Changing of the seasons

Well.  I needed one team from Michigan to make it to the Final Four to stand a very good chance of winning an office pool for the first time in recorded history.

Didn't happen.

Thought I might console myself with the top-seeded Lady Gamecocks beating North Carolina, but as of now, they're down seven.

But at least the Dodgers aren't losing yet.

Technically, the Boys in Blue have already opened the 2014 season, taking two from Arizona last week in Australia (no word if the Sydney Cricket Grounds featured a pool in which to celebrate). Tonight, they're doing it stateside, taking on the camo-clad Padres on Opening Night, which precedes Opening Day for the rest of MLB.

It doesn't exactly feel like a season opener, maybe because it's not. Also maybe because ace Clayton Kershaw isn't on the mound after back pain forced him on the 15-day disabled list for the first time in his career. Kershaw got the win in 6 2/3 innings of work on actual Opening Day Down Under in his first start since signing the seven-year, $215 million deal garnered by his second Cy Young in three seasons.

I harbor no suspicions that Kershaw has been seized by a sudden attack of lazy-itis, but as I watch North Carolina's women's basketball team play, I am reminded of some-less-than-stellar Dodger luck. The Tar Heels' star player is a dynamo named Diamond DeShields - whose father, Delino, came to the Dodgers in a 1993 trade in a deal that sent some dude named Pedro Martinez to Montreal.

I guess I'm just in a grouchy sports mood. Now that my bracket is officially kindling, I have no interest in the Final Four, and this Now It's A Real Game, Now It's Not start to the baseball season has me a bit discombobulated - not at all like the smorgasbord of joy that I feasted on last season in a gluttony of games that included Kershaw's shutout of the Giants. 

I'm also uncomfortable with the Dodgers' new role as the game's biggest spenders. I'm happy we're committing the club's resources to the field and not to divorce attorneys, but I've never been a fan of the Yankee way. I'm also disturbed that Yasiel Puig still displays fundamentally questionable decision-making, and that he managed all of five hits in spring training. I don't know how healthy Matt Kemp is or if Juan Uribe can come close to anything like last season or if Andre Ethier can still hit lefties or how serious Kershaw's injury might be.

However, South Carolina is trying to make a run, and there's nothing like a 1-2-3, inning-ending double play to lift a girl's spirits. Maybe the next step is to go turn on MLB.TV and settle down for bed - after all, I do start a new job in the morning - while Vin lulls me into an unshakable belief that all is right with the world and universal peace is just a pitch away.

Good riddance, anyway, March Madness. Your season is done. It's time for Dodgers baseball.