Like this, except with basketball. - Mario Tama
Dear Mr. Fraschilla,
May I call you Fran? You seem very approachable and down to earth in your broadcasts, but I don't want to presume. For current purposes, I'll stick to addressing you formally until I hear back from you.
First of all, I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your work on ESPN. You do things like researching the teams and understanding the actual rules of basketball that make your in-game analysis both enjoyable and informative. Should you decide to ever retire from sitting behind the mic (as it were), perhaps you could teach a seminar every October for analysts who believe their job entails just showing up and being very loud. But I digress.
If you've read this far, you are on the Xavier basketball blog my brother and I write. Every March, we get together to watch the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament. As ESPN does not have any broadcast rights to the games, we would like to extend an invitation for you to come join us for the festivities if you're not busy in the studio. While we usually alternate between his house in Akron and mine in Columbus, we would be willing to amend our plans accordingly if you prefer one of those locations to the other.
At this point, you're no doubt wondering why in the world you would want to spend the day (or weekend; the party is slated to really kick off on Friday, but I'm open from the first tip on Thursday) watching basketball with a complete stranger when you have a family and probably friends to hang out with. Well, first of all, a stranger is just a friend you haven't met yet. Perhaps more compellingly - if less fittingly for an after-school special - consider the below.
1. You tweeted the other day that your job - which I believe you described as pontificating about basketball - can be exhausting. At the same time, your career choices lead me to believe that you love the game itself. If your goal for March Madness is to absorb as much basketball as possible with little to no pressure to make intelligent comments on it, my house is definitely the place to be. Don't get me wrong, the banter jumps off before the opening tip and continues throughout the day, but it's not exactly thesis-level stuff. Mostly, we argue about who has a better bracket (SPOILER ALERT: it's me), why the guys in the game we're currently watching aren't doing what we think they should, and make the appropriate sounds when things like this and this and this happen. It's basketball spectation at its finest.
2. You won't miss a minute of game action. I have an astoundingly adequate cable package and have recently mastered the picture-in-picture feature on my television. On top of that, my computer is also set up to be able to accept a coaxial cable, giving a third fairly sizable screen for keeping up on the proceedings. Greg Gumbel will miss more basketball over that weekend than the people at my place will
3. Great (as in, great to eat, not great for you) food and the opening weekend of the tournament go hand in hand, and we have you covered in that regard. Columbus has some fairly impressive fine dining options, whether you're in the mood for seafood or steak (or more steak) or something else entirely. I can't see myself yelling "THAT'S A FOUL!" around a mouthful of, say, Camembert-crusted filet-mignon, though, so I lean towards the more basketball-friendly options in town. I heartily recommend my favorite taco truck; it passes the same health inspections as a regular restaurant, I promise. On the traditional American spectrum, Dirty Frank's does a mean dog and Graffiti Burger offers just about anything you could want to put on your burger, including more burgers. If hot wings are your thing, BW3 is ubiquitous but Rooster's is a more local joint and has better fried pickles.
I could go on until I ran out of numbers, but I don't want to distract from my main point. We are offering, in essence, the soul of March Madness: relaxation, food, and basketball on TV. We'd love to have you join. If you are already committed to broadcasting the NIT, working in the studio, or you simply don't want to travel to Ohio in March (our weather isn't great) to hang out with strangers, you are and will remain my favorite national analyst.
Sincerely but not in a weird or creepy way,