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HUCKABY: It's the most wonderful sports time of the year

I know that I will get a lot of rebuttal from this statement, but after careful consideration I have decided that the first week in April must be just about the best all-around sports week of the year. I know. I know. I am speaking blasphemy to all of those folks out there — like me — who think the first week of the year should be declared an official holiday period because of the grandeur of the college bowl season.

And I know there are folks who don't know a three-point shot from a hole-in-one — and don't care — who believe that the Final Four refers to contestants on American Idol and that the Elite Eight are the last four couples on Dancing With the Stars. But still, think about all we've seen over the past seven days — or at least those of us who believe the 60-inch flat screen is the greatest invention since the flush toilet.

Let's begin with basketball. I know a lot of women — and live with at least two — who couldn't tell you which college teams are in the ACC and which ones are in the Pac 10, but about a month ago they filled out a bracket and ponied-up their five bucks — OK, my five bucks — because March Madness has become a happening in America instead of a mere sporting event. The whole country becomes experts in "bracketmania" and my lovely wife, Lisa, is as likely to check basketball scores on her iPhone as I am on mine. And the culmination of a whole month of upsets, close calls and buzzer-beaters occurred over the first weekend on the month.

Really now, how could you pull against Butler? They had that whole underdog-Hoosiers-David-against-Goliath thing going for them. They had a coach who looked like needed to be carded when he went in to but the celebratory champagne and their star player was a clean-cut kid with an identical twin sister who played on the Butler tennis team. The TV commentator said so — about a hundred times.

I'll tell you who could pull against Butler. People who were still in the running in the office pool had Duke winning the tournament, that's who. People like my lovely wife, Lisa.

I was pulling for Duke myself, to tell you the truth. I am a big fan of coaches who win consistently, remain loyal to their program, graduate their athletes and never, ever, ever get investigated by the NCAA. People like Coach K, for example. But honesty compels me to admit that if that last desperation shot had gone in for Butler, I wouldn't have been crushed.

And if you still needed a hoops fix after last Saturday's semifinals and Mondays championship game, the women were still dancing on Tuesday night — although the music in that tournament is getting a bit old.

The first week of April also brings opening day for baseball — and baseball is "our game." As the French-born American historian Jacques Barzun wrote, "Anyone who wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball." And on opening day, every team is undefeated and the "limitations are limitless." If Yogi Berra didn't say that, he should have.

Opening day is the Yankees and the Red Sox and it is the president throwing out the first ball — Obama throws like a girl. It is the hope springing eternal that "this will be the year."

There was a real buzz around our own Atlanta Braves last week. Bobby Cox is beginning his final year, and love him or hate him, few have surpassed his accomplishments and none have done so with more class. Then there is the young rookie phenom, Jason Heyward, from right down the road in Henry County, who is supposed to be a combination of Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Hank Aaron in a 20-year-old body. He didn't disappoint, either. He hit a three-run homer in his first big league at-bat, and they have been tomahawk chopping from Rabun Gap to Tybee Light ever since.

Over in Augusta, the golf world has made the annual pilgrimage to the Mecca that is known as the Masters, which is always one of the most widely viewed and highly anticipated sporting events of the year. This year, however, the Masters has come under even more scrutiny because we have been able to witness the return of Tiger Woods from his self-imposed exile after his shameless behavior began to be revealed Thanksgiving night.

All he did, by the way, was shoot his best-ever first round score Thursday afternoon. So much for his ruined psyche.

Plus we had the Wood Memorial — forerunner to next month's Kentucky Derby.

There was something to see almost every minute of every day, and all of the pollen outside gave us a great excuse to stay in and watch it most of the week.

And if you are a football die-hard, like me, you've got Georgia's G-Day spring game.

But the first week of April is over now, and it is back to the real world and the daily grind. But don't worry. Labor Day weekend is only 21 weeks away, and there will be baseball, college football, golf, tennis — you name it.

Basketball? Well, the NBA playoffs might still be going on, and I'll bet you'll be seeing Coach K in commercials on every network.

Darrell Huckaby is an author and teacher in Rockdale County. E-mail him at dhuck08@bellsouth.net.