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The Dog Days Cometh


And that right soon…

@BreakTheHuddle

Early in the best movie ever made*, Andy DuFresne (played by Tim Robbins) is called into the vile, corrupt Warden Norton’s office. There, he sees a placard on the wall, a transcription from the book of Sirach: “His judgment cometh, and that right soon.” My judgment is at hand, and the day of reckoning is upon me.

*Screen capture from “The Shawshank Redemption”, the greatest movie ever made.

I have been charged with the following crimes against sports: Abandoning enthusiastic interest in Amercia’s Favorite Pastime…  Failing to conjure up patriotic emotions about Olympic events which aren’t women’s curling, the luge, or that ridiculous event in which they send dudes out into the forest on skis while packing heat. (In other words, not caring about the Summer Olympics)… Persisting in Golf Agnosticism, despite Tiger’s renewed level of intrigue.

And for all these crimes – for growing weary of baseball, for lukewarm excitement for the Summer Games, and for failing to assimilate into male adulthood by caring about professional golf…

I plead guilty.

My sentence? 76 dog days.

This evening, the Miami Heat will likely finish off the Oklahoma City Thunder at home in Game Five of the NBA Finals. If this comes to fruition, the Heat will put to rest the criticisms they have endured and Lebron will finally get the gorilla off his back. This development will also, sadly, push the sports world into hibernation.

Now is the time of the sports calendar when things thin out. The weather gets warmer; people are on vacations, enjoying time outdoors, spending less time holed up in front of the television. Network executives know it – the best shows on TV take the summer off, to return when the days are shorter and the kids head back to school.

It also appears that the sporting gods knew it as well, and preordained July and August for baseball, golf, and (once every four years), the Summer Olympics. And if none of those topics tickle your fancy, you’re stuck, trapped in nearly eleven weeks of athletic imprisonment.

It is 76 days until football season.

Regular visitors to this website may have noticed the subtle shots I have taken at baseball, America’s Pastime, the Grand Old Game. My disillusionment has been troubling to those closest to me; I played baseball from the age of five all the way through my senior year of high school. I loved it – I lived, breathed, ate, slept, excreted baseball.

At some point, the mundane, slow, inexorable marathon of games lost my interest. I do not have it in me to care about the All-Star Game, about All-Star snubs, about the Trade Deadline (with power relievers and fourth outfielders headlining the news), or about whether or not the small market team off to a hot start can hold on (a la Pittsburgh). I spent too many years caring – and since the stories never end, the characters never become more vibrant, and only the names change, I have done the unthinkable… become merely a casual observer of the game.

Guilty, your honor.

“I’ve been known to locate certain things from time to time.” “Really? Could you find me a time machine so I can fast forward to football season?”

My love affair with basketball has grown leaps and bounds, yet I can’t become excited for the Summer Olympics (held in London, beginning July 27). Part of the reason is purely bad luck – Ricky Rubio is injured, meaning the Spanish team (the only squad who could conceivably beat the U.S.) will be severely undermanned.

None of the other events do much for me, either. Never been much of a gymnastics guy – something about poor, pre-teen girls from the former Soviet bloc being forced to parade in front of the cameras and pretend they aren’t beaten every time they screw up just doesn’t sit well with me. Sure, there are shooting events – archery and guns – but everyone is standing still. No skis. No forest. No interest from me.

Guilty, your honor.

I love to play golf, but I make less than $100,000 per year, so I am unable to truly call myself a “golfer”. Occasionally, a tournament on television will pique my interest – Augusta National is a must-see course, ditto with Pebble Beach, as is the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland. But the two major tournaments in coming months aren’t happening at any of those venues – the PGA Championship (August 16-19) is being played in Kentucky, for God’s sake.

Tiger’s gradual ascension back to semi-consistent relevance has been mildly entertaining, but he has yet to really be involved in a major on a Sunday – and since that’s all that matters to him, that’s all that matters to me. He lives, by all accounts, to play those four major tournaments per year. If he does find a way to be tied or close to the lead on a Sunday, that will be a nice distraction for the afternoon – but it won’t be much beyond that. Golf just doesn’t hold my fleeting attention span.

Guilty, your honor.

For the next 76 days, our options are limited. The NFL is the king of sports in America by just about any metric – revenues, television ratings, fan involvement (fantasy football is now a billion dollar a year mini-industry), even word of mouth. There’s a collective buzz about football season which is unmatched by the other sports.

Basketball gave us one heck of a season – abbreviated as it was. The postseason has been nothing short of spectacular, with many great series: Pacers-Heat, Celtics -Sixers, Celtics-Heat, Lakers-Thunder, Spurs-Thunder… And now this Finals series, which won’t go the 7 games we were all hoping for, but nonetheless has been terrific theater.

Throughout the rest of the sports calendar, there are great gap-fillers: Bowl Games, March Madness, the NFL Draft, the Stanley Cup Finals, Craig Sager’s suits… but by July and August, they are all dried up. So those of us interested in compelling sports, ones with finite windows of opportunity and meaningful games – lock us up.

I, for one, will attempt to sleep until September 5th. And on that evening, when the beautiful specter of the NFL returns and we once again have access to compelling sports … that will be a beautiful night indeed.

76 days, people. We can do it.

The night of September 5, there’s a good chance I will stand outside my house and attempt to recreate this scene. Not the crawling-through-sewage part… rather, the-ineffable-joy-of-freedom-expressed-by-raising-my-hands-to-the-sky part.

BreakTheHuddle is a fan of the Twins, Timberwolves and the 13-time World Champion Green Bay Packers. Reach him at BreakTheHuddle@gmail.com, @BreakTheHuddle on Twitter or leave a comment below!

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