by Matthew Ross
VEGAS GEARS UP FOR ANOTHER NFL SEASON
It might only be July, but there really isn’t an offseason for the National Football League anymore. As teams evaluate players in camp and the preseason looms next month, Las Vegas will once again be a focal point for football this summer. In addition to the usual sports book action that occupies the casinos prior to the regular season’s kickoff, summer also brings the fantasy experts to the city – and we don’t mean the kind that you buy on DVD.
Fantasy football experts from everywhere will flock to Vegas this summer, to hold conferences, live drafts and other related activities. Thousands of people make ends meet by living vicariously through actual pro athletes. It’s an odd concept when you think about it.
As usual, Las Vegas will once again be the Mecca for guys walking around with magazines, cheat sheets and ill-fitting football jerseys.
By now, all of the top fantasy football outlets have already put out their football preview publications, complete with predictions, analysis, mock drafts and really tacky sports ads. As someone who has purchased his share of these magazines in his day, I can’t tell you who the readers are that are signing up for these picks services or other hard sell sports businesses. Nevertheless, it’s always exciting to ponder the first week of football, even if it’s still summer.
In terms of this year’s NFL storylines to follow, I am wary of the rookie non-storyline. I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that not one quarterback was taken in the top 15 picks of this year’s NFL draft. After all, we’re coming off a football season that saw three rookie QBs make an impact in Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson. Granted, Wilson was a third round pick, but Luck and Griffin III came with plenty of fanfare and excitement. Seeing that many offensive linemen go early in the first round doesn’t exactly get the football fan’s blood pumping. All that said, you can bet that I’ll be one the millions of nerds worldwide that will be trying to grab running back Adrian Peterson with my first pick.
with the off field drama
If you’ve visited a top sports news site of late, then you have probably read more about a pro athlete being arrested than you did about how a player or team did in a game. Am I the only one who’s sick of it? When did the focus of the big sports entities take on more of a TMZ feel? Jim McKay must be rolling over in his grave.
There are now sites that specialize in the non-legal extracurricular activities of today’s pro athletes and celebrities; so why do I have to hear about it from the so-called reputable sports news sites, too? It’s not just that five of the top ten stories of the day on a sports site are now about a player drinking too much or calling another player a name, it’s that the net is being cast wider and wider.
What’s next, breaking news on how Tom Brady cut in line at Whole Foods? Enough already. Just tell me who won, why they won, and how the losing team will make adjustments. Save the stories about gold digging ex-wives and players that used to love them for the daytime soap operas.
BASEBALL NEEDS FLARE
I love the game of baseball. I grew up listening to games on the back balcony with my dad and dreaming of hitting a game-winning home run for a pro team. Baseball is a chess game with a bat and a ball. It’s the pitcher out-thinking the hitter. It’s the manager out-managing his counterpart.
I’ve always maintained that baseball is a game that has to be learned when you’re young. If you weren’t into it as a kid, you’ll never be in to it. After all, have you ever met a 30-year old who suddenly became a fan of the game? Thus, I can absolutely see how the casual fan can get frustrated and even bored with America’s pastime.
Whenever there is talk about what to do to improve Major League Baseball, it usually centers on speeding up the game. But, I believe there are other things that can be done in order to grab and keep the attention of casual fans.
My biggest gripe with baseball on television is the sheer dryness of the broadcasters involved. Football had John Madden. Basketball has Jeff Van Gundy. But who is the fun baseball analyst to listen to during big national telecasts? How have the networks not caught on to the fact that a little personality in the booth goes a long way? I am not saying to put Dennis Miller in the broadcast booth, but I am asking MLB not to be afraid of a little opinion and flare. Imagine how much more entertaining a baseball game would be to watch, especially during a mundane pitching coach visit to the mound, if we had engaging broadcasters to captivate us a little more.
In my opinion, there’s one former baseball player that would make for an excellent analyst on FOX, TBS or MLB Network broadcasts. The only problem is that he’s currently doing it well in another sport. Former outfielder Deion Sanders is exactly the type of magnetic figure that baseball telecasts are in dire need of securing. If Deion was able to simultaneously play professional baseball and football, then why can’t he also become a two-sport analyst?