Out From The Oven | Apr. 4

Busted brackets

Now down to four teams, no March Madness bracket remains unblemished. The tournament favorite Duke was eliminated in the Elite Eight by the Michigan State Spartans on Sunday. On Saturday, Gonzaga, another No. 1 seed, was knocked out by Texas Tech.

In the Sweet 16, the North Carolina Tar Heels were eliminated by No. 5 Auburn. Virginia is the only No. 1 seed remaining in the tournament, and most brackets are in shambles.

The Virginia Cavaliers, who won the South, will face the winners of the Midwest, the Auburn Tigers, in the Final Four. The game will be played in Minneapolis Saturday. The winner will go on to play for the championship Monday, which will also be in Minneapolis.

The Cavaliers have been to the Final Four twice before, but they have never won, and their most recent appearance was in 1984. Auburn has been even less successful in the postseason. This marks Auburn’s first ever Final Four appearance, and this is only their 10th tournament appearance.

The other side of the bracket also plays in Minneapolis Saturday. The No. 3 Texas Tech Red Raiders won the West, and they will play the winners of the East, No. 2 Michigan State. This marks the first ever Final Four appearance for the Red Raiders.

They actually won their first ever Sweet 16 game in last year’s tournament. The Spartans have won two championships, most recently in 2000. With Tom Izzo as their head coach, they’ve appeared in 22 straight NCAA Tournaments.

MLB season kickoff

On March 20, the 2019 MLB season began. This year marks the 150th anniversary of professional baseball. Since the last MLB expansion in 1998, there have been 51,097 regular season MLB games. If you wanted to watch every one of those games at a rate of one per day and finish today, you would have had to start in early 1879, before light bulbs were invented.

With that being said, there are over 2,300 games left this year. Even though I don’t follow the MLB religiously, I think there’s a lot to pay attention to this year. These are just a few teams I’ll be keeping my eye on this season.

Almost every MLB fan is watching the Philadelphia Phillies this season. With a 3-0 record, they’re currently the only undefeated team left. All eyes are directed toward their big offseason investment, Bryce Harper. The 2018 Home Run Derby winner should add some instant offense to a team that could really use it.

Last year, Philadelphia ranked at the league average in home runs, below average in RBIs and slugging percentage and second to last in hits per at bat. With Harper on the team, they’re favorites to win the NL East. The Phillies haven’t won the division since 2011.

As much as I hate the New York Yankees, they’re an exciting team to watch. Most of their position players are younger than 30, and they have some of the best hitters in the game. Last season, they rostered five players with at least 27 home runs.

Unfortunately, they’re dealing with a number of injuries right now. Didi Gregorius will be out until the All-Star Break, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks will be out for a few weeks and Miguel Andujar could be out for the season. When all of these players are healthy, the Yankees are one of the most exciting teams to watch, and I’ll be waiting until that happens.

As a true Minnesota fan, it’s hard not to include the Twins. For the first time in a very long time, I’m excited to watch Twins baseball. No longer haunted by Joe Mauer’s contract, Minnesota makes a strong case for a wild card spot and even has a chance to take the division from Cleveland.  

I’ve heard only good things about Byron Buxton in the offseason, and we can only hope that Miguel Sano returns to glory when he comes back in May. Our new addition in Nelson Cruz will provide leadership in the absence of Mauer. Last but not least, Jose Berrios will look to build on his all-star season last year. Things finally look like they’re trending upward in Minnesota.

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