This news will be a little old by the time you get around to reading it, but the North Carolina Tar Heels were crowned NCAA champions last Monday after they beat the Gonzaga Bulldogs 71-65. I didn’t have much interest invested in the game seeing as my bracket had been busted since day two of the tourney, but I have to say that this was probably one of least memorable March Madness experiences of my lifetime.
There weren’t really any incredibly shocking upsets (unless you count 8 Wisconsin over 1 Villanova in the second round, but those teams were a lot closer in skill than their seeding would suggest) and I only feel like I’m going to remember three of the games a year from now: URI’s epic choke job against Oregon that sent my entire home state into a spiral of depression, UNC’s pitched battle with Kentucky in the Elite Eight and Florida’s Dwyane Wade-esque buzzer beating-victory over Wisconsin (just to make sure he gets his due credit, it was Chris Chiozza, not Wade, who hit the shot).
I was really hoping that Gonzaga could pull off the win in the championship game so they could finally shed their image of overrated tournament underachievers and keep an uninspiring traditional powerhouse like North Carolina from taking down the nets, but we couldn’t even get that. Maybe Joe will finally start agreeing with me that the NBA is better.
Good God, man! Sam Dyson, the closer for the Texas Rangers, has been one of the most effective relief pitchers in baseball over the past two seasons, a ground ball artist who compiled a 2.53 ERA over 145.2 innings in a hitter’s ballpark. But unfortunately, his name is not Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman or Aroldis Chapman, which means that like the 99 percent of other relievers out there, you can expect his performance to be extremely volatile. That’s been the case so far in the young 2017 season, which has already seen Dyson blow his first two save opportunities of the year: the first by giving up four hits and three runs and the second by coughing up five runs in just a third of an inning.
I’m always one for remaining calm in April crises, but the Rangers were one of the most outrageously overperforming teams in MLB last year according to their run differential and Pythagorean Win-Loss record, and they owed much of that success to a rock-solid bullpen. If they want to have any chance of competing against the Astros this year, they’re going to need Dyson and his ilk to really step up their games. Oh, and just for the lulz, the Vacuum Man’s ERA currently sits at 72.00.
Where Have You Gone, Tiger Woods?
I was singing that headline to the tune of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” in case you were wondering, specifically that part about Joe DiMaggio. I always feel pretty guilty about missing Tiger given what a deplorable human being he is in his private life, but damn it if I wouldn’t like to see him in that iconic red polo on Sunday in Augusta again. Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, those guys are all great players to be sure. But I don’t know if we’ll ever see another golfer as dominant and exciting as Woods was in his prime, and that’s a sad thing to admit. I’ve long ago given up hope that Tiger can get to magical 18 (major victories) and tie Jack Nicklaus’s record, but is it really too much to ask for just one more?