Fire Jim Tracy

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Heee's Baaaaaccccckkkk!

First defiling the Dodgers, and now the College Basketball. Can't Plaschke just leave me alone?

Can we finally stop with all this waxing and rhapsodizing and piano-keys-twinkling-while-players-are-bawling and admit it?


The Wall Street Journal is not known for sports coverage, and even less for centerfolds, yet this week it had both, printing a full-color, bigger-than-the-stock-tables brackets diagram.

Probably because so many of its readers are, um, Duke fans.

Since Bill Plaschke generally doesn't read the Wall Street Journal, it falls to me to alert him that so many of its readers are Duke fans. And Stanford fans. Or Penn. Or Bucknell (as did CBS head Les Moonves). Or George Washington. It's even possible that such schools as Illinois, North Carolina, and UCLA have turned out a few graduates who might be interested in their favorite college basketball team. Plaschke may have a point here, but of course, he screwed it up again.

OK, fine, then tell me, where is Wake Forest? What type of university is Gonzaga? What is a Bogut? And three weeks from now, will you care?

1) North Carolina

2) Jesuit

3) Star of the Utah Runnin' Utes and possible #1 Overall draft pick (All right, so I live in Utah)

OK fine, then tell me, Bill Plaschke. What is .OPS? And three weeks from now, will you care?

The trash can next to your office copier is probably not usually overflowing with sports-related throwaways, either, but check it today, see how many crookedly copied bracket diagrams have been tossed.

A lot of Louisville alums hanging around, I guess.

Louisville alums being too stupid to find a job, of course.

Even more amazing, the tourney money has gone up while the ratings for the final game have declined, meaning most Americans watch the tourney for the early rounds.

So let me get this straight. Ratings are higher for the tournament when there are 64 teams alive (and therefore, presumably 64 fan bases out there interested), and lower when there are two teams alive (when, presumably, there are only 2 fan bases out there interested). Brilliant investigative reporting. This is Pulitzer-type work, really. BLOWING THE ROOF OFF OF THE NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKET SCANDAL! NEWS AT 11!

An estimated one in 10 Americans will make pool selections this week. Folks in Las Vegas say the tournament has become bigger than the Super Bowl.

And 12% will read blogs. Yet another growing epidemic that must be stopped!

By the time the actual Final Four shows up, one of the greatest weekends on the college sports calendar, not many people truly care anymore.

So let me get this straight -- the Tournament starts with 64 teams, and presumably 64 fan bases of whatever relative size, then...oh, never mind, I think you get the idea.

It would be useful to expose, to the extent that such a hypothesis would be true, whether the amound of gambling involved in the tournament hurts college basketball. A full-throated defense of gambling might also be interesting (if off-base - gambling is simply a destructively inefficient method of redistributing wealth from many to a few). Even the blatant hypocrisy of the state declaring "bookmaking" illegal on one hand while running a highly regressive lottery system on the other would be important and illuminating (if not popular). But I suppose that's the point -- it's not popular. So we get Mom (If you're going to do something, do it for the right reason), Dad (You kids don't do that. It's illegal), and then mischievious Junior (I know it's wrong, but just today!). And who doesn't like Mom, Dad, and Junior? So it's another round of nothing for everyone in the LA Times today.

UPDATE: By the way, you idiot. The Final Four is not the highlight of the tournament or the greatest weekend in sports. It's the first weekend. It's PRECISELY because an Ohio or an Old Dominion can pull off an upset that we care. How many people had Hampton in their brackets a couple of years ago? How many people cared that their brackets exploded? NONE! Hampton was adopted. Hampton was beloved. Who had Valparaiso? NOBODY! That's why the shot was so memorable. Nobody had heard of Valparaiso. Why should we? By the time you get to the Final Four, it's like rooting for four teams named the Yankees. Was Connecticut/Georgia Tech last year great? NO! It was a terrible game. U Conn went up by like 25 in the first half and coasted home. I turned it off and went to put the kids to bed. In the first weekend, there are 10 games worth watching, at least.

This is Plaschke at his "Did you see that?" worst. While you minions of evil do the work of Satan, scrounging in the mud with your lowly brackets, Bill Plaschke is going to the Final Four, sitting in the Press Box, and taking in the wonder of it all. If only you pathetic worms could see through Bill Plaschke's eyes the bounteous feast that is a twenty-point runaway (not to mention the bounteous feast that is the press buffet), you would put down your futile scraps of paper and join him in his noble crusades against weird statistics and $5 pool entries.


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