March Madness live from Tampa… oops

by March 24, 2008

By Sam Rubenstein

I took a vacation last week, re-acquainting myself with a good friend “The sun.” He’s a good dude. Especially down in Florida.

Everyone did their usual amazing job on the site while I was gone, and Lang stepped up to put everything where it needs to be. I’m back, and I’m on Mutoni’s news/rumor duty today while he travels home from his Easter getaway. So, if you’ve got an exciting news/rumor thing you can email it to me.

Lang pointed out that I was down in Tampa watching the YANKEES, not my Mets. It’s true. In a world where time and money don’t matter I would have gone to both a Mets game in Port St. Lucie and a Yankees game in Tampa. That world does not exist for me. The friend of mine I went down there with is a Bronx-born Yankee fan, who is very proud of the Bronx part. Everything worked out for the best when a bartender’s stripper girlfriend told him he looked like he was from Mississippi. Ah… you had to be there.

The game we attended was a 2-1 pitchers duel, decided entirely by minor league prospects, a few Major League has-beens, and one 15 pitch at bat from future Tampa Bay Rays superstar Evan Longoria – whom I traded away in my fantasy league, which led to beloved SLAM elder Tony Gervino, who is in my league, coming up to my desk once a week to shower me with insults.

Here, let me give you one scouting perspective of a player you never heard of. His name is Cody Ransom, he play for the Yanks. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth, score still 0-0, he struck out looking. Are you effing kidding me! This is your chance to make an impression, to get to the bigs, and you don’t even swing the bat? Disgusting. He must have been the kid in little league who begged the coach to let someone else bat for him to make the last out. Oh, we were drinking heavily at the game by the way. On our walk from the game to the after party, me and my friend got into a heated war of words where I played the “I’d take Scottie Brosius over A-Rod anyday!” card. Now that’s March Madness!

Yes… there was something else happening in Tampa, pretty close to our hotel. March Madness, you familiar? Everytime we ate a meal or had to wait around, there was always some high intensity college basketball on TV. If our limo (courtesy shuttle van) driver wasn’t such a piece of worthless human garbage who couldn’t find the garage door from his own driveway, we would have watched more from the assorted venues around town and not the hotel lobby. The much-celebrated four underdog win day happened right near us, but I saw it like most of you – in bursts on TVs.

The only difference between my viewing and yours was that every once in a while some players would be walking around the streets. One huge guy had his full Clemson warm-ups on. This was the day after they got knocked out in round one, which was a minor bracket buster (major for me. Clemson you are dead to me forever!) which may have been upsetting to people at the mall who had something riding on the tournament. If anyone threw a sandwich at that guy or something, you did your thing.

Just kidding – I know some of you out there are unable to decipher sarcasm. I forgive you for your flaws.

The viewing highlight was being at a restaurant/bar when Duke bowed out early. Drunk and rowdy people at 5 P.M. screaming obscenities at Coach K… now that’s the real dignified splendor of college athletics!

Exciting first two rounds though. Stephen Curry stole the show from all of those freshmen we put on covers. Kevin Love did hit some big shots for UCLA, avoiding a dishonorable ending for the Bruins in the easiest region. Memphis survived their glaring achilles heel, the free throw line, so Rose gets another game where they will lose and I will shred my work bracket in disgust. A lot of people here were hoping Pitt would stay hot and be the NYC representative since that’s where 90% of their players come from. Yeah, that didn’t work out so well. I think ESPN’s Bobby Knight picked them to win the whole thing. Welcome to the wonderful world of media.

Okay, I’m back at work.