To start off, if you are reading my column today, thank you. But if you are reading it in class, then I feel sorry for you. There are obviously better things to be doing than sitting in class right now, like watching the UW-Milwaukee Panthers try to upset Alabama or seeing if Oakland can become the first No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 seed, but then actually losing by 40 to the Tarheels. Or you could ditch class to check out just another chapter in the dismay of America's pastime.
Baseball sluggers Sammy Sosa, Frank Thomas, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, as well as Commissioner Bud Selig and union head Donald Fehr, have been subpoenaed to appear before Congress this morning to testify on the use of steroids in baseball.
While they can plead the Fifth, all those involved will be under oath. While nobody knows what will be asked or what will come of this hearing, the fact that these players could be asked, under oath, if they have ever used steroids, makes this intriguing.
However, the fact that this issue has so quickly moved into Congress is crazy. Baseball is stepping up its policies, the hearing is not going to get to the bottom of the issue by talking to a few people today, and all people involved have better things to do. Congress could be worried about bigger and worse things, the baseball administrators could be working on their steroid policies and the players would obviously like to be at spring training. But at the top of their list, and at the top of your list of reasons not to watch the hearing today, is obviously NCAA Tournament first-round action.
As a sports fan, I expect that the print version of my column will be the least read of all my columns this year, however, I'm hoping that everyone who is lounging in front of the TV or perusing the internet for scores, is reading this online. After all, those of you who are not in class or working right now because you are watching first-round NCAA action are not alone.
In fact, while many of us are skipping class to catch a few games, workers around the country are costing their employers nearly $900 million. According to a study conducted by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., workers will cost their employers $889.6 million by using time meant for work to look up scores on the Internet. This is approximately $120 million more than the company estimated for last year's tournament.
Nine hundred million dollars!!! What could we do with $900 million? Congress could hire people to interview every living past or present baseball player about steroids. The NCAA could start paying its players. Hopefully, Latrell Sprewell could even find a way to feed his family with $900 million.
So I congratulate the millions of workers around the country, and the dozens of you reading this while skipping class, for not toeing the company line and for celebrating perhaps the best two days out of the entire calendar year.
For those of you wondering what my predictions look like, here they are. As for upsets, I like New Mexico, UTEP and UAB in the first round and Cincinnati over Kentucky for a spot in the Sweet 16.
As for the final, and I promise I picked this before Tony Kornheiser announced his picks yesterday, I have North Carolina over Arizona with Duke and Wake Forest joining them in the Final Four. Sorry to all of you that I just jinxed.
Have a good Spring Break and good luck keeping your brackets intact over the next two weekends.
Eric is a junior planning to major in history. He can be reached for comment at email@example.com.