Can Butler Do It?

April 4, 2011

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NCAAs

Last year, Butler came tantalizingly close to winning the national title when Gordon Hayward’s three point shot at the buzzer missed.  The Bulldogs lost 61-59, star Gordon Hayward left early for the NBA draft, and everyone thought that the chance for a mid-major to win a title had evaporated.

Butler came into this year’s tournament as a #8 seed.  In spite of the absence of Hayward, they have made their way through the jungle and into the NCAA Finals once again.  Is this the year that we can finally say the Butler did it?  I certainly hope so.

Butler coach Brad Stevens is a year younger than me … and is sure to be wooed by some bigger programs with fat pocketbooks.  Will Stevens be tempted by the money?  It’s worth noting that Stevens got his start in coaching when he quit his good paying job in the “real world” for an unpaid gig at Butler.  Bulldog for life?  Maybe.

The UConn men are the forgotten team in the final – the dynastic program led by an iconic coach.  How ironic would it be for Jim Calhoun to win another title the day after the dominant UConn women’s program tasted defeat for the second time this year?

Cricket

On Saturday, India won their second ever World Cricket Cup and the first since 1983.  India beat Sri Lanka by 6 wickets, scoring 277 runs to Sri Lanka’s 274. I have a lot of friends of Indian descent, and really need to learn more about the sport, which has a slight resemblance to baseball.

Baseball

Speaking of baseball … my Rockies faced some bad news on three consecutive days.  On Friday, Ubaldo Jimenez got roughed up and the Rockies lost in extra innings.  The culprit was a split cuticle which force Ubaldo to alter his grip on the ball.  On Saturday, Jorge de la Rose shut down the Diamondbacks, but developed a blister on his finger.  Both pitcher received an extra day to recover when Sunday’s game was snowed out, pushing their next start back by a day.

One of my favorite players is former Rockies star Matt Holliday, now with the Cardinals.  Happy, as I refer to him, wasn’t so happy on Friday.  Holliday was experiencing discomfort and went to the hospital – and came out missing an appendix.  The Cardinals are hoping to avoid placing Holliday on the disabled list.  It hasn’t been good few months for projected NL division leaders, with the Cardinals losing Adam Wainwright for the season and now Holliday for an unknown number of games and the Phillies starting the season without second baseball Chase Utley.  To make things even worse, Holliday is on my fantasy team.

A Giants fan is in critical condition after being savagely beaten by two men outside Dodger stadium following Thursday’s opening day game between the two teams.  Seriously … it’s a game.  Any time you’re thinking about slugging someone, take a step back and think about what you enjoyed about the game as a kid.

Sports Wrap

April 2, 2011

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First of all, if you got caught by yesterday’s April Fool’s joke, sorry about that.  For those who missed it, you’ll need to use this link to catch it in its full glory.  The “fake” ads (which did take you to the featured site, but were not tied into Adsense) were my favorite part.  I take this holiday quite seriously, and spent a fair amount of effort finding a fitting theme, making code changes, tracking down good images for ads, and then actually writing “Candy’s” article.  A big “thank you” goes out to Candy for playing along.

Lots happening around the sports world.  At long last, baseball season has begun!  I always think that the Rockies are one of the teams to watch, and this year is no different.  Pitcher Jhoulys Chacin had a really good rookie campaign in the shadow of Ubaldo Jimenez, and I expect Dexter Fowler to take a big stride foward this year.  Expect the Rockies to be in contention for the division title, especially if they can avoid digging themselves into a hole early in the season.

Expect a strong year from David Ortiz of the Red Sox, too, if he can likewise avoid his slow starts.  He has been a great player from June onward during the past couple of years, but the Aprils and Mays have people very concerned.

A big shout out to India for defeating Pakistan en route the World Cricket Cup final against Sri Lanka today.  I have a lot of friends who hail from India, and it was great to see the buzz of excitement surround the semifinal game.  (Alas, I also have friends of Pakistani heritage … sorry for your loss).

The Final Four kicks off today.  I gotta say I’m pulling for underdog VCU.  VCU didn’t even get their own line on most brackets, being listed as VCU/USC (or USC/VCU) on the 11 seed line, as they had to play their way into the main bracket of 64 teams.  I love seeingf VCU make a deep run into the tournament, but I hate seeing the tournament expand from 64 teams to 68 teams and beyond … I say make the tournament 64 teams, and if that leaves out some quality teams, so be it.  Life isn’t always fair.

If VCU wins the tournament, they will become the first team to win seven NCAA tournament games in the same year.

I’m not a huge golf fan, but I’ll be pulling for Ryo Ishikawa to do well this year.  The 19 year old Japanese golfer announced that he will donate off of his winnings this year to aid the victims of the Japanese earthquake.  Ishikawa made $1.6 million last year, so we’re not talking about peanuts.  I think a lot of athletes – and people in general – could learn a lot from this young man, who appears to be wise beyond his years.

Closing on a non-sports note … I had the opportunity to see The King’s Speech.  Good flick, especially if you have an interest in history.