You heard it all during the college basketball season. How deep the Pacific 12 Conference is. Some said that top to bottom, it was the best. Now let's not get carried away. In fact, seven of the dozen schools made it to the NCAA Tournament. One even got a number one seed. Sadly out here on the left coast, five of the other six were bounced in the first round.
The “Conference of Champions”, as ESPN analyst Bill Walton likes to call it every chance he gets, wasn't even mediocre. Colorado was first out in falling to Connecticut, Cal was ousted by Hawai'i, Arizona fell to Wichita State, Oregon State was eliminated by VCU, and USC missed free throws, and lost to Providence on a layup at the buzzer. Utah did defeat Fresno State before Gonzaga got them. Oregon as a number one seed, did survive the first weekend, but had to battle to beat St. Joseph's 69-64. Yeah, the Ducks can still win it all, but they have Duke next, and if they somehow win that, only have to win three more games. Probly ain't gonna happen.
The Pac-12 was so deep, analysts would say, that UCLA would have to battle to get in the tournament. That part turned out to be true, but the Bruins weren't even close. They weren't even on the so-called “bubble”. They were so far out of it that coach Steve Alford actually returned the recent contract extension he signed, and this is a team that beat Gonzaga and Kentucky.
So while the Bruins didn't even get to lose in the first round, let's take a look at Cal. Not only did the Golden Bears get dropped by the Rainbows and end up with a Pac-12 first round exit, they were also one of four schools from the Golden State to get to see the first round, but not advance to the second. Cal was a four seed, so they were favored to win, USC was an eight against Providence, and nines have a habit of beating eights. Fresno State was a 14-seed and lost to Utah, the only Pac-12 team not named Oregon to win a tournament game, and Cal State Bakersfield could have been the talk of the basketball universe, but the 15-seed Roadrunners lost to second seed Oklahoma.
Add them up, and the Pac-12 is 3-6 (1-5 not counting Oregon), and schools from the state of California are done, and went 0-4. If there's a west coast bias in your bracket, you are likely out of the competition. The Ducks are still in, and if you are looking elsewhere, you have to go to Spokane and Gonzaga. They may call it the Sweet Sixteen, but here out west, it leaves a bit of a sour taste.
Calm down!: I have found myself yelling a lot at the television lately, and while most of the time it's been at Donald Trump, Ted Cruz or even Hillary Clinton for yelling at me, this time I caught myself yelling at San Francisco Giants broadcaster Jon Miller. During Friday's telecast against San Diego, Miller started to defend certain National League teams that are in “rebuilding” mode. The synonym for rebuilding is “tanking”, which Miller says the teams like Philadelphia and Milwaukee and Cincinnati and Atlanta are not doing, because the players are on the field trying to win. That may be true, but management is not giving them the chance to compete by trading higher salary players for minor leaguers in order to trim payroll and hopefully compete in the future. I guarantee you Kobe Bryant and the rest of the Lakers are trying to win while they are on the court, but you know darn well that ownership wants them to have as bad of record as they can so they can win the draft lottery. Same thing.
International flavor: Sunday, the MLB Network televised two final qualifiers for next year's World Baseball Classic. In the first game, Colombia upset host Panama 2-1 in Panama City, followed by a 12-1 rout of Nicaragua by Mexico in Mexicali. Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez had a double for Team Mexico, and was walked intentionally. Tomorrow's (Tuesday's) exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban National Team in Havana will be televised by ESPN. Coverage starts at 10:30 AM PT with the game beginning at 11.
Another international dateline: The Marysville Gold Sox have announced their first player signing, and it is a kid from Japan. 19 year-old Shinpei Kanamori attends Tokai Gakuen University in Miyoshi, and is a pitcher. He is the second Japanese player in Gold Sox history. Infielder Toma Irokawa, from Sendai, played in 2010.