Almost St. Mart1n, The Car1bbean –

Number 1 1s a b1g deal 1n our soc1ety, and 1n sports 1t’s everything, but watch1ng the college hoops polls over the last few weeks 1t occurred to me that I could get r1ch bett1ng aga1nst the nat1on’s number 1 team 1mmed1ately after sa1d team reaches that vaunted pos1t1on.  P1ttsburgh d1dn’t want 1t, nor Wake, nor Duke, and 1t doesn’t look l1ke UConn w1ll be there next week anymore e1ther.  Nevertheless, we are fast approach1ng the heady days of March where madness f1lls the a1r, and I want to g1ve a shout out to my number 1 conference, the once proud and resurgent B1g East.  We may not be go1ng back to 1985 w1th three f1nal four teams, but r1ght now we’ve got three teams 1n the top ten and s1x 1n the top twenty-f1ve.  Wh1le the conference tourney, expanded from twelve to s1xteen teams th1s year, w1ll be exc1ting as all get out, the p1tched battles of conference brother against conference brother make 1t less likely that we’ll be return1ng eight teams to the b1g dance like last year.  There 1s however a very good chance we could end up w1th at least two number 1 seeds come select1on Sunday.  And 1’m go1ng to go out on a l1mb here and make my pred1ct1on now that R1ck P1t1no’s Lou1sville Card1nals w1ll be cutt1ng down the nets 1n early Apr1l after the fat lady has sung.

But back to number 1…

Lately we’ve been read1ng a lot 1n the New York Papers about Jerry Manuel’s mus1ngs on retool1ng the top of the batt1ng order and dropp1ng Jose Reyes, our number 1 spark plug, down 1n the order to the three hole, and 1nstall1ng very l1ttle c as the number 1 h1tter.  I’ve got to tell you folks, whether he does 1t or not, just the 1dea of 1t smacks of desperat1on to me.  To g1ve voice to the 1dea feels l1ke the complete wrong way to set the tone for the season for our New York Metropolitans who damn well better be env1sion1ng themselves as f1nish1ng September strong as the number 1 team 1n baseball.  See1ng themselves as the team that’s go1ng to roll r1ght into the post season on the back of baseball’s number 1 ace, Johan Santana.  That’s go1ng amass a w1n total of three d1g1ts start1ng with my new favorite number, 1, followed by another 1 and a zero after that, beh1nd baseball’s number 1 set-up man/closer combo of Putz & K-Rod, and that w1ll be led through the regular and post seasons, by our  1st ever season MVP, a man we call Carlos Beltran (or Bel-tran, 1f you’re the hated John Miller of ESPN).

F1nally, apropos of absolutely noth1ng, my number 1 gr1pe of the moment 1s th1s.  Accord1ng to the NTRA webs1te, I’ve learned that not a s1ngle 1 of the Kentucky Derby prep races w1ll be a1red on network or bas1c cable telev1s1on.  NBC will be hosting the 1st two legs of the Tr1ple Crown, and The Test of the Champ1on, The Belmont Stakes w1ll be on ABC.  But ABC’s s1ster network, ESPN, w1ll no longer br1ng us the C1tgo Road to the Kentucyky Derby.  No more Hammer1n’ Hank Goldberg’s G-d awful p1cks, no more Kenny Mayne’s boyish tw1nkle and rak1sh w1t, and no more Jean1ne Edwards, the thoroughbred f1ll1e of broadcast1ng I’d most l1ke to have 1n my barn, because well she’s hot and l1kes the pon1es.  I can’t p1ck my number 1 Derby hopeful by watch1ng the Wood, or the Bluegrass or the Flor1da Derby on YouTube!  I can’t, I won’t!  I need to watch these preps l1ve and on my new b1g screen.  W1thout gett1ng the feel of who’s l1kely to fall flat because they prepped 1n Duba1 this Spr1ng, or who’s matur1ng at just the r1ght time to peak com1ng 1nto the 1st Saturday 1n May, I m1ght as well spend all my t1me at the 1 dollar window, and that’s no way to earn enough money to spend freely on beer, Shackburgers, and s1lly we’re number 1 foam f1ngers at “Your Ad Here” Ballpark wh1le I watch the New York Mets start the 1st of an unheralded run of 11 World Ser1es w1ns, 1n as many years.

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