5-at-10: Classic baseball finish, Rick Pitino back on big stage, strange definition of cheated

Rick Pitino speaks after being introduced as St. John's new men's NCAA college basketball head coach at Madison Square Garden in New York, Tuesday, March 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Corey Sipkin)

Classic in name and finish

So the World Baseball Classic wrapped last night. It was equal parts movie script and sports nirvana.

The questions after a perfect finish to what has been arguably the best baseball anyone can recall are swirling in my head.

Before we get there, though, let's drink the final out of Japan's 3-2 win over Team USA. Japan ace Shohei Ohtani on the mound. Mike Trout -- one of the best baseball players by any metric to ever pick up a glove -- at the plate. One-run game. Two outs.

Ohtani goes 100 mph heater twice for the first two strikes, and on the sixth and final pitch, delivers a perfect, frisbee-esque slider to strike out his Angels teammate. (Side question No. 1: How can the Angels have these two dudes and still suck?)

And as great as that sounds -- the two best baseball players on the planet deciding a world championship -- know it was even better in Japanese. Trust me.

My only regret of the entire WBC is that I was not more invested from the start.

Moving forward, my consternation only grows with MLB's instance of being its own worst enemy.

This was the best stage, the best energy, the best environment that baseball has had since we pretended that Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire were just really good baseball players and that the syringes litter along the warning track was from the celebrity softball event to prevent childhood diabetes.

So make the most of this. Now. I applauded MLB's attempts to change its game in terms of pace and purpose. The game needs a lift, and the rules have added action.

But the WBC delivered action and emotion -- and the latter is every bit as important and can not be crafted or manufactured with pitch clocks or strategy alterations.

And the WBC delivered emotion by the truckload. Heck, it was so filled with emotion, they would need Steam Logistics working 24/7 to get all the emotion on schedule across the globe.

But the MLB clearly is blinded by the dazzling lights. When making the most of this event -- globally, this event was infinitely more intrigued and viewed than any of the last dozen World Series -- makes the most sense, MLB going to MLB.

First, MLB commish Rob Manfred has already said on record that the next WBC will not move from its March date?

One of the main reasons sports fans like me were late to the WBC shindig was that it overlapped with the first two days of March Madness. That is controllable, so control it, Rob.

Second, let's make this an every year deal while the players are interested and the fans are clamoring for it. Yes, the injury to Edwin Diaz was a downer, but it also was a freak accident that could have happened in spring training, at his kids bah mitzvah or walking to the Mapco for one of their delicious fountain drinks.

With the sports world buzzing about your pastime, find ways to make the most of this.

Heck, I've even seen some suggestions of bagging the MLB All-Star game, extending that break to a couple of weeks and putting the WBC in the two-week dead zone that is the middle of July.

Wow, baseball getting a two-week global stage all to itself. Yeah, what purpose in growing the game or your league would that serve Rob?

The World Baseball Classic was just that. Classic.

Now Baseball needs to grab this world-class opportunity.

Hello again

So he's back.

Rickie P. Ol' Rick Pitino. The coaching legend and reported quick-trigger Italian restaurant diner has been introduced as the next head basketball coach at St. John's.

I believe this. Rick will win there. Big. And soon.

He's as good as anyone with a whistle at coaching.

Running a program, well that's a different kettle of sweat socks.

Pitino's rule-breaking and/or habitually knowingly not-knowing what was happening at Louisville left that program in ruins. This past season, Louisville was likely the worst team in major college basketball.

But since his ouster, Pitino has reworked his image and lifted Iona to back-to-back NCAA tournaments.

I guess we all knew he'd get another shot eventually. Desperation for success -- and profits -- will always ease the rationalization process of decisions like these.

Will he win? I wouldn't bet against him.

Will he stay within the rules of the NCAA and decency? We'll see.

Webster's ASAP

So, Antoine Davis feels "cheated" out of a chance to break Pete Maravich's all-time scoring record?

Uh, someone needs to make sure young Mr. Davis understands the word "cheated" if you ask me.

Davis got an extra COVID-19 year -- dude has been in college longer than John Blutarsky, who famously said, "Great, seven years of college down the drain" when Dean Wormer kicked Delta House out of Faber -- but feels cheated.

Dude got the 3-point line -- man, Pistol's numbers would be through the roof, even in three years if they had the arc back then -- but feels cheated.

Dude took a bazillion shots for a bad team his dad coached -- Pistol played for his pops, too -- which meant his team did not win enough to get into a normal postseason tournament, but feels cheated.

"I'm upset about it," Davis told The Associated Press. "I feel like I got cheated out of something that they can't ever give back to me. I think it's selfish -- and weird -- that people emailed or called the CBI to say we shouldn't be in the tournament because they didn't want me to break the record."

Again, your 14-19 team has as much business being in a postseason tournament as "Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights" had at the Academy Awards.

In the end, if Davis had set the mark -- even in five years of playing compared to Pistol's three seasons -- that would have been fine. It would likely have had an asterisk considering the differences, but it would have been fine.

But, if Detroit Mercy -- again, which finished 14-19 -- had gotten an invite all the way to the C-B-I, the only person who would have been cheated in this deal would have been Pete Maravich.

This and that

-- So how about this sign at last night's Oregon-Wisconsin NIT game behind the announcers. "Cheese curds are overated" it said, which is both false and misspelled. Still, the Ducks fan pushed a social media button across Badger nation.

-- Speaking of the NIT and the WBC, we split our four plays last night, hitting the unders in the WBC title game and the Ducks-Badgers. If not for overtime in the Oklahoma State-North Texas game, we would have clocked a 3-1 night. So it goes, and after a run of eight consecutive whiffs, a 2-2 doesn't feel terrible, you know?

-- You know the rules. Here's Paschall on UT spring football drills.

-- Speaking of value in today's TFP, here's assistant sports editor and North Georgia high school sports hero Lindsey Young telling us about a legendary Ringgold coach stepping down. Man, 700 girls' basketball wins is a bunch friends.

-- Speaking of North Georgia high school sports, the Dalton soccer program is fan-flippin-tastic. The kickin' Catamounts beat Baylor -- and yeah, Baylor, as you'd expect, is pretty salty too -- 5-4 last night to improve to 7-0-1 all-time against the Red Raiders. In fact, Dalton soccer deserves to be mentioned right there with Baylor golf as arguably the best single sports program in our coverage area if you ask me.

-- Rest easy, Willis Reed. The former Knicks star died Tuesday. He was 80.

-- Whoa, there were some political topics swirling out there this morning, but we're staying politics-free around these parts until at least Easter.

-- Here's more of Cam Newton's appearance at Auburn's pro day. Speaking of pro days, Carolina is sending the population of Durham to Columbus for CJ Stroud's workout at THE Ohio State. Alabama and Kentucky have their pro days this week too, so we may get some more intel on where the top QBs on most draft boards could be headed. I love the draft. You know this.

Today's questions

Which way Wednesday starts this way.

Which is the best baseball player on planet Earth, Shohei or Trout?

Which Sweet 16 game will be the most fun?

Which area high school program would you nominate to go with Dalton soccer and Baylor golf as the best around?

Which montage is better, "You're the best around" montage from the All-Valley Karate championships or the winter training in the Russian wilderness in Rocky IV? Discuss. Vader to the white courtesy phone, Mr. Fat Vader to the white courtesy phone please.

Which player do you think of first when I say "New York Knicks" gang?

As for today, March 22, let's review.

The Beatles released their first album -- "Please Please Me" -- on this day 60 years ago.

William Shatner is 92 today.

Rushmore of TV spacemen/astronauts/etc. Go and enjoy the day.