Like Beethoven and Cezanne

Shohei Ohtani is the biggest story in sports this week, this month, and if things continue, it would not be a stretch to say this century.

Shohei Ohtani? The Japanese Babe Ruth.

If Ruth could run like Carl Lewis.

A week does not make a career, but good Lord. Ohtani made his second major league start yesterday, and took a perfect game into the 7th inning. In seven complete he had 12 strikeouts with one walk and one hit. This was his second win of the young season, his first coming last Sunday when he yielded a pedestrian three hits and three runs over six innings.

Did I mention he hit three home runs this week moonlighting as a designated hitter?

This is not real.

Pitching I could see. New guy in a new league could fool batters a couple times around. But hitting .389 with three home runs? That’s no fluke. That’s no gimmick.

Hitting a baseball, in addition to being the most difficult thing in sports, is also one of the most honest.

It’s a week; I get it. Cooperstown is still a ways off. But Ohtani’s achievements can be described only as Ruthian.

“Like finding out Beethoven and Cezanne were the same person,” Daniel Okrent once said to describe Ruth’s hitting and pitching skills.

And was Emperor.

This is too rich

A short but illuminating piece from last week’s Loudoun Times-Mirror (fast becoming my favorite local rag) describes the actions “transparency advocates” have taken to shine a light on incentives offered by local governments to Amazon re: its “HQ2” development. This is the sweepstakes Amazon is running as its board decides where to build its second headquarters, somewhere in North America. Will your local government be the one to offer enough from you the taxpayer?

Apparently we’ll never know. According to “Our state and local governments have signed non-disclosure agreements with Amazon, preventing residents from even knowing what is being offered with their tax dollars.”

Loudoun officials declined to answer questions from the Times-Mirror. The “Loudoun County Department of Economic Development” (I’m reaching for my wallet already) gave a bureaucratic response referencing Virginia Code sections eight numbers long.

The best bet at any sunlight on this particular issue is through Freedom of Information requests. Such requests have been submitted by, among others, members of the D.C. Metro chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.

Democratic Socialists of America.

Shouldn’t they favor something like government support (I’m actually thinking of a nastier word) of business ventures? Anyway, I think it’s the first time I’ve ever found myself on their side.

First time for everything.

You know what they say about politics and bedfellows.

Championship night

Well, it’s not the final anyone wanted, but it’s still the finals of the NCAA Tournament and that drama rarely disappoints.

One of the things I love about it is that they do start the game so damn late. Nine-twenty Eastern is the tip time tonight. That’s great. Have the riffraff go to bed and let the real sports fans watch this one. As I’ve written before, this is #30 for me. The first NCAA Championship game I ever watched was in April of 1989, and featured these same Michigan Wolverines. Well, not the same Wolverines; the players tonight weren’t even born then. Look at the tape of that game some time and see how young Steve Fisher and P.J. Carlesimo look. Heck, I was young too.

I’d already gone to bed that evening and woke up only to see the overtime (won by Michigan, by the way). It’s one of the true bonding experiences I had with my father. Watching sports on TV late at night: classic.

Should I wake up my–nah, nevermind.

I will think about it though.

Twenty years later

It was a guilty pleasure last night, watching Roseanne on ABC, 20 years after the Conners left the small screen following a decade on the air. I’d looked forward to it for months, of course, as I do with everything that returns from my childhood. Most things are a total disappointment. This was not. Roseanne brought it, and viewers (and advertisers) did as well. All original cast members were back, and, thanks to the marvelous things plastic surgeons can do these days, everyone looks exactly the same. The writers, too, were clever about how to bring back two actresses who’d played the same character. (No spoilers here.)

The biggest noise concerning the episodes that aired last night was the Conner family’s politics. Dan and Roseanne are Trump supporters, while Aunt Jackie is decidedly not. I thought the best and most surprising part about the episode is that is was actually Jackie who was the butt of many of the political jokes (though she got in a few digs as well). We’ll see if this holds up through the rest of the season, nine episodes over the next two months.

I like the format of the new Roseanne, on broadcast TV but available immediately on demand. Nine episodes is just about right, too. I don’t need a full year’s worth anymore. The jokes are a little punchier and more than ever the show makes fun of itself. It’s basically the Fuller House model, and I am a big fan of Fuller House. Rumors abound of a thousand other ’90s-era TV show reboots, and I am in for every single one.

Final Four is set

From Twitter: @moconnelljr… If anyone asks about my bracket I’ll say I got half the teams in the Final Four. And leave it at that. #MarchMadness

That pretty much sums it up. For all the upsets and bracket chaos we still ended up with two number one seeds in the Final Four. One team that has absolutely no business being there, and another that will be America’s most hated team Saturday evening. (Sorry, Michigan. It’s true.)

The story, of course, is Loyola-Chicago, darlings of the Midwest, the nation, and the world. It’s not just that they’re an 11 seed. They’re an 11 seed that nobody had ever heard of, from a bottom-of-the-barrel conference, that somehow pulled off three squeaker victories before taking it to Kansas State this past Saturday.

Not since UNLV won it all in 1990 has a team from a “weak” conference won it all. And UNLV was a powerhouse team. The last time a nobody team from a nobody conference won the national championship? Probably these same Loyola Ramblers in 1963, though Texas Western pulled off the same feat three years later. The list of “bad conference” champions the past 50 years is exactly three names long. UNLV, Marquette (which wasn’t in a conference), and Louisville, who won two titles as a member of the “Metro Conference.”

Oh, this would be sweet to see Loyola-Chicago bring it home for the…

(Have you Googled it yet?)

… Missouri Valley Conference, home of basketball powerhouses Bradley, Drake, Evansville, and Southern Illinois, among others.

Cinderella story… comin’ outta nowhere.

This is why they call it March Madness

Were you surprised?

Did you watch any college basketball this season? It’s been chaos from the word go, and this weekend was no different. Living to see the day a 16 seed beat a one was good enough to call it a great weekend (especially when that 16 seed was from the America East conference!), but put a dozen other upsets and my old friends from Syracuse the mix, and the weekend hits epic status.

Still can’t get over the Orange, the team that didn’t even deserve to be in the tournament.

Bluebloods pulling off upsets is just par for the course anymore.