March bringing more than Madness 

March Madness kicks in today. "American Idol" is in all it’s guilty-pleasure glory. And the whole bizarre Anna Nicole Smith thing has turned into a tragicomedy that, based on the suffocating attention it gets, has folks finding the late Playmate a lot more interesting in death than in life.

That’s a lot to think about.

So your mind might be bogged down with trying to figure out what, if anything, it says about Dean Smith that his only two national titles as a head coach were greatly aided by two of the most memorable mental meltdowns — Fred Brown’s pass in 1982 and Chris Webber’s timeout in 1993 — in NCAA Tourney history.

Or perhaps your dome is overloaded by debating the potential pros and cons of "Idol’s" Beat-Box Blake and the guy who doesn’t even care that we all know he’s ripping off all things Justin Timberlake teaming up as a two-man boy band after America gives them the boot. Would they ask that mousy Sanjalina Jolie guy to sign on so they can corner the asexual and androgynous market? And what would become of the "Idol" phenomenon were Sanjalina to ride a tidal wave of pity votes and make history as the first winner to have never received even an ounce of positive feedback — the audition and the props for his hair don’t count — from the judges?

You might even have become so obsessed with Anna Nicole that you only have time to scour online auction sites in search of a replica of the pink, rhinestone-encrusted blanket that draped her casket at burial.

But while pondering these deep and complex issues, you might not have noticed something that deserves a little mind space: Opening day is two weeks away.

Have you been neglecting your Bay Area baseball team during this month of practice games? Understandable. But here’s an appetizer of an issue for each team to get you started:

GIANTS FANS: What would be so wrong with the G’s going the route of last year’s Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals, who entrusted the ninth inning to rookies with much success and handing the closer job to Tim Lincecum? Sure, he’s only thrown 30 or so innings as a pro, but the kid is flat special. It’s at least worth considering.

A’S FANS: What happens if Milton Bradley gets hurt, too? Bradley has taken over the title of Best Player On The Team and he’s transitioning into a major leadership role. Already without Mark Kotsay, one of the club’s top leaders and a Gold Glove-caliber center fielder, the A’s desperately need a full year from Bradley.

It’s heating up here in the desert. The real games are coming soon. Time to start paying attention.

Mychael Urban is the author of "Aces: The Last Season On The Mound With The Oakland A’s Big Three — Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito" and a writer for

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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