Yippie yo. As of this writing we are five games into Baseball season. MLB has kicked off with a bang, on both sides of the ball. Some pitchers are hot, some hitters are hot and some stadiums won’t see a sell out this year (see: Progressive Field.) Either way, baseball season is back and that makes this baseball fan happy. Right now I’m watching ESPN 2 as they rotate around the league. Fun fun. So, on that note we’ll start off with some baseball new. Probably not the news you want though.
Rays Open 0-5, Manny Booed, Manny Benched
The Tampa Bay Rays, after dumping payroll and staff after winning the AL East last season, picked up Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon for basically pennies on the dollar. However, the full “what have you done for me lately” attitude of the fans was in full effect Tuesday night as Manny was booed during his at-bats, then subsequently benched the next day. What was he booed for? Well, apparently for just being Manny. He hasn’t been terrible – it’s only been five fucking games. As a long time Rays fan, since their inception in 1998, I am terribly embarrassed by the morons that barely filled the stadium during that game. A bunch of half-wits and poor baseball fans. Boo the Red Sox, sure. Boo the Yankees, but booing a single player for the performance of the team? Stupid.
In related news, the Red Sox have also opened up 0-4 (at the time of writing they are playing the Indians and losing.) While I’m happy about this, it doesn’t bode well for what is supposed to be the strongest division in baseball. Add to that Mariano Rivera snubbing the media because he had a bad game. He left the team to cover for him. C’mon man, good or bad game you gotta face the media. It’s part of the job. You are part of the team. You want my early predictions for the World Series? I’m going Twins and Cubs. That’s right. You heard it here first. Twins and Cubs.
Butler Loses to UConn in Lamest National Championship Game Ever
For the first time in history, a team in the NCAA Men’s National Championship game failed to score over 50 points. The final score was 53-41. That would be Butler, as they failed to repeat, or to even compete at a high level against the Huskies. Conversely, UConn sucked too. Neither team was making shots, even though they were getting good looks. Butler only had six turnovers, but were terrible from the foul line and held to only two freaking points within the paint. The only reason UConn won was because of their depth on the bench and their length on the court.
Neither defense was outstanding either. Sure, UConn was a bit more stifling as far as pressure, but Butler was just missing shots left and right. I think this had more to do with just being plain worn out from the tournament to that point. VCU, underdogs or not, was not an easy team to beat. Butler was worn down by the time they tipped off well after 9pm EST on Monday night. UConn took advantage of that late in the game with defensive pressure on the tired Butler offense.
This stinker of a game raises another argument about the intense and hurried schedule of the tournament. While a days rest is normal between games in the regular season, a days rest after a near non-stop tournament in multiple locations might not be enough. That argument falls flat though when you consider the game last year. Basically, I think fans would have liked to see more out of both teams in the national championship game, but they were clearly winded from the tournament. Good on UConn on pushing forward and taking the title.
Meanwhile, the Women Were Scoring
Over in the women’s basketball division, they were actually scoring baskets. The Texas A&M Aggies won 76-70 over Notre Dame in an exciting back and forth battle that made the men’s championship game look like a pick-up game in an elementary school playground. Senior Danielle Adams scored 30 points in what was essentially a road game for the Aggies, the tournament final being held in Indianapolis.
Sadly, the television numbers were no where near what they were for the men’s tourney, though A&M coach Gary Blair thinks that women’s basketball is ripe for proper marketing, if only someone would step up and market it correctly.
“We need to spend money to make money, and a lot of programs do not do that,” Blair said. “They will not put enough money into women’s basketball. Women’s basketball grows in so many ways besides the dollar bill.”
He’s noticed a few signs of women’s basketball gaining prominence at his school. “You know, it’s sort of funny, spring football is going on at the same time,” he said. “Our baseball team is very, very good. They just changed the start of the baseball game on Tuesday night to 5 because we were going to be on TV at 7. Could you picture that happening?”
If women’s basketball was marketed and televised as much as the men’s game – would you watch it? At the college level of course. Watching the WNBA is akin to watching a hair salon get swept out in the evening.