At the outset, let me reiterate a position I have steadfastly maintained since beginning this stupid blog some 2 years ago or so. Division I Men's sports is a cesspool. Men's basketball is the heavy sludge at the bottom of the cesspool.
Despite that fact, there I was Friday night sitting in a bar in West Little Rock with my brother John, some genius financial analyst (No lie. The guy makes a high 6 figure income writing a financial newsletter for one of the local banks. Works an hour a day. Really.) and some leggy brunette of unknown provenance who decided to sit with us because she coveted my french fries.
I am not making this up.
John gave me the "head's up" that she was coming over.
John: " I think she likes you."
Me: " She looks like nothing but trouble."
John: "Yeah? And your point would be?"
Me: " I don't do trouble anymore"
John, as he recoiled in mock surprise: " Since when?"
Since a long time actually. I am practically monastic nowadays. It's just easier.
Anyway, this motley crew was united only by our thirst for adult beverages and the NCAA basketball tournament that was playing on all 3 flat screen TVs there in the tavern. Vanderbilt (of all people) was giving Georgetown-the number two seed in that region- absolute hell. It was great fun.
My buddy Don-whose eccentric musings may be read at http://www.polycarpblog.blogspot.com/ -went to college at Vanderbilt. And so, throughout the game, I would receive periodic messages from him as the Commodores threatened to upset the Hoyas. Now Don knows his football but he would be the first to tell you that he knows next to nothing about basketball. This puts him in quite the tenuous position socially as he now lives in Chapel Hill. Anyway, up until last night about all that he has allowed about Vanderbilt is that he thinks it is silly to have a sailor as your team mascot. But there he was, with his nose to the tube watching the Sailors scare the bejeesus out of Georgetown.
Despite the fact that Don is pretty ignorant when it comes to all things hoops he is responsible for singlehandedly blowing one of the best runs of luck I have ever had in an NCAA tournament office pool. The story goes something like this.
About 18-20 years ago, way before the advent of "the Internets" (to use Houston Nutt's felicitous phrase), Don worked in one of those huge law firms in Los Angeles. As you might imagine, when tournament time came around they had quite a good sized office pool with a potential grand prize of around 5 grand or something. So, since there was big money at stake, Don turned to me for guidance.
This was the year that I hit 3 of the 4 eventual entries in the Final Four. If memory serves, the Final Four that year was like a CYO invitational with Georgetown, St. John's and Villanova all vying for the title. Anyway, I won a considerable amount of money here locally and, as it turned out, Don and I won the pool at his office.
Unbeknownst to me, Don's ex-wife got wind of this bonanza and seized the winnings for child support.
" But half that money's mine!" I yelled into the phone after he had broke the bad news.
" Yeah, well.." he replied. " How are you going to enforce it? I don't know a state in the Union where a gambling contract is enforceable. Sorry, Bud."
2500 bucks goes flying out the window and all I get is "Sorry, Bud."
Such is life.
Another memorable tournament was the year that Maximum Girlfriend Emeritus for Life LS beat me soundly while picking teams based on their colors or nicknames. She picked UTEP in an upset because LS had a girlfriend who went to school out there. She always liked the desert whenever she went to visit her friend back when she was at Baylor.
You know. The scientific method based on informed opinion.
Yes, men's basketball is worse than a cesspool. But, hypocrites that we are, we love it so.
Maybe I'll watch the Finals back at the bar with John. Maybe I'll order fries just to see if "Legs" shows back up.
I don't do trouble anymore but it doesn't hurt to look at it. Doesn't hurt at all. And it is a lot less problematic than betting on college basketball.