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The Ramble: The NFL Combine, The Knicks, Spring Training and Barry Bonds In A Dress

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The despair many of us felt just a few weeks ago after the Super Bowl has been replaced with giddy anticipation over the upcoming sports bonanza. Here we go.

March Madness. The first day of March is here so let the madness ensue. Some conferences have already crowned their champs and others are pending, all for the right to be invited to the big dance. I love college hoops, but just don’t have the time to follow it from wire-to-wire, so I’ll take the next week or so to bone up and prep for the conference tourneys. Part of the reason I don’t follow college hoops until this time of year is that so many guys leave college after one or two years. This “here and gone” trend in college hoops makes it tougher to form an allegiance with certain teams. Maybe this is why I root for Duke … they seem to have more stability. I also like Gonzaga. My favorite weekend is the first weekend of the tourney … thanks to DirecTV I can watch any game that I want.

NFL Combine. An event made for real sports nuts. The Olympics are nice. Spring training is ok. But the televised coverage of the NFL Combine is heaven. Being able to watch the workouts of “knowns” and “unknowns,” future stars, potential busts and the hidden gems of the NFL is a treat of indescribable proportion. Watching how this thing is run, it’s no wonder that the NFL is the premier sports league and has avoided most of the problems experienced by the other professional sports leagues. Rumor has it that Marcus Vick was disappointed to find out that “accuracy” as measured at the Combine involved a football and not a Glock.

The NFL “Labor” Situation. As big of a football nut as I am, I just don’t give a damn about the “labor” negotiations of the league. I could care less if Gene Upshaw won’t take less than 60% of the total gross revenues and the league is offering 56.2%. It matters not a whit to me that the league will be cap-less or that there is a possibility of a strike or lockout. I know hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake, but this is just another argument amongst millionaires that has nothing to do with me. It’s like caring how big of a bonus Wall Street guys will get in a given year. And this whole mishegas is just another example of how lawyers and accountants have insinuated themselves into every aspect of our lives, and how we’re worse off for it. What do you call 4000 lawyers and accountants at the bottom of the ocean? A good start. But seriously ladies and germs… Let them strike. We’ll all just watch more high school and college football.

Spring Training. This yearly event means that the warm weather is right around the corner. It is also a time for hope for a lot of baseball fans around the country. But what it represents and what it actually is are two different things. The Super Bowl “Media Week” is bad enough with a running time of five days. Spring training is “Media Week” on steroids. Weeks and weeks of feature stories about guys who wear number 74 and are made to sound like “the second coming,” when in reality they have no shot at making the team and will be in Double-A come July. Stories about the minutia of bumps and bruises and how this year will be so-and-so’s comeback/breakout/career defining season are just too much to take for the next 6 weeks or so.

Barry Bonds In A Dress. Has anyone seen these pictures or the video clip? I’m not saying that Bonds uses — or has used — illegal performance-enhancing or muscle-building drugs like Human Growth Hormone. I am saying he looks huge in a strapless dress, bigger than a lot of the guys I saw during the NFL Combine.

The New York Knicks. One of the proudest franchises in the history of the NBA is slipping further and further into disrepair with Isiah Thomas and James Dolan at the helm. Rather than being the franchise that at various times during their history represented everything that was great about basketball, the Knicks now embody everything that is wrong with modern, professional sports. The team with the highest payroll in the history of the league is better than even money to finish with the worse record in the league. I broke a promise to myself when I watched several minutes of two recent Knick games. One game versus the Lakers and another game versus cross-river rival Nets. The words “putrid,” “un-watchable,” “quitters,” “torture” and “ticket refunds” don’t begin to do justice to what’s going on in Madison Square Garden.

The Rest Of The NBA. With less than 30 regular season games to go the NBA pre-season is coming to a close. Stay tuned to see what the playoff seedings will be.

Bryant Gumbel. We’re trying to confirm this, but we’ve heard rumors that Gumbel is unhappy with the amount of black quarterbacks at the NFL Combine and says that there’s no way anyone should be calling them the greatest group of athletes in the world. However, this is just a rumor.

There should be much joy in sports fan-ville as we’re getting into an awesome time of year. The Ramble will have much to ramble about, so stay tuned.

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