THE SPORTS DOCTOR- Bright future: Spring sports a reason to smile

Don't like lacrosse? UVA's #1 in tennis and baseball too

No more college basketball? What are we to do? When the title game ended Monday, it seemed I'd been staring at my bracket for months. Now, with March Madness behind us, there are other things to be happy about. 

Remember them? Here's a reminder.

1) Tiger Woods returns. You may not like him and believe watching golf is a big snoozefest, but who doesn't want to see how he's going to act at the Masters? Is he a different and more human Tiger? It's reported he actually joked with reporters before practicing at Augusta last Sunday.

However, I wouldn't hope for too much of a change., and The New York Times all had to run the same paltry Associated Press article about Tiger's unexpected practice round. So, jokes aside, he's not exactly trying to charm the media. Tiger's game may be good enough to win at Augusta, but will he be able to stay calm in the face of a little heckling– and more importantly, has he learned how to make a fist-pump look humble?

2) In case you missed it while preparing for the title game, Opening Day was Monday, April 5– at 1:05pm, to be exact. Isn't it wonderful? This early in the season, hope is renewed and refreshed. While it's true some teams have more hope than others (can you say Philadelphia?), Cubs and Nationals fans can still believe this year will be different and that the inane and illogical off-season trades (did Chicago really have to get rid of Reed Johnson?) will add up to magic. 

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but barring one or two surprises, I'd say the divisions stack up pretty similarly to last year– I'm looking at you, Cardinals– but I hope I'm wrong. I'd hate for the most interesting aspect of the season to be how stupid Minnesota was for building a roofless stadium.

3) The University of Virginia. That's right– as The Richmond Times Dispatch reported, UVA is ranked No. 1 nationally in three sports this spring: baseball, men's lacrosse, and men's tennis. As if such greatness weren't enough, people are actually going to watch. 

"It's great for the school to have people coming to these games," lacrosse player Chris Bocklet said. "Some days we'll be playing at the same time, and UVA is packed with people– you can't park anywhere."

Virginia's tremendous showing in last year's College World Series should be enough to bring fans in by the busload, and it's always a thrill to watch lacrosse. With the redbuds blooming and bumblebees buzzing, UVA fans everywhere can say with pride, who needs football and basketball? At least until fall comes.

4) There may not be a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight in the future, but there's still some good boxing to be had. On April 17, WBC and WBO middleweight champ Kelly "The Ghost" Pavlik will face off against Sergio Martinez, the southpaw who gave Paul Williams a run for his money last fall. 

Pavlik may have taken a beating at the hands of 43-year-old Bernard Hopkins, but for this bout the Ohioan will be back at 160 pounds, the weight at which he's never lost a fight and his title defenses ended in nine rounds or fewer. 

According to Erik Raskin at HBO, "Pavlik was the man to beat in the division the moment he left [Jermaine] Taylor slumped in the corner on July 29, 2007, and he's still the man to beat in the division now." 

Pavlik's career has taken a few on the chin in the past couple of years, but he's still something to see, and a decisive win over Martinez puts him right back on top. And don't forget the Mayweather-Mosley fight on May 1.

Wait a second– do I hear something? Oh, it's just my cup running over.


Juanita Giles lives in Keysville where she makes videos and updates her Sports Doctor site.