When Malcolm Butler intercepted Russell Wilson’s pass to end the Super Bowl Sunday, we officially entered the dog days of sports.
Baseball doesn’t start for another two months and the NCAA Tournament, my favorite stretch of the year, is still a month away and has more days with no games than there are great days with 16 games in 12 hours. The NBA playoffs will be fascinating come late May, but the part of the year we’re in now is interminable, even for a big basketball fan like me.
There’s nothing better than playoff hockey, but no sport does a worse job of getting fans to care about its regular season than the NHL.
If you haven’t already, you should read Brad Carroll’s pay or slay columns for the Jets and Giants (go ahead, I’ll wait…), but the NFL keeps pushing the draft later and later and free agency, for all its excitement of a crazy day or two, burns out quickly.
So what do we do now?
Fortunately, the winter does have some hidden gems to get us through the cold and to the fun parts of the sports year.
First, baseball does offer us some warm thoughts in the winter doldrums, which I need since I just looked out my window and saw more snow. The start of spring training gives us the first chance to talk about which teams will be good in the months to come and to debate the strengths and weaknesses of our favorite squads.
Of course, in the age of superagents trying to get every dollar for their clients, there are still players looking for jobs. The James Shields sweepstakes alone is worth watching in the coming days. Since he’s still out there, will a big-market team like Boston or New York jump in, or does he go to San Diego? Once the players get to Florida and Arizona there will be interesting storylines early, such as A-Rod’s first meeting with the press and his teammates, and how he’ll fit in with the team.
Eventually we’ll get sick of looking at guys stretching and players who will be in Double-A by April playing exhibition games, but there is always an injury which creeps up or a position battle no one expected which will camp worth keeping an eye on.
If meaningless baseball doesn’t do much for you, there’s the road to WrestleMania. WWE seems to be doing the popular thing and putting Daniel Bryan in the mix for a title shot, which for many fans (even though I’m not one of them) will make wrestling exciting again.
Those who are obsessed with football have to wait just a couple of weeks for the scouting combine, which will help decide where college talent will end up. Watching players run sprints isn’t riveting on its own, but keeping track of who rises and falls in Indianapolis is another distraction from winter.
If you’re into racing, the Daytona 500 comes up in February as well. I never understood why a sport would have its biggest event of the year first, but the big tracks like Daytona, where the cars go 200 mph, are watchable on a Sunday with no football.
Unfortunately, the interesting sports events of February and March are sparse and don’t last very long, but they do exist. I’ll be watching college basketball teams jockey for position for the NCAA Tournament, the best sporting event of the year in my eyes, but I understand most people think the season starts when the brackets come out.
Whatever your sport of choice, February and March will have something to offer you. If we watch them all and avoid thinking about winter, eventually spring will get here. Maybe then the snow will stop.
Or, if you’re waiting for baseball and the other sports’ postseasons, just pop Madden into your PlayStation or X-Box and make the Seahawks run the ball from the one.