Sometimes I forget that the cushy little sports world I live in is not the end-all and be-all. For the better part of the last two weeks, it has felt like everything was crashing down around me as housewives and receptionists everywhere had outpicked me on their March Madness brackets using such scientific methods of selection as "Whose mascot would win in a fight on the Discovery Channel?" and "Whose jersey is prettier?" Typically, when I'm feeling bad about myself and need a mood boost I'll fire up some reality TV or an old Jerry Springer episode, but I have to say that our very own Hair Balls blog on HoustonPress.com has become quite the safe haven for my ego, with at least a couple good schadenfreude-friendly stories each day.
To wit, I loved this dandy little story yesterday from Craig Malisow about a retired Galveston County firefighter named Everett Johnston. Craig covers the details nicely in his piece, so I highly recommend giving it a click.
Cliffs Notes version -- Usually, when you drink a 12-ounce can of beer, the worst part is the last sip or two because oftentimes, especially in the heat of Texas, it's warm as piss. I can only imagine what that last sip is like when you combine it with the severed head of a rat. Unfortunately for Everett Johnson, he knows. Like I said, click the piece if you haven't heard the story. Dude had a rodent's head in his Tecate Light.
And thus, I was able to make it through one more day of the dismal March Madness of '10. After all, I thought, at least I'm not the guy who drank the beer with the rat's head in it.
By the way, normally I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but I'd like to think that this rat's head isn't just some random occurrence whereby a rodent got loose in a brewery and met its ultimate demise soaked in hops on a conveyor belt. Booooring. I choose to believe that the severed head was a result of one of the following:
1.) Everett Johnson is actually an underground breeder of prize rats, and the mob was looking to send him some sort of message, i.e. Johnson better stop refusing whatever offer it is they've made him.
2.) Somewhere there is an alternate rat universe and right now it's in its Braveheart Era, and the rat whose dome is in Johnson's beer is actually the nephew of the Longshanks Rat. ("Wallace Rat has sacked York!!")
3.) This rat was returning sunglasses to O.J. Simpson's ex-wife.
These are all far more exciting theories to think about than the truth. Also, it sounds like Johnson is suing the brewer, the distributor, and pretty much anyone associated with Tecate Light for the "harm" they inflicted upon him. Hey, I'm not saying that there shouldn't be some punishment for whatever company or companies allowed a rat's head to make it into a beer, but if this dude gets a seven-figure settlement for this, go ahead and assume that people will be guzzling Tecate Light by the can, searching for the next rat's head like it's the golden ticket inside a Wonka Bar.
Okay, thanks again to Everett Johnson for making me thankful I'm not him. Now onto some quick Final Four picks that you can go opposite of and win big money!!
MICHIGAN STATE vs BUTLER
The "Hey, did you realize Jerome Bettis is from Detroit?", beat-us-over-the-head storyline for this one is "Hey, did you realize Butler is in Indianapolis and plays in the same gym where they filmed Hoosiers?" Yes, we get it. Over/under for Gene Hackman/Shooter/picket fence references on Saturday has been set at 8.5.
The underlying story in all of this is that the supposed "Cinderella" Butler Bulldogs are actually favored in this game by one point! People have made a huge deal about the Bulldogs' team defense, as no one has scored more than 60 points on them yet in the tournament (a victims list that includes heavyweights like Syracuse and Kansas State, as well as high octane UTEP). The story to me, though, will be the Spartans defense and how well they defend the ball-screen heavy offense of Butler.
The Bulldogs will have the best player on the floor, and the advantage of being able to go through their normal home-game routine (Their campus is five miles from Lucas Oil Field.). All of that said, people don't get rich in this spot betting against Tom Izzo, and they really don't get rich in this spot betting against him as an underdog. I'll take Sparty in a close one.
MICHIGAN STATE 62, BUTLER 59
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WEST VIRGINIA vs DUKE
My personal feelings on Duke are well documented (But for sake of clarification, if it's Duke versus the terrorists, I'm actually having to think about it), and my on-court feelings on West Virginia are out there as well (I have them winning the whole thing.). So it will fly in the face of both of those things, especially the first, when I say that Duke should be the clear chalk to win the whole thing at this point.
They're the one team still left that does all of the important things pretty well (defend on the perimeter, rebound, shoot, protect the basketball, shoot free throws), and they are the healthiest of the four teams (Michigan State and West Virginia are both missing their starting point guards). In many ways, this has been one of Coach K's best coaching jobs and best jobs adapting to his personnel.
If I'm going to pick West Virginia, which I'm predisposed to do because I picked them to win it all before the tournament (even if their starting point guard is hurt), I'll hang my hat on the Mountaineers having the two best players still left in the tournament (Devin Ebanks and Da'Sean Butler), and the toughness of having been through multiple close games now, both in the Big East tournament and staving off Kentucky last weekend. I'll go with the West Virginia vs Michigan State finals, which is the opposite of what the TV execs are probably hoping for.
WEST VIRGINIA 72, DUKE 71.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on the Sean & John Show, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.