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Cricket Update from Virgin Islands; NL West Picks

By Mike Duffy
and Andrew Heitner

Sports Columnists

TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands

In our attempts to span the globe and provide worldwide coverage of the sporting scene, we begin our column from the sandy beaches here in the Virgin Islands with an update on local cricket matches. Although we were unable to attend the Sporting "Rod" 15 versus Dorothea Village match, we were able to get some scores from some of the locals. Brian Lara, 23, guided the West Indian team to a victory over the Pakistan team. Lara hit an unbeaten 95, including slamming 10 fours, to lead the West Indies to a five-wicket victory last Friday. This puts the West Indian team up 2-0 in this best-of-five series. Some of the other terminology that is used in this sport: not out, LBW for a duck, snicked, and a tickle to fine leg...

Some NCAA Tourney thoughts: Its time for sportswriters to give California Coach Todd Bozeman some credit. Bozeman took over the Bear squad two-thirds of the way into the season when Coach Campanelli was fired. He inherited a 10-8 team, yet turned them around in time to make The Show and produced two wins, including one over two-time defending champion Duke. Instead of praising the job Coach B did, sportswriters still asked him if he had any say in the firing of Campanelli. When will the fat couch potato scribes (except for your humble scribes, of course) who call themselves experts (see Mike Francesca of CBS) wake up and give credit where credit is due (besides to the caterer)?

It was nice to see George Washington Coach Mike Jarvis and Temple Coach John Cheney do well in the tourney. Jarvis is a former teammate and longtime pal of MIT basketball coach Leo Osgood and was passed over for many a coaching position before starting at Cambridge Rindge and Latin. Since then, Jarvis has coached Boston University, turned around the GW program, and is being mentioned for just about every vacant coaching position in America. Cheney, meanwhile, not only led an undermanned Owl squad to within 20 minutes of the Final Four, but kept the title of student-athlete in perspective. With five days off in between their second and third round games out in the West regional, Cheney flew his players back to Phily so that they could go to class for four days. It is good to see some coaches genuinely care about their players' studies...

Final Four predictions: North Carolina over Kansas. Although the Jayhawks have made a valiant run, the Heels will overpower them. With back-to-back wins over Arkansas and Cincinnati, the Jayhawk pressure, if any, will not bother the Heels at all. While Kansas guards Jordan and Walters have stepped up their games here in the tourney, Montross and Reese should dominate the glass and lead UNC to the title game.

In the prime time matchup, Kentucky versus Michigan, the winner of this game will go on to claim the title. While the Cats have roared through the tourney to date and the Wolverines have been struggling, we will stick by our office pool sheet and take Michigan to win it all. The Wolves will be able to pressure Travis Ford in a way that will make Ford look like the player he was when at Missouri. Although Mashburn will be tough to contain (look for Michigan to go uncharacteristically to a matchup zone), the Cats have no one to handle both Juwan Howard and Chris Webber. In what should be an exciting game, we will go with Michigan, underdogs in the latest Vegas line by 7 points if you can believe that...

Baseball preview

Continuing our baseball preview, we bring you the NL West this week:

1. Atlanta and Cincinnati (tie). In the best division in baseball, Atlanta will wind up beating the Reds in a one-game playoff on the last day of the season. These two teams are the class of the league and don't be surprised if both wind up winning over 100 games. The Braves have assembled perhaps the greatest starting pitching staff ever in Smoltz, Glavine, Avery, Maddux, and Smith. The lineup is solid and contains the right mix of power and speed (trading Otis Nixon would not be a wise move). Terry Pendleton will be hard pressed to duplicate his numbers of the last two seasons, but Dave Justice and Ron Gant will rebound to have monster years. The bullpen is pretty weak as evidenced by the fact that the Braves have brought Steve Bedrosian in for a look. While Kent Mercker is a respectable closer, the bullpen woes will allow the Reds to hang tough. The Reds have the second best rotation in the majors with Rijo, Smiley, Belcher, Browning, and Pugh. The Reds' bullpen corps, led by Rob Dibble, is solid but could use another lefty. The Reds boast the best lineup, from one to eight, in the majors. The acquisitions of Roberto "Kelly, Kelly" Kelly and Kevin "Minge" Mitchell along with a healthy Larkin and Sabo will provide enough punch to keep the Reds a top in the division.

3. Houston. The acquisitions of Doug Drabek and Greg Swindell and the maturing of Salem's own Jeff Juden give the Astros a solid starting pitching corp. Young hitters, like Bagwell, Caminiti, and Cedano, will continue to improve and provide excitement down there in the Dome.

