Dog days of summer

We’re officially into what I like to call the “deadzone.”
It’s that time of the summer when there isn’t a whole lot going on in the world of sports.
Across North America, sports fans are going to the cottage, catching up on summer chores or enjoying the long days outside.
And why not?
They’re definitely not missing any monumental sports events.
The National Football League and National Hockey League are both either preparing for or participating in training camp.
Big deal.
Have you ever tried to watch a preseason game?
I don’t care what sport it is, preseason action is awful.
Who really wants to invest an afternoon watching guys who will never play during the regular season?
I want to see the stars play and there’s about as much chance of seeing them play big minutes in the preseason as there is of the Pittsburgh Pirates winning the World Series next year.
There are only two worthwhile news stories coming out of any training camp.
The first involves significant injuries to starting players that ruin a team’s chances before they ever play a meaningful game.
You can’t win a championship during the preseason but you can definitely lose one.
Every year some team loses an impact player to a serious injury and it tanks their season.
The most recent example I can pull off the top of my head happened when the Baltimore Ravens lost all-world running back Jamal Lewis to a blown out knee in the preseason.
The Ravens were defending Superbowl champions and had another strong team but it all disappeared the minute Lewis got hurt on a meaningless play in August.
The only other worthwhile story coming out of any training camp involves players holding out because of a contract dispute.
Whether they are rookie players looking for a big-payday or veteran players looking to renegotiate their contract, hold-outs are never good.
I’m also convinced hold-outs are dangerous to a player’s health.
How many times has a player held out of camp, settled the dispute late in the summer and then picked up a significant injury upon their return?
It happens all the time.
You can almost set your watch to it.
So, we’ve estbablished there isn’t much going on in football or hockey but what about the other two major sporting leagues—the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball.
Scratch the NBA off the list right away.
There is absolutely nothing going on right now in basketball.
You know it’s bad when the biggest press release put forth by the NBA this week will involve some team signing an obscure European player who may or may not make the roster come October.
And that leaves us with baseball.
At least Major League Baseball is playing meaningful games; sort of.
The funny thing about baseball is that no matter what happens only the best teams make the playoffs.
In most other sports a marginally talented team can get hot for a month and sneak into the playoffs.
That’s an impossible scenario in baseball.
The 162 game baseball schedule ensures that only the best of the best qualify for the playoffs.
Unfortunately because there is no salary cap in baseball the teams that spend the most are the ones that win.
That’s fine if you live in Boston, New York or Chicago.
It’s not so good if you live in Milwaukee, Tampa Bay or Kansas City.
For the majority of baseball fans the season ended a month or two ago when their team fell more than 10 games out of the race.
All those fans can do now is hope their owner goes crazy in the offseason and tries to outspend the big spenders.
The dog days of summer are indeed upon us and sports fans everywhere can’t wait for September to arrive.

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