminded America of when Krusty The Clown squinted to read the cue card and repeated its words: "Talk to the audience" ... before he muttered, "Ugh, this is always death ..."

The expression on Ann Curry's face was, "Junior, you know you're killing Ann Curry's career by failing to make Ann Curry look pretty and bright and sensual?"
But, Ann Curry, gamer that she is, soldiered on, as it were, and informed Little Brandon that with a new kidney, he could grow about as tall as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Realizing quickly that Brandon was completely unfamiliar with the king of the sky-hook, Curry blurted out, "Oh, you probably don't know who he is. Well, maybe like Michael Jordan ..."

Another swing and a miss and the count is oh-and-two!
Unless Brandon remembers Jordan sinking the shot which sank the Jazz WHEN BRANDON WAS 2 YEARS OLD -- or unless Brandon watched Jordan with the Washington Wizards, ummm ... Ann, get a timeout.
A full, not a 20.

Three words which Youth Basketball America understands are "Kobe," "Shaq" and "LeBron."
End of story. So, stay clear of references to Wilt The Stilt or Pistol Pete or Dr. J.
And, whatever ya do, Ann, don't tell Brandon about Cobes at Cordillera.
Droppin' trow ...
Forgettin' a wedding vow ...

Brandon's gonna get that new kidney from his teacher -- and he's going to live long enough to one day realize that, as the TV commercial informs us, the same reasons people hate Cobes are the same reasons people love Cobes.
'Cuz he banged a chick who wasn't his wife (why we hate him) and lied to her and to America until he became lovable again (why we love him).

The name of the game is 'tang, Brandon.
Get with the program ...

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A Triumph For Reptilicus

There were two distinct signs that I had this victory all sewn up ... twin messages from the forces of the beyond that I was going to triumph.
Sadly, it was at someone else's expense.
These were the signs: 1) 75-year-old Marilyn Devine wearing a knit Steelers cap with cut-out eye-holes to hide her face as she robbed a bank in West Mifflin, PA during the first week of March and 2) Game-show host Peter Tomarken of "Press Your Luck" (big bucks, no whammies!) dying a plane crash.

My victory in the grandest of The Only Relevant Pool Ever Devised Objectively (you could call it "T.O.R.P.E.D.O." ... or you could call it "the 21st-annual Times Tribune NCAA Tournament Pool," which isn't as easy to acronymize) sent me eerily reeling back to my first victory in TORPEDO, way back in 1997.
Powers beyond my control dictated this outcome.
Here's how:

Back in '97 -- on the first day of March (the cermonial Month of Madness) -- America watched with amazement and semi-horror the recap of what transpired one day earlier ... when Larry Phillips and Emil Matasereanu, decked out in full body armor and ski masks, walked into the Bank of America in North Hollywood around 9 a.m. and, in violent fashion, committed armed robbery, forced employees and customers into the vault and then walked outside and shot it out with members of the LAPD and SWAT.

The siege lasted all of 45 minutes ... and both Phillips and Matasareanu died before lunchtime.
Nine years later, the gun which was siezed from Marilyn Devine's car was not even loaded.
Back in '97, on the weekend of the Sweet 16/Elite Eight, former Memphis Tiger b-baller Baskerville Holmes (a starter in the Final Four 12 years earlier), died at the age of 32 after an apparent murder-suicide involving his girlfriend.
Nine years later, Tomarken died a senseless, inexplicable death -- and, although I never watched that game show, Mrs. PF7 has spent years hittin' me with "big bucks, no whammies."

And, thus, this is the intermingling of the tragic events which seem to cast a pall over my Pool victories.
Some might call this "connection" morbid or morose, but I did not choose these unfortunate, star-crossed souls.
Still, their inner-conflict became my cross to bear ... their demise became my burden and served as a symbol of victory having its price.

Okay ... maybe it's a reach ... an attempt to affix a symbolic meaning to my victory in the pool. While there was no Final Four glory for any of the people which I just mentioned, my twisted logic shouldn't diminish my accomplishments, should it?

