Joe Santoro: Butler could be a Cinderella for the ages
The Big East Conference, the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big Ten Conference and the Horizon League. In the immortal words of Cookie Monster, andamp;#8220;one of these things is not like the other things. One of these things just doesnandamp;#8217;t belong.andamp;#8221; How can you not cheer for the Butler Bulldogs this weekend in the Final Four? If you hate the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, (OK, anything New York and Boston), The Bowl Championship Series and ESPN, then you need to get behind the Butler menandamp;#8217;s basketball team this weekend. . . .Mike Krzyzewski, Tom Izzo, Bob Huggins and Brad Stevens. Which one of these is not like the other things? Huggins rocks a track suit better than Tony Soprano, Krzyzewski is as lovable as Bobby Knight and Izzo could have any job anytime he wants it. Stevens? The guy looks like he should be coaching a high school girls basketbal team. Butler barely has 4,000 students. It plays in an 80-year-old arena whose greatest game is the 1954 Indiana High School championship (Milan vs. Muncie Central, the inspiration for the movie Hoosiers). Butlerandamp;#8217;s Horizon League doesnandamp;#8217;t even have football. Every school that is not in a power conference, every kid who had his lunch money taken away by a bully on the playground needs to support the Bulldogs this weekend.. . .A Butler-Duke final would be better than Hoosiers. West Virginia had Jerry West. Duke had Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley and Grant Hill. Michigan State had Magic Johnson. The most famous butler is Mr. Belvedere and Bruce Wayneandamp;#8217;s Alfred. The best butler in the Final Four, in fact, plays for West Virginia (Daandamp;#8217;Sean Butler). If Butler wins the title, it would be the first true Cinderella to win since Texas Western in 1966 and Loyola of Chicago in 1963. . . .Butler definitely has a legitimate shot to win it all. There are no great teams or great players in this Final 4. The Bulldogs havenandamp;#8217;t lost a game since before Christmas. They are playing in their home city. Everything is set up perfectly for a Butler title. The Bulldogs should beat a banged up and, so far, extremely lucky Michigan State team. The Bulldogs play great defense. They play textbook team basketball at both ends of the floor that would make Norman Dale proud. Butler 65, Duke 63 in the title game on Monday.. . .Why, exactly, would the Oakland Raiders want Donovan McNabb? McNabb will be 34 years old in November. Without McNabb the Raiders will win five or six games this year. With him, they might win seven or eight. This is Randy Moss, Warren Sapp and Jerry Rice all over again. The Philadelphia Eagles must really hate McNabb to even think of sending him in a trade to the Raiders.. . .The Eagles quarterback the Raiders should go get is Michael Vick. Vick, at least, would be exciting to watch. Vick, at least, is somebody you can build your team around for the next five years. Vick, at least, would be happy to be in Oakland. Vick, at least, has the physical gifts to make something out of nothing on any given play. And, as we all know, there is a whole lot of nothing on that Raiders offense. Vick makes too much sense for the Raiders. That, alone, is why heandamp;#8217;ll never play with the Silver andamp; Black. When was the last time the Raiders did anything that made sense?. . . The New York Yankees will win the American League East and the Boston Red Sox will be the A.L. wild card. Sorry, no Cinderellas there, folks. The Los Angeles Angels will win the A.L. West and the Detroit Tigers will win a bad A.L. Central. The Oakland Aandamp;#8217;s? It looks like another 75-win year and a last-place finish in the West.. . .The Philadelphia Phillies will win the National League East followed by the wild card Atlanta Braves. The rest of the N.L., though, is going to have new champions. The Cincinnati Reds will shock the world and win a highly competitive N.L. Central and the San Francisco Giants will win a horrible N.L. West with about 85 victories.andamp;#8212; Joe Santoro writes a weekly column for the Sierra Nevada Media Group.