My 'perfect' sports list
No matter what happens Tuesday night in Nashville, it will be the most perfect night of college basketball ever. That's not hyperbole, that's fact.
The NCAA women's title game between UConn and Notre Dame will be the first meeting of unbeaten teams in a Division I basketball championship game. Perfect versus Perfect, for all the marbles.
Of course, it won't be the first instance of perfection in sports. There are little bits and moments of perfection everywhere. Here are just a few:
• Wrigley Field's ivy-covered outfield walls: The Homer in the Gloamin', Ernie Banks' 500th home run, six straight 20-win seasons from Fergie Jenkins ... the ivy was there. The 1945 Cubs World Series loss, Sammy Sosa's corked bat, the Bartman game ... the ivy was there. No matter whether the "W" or "L" flag flies at the end of the day, the sight of the ivy hugging the brick at the old ballpark is always a win.
• The Opening Ceremony at the Olympics: Political, religious and cultural differences are set aside for one beautiful celebration of sport and competition. Viewers and attendees see a rich, powerful display of the music, history and art of the host country and witness athletes from all over the world living out their lifelong dream. Momentary perfection.
• The first day of March Madness: Even if your team didn't make the cut, you still gotta love the non-stop action and excitement of the first full day of NCAA tournament hoops. It's a glorious mix of buzzer-beaters, bracket-busting upsets and the hugs and chest-bumps "One Shining Moment" editors live for.
• Spring training: Are meaningless exhibition games perfect? You bet. Winters in Chicago may be to blame, but I firmly believe March Cactus League baseball in Arizona is a little slice of heaven. Cheap tickets, endless sunshine, the smell of sunscreen and freshly cut grass, and the early swings that promise spring is on its way.
• The leap into Poppie's Pond: Amy Alcott first jumped in 1988 and, since 1994, every LPGA winner at the Dinah Shore Course in Rancho Mirage has celebrated her victory with a leap into Poppie's Pond. For a few moments, the "gentleman's game" gets funky, with the perfect celebratory splash just off the 18th green.
• Super Bowl Sunday: The halftime show might stink, the score might be lopsided -- heck, the lights might even go out -- but Super Bowl Sunday is, without a doubt, hands-down, the single best day in all of sports. No seven-game series in the NFL, just one day of play for all the glory.
• The Manhattan Beach 6-Man: Thousands of terrifically tanned and toned people compete in a massive beach volleyball tournament in California, complete with team-themed costumes and a lot of booze. The powers that be moved the best weekend of the year to mid-week in 2012 to cut down on the partying, but it's still one of the most entertaining sporting events you'll ever witness.
• Strawberries and cream at Centre Court: There is only one sporting venue at which you can sip Pimm's while dipping English strawberries into a bowl of cream and not get glares from the foam-fingered fan to your left or the beer-chugging bro to your right. Centre Court at Wimbledon, where the grunts emerging from the players are the only sign you're at a sporting event and not a fine-art gallery. Perfectly refined.
• Kayaking McCovey Cove: AT&T Park is one of the finest stadiums in sports, and the waterway just past the promenade lining the right-field wall is a big reason why. You can paddle up to the side of the field in a kayak, listen to the Giants' play-by-play on a radio or headset and cross your fingers that a "splash hit" might come your way. A true San Francisco treat.
• Hat-watching at the Derby: The mint juleps are fine, but they can't compete with the cavalcade of chapeaus on display at the Kentucky Derby. Donning a dazzling topper has been en vogue at Churchill Downs since the 1870s, and the women of the Derby continue the tradition every year with posh perfection.
• The Bleacher Bar at Fenway: The food ain't great, the drinks ain't fancy, but the view at the Bleacher Bar in Boston, Mass., can't be beat. The watering hole is built right into Fenway Park (the space used to be the away team's batting cage), and you can see the field through a huge double-garage door sized window. You can even see the field from the urinals (or so I'm told) through a window placed just about head height in the men's restroom. Because, in a perfect world, you shouldn't have choose between the bathroom and the ballgame.
• The green jacket ceremony at The Masters: It's stuffy. It's stiff. It's a little awkward. But it's perfect. In that moment the new Masters champion slips on that green jacket, you can see the stress of carefully calculated drives, chips and putts over 72 holes wash away.
• Fritz Crisler's seat at the Big House: When Michigan Stadium was renovated in 1956, the school's athletic director, former head football coach Fritz Crisler, decided to add one extra seat to make its capacity 101,001. The current capacity at the Big House is 109,901 and the extra seat has been kept in Crisler's honor. While there's no proof the seat actually exists, Michigan fans believe it's there.
• The Stanley Cup: The majestic cup handed out to the NHL's best team makes every other trophy look like just another piece of metal. The history, the stories, the winning names etched for eternity in silver -- you don't get more perfect than Lord Stanley's Cup.