Even though you'd never know it if you lived, like I do, in Wisconsin, Spring is just around the corner. Coincidentally, the first official day of Spring this year also lands on the first maddening day of the 2014 NCAA Men's basketball tournament, March 20th. Yes, even though three feet of snow and single digit temperatures still persist in the Midwest, the Madness of March is just a full court heave away.
The tell tale signs of March Madness are everywhere. Spring training is underway in Major League baseball, the warm weather teams pining for any headline whatsoever, failing miserably as a masked man known as LeBron James lights up the NBA with a 61 point performance last night.
NASCAR has already booked two races, inexplicably starting as it does every year with their own Super Bowl of racing, the Daytona 500, right out of the shoot. They will continue to promote Dale Earnhardt, Jr. as the next best thing since Mountain Dew, but for most of us, that season is now officially over.
The NFL will continue to talk of its impending draft, but we're already bored beyond belief by the sports talk radio arguments over Johnny Manziel, Jadeveon Clowney, and other possible Houston Texan selections.
The Oscars too have also already come and gone, with the best movies of the past 12 months, "The Wolf Of Wall Street' and "American Hustle" being snubbed by the Hollywood hierarchy last Sunday night.
All those springtime signs just mean the real reason we are put on this earth to watch sports will soon be upon us, the heaven of all hoopla, March Madness. In a mere 16 days, the Vegas sports books will begin to swell, the handicappers will light up Twitter like a Christmas tree, and the office pools and on line brackets will soon be distributed and filled out, in vain, by millions of fans trying to win Warrren Buffet's jackpot, not to mention the occasional case of beer and bragging rights among friends and relatives.
Here in the Midwest the snow might actually begin to melt, and the temperatures might exceed 40 degrees, but don't be surprised if this winter lands another 8-12" haymaker of a snow storm on Thursday, March 20th. No, that just means the first day of 16 college basketball tournament games will be that much more inviting, even more so if you take the day off, or schedule three or four "sales" calls between 11am and 5pm at BW3, The Mid Town Pub, The Brothers Three, or Dick's Never Inn.
Wherever you may find yourself on this much anticipated Opening Day of tournament basketball, may your favorite team win and your bracket shine brightly, and if for some reason your team suffers an early exit and your bracket is busted after just the first weekend, rest assured you'll be guaranteed another two weeks of buzzer beaters and cliffhangers, white knucklers and down-to-the-wire jobs. As the late, great, basketball guru Al McGuire so aptly described the scene, no matter how you look at it, or wherever you go during March Madness, it's sure to be "Seashells and Balloons".
We've only been waiting since Louisville disposed of Michigan last year for this moment, so bring on this Madness of March, the best time for viewing sports is finally here. Happy Holidays!
And For What