4. San Francisco. The four, five, and six positions in this division are up for grabs. The Giants will take the fourth slot, mainly on the power of Will Clark, Matt Williams, and Barry Bonds. The G men have no starting pitching (Bill Swift cannot start for an entire season) and no relievers to speak of. The only thing interesting that will come out of the Stick this summer is all the bickering between Williams and Bonds, laced with good one-liners.

5. San Diego. As with the G men, the Padres will ride their offensive punch as far as it will take them. Gwynn, Sheffield, and McGriff are a dangerous trio, but Bruce Hurst's shoulder woes and management squabbles will keep this team from contending. In order to entice fans to come to games, fans will be given free McDonald's Happy Meals and tapes of Roseanne Barr singing the national anthem as they enter the park.

6. Los Angeles. This is the sleeper team in the division. A healthy Hershiser, Martinez, Strawberry, and Davis easily puts the Dodgers in fourth place, maybe in third. However, if the injury bug continues to follow these players, Los Angeles will be buried towards the bottom. While Hershiser and Davis have each had good springs, its too early to tell if they are each at 100 percent. Look for Offerman continuing to blossom into one of the game's better young guys and Jody Reed to have a strong year.

7. Colorado Rockies. The Rockies have decided to go with youth instead of aging vets, sacrificing wins now for later dividends (see comparisons of Toronto and Seattle in an earlier edition of "Let's Argue"). Don Baylor has a tough job ahead of him, but look for plenty of offense out in Mile High Stadium as the air is thin and pitching lousy...

Bonehead Play Of The Week

To Orlando's rookie sensation Shaquille "Beef Curtains" O'Neal for clubbing Piston guard Alvin Robertson on Tuesday night. The blow, though a solid one, will cost Shaq $36K in salary and $11K in fines and penalize TNT, which lost a chance to showcase an O'Neal-Mouring matchup in its nationally televised game Thursday because of Shaq's one game suspension. Though Shaq claims self-defense because Robertson gave a tap to his "boys", the big guy should know that he is more valuable to the Magic on the floor than picking splinters on the bench. Chalk up one for a Rookie mistake...

Shaq shares bonehead honors this week with Cincinnati first baseman Hal "2000" Morris for separating his shoulder while imitating Doc Rivers in chasing after Cleveland pitcher Jose Mesa during a meaningless Grapefruit League game. Morris, a .300 hitter, will be out 4-6 weeks and should be forced to spend his rehab time pumping his biceps by operating the pooper scooper behind team dog, Marge Sch.., err, Schottzie...

You Heard It Here Primero

Now that Memphis State guard Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway has declared himself eligible for the NBA draft, look for filmmaker Spike "Mars" Lee to become his manager and use his negotiation skills learned in Competitive Decision Making and Negotiation (15.067) to land a lottery pick and a lucrative Nike contract for his client...

Race For Futility

Dallas: 7-62

Ottawa: 0-38-0 on the road

The addition of Jimmy Jackson and anticipation of the reign of Quinn "More bang for the" Buckner next year has led the Mavs to nearly double their win total since last appearing in the Race. Dallas' magic number to break the NBA futility record of the `72 76ers (9-73) is 12 losses. The Senators win total is equal to the number of days under 85 degrees faced by your humble scribes last week as we braved the bronzing rays of the Caribbean...

Globe Gem Of The Week

Meatball Madden provides us with this week's fodder: "I have long ago accepted that humans will do human things." He must have concluded this after reading a Harvard Case Study.

Where Are They Now?

Teams of the former Union Association (1884) Baseball League

Altoona Mountain Citys, Baltimore Monumentals, Kansas City Outlaws, Milwaukee Cream Citys, Philadelphia Keystones, Pittsburgh Stogies, St. Louis Maroons, and Wilmington Quicksteps...

Trivia Question of the Week

Who was the first major league baseball rookie of the year? Send answers, comments, and jokes about the Patriots new logo to sports@the-tech.

Answer to last week's question was the Bradley Barves who, in 1955, won their first two tournament games. We did have a couple of winners, including Ethan Crain '95, but lost their names. Anyway, Ethan wins free tickets to Opening Day of the Medieval wars that take place on the Kresge lawn during the spring. (Answer to Bo Light's trivia question: Louisiana with Southern, Tulane, NE Louisiana, New Orleans, and LSU. Congrats to Henning Colsman-Freyberger '96 and Jonathan Sigman '95, who got it right.)