Extra Points: What A Time To Be A Sports Fan
What a time to be a sports fan.
March Madness gave us a terrific couple of weeks, the Phillies are on track to go 162-0, the Masters is getting ready to start and my grandson, Hampton, is about play his first tee-ball season.
Talk about exciting.
I was rooting for Gonzaga to complete an undefeated season Monday night. The Zags were seemingly destined after Jalen Suggs banked in a 40-footer at the buzzer to beat UCLA in the semifinals Saturday. But Baylor was just too fast, too strong, too deep, simply just too good.
Full disclosure: I didn't watch the entire game. At some point in the second half, after Baylor began to pull away, I caught a big wave while channel surfing when the 1985 high school wrestling movie "Vision Quest" showed up. For those of you under 40, Matthew Modine plays Louden Swain, a Spokane, Washington senior who decides to move down a couple weight classes to take on the mighty Shute, a monster who works out by carrying a log on his back up the steps of a football stadium.
As you can guess, Louden pins Shute with just seconds left in the match while the crowd roars.
It also has somewhat of a local tie. Actress Linda Fiorentino, who stays with Louden and his father while making a trek from New Jersey to San Francisco, is a 1976 Washington Township High School graduate. One of her sisters, Catherine, lives in Lower Township.
Before the game and the movie, I watched the Phillies move to 4-0 for just the third time in franchise history with a come-from-behind victory over the New York Mets.
The most impressive part of the winning streak has been the Phils' pitching, particularly the bullpen, which entered Tuesday's game having allowed just one earned run in 13 total innings.
Full disclosure: I didn't see all of Monday's game. Between innings, I flipped over to watch Aaron Rodgers' debut as guest host on "Jeopardy." The best part of the episode was during Final Jeopardy, when a contestant answered the question by writing "Who wanted to kick that field goal?" in reference Packers coach Matt LeFleur's decision during the NFC Championship Game loss to Tampa Bay.
I nearly spit out the potato salad made by Robinson's Deli in the Villas that was left over from our Easter Dinner.
I'm expecting more fireworks at the Masters this week. I'll be glued to the TV from Thursday to Sunday to see who will don that iconic green jacket at Augusta National. Jordan Speith seems to be getting a lot of attention after winning last week, but I'm going with Brooks Koepka, who is returning to action after undergoing knee surgery a few weeks ago. My sentimental pick is three-time champion Phil Mickelson, who is a favorite of mine because we're both left-handed and he played for my son Kyle's alma mater, Arizona State.
Full disclosure: I'll also be rooting for whoever I pick out of a hat as my teammate in the Masters on Saturday. Weather permitting, I'll play 18 at Cape May National, then combine my score with whatever my teammate shoots in the third round at Augusta.
If my past performances in "Masters" tournaments are any indication, I'll need my partner to shoot in the low 60's just to have a shot at the top 10. I'll be lucky to break 90.
The sports highlight of the spring figures to be Hampton's rookie season in tee ball. Hampton, who turned 5 in February, is pretty good at making contact off the tee, but it's 50/50 as to what base he'll run toward afterward or if he'll even run to a base.
Full disclosure: It doesn't matter. At that level, it's all about having fun. At least, that's the way it was when Hampton's dad was playing tee ball in 1990-91 and when his aunt, my daughter, Ashley, was suiting up for the VFW Women's Auxiliary Babes in the Lower Cape May Softball Little League in 1994-95.
As the Babes' manager, I coached an expansion team in which just one player had previous experience. While most teams only played their backups two innings in the field and one at-bat, I took a different approach. My only rule was that if you showed up to practice, you were guaranteed to play at least half the game.
We didn't have much success on the scoreboard, but at least a half dozen players fell in love with softball to the point where they played in high school and/or Senior League.
The parents also appreciated my approach. After our first victory against Washington Inn, they gave my wife and I a gift certificate to that amazing restaurant.
I'm just glad our first win wasn't against Sudak Funeral Home.
KEEP READING: South Jersey Athletes Who Played/Coached in NBA and MLB