Well, apparently these letters work for Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, so I figure Dr. Buss might want to use this in the appeal process to veto David Stern’s veto on the Chris Paul trade:
If you pay attention to ESPN, you may not realize that the World Series begins tomorrow night.
If you rely on the four letter network for your baseball news, you have learned more about clubhouse rituals in Boston and the alleged role video games, Popeye’s fried chicken and ice cold Bud Light played in September’s historic Red Sox collapse than you know about any St. Louis Cardinals player not named Pujols or Holliday.
If you watch Baseball Tonight, you are more apt to be enlightened on the benefits of embarking upon the John Kruk Denny’s Grand Slam breakfast diet than you are to see a highlight reel featuring an actual grand slam home run.
In fact, if you watch ESPN at all, you probably think that baseball is played only by the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and less frequently by the Philadelphia Phillies and everybody’s favorite loser, the New York Mets.
Just when you think the world of sports cannot sink to a lower common denominator, Fox swoops into the rescue and provides exclusive coverage of the World Series, thereby forcing sports fans to indirectly fill the overflowing coffers of pure evil and vicariously fund News Corp’s future telephone hacking schemes.
Everything else aside, the Texas Rangers will face the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2011 World Series in a clash between two clubs that feature sizzling white-hot lineups and promise to provide plenty of home run action. Rather than waste my precious and ever-narrowing attention span writing about the action on the field, let us prepare to witness the dumbing down of America’s pastime that appears center stage each and every autumn in our great land.
During the series, we will be subjected to a host of atrocities that includes material relevant to the actual games themselves and an avalanche of tangential drivel that will spew forth from, Joe, Tim and the rest of Rupert Murdoch’s army of evil.
Many people mark April 15th on their calendars as a reminder to pay their income tax. It is also a day for large U.S. corporations to celebrate another victory over common man and revel in the fact that they will pay Uncle Sam jack squat as they realize $10 billion in profits (GE did just that in 2010). With these troubling disparities, all we have as working class slobs is the solace that only April can offer: relatively half-decent weather in which to drown our sorrows, a new Major League Baseball season, and the beginning of the actual NBA season — the playoffs.
Over the next couple of weeks, we will look at key playoff series — should they actually exist — and combine our efforts and energy so that we might actually survive the brutal eight-week trek to the NBA Finals. But first…
Regular Season Round Up
If you have not been following professional basketball up until the playoffs, fear not. You missed nothing. The 2010-2011 campaign offered few surprises other than Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose and his meteoric rise to a chorus of overwhelming harmony in the likely unanimous vote for Rose as regular season MVP.
There was surprise in Utah, however, where the wishes of a fragmented Utah Jazz fanbase materialized in all forms during 2010-11. They ran Carlos Boozer out of town immediately following last year and Boozer now finds himself amidst a championship run with Chicago. Those who were jaded with Jerry Sloan and his 20-plus years reign as head coach had their call answered when the great Sloan, presumably fed up with today’s pampered athletes and a stubborn Deron Williams, retired before the All Star Break. To top it off, the Jazz lost the player that ran Coach Sloan out of town — Deron Williams, who was until then, the face of the Utah Jazz. In essence, a lose-lose-lose in Salt Lake City.
People may attempt to qualify the Carmelo Anthony trade to New York as surprising; I file it under “who cares” (much the same way fans in Denver have).
Now, none of that matters. However, as lengthy and predictable as the regular season was, you can expect more of the same in the playoffs. Especially the length.
Only the NBA and NHL boast playoff systems that span the course of at least two full months. They are also similar in that less and less people actually watch — or care — what happens. Apathy aside, here is one reason to watch…
Each year, April breathes the warmth of life among inhabitants of the United States of America. Drab hues of brown and grey give way to a rebirth of greens, reds, whites, and pastels, signaling an end to frost-laden hibernation and a return of sprawling natural vibrancy. Ancient pagans believed this rebirth was due to the return of the Green Man from his winter’s slumber, when trees and flowers begin bloom.
In modern America, the promise of spring has evolved into visions of fire-spewing barbecue grills with sizzling meats alongside friends and families begin to fill the hollow void in our souls after enduring what seems to be an eternity of frozen misery–all of which was compounded by Award Season on TV and political stalemate resulting in Democrats transforming into Republicans.
Most importantly, baseball is back.
Two weeks have passed in this year’s six-month slog to the World Series and the Gods of Baseball have treated us to a delightful assortment of springtime sunshine that gives one hope that things may really be alright with the world. My favorite stories so far? Angelic Aces on the mound in Anaheim, the Red Sox mightily struggling out of the gates, and the ceremonious exit of Manny Ramirez from the game of baseball.
Is there a more boring regular season in any North American professional sport than what the NBA offers up each year? Besides the WNBA? NASCAR doesn’t count–it’s not a sport. OK, maybe the PGA.
Out of the Big Three, regular season basketball is at the top of the list when it comes to forcing the sports-loving public into acts of desperation to sate the appetite for unparalleled drama; a drama which can only be fulfilled by watching men battle other men to advance a ball against the opponent’s will–with passion.
I must confess–I am a lifelong fan of basketball. Baseball is still my first love (apologies to the missus), but I have always held a soft spot for growing up and cheering for Magic Johnson and the Showtime Lakers battle against Larry Bird and the hated Celtics in the 1980s, and witnessing perhaps the greatest athlete of my generation in Michael Jordan redefine the way the game was played. I particularly enjoyed watching the way these giants played against–and hated–each other. Every time they faced off. Even in the regular season.
Fast forward beyond the golden years of the NBA into the present day and you find that the competitive drive to pound the other guy into the hardwood that permeated throughout the league has transformed into a fraternity of collegial millionaires who are more interested in being invited to the hottest parties in Souf Beach [sic] by the very people they claim (and fans hope) they hate–guys from the other team.
The result? Fan interest is trending ever southward, particularly mine. Even with my favorite team vying for the cherished three-peat, I still find myself hard-pressed to sit down and take in a regular season game. Why? These games don’t matter. I know it, the players know it, and now–apparently–the league knows it.
Half of all teams in the league are guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. Good teams can usually sleepwalk into the post-season, so long as they stay healthy and/or out of jail, and bad teams are simply unwatchable.
I’ll tune in once the playoffs begin, but until then, my resolve is very similar to that of the average NBA player–I just don’t give a damn.
With apathy levels skyrocketing amongst traditional fan bases, the NBA is reaching out to a new demographic from which they will inevitably siphon as much disposable income as possible–the Hispanic population.
Can you feel it in the air? Are you treating your fellow citizens just a little bit nicer than usual? Do you have visions of sugar plums, nachos, seven-layer dip, and atomic chicken wings dancing in your head? Rhetorical questions aside, America’s most popular holiday is finally upon us, folks. Super Bowl Sabbath hath come and shall fill the proverbial stockings of die-hard football fanatics and casual followers alike with copious amounts of delectable cuisine, libations, opportunities to gamble, and perhaps a few minutes’ worth of good ol’ fashioned football action spread over the course of six hours.
What makes this holiday so special? There are many reasons why Super Bowl Sabbath reigns supreme, many of which are ubiquitous and some of which will be unique to Super Bowl XLV.