The Super Bowl is in our rear-view mirror, and it's time for the sports world to wake up from its long winter's nap. (OK, it's been like a month, but you try watching arena football for that long.)
But as we dust off the cobwebs, we might find we need to reacquaint ourselves with the language of spring. And not just the latest Alex Rodriguez insults -- we're talking about all the terms, decoding and definitions that can make you forget February ever happened.
Since spring training is in full swing and the NCAA Tournament is a week away, it's time to hit the books. We know, there aren't enough hours in the day to learn (and retain) all you need to know. That's why Page 2 is here to help.
While we can't support rampant steroid use in the field of play, we won't have any problem whatsoever if you cheat your way to social competence by using our dictionary. It's here for you, to get you through the next few months.
No need to sneak peeks at the paper of the guy next to you -- there's plenty for everyone.
All-Rolls-Royce team: 1) Term given for the collection of the best players in the NCAA Tournament. 2) What you hope your NCAA championship team doesn't arrive in for the victory celebration, lest they be stripped of their title.
At-large berth: 1) The award which results in some college coach saving his job. 2) Any pregnancy attributed to Kirstie Alley.
Bad loss: Any game in which a team that eventually misses the NCAA Tournament loses in front of a regional and/or national TV audience. (See Maryland Terrapins)
Battle-tested: Any team that undeservedly makes the tourney despite losing 75 percent or more of its games since Valentine's Day.
Big Dance: 1) Alternate name for the NCAA Tournament (See Field of 64, March Madness) 2) What Barry Bonds has been doing with the truth about his alleged steroid use.
Bracket buster: 1) First round NCAA tourney game. 2) Defensive technique Chris Paul used on N.C. State's Julius Hodge. 3) The supervisor at work who says the company copier machine can't be used for printing out NCAA Tournament pool brackets
Bubble burst: 1) Process undergone by NCAA teams that have cried for a month that they deserve an tournament birth, then lost in the first round of their conference tournament. 2) Feeling of remorse by baseball GMs when watching free-agent pitchers throw in person.
Choke: 1) To fail on the athletic field in a key situation. 2) What someone should have done to the N.C. State fans taunting Chris Paul about his grandfather's death.
Contempt of court: 1) Open disrespect or willful disobedience. 2) What Congress showed fans by scheduling the hearing for the tourney's first day. 3) What Sixers fans feel for Chris Webber.
Field of 64: 1) Alternate name for the NCAA Tournament (See Big Dance, March Madness). 2) Term to describe the average age of the San Francisco Giants when they're on the field.
Final Four: 1) Last four teams in the NCAA Tournament. 2) The number of people who believe Barry Bonds didn't use steroids.
Fixture: 1) A college basketball coach who has 20-plus years at his current school. 2) How Bill Self thinks of himself after two years at Kansas.
Flu-like symptoms: 1) Medical condition that afflicts professional athletes, preventing them from playing. (See hung over)
He's considering the next level: Phrase used by family friend of amateur athlete who has just lined up a seven-figure shoe deal.
He's trying to make the club: Phrase major-league managers use with the media before designating any player for assignment.
Hit-and-run: 1) A play in baseball where a baserunner leaves the base as soon as the pitch is made. 2) The point in a basketball game in which John Chaney clears his bench.
March Madness: 1) Alternate name for the NCAA Tournament (See Big Dance, Field of 64). 2) The idea of anybody missing the NHL. 3) The psychological term used to describe baseball players cycling off steroids before testing begins.
Market Value: The inflated sense of worth an athlete's representative has of his client based on analysis of salaries of other inflated athletes.
Maturing as an athlete: The process in which an athlete realizes he's on the verge of becoming irreversibly less talented, popular and/or paid, and magically begins behaving in the manner fans always preferred.
Mid-major: Any university that hasn't been swallowed up by the ACC, Big East or Conference USA.
Midseason form: 1) The state when an athlete's performance is at its peak 2) On the disabled list (Pedro Martinez only).
NIT: 1) Secondary basketball tournament that occurs at the same time as the NCAA Tournament (also called Not In Tournament, Nationally Inferior Teams and the NBA's Atlantic Division)
On the bubble: 1) A college basketball team that might or might not make the NCAA Tournament. 2) Phrase in baseball for players who are using a still undetectable form of steroids placed in chewing gum.
Precautionary measure: Used when a pitcher misses a start because his team fears that his arm -- which is ever-so-tenuously attached to his shoulder by a frayed piece of connective tissue no thicker than a piece of dental floss -- could conceivably fall off at any given moment.
Rebuilding with young talent: 1) Practice used by teams to attempt to re-establish the roster. 2) The best player will be traded by the All-Star break.
RPI: 1) Ratings Percentage Index -- The computation of a team's record. 2) Really Pointless Information -- Take a team's record, add margin of victory over nonconference foes, subtract road wins and divide by shooting percentage, then multiply by the square root of ... Huh?
Selection Sunday: 1) The event where the committee releases the seedings and pairings for the upcoming NCAA Tournament. 2) Where the good enter Paradise and the wicked are consigned to Hell? It is. Hell, in this case, being the NIT. 3) What happens when Paris Hilton rolls over in bed after a night on the town and decides whether she wants to see the guy next to her again.
Stanley Cup: Mythical silver trophy once fought for in the spring and given to the champion of something called the "NHL." Many claim to have seen it, but none lately. (See Bigfoot and Loch Ness Monster)
Student-Athletes: Term given to semi-pro basketball players who temporarily represent colleges and universities in the NCAA Tournament.
Taking the Fifth: 1) The right to invoke the fifth amendment of the constitution which bars one from self-incrimination. 2) The practice of saving one's potential Hall of Fame status. 3) What the Red Sox did before every postseason game.
Upset: 1) The act of a lower-seeded team defeating a higher-seeded team in the NCAA Tournament. 2) The feeling your digestive system has after seeing that Coach K AmEx ad/recruiting pitch for the 5,000th time.