Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: Today is the real super Sunday

This week's Q&A-Mac is brought to you by Championship Sunday: One of the five best sports days of the year.

Q: What are your other favorites?

A: The first day of the NCAA basketball tournament, Opening Day in baseball and the first October weekend that delivers the baseball playoffs, big college football games and NFL games all in an overloaded, 48-hour span. The couch never gets deeper dents than on those days.

Q: No Super Bowl on the list, huh?

A: Nah. We've seen some pretty good ones recently, but I grew up during a time when almost every Super Bowl was a blowout. And there's nothing you can change the channel to, either, because no network is dumb enough to put anything but high school jump roping tournaments against the Super Bowl.

Q: So what's so great about today? Aren't there only two games?

A: Yes, but they always feel like the most important of the year. You rarely hear players before the season say, "We want to win the Super Bowl." They always say, "We want to GET to the Super Bowl." Now's their chance. I also like that the AFC and NFC title games are played at home stadiums and are (typically) subject to the elements. Better atmospheres than any Super Bowls.

Q: OK, you've convinced me. So who punches their ticket today?

A: The Ravens cover the 7-point spread but lose the game, and Jim Harbaugh continues his magical revival job in San Francisco. Patriots-Niners emerge.

Q: You won't get to watch to see if these picks work out, will you?

A: Nope, headed to Charlottesville along with three colleagues to cover the Virginia Tech-Virginia basketball game. Bummed about missing the football but excited to see these rivals clash.

Q: UVa's got to be the pick here, right?

A: Yes. The Hokies are really struggling right now, but they do have one good thing going for them in this one. Statistically, they're No. 2 in the ACC (behind the Cavaliers) in defending the 3. Points will be at a premium, as they always are against UVa. Three-pointers feel like 6-pointers.

Q: How will the Hokies stop Mike Scott?

A: I don't think they will. That's a big reason the Cavaliers will be 3-1 in the ACC after today.

Q: Indians pitcher Fausto Carmona was arrested this week and accused of using a false identity in the Dominican Republic. Turns out he's really 31 (and not 28, as Cleveland thought) and his actual name is Roberto Hernandez Heredia. Does this change your opinion of the right-hander?

A: It does. I like him more now than ever. Think about it: If you're going to create a false identity in the D.R., most people would pick a name that would blend in. Jose. Pedro. Esteban. Roberto said, "Forget average. Henceforth, you shall call me - Fausto." Gutsy.

Q: Five-star prep quarterback Gunner Kiel reneged on his commitment to LSU this week and enrolled at Notre Dame. Surprised?

A: Not at all. If your name's Gunner Kiel and you're a quarterback, you almost have to go to Notre Dame - and then become an enormous bust. It is your destiny.

Q: Best comment of the week on the blog?

A: We have two. From Rick H, on the halftime show of the Tech-UNC game that featured a woman riding a giant unicycle and kicking bowls onto her head: "I haven't seen her miss in 3 or 4 appearances in Cassell. Maybe she should've been working with somebody at halftime on how to ride that unicycle, then maybe somebody could have shot over Zeller and Henson."

And from RP: "It felt weird watching that Pitt/Syracuse game last night and thinking to myself, 'This may be the Sunday night ACC game of the week a few years from now. '"

Q: Would that matchup qualify as one of your top-100 sports days of the year?

A: Doubt it.

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