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The Mega Madness of March
The first thing you need to know about enjoying ‘March Madness’ is that CBS’coverage alone is NOT the way to go if you’re a hoops junkie.  The powers that be decide for you which games you’ll watch.  You’ll get the games they want you to receive and you’d better like it.
Not me. 
I took advantage of my ‘Direct TV’ satellite dish and ordered the ‘Mega March Madness’ package which brought me all 32 delicious 1st round games plus all 16 2nd round contests as well.  It was a hoopfest at Mikey’s not too unlike a “Weekend at Bernie’s” minus the dead guy.
Getting bored with the Louisville/Stanford blowout on the local CBS channel?  Simply click to another channel and voila, there you are watching a buzzer beater between Oregon and Miami of Ohio. 
Are you a Duke hater?  Can’t stand to see Coach K?  Then why sit through forced CBS coverage when you can just click and watch your favorite team or maybe get a chance to watch freshmen sensations Greg Oden and Kevin Durant.
If you can’t make up your mind which game to watch you’re in luck with the Mega Mix channel which allows you to watch all 4 games at once with the screen divided in fourths.
On Thursday, March 22nd while Baltimore gets Kansas/So. Illinois at 7:00, I’ll be watching the more desirable Memphis/Texas A&M match up. If that game lacks interest then I’ll simply switch to the local affiliate. 
The point is MORE CHOICES!  We Americans want our choices.  Regular or Decaf?  Coke or Diet Coke? McDonalds, Wendy’s, or the ‘King’?  Marlboro Red or Ultra Lights?  Gay or straight?
Just like during football season, Direct TV is the way to go if you want to watch what you want when you want it. 
Only in America!
Speaking of football…
For the last two weeks I’ve been trying to watch Baltimore’s newest act, the Blackbirds, who compete in something called the American Indoor Football Association.  Who knew there was such a thing? 
Anyway, I was unable to find the games on television or radio which for most Baltimore sports fans was probably a good thing because these ‘birds’ are some foul fowl.
How’s this for a season opener:  Reading Express 78- Baltimore Blackbirds 6.  No, that is not a misprint.  Our local arena heroes apparently showed some fight after trailing 78-0 they were able to cut into the deficit and get their maiden touchdown of the campaign.  Unfortunately the game was NOT as close as the final score indicated.
With only one direction to go, things improved in week 2 as the ‘FoulBirds’ came just this close to victory but fell 69-14 to the Lakeland Thunderbolt.
Now I find out that you can in fact watch these bumbling Blackbirds over the internet.  All you need to do is plop down $5 a game and you too can watch these pinball lizards run around aimlessly on your lap…
On second thought perhaps the discovery that nobody watches these games will save Baltimore from nation-wide public ridicule.
One can only hope that WJFK’s Damon Yaffe and his other ‘Birdbrains’ who coach (their word not mine)  this team can get them to improve or else this will be just another failed minor league type of sports entertainment that Baltimore has shunned in the past.
Baltimore fans have shown they don’t support secondary pro and minor league sports even in good times as the soccer and lacrosse folks have learned so why would they support a sub par indoor football team in an even more sub par venue like 1st Mariner Arena?
How many broadcasters does it take to cover the Orioles?  Apparently eight is enough when it comes to broadcasting the O’s.  This season you’ll need a scorecard just to keep track of who’s calling the game.  On the TV side you’ve got Gary Thorne, Jim Hunter, Jim Palmer, Buck Martinez, Rick Dempsey, and Amber Theoharis.  On the radio it’s Joe Angel and Fred Manfra.
To this reporter it seems like overkill.  For instance, Thorne and Hunter are virtually the same guy.  You know the generic play-by-play man who is competent at all sports but lacks the home team connection and passion.  Hunter is able to capture some of the hometown excitement especially when he’s ranting and whining about bad umpiring calls and how they always are against the Orioles.
Palmer you need because he can explain the pitching aspects but why two journeyman catchers in Martinez and Dempsey?  We need to hear from both these guys?  And what will Theoharis bring?  I thought we had decided that there is really no use for a sideline reporter in any sport.  Theoharis is talented and easy on the eyes but will we really learn anything from her lobbing softball questions (remember Pete is watching) to Sam Perlozzo (the resident genius) during the 7th inning stretch?
I long for the days of Chuck and Bill and a little Brooksie mixed in.
Whatever, the Media Watchdog will bark at you next week.  

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