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Atlanta Braves' Dansby Swanson sets back to throw during spring training baseball practice on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021, in North Port, Fla. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Weekend winners

All of us. The Braves played Sunday. Big leaguers on the green grass in spring training makes almost everything right in the world. Yes, baseball on proper fields with limited fans. God bless America. (And yes, the Braves are on MLB Network at 1 today. Count me in on that one friends.)

Willie Nelson. Willie dropped another album over the weekend, his second collection of Sinatra covers. Then I remember how awesome Willie is. Check it: He's written 10 books. He's a credited actor in 64 motion pictures. Winner of 12 Grammys. Runs Willie's Roadhouse on satellite radio. Leads two cannabis companies. His album Friday is his second in the last 12 months. The other in 2020 became Willie's 53rd top-10 album, making him the only artist to have a top-10 record in seven straight decades. Yeah, not bad for an 87-year-old.

Luka Doni. I can make a hard and believable argument that if we reshuffled the NBA — put every player in the hat and redrafted the entire league — Luka would be the first pick. He turned 22 Sunday, and he is one of two players in the history of the league with 4,000 points and 1,000 assists before turning 22. The other is some dude named LeBron.

Golf. How cool was the multitude of golfers at several tournaments — the WGC, the PGA event, Mickelson at the Champions Tour and Annika Sorenstam at the LPGA tournament — wore the red shirt and the black pants in honor of Tiger Woods on Sunday? I thought it was aces. More than that, it was fitting and apropos. Is there anyone in the last 50 years who did as much for their sport as Tiger did for golf? Serena, maybe? Conor McGregor? Tyson? I don't think anyone in the last half century did more for their sport than Tiger did. Here's more on the subject from ace sports columnist Mark Wiedmer.

UTC football. Impressive win over No. 11 Wofford to open the spring season for Rusty Wright's bunch. Defensively, these Mocs are going to be a handful friends. Here's more from Saturday's late February win from Gene of Many Hats Henley.

 

Weekend losers

Andrew Cuomo. Yeah, enough said. Especially since March is women's history month. Seriously, I know we're all flawed and make mistakes, but in a country of 370 million people, why are people like Cuomo and Trump and so many others grabbing important positions of leadership. What a scumbag. And I believe the roach theory applies to this one too.

UT hoops. Not sure what the cause of the crater within Rick Barnes' program, but these Vols are broken. Since a blistering 10-1 start that had a lot of us believing this bunch was a 1 seed, UT is 6-6 and right now looks more like a bubble bunch. Losing to a Sharife Cooper-less Auburn bunch is inexcusable, gang.

Golden Globes. Man, that was tough to watch. In fact, I couldn't make it through more than the first 30 minutes, and the first three segments on how the Hollywood Foreign Press needs more diversity. Seriously, there were at least three full conversations about the lack of Black writers in the group that picks the nominees and the winners. And it's important conversation. But have it and move along. And I'm an awards show viewer normally. Or at least I used to be.

 

Welcome to a new March

My son asked me over the weekend if we're going to have a bracket this year.

I'm not sure.

Oh, the NCAA will have a tournament. Simply put, the NCAA can't afford not to have a tournament this year. Literally. For all sports.

And yes, there are online options, but lost in the ease and the access of the internet wagering world is the connection.

Between you and Susan in the next department over who always turned in two sheets because she was picking Duke to win it all on one of them.

Between you and Paul in computer support who always programmed the scoring program so that everyone got realtime updates after each tournament night.

Between you and your boss, who would play and pony up the $5 entry fee and somehow always was around the top after the first weekend but faded quickly when the upsets ran out and UNC or Kansas pooped their pants.

Now, online, it's completely about the money. And that's fine — heck, it's even the overall point — for all other aspects of sports wagering.

But March Madness was always a little big different. Be it scoring ac spy of your actual bracket with a highlighter or checking the scores posted in the office come Monday and Friday — even though Paul's updates were instantly available.

So it goes. I'm looking forward to the tournament, truly I am.

It will be different for sure, but it's still magic. And Madness.And while we're here in the land of alliteration. When the Madness starts to march, give me Michigan over the masses.    

 

This and that

— The Golden Globes were last night, and other than Soul — the winner for best animated movie — I'm pretty sure I have not seen a single show or movie that won anything of notable size.

— The NFL is planning a 17-game schedule for 2021 with a couple of twists. There will be a Christmas Day doubleheader. (The NBA's groans were audible.) And a Monday night wildcard playoff that will crush.

— Man, Arik Gilbert's on pace to be the all-time transfer portal passenger. Gilbert played as a freshman last fall at LSU. He transferred to Florida, and after a month, has re-entered the portal. So there's that.

— Like this story of a principal at an Indianapolis middle school who took the time to identify the issue and not the incident. An eighth-grader was sent to Jason Smith's office because he refused to remove his hat in class. The boy got a botched haircut and was worried his classmates would make fun of him. So Smith pulled out the clippers and went to work. Problem solved.

— Give me Forrest Gump and lay the points. In Colorado in January, there was more money bet on ping pong ($11.8 million) than the NHL ($9.6 million). In fact, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue, there were more greenbacks gambled on table tennis than MMA, soccer and college football combined.

— Colin Morikawa is going to win a slew of tournaments in the next decade. Kid can golf his ball.

 

Today's questions

Weekend winners and losers. Go.

As for today, March 1, let's review. Justin Bieber is 27 today, and he's got that Yummy Yum.

Pink Floyd released Dark Side of the Moon on this day in 1973. Wow, 48 years — with more than 45 million copies sold — and God knows how may joints burnt while that record was being played.

On this day in 1872, Yellowstone becomes the world's first national park.

Rushmore of 'park' and be creative. Go.

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