THE CITADEL, SC – So we’re down to the Sweet 16! Lots of chalk still left in the 2016 NCAA Tournament too. No George Masons or Florida Gulf Coasts this year. The ACC has claimed 6 of the 16 teams still standing. Talk about a power conference! Not since 1985’s Final Four field featured 3 teams from the Big East (Villanova, St. John’s, Georgetown) has a conference so dominated a single tournament.
Johnny Football’s alma mater has a basketball team! Who knew? Texas A&M survived only because the kids from Northern Iowa coughed up a 12 point lead with 35 seconds that literally caused me to lose sleep on Sunday night. It was heartbreaking to see the UNI kids unravel as they did.
When the brackets were announced earlier this month there was outrage that Syracuse was selected at all. The Orange had lost to St. John’s this year for crying out loud! Why not instead include smaller schools or mid-majors like Monmouth or Akron? What the hell do I know? I staked my fake reputation on my Final Four prediction which included Michigan State and West Virginia. I am a man with no credibility. The Cuse now has as good a shot to go to the Final Four as any of the other fifteens teams. Kansas though, should cruise from here on out.
President Obama, Major League Baseball – including Yankee Icon Derek Jeter – and ESPN traveled to Cuba this past weekend. MLB wanted the opportunity to promote the idea that through baseball anything was possible. As a result, Commissioner Rob Manfred announced plans for Baseball to be out front in normalizing relations not just with Cuba, but also for a few other locations too.
Sure, Cuba remains in every way a dictatorship; lack of basic freedoms, economic shortages and daily human rights violations are still the “norm.” The “thawing” of US-Cuban relations we’ve read about the past several months? Mostly that has meant that guys like Jose Abreu, Yoenis Cespedes and Yasiel Puig were really good at baseball and America wants more “thawing” like those guys.
Mr. Obama, Jeter and other MLB dignitaries brought lots of “pomp” to the unfortunate circumstances that remain for millions of oppressed “baseball fans” in Cuba. Speaking of dictators, Manfred and his missing front tooth now are trying to bring the “freedoms” that only superior bat speed can afford to other “free” countries.
Where next? MLB announced its plans to expand to Iran. Nothing says baseball and apple pie quite like state-sponsored terrorism. Yu Darvish, whose father is of Iranian descent will pitch and manage the Iranian Yellowcakes. No worries, Ahmadinejad has promised to do better.
North Korea is also on the expansion radar. Kim Jong-Un is said to be a huge baseball fan. He’s willing to ante up the expansion “buy-in” as long as he gets to choose which of his uncles gets beheaded if a player misses a sign in a close game. The Pyongyang War Heads will play an exciting brand of baseball that will surely make old-schoolers like WCC’s Goose Gossage proud.
So there you have it. Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Chevrolet.
Finally, I fake come to you today from Pat Conroy‘s alma mater, The Citadel, in honor of my favorite writer. Conroy, who died this month was a transcendent story teller and the finest wordsmith ever. Thanks Pat.
Comment below and tune in tomorrow for the 2nd Best Wordsmith Ever, Angry Ward.