Oh this young man has had a very trying
rookie March Madness season, with the litigation multiple overtimes, the notoriety, the insane work hours, his subsequent deportation to Canada and that country's refusal to accept him, well, I guess that's more than most 2133-year-olds can handle ... Michael Rand!
OK, so we weren't really deported to Canada (modified Slap Shot quote if you didn't pick up on that). That's not really why we were gone for a week. But how great is that picture? It comes courtesy of RandBall reader and writer Erin Nicks, who lives in the Ottawa area, loves hockey and Bad Religion, and got her hands on one of the last remaining original RandBall t-shirts. That picture, in front of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police squad car, makes us very happy. We could only wish that we had a true story involving that squad car, two mounties, an argument over whether vinegar should be put on French fries, fingerprinting, maple syrup and a good laugh had by all at 6 a.m. at Tim Hortons. If they make "The Hangover, II: This time it's provincial," we've basically sketched out half the plot already.
Then again, the true story of our week off isn't too bad, either: along with the RandBall Better Half, we spent most of the week in Puerto Rico doing pretty much nothing other than sitting on the beach, swimming in the ocean and looking at iguanas. (Seriously, iguanas were all over the place we were staying. Some of them had bodies, not including tails, that were probably 2.5 feet long. It was kind of awesome). We actually had enough free time to finish Bill Simmons' Book of Basketball. If you have held that in your hands, you know that is some serious free time. Pictures of the RandBall shirt in Puerto Rico to follow.
Those were five laptop-free days, which is fairly astonishing for someone like us. We even had a policy of only turning on the Blackberry in the morning and at night to check for any urgent messages. Other than that, it was pretty much off. Even though we had ESPN's family of networks in our hotel, we were once again amazed at how quickly we can disconnect (and subsequently reconnect) with sports. So what happened while we were gone? Looks like this:
*Butler is playing Duke for the NCAA title? Stu estimates 98.7 percent of America will be rooting for Butler tonight. We think that number might be a touch low. Yeah, we know Butler isn't that huge of an "underdog" in the sense of how good they are, but really: the Bulldogs lost to the Gophers this year. They play in a mid-major. And now they're playing the most hated college hoops team in the world in the title game. How much fun is that? Even the names of the schools imply what they are. Butler = servant, Duke = royalty.
*Jon Rauch has usurped the "closer-by-committee" and will assume the 9th inning role for the Twins to start the season. Mistake, we say. Nothing against Rauch, but why not let the committee play out, give the ball to the hot hand and/or best matchups early and let the chips fall? Speaking of which, the Twins open their season tonight. Was anyone else caught off guard by this while we all fawned over Target Field?
*Donovan McNabb is in Washington and Darius Reynaud is in the backfield. As a certified member of the McNabb as a Plan B club if Brett Favre retires, we're disappointed this played out so quickly. And as someone who remembers when Robert Tate became a cornerback overnight (those were the days! Defense is our No. 7 priority, the coaches always used to say!), the Reynaud news is hardly startling. Maybe his quickness and shiftiness could be useful in some situations?
*A guess at what some of you did while we were gone: Stu wrote a 1,200-word e-mail (still unsent) to Steve Jobs, the title of which was "Why Vinyl will ultimately displace MP3s." Fasolamatt crunched the numbers every which way and then cried himself to sleep when it became clear the Cleveland Indians would win exactly 72 games this year. DaveMN and Jama started texting each other in lieu of commenting for a week and uwittingly set a one-week record of 14,327 texts each, thus breaking the world record set by Ashley/Hannah/Megan, a 14-year-old from suburban Denver. Jon punched himself in the face every time he became giddy about the 2010 Twins. He is out of intensive care now and feeling much better. Rocket has been storing up a big batch of haikus and will strike with force. Clarence Swamptown ate his weight in bourbon-marinated bacon, washed it down every day with a carafe of his house whiskey and will still somehow outlive all of us. AZGopherGirl tried to clean the place up and make it look respectable, but there's only so much that could be done.