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Super Bowl and Hoops Notes While Waiting for Pitchers and Catchers to Report

It was a thrilling Super Bowl. Only the most rabid and irrational New England Patriot-hater could not tip a cap to the brilliance of Tom Brady.

I was rooting for Atlanta but as a fan of the Wisconsin Badgers I was thrilled to see former Wisconsin running back James White have a great game and score the winning touchdown in overtime.

However, I do think the rule should be changed that both teams have a chance to score in overtime. I know it was with great reluctance a few years ago that NFL honchos made a change that if the first team with the ball doesn't score a touchdown, the opponent does get a chance.

But tell me any sport where the climactic game of the season is influenced so powerfully by a coin flip. Another reason why baseball and basketball are superior sports. And not as violent and injury-laden.

Speaking of basketball, I saw something at the start of the Columbia-Brown game on Saturday night that I never saw before. The five starters for Brown were listed on the scoreboard with numbers 1-2-3-4-5.

Hadn't seen such symmetry on a scoreboard since a baseball game in Minnesota over 20 years ago when the Indians were a dominant team and scored 1 run in the 1st, 2 in the 2nd, 3 in the 3rd, 4 in the 4th and 5 in the 5th (innings).

Columbia held on to beat Brown 83-78 and stay in the hunt for one of the four playoff spots in the first-ever Ivy League post-season tournament coming up second weekend in March. Brown's number 3, by the way, is senior Steven Spieth, brother of champion golfer Jordan Spieth.

Steven has been a solid contributor for the Brown Bears. But on Saturday, Columbia's smooth-shooting and defensively-improving senior forward Luke Petrasek and company were too much.

And a tip of my alumnus cap to seven-foot senior center Conor Voss. Coming off the bench he has become a reliable defender and an effective pivot in the offense.

AND NOW SOME CLOSING THOUGHTS ON BASEBALL:
By Valentine's Day all major league teams will have opened camps. It's a little early this year because the World Baseball Classic will take many players away from their teams for more than two weeks.

Many managers like Baltimore's Buck Showalter and Cleveland's Terry Francona have not been subtle about their opposition to the lost time for their minions. But the WBC is probably here to stay as an effort "to grow the game" internationally.

One last baseball note - I think the cumulative stats of Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines make their Hall of Fame election acceptable. I still believe that the H of F should be for the great and not just the very good.

I also question whether catcher Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez merited election during his first year of eligibility.

I don't have a ballot but I needed to see pictures of how different Pudge looked during the age of undetected PED use and after. I remember seeing him running sprints before a Tigers-Yankees playoff game a few years ago. He was so fast and slim. I doubt if he looked that way a few years earlier but I have not seen the pictures.

Well,that's all for now. It is still a wonderful time of year with increasing daylight and spring training and spring itself on the horizon. So always: Take it easy but take it!
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