As I type this, it is the Saturday of the Final Four of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. This year's final weekend has Butler against Virginia Commonwealth. While the other side pits UConn against Kentucky. Butler and Virginia Commonwealth are the Cinderellas of the field despite the fact that Butler made to last year's final against the despised Duke Blue Devils. Neither Butler or VCU were very good as late as February. Not only is VCU an 11th seed, but they had to prevail in a so-called "play-in" game to make the tournament. Accordingly brackets over on that side got completely blown up. The only people who have Butler and VCU in the semis on that side are people like your great Aunt who picked those two because she has a friend in Richmond who has a dog named Butler. You know. The scientific method. In any event, this is not likely to happen again.
By comparison, and perhaps to restore a feeling of normalcy to the proceedings, we have UConn going against Kentucky in what Tony Kornheiser refers to as the "Elliot Ness Division" of the tournament. UConn's coach Jim Calhoun, having taken the Bruce Pearl route in contacting prospective Huskies, will get to sit out for a portion of next season. Well known recidivist Kentucky is merely the Whore of Babylon. And they are coached by John Calipari who had 2 programs go on probation while he stayed one step ahead of the NCAA sheriff. And if that weren't sufficient intrigue, both coaches despise each other. Well, I think EVERYBODY hates Calipari.
I say it's Butler against Kentucky Monday night in a refreshing morality play in that folks can play the "good vs. evil" game in a contest that doesn't involve Duke for once. And then we'll see if UK goes on probation again.
While we're on the subject of sports, let us turn briefly to the NFL lockout. Talk about finding it hard to root for somebody. Millionaires versus Gazillionaires. As I understand the issues, the owners want to add to the 1.3 billion-yes, billion-that they take off the top of the niagara of income the league makes so that they can maintain stadiums and the like. Nobody is saying they are going broke. It's just that the profit margin is less obscene. On top of that they want to extend the season by two games.
The union is balking at less money for more games and has demanded to take a peek at the books. The owners refused. The union decertified so they could go to court and the owners locked the players out.
My thoughts are two-fold. First of all, the owner's position is basically one of "stop me before I kill again." Who told Jerry Jones he had to build that Taj Mahal of a stadium down there? Nobody told Al Davis to sign his long snapper for 1.5 million and not many people advised Dan Snyder to go anywhere near Albert Haynesworth. If the owners aren't making a sufficient killing they have only themselves to blame.
Secondly, this case is gonna settle and it will settle well before training camp for a very simple reason that as far as I can tell, noone has mentioned yet. And the reason is this: the NFL owners can't stand up to discovery. You don't want to show us the books? Fine. We go to court and subpoena the books. And we put in the public record the fact that the NFL not only did not bargain in good faith but that it lied about the finances.
Trust me. The owners do not want this. The case will settle.
But first, we have to ring out college basketball. Duke didn't make the Final Four and the bookies lost their pinky rings and gold chains on this year's tournament.
What's not to like about it?