Brownie Points: March is our month for AZ sports - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Brownie Points: March is our month for AZ sports

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Jerry Brown is a contributing columnist who appears every Sunday in the Tribune. Contact him at

Posted: Friday, March 2, 2012 3:34 pm

I don’t know about you, but I’d sure feel a whole lot more comfortable if Sheriff Joe and his volunteer posse would agree to look into this whole Ryan Braun thing. While we’re at it, let’s get these guys a copy of the Zapruder film.

Anyway, this is a great time to be a sports fan in Arizona. No matter what you like, it’s here. Of course, that means a lot of stuff you may not like is here, too, but just think of the sales-tax revenue as you grin and bear it.

Check out this month’s docket:

•Cactus League baseball is everywhere you turn, with no more of this Tucson nonsense to deal with. If you told me 25 years ago that Surprise, Goodyear and Maryvale would have spring training facilities, I would have said, “Where are Surprise, Goodyear and Maryvale?”

I’m still surprised that cities like Chandler, Gilbert and Queen Creek haven’t jumped on the bandwagon and really put the squeeze on the Grapefruit League. Houston, Minnesota and St. Louis should train in Arizona as well.

This year, there is the added bonus of having the local team coming into spring training with a division title to defend and huge expectations for an even deeper playoff run. As Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh put it so succinctly in Bull Durham: “I love winning ... It’s like, you know, better than losing!”

I like every move the Diamondbacks have made this off-season. They have good front-line players and pitchers, good depth on the roster and a productive farm system, a few short years after this team looked barren in all three categories.

Would I feel better with another good lefty in the rotation and a bopper at third base? Absolutely. But this roster, coaching staff and front office is a good as you can hope for in this market.

•NASCAR is in town this weekend. Just our luck, we missed the exploding track dyer by just one week! This means, of course, unless you wanted to find yourself caught in the middle of an extended family photo with Jimmie Johnson or Kyle Busch, you put off that trip to the auto parts, cell phone or fried chicken joint until next week.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed for a safe and exciting race, but one that has at least one driver dust-up during a caution period or after the race. For me, there’s nothing more entertaining that watching a couple of 140-pound drivers in fire suits and helmets trying to duke-it-out in Turn 3. Unless you can promise me another jet dryer fireball with no injuries, the sport that gave us Dick Trickle just keeps on giving.

•The NCAA Tournament comes to U.S. Airways Center from March 22-24, and as long as we can keep Connecticut out of the West Region, it should be a fun and closely contested bracket. But if Huskies coach Jim Calhoun shows up in the Valley, you can send everyone else home — before he does. The Huskies have come to the Valley three times in the last 12 years of March Madness, and left with nets around their neck and a ticket to the Final Four each time. They won it all in 1999 and 2004 but lost to Michigan State in the 2009 Final Four.

Incidentally, the recent ESPN Bracketology has UConn listed as a 12-seed in the West Region. Uh-oh ...

•We’ve still got NBA and NHL in full swing. Both teams should still be playing through April: The Coyotes, thanks to a third consecutive Stanley Cup playoff berth, and the Suns thanks to a lockout schedule that has them playing out the back-to-back string until late April.

There’s not much drama with the Suns, unless you are keen to know whether Phoenix trades Steve Nash or Grant Hill before they qualify to compete in the PGA Champions Tour. On Friday’s 50th anniversary of Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game, the Suns took a run of four straight 100-point games into the weekend — and that was tied with Indiana for the longest such streak in the league. That’s how unwatchable the NBA is right now.

The Coyotes, meanwhile, have nine home games in March and a shot at the first division title in their 42-year, multi-city history.

•March is also the month — and this time it has to happen — when we find out if the NHL will stay in town or all that Coyote gear will become instant memorabilia. This is still a moving target but all signs point to a new deal to keep the team here.

I didn’t even mention college baseball, arena football and a slew of other events that make Arizona the place to be this month. So get away from the big screen, beg off on the “honey-do” list and get out and soak up the incredible weather while screaming your head off.

There will be plenty of time to curse the heat soon enough.

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