So I recently got an iPhone. To anyone who knows me that may come as a bit of a shock. Never has a device had such a fierce opponent. The iPhone rates as only slightly less sinister than a Kindle. I’ve been using a Blackberry for a long time. This has given off a different impression at different times. There was about forty seconds there, don’t pin me down on a year, where it was OK to have a Blackberry. Blackberry messenger was kind of cool, wasn’t it? WASN’T IT? And free. You could carry a Blackberry and not be a total tech-idiot. I think. Of course, those days are long gone and now if you have a Blackberry you are old, or it was issued to you by your employer. I came very, very close to getting the Blackberry Q10. Great price point, familiar look, but I figured if Blackberry still exists as a company in a couple of years maybe I can switch back. For now, I’ll put in some work on my selfie game. As soon as someone teaches me how to use the phone.
I know one thing. When I go in for my next phone I won’t get treated like a prehistoric species. Hopefully the employee won’t look at me like my cellphone has a rotary dial. I wanted to stand there and defend my Blackberry, but it’s failure was the only reason I was in the store. Or was it my failure? I guess I’ll find out soon enough.
On the eve of the NCAA Basketball tournament, a raucous cultural event, I thought I’d empty out the mailbag. You know how these messages pile up…
Q: Can you explain to me why some people get so excited to see what I’d call pretty common birds? I know people who spot a cardinal and start dancing around like a flamingo has just swooped onto their deck. Robin Crow, Exton, PA.
A: I’m not what you would call a bird guy. Any bird with size, or thick legs will send me heading for the hills. If you want me to stay off your property, lose the Beware of Dog sign and install a turkey. You’ll never see me again. That said, I do KIND OF know what you are talking about. When I was a youth I would occasionally see a hummingbird at my Grandmother’s house. Now, hummingbirds are probably a bit more intriguing than your basic cardinal, but we’d completely SH*T OUR PANTS over these hummingbirds. I also remember occasionally getting out the binoculars at home to try to spot something exotic like an oriole in a tree 80 yards across the yard. I don’t think I’d do that now, but I probably have pointed out a cardinal to someone in the last 12 months. What can I say? It’s a conversation starter. You say cardinal, they say where…and things just go from there. People also feel a sense of importance from things that take up residence in their yard. Squirrels? VILE RODENTS. But, a nest of cardinals? Noble bird in a noble yard.
Q: On a scale of 0 to Brian Urlacher, how poorly is this Jimmy Rollins thing going to end in Philadelphia, and are the Phillies as bad as they look in Spring Training?
A: The Phillies are the popular pick among “Unnamed MLB Scouts” to be the biggest disappointment in the league. The two main refrains from Spring Training are always, “best shape of his career,” and “has completely lost it.” The Phillies have a lot of guys in that second category starting with Rollins and including Howard, Papelbon and possibly even Chase Utley. Considering the Phillies weren’t good last year, that Cole Hamels will be the DL, and there is still a roster spot for John Mayberry Jr., I’d prepare myself for a very long summer. The best-case scenario the front office has been blowing smoke about isn’t going to happen. They’ll struggle to hit, the starting pitching is thin and the bullpen remains a question mark. Seventy-five wins feels like a ceiling. As for Rollins, he simply doesn’t mesh with Ryne Sandberg’s vision of what a veteran leader should be. Sandberg is not a players manager, to a possible extreme that looks like it might alienate him with veterans. Remember, this is a Hall of Famer who spent 6 years managing (successfully) in the Minors and couldn’t get a big league job. There had to be some kind of red flag, and I think that red flag was, “The players are going to hate this guy.” The thing is, it doesn’t matter who wins the stare down, Rollins or Sandberg, the team is going to be bad either way. It’s just a matter of who stays, and for how long.
Q: How do you pack your toothbrush? Do you have a little case for it, or are you like me and just assume your toothbrush is protected against all and any germs and just throw that thing wherever in the suitcase? Whitey Chicklets, Harrisburg, PA.
A: Tough one. Sometimes we think things just don’t get dirty. If I only use my towel to dry off when I’m clean….NO. Or, that sponge is in soapy water several times a week…I’d eat off that SUMBITCH. Probably not. Does toothpaste serve as some type of Purell? Or boiling water? Probably not. When I was a kid I’d wrap my toothbrush in tissues and pack it that way. I assume I was told to do this by my mother, and it sounds dumb, but you keep your toothbrush away from your dirty undies and you also don’t have to use one of those cases. The cases by the way can become cesspools in their own right. You have to be diligent about cleaning the case, and really who has the time for that? Anyone who has ever opened up a kid’s retainer case knows what I’m talking about here. Maybe the answer is just buying a new toothbrush every time you go away, or bumming one from the hotel. Cost you a few bucks, but think about the load off your mind.
Q: Despite the fact that you’ve watched 0 college basketball games this year, I still respect you as one of the top-10,000 sports handicappers in Chester County. Where are my first round winners?
A: I thought you’d never ask! I’m doing dogs this year for Round
one TWO. Bet early and heavy….
University Milwaukee Wisconsin (+16.5) over Villanova. I’ve got a real bad feeling about this Villanova team. Anecdotally, I’ve heard about their balance. To me this means they don’t have any really good players, which is what the tournament is all about–along with draining tons of threes. I also, never, ever trust Jay Wright or a Jay Wright team with a big spread. I’ll take Jay’s suit (-$3,500) over the coach of UMW, but on the court, take the points.
Harvard (+3) over Cincinnati. Harvard being a 12 seed means they must actually be decent and not just the token Ivy team. I think the lines in these 12/5 matchups are starting to reflect the perceived trend of upsets, but this seems especially low. If Nick Van Exel’s shot is off, the Bearcats will struggle. Let’s go nerds.
Providence (+4) over North Carolina. I assume that UNC is still a massive public team, and Providence has never been anything close, not even when Rick Pitino was running down the housewives the Rhode Island. If I were a UNC fan, which I’m not (Rule of Rick Fox), I’d be kinda, sorta worried the Tar Heels might go ahead and lose this game outright. Roy does not have enough All-Americans this year.
North Dakota State (+3.5) over Oklahoma. Is this a hockey game? Where did this line come from. ND State might blow the Sooners out.
Ok, I lied, One Favorite: Oregon (-5) over BYU. I’ve got a little Oregon sleeper vibe going and BYU stinks. I promise.
NCAA POOL INFO:
If anyone is looking for a last second pool entry, the stragglers and downtrodden among you–feel free to join the 3 Putt Territory Group at ESPN. The name of the group is 3 Putt Territory and the password is danish–all lowercase. There are no prizes, but that only increases your chances to WIN. That, and the fact that there are about 10 people playing. ENJOY THE TOURNAMENT.