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2012 ncaa tournament

Yankees Fans Might Want to Root for Kentucky Tonight

Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats reacts against the Indiana Hoosiers during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball South Regional Semifinal game at the Georgia Dome on March 23, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. John Calipari holds the key to the Yankees' World Series hopes. Yup.

Kentucky plays Kansas for the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship tonight. On its face, the event has nothing to do with New York — and especially not New York baseball. There are some connections, though. For one, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is rooting for Kentucky. Cashman spent a significant part of his childhood living in Lexington, and despite being a Catholic University of America alum (go Cardinals!), he considers himself a Wildcat fan. As Joel Sherman of the Post notes, he's also become friends with John Calipari and, in recent exchanges with the Kentucky coach, reminded him of a bizarre piece of cross-sports trivia that hasn't been trotted out since the late 1990s.

From Sherman's article:

Cashman is quite aware of a bit of quirky history: Kentucky has won the NCAA tournament six times (1949, 1951, 1958, 1978, 1996 and 1998) and the Yankees have gone on to win the World Series in each of those years. So before this tournament began, Cashman sent a text to Calipari, who is a Yankees fan. Cashman reiterated the history to Calipari in pointing out why his rooting interest will be so strong. Calipari texted back, “then I better win.”

Obviously, the Yankees have had no problem winning rings with or without the Kentucky lead-in, but that's a pretty wonderful coincidence and, I reckon, reason enough for the superstitious New Yorker to support a Wildcat win this evening. (Incidentally, by this logic, perhaps Mets fans ought to have been rooting for Louisville to upend Calipari's Wildcats in the previous round. One of the Cardinals' two tournament wins came in 1986.)

So, if you're coming into tonight with a preconceived bias, then you're on your own. But if you're a Yankees fan on the fence regarding tonight's events, you might just have a rooting interest.

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Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images