Cubbies and Ramblers and Tiger. Oh my!

What a hat trick!


At moments like this, I am so glad we have a treadmill, a stationary bike and some weights under the flat-screen TV.

Because what’s coming up is a sports-viewing lineup that could turn anyone in drizzly, gray Chicago into a couch potato.

First, the Cubs open their season with the first baseball game of the season. In Florida.

And yes, everybody else starts playing baseball today, too. Pardon us in Chicago for thinking we relish it more. After decades of misery, it’s kind of fun to string together several years of delicious anticipation.

(Those of us of a certain age will recall that the first baseball game traditionally was played in Washington, with the President throwing out the first ball. Now there’s a visual for 2018. So let’s just say yes to Florida.)

Second, the Loyola Ramblers will play in the Final Four against Michigan on Saturday, with the winner advancing to the championship game against the Villanova-Kansas winner.

Loyola, which has gotten more publicity in Chicago the last few weeks than it has received—well, ever. . . —and for good reason.

I am still trying to wrap my mind around how Loyola became a juggernaut. Yeah, they have great coaching. They play together. They have a great veteran nucleus. Yeah, Wichita State’s departure opened the Missouri Valley door for them. And yeah, there’s Sister Jean. And on and on.

The place I end up in: Just watch and enjoy. We’ll figure out how it happened later.

Third—and this might be the most watchable event of all: Tiger at the Masters.

I have been among the skeptics. I have doubted he could be a serious player again. He was too old to reinvent himself. He was too injured to hold up for 72 holes against the legion of amazing young stalwarts. (Jordan and Justin and Dustin and Jason, to name a tongue-twisting few.) His mind was too cluttered. His mindset would be too intense.

I was wrong.

His body is holding up. All that time he spent working on his short game while he was unable to make full-swings is paying off. No swing coach? No problem. A toast to back fusion!

But most important of all. . . drum roll, please. . . Tiger Woods seems to have found patience.

I like watching his shot-making. I am dazzled by his club-head speed. I love the way he glories in all the attention that attracts and deserves, even while pretending he doesn't care or notice. This is really an Elvis/Marilyn Monroe/Beatles thing, except that it's here and now.

But the most impressive thing about the 2018 Tiger is his decision-making: His ability to manage his mind. For the longest time, I could not see that going well on the back nine on Sunday. Now? That door seems to be open again.

I don’t know that he can prevail for 72 holes at Augusta. But I don’t know that he can’t.

That’s a statement I would not have made the last several years.

The return of Tigers, combined with what players like Phil and Rory and all those young guys have shown lately, adds up to the possibility of a riveting Masters.

Cubs. Loyola. Tiger.


It’s a good thing the weather sucks in Chicago. And here's to home gyms.