Publish date:

Death March Madness

No basketball commentator--perhaps not even any presidential
candidate--was more peripatetic last month than Bill Raftery.
Working Nets games for Fox Sports New York and NCAA games for
CBS and ESPN, Raftery, the 56-year-old erstwhile Seton Hall
coach, called 26 games, including five college tournament
finals. Among northern New Jersey celebrities, only Tony Soprano
spent less time in his own bed. Last week, while dropping off
his laundry at home, indefatiga-Bill reviewed his schedule for
SI View:

March 1: Denver, for Nets versus Nuggets.

March 2: Dallas, for Nets versus Mavericks.

March 4: Houston, for Nets versus Rockets.

March 5: Miami, for St. John's versus Miami.

March 6: Albany, N.Y., for MAAC tournament final.

March 7: New York City. "Drove down from Albany to Manhattan for
8:30 a.m. CBS seminar on NCAA tournament."

March 8: New York City, for afternoon opening round of Big East
tournament. "Then I took the Lincoln Tunnel out to the
Meadowlands to do the Trail Blazers at the Nets."

March 9: New York City, for second round of Big East tournament.

March 11: Memphis, for Conference USA tournament final.

March 12: Atlanta, for SEC championship game.

March 13: Florham Park, N.J. Tired lips give wife Joan "The Kiss."

March 16-18: Minneapolis, for NCAA Midwest subregional. While in
Twin Cities, celebrates St. Patrick's Day.

March 19: Florham Park, to drop off complimentary toiletries and
rummage for clean blazer.

March 20: South Bend, Ind., for second-round NIT game, Xavier
versus Notre Dame. "That was grueling because I ran into [ESPN
commentator and former Irish coach] Digger [Phelps], who was on
his way home to South Bend, during the layover in Pittsburgh.
Couldn't get any research done with him talking to me."

March 21-25: Auburn Hills, Mich., for NCAA Midwest Regional.

March 26: East Rutherford, N.J., for Nets versus Nuggets. "Nets
assistant coach Eddie Jordan usually gets me up to speed on the
opposition before the tip-off."

March 27: New York City, to emcee dinner for NIT final four teams.

March 28: New York City, for NIT semifinals at Madison Square
Garden.

March 29: Florham Park, for a day off. "Took the wife out to
dinner. Wife asked, 'When are you leaving?'"

March 30: New York City, for NIT championship game.

March 31: Indianapolis, for the Final Four, which concluded last
Monday. "I cover the games for CBS radio. That's a lot easier
than TV."

--John Walters

COLOR PHOTO: MARY ANN CARTER Raftery worked 26 games in 31 days: Can a commentator be called for traveling?

BOSTON BYTES
After simulating the 2000 baseball season, a video-game maker
likes--curses!--the Red Sox

Write it down: the Red Sox will win the World Series. So says
the 3DO company, a Redwood City, Calif., software firm that
manufactures the computer game High Heat Baseball 2001 ($29.99
for the personal-computer version, $39.99 for Sony
PlayStations). "Boston's not the best team on paper," says Mark
Dickinson, HHB's executive director, "but besides having Pedro
and Ramon Martinez, the Red Sox can score runs at any time."

You don't have to be a technogeek to know that. After all, the
Red Sox were SI's pick, too. However, Dickinson and his staff
back up their assertion with raw data. "We don't just take stats
from last year and account for personnel changes," he says of
3DO's talent assessments. First, every current player's career
numbers were calculated, with more weight given to recent
seasons. Next, the stats of everyone who has played in the
majors were analyzed to gauge the effects that aging has on
performance. Then 3DO ran 10 HHB simulations of the 2000 season.
"Each took about 20 minutes on a Pentium 400 computer," says
Dickinson. "The Red Sox did not win all 10 times, but they did
win more than anyone else."

Dickinson is well aware of Beantown's 82-year World Series
drought, but he has some history on his side. "This is the third
time we've done this," he says. "The previous two years we
picked the Yankees to win it all, and in 1998 our simulation
projected that Mark McGwire would hit 71 home runs."

So, you Red Sox fans, don't blame us.

--J.W.

PICKS TO CLICK

XFL.com

Want to try out for the new WWF- and NBC-backed pro football
league? Its Web site contains an application form for
prospective players. Among the questions: Do you wear glasses?
Do you have an agent? Do you consider your speed to be great,
good, average or slow? There's even a special section to be
filled out by players who have experience on college and/or pro
special teams. And, hey--no pencil-necked geeks need apply!