Friday, March 22, 2013

Well, at Long Last, I Did It! (Part 2)

Well...I see the men's bracket I filled out already got thrown out the window.

It was all because La Salle beat Boise State in the first round. Yesterday, Harvard took it to New Mexico, 68-62; California edged UNLV, 64-61; and Colorado State handed Missouri an 84-72 verdict.

But I'm still pressing on...and I'm ready to give you my predictions on how this year's NCAA Division 1 women's basketball tournament will turn out:

FIRST ROUND: Midwest-  Baylor over Prairie View
                                               Florida State over Princeton
                                               Louisville over Middle Tennessee State
                                               Purdue over Liberty
                                              Oklahoma over Central Michigan
                                              UCLA over Stetson
                                              Creighton over Syracuse
                                              Tennessee over Oral Roberts

FIRST ROUND: West-  Stanford over Tulsa
                                         Villanova over Michigan
                                          Iowa State over Gonzaga
                                         Georgia over Montana
                                         Wisconsin-Green Bay over Louisiana State
                                         Penn State over Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo
                                         Texas Tech over South Florida
                                         California over Fresno State

FIRST ROUND: South-  Notre Dame over Tennessee-Martin
                                           Miami (FL) over Iowa
                                           Colorado over Kansas
                                           South Carolina over South Dakota State
                                           Nebraska over Tennessee-Chattanooga
                                           Texas A&M over Wichita State
                                           DePaul over Oklahoma State
                                           Duke over Hampton

FIRST ROUND: East-  Connecticut over Idaho
                                        Vanderbilt over St. Joseph's
                                        Marist over Michigan State
                                        Maryland over Quinnipiac
                                        Delaware over West Virginia
                                        North Carolina over Albany
                                        St. John's (NY) over Dayton
                                        Kentucky over Navy

SECOND ROUND: Midwest-  Baylor over Florida State
                                                      Louisville over Purdue
                                                      Oklahoma over UCLA
                                                      Tennessee over Creighton

SECOND ROUND: West-  Stanford over Villanova
                                               Georgia over Iowa State
                                               Penn State over Wisconsin-Green Bay
                                               California over Texas Tech

SECOND ROUND: South-  Notre Dame over Miami (FL)
                                                 South Carolina over Colorado
                                                 Texas A&M over Nebraska
                                                 Duke over DePaul

SECOND ROUND: East-  Connecticut over Vanderbilt
                                              Maryland over Marist
                                              North Carolina over Delaware
                                              Kentucky over St. John's (NY)

REGIONAL SEMIFINALS: Midwest-  Baylor over Louisville
                                                                 Tennessee over Oklahoma
                                              West-  Stanford over Georgia
                                                           Penn State over California
                                              South-  Notre Dame over South Carolina
                                                             Duke over Texas A&M
                                              East-  Connecticut over Maryland
                                                          Kentucky over North Carolina

REGIONAL FINALS: Baylor over Tennessee
                                    Stanford over Penn State
                                    Notre Dame over Duke
                                    Connecticut over Kentucky

NATIONAL SEMIFINALS: Baylor over Stanford
                                             Notre Dame over Connecticut

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: Baylor over Notre Dame

See if you agree that Kim Mulkey's Bears will clip those nets down at New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, LA. In fact, see if you agree with any of these picks...I'd like to hear from you.

I'm Jim Boston...thanks for reading this blog!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Well, at Long Last, I Did It! (Part 1)

A couple of days ago, a coworker friend of mine was passing out copies of the bracket for the 2013 NCAA Division 1 men's basketball tournament to other crew members.

When I got home this past Tuesday night (as this year's tourney started out with two of four first-round games), I did something I'd never, ever done before:

I actually filled out the bracket sheet.  

So, right now, with the second-round contests starting later on today, I'd like to offer my predictions on how what could turn out to be one hell of a men's D-1 tournament could shape up. (Yeah...I know four games already are on the books!)

FIRST ROUND: North Carolina A&T over Liberty
                            St. Mary's over Middle Tennessee State
                            Boise State over La Salle
                            James Madison over LIU-Brooklyn

SECOND ROUND: Midwest-  Louisville over North Carolina A&T
                                                     Missouri over Colorado State
                                                     Oregon over Oklahoma State
                                                     St. Louis over New Mexico State
                                                     Memphis over St. Mary's
                                                     Michigan State over Valparaiso
                                                     Creighton over Cincinnati
                                                     Duke over Albany
SECOND ROUND: West-  Gonzaga over Southern
                                               Wichita State over Pittsburgh
                                               Wisconsin over Mississippi
                                               Kansas State over Boise State
                                               Arizona over Belmont
                                               New Mexico over Harvard
                                               Iowa State over Notre Dame
                                              Ohio State over Iona
SECOND ROUND: South-  Kansas over Western Kentucky
                                                 North Carolina over Villanova
                                                 Virginia Commonwealth over Akron
                                                 Michigan over South Dakota State
                                                 UCLA over Minnesota
                                                 Northwestern State over Florida (!)
                                                 San Diego State over Oklahoma
                                                 Georgetown over Florida Gulf Coast
SECOND ROUND: East-  Indiana over James Madison
                                              North Carolina State over Temple
                                              UNLV over California
                                              Syracuse over Montana
                                              Butler over Bucknell
                                              Marquette over Davidson
                                              Colorado over Illinois
                                              Miami (FL) over Pacific
THIRD ROUND: Midwest-  Louisville over Missouri
                                               St. Louis over Oregon
                                               Michigan State over Memphis
                                               Duke over Creighton
THIRD ROUND: West-  Gonzaga over Wichita State
                                          Kansas State over Wisconsin
                                          Arizona over New Mexico
                                          Ohio State over Iowa State
THIRD ROUND: South-  Kansas over North Carolina
                                           Virginia Commonwealth over Michigan
                                           UCLA over Northwestern State
                                           Georgetown over San Diego State
THIRD ROUND: East-  Indiana over North Carolina State
                                        Syracuse over UNLV
                                        Butler over Marquette
                                        Miami (FL) over Colorado
REGIONAL SEMIFINALS: Midwest-  Louisville over St. Louis
                                                                 Duke over Michigan State
                                              West-  Gonzaga over Kansas State
                                                           Ohio State over Arizona
                                              South-  Virginia Commonwealth over Kansas
                                                             Georgetown over UCLA
                                              East-  Indiana over Syracuse
                                                         Butler over Miami (FL)
REGIONAL FINALS: Louisville over Duke
                                    Ohio State over Gonzaga
                                    Virginia Commonwealth over Georgetown
                                    Butler over Indiana
NATIONAL SEMIFINALS: Louisville over Ohio State
                                             Butler over Virginia Commonwealth
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: Louisville over Butler  

