Look at all the madness of March
My version of March Madness isn't just the NCAA basketball tournament. It includes that, but it's so much more. This is a great sports time Ñ with spring training under way, the heat turned up on the race for NBA playoff positioning and hockey playoffs near.
Allow me to share:
nDo you care about the NCAA tourney? Television ratings say you do, but as I inquire around these parts, I get a lot of negative reaction. Without a team to follow, and with teams on the national level so bereft of big-name stars, people don't seem as cranked up as they used to be.
nBefore the era when players Ñ and I don't blame them, by the way Ñ started leaving early for the NBA, we had four seasons to learn the names of all the starters at U-Conn and Duke. We could name the top players from all the top 10 teams.
How many people can do that today?
nI'm just guessing that your office didn't have an NIT bracket pool. I'm guessing, in fact, your office couldn't even find a bracket.
nIf the Blazers stumble into the playoffs, they'll owe it to Damon Stoudamire. I have all the admiration in the world for what Theo Ratliff has done Ñ he's turned a horrible defensive team into a passable one.
But Stoudamire has carried the Blazers on his back since Rasheed Wallace left. Someone else is going to have to step forward on the offensive end soon, though, because smart teams are going to make someone else shoot the ball late in games. And with Portland's offensive breakdowns, that's not a difficult thing to do.
Losing that eighth spot to Denver would be one thing, but losing it to Utah would be quite another.
It's embarrassing for the Blazers that they're anywhere near the Jazz in the standings. Compare the rosters and find me a rationale for Portland to be battling the Jazz for a playoff berth.
I know that the eastern media will probably carry Hubie Brown to the coach of the year award, but for me, Jerry Sloan is the man. This was a team a lot of smart people said couldn't win 20 games. But Sloan has done such a wonderful job of milking every last ounce of talent from his feeble roster, it makes you wonder:
How good would John Stockton and Karl Malone have been on another team? Taking nothing away from these two future Hall of Famers, but no one is better at assessing his players' strengths and making the most of them Ñ while hiding their weaknesses.
nPGE Park. Portland Family Entertainment. Mark Schuster. Jack Cain. Vera Katz. The Portland Beavers. The Portland Timbers. The Pacific Coast League.
OK, those are pretty much the major role players in that drama north of the Multnomah Athletic Club. You want an explanation from me? I don't have it. I don't understand why PFE can't pay its back rent. Why the mayor can't make them. If PFE won't pay back rent, why does Schuster still have an office in the ballpark? What role has the league played in all this? Why can't the mayor get it solved so she can move on to what will erase the entire problem Ñ acquiring the Montreal Expos?
Please, can't we all just play ball?