Tourney at Sweet 16; Classic at Final Three
March 20, 2017

So how are those brackets looking? Well, if you are like most college basketball tournament aficionados, not that great. You probably figured one top seed would be out by now, but not the overall number one in Villanova. Right? The Big 10 was supposed to be horrible, but still has three teams alive. Even though Butler is a four-seed, you probably had them out, and we know y'all didn't have South Carolina, even if you were born and raised in Myrtle Beach.

Those midwestern Big 10 people can talk all they want about Wisconsin, Purdue, and Michigan, but how about hoops out here in the West? Arizona, Oregon, and UCLA from the Pac-12 are all still dancing, and top seed Gonzaga is on a mission, with West Virginia up next. If you have that West Coast bias (guilty), you probably had Nevada as an early upset special. Didn't happen. Saint Mary's-Arizona was a second round classic, but the Gaels couldn't fill the glass slipper role.

It is a tournament that didn't start out with many upsets. Usually a 15 or 14 seed gets a win on the first day. Every year, a 12 beats a 5, and we got that with Middle Tennessee knocking off Minnesota. That was really the only noise on Thursday. But now a number one is out (Villanova), two number twos are gone (Duke and Louisville), just one three-seed has been eliminated (Baylor), and somehow all the four-seeds are still there. You know you had one of them out by now. The South bracket (with UCLA) is the only region with all top four teams remaining. It's like Charles Barkley with all the red exes in his brackets. Yours probably looks similar.

Meanwhile, over on the baseball side, there's a pretty good tournament that you probably aren't watching. Puerto Rico defeated the Netherlands tonight 4-3 in 11 innings, and has clinched a spot in the World Baseball Classic title game against the winner of tomorrow (Tuesday) night's game between the USA and Japan. With only the final round being single elimination, there are no brackets to fill out, but I like to think of the baseball final four like the South bracket in the NCAAs. The Netherlands is definitely Butler, but couldn't de-throne the favorites. Puerto Rico would have to be North Carolina in this analogy, but that would make Japan Kentucky. Carolina may be the top seed, but Kentucky has won it recently, as Japan has with the first two Classics.

Following this scenario through, baseball's Team USA would be equivalent to basketball's UCLA. They've got the talent to win it all, we like the team to win it all (come on Bruin fans), but most of us deep down don't think it will happen. The Bruins are going to have to get through Kentucky and (probably) North Carolina just to get to the Final Four. Team USA has to beat Japan and Puerto Rico on back to back nights and they are World Baseball champions.

It seems right. UCLA has 11 basketball titles but just one since John Wooden retired, and the United States invented baseball, exported it to the Caribbean and Far East, but hasn't won on the world stage (except for the gold medal in the 2000 Olympics, which was considered remarkable). The WBC championship is at Dodger Stadiumówhere else for Team USA to get its first classic baseball title, and for UCLA to bring home its hoop dreams?

Correction: It was mentioned here last week that MLB Network was televising the World Baseball Classic for the first time. That's not true. MLBN has the games four years ago. I have the network now, I didn't then, so I guess I didn't watch. Thought I did.

Local angle: While Gold Sox alumni Brock and Max Stassi still try to make major league rosters out of spring training, it was learned that Cody Anderson will not. The Cleveland Indians hurler got the three dreaded wordsóTommy John surgery. He will miss all of 2017. Justin Haley got clobbered in his last start for the Minnesota Twins, giving up a monster home run to Hanley Ramirez, but will likely still make the team as perhaps a long reliever.

Summer schools: The Marysville Gold Sox now list their 2017 roster on their website, and this year's edition seems to have more junior and smaller college players than in year's past. No Hunter Stratton from San Diego State, but the roster does show a pitcher from the University of Oregon. Cole Van Den Helder is actually a high school senior in San Diego, but has committed to join the Ducks next year. With manager Dallas Correa coaching at Hawai'i Pacific, the Gold Sox will have a decidedly island flavor, with three Hawaiians. Three players return from last year's squad in pitchers Ryan McCarthy, Darrel Doll, and Shinpei Kanamori, and five Yuba City natives also make up this year's teamóCaden Goldby, Joey Mejia, Garrett O'Callaghan, Devin Pettingill, and Kyle Williams. For some reason, Yavapai Community College (three players), and a couple of other Arizona JCs are prevalent. You do want brains behind the plate, and catcher Tom Fuller attends Yale.

Bearish: The Yuba City Bears have a dozen names listed on their roster so far, and all but two are junior college guys (and four of the Jucos are from Yuba). Pitcher Brad Bonnenfant, catcher Logan Wurm, and outfielders T.J. Dove and Brendan Nelson played for the Gold Sox last year.

Last week saw the passing of another family member--my cousin Diane's father-in-law Henry Hong. I saw him once a year at Thanksgiving, but we always had a nice talk, and he always remembered things about me and kept up with everything that was going on in the family. I believe Mr. Hong was 91. With the passing of Mr. Hong and my Uncle Marty, that means Diane's daughters Felicia and Alayna lost both of their grandfathers within six weeks of each other. That's just not right.

This is how my day began. Sucks doesn't it?

Oh yeah, this was in the parking lot of the mechanic. Truck runs now, but still no window.

Note the product placement. Think I can get a Burger King endorsement out of this?

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