There are only two more major spectacles to behold before the sports spotlight turns back to the National Pastime. There’s a football game in Houston with some minor drama between a commissioner, an owner, a coach, and a quarterback – oh and they’ll be competition on the field also. And then there’s the College Hoops Madness that captures America’s attention during the month of March. Can’t wait to fill out dozens of brackets that will all be busted by Friday morning of the first weekend and then struggle to beat my wife, who picks teams by colors and mascots.
Oh, sure. In a couple weeks’ time the very best basketball players in the world will descend upon New Orleans to try not to get into too much trouble and to try not to play much defense. The latter is guaranteed. The former is usually a bit trickier. Maybe Charles Barkley and LeBron James can hug it out on Bourbon Street to distract from the tired slam dunk competition that had the novelty wear off years ago.
There’s a car race on the last Sunday in February in Daytona, Florida that’s sometimes fun to watch for the last twenty laps or so, unless it’s raining. It so rarely rains in Florida. But when it does and the race is delayed, Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart will probably show up in a television booth for guest appearances. All athletes have trouble retiring.
And a mere four days after the start of the MLB season, Jim Nance takes us on a commercial free weekend at Augusta National. Highlights are sure to include Tiger speculation, Tiger hype, Tiger disappointment, Tiger early exit, Butler Cabin, and the Green Jacket to a twentysomething. Did I mention that athletes have trouble retiring?
But, then it’s smooth sailing into the Summer, falling asleep on the couch on Saturdays and Sundays listening to a ball game. One hundred and sixty-two of them over six glorious months.
Important Baseball Dates
Some may celebrate this date as Valentine’s Day. I prefer to think of it as “Pitchers and Catchers Report.”
Position players report. This gives pitchers someone to pitch to.
Spring Training games begin. Also this marks the start date for fantasy baseball players to begin making wild speculations about what a Mike Trout 0-2 means, or if a 4 K, 2 inn outing for Yovani Gallardo signals a bounce back. Small samples are so much fun.
The World Baseball Classic is back for the first time since 2013. Games will be played in the United States, Mexico, Japan, and South Korea, with the Dominican Republic looking to defend its title. The championship will be played on hallowed ground at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. If you can’t get excited about spring games, well these games count and something is on the line.
Opening Day, or Opening Day Before Opening Day?
The early game on Sunday has the New York Yankees opening the season in Florida, playing the Tampa Rays. In the desert mid-afternoon, the Arizona Diamondbacks host the San Francisco Giants. And that night, the defending World Series Champion Chicago Cubs (still sounds strange) will travel to their rival St. Louis Cardinals for Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN.
The Real Opening Day?
Do you remember when Ric Flair showed up in the then WWF with the NWA/WCW World Heavyweight Championship belt and declared himself the “Real World Champion” over Hulk Hogan. That’s kind of like April 3rd. The real deal was Flair and the real deal is Monday Opening Day baseball. Sunday is Hogan and a lot of made-for-television glitz.
There’s a full slate of games on Monday, as there has been for over one hundred years. It’s a tradition. Take off from work. Go to the ballpark.
I’ll stop short of the All-Star Game on July 11th and go back to combing over last year’s stats and this year’s scouting reports. Oh, and I may watch that football game too.