Coach's Corner

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow..." go the words to a popular Yuletide tune. It's also the hourly mantra chanted by my brother, my brother's very own prosperous personal injury attorney from Philadelphia, and myself, as we gazed out into the crystal clear skies of Winter Park, Colorado.

Winter Park is an old-time ski resort, which has somehow managed to remain quaintly underdeveloped (by the gaudy standards of today's created-to-make-money areas). My brother talked me into this excursion on the strength of an extravagant description of our accommodations. It had three luxurious bedrooms, he said, and a bathroom for everybody. It turns out my bedroom was the living room and my bed was a pull-out sofa, so singularly disgusting (the musty gray-yellow sheets and moth-eaten once-upon-a-time-white blanket, looked, felt and smelled like they'd been stored since the Great Depression), I chose to sleep on the couch.

The television dominated my (and everybody else's) room and so, from my spot on the divan, my companions and I developed the following theory we'll call The Tomorrow Directive. The Tomorrow Directive mandates: In a tourist locale, if what you came there for -- sun, calm seas, clear water, birds or, in our case snow -- is not happening, all the locals and the regional media are required to say, over and over, "tomorrow." There'd been a dearth of snow in Winter Park, but everyday the Denver television stations would report, hourly and with vigor, it would snow... tomorrow.

Finally, on the sixth day, it did. With six inches of dry Colorado powder waiting on the slopes, I rousted my brother and his sleepy attorney out of bed. The lifts opened at 8:30. We would be there. I was skiing along quite smartly, showing off outstanding powder form to my companions when, in the blink of an eye, I was face down in a large pile of fresh snow, my skis pointed toward the blue sky, my right arm twisted unnaturally behind my back. Within an hour, with seismic pain shooting down my ravaged appendage, I staggered off the mountain, a beautiful day wasted. By evening, the arm was in a sling. Let it snow...

Retreating to the condo, I had the unexpected opportunity to witness an ugly Longhorn defeat to Colorado. I don't know about you, but I'm real sick of hearing Tom Penders whine incessantly about his tough schedule. I'm sick of hearing about RPI and Sagarin Ratings. I'm sick to the point of vomit of hearing about "good losses." If Penders schedules a game expecting to lose, but to still win somehow by looking brave to a computer or a faceless committee, that's his choice. We don't need to hear about how tough it is out there.

Most disturbing is the weak way the team is finishing the year. Penders-coached teams always used to finish strong (the result of a SWC schedule?). This team looked much better in January than March, which doesn't bode well for the short-term, tournament future.

The Colorado massacre was as bad as Texas could possibly look, but still, it got me thinking. There's much griping, understandably, by Colorado fans about being seeded behind a clearly inferior Texas team in the Big 12 tournament this week. If Texas didn't already have the #2 seed locked up, and if they were not so secure in knowing -- at least Penders seems secure -- that an NCAA bid is already a foregone conclusion, would a different team have showed up at the Coors Event Center last Saturday? Texas, having already clinched the South Division and an automatic bye, had little to play for on Saturday; and it showed. The current seeding process creates a sports nightmare: a good team (though in this case it's debatable) mailing in a who-gives-a-shit performance, as they try to stay healthy for the more important games to come. In other words, maybe teams should be seeded simply 1 thru 12, by record.

If you don't understand the concept of a lose-lose proposition, take a look at professional baseball. One side are the crotchety, old baseball purists; my father being a prime example. They are, to a man, against interdivisional play, division realignment, free agency and Windows 95. On the other side, are those who understand baseball is a great game, but also have no emotional investment in a set-in-stone list of teams under the banner of, say, National League West. I'm on that side. In the middle is the game itself; battered on one side for being too stodgy, battered on the other side for being a runaway, liberal freight train with no respect for its past. This is what's known as a lose-lose proposition.

A postscript: Baseball should postpone league realignment for five years. Change is good, but too much is... too much. The game has been through enough in the past decade. Let the dust settle. I like the prospect of the White Sox playing the Cubs or the Astros playing the Rangers. Let's see how it pans out. Make your fans secure that the game's here to stay. No more ugly labor disputes. Prove changes like inter-league play are good for everybody. Then, talk about the Dodgers playing in the American League. (Yuk!)

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