If you're one of the millions of Americans who filled out a bracket this week, how does yours look? Do you think Rick Pitino's Cardinals are going to cut down the nets at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA on 4-8-2013?

Let me know what YOU picked.

When I come back, I'm going to show you how I think this year's NCAA Division 1 women's basketball tourney will end up. Stay tuned!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Better for Whom?

One of my favorite activities is downloading YouTube videos; most of the more than 1,800 showings I've captured have had to do either with music or sports.

Because of, I've been able to find a short, two-part video about the first game of the 1950 World Series (between the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies). What happened was someone's home footage of the pregame preparations and of some of the action made it onto the Website.

One thing about YouTube and its counterparts is that you get to make comments about the videos you're seeing. Part 1 of this two-part video (shot at Philadelphia's old Shibe Park) provoked several comments from YouTube visitors; the last comment posted struck a real nerve with me:

"The country was so much better then."

The first thing I thought when I read this comment was: "Better for whom?"

Yes...I know the divorce rate here in the United States was nowhere near what it became in the 1980s, let alone what it is here in the 2010s. (In 1950, this country's divorce rate- rising since the 1920s, at that- was just over 2.0%; by 1981, it had risen to 5.3%. In 2010- the most recent year for divorce stats here in America, according to the 2013 World Almanac- it was 3.6%.)

I truly believe that what the person who thought America was so much better in 1950 than when he or she posted this comment (2011) was lamenting was that the face of the nation isn't the same in this day and age as it was during the middle of the 20th Century. 

Matter of fact, the 1950 Fall Classic (the Yanks won it, 4-0) was the final one where neither of the teams had African-American players. (The Phils had a utility infielder named Ralph "Putsy" Caballero. Okay, he batted just .187 in 1950 and had no homers or RBIs. But at least Caballero got to play in the World Series, appearing in three of the games...although his lone at-bat didn't work out.)

Philadelphia had won just one National League flag coming into the 1950 "Whiz Kids" campaign (and that earlier pennant came in 1915...but the Boston Red Sox socked it to the Phils, 4-1). After Eddie Sawyer's club became the Yankees' second straight Series victims, Philly didn't make it back to the World Series until 1980. 

Dallas Green's Phillies snared the World Series title that year.  

The 1980 Phils made it to the top not only because of Pete Rose, NL MVP Mike Schmidt, and NL Cy Young Award winner Steve Carlton...but also because of teammates such as Bake McBride (his .309 batting average led Philly's regulars), Lonnie Smith (the reserve outfielder whose 33 stolen bases led the club), Manny Trillo, and Garry Maddox.

By then, Richie Ashburn (one of Schmidt's and Carlton's fellow Baseball Hall of Famers) was the color commentator on the Phillies' broadcast team. Thirty years earlier, he'd helped the Whiz Kids dethrone the old Brooklyn Dodgers by batting .303 and leading the Senior Circuit with 14 triples.

After the 1980 "Wheeze Kids" won it all at the expense of the Kansas City Royals (one of ten teams formed during the Phils' thirty-year wait between NL championships), someone asked Ashburn why the 1950 club couldn't stop the Bronx Bombers.

Richie said: "We were too damn White."

He had a point.

Me, I believe the country- for all its current troubles- is better off now than it was during the first year of the Korean War (a war that officially began five years after World War 2 officially ended) because more groups of people are having their say about where the Red, White, and Blue should go.

I guess the YouTube visitor who liked how America went in 1950 misses the days when only the oldest of Caucasian men were the only ones allowed to be heard...let alone allowed to be taken seriously.  

This also meant you didn't take Caucasian women seriously, either. [Not even US Sen. Margaret Chase Smith (R-ME), who, four months before said World Series began, gave a speech denouncing the tactics of her fellow Senate Republican, Wisconsin's Joseph McCarthy.]

Even then, especially then, America's top spokespeople loudly proclaimed that the country's very name meant freedom.

Never mind that the United States was still heavily under apartheid (okay, segregation) back then.

That's right: Five years after passing up twelve other lands to become the world's leading military power, America had to answer one big question on the minds and lips of many people in many other countries: "If you've got such a free country, then why can't certain people in your country vote...despite the fact that they're citizens of your country nonetheless?" 

How simple could the answer have been?  

I mean, dig CAN'T keep groups of people in the background for years...decades...centuries...without them wanting to rise up and move to the foreground. That's human nature!  

At any rate, the country's leaders in all sorts of fields (not just government) just weren't ready to give an answer. They knew it would mean egg on their faces.

Speaking of simple...what if the person who showed he or she liked the US of A better in 1950 than in 2011 (or 2012 or 2013) had typed in "simpler" and not "better?"