Reflecting On A Great Sports Week
I've determined that there are five great sports weeks during the year: Feast Week, Bowl Week, Super Bowl Week, Championship Week and the first week of the NCAA Tournament. Oh sure there are other solid weeks out there like Senior Bowl Week for the draft geeks and dare I even say Speed Week for the motorheads.
But on occasion we encounter a week that can rival the five previously mentioned. Last week was just such a week. There was the NCAA Championship, the Brewers home opener and of course a tradition unlike any other.
So let's start with the Butler-Connecticut title game. It's a shame that Butler played one of their worst games of the season. I always like seeing a team perform at their best on the highest stage but unfortunately the Bulldogs left plenty to be desired. However, the quality of the championship game shouldn't damper the tournament as a whole. It was, as usual, a thrilling tournament. I like the new format and while VCU benefited from the expanded field there's really no need to water down the NCAA Tournament even more. Despite UConn's great run there's no doubt in my mind that the '90, '96 or '98 Connecticut teams, none of which even made the Final Four, would mop the floor with the current champions. 68 teams is plenty for the Big Dance. The NCAA Tournament last evolved in the 1980's and it led to great parity. Perhaps we have entered another decade like the 80's, where improbable championships were won in '83, '85 and '88.
Yes, the Brewers home opener was a dud but it's great to have baseball back and the Crew have rebounded nicely from the 0-4 start to get to .500. In doing so the Brewers proved once again that the true key to success in the majors is pitching, pitching & more pitching. It really isn't a great mystery. As the quality starts piled up, so did the wins. When the starters couldn't finish it the bullpen picked up the slack. Even though he didn't get a decision in the home opener Chris Narveson has been fantastic and if his first two starts are any indication, there will be good things in store for the Brewers in 2011.
And from grilled brats to pimento cheese sandwiches the week wrapped up with The Masters. Augusta National was once again playable but treacherous. One only needed to watch Rory McIlroy's steely Saturday performance crumble into a pile of duffs on Sunday to understand the pressure that Augusta creates. I swear he hit his tee shot on number 10 into the neighborhood across the street. Words don't need to describe how the young man felt about his outing. For anyone who has ever picked up a club, be it at pristine Augusta National or the local muni, we've all been there. Sunday at Augusta, and specifically the back nine, is a sight to see. It is a humbling journey, even if your name is Tiger Woods. Augusta National was created to be a course where anyone can succeed and now previously unknown Charl Schwartzel can mingle in the champions locker room with the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Woods. Does it get any better than that?
Of course, to be a great sports week it needs a name. Whatever you want to call it, Opening Week, Masters Week, One Shining Week, it was a marvelous seven day stretch that any sports fan would enjoy.