5-at-10: Monster NFL news, which Final Four has more stars, amazin’ MLB predictions

Virginia Tech guard Georgia Amoore celebrates during the second half of an Elite 8 college basketball game against Ohio State in the NCAA Tournament, Monday, March 27, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Caean Couto)
Virginia Tech guard Georgia Amoore celebrates during the second half of an Elite 8 college basketball game against Ohio State in the NCAA Tournament, Monday, March 27, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Caean Couto)

Monster NFL news

There is a monster story not enough folks are discussing circling in the NFL.

No, it's not the draft. I love the draft. You know this. But the draft is a month away, so calling it a monster story today is a misnomer. Plus, everyone is talking about the draft.

(Side question: Seriously, JTC, you are a Gators fan and how crazy is it that Anthony Richardson is now being discussed to Houston with the second overall pick? Side note to the side question: DD's Colts would be in high cotton if that plays out because Arizona picks three and they assuredly will look pass rusher, which would mean CJ Stroud or Bryce Young would be on the board for Indy at four.)

As for the NFL monster story — no it's not Lamar Jackson's beef with Baltimore or Aaron Rodgers pout-off with the Packers. Sure, both are sizable stories — former MVP QBs potentially on the market — but again, everyone is talking about that.

(Side question: Would you want Jackson or Rodgers considering the price and the cap hit? Maybe if you are Indy, Rodgers could be what you prayed Matt Ryan was going to be last year, but man, multiple No. 1s for the chance to give Lamar Jackson a quarter of a billion guaranteed considering he's missed 10 games over the last two seasons and running QBs age in dog years in the league, I'd pass.)

OK, the NFL monster story is also not the Washington Commanders, although again, that's a big one because multiple groups have met Daniel Snyder's asking price of $6 billion — yes, billion with a "b" — for the franchise. It would be the highest price tag for any professional sports organization.

The symmetry there is when Snyder bought the Washington franchise from Jack Kent Cooke's family in 1999, he also paid a then record-price of ... wait for it ... almost there ... $800 million.

Yeah he made out OK, increasing his original investment by 650% in less than a quarter century.

Which leads us to the monster story not many are aware of in terms of the NFL. Tuesday, the league's leaders voted to allow sports books in stadiums in state where sports betting is legalized.

Yep. Cha-ching. Say what you want about Roger Goodell — and a lot of us have — but his pledge to exponentially increase the revenue stream of The Shield has been exceeded at almost every new decision.

Think of the revenue chances, whether the teams get into the betting business themselves or farm it out to online operators.

Think of the expansion of the stadium as a venue — a sports book, restaurant, entertainment option — that allows stadiums way more than there 10-12 home football games a year.

Think of the states with NFL teams haggling about legalizing sports betting and the extra pressure/influence the NFL can assert.

Because even the hint of a team leaving or the promise to host the Super Bowl or the NFL draft could swing hundreds of millions in consumer spending in either direction.

So yeah, Lamar and Aaron and the draft are monster stories.

And the Commanders are going to demand a record-setting monster asking price whenever that deal gets finalized.

But the real monster across the American entertainment realm is the NFL, which never misses a step when it comes to finding ways to generate more revenue.

Which Final Four is better?

The men's Final Four has a slew of unknowns and a cast of new faces that would cause anyone not named Jay Bilas to go buy a program before Saturday night's doubleheader.

And yes, the men's Final Four will triple — or more — the TV numbers of the women's event.

But look at the teams and the star power the women's Final Four has.

Iowa's Caitlin Clark is right there with Sabrina Ionescu as being the most versatile women's player in recent memory and likely the best player in the sport since Brianna Stewart went to the WNBA.

South Carolina is the new UConn, and Dawn Staley is Kirby Smart to Geno's Lord Saban.

Virginia Tech is arguably as complete as any team in the country, and Vader's LSU Tigers have the nation's best double-double machine in Angel Reese.

Reese was featured in this story. Some of the interesting highlights in Reese's sweet run for the Tigers:

— She is nicknamed Bayou Barbie.

— She has 32 double-doubles this year, meaning there were only two games (vs. Georgia when she had 15-6 and South Carolina when she went for 16-4) she did not reach double figures in points and rebounds.

— She leads the nation in free throws made and attempted and of her 15.7 rebounds per game, more than six of those come on the offensive end.

