Big Weekends. Strung Together. Easter, Final Four and then next week we get the Masters. The opening week of baseball can get a little lost in the shuffle when so much is going on. And, I didn’t even mention that Mad Men starts on Sunday night. Roger Sterling is back. Act accordingly. So, in more detail–here comes the weekend.
The Final Four:
I think the lack of star players and dynasty teams is most noticeable in the Final Four. We’ve had to wait a full week for games, we’ve only got a few teams left and in many ways it feels like the tournament has already peaked. It doesn’t feel like these teams have any history. The players don’t have Final Four history. I think that’s a key element for the more casual fan. In the 90s, you didn’t have to be a die-hard basketball fan to understand the Fab Five vs. UNC, or Duke vs. UNLV, etc. We’re hoping for good games, but barring a Wichita St. national title, I don’t see how this is going to end up being memorable. The games…
Louisville (-11) over Wichita St. The lasting image of this tournament right now is, unfortunately, Kevin Ware’s gruesome injury. Louisville overcame it to run Duke out of the building last weekend. I don’t see how Wichita St. will be any different. We’re in worst case scenario here–Rick Pitino’s got the best team by a large margin.
Michigan (-2) over Syracuse. The only moderately astute pick I made this year was putting Michigan in the Final Four in one pool. I’ve seen a decent amount of their run and I’m most impressed with their offense. They have some guys that really score in a variety of ways. They can penetrate, shoot 3s and get some points inside. Should be enough to handle Syracuse.
I can come up with any number of shows that are considered by many to be better than Mad Men: Homeland, Breaking Bad, Walking Dead, Nashville (joke), but I can make a solid counter argument about why all those people are wrong.
I’ve never seen a show maintain momentum like Mad Men (with the exception of The Wire). I like Breaking Bad, but the early seasons are easily my favorites. I think this is true for most shows. I don’t hear anyone lauding season 18 of the Simpsons, or arguing that Cheers was better with Kirstie Alley. But, you can definitely argue that season five of Mad Men was on par with the best Mad Men seasons. How does Mad Men do it?
1. Pace. Perhaps season five was so good because you had to wait 18 months for it? I also think cable shows benefit from 13 episode seasons.
2. Nostalgia. I don’t necessarily want a show set in the 1800s, but Mad Men’s existence in the near past is a huge asset. I’m sure a lot of people watch because they lived through a lot of the topics the show addresses. I didn’t live through them, but I find it interesting to see how much things have changed just over the course of a few generations.
3. Quantity of Quality characters. Mad Men has so many characters and most of them are well developed. They can leave Roger, or Peter, or Betty for an episode and then come back with them and it helps keep things fresh. Don is always at the center, but the setting around him is constantly changing. It doesn’t feel like you are watching the same show over and over again, ala Californication.
So everyone get excited for Mad Men on Sunday night. It’s the late 60s, what could possibly go wrong?
Phillies Home Opener, Friday 4:05 pm.
In ranking what seems “wrong” with this Phillies’ home opener, I’m not sure if Kyle Kendrick getting the start or Kansas City being in town gets the top spot. I understand the Phillies started on the road, and no team has five great starting pitchers, but it’s still odd to see a contending team run out Kyle Kendrick for the home opener. I imagine this is not what fans had in mind when they got their tickets. Should they have held back Roy Halladay? Hamels? I’m sure everyone will have an opinion by about 6:00 pm. So, Kyle Kendrick, where does he rank in the pantheon of middling Phillies’ Opening Day starters from the last 20 years? I’ll take a shot…
5. Sid Fernandez, 1996. What? El Sid pitched for the Phillies? How soon we forget. I assume Curt Schilling was injured? Not surprisingly, the Phillies lost to the Rockies.
4. Paul Byrd, 2000. If Roy Halladay could just learn to be crafty…like Paul Byrd…I tease, I tease. My memories of Paul Byrd include him getting bundled in a brawl and his inexplicable hot streaks. Not surprisingly, Byrd was done after 4 1/3 and Our-Maury Telemaco got the win in relief.
3. Brandon Duckworth, 2002. There was a time when people got very, very excited about Brandon Duckworth. He once went 13-2 for Scranton. He was JA Happ. He was Tyler Cloyd. He was Kendrick and Worley and all of them. The only problem was, in 2002, the Phillies were looking for an “ace” and not a 5th starter. Not surprisingly, Duckworth tossed a gem in front of the Duck Pond.
2. Kyle Kendrick, 2013. Results TBD.
1, Randy Wolf, 2001. Kyle Kendrick dreams, DREAMS about having Randy Wolf’s career. Wolf, not surprisingly was out-dueled in this one by Julian Tavarez.
So, today should be…something. Phillies hosting the Royals. Have they been in town since Mike Schmidt was jumping around, drawing attention to himself? If they have, no one remembers. The Royals have some good young hitters, who started the season ice-cold in Chicago. Both of these teams could use a little jolt offensively after the 1st three games. Kendrick vs. Wade Davis could yield some fireworks.
Probably a lot of people looking at KC as a pushover series, but we’ll see what transpires. The first series against Atlanta played out much how I expected it would. Phillies’ fans are left battling the jubilation of Utley’s start vs. the ominous signs of Roy Halladay’s outing. We’ll check back in periodically to see how everything is progressing. Hard to make conclusions from one start, or a dozen ABs.
Great afternoon for a game, enjoy the sun and crisp breezes if you’re headed down and enjoy the rest of the weekend as well–this time next week Tiger could be running away with the Masters.