I don’t know why I filled out my NCAA bracket last night. The farther away I get from my former life, the less and less qualified I am to write in the names of the winners and losers. I used to spend the whole six or seven weeks following the Super Bowl watching nothing but college basketball. I watched every minute of every conference tournament. I recorded the selection show and poured over the newspaper articles. My bracket wasn’t always right, but it was always good.
Now, I have no clue. I can’t even pretend to know anything.
I watched about 20 minutes of a Texas-Baylor game a few weeks ago. That’s it. That’s the only college hoops I’ve watched all season. I have no idea how New Mexico is a #3 seed or how Wofford got in at all. I don’t know who Murray State’s played or whether K-State has great guards or a big front court. I have no idea.
But I’ve still filled out a bracket. Part of it is habit. Part of it is spring ritual. I’ve been faithfully filling out a bracket and watching the tournament for at least 25 or 26 years now. Usually it takes me two or three days.
I did it in about ten minutes at 9:45 last night. Not a good sign.
I won our family “Bracket Racket” five or six years in a row. But now I’m on a two year skid. Whitney unseated me two years ago and Carrie-Anne won it last year. I had intended for this year to be the year I regain my crown. But it’s not going to happen. I have no faith in my picks. But, for the record, here they are:
I’m going with Kansas, K-State, Kentucky, and Baylor in the Final Four. I’ve got an all-Wildcats final with Kentucky beating K-State in Indianapolis. There’s so much wrong with that, I don’t even know where to begin. Three Big XII teams in the Final Four is crazy. It’ll never happen. How could it? Kansas will probably choke somewhere along the way. They normally do. Rolando Blackman is no longer playing for K-State, I know. And is Baylor really going to beat Duke? Nevermind that. Is Baylor really going to beat Notre Dame this weekend? I know they don’t make sense, but there they are.
You should always pick at least one #12 seed to beat a #5, and mine is UTEP over Butler. I have Tennessee upsetting Georgetown for no real reason. And there’s no logic as to why I’ve picked the Aggies to beat Purdue. My picks just have to be better than Whitney’s and Carrie-Anne’s. That’s all.
What do we do about Ron Washington and the Texas Rangers? Why is the manager of the Texas Rangers the first manager or coach in professional sports history to fail a drug test? For cocaine? Why didn’t Nolan Ryan and Tom Hicks and Jon Daniels fire Washington when they found out about it last July?
Washington and the Rangers are telling us that this was Washington’s first ever time to experiment with cocaine. First time ever. I find that impossible to believe, don’t you? Major League Baseball randomly tests all its managers once per season. Cocaine only shows up in these tests for four or five days after use. After that, it reportedly can’t be detected. And the Rangers want us to believe the odds that the only time Washington was tested all year was within 72-hours of Washington’s first-ever experimentation with the drug?
Even if it’s true, how could the Rangers trust the organization’s decision-maker after he made the decision to use cocaine in the middle of the baseball season? I don’t get it.
The cynical part of me (when Myles Brand was the president of the NCAA, he told me to be a critic, not a cynic; sorry) believes that the Rangers didn’t fire Washington when they found out about this last July because they had just extended his contract a few weeks earlier. Hicks is out of money, MLB was floating the team loans just to cover payroll, and they couldn’t afford to fire Washington. They thought they could cover it up. They thought it would disappear. It was a money decision. It was a calculated PR move.
Now it’s too late. They can’t fire him now. They already made the decision to stick by him. And now the Rangers (including Josh Hamilton who admits to struggling with his various addictions every single day) are being managed by a guy who didn’t think it was crazy to use cocaine last July.
What do we do with that? I feel weird about Nolan Ryan today. He’s supposed to be above all this stuff.