March 13, 2006

It's that time again!

The leaves are turning green, the flowers are blooming, and the weather is warming up. What better way to spend a fabulous March weekend than by…. sitting on your rear end in the house and watching nonstop college basketball all weekend!!!

I’m just kidding of course, the true joy of March is getting out and enjoying the environment…. of a dark, seedy bar high-fiving total strangers because a 13-seed just upset a 4-seed, and you had the guts to pick it in your $5 work pool. That, my friends, is what March is all about.

In that same spirit (and because there’s no bar where all of my friends and family can meet each weekend), I’m setting up the First Inaugural 2006 Mike’s March Madness Competition!! Hooray for redundancy, hooray! Why join up this year? Because this time, it’s not just a bracket challenge; it’s a bracket challenge with heart. Note that all proceeds will benefit People for the Ethical Treatment of All Things Cute and/or Fluffy and Certainly Aren’t Human Because if We Wanted to Treat Humans Ethically, Whose Fur Coats Would We Throw Blood On? Yes, that’s PETATCFCAHBWWTHEWFCWWTBO, for those of you keeping score (and acronyms) at home. (And, yes, the only way I’m getting away with that is because Meagan’s in Honduras and Laura’s in Japan. Man, I’m gonna catch hell in a couple weeks.)

That said, it’s a free tournament (take that, dolphins and minks!), and extremely easy to be a part of. I’ve set up a group on ESPN, as it’s very easy to do run and to participate as well. Just click here: If you’ve done a bracket on ESPN before, you can use your same username/password this year that you did in year’s prior. If you don’t remember your username password, they can send a reminder email. If you don’t have email, you’re not reading this right now. If you’ve never signed up with ESPN, they’ll walk you through how to do it; it takes about 5 minutes and they need very little personal information, and nothing financially or extremely personal.

Once you’ve got a name and are ready to go, they’ll show you how to set up your brackets in a neat Flash-based bracket system where you can pick your teams one region at a time. It’s quite user-friendly and easy-to-follow, even if you know nothing about basketball. Once all four brackets are completed (that’s 15 games each), you’ll pick who of the Final Four will make it to and win the Championship Game (the score is included to break any ties). It takes about 10 minutes at most (unless you’re researching each teams players/coaches/history/uniform colors, in which case it may take longer depending on your level of devotion/knowledge/level of colorblindness).

Congrats! You’ve filled out a bracket and now just need to find my group! To do so, shoot me an email at I’ve set up the group as private so that only you beautiful people can join, and as such, there is a password needed to sort through the chaff that are common Internet users (i.e. not you). Once I receive your email, I’ll send you the group ID number and password so you can join in on the fun! Also, if you’re interested in doing a Women’s bracket (in an identical fashion to how the Men’s is done), let me know and I’ll set up a similar competition if there’s enough interest. That’s right, I’m all about equal treatment for men and women (plus, I’m hoping that gets me back on Laura’s good side).

If you have any questions, feel free to ask via email (again,, or contact me in any other way (phone, telepathy, whatever). I wish you the best of luck, and hope that you enjoy the fabulous month that is March!

March 08, 2006

Hee hee hee

The Mets are heavily favored to win the NL East this year. Their general manager has done a fantastic job of bringing in the big names and generating excitement, publicity, and undoubtedly revenue to Shea Stadium. These acquisitions and the impending explosion from their disappointing stars of last season surely mean that at long last the Braves’ 14-season string of championships will finally come to an end at the hands of the Blue & Orange Brethren, right?

Pardon me while I giggle.

I laugh because I love. I love that each season, everyone, beginning with the media, thinks that regular seasons are built on the transactions that happen in meeting during the offseason. Little do they remember that champions are made on the field in the summer and not at the five-star resorts in December. Last season, the biggest pitcher was picked up by the Mets – Pedro Martinez. “This is the piece the Mets needed,” everyone said. “This is the year that the Braves get knocked off.”

I’ve got to stop giggling.

I laugh because I love. I love that Atlanta picked up Jorge Sosa at the same time to much less bally-hoo and speculation that they’d picked up the wrong guy or just given up on the Pedro sweepstakes. Pedro had a solid season, going 15-8, but Sosa blossomed into a #3 starter, going 13-3 with a fantastic 2.55 ERA. Summer trumps December. But wait!! Carlos Beltran, the same kid who’d scorched Atlanta in the 2004 Division Series, rides that hot streak to get picked up by… the Mets!! “Holy Smokes!! The Mets got Martinez AND Beltran?? Forget simply going to the playoffs – they’re hosting the first round!”

I’m not sure if I can finish this without busting a gut.

I laugh because I love. I love that seven disappointing months and merely 16 home runs later, Beltran enjoys the playoffs from his posh new mansion while Andruw Jones (with his 50-HR season in tow) heads to the playoffs, along with the five Braves rookies who as a group topped Beltran in homers, had a lower salary than Beltran, and very nearly matched the age of former Brave Julio Franco (who is now – gasp! – a Met!).

So here we are, March 2006, and here comes the hype. The Mets picked up Billy Wagner – their closing woes are over. The Mets pick up Paul LoDuca – they’re finally got someone to replace an ailing Mike Piazza. The Mets pick up Carlos Delgado – more pop to an already loaded lineup and replacing Olerud at first base.

Any minute now, Meagan’s gonna come down and wonder why I’m in such a hysterical fit.

I laugh because I love. I love that after the botched efforts of newly-signed Mets Mo Vaughn, Kaz Matsui, Tom Glavine, and the king of all Met flops, Roberto Alomar, people are still buying into the fact that regular season success can be bought with All-Star talent, simply putting them on the field, and saying, “Go.” It just doesn’t work that way. You’ve got to have young talent coming from your farm system (which I’ll admit they have – look at Jared Wright – they’re just not using it well), and a manager that can handle the rigors of a season that stretches over six months and 162 games. There are two reason that the Braves have had so much success. Bobby Cox and Leo Mazzone (the biggest blow to the Braves will be Leo’s absence, though his replacement, Roger McDowell, looks to be quite worthy of the job). They’ve managed stars and no-name players alike to rekindle that championship season year after year after year with lineups that are consistently in flux. Take last year’s rookies for example. If you’d told me some 21-year old rookie named Jeff Francouer would be one of the more valuable Braves, I’d’ve laughed in your face. But Jeff came in midseason, and, along with four other fine young men, carried Atlanta through injuries and hitting slumps on their way to fourteen straight. By the end of September, I was laughing for a whole different reason.

Just like I am now and will be again this September.

I laugh because I love. I love rooting for the team to beat for what will be fifteen years after they win the East yet again.