Don’t try to reach me today, unless it’s to buy a round.
It’s a day off. It should be a national sports holiday.
More than the Super Bowl. I always work that day. Until the New York Jets make it to one. Which means I always work that day.
But not this day, the best of sports days, smack in the middle of the best of periods on the sports calendars.
Spring collides with winter, with the traditional Opening Day and the NCAA title game. From first pitch until final horn, I gorge as a fan.
And look ahead.
Pick a sport: We can all feast right now, and think of what’s to come.
Start with tonight’s NCAA title game between North Carolina, the ultimate blueblood, vs. the No. 1 seed few outside of Mark Few believed in. Believe: Take Gonzaga at the buzzer.
Baseball will intrigue all year for the locals. The Boston Red Sox, with a scary good young lineup and the addition of Chris Sale, should take the American League East — the Toronto Blue Jays will slide a step back — and challenge the Cleveland Indians for American League supremacy.
The New York Yankees? They are not a playoff team, not yet — and that’s OK. This is a team a year or two away as the kids both in the bigs and in the minors. such as Gleyber Torres. develop, and the Class of 2018 free agents wait to shake free (Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, etc.). Think of this team as you did just before Mo, Jeter, Bernie, Jorge and Andy arrived. The Yanks are coming.
The New York Mets will win the National League East by 15 games if they stay healthy. I can say that with the same confidence as I can say the New York Mets will win the National League East by 50 games if they stay healthy.
They will not stay healthy.
Their pitching staff — potentially the most dominant in baseball — is fragile, and their starting lineup is largely on the wrong side of 30. That said, the Mets will take another run at the Washington Nationals, and still do something no Mets team has done in franchise history: Go to the playoffs for the third season in a row.
Of course, the Chicago Cubs are primed to repeat as World Series champions, young and loaded top-to-bottom. But consider this: The last National League team to go back-to-back as World Series champs were the 1976 Cincinnati Reds. Before them: The 1922 New York Giants. The only other National League team to do it was the 1908 Cubs, so you could argue Chicago tends to win titles in bunches.
But bet on the team that was up 3-1 in the World Series, and improved more than any team in baseball this off-season. Cleveland, prepare to party like it’s 1948.
Now look all the way ahead to Thursday and the Masters. Dustin Johnson, the guy who couldn’t win, is now the guy who can’t lose. In a wager bet against the field, I’m still taking him (with odds, of course).
It’s playoff beard time, and here is a prediction that goes out on a limb: The best regular season team in hockey will win the Stanley Cup. That’s a dicey call, since A, it has happened only twice since 2003, and B, we are talking about the Washington Capitals, perennial postseason underachievers.
In late spring, Alex Ovechkin will hoist Lord Stanley's cup.
The Golden State Warriors will beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. Because, yeah. Moving on.
Football doesn’t get left out, because the NFL is a 52-week sport. We are less than three weeks away from the draft, and the near- and long-term futures of teams will be determined in part on the 50-50 propositions that are top picks.
The New York Jets need a quarterback in the worst way, but are any in this draft worthy of the No. 6 pick? Probably not. But do not be surprised if they take one, especially if general manager Mike Maccagnan finds a partner to trade down.
Here is an even wilder scenario: The New York Giants very well could take a QB in the first round if Mitch Trubisky of North Carolina or Deshaun Watson of Clemson falls to No. 23. (At least one of them will). Odds are the Giants will take an offensive or defensive lineman — it’s what they do — but it would not shock if they selected an heir apparent to the aging Eli Manning.
And the Buffalo Bills at No. 10? Wide receiver, safety, cornerback — take your pick, or throw a dart. The Bills need a lot. The good news is there will be an immediate contributor at a position of need available to them right where they are picking.
Basketball. Baseball. Golf. Hockey. Football. The spring high school season will even getting in gear if we can go three straight days without snow and/or a downpour.
These are the best of times. Right now.
And this is the best of days to sit back and watch, and think of what’s to come.