Trying to organize my thoughts from recent trips while watching the national championship game. I think it’s safe so say I’m one million times less tense tonight than I was a year ago tonight (or April 7 I guess). I don’t recall a time when I was wound as tightly as I was leading up to the KU-Syracuse game. Even if we had won, I don’t know if I could have enjoyed it as tense as I was that night. Tonight, I can just sit back and watch. One of the benefits of your team losing when there are still games to play.

Good grief, are there really only two seniors starting in this game? Not to mention the fact Tech lost freshman Chris Bosh a year ago. I need to start looking for tickets to the Tech-KU rematch in Lawrence next year; there’s going to be a ton of talent on the court that night. I think Paul Hewitt is my favorite young coach in the college game. Obviously, he’s a heck of a recruiter, he’s proving his a very good coach, and I love his demeanor off the court. Seems like a very solid guy.

I’m working away this afternoon with MLB Gamecast or Gamecenter or whatever they call it pulled up, following the Royals – White Sox game (not realizing until tonight the game was on WGN and I could have been watching). It gets to be 7-2 White Sox and I shut it down to concentrate on some other projects. For grins I check the score around 5:00. Heavens to Betsy! What a comeback! I think the decibel record which had to have been set on opening day in 1999 when Mike Sweeney launched that absolute bomb off of Minnesota had to have been broken when Beltran went deep today. Nice little starts for Juan Gone and Benito Santiago.

First bad call of the game, Tech called for a foul on what looked like a clean block. Bang-bang, so by itself not a bad call. But the ref waited until the shot was missed to blow the whistle rather than calling it immediately. One of my officiating pet peeves. And now we have our first 12-30 reference. Thanks, Jim Nantz, thanks a lot for ruining my night. Four more free throws…

As you may recall, a week ago I spent the evening just a couple miles from the house we lived in during our year in the Bay Area. Being the reflective cat I am, I reminisced a little as we pulled into San Leandro that night. While it was very strange to fly over our home in Indianapolis last month, it was equally as strange to look down during our final descent into Oakland and see the golf course I worked at, the court I played basketball on almost every afternoon, and the street we lived on in ’86-87. When you leave someplace and return later in life, there’s always a time machine quality to your experience. During a trip to the Bay Area last spring, I actually drove over to our old neighborhood, cruised by the house, the golf course, and a couple other landmarks. Things seemed the same in some ways, like I hadn’t left in others, though I realized my memories were probably vague enough that things that simply seemed familiar were probably quite different. What really blew my mind was when I realized it had been 17 years since we lived there! I had been gone long enough to finish high school, go to college (for a long, long time), live through my 20s, get married, and move another 500 miles further east. The year we spent there was such a big part of my development that it always seems more recent than it really was. Was it really almost two decades ago that I spent my afternoons hooping on the eight foot goal at the elementary school, hoping I would get invited over to the real games by the older guys from Oakland who ran the big court? (Not that I ever became a great player, or even a consistently good one, but I swear, each time I got recruited to the A league games, I always, always knocked down a couple jumpers early so everyone thought I could play. I made sure I passed a lot after that so I didn’t ruin the image. Those of you who have played with me in my 20s probably wished I continued to stop shooting so much.) Was it that long ago that I spent my evenings bundled up, driving the cart that picked golf balls off the driving range, listening to LL Cool J and the LA Dream Team on my Walkman?

Make it two bad calls against Georgia Tech. I’m really torn. Billy Packer will obviously always side with the ACC teams. So do I agree with him in these situations, or call him an idiot?

With the gender of Little Girlfriend established, I’m noticing more and more songs that can be used as a soundtrack for raising a daughter. I mentioned Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” last week. On a recent flight, while shuffling through the MP3 player, I found another. Although written more as an ode to a woman who wears the pants in the family, Neil Finn’s “She Will Have Her Way” seems like an appropriate way of summing up how little girls wrap themselves around their daddy’s fingers (or is it the other way around?). Neil adds an excellent coda to the song on his Seven Worlds Collide live album. “There’s something about that face when you wake up that makes everything, everything alright. Yeah, she will have her way.” I’m already turning into a big softie.

More later (including now out of sequence thoughts on the Tech-UConn game)…