Friday, March 10, 2006

March's Maddening Aspect


A friend of mine's dad was on a two-hour flight next to Billy Packer. As people filed on the plane, they kept stopping and complimenting Packer. After a bit of this, as the plane's getting ready for take off, my friend's dad turns to Packer and says: "So, you're Billy Packet?" "Yes," Packer smiled, "yes I am." "Christ," he said back, "you suck as an announcer." And then he turned back to his newspaper and sat in silence for the next two hours.
There are two things I dislike about March Madness (down from three since Cincinatti fired Bobby Huggins. Every year, it seemed that some team with one exciting player would matchup with the Bearcats in an early round. Mass thuggery would ensue, the one skinny kid on Cincy would hit a few threes, and Bobby Brannen would be dancing on the scorer's table, moving on to the next round.)

One is losing, badly, in every pool I enter to people who know much less about basketball than I do. Of course, According to Poohtm the set of people who know less about basketball is quite large. As a digression, I'm not the only one. Our freshman year, one of Tall and my roommates was watching the Final Four with us in a student lounge on campus. The game was Syracuse-Mississipi State (with the immortal Dontae' Jones leading the way), another kid walks in and sits down. We're obviously cheering for MSU. We ask the kid who he's pulling for.


Our boy: "Well, I know a little something about basketball, so I know you can't root for Syracuse."

The poor kid left at the next TV timeout.

But the second thing that drives me nuts about March Madness is Billy F'in Packer. People who know me, may want to tune out, as they've heard this rant multiple times, pretty much verabitm. But here goes anway.

Say what you want about Dickie V, yes he's loud and obnoxious and likes Duke too much (a feature, not a bug, if you asked me, which you didn't), but he's enthusiastic and earnest and by all accounts a nice guy.

Billy on the other and is a smug, superior, smarmy sonofabitch. No one has done more to propogate the subtle racism in basketball (which gives the fellas at Free Darko plenty of ammo) than Billy. If you turned the picture off, you can always, always tell if he's talking about a white kid or a black kid. If he has "a great basketball IQ" he's a white kid. "Tremendous instict for the game?" Black kid. "Hard-nosed, gritty competitor?" White kid. "Outstanding athlete" well, you get the point.

And of course, he's a complete bobo for the coaches. Anything good, it's great coaching (classic example was the '95 title game when Toby Bailey misses a 16 footer 2 feet left, runs in and tip-dunks it. Packer response: "great coaching by Harrick to let his young freshman play." Because the self-backboard pass is just was Harrick drew up in between having his assitants do the players' classwork.) Anything dumb? Player's fault.

His self-image and ego are so massive that they have their own gravitational field. Its pull is so strong that Jim Nance, who I like during say The Masters, becomes an ass during the tourney through sheer proximity.

But it's the Big Dance, and not even Billy Boy can totally ruin it for me...


bill said...

I basically grew up listening to Packer (and I think his cohort was Thacker) when he did the ACC regional calls back in the early to mid 70s, so I don't mind him. In fact, when he puts forth the effort he's the best in the business.

Although, I grant you this 100%: Billy on the other and is a smug, superior, smarmy sonofabitch. Abso-friggin-lutely, and I'll take him over Vitale any day,

Vitale used to be midly tolerable, then he became popular and became a caricuture. And it's really annoying because I'm a Duke fan. Became one the year they mugged UNLV in the semis after UNLV had gang-raped them the year before. Coach K is a bad mofo.

I had not heard the sublte racism charge before and will try to pay attention to it.

Kierkegaard Lives said...

What got me as much as anything about this idiot this weekend was listening to him and Jim Nantz rant on and on about how the NCAA tourney should basically exclude mid-major teams because they haven't historically made it to the final four. He basically said we should look at trends over the past 5 years or so to decide who gets in *this* year. What an a@@hole.

And this year the committee royally screwed the mid-majors. Not only did the "powerhouse" mid-major, your Gonzaga 'dogs, get screwed by only getting a 3 seed, but the Missouri Valley (which I watch a lot) got screwed by being overlooked in favor of Air Force and/or Utah State for at least one more bid and getting really lousy seeds for the teams that did get in.

There's a reason the mid-majors don't historically do well. First, few of them get the benefit of the doubt to get in, and second, the ones that do get lousy seeds even if they deserve better.

I'd very much like to see Packer pack it in and go away. And he can take Jim Nantz with him, as far as I'm concerned. (At least Clark Kellogg and Seth Davis seemed to restore some critical sanity to the selection show.)