Programming Note: With Bruce away, I’m captaining the ship this week. Always exciting, often disastrous. Shoot tips, comments, and other feedback to Hadfield.Ryan@Gmail.com or, if you consider yourself the progressive type, yell at me on Twitter, @Hadfield__.
WARNING: THIS IS A RANT
I don’t like to be the Everything Sucks Guy. I really don’t. The Internet is full of Everything Sucks Guy(s). You don’t need another one of those voices filling the space here. But today, dear readers, I deviate; because while hanging out with friends this weekend, we pondered a significant question: Is February the worst month of the calendar year to be a Boston sports fan?
It has to be. Ohhhh, it hassss to be. We’re stuck in quicksand consuming takes on takes on takes about the NFL Combine, Red Sox Spring Training, and the merits of tanking in the NBA. Really, the only thing we have to hold our hat on is the Bruins. And, keep in mind, the playoffs are months away. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for Jenny Dell, Will Middlebrooks and Everlasting Love; the over-saturation there helped me avoid an over-the-top, deep-dive into the meaning of Erin Andrews’s new role as host of “Dancing With The Starts.” (Or Erin Andrews doing anything, really.)
But, truthfully, I can’t stand February. This realization goes beyond the lack of relevant games, though — it’s everything else which has made consuming sports better and worse in 2014. What this all comes down to is speculation. Because if speculation is what you crave, February will tickle your fancy.
The main offender here is the NFL Combine, because the NFL Combine is terrible. Actually, let me rephrase — the combine itself isn’t horrible, but the way we digest the results definitely is. The problem is that the wall-to-wall coverage has not made us better, more knowledgeable fans. Nope. It’s made us informed juuuuuust enough that we’re annoying about the whole endeavor – like a college student trying to explain Occupy Wall Street to Will McAvoy.
Yeah, that’s fans and the media these days. A lot of people talking at once, without any real idea what’s going on in front of us.
For example, did you hear that draft pundit on “Toucher & Rich” this morning? I didn’t bother remembering his “premium” website, because he said things like “Jadeveon Clowney isn’t a winner.” He spoke in generalities and clichés, it was like listening to Danny Woodhead, circa 2011, tell the media he “just has to work on improving, day-in and day-out.”
What is happening here?
Well, 35 percent of fans, bloggers, “analysts”, radio hosts, and the like, take combine crap wayyyyy too seriously; as if someone’s 40-yard dash time tells you EVERYTHING you need to know about whether or not Player X will be an impact guy on Sundays.
(Because 40-yard Go -Routes are all the jazz in pro offenses these days. Seriously, I’d rather see how well DBs and WRs deal with pick plays; at least that would provide real context and maybe educate us with insight into what’s “dirty” or clean)
Then there’s 40 percent of the same crew, who have a little better handle on real life and understand that game film matters more than how awesome Player X is at working out. Of the remaining 25 percent, a decent chunk — let’s say 20 percent — then find themselves explaining the real value at the combine: the player interviews with team representatives behind closed doors: Are you in shape? What do team doctors think of you? Is your mom – or has she ever been – a prostitute?
Finally, the remaining five percent of people invested in this process, in one form or another, throw their hands up and say “I have no idea what is going on, and neither does anyone else.” As the coverage ramps up – and, in coming years, methinks it will – the blurriness between these groups will only distort. I can’t wait.
Spring Training isn’t much better. Let me sum it up for you: Xander Bogaerts is well on his way to being the next Mike Trout (Because you have to file the unreasonable column in Spring Training, so you can write the “WHAT’S WRONG WITH Xander??” column come July. Jackie Bradley Jr. is emphatically shaking his head in agreement). Jon Lester says he’ll take a home team discount, but that’s only left us to ask if he’ll take a real home team discount?
More story lines: Lots of Stephen Drew talk, the ongoing debate surrounding David Ortiz’s contract, and Ryan Dempster‘s shocking decision to walk away from $13 million. Plus, lots of stretching. That too. Like the combine, getting wrapped up in this discussion is fun, but generally pointless until the games start. (After all, remember, Bobby Valentine dazzled the cynical Boston sports media in Spring Training before the fourth estate gloriously turned on him.)
I won’t even get into tanking. At this point, the only thing worse than tanking is talking about the idea of tanking. Also, seedy stories like Rajon Rondo taking “unscheduled” off-days are always a good time; I’m sure people will have reasonable takes about that situation. This should be fun.
Now, as I understand it, the popular month’s people tend to point to as the nadir of the Boston sports calendar are July or August.
Not to be a jerk, but to that I say FOOLS. All of you.
(Alert: HOT LIFE TAKE coming your way – set your mind to blown)
As the wonky Internet writer, who fancies himself an intellectual luminary, one that is omniscient about these sorts of things (Read: life matters), allow me to explain. You see, there is life that takes place outside of sports. And July and August is when the other aspects in life supersede the enjoyment gained from sports. That’s not to say there is no room for sports, of course — but its place is auxiliary to all the other great events that make summer, well, summer.
Day drinking. Barbeques. Barbeques AND drinking. Beach days. Beach nights. Beach days AND beach nights. Summer concerts. Not to mention, people are in better shape and appear to be considerably happier – mainly because it doesn’t hurt to go outside. Sports is the cherry on top when I have all that going on in my life.
February? In February, it hurts to go outside. My lips are constantly chapped, face egregiously red because of wind burn, and people around me all gain weight because they can wear layers in the winter. And while there’s day drinking, it’s typically indoors in order to avoid the elements.
Case in point: my friends and I spent Saturday bowling, because there was alcohol and it was near my buddy’s condo. Then we watched Duke-Syracuse and speculated about NBA Draft prospects, because, as previously mentioned, in February there’s not much else to do but speculate.