1. Yes, it's almost time for a tradition unlike any other: CBS's rampant butt-smooching of the Masters. Considering how TV types tend to call the shots in virtually all other instances in sports, from where to when games can be seen, it's always intriguing to see the one weekend a year when the shoe is on the other foot. The good old boys who run the Masters know they control a popular and exclusive property, and they aren't shy about showing CBS who's boss. The interesting thing is seeing how eagerly the network plays the lapdog. Is one of our announcers offending your delicate sensibilities? Don't worry, he's out. Want to go commercial-free to spite some uppity woman (Martha Burk) who's bothering your sponsors? No problem, you know us TV networks don't care about ad revenue. Still, I can't complain, since I do love watching the Masters with so few commercials.
2. Golfer Brett Quiqley and his wife had a baby girl on Wednesday morning in south Florida. The timing of the birth will allow Quiqley to hustle back to Augusta for his Masters debut. His daughter, of course, will have to buy a ticket like all the other women.
3. The ratings for Monday night's NCAA championship game between Florida and Ohio State were up nine percent over last year. Though the defending champion Gators won the game, Buckeyes center Greg Oden was the big attraction. Sure, heavy breathing always draws a big TV audience.
4. Wheaties will issue a cereal box to honor the Gators' NCAA title. In related news, Oden's college eligibility will soon appear on a milk carton.
5. Reader submission from Eric of St. Charles, Mo.: "Cincinnati mayor Mark Mallory made headlines by throwing out the first pitch 50 feet wide of home plate before the Reds' season opener. Afterwards, Mallory was immediately picked up by the Nationals."
6. Really, you have to see Mallory's wayward toss to fully appreciate it. The ball is so wide of the plate that it even leaves the camera frame, landing at the feet of an umpire who, in a nice touch, "ejects" Mallory for his ineptitude. It's truly awful. And unlike in most cases, I actually have some idea what I'm talking about on this subject since I once threw out the opening pitch for the minor league Lafayette (La.) Bayou Bullfrogs in 1999. Though my arm was sore from an overly exuberant practice session a day earlier, I did gesture the catcher to get down into a crouch and delivered a credible pitch from a full windup. (There was nobody on base or I would have gone from the stretch.) It would have been high and tight to a right-hander, but I felt it was important to establish the inside part of the plate, like Kramer did against Joe Pepitone.
7. The Blue Jays had to re-cut a TV ad after Canadian regulators objected to Frank "Big Hurt" Thomas swinging a pillow at a kid. To make the spot less violent, the team replaced Thomas with a Royal.
8. A day after taking the Arkansas basketball coaching job, Dana Altman returned to Creighton. Though there's apparently no truth to the rumor that the Razorbacks only let Altman out of the deal if he promised to take Houston Nutt with him.
9. Quote of the day: "All I did was take cash." Those are the words of Willie Sutton. Just kidding, it's actually former University of Oklahoma lineman J.D. Quinn, who was tossed off the team before last season along with quarterback Rhett Bomar for taking money for hours they didn't actually work at a car dealership. A university investigation showed that Quinn was paid $8,137.17 beyond the hours he actually worked. Now Quinn is portraying himself as a victim, complaining that he was kicked off the team for merely taking a few extra bucks while other players might stick around despite, for example, an arrest or a failed drug test. Quinn is evidently a top student in his Situational Ethics class.
10. Seinfeld co-creator Larry David reportedly met recently with Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum and coach Eric Mangini to give his NFL draft advice. Our spies say David recommended that the Jets follow each selection by bellowing: "There was no pick! No pick!"