And, if we were to explore happy, upbeat, untwisted metaphors, the following might be of interest:

On the cover of the Sports Illustrated 2006 Tournament Edition, there must be nearly 100 faces interspersed in a sea of basketball heroes.
The funny thing, there's only ONE player which we see depicted in full-length, only one body in a swarm of bodies which stands out in the mess of heads and arms.

It's a player grabbing a rebound to the left of the "March Madness" letters printed on a basketball in the center of the cover.
That player which was singled out, as coincidence would have it, was ... Joakim Noah.

So much for the notorious "S.I. Cover Jinx."
Or the fact that Noah wears unlucky #13.
We all knew that the S.I. Cover Jinx was ancient history when the mag kept putting Steelers on the cover and, well ... the Steelers kept debunking the myth by winning.

Well, leave it to me to celebrate my "FLA d. UCLA" in the championship game (a choice made almost three weeks ago) by going out in public today while wearing my Steelers cap turned backwards and my Texas Football t-shirt with the steer silhouette inside a football logo.
Call me "Captain Front-Runner" -- although I think I'd prefer it if you called me by my screen name, "Reptilicus," the title of the sci-fi film from the year of my birth ... directed by Sidney Pink, filmed in Denmark ... and the name I once used with some frequencly when I was operating my own (football) pool back in the late-'80s, early-'90s.
I'm just a Wanna-Be Reptilicus who is saluting those reptile b-ballers from Gainesville in the worst Final Four in the history of the universe of all-time forever and ever and ever.
Or so they say -- "they" being obvious "Gator haters."

Truth be told, I, too, might've been ranking this tourney as one of the all-time duds, had not FLA fulfilled a personal agenda.

My interest in the tourney took a 180 when when UConnvict got knocked off by Mason: Impossible, thus killing the Americans who never forsaw Calhoun and his weak cast of misfits politely stepping aside and opening a door of possibilities.
Thanks for assisting a visionary like me, UCan't.

With that outcomes, I was zipped back in time to when Jack Walsh sittin' at the counter of an Amarillo, TX coffee shop with Jonathan Mardukas.
JON: "Did you read about me in the papers?"
JACK: "Yeah, I did."
JON: "Were you on my side then?"
JACK: "Yeah, I was."
JON: "Then, why aren't you now?"
JACK: "Because now you're in my way."
JON: "I'm in your way? I'm in your way? What you mean is you want the money for turning me in because that's all you're about." (Leaning forward, whispering) "You're just about the fucking money!"
JACK: "Hey, Jon. You can think whatever you wanna think. It doesn't matter to me because I'm gettin' my hundred thousand any which way you want it."

A lot of America doesn't remember Jack Walsh because all it remembers is Jack Bauer. And America doesn't always identify with Jonathan Mardukas because his nickname was "The Duke."

And everybody hates Duke.

Notwithstanding anti-Duke (and not to mention my personal Gator glory), I'd say that, by and large, this was a satisfactory tournament. However, the fallout throughout this Tuesday was that it was boring or ugly or unwatchable.
Well, by my math, I counted 14 second-half baskets for Florida in the championship game ... three threes in the first four minutes after halftime and then nine dunks in the final 15:14.
Four slams by Yannick's kid, four slams by Tito's kid.

What's not to like about that, America? Three-balls and slams ... those are the cornerstones of what made this nation among the top five or six global superpowers.
Seems to me any negative backlash re: this tournament was the result of a nation not really knowing what it wanted once the dream of Duke vs. UConn died.
What I heard/read was a lot of empty backlash from people whose precious little Cinderella came home looking abused and confused ... like another Cindy Relish.

In a lot of ways, this isn't THAT much different than when all of those bitter Seattle Seahawk fans got all pissy about the Super Bowl, rather than address the day's more-serious issues.
Such as what to make of their team and its impossible-to-describe color scheme.

To me, these are empty complaints ... kinda like what you might experience if you were with someone who ordered a burger for lunch and then, after the burger was devoured and you asked, "So how was your burger?" you heard, "Well, it was okay, but I was actually hoping for some new shoes. Or free tickets to the movies."
Wait ... you ordered a burger, so ...
"I know. But, I really wanted an afternoon of rock climbing or a new puppy."
But, we just had lunch and now you're talking about ...
"I just wish it had been 500 new i-tunes or a snowboard ..."

