March means two things: You either enjoy March Madness or you don’t. I personally don’t, but it’s hard to ignore words like Gonzaga, Marquette, “Orangemen” and “dribble” when 64 college teams battle it out to give scissors the greatest spotlight they receive all year. (When the champs use scissors to cut the net… right? …oh forget it)
This is really a nuisance when all I think about in March is Spring Training and the prospect of a new baseball season right around the corner.* But this doesn’t mean we can’t use basketball to our advantage as nerdy, obsessive baseball fans, right?
*I also think about my birthday, which is March 28th (today), by the way. Send well wishes to @grevalt. Send presents to the MLB FanCave located at 692 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
I thought it’d be fun (as a way to live with the fact that basketball does indeed exist) to take a gander at some of the more notable MLB alumni from the teams in the Sweet 16.
Notable alumnus – Ralph Shinners
Shinners played three years in the early 1920’s. The only Marquette alumnus to play in the MLB, Shinners also became a manager for Kenosha Comets of the AAGPBL in 1947. Unlike Tom Hanks’ “There’s no crying in baseball” mantra, he encouraged his players to sob uncontrollably during games, believing it enhanced performance and dispelled demons.
Notable alumnus – Dave Roberts
This is not the same Dave Roberts who stole second base in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS. Nope. This Dave Roberts had a career OBP of .286 in 2,191 PA. He did, however, steal second base 27 times in 10 years, along with the hearts of 27 young ladies in the process. It’s not unlike the plot of that movie “27 Dresses” which I was an actor in! - I’m the guy who trips and falls on the hoop skirt).
(3) Michigan State
Notable alumnus – Mark Mulder
The two-time All-Star had his best year in 2001 when he won an AL leading 21 games, and came in 2nd place for the Cy Young Award. Related to fictional TV character Fox Mulder. Somehow.
Notable alumnus – Quinton McCracken
Aside from having a pretty fun name, Quinton played 999 career games in the Majors. It would have been 1,000, but he forgot his cup one day in 2003.*
*My Little League coach benched me once for forgetting my cup. I was upset, but he was just lookin out for me.
(9) Wichita State
Notable alumnus – Doug Mirabelli
Tim Wakefield’s personal catcher for the better part of a decade. A Boston sports legend. Mirabelli is certainly one of my favorite Red Sox players ever mainly because I find it hilarious to picture him eating a big pastrami sandwich after a game in the locker room without wearing a shirt.
Notable alumnus – Terry Francona
Obviously known more today for his managing abilities than his playing abilities, Terry did record a strikeout in his career as a RP – even though he was actually a 1B/OF. Another Sox legend. I saw his doppelganger at a bar the other night.
Other notable alumni from the remaining Sweet 16 teams include Nick Swisher, Alex Cora, Darren O’Day and Chris Sale.
Root for whoever you want in March Madness if that’s your thing, but for now, the only Madness in my life is that of me about to start the season in the MLB Fan Cave! WHAT?!?!