Saturday, March 18, 2006

It's a Madhouse!

I'm in DC for the weekend visiting my friends Jesse and Elana Mendelson. Jesse has demanded a shoutout in this entry. Well, there you see it, his name has appeared twice so far. I think that about covers that.

Speaking of DC, I've been meaning to commend the Nationals on their recently revealed stadium plans. It seems they've listened to my complaints that every new park is the same these days. While it appears that it has the basic "retro" shape, they'll be going with an exterior look that matches the DC monuments (e.g. white stone) as opposed to the generic red brick that teams think is so fascinating and thrilling.

Well that was a boring paragraph.

So we're looking at Cuba and Japan in the WBC finals. This is why I think the WBC is a little silly. I think it is particularly unfortunate that Korea has already beaten Japan twice in this tournament, but tonight's loss sends Korea home and Japan on to the ultimate game that will forever determine baseball supremacy on the planet earth l'olam va'ed. Yes, I think Japanese baseball is genuinely ahead of Korean baseball. But let's keep this thing internally consistent. If we're going to have this thing and go through some motions of taking it as an indicator of baseball achievement, don't let a team lose 2 of 3 to another team but advance while that other team gets sent packing.

I can't say I particularly care about the outcome of the final game, especially since a grand total of one major leaguer will appear in it. You have to wonder if MLB is a little unhappy with this final matchup. This tournament was designed to increase interest in baseball internationally, but Japan is pretty far along in that regard and Cuban players are (for now at least) largely off limits to major league teams. But what the hell do I know? I'm just the stupid doorman.

I haven't written about March Madness yet. My mother mentioned to me that she heard the stat they trot out every year about the loss in workplace productivity, and then asked, "you don't do that, do you?" Emphasis on the first "you," implying, "you, my intelligent son, whom I know already compiles phony teams of baseball players in some odd competition with his friends, don't further waste your time by taking guesses on which college basketball teams will win games in some tournament and placing money on those games...right?" Since I've been in a pool in most of the last ten years, I have to question my mother's skills a mother for having to ask this question. So yes, of course I participate, as should any male who has even a passing in sporting events.

I love the excuse that some people give that they don't enter pools because "I don't really follow college basketball." Well, as somebody with great proficiency at reciting the entire George Mason roster...yeah right. People, I've got news for you: Not that many people follow college basketball that closely until March. Are you expecting that you'll unsuspectingly join a pool full of 20 Billy Packers, all lurking to take your money by way of their vast college basketball acumen? Well let me tell you something.

There are three types in a tourney pool. You have your couple of real college ball guys, the ones who really know what's going on. Paradoxically, these guys usually are the ones who have lost no fewer than 4 of their Elite Eight teams and one Final Four team by Saturday night. Then you've got your total guessers. These people admit they don't know, they don't care, they're in this for the fun of it and have no qualms filling out their bracket totally at random on Thursday morning. It is not uncommon for somebody like this to win the whole damn pool. And it's often a girl. Bad enough they give us boys cooties, now they have to win our tournament pools as well?

If there's any justice the winner will emerge from the third category, which is by far the biggest. These are your fakers. I put myself in this category. The fakers are the ones who aren't following that closely all year and then suddenly perk up during conference championship week, hoping to pick up enough tidbits on TV and ESPN articles to (a) get a leg up in picking upsets and, most importantly, (b) sound smart when they're talking to people about the tourney. "Oh yeah, Allan Ray's eye injury, you can't like that for 'Nova. The Wildcats sure must be ticked off. Yeah, sucks to be their head coach Jay Wright right now." Fakers also like to put up smokescreens to their ignorance by bringing up famous, obvious moments from past tournaments that they stupidly think will fool others into thinking they are college basketball historians. "Hey, you never know who could be this year's Valpo. There's a Bryce Drew lurking somewhere, there always is." "And don't count out those 15 seeds - don't forget Coppin State in '97" If a faker is lucky nobody will ask him a follow up question like, "Who do you think is the strongest bench option for Pitt?" Such a question is far too much for a faker to be able to answer from his one week of half assed research. A faker, when confronted with such a question, can do three things. He can try to answer. This is stupid. The faker can't answer, the faker is an ignoramous. That's why he's a faker. He can change the subject to a safe faker subject. "Well I don't know, but the real question is how good is Duke - isn't Coach K something?" Finally, he can throw something at the questioner, thereby giving himself time to run away. I don't want to take a position, but I think you all know which route I find to be most attractive.


Blogger The Fades said...

a brilliant and analytical look at march madness.

3:50 PM  

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