If Only

If only.
I had ESPN radio on on this morning, for some bizarre reason. I had to make an emergency trip to a location 500 miles away, then turn around and drive another 120 until I collapsed in a motel room in the middle of nowhere which, because it was the only one in town that look like it didn’t have large rats as residents, managed to get 86 bucks out of me for a room that I used for exactly eight hours, until I was on the road again this morning. I guess my brain was a little fuzzy.

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Mike Schmidt’s observations on barry bonds

barry bonds. I refuse to capitalize his name. If you’re a bonds fan, delete this email, or move on if you surfed here. You ain’t gonna like what i have to say.
barry bonds broke into the major leagues with the Pittsburgh Pirates way back in 1986. He graced the Pirates fans for seven years before the underfunded club could no longer afford his services. bonds signed as a free agent for San Francisco in 1993.
Now you bonds lovers (and there is no middle ground with this athlete. You’re either on one side of the fence, or the other) will ignore the cold-hearted arrogance of this person. He shuns the media, therefore his apologists point to reports of his attempted intimidation of sportswriters and his accusations of other team members’ slipping of drugs into his system as revenge by the shunned. Whatever.

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Baseball Almanac

Well, spring training is in full operation at presstime. The wealthy teams have spent lots of bucks, and the not-so-wealthy ones have ponied up quite a few themselves. The (I love saying this) World Champion St. Louis Cardinals are looking to repeat with more hitting power, but with a very young and/or surgically engineered pitching staff. Their division rivals the Cubs spent an astronomical amount of money to engineer a new team for new manager Lou Piniella. Barry Bonds, barring injury, will probably break Hank Aaron’s home run record. Will anyone living 200 miles or more from San Francisco (including baseball’s commissioner) care? Or if they do care, will they be happy? Will anyone doubt that Hank will still be viewed as a classy gentleman, a title Bonds will never attain?
As you can see, anticipation is strong. The new season is nearly upon us.

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SI.com’s Men’s College Basketball

Well, it’s finally here: the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
It’s what we would like college football to be: a playoff with the crowning of an undisputed champion. It’s simply competitive perfection.
The best way to get here is to win your conference. Failing that, you have to run up an impressive record against a majority of capable opponents. Schedule creampuffs to beat up on and gain lots of victories, you’ll be weeded out.
The potential for upsets and upstarts is excellent. Last year, little James Madison made it to the Final Four! What a great story. And at presstime, perennial championship contender was knocked out in the first round by Virginia Commonwealth! A shame for Coach K’s young squad, but a great sports story.

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NCAA Men’s Basketball

I have to confess that I’m not the world’s biggest college basketball fan. But I get interested this time of year.
Conferences are starting to get close to their championship rounds. The speculation is running rampant about who’s in the NCAA tournament, who’s out, and who’s on that most dreaded of places, the bubble.
Hopefully, this year, some of the more maligned conferences will get their due. The Missouri Valley Conference, generally overlooked, should get three invites this year. I say SHOULD, they probably won’t. Instead, the SEC, steeped in mediocrity after you get past Florida, Kentucky, and, surprisingly, Vanderbilt, will likely get their usual five or six spots.

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