Correction: Spring training games begin on Feb. 24
MLB All-Star Week is the consensus pick for “worst sports week of the year.” Baseball season grinds to a halt. If there are international soccer tournaments, they just ended. For a few days, the odd MLS match may be the only major sporting event on TV. This past week, however, may have been even worse.
Soap opera is as pivotal to live events for sports coverage, if not more so. While this past week offered more live events than that torpid week in July, there has been nothing to discuss, which stinks if you’re writing for a sports website.
The NFL is in one of its few lull periods between the Super Bowl and the manufactured Combine/Draft/Free Agency event season. Not to mention the sports event of the year: the NFL schedule release. Even “no days off” Bill Belichick is taking days off on his boat in Florida.
College Football? Signing Day came and went. We have about seven and a half months until the 2017 season kicks off and not much happens in between. The sport is in full-on contrived Harbaugh/Finebaum feud mode.
The NBA took a full week off playing games. That includes All-Star Game participants, who allowed a combined 374 points on defense in 48 minutes of basketball. The Trade Deadline is there to offer fodder, maybe. But, how momentous is DeMarcus Cousins getting traded to yet another small market Western Conference team? Both the Pelicans and Kings are well below .500 and bound at best for a first-round scalping by the Warriors.
In MLB, pitchers, catchers, and position players have reported. But, the proper exhibition baseball is only just starting, let alone the 162-game slog. The diciest action is coming from rule tweak debates. The NHL is playing, not that the mainstream audience noticed.
Arguing against this week being sports’ worst are college basketball games. But, conference tournaments undermine the regular season. The NCAA tournament undermines the conference tournaments. These games are not that meaningful. Drama right now is which mediocre team can build up its case to snag an 11-seed.
The biggest sports news story (about sports) this week, Cousins aside, may have been a portly English goalkeeper eating a pie during an FA Cup match and the unfortunate fallout.
We won’t say July is not dull. But, there is more to talk about. NFL training camp is only weeks away. There may be a contract dispute. It’s close enough to engage with the 2017 season and start analyzing the fantasy picture. College Football has had spring football and media days. “Way-too-early” projections, if still off base, at least become meatier.
NBA free agency is where the real drama comes. If there’s not a Top 10 player making a “decision,” the free agent signing period produces an owner fighting with a reporter about his whereabouts. The MLB All-Star Game no longer “counts.” But, division races are sorting, and the trade deadline looms. If all else fails, a major soccer star is perhaps on the move for $100 million.
Another advantage July has is that you can walk outside and grill things. When the February sports doldrums hit, you must face them head on.
If this past week was not the worst in the sports calendar, it is a very close second. Watching prospective professional football players work out in spandex is starting to sound intriguing.