MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR

March 14, 2012

I love Christmas, big Halloween fan but this is my favorite month on the calendar. Greetings everyone smack dab in the middle of the best time of the year for sports. NCAA Tourney, NFL Free Agency and oh yeah–Spring Training! We touch all the bases and even weigh in on a game show–welcome to our weekly Naborhood 9!

(9) LET’S DANCE–I get it, college basketball isn’t what it used to be. The best college players are in the NBA which takes the star power out of the tourney but it doesn’t remove the excitement. The Big Dance is still better than what we have with the badly bruised BCS–this tourney delivers a true national champion. I just finished covering the SEC Tourney in New Orleans and look forward to returning for the Final Four in the Big Easy where thanks to boat loads of parity– this tourney is arguably better than ever. My bracket has a Final Four of Kentucky, Louisville, FSU and UNC—I have UNC beating the Cats in the Final.(sorry couldn’t pull the trigger on Belmont or South Dakota St.) For a better resource, I gave a bracket homework assignment to my 6 year old daughter Ally who “objectively” dribbled it with ease—the results Indiana, Harvard, Florida and Kansas—not bad for a young lady who knows more about High School Musical than the pick and roll.

(8) NOTHING “FREE” ABOUT IT—Good to see the Bucs Ownership back up its talk of spending big Bucs in free agency. The Glazer family has been holding on to its wallet for years but let go with both hands to fill immediate needs well “immediately” by inking a big WR in Vincent Jackson, arguably the best guard in the game in Carl Nicks and for good measure CB Eric Wright. A lot can change before the draft but if I were handing the Bucs card to Roger Goodell today I would be tempted to snag Trent RIchardson—yet another weapon to take the pressure off Josh Freeman whom I still believe can be an elite QB.

(7) DRAFT DODGERS: What do all of those Bucs’ free agent signings have in common–not a one was a 1st round pick. In fact the top WR’s in this free agent class all flew into this league under the radar as well :Marques Colston (7th round), Pierre Garcon (6th) and Vincent Jackson went in the 2nd. Besides Peyton Manning the top free agent QB is Matt Flynn who was…. wait for it…a 7th rounder. I love the draft but its clear there are much more misses than hits as seen once again by the Free Agent Class of 2012.

(6) MANNING MADNESS–LeBron James claims to want Peyton Manning to join him in Miami—I hope King James took something from Peyton’s goodbye presser in Indy—NOW that’s how you treat a fan base even if it was under different circumstances. Many question the sincerity of it which I find ridiculous, Manning’s career has always been defined by class and his Colt goodbye was yet another example. Who knows where he will end up—-I love the possibility of Denver. Can you imagine Manning and Tebow in one city—ESPN may have to re-locate to Colorado?!

(5) BILLY D’s DIFFERENT—I have noticed a more vocal Billy Donovan this season. After losing to Kentucky in the SEC Semifinal he called out the officiating as the Wildcats had 20 free throws to his team’s…..2 attempts from the line. Billy has never shied away from criticizing a player in public but this was a rare emotion aimed at the officials. I like the Gators athleticism and their wealth of scoring options but they lack a complement to Patric Young in the paint to make a deep run in the Tourney.

(4) WHAT ABOUT BOB?—One of the most intriguing free agent possibilities is Robert Meachem to the Chargers. The former Saint always showed the Who Dat’s nice splashes of potential but was stuck in a traffic jam like depth chart at receiver. He made his share of plays despite having to do plenty of sharing inside the Superdome—i think if he can stay healthy, Meahchem will be a very pleasant surprise for the Bolts fan base out West. It will be interesting to see what kind of numbers he can put up with the added opportunities.

(3) DWIGHT IN DISNEY?—Recently I talked to NBA All-Star Danny Granger of the Indianapolis Pacers who seems to get it. He would like to be like David Robinson and Tim Duncan and ideally spend his whole career in one city. Granted Granger doesn’t have the earning power or the leverage of Magic Center Dwight Howard but it was refreshing. The most troubling part of the Howard story are the reports that he could control whom his coach and GM would be—inmates running the asylum or in this case the players running the franchise—not a good trend in pro sports. Don’t see much Magic in that Kingdom.

(2) SPRING TRAINING- I can sympathize with the players that its too long but for my sports money there is no better bang for the buck than a few hours at a spring training game. Every seat is good, the mood is much more relaxed and yeah even the hot dogs are cheaper then big league games. Its also a great way to see the present stars for a few innings and often get a great glimpse of the future stars in the late innings Hold on to those scorecards and look back at them in a few years—you would be surprised who appears!

(1) PRICE IS STILL RIGHT—So, I’m on the treadmil the other day and am watching the Price of Right for the first time in years. 1st impression—Drew Carey has lost a lot of weight. Second and most importantly noticed “TPIR” brain trust hasn’t changed its winning formula. We can still rely on $50 cent newspapers and many of the ole Price is Right classics: Cliff Hanger and the highly creative “Clock Game are still in the rotation and I was on the edge of my seat. I can remember watching both back in the 80’s when I was faking some kind of illness in middle school–good to see some thing don’t change and that I’m getting very old. I do miss Bob Barker sinking putts though. What is your favorite?.

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