Monday, March 17, 2008


I've decided to postpone my baseball season picks until Sunday. It's not that I haven't finished them...they're done, just waiting to be put out there. It's just that there's something else that's occupying my mind this week.
As far as anticipation goes, nothing beats the first week of the NCAA Tournament. I love it. Tomorrow I'll get into just how much I love it. This week also comes with a warning/pleading: Please don't lose respect for me. You already know I'm a little bit crazy.

The first thing you need to understand is that I'm a creature of habit. And one of my habits is filling out the NCAA bracket in the New York Daily News. So every year at this time, the race is on to find a Daily News near here (in Framingham, Massachusetts) to fill out my bracket. Tonight, on my way home from work (en route to the best corned beef and cabbage in the world courtesy of The Wife - Happy St. Patrick's Day, incidentally), I stopped at a supermarket with lots of different newspapers (no dice), a CVS in Sudbury (no dice), and the CVS right here in Framingham. There, buried beneath about five New York Posts, was Monday's Daily News. Fantastic.

I have one more mission before Thursday (and in recent years this has carried over into Friday and sometimes Saturday) - I need to get my hands on a Sports Illustrated for this week. Ever since I cancelled my subscription, this has been a problem. Used to be I'd get this SI in the mail on Tuesday, well in advance of Thursday's noon tip-off. Now, I have to hunt down the tournament edition. Why, you ask? So I can keep track of the tournament winners and losers, and then I fold the SI pullout section around my picks. (In addition to the original bracket from the Daily News, I usually make myself a shrunken copy of my picks to carry around in my pocket.)

I will join a pool or two - but it's always the same bracket, just in case you were wondering. I'd drive myself nuts if I tried to keep track of more than one.

Now, believe it or not, I don't have a system for picking games. I just pick based on gut instinct. And as you'll see tomorrow, that hasn't brought me a lot of success in the past. So this year, I'm going to develop a system. As soon as I finish this, it's off to the papers to try to figure out a formula for success. And on Wednesday, I'll let you know what we're rooting for, and why.

Tomorrow, you'll lose any remaining respect you have for me.

WHY I PLAY FANTASY SPORTS: As you know, I play fantasy NASCAR (this is my 2nd year), and now fantasy golf (in my first year). I'm not doing very well in either right now, but the reason I'm playing has been accomplished. The NASCAR reason was twofold - to learn more about the sport, and to while away the Sundays between football and baseball. Both have been accomplished.

For golf, it was something I thought I'd be good at (not yet), but it has also allowed me to follow the sport closer than I ever have. And as a result, I witnessed one of the most outstanding sporting events I've ever seen on Sunday. Not unbelievable or the greatest ever, mind you, but just an outstanding performance.

I've been following tournaments closely through the weekend these days - from Thursday all the way through to Sunday. Usually I'm lucky enough to have a rooting interest. Well, this week my rooting interest was to root against Tiger Woods - it was a calculated gamble that I won't get into right now. (And obviously, it didn't pay off.) Woods trailed by nine shots after Thursday (I think), cut into that on Friday, and was a co-leader after Saturday. He took the lead, and was tied on the final hole on Sunday. A par would force a playoff, and a birdie would win the tournament - keeping him undefeated for the season. You just look at Tiger, on a course where people haven't hit their putts all weekend, and you knew he was going to sink it. And it was a tough putt. And sure enough, he sinks it. There is no other athlete in any other sport right now who is that clutch. No one. It was a signature moment. And last year I wouldn't even have noticed it.

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