Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

We've officially reached that time of the sports year where every sport has a story and something exciting is going on in each one. There's no shortage of highlights and happenings anytime you flip on sports news or open up a sports web page. It's beautiful!

College basketball has just finished it's conference tournaments and the NCAA Final Four now sits on the horizon. Everyone is scrambling to enter brackets. Offices are prepping for shortages in work production and employees are loading game and score trackers into their website favorites section while 5 to 15 bracket printouts sit strewn across their desk. I know I'll be in at least 3 $10 brackets this year and another 2 online challenges. And of course I've got my beloved Panthers going all the way. Hey why not? This is the year that they break the Sweet Sixteen curse (knock on wood).

I usually find it hard to get excited about professional basketball but this year has been an exception. I've always been a Spurs fan since The Admiral David Robinson played and kept up my fanhood when one of my favorite college players ever, Tim Duncan, was drafted by them. But with the closest proximity team being the Cavaliers I've always held a soft spot for them too. It was hard to find excitement in the team when they landed Lebron a few years ago. Now with the MVP race heating up and the playoffs looming the NBA is getting exciting. This year the MVP trophy is down to a three horse race with Lebron, Kobe, and Dwayne Wade battling it out. For what it's worth I love watching all three. I'd give Kobe the ball over any player in the history of the league (minus Jordan) when needing a last second shot. Lebron is arguably the best all-around and most complete player of the three. And then there is Wade. Wade is single handedly making the Heat a contender come playoff time. His energy feeds to his teammates and makes them better. While Kobe and Lebron make their team title contenders the teams are more than capable of making it a round or two deep without them. Without Wade the Heat aren't even in the playoffs. His overall stats are equal if not better than the other two so he gets my nod as MVP.

So the Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII in grand fashion, the Pro-Bowl has been played and the football season is over ... right? Wrong. Not much more than a week after the Pro-Bowl that Ulti-Douche Mel Kiper showed up like a bad rash and withing the first month of his ranting he already had 7 different draft day scenarios that he revealed to us on Sports Center. And why does Mel Kiper do that? So when draft day finally arrives he can go back to which ever scenario is most relevant to the latest pick and tell us to marvel at his genius because he was correct. That's the real world equivalent of me taking a fat ass to McDonald's and telling to choose one of the 8 combo meals. Then I get to guess 6 out of the 8 that I think the fatty will pick and pat myself on the back when one of them turns out to be correct.

Aside from Kiper the draft process is cool. Especially if you have the NFL network and can tune in to the combine. I especially love watching the big guys rep out the bench press. Every Draft Day me and Runhigh add an element of excitement with our very own Draft Day Drinking Rules which we'll be bringing you soon. Look for it!

As baseball kicks off this spring not only are we brought some Pirates victory in Spring Training against World Series champs this year we also get to feast on early competitive baseball with the World Baseball Classic. I saw Ian Snell pitch a hell of a game the other night against Venezuela. Maybe this will help him actually throw some quality games this year BEFORE September. It can't hurt. It's just extremely sad for us year after year to be saying 'This will be the year' when we're referring to a .500 record instead of winning the World Series.

My absolute favorite part of it all is the NHL playoff run and actual playoffs. You don't see any better hockey than this time of the year. It's fabulous play. The checking is harder. The skating is faster and better and the play makers are putting up highlight reel goals and assists. Thanks to a few key pickups by Ray Shero and new Coach Dan Blysma the Pens are back better than ever and ready to make a serious run at the Cup. They currently sit in 5th place in the Eastern Conference with Malkin and Crosby 1st and second respectively in the points race. With just 10 games to go things look pretty good. But as we know, in the NHL, nothing is guaranteed.

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