Pick A Winner

I am a terrible prognosticator. I realize it. I readily admit it. I know why it’s true. I bet with my heart and not with my head. All you have to do is look at my 2017 March Madness Bracket for proof.


I went to The University of Nevada so of course I picked my Wolf Pack to beat Iowa State. Then I added salt to that would by choosing them to advance to the Sweet 16. I surprised myself by stopping there.


I listened to some “friends” who convinced me that East Tennessee State University was going to be a force to be reckoned with so, of course, I dove right into the deep end of my brackets pool and penciled in the Buccaneers to beat mighty Florida. Because why wouldn’t I. What I didn’t do was pick the other team from Tennessee, that isn’t Tennessee, to win a game even though the “experts” said they would.


I did listen to those experts however when they told me on show after show after show that Duke was finally playing up to its potential and the Blue Devils were “the team to beat.” Plus my wife went to Duke. Plus I like Duke. So I advanced Duke all the way to Phoenix and then I decided they would ultimately cut down the nets. By the way I had them beating UCLA. Hey, I told you I wasn’t very good at this “picking a winner” stuff.


With all of that in mind allow me my thoughts on what lies ahead.


The Final Four(s)

On semi final Saturday Oregon will play North Carolina and South Carolina will take on Gonzaga. The first game is a Cinderella dream matchup between a team that nobody, save the school’s most ardent fans, saw coming against a group that has been destined to be there for years. In it, the Gamecocks will bring the same heat, the same muscle and the same energy that propelled them over Duke, then Baylor, then Florida but I believe Gonzaga is too big, too smart and too focused to lose. The Bulldogs win a close one.


Then Oregon goes up against North Carolina. I think Carolina prevails but it won’t be because of coach Roy Williams, it will be in spite of him. The guy could be the world’s worst “big game” coach but his team, while undisciplined, is too talented to lose to another occasionally messy, skilled squad. So Monday will give us Gonzaga against North Carolina and, the way I see it, the Tar Heels lose in the championship game for the second straight year. Whatever you do don’t  take that to the bank.


Things about the Final Four for which we can be thankful

  1. Baylor won’t be playing Oregon (our eyes couldn’t take it)
  2. Austin Peay won’t be playing South Carolina (saving us from hearing “Let’s go Cocks” followed by “”Let’s go Peay!”
  3. We are this close to never hearing or seeing those dreadful Direct TV (featuring the incredible creepy singer) and Amazon Alexa (featuring the incredible untalented Reggie Miller) commercials again  


One thing you can count on his the women’s Final Four. True to form, as women’s college hoops almost always is, both semi-final games feature a number one seed against a number two. No build up to any championship EVER features so little drama as this one (with the possible exception of last year’s women’s tournament, or the one before that, or the one before that, or the one…).  Connecticut, yawn, will win. The only question is whether they win by 20, 30 or 40.


The Masters


I want Tiger to play. In fact, I want Tiger to win. I have said previously in this space, and out loud, that I believe Tiger Woods has plenty of time to, not only contend in, but win major golf championships plenty of times. Not a United States Open Championship or even a PGA Championship but certainly a Masters or a British Open. Good grief Jack Nicklaus won at Augusta as a 46-year-old and Tom Watson should have won a British at 59. Those events, because of the course and the conditions, lend themselves to those kind of heroics.


Going in to this year’s Masters Tournament Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth are, according to oddsmakers, the favorites. None of them will win. Neither will Phil Mickelson. I can’t tell you who will win, I just know those four won’t.


So Put your money where my mouth isn’t and enjoy the next couple of weeks; thankfully baseball season is right around the corner. And try to remember… April showers bring May flowers and what do May flowers bring??? Pilgrims.

About Keith Hirshland

My name is Keith Hirshland and I am a four decades television veteran who has spent time both in front of and behind the camera. During nearly forty years in broadcasting my path has crossed in front of, behind and alongside some of the best in the business... And some of the worst. Many of those people I count as friends while others wouldn't make the effort to spit on me if I was on fire. This television life started early watching my Mom and Dad found, fund and run a local affiliate TV station in Reno, Nevada. As a teenager approaching adulthood I worked for them, first as an on-air sports reporter/anchor and later as a director and producer. Jobs in the industry took me across the country and then to many places around the world. Sports is my passion and putting it on TV has been my business. Production credits include auto racing, baseball, basketball, bowling, college football, field hockey, soccer, volleyball and water polo but the majority of my time "in the chair" since 1990 has been invested in the game of golf with both ESPN and The Golf. Channel ( I was one of the first forty people hired by TGC in 1994 ). I am a fan and I watch TV sports as a fan but I also have hundreds of thousands of hours watching from inside a production truck. I think that makes me qualified to comment, my hope is you agree. I have written four books, Cover Me Boys, I'm Going In (Tales of the Tube from a Broadcast Brat), a memoir that is a tribute to my parents, the hard working, creative people who started ESPN2 and The Golf Channel and a look back at my life in television. Cover Me Boys was awarded the “Memoir of the Year” in 2017 by Book Talk Radio Club. In February of 2019 it was released anew by Beacon Publishing Group. My second book is a novel, Big Flies, and is a mystery that tells the story of a father and a son with four of the world's most notorious unsolved robberies as a backdrop. Big Flies was named “Solo Medalist” in the True Crime category by New Apple Awards. My third book, another mystery titled The Flower Girl Murder, was published in 2018. Book number four might be the most fun I ever had on a writing project. Murphy Murphy and the Case of Serious Crisis is a mystery, a love story, and an homage to good grammar. It is both the Book Talk Radio Club BOOK OF THE YEAR for 202 and a TopShelf Awards first prize winner in the mystery category. All four are available at Amazon. Book five is in the capable hands of the good people at Beacon Publishing Group and should be available soon. I look forward to sharing new thoughts about golf, golf television, sports in general and the broadcast industry with you. The views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They are not connected to nor endorsed by any other person, association, company or organization.
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