Sunday, March 30, 2014

Opening Day and whatnot

My Sports Illustrated arrived Thursday, bringing with it its annual baseball preview.

So, like I've done for the past 46 years (that's how long I've been a subscriber — since my junior year in high school), I immediately turned to the scouting report for the Philadelphia Phillies — my favorite team.

I knew right off it wasn't going to be good.

I didn't expect it to be abysmal.

The Phillies are old and they haven't done much to improve themselves. They still have a decent pitching staff with the likes of Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and A.J. Burnett, but aging swatters like Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley more closely resemble tributes to Throwback Thursday than legitimate contenders who won the World Series in 2008.

In fact, SI ranked the Phillies No. 13 out of the 15 National League teams, better only than the Marlins and the Cubs. The Phils are expected to finish 29 games out of first place, meaning they'll be out of the pennant race sometime in late August. The reality is that they'll never be in the pennant race at all this year.

I know I'm in Braves' country, but SI has the Braves finishing in second place behind the Nationals, 12 games out.

Methinks it's going to be a long, hot summer for a lot of us.

The good news about all this bad news is that a slew of good baseball movies is on television right now. One of my all-time favorites is Bull Durham, which has been showing up regularly on one of my premium stations.

For all you lollygaggers, this is one of my favorite scenes from the flick:

This should be one of my favorite times of the year, come to think of it.

However, I've been looking at my NCAA brackets and, well, they're starting to look like scouting reports for the Phillies.

I filled out three brackets this year and picked Florida to win in two of them. But picking the winner isn't the key — picking the upsets along the way is what keeps brackets alive

I thought I was doing well early on when I picked Dayton over Ohio State in one bracket and Mercer over Duke in another, but I couldn't maintain that kind of momentum. So right now, heading into today's games, only Florida is in the Final Four. One of my finalists — Louisville — is gone.

Sigh. The only hope I have left to salvage my spring is The Masters. At least the azaleas never let me down.

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