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Friday, April 12, 2013


Every year Cinderella makes it to the ball, but it’s hard to dance wearing only one shoe. People love to root for the underdog, and then when the underdog wins they’re left with a bracket sheet suitable for doggy’s house-training. Those number two and three seeds fell like hotcakes in the first & second rounds.  You probably think I mixed up my metaphors when I mention the hotcakes but you’ve never seen me make breakfast.

By the way don’t you think Cinderella was brave to wear glass slipper? If it breaks the handsome prince is going to get grossed out by all the blood. Also unrelated: Did you ever drink champagne from a ladies shoe as a gesture of adoration? I tried it just to see without telling my wife; it was cheap champagne so the flavor was actually enhanced, but she complained about her wet shoe and I had to make something up that was even worse than the champagne. Next time I want to get romantic I’m going to make a bong out of it instead.

Anyway, everybody’s brackets were toast by the second weekend of the tournament. Ironically the shooting percentage of people hitting the wastepaper basket with their crumpled bracket sheets far exceeded that of players on the favored teams. MY prognostications, however, stood up remarkably well. I don’t like to toot my own horn unless my wife is away for the weekend, but three of my Final Four teams are in, the only one I missed being Wichita State. 14 people chose Wichita State in the semis, all moms whose sons are on the team.

March is a great time for lesser-known schools to do some much needed public relations. For instance, the last time Wichita was mentioned out loud was in 1968 during a Glen Campbell song. The school is called Wichita State, but which state? Both Texas and Kansas have Wichita Counties.

FGC hit the sports pages with stunning upsets over Georgetown and San Diego State. The school is located on the beach, and the coach is married to a former Maxim Magazine cover model. By the way, FGC stands for “Florida Golf Course.”

Then of course there are the team nicknames: some teams are named for birds, such as the Lousville Cardinals or Creighton Blue Jays. A St. Louis player is known as a “Billiken.” I’m not sure what that is, but I think I was almost attacked by one in Key West one time. St. Mary’s missed the perfect opportunity to call their team the Virgins, and settled for the Gaels instead. So many teams were named the “Tigers” that the things couldn’t possibly be endangered. Southern University fields the “Jaguars,” named after the car.

The “feel good” story of the tournament was undoubtedly the aftermath of the compound fracture to Louisville player Kevin Ware, although it probably didn’t “feel good” to him. The injury was gruesome, but his courage during the mishap showed what he was made of. Next time I don’t really need to SEE what he was made of, you could just tell me about it.

This year there were a lot of teams that realized that they were not going to get too deep into the tournament, and decided to make a big splash based on the ugliness of their uniforms. One team (it was not Army) sported a camouflage motif, as if an enemy might suddenly attack and possibly control a strategically located basketball arena. Other squads, probably with an athletic director that went to college during the ‘70s, opted for “day-glo” colors, which look particularly groovy under an ultraviolet light. These uniforms are best enjoyed in conjunction with a bag of Fritos, a Jimi Hendrix poster, and about an ounce of pot. One team, I think it was Cincinnati, debuted an outfit that looked like the players had jumped into a vat of mucilage then rolled around on the floor after a New Year’s Eve party. I was at a New Year’s Eve party this year, but I steered clear of the mucilage vat.

Incidentally, the sports team nickname for my alma mater, Syracuse, is the “Orange.” During the reign of Netherland’s King William III of the House of Orange, Albany, New York was known as Fort Orange. Nassau, Bahamas and Nassau, Long Island were also named in honor of his family’s heritage. On behalf of his wife, Queen Mary, the College of William and Mary was also endowed in 1683, the second oldest American college. Syracuse apparently had nothing to do with any of that, they just liked the color.

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