Thursday, March 20, 2008

Round One: Sting Rays 1, Humans 0

You know it's gonna be a great NCAA Tournament when you're not bothering to watch the early opening-round games and, instead, you're at the drive-up window at the bank and you're humming along as the car stereo blasts "Fred" (what they call XM 44) playin' "Bikini Girls With Machine Guns" by the Cramps.

Everything's cool once you assure the teller behind the bullet-proof glass that A) You are not a bikini girl and B) You do not have a machine gun. (And, while you're at it, you'd better complete the thought by adding that you don't have cramps -- leg and/or menstrual -- and that the Cramps were mighty mediocre in their era 25-30 years ago, but they did have their moments ... )

Speaking of "having their moments" (in addition to being mighty mediocre), that's what's at stake for all the kids in the tourney -- "One Shining Moment" (to help ease the sting of that mighty mediocrity).

Everybody knows that these first two days of the tourney are the merging of the bizarre and the impractical ... and that the opening rounds are a basketball equivalent of college football's Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl which we watched as kids (although history will probably forever marginalize the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl ... that's the buzzword of 2007/2008/2009 ... "marginalize").

Sadly, America's first-round experience of '08 will be marred forever -- and not because many Americans (after humming along to "Bikini Girls With Machine Guns") were bummed out by that 5-minute "look-in" of Temple's Dionte Christmas (20 ppg this season) doin' squat against the university where some of our wives earned their Master's degree.

No, it was sometime after that when we remember exactly where we were (not far from the TV at work) and exactly what we were doing (other than actual work) when we learned that a Michigan woman died in the Florida keys near Marathon, Fla. when a 75-lb. spotted eagle sting ray with a wingspan of five to six feet leaped out of the water and hit her in the face.

The obvious question is whether or not a machine gun could've saved the life of this presumably-bikini-clad woman.

Death by a flying sting ray ... a spotted eagle sting ray which may've (or may not've) been lashing out against humankind in protest of an NCAA regional played in a city (Tampa) in which the MLB team recently changed it's name from "Devil Rays" to merely "Rays" while switching the logo from a sting ray to more of a "sun ray" depiction.

We know so precious little about aquatic eco-systems and what goes through the minds of the inhabitants of said eco-systems, but, that poor gal's loved ones can take some comfort in the Book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 9, Verse 12: "For man also knoweth not his time: as the run-of-the-mill sting rays that are taken in an evil net and as 75-lb. spotted eagle sting rays with a wingspan of 5-6 ft. that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them ... "

True ... the denial-yielding-to-rage-yielding-to-grief-yielding-to-acceptance made it extremely difficult for those of us in the La-Z-Boy District to get fired up about seeing our favorite player -- 7-foot senior Jamie Smalligan of Wuss Virginia -- mixing it up with various Arizona Wildcats.

Jamie Smalligan, as usual, got the job done in his traditional 7-foot Jamie Smalligan fashion (17 minutes, missed a, missed a 3-ball, grabbed 2 rebounds, had 2 assists, picked up 3 fouls) ... but, sadly, that does nothing to ease the pain of the sting ray's murder/suicide mission (yes ... the fish died, too).

We couldn't even muster up enough outrage at that paltry performance put forth by the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils (0-8 to begin the season ... wins vs. two intramural teams -- "Beethoven" and "Dillard's Department Store" ... then, three more losses for a 2-11 record) in that 70-29 loss to UCLA.

It seemed like the type of yawner which pretty much symbolizes the null-n'-voidness of a 64-team field which is assembled with such flimsy, faulty criteria.

Since some of us two-time NCAA pool champions ('97 and '06) used the denture-cream approach to bracketology ("Fixodent and forget it!"), there's no pressure whatsoever.

That's Fixodentology for ya.

Oh, wait a sec ... the teams that Jerry Rice's alma mater defeated were actually "Belhaven" (not Beethoven) and simply "Dillard" (not Dillard's Dept. Store).

Same diff.

Anyway, the best part of missing any NCAA tournament is that what ya miss on CBS' live coverage, you'll get in a less-than-15-seconds highlight package on Disney's Espy Channel. (That's never been explained fully ... why, if you're away from your TV during the live broadcast, all ya get is that super-skimpy highlights package later. BUT, WAIT! Digger and Dickie V. will spend 5-7 minutes previewing the next opponent!)

Usually, it's best to answer in the following manner when somebody asks, "So, how are your brackets shaping up?"
Smart reply: "Please ... I don't want to get involved."

At this time of year, it's difficult to remain focused -- not because there are too many games, but more because sting rays are victimizing good Americans by kamikazing them while they sunbathe w/o their machine guns at the ready.

Frankly, it's amazing that there hasn't been an announcement that tomorrow's games are postponed so that we may mourn the death of the sting ray and/or the woman from Michigan.

And, it's amazing that we haven't seen/heard anything from Herb Kirkstreit about how Michigan will retire the number of the sting ray sometime during the upcoming season.

Another terrible start to the tourney.

The only way to feel better about matters would be if, right now, we saw that feel-good TV spot from Sheraton wherein that gay guy wearing Sorrycuse gear as he sits at the bar uses his bare hand to wipe the ranch (or bleu cheese) dressing from his moustache of his lover, who is wearing Georgeclown gear.

America needs that commercial ... now more than ever ...

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