Purgatory Online

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

After way too much consideration, Eric Neel concludes that the baseball playoffs are the best tournament around. No kidding. Look, I love the NCAA tournament. The excitement of the opening two days, the upsets, the stunned looks in the eyes of seniors who've just crapped out of the last real game they'll ever play, the nearly-guaranteed run to the Sweet 16 or Final 8 of at least one double-digit seed...these are all great things to see, moments of high drama. But in terms of combining drama with truly excellent athletic performances, nine times out of ten the World Series kicks the NCAA tournament directly in the gonads. A few years ago, for example, Michigan screwed the pooch in the final game when Chris Webber was called for a technical foul, his offense being that his team was, um, out of time outs. When was the last time the World Series was decided on something that stupid? And don't bother with Buckner in '86 or Mickey Owen's dropped third strike in '41 - those, at least, were physical screw-ups rather than technicalities or mental mistakes. You'd have to go back to 1926, when Babe Ruth was thrown out stealing second for the last out of Game 7 to find anything comparable.

And you know, the less said about the NBA, the better. I appreciate that these guys are athletes who perform at a level that I can barely imagine. But the NBA tournament sucks. Between including a ridiculous 16 teams and scheduling enough off-days to conduct another season, the NBA tournament proceeds at the pace of Dutch Elm Disease and is about as interesting. Like someone once said, if the NBA had been in charge of World War II, Germany and Japan would still be in the running.