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March 27 - April 2, 2000

 
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We Take It
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We Take It Back
Remember a couple weeks ago, we were waxing rhapsodic about March Madness? That was before.

Before all the interesting teams lost. Before the details of Bobby Knight's butt-wiping. Before Larry Eustachy's avalanche of classless, referee-aimed obscenities at the end of his Iowa State squad's clutch-free loss in the Midwest Regional Finals. Before the incomprehensible, stammering Digger Phelps bumbled onto ESPN's set and burbled, "When you take a look at Carolina, when you take a look at what they did on offense. They flat-out shot the ball." And most of all, before CBS.

Pundits have alternately praised and pummeled CBS Sports' Tourney coverage over the past couple decades. The Tiffany Network has tried everything: relentless whip-arounds, split screens, even an animatronic Al McGuire, who behind the microphone in years past was occasionally heard to finesse, "Ohhhhhhhh!!! Ohhhhhhhh!!!"

The network's strategy in 2000? Don't worry so much about the games.

Oh, the commercials. A constant barrage. Every timeout. Every moment Dick Enberg stopped mispronouncing names long enough to take a breath (more on him later). We stopwatched the last ten minutes of the North Carolina/Tulsa East Regional Final this Sunday. The result? Game: 13:47. Commercials: 9:00. We didn't actually attend any games this year, but other than the celebrity jones one might derive from the possibility of getting bitched-out by Billy Packer, why would anyone go? Every timeout is a TV timeout, and you're staring at empty court. In person, these games have all the rhythm of Oscar-slut Billy Crystal. Listening to Kenny G. With his head lodged up Gheorghe Muresan's ass.

And even when you're home, when does 30 seconds feel like the entire duration of XXXXX's acceptance speech? When you watch yet again as Teddy inherits the Pizza Hut fortune, or that Mission to Mars idiot uses his deodorant jet pack to zip around the bathroom. In the Tourney's earlier rounds, the game you're watching would break for halftime, and you'd watch ads. Then you'd be back to the studio so that Greg Gubmel could time it perfectly: ramble about nothing, then switch you...just in time to hear another game's commercials. (And the under-utilized Clark Kellogg sits in the background, muttering about 'flavah.')

The zenith of this pitiful viewing experience was the unlikely tandem of Enberg and James Worthy. Poor Enberg. Both his new Grecian Formula 'do (is "Dirty Cinnamon" really a color?) and his announcing style (in-depth analysis consists of reading players' middle names out of the media guide..."Oh my! Joseph Xavier Forte!") speak to a dying generation. He mispronounced Jason Capel (should be "kay-pull") at least a dozen times, perhaps rightly confusing him with Love Boat mainstay Bernie Kopell. (Don't you get the feeling Dick himself conceived the "Microsoft Databank," the technophobic's friend which imparted such hard-to-find information as Tulsa's team scoring average?) And then there's Worthy, whose most insightful interjection was downright Phelpsian: "I think the team that makes a serious run here can grab the lead." Good one, James.

We used to love the Tournament. What happen---

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Will Wisconsin shock the world and win its final two games, thereby again placing the term "Cheesehead" on the lips of all right-thinking Americans?


Yes. And the final score of the final game will be 12-10.

No. They have too many white guys and not enough players named "Mateen."


Last Week's Poll:
Isn't it great to have Dick Enberg back announcing real sports events?

Yes. (32%) If only he could be paired with Curt Gowdy. Could you please pass the Bosco?

No. (67%) You see, I prefer not to have every single player and every single play mis-identified. Call me crazy.