America doesn't know what it wants, so it tries to sell me a backpack full of its indifference. We love George Mason -- until it's time to go back to not caring about everything which George Mason stands for.
We want our buzzer-beaters, but we forget sometimes that it takes 27 baskets, 26 turnovers and 47 free-throw attempts (which UConn had vs. U-Dub) to get there.
We detest Billy Packer ... and we are supposed to react to what he says by acting all outraged.
But we don't know why.
Probably because someone told us to.
"Billy Packer said something I don't understand or agree with? Why do I allow this child-molesting, bedwetting psychopath into my home every March?"

I, on the other hand, have open-mindedly accepted Billy Packer for what he is ... sometimes a name-mangler, sometimes at the forefront of offereing some strong opinions, but, to me (as a concerned parent of a golden retriever), always representin' a basketball observer 50 times more articulate than Dickie V. or Digger or Lavin or Thompson or Majerus.
Billy Packer delivered what he always does.
Billy Packer.
If you were looking for a Pavarotti CD or an Oreo McFlurry from Mickey D.'s, you need to go where those are sold, America.

Sure, I remember how here in the Haystack we oftentimes classified college b-ball as nothing more than glorified rec-league action and that the sport was teetering on the brink of receiving the lifetime ban within the Haystack household.
And then along comes the Gator Raid ... now my empty cup is as sweet as the punch.

Gator Ball restored my fait in humanity. The Gators may have actually pushed me back into a mode of mustering enough interest to care (occasionally) about the sport (sometimes) again. After all, the reasons why I picked FLA to win it all was because the few times I spent more than five minutes with them, they demonstrated some balance, a willingness to pound the ball inside and they were judicious -- and not obsessive -- with the 3-pointer.
I think that Billy Donovan (the guy that Billy Packer likes to call "Billy DUNIVIN") had much to do with that.
His candor, particularly his acknowledgement that mayyyyyy-beeeeeee isn't the best in the nation, but maybe rather the hottest lately (read: flavor of the month) was refreshing

The flavor of the month atmosphere which pervades college b-ball is what had me watching only 10 minutes of any game thru the first two weekends of my involvement in TORPEDO. But, then it was the Gators who had me believing in the goodness of the game once again.
Until it's time for me to forget about it again by the time the next Midnight Madness rolls around in Oct.

Oh, and the chocolate jimmies on this Gator sundae, well ... that would be Dickie V.'s continued exclusion from the Bsketball Hall of Fame. Whatever sanctity that the sport has remaining was not completely tarnished.
But, only for now.

The fascination with Dickie V.'s egg-shaped head and his egg-shaped nonsense of spittin' out six or seven catch-phrases ... it escapes me. That ain't Hall of Fame material ... and it ain't part of being "an ambassador for the sport."
It's repetitive schtick.
Acknowledging his "talent" is like licking the chocolate off the beater and saying, "Jeepers, this is good cake. It's swell."

So, to answer you question, America ... no, Joakim Noah did not have the best ponytail (boys division) in the postseason. That belonged to South Carolina's Renaldo Balkman, who you might've missed since he was playin' in the NIT.
Remember, America: Renaldo Balkman is not Rolando Blackman.
And, hide your old sofas and mattresses, America, because now that the Maryland Terrapins chicks (girls + turtles = "gur-tulls") are champions, there'll be something set ablaze in College Park tonight.
(Note: The women's game deserves our respect, America ... and while I recognize that appreciation for the sport does not equate to the joy of receiving five free cartons of smokes or a trip to Barbados, it gets some major props for the way that freshman Kristi Toliver sent the game to OT by fearlessly draining that game-tying trey over a girl nine inches taller than her ... and freshman Marissa Coleman bein' nuthin' but money when she's stroking free throws ... just somethin' to think about for next season when Gary Williams' Terps are absent-mindedly tossin' the pumpkin all over the arena and indiscriminately chucking up wayyyyyy-off-the-mark threes ...).

So, Joe Frickin' Lunardi can, as stated recently ... kiss my axe.