— And maybe most interestingly, she is one of the leading NIL earners in her sport, with 17 sponsorship deals and reported NIL value at an estimated $384,000.

And if you are wondering, WNBA rookies make between $63,000 to $75,000.

Yeah, so much for entering the draft early huh?

MLB predictions

So, the MLB season starts Thursday.

Yay. It's a marathon, and as Annie told us, it's a long season and you got to trust it. She's right, even if talking to her at times is like monkey have conversation with a fungo.

So, while we are miles away from the -er months of September and October when the magi happens and heroes and has-beens become all-timers or never-weres, let's offers some MLB projections — both serious and outlandish — as we tippy-toe into the rite of spring.

— Three NL East teams make the playoffs. Again.

— The Dodgers win the West but disappoint in the playoffs. Again.

— The Yankees win the East but disappoint in the playoffs. Again.

— After its aging pitching staff limits through June, the heavy-handed and extremely well-funded Mets make the move of the season and trade for Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani, who was well on his way to winning the AL MVP and the AL Cy Young.

— Healthy and having fun, Ronald Acuña goes joins the 40-40 club and wins his first MVP. He then wants to discuss a reworked contract as Juan Soto and Ohtani are about to get deals three- and four-times larger than the Braves outfielder's contract.

— Every baseball curmudgeon will find a TV camera and complain about the rule changes and how they are destroying the game. TV numbers will stay flat because TV numbers are always flat unless it's the NFL, but attendance will grow.

— Other award winners include Cleveland's Jose Ramirez, who wins the AL MVP after Ohtani is dealt to the Mets, Texas righty Jacob deGrom, who wins the AL CY Young after Ohtani is dealt to the Mets, Acuña and teammate Max Fried, who wins the NL Cy Young because Ohtani did not have enough innings in the NL after being dealt to the Mets.

— Your playoff teams will be the Yankees, Guardians, Astros as AL division winners with Blue Jays, White Sox and Mariners as the wildcards. The Braves, the Cardinals and the Dodgers will claim their NL divisions with the Mets, Phillies and Padres as the wildcards.

— Mets over Braves in the NLCS — a three-dude rotation of Verlander, Scherzer and Ohtani would be hard to handle — and Yankees over Astros in the AL.

— Your World Series champions? The New York Mets (as long as they can trade for Shohei Ohtani that is.)

This and that

— OK, the NIT was crazy, and yeah I watched because I had an invested interest, let's say. So North Texas held Wisconsin without a point for almost the final 10 minutes to eek out a 56-54 win that covered the 1.5 number and delivered an improbable under of a minuscule total of 115 considering there were 70 points scored in the first half and it was 54-46 Wisconsin with 8-plus minutes left. We paid it back karma-wise in the NIT nightcap when Utah Valley hit a deep three with 2 seconds left in an 88-86 loss to UAB. Yep, I was on UAB minus-4.5. Ouch-standing.

— Speaking of basketball interest last night, I was impressed with how Bronny James shot the basketball in the McDonald's All-American game. I think Bronny's pop plays somewhere but his name escapes me. The younger James hit five threes. Speaking of famous basketball bloodlines, D.J. Wagner -- a third-generation McDonald's All-American selection and a U.K. signee -- was the MVP, and that dude will help Chas' 'Cats as soon as he steps foot into Rupp.

— You know the rules. Here's Paschall on UT's plans across the offensive line this spring.

— We have a lot of seriousness around us. And sadness. This morning chuckle brought to you by "Wheel of Fortune" where the category was "'fun and games," and a contestant guessing "playing with balls" made another contestant crack up, which drew some lighthearted teasing from host Pat Sajak.

— To no one's surprise the TV numbers were down across the board for the NCAA men's Elite Eight. It was the least watched Sunday afternoon window on CBS since 2009.

— The next basketball hall of fame class has been leaked. According to CBSsports.com, the newest members are Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol, Tony Parker, Gregg Popovich and Becky Hammon.

Today's questions

Which way Wednesday starts this way: Which MLB prediction would you like to offer?

Which member of the new hoops Hall class was the best player (among the players that is)?

Which sports franchise would demand the highest bid? Which non-NFL team would be the highest on that list?

As for today, March 29, let's review.

On this day in 1945, Jimmy Stewart was promoted to full Colonel. That's pretty cool.

Cy Young would have been 156 today.

Rushmore of awards/trophies named for people. Go, and enjoy the day.