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As someone who follows college and pro sports, you know we're entering a time of the year in terms of activity and excitement that can only be replicated (arguably) in October. What's on tap, you ask? MLB teams are loosening up in Florida and Arizona; the NFL Draft happens late next month, while free agency (Peyton Manning) is underway; the NHL and NBA are closing in on playoff match-ups; and perhaps the mecca of all madness...the NCAA basketball tournament is here!
Apparently there are also some horse races and tennis matches worth talking about, but we'll leave that for another day. And yes, the (L)PGA is probably heating up as well, but I have to stand by my long-held position here by recognizing that golf is an activity or hobby, not a sport. There's no running or sweating, therefore, not a sport. Also see: billiards.
The Peyton train most recently made a full-day stop in Nashville, Tennessee where the Titans apparently made their case as to why one of the league's most prolific passers and game managers of all-time should end his career with a “T” on his helmet. True, Peyton attended Tennessee as a college quarterback and enjoyed great success there. Dozens of fans hung outside of LP Field with signs aimed at reminding him of these roots.
But last week it was Denver and Arizona who successfully hosted this year's free agency standout, each said to be the "most desirable" thus far. Arizona almost just doesn't seem worthy, much like when Emmit Smith ended his career as a Cardinal. I suppose they did almost win a Super Bowl in recent years, but that still doesn't automatically do away with the other 20-something pathetic seasons. And Denver? What about Tebow Time, the magical playoff run (1 win), thin air and the cold, cold weather?
Miami seemed to be the logical suitor as of only a week ago, especially after Manning wisely stated he had no intention of becoming another one of Dan Snyder's overpaid, hapless Redskins (sorry, DC). And why shouldn't the Dolphins be the frontrunners? They haven't has a consistent starter since fiend and idol Dan Marino led the team to the playoffs every year. And the weather is warm, which is good for old people and injuries. Yes, hopefully the Peyton train will keep heading in a southeasterly direction in time for Matt Moore, who did have a decent season for the 'Phins and could continue learning from a legend like Manning, to resume his role as backup QB while dishing the ball to speedsters Davone Bess and Reggie Bush.
There's reason for some excitement in DC this spring training as the Nationals are sporting some young and powerful talent. The Davey Johnson-led club wisely locked up surprise offensive juggernaut of the 2011 season, Michael Morse (33 HRs, .303 BA). Joining the heavy-hitting Morse and Ryan Zimmerman, who has become the face of the organization, is 19-yr old Bryce Harper, whom the Nats landed with the first pick in the 2010 draft. Harper has been talked about—a lot. While young and sometimes dumb, the catcher-turned-outfielder is reportedly displaying an impressive work ethic to go along with blazing speed and one helluva arm. The Justin Bieber of baseball could very well end up on the opening day roster, rather than in triple A-ball where some within the club think he should spend some time.
The high-priced Jayson Werth returns to the outfield with higher hopes of reliving his Philly stats, while perhaps the next truly great pitcher in all of baseball, Stephen Strasburg, returns to the mound after a 2011 season mostly spent rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. These here Nats are looking and sounding better than the NL East basement dwellers we've become used to, so get into DC for some inspired—and relatively inexpensive—MLB action!
NCAA March Madness
Bracketville! Your guess is as good as mine.
All I will say is that, yes—it's fun to try and guess the upsets, and a #12 will most likely beat a #5 somewhere in the mix. Just don't pick every #12 to beat every #5, because that ain't happening. Let's face it: We've all got about a one in a gazillion chance of nailing our brackets, so don't fret too much over every pick. Simply make sure you've got a modest number of upsets while also making sure you have at least a few of these squads (UNC, Kentucky, Syracuse, Michigan St., Baylor, Ohio St., Missouri, Kansas) going deep.