Looking into the Sweet 16…and other things
BRING ON THE “SWEET 16″
We’ve had barely more than 24 hours to catch our breath and for the next six days our undivided attention moves back to college basketball as, by Tuesday night, the final four in both NCAA tournaments will be determined. Time to check the other sports before we get back to basketball, just to see if we’ve missed anything. NASCAR may be okay with the final lap incident between Denny Hamlin and Middletown’s Joey Logano that nearly turned into an all out brawl, declining punitive action with the opinion it was just good old fashion, good ol’ boy “racing to win” that the circuit encourages, but Logano and Hamlin aren’t okay with it. They traded text messages yesterday and by all accounts it didn’t go well. “Short and unproductive” was how Hamlin characterized the exchange, while Logano declined to be interviewed about the subject. It’s hard to believe just two weeks from today the Masters tees off at Augusta National. Tiger Woods may or may not be the #1 ranked golfer in the world when he takes aim at his 15th major championship. He is right now, claiming the ranking for the first time in two and a half years with a win at last week’s Arnold Palmer Bay Hill Invitational. Now Tiger goes into his annual two week hibernation in advance of the Masters to book an Augusta-like course all for himself, to play a few rounds, then even play a round or two at Augusta to get ready. Rory McIroy, meanwhile, can reclaim the #1 ranking with a win this week at the Houston Open, being played in a town outside Houston that, considering the status of Rory’s game so far this season, is appropriately named. Humble, Texas. Phil Mickleson loves the Houston Open, close to the hospital that treated his wife and his mother for cancer, so he’ll be there as well, adjusting his usual pre Masters schedule of taking this week off and playing the week before Augusta. Forbes Magazine’s annual listing of the most valuable sports franchises is out and once again the Yankees are the most valuable baseball team, but this year, at $2.3 billion, they move ahead of the Dallas Cowboys as the most valuable north American sports franchise. Not incorporated in those estimates is the Yankees opening day disabled list, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriquez, Mark Tiexeira, Curtis Granderson and, now, Phil Hughes, who will skip his first turn in the rotation to complete his rehab from a bulging disk with an extra minor league rehab start. For the first time the Forbes ratings take stadium and television network ownership more into consideration than the actual product on the field. I see where Bobby Valentine and Manny Ramirez are both on the USA Today short list of suggested replacements for Tim McCarver, who says this will be his last season on the FOX baseball telecasts. No need to comment, that’s a comment all it’s own. Now, the set up for the “Sweet 16″. West region 13th seed LaSalle plays 9th seed Witchita State to wrap up today’s first day of men’s regional semi final action and I must apologize to the Explorers. I’ve been referring to them as a “Cinderella” entry. Now they tell me, and everyone else, they don’t like the moniker, don’t deserve the moniker, don’t want it. They’ve been there before, Florida Gulf Coast hasn’t, the Eagles can have the glass slipper all to themselves. Now ready for the “Sweet 16″, I’m Scott Gray.