OK, I know we are in the middle of March madness, but somebody needs to do some "splaining" as Ricky Riccardo would often say. When is enough enough? How many Division 1 men’s college basketball teams need to get rewarded by extending their regular season and going to post season play?
Here is the breakdown for teams playing in mid March: The real NCAA tournament started out with 66 teams in their field, up by two teams from the normal 64, while the N.I.T. had 32 and the C.I.T. (College Insider Tournament) had 16 teams. That’s 114 teams playing in the post season. Are you kidding me? This is definetly quantity over quality. I know I am repetitive on this issue, but "everybody gets a trophy today just for showing up."
These post season tournaments are like candy being passed out on Halloween. Coaches of these teams actually put on their resumes that they competed in the C.I.T. or won the N.I.T. Coach John Calapari of Kentucky put on his resume that he won the 2012 NCAA tournament and that he cheated to do it. How did Kentucky do this year? Why does this topic deserve a rant? Because it filters right down to our own kids who think they are entitled to a trophy if they show up.
Let’s go back to single elimination in all All Star tournaments and a second place finish gets you "a nice try and good luck next time." Isn’t that the reality of life? I know I have finished in second place more than I want to admit, but it does make you think about how can you improve for next time. Getting a trophy for second place doesn’t make anybody better. You find out more about a person on how he gets up after he finishes in second place.
This March madness set up has way too many first place finishers who actually think they finished in first place. That is dangerous and that’s why society has no real winners. If you water down the competition, everybody loses because everybody wins. The winner of the C.I.T. tournament will think they can beat the NCAA winner because they have the first place trophy to prove it. And the N.I.T. winner will make the same claim. Who really is the best college basketball team in the country? This madness is killing me.
The high school spring season can officially start on Friday, but don’t bet on it because of the New England weather. I can’t imagine the 2013 spring season starting on time and Memorial Day is early this year which shortens the spring season already. Monday, May 27th is Memorial Day, and that is the last day in the regular season for high school baseball and softball contests. Try playing a 20 game regular season schedule in 57 days or eight weeks. That’s 140 innings of offense and defense. If the weather is kind, some high schools can manage that demanding schedule if they have enough pitchers who can throw strikes. It’s all about who is on the bump (pitching mound). Any pitcher who throws more than 600 pitches in games by Memorial Day can be considered a freak of nature, especially in New England weather. By the same token, any high school pitcher who throws 600 pitches by Memorial Day will be hard pressed to be effective in post season play. The key is to develop a pitching staff and stretch them out as the season progresses. Then the post season has a lot of options to it.
Softball is different as one pitcher can carry you throughout the season. As the old saying goes, "you can never have enough pitching."
Spring track and tennis also need decent weather to compete in. I guess lacrosse might be the only sport that can overcome the spring elements in better fashion than the others, but field conditions are probably more important to lacrosse. Here’s hoping for an early May.
This space will be giving out the Indian Ranch Spring Athlete of the Week this spring sports season. Athletes who excel during the week will be be honored. Eligible athletes are from Bartlett, Shepherd Hill, Oxford, and Bay Path. Good Luck to all our athletes and their teams.
My apologies to the Oxford Lady Pirates who won two, not one, Division 2 Basketball State Championships in the mid nineties.
Godspeed to Ed "Koko" Kokocinski who passed away over the weekend. Koko was a sportsman and fan. He sponsored "Koko’s Cafe" softball team that dominated the Webster softball circuit in the early eighties. Koko was a man of his word.