Notes From Wonderland: Bring on the dog days

Summer is nearly here which means we are nearly in the ‘Dog Days.' Not the ‘Dog Days of Summer', but the ‘Dog Days of Sports Viewing.' We are getting to the point in time where there are few sports worth watching on television.

I like baseball, but I'm not a fanatic. I'll watch or listen to any and every Diamondbacks game, but that is about it. I won't tune into the Superstation to watch that gripping showdown between the Braves and Marlins. I won't watch the Tom Glavine/A.J. Burnette showdown. That is what Baseball Tonight is for.

If it weren't for the Diamondbacks I would watch less than a dozen baseball games before the playoffs. Now before you lump me into those World Series band wagon fans, I'll have you know this, I went to a Phoenix Suns game just because they were selling the first Diamondback hats exclusively at half time. Some may remember that they were the black hats, with the then-trendy teal bill and the big block A.

I remember watching games with Brett Brede roaming the outfield and Andy Benes gutting it out on the mound. I remember hoping that Jorge Fabregas would develop into a good everyday catcher and wondering if Yamil Benitez would put up 25 homeruns. Four years later I have a World Series shirt from a team I waited for 20 years to watch.

The big problem is that there are no UA sports to watch. The baseball team, while improved, is probably not going to go to the post season. Even if they do make a regional, odds are that the Wildcats just don't have the firepower to make it to Omaha and ESPN.

The softball team will be in Oklahoma City, but the television coverage is spotty at best.

The two drafts are a good way to get a sports fix. Football takes two days, but I'll lose interest after a couple hours. I just don't have the attention span to watch 127 hours of Mel Kiper Jr. Prediction: Even though the new Houston Texans announced that they will draft Fresno's David Carr with the first pick a week ago, it will take them several minutes to officially announce the pick. Even worse the team with the No. 2 pick will have had almost a month to make a decision but will take most of the allotted 15 minutes.

Two more predictions: NY Jets fans will go with the traditional "AAAAARRRRGGGGGHHHHHH" after their pick and the Cardinals and Bengals will low ball their first round choices causing the players to hold out.

The NBA Draft is another story. I love the NBA Draft, but have to admit it is slipping. In the past I knew all the players. For the most part a bunch of players I just saw in the NCAA Tournament were getting drafted. Occasionally Don Nelson would take an obscure foreign player and Jerry West would nab a Division II gem. Now it takes four or five picks before you even hear a college player's name called. It takes five more picks before they draft a guy who was on campus long enough to amass triple digit credits.

Now instead of drafting deserving college players, GM's are trying to find "potential". No GM wants to be the guy who passes up the next Kobe Bryant or the next Dirk Nowitzki. Instead they pass up the Shane Battiers and Richard Jeffersons of the world.

These draft strategies have all but killed the NBA for me. Plain and simple I don't watch it. The game is terrible. There is no strategy, clear out and watch a one-on-one match-up. The players go through the motions. Most of them treat it as a job, not a passion. For every Michael Jordan there are five Derrick Colemans collecting a pay check.

I'll watch the playoffs if I'm home. Usually I'll channel surf and tune into the last 2:00 of games. If I miss the end of the Charlotte/Detroit game, oh well. Now that the Suns have been eliminated for the first time since the 1980's I have even less interest. The only thing worse than watching the NBA is watching the NBA without a rooting interest. I would like to see Mike Bibby get a ring. Richard Jefferson's New Jersey Nets are a nice story. As long as the Lakers don't win I'll be happy.

It gets worse after the NBA season ends. After that we get subjected to the WNBA. While I respect the athletes and their passion for the game, the league is terrible. These "fundamentally sound", ACL injuries in waiting just don't put a good product on the floor. While I'm thrilled that little girls now have a professional league to look up to, I just don't want to watch it.

The Stanley Cup playoffs are very exciting, but they last a long, long time. It's hard to get excited about game one of the Bruins/Canadians series when it will be more than six weeks before the champion is crowned. That being said, there is only one thing more exciting than a NHL game seven, and that's sudden death overtime in an NHL playoff game.

There is one sport I will watch all summer, but not by choice. My girlfriend is nuts for NASCAR. That's right she loves to watch brightly colored cars turn left for four hours. Because I like to keep her happy I watch with her. I even try real hard to not yell "YEEEEE-HAAAAAA" when something "exciting" happens.

I learned that adopting a driver makes it a little more fun. My "favorite" driver is Buckshot Jones. That's right Buckshot. When I first started "watching" he drove the #00 Cheeze-It car. What's better than a hillbilly named Buckshot driving a car with a tasty snack cracker as a sponsor? The only problem was that Jones just isn't very good. If he doesn't crash that's a moral victory.

With Buckshot rarely finishing, I had to adopt another driver, so I picked the guy with the thickest southern accent. With that as my goal I adopted Ward Burton. Burton is from Virginia and has an accent like I have never heard before. The few times I can understand him, he creates the most interesting pronunciations. "Our car ran well today" sounds more like "Aw caw run weh todai." He even pronounces his last name more like "Bahrtun", not Burton. Of course he has a brother, who he grew up with, that speaks with almost no trace of an accent. How these two could grow up in the same house and sound so different I'll never know?

So what is a sports fan to do? Preseason football starts earlier and earlier. I'd rather watch a bad preseason football game in July than watch a regular season NBA game.

Even better news is the fact that the football team goes to camp in early August. With practices open to the public, watching the Cats tune up for the season has to be more enjoyable then a late summer battle between the Phillies and Expos. Before August ends the Wildcats will play NAU in their home opener. Let the countdown begin…


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