Monday, January 27, 2003

SportsBytes #2.8

Rant off the bat...

To paraphrase ESPN's College Football Bowl commercials, "it's the least wonderful time of the year."

Now that the Super Bowl has come and gone, we enter February, the worst month for sports fans everywhere.

Think about it. The only major sports currently playing are the NBA, the NHL and College Basketball. But college hoops really take the stage in March, and February is like 28 days of foreplay. The NHL and NBA are at the midpoint of their tediously-long seasons, and their all-star games that take place this month are the worst in major sports -- except for the NFL's joke of a "Pro Bowl," which actually also takes place in February.

Baseball fans will happily point out that pitchers and catchers report during February, but you can't have a baseball game with just pitchers and catchers, which is why spring training games don't start in full force until March.

Over the years, many sports leagues have tried to fill the gap that is February -- most recently and notably the XFL, which failed miserably and folded mercifully after just one season -- but they don't suceed for one reason: we need a break.

Sports fans may think they eat, sleep and breathe sports, but sometimes you just need to get away from it all. Baseball season is very long, and it runs into football season, which is emotionally draining. For true sports fans, February is the equivalent of our all-star break -- a short interruption of our 11-month sport: fanaticism.

Multi-Media

• With the economy in the dumps, not much was expected from this year's Super Bowl commercials, but there were some good entries. Once again, Anheuser Busch dominated the night with 11 spots, costing more than $20 million dollars. For a full recap of the night's between-game fare, check out the Ramblings section.

• ABC, which always does the best job of production during the regular season, was a little off for Super Bowl XXXVII, or so it seemed. The biggest problem was that the network insisted on showing too many replays. On more than one occasion, the replay of the previous play actually ran into the start of the next play. Sure, it isn't much to miss the snap, but it's annoying to cut from replay directly to Rich Gannon sitting in the pocket. On the good side, I have to give credit to John Madden for pointing out to Al Michaels that he might have to break out "do you believe in miracles" when the Raiders cut the Bucs lead to 13 with plenty of time left. Good banter for two guys working their first Super Bowl together.

Tiger Tracks

• Hey, something non-Super Bowl related! For those of you who don't remember, Towson is co-hosting the men's lacrosse Final Four with Johns Hopkins, Loyola and UMBC at Ravens Stadium this year (and next year too). Now the Final Four has an official web site at lax4baltimore.com. There are a lot of "coming soon" pages, but there's some good news up there, as well as a way to get tickets. As lacrosse season starts (less than a month now) there'll be much more there, I'm sure. Now we just need to make sure that Towson is there on Memorial Day Weekend as well.

eBay Item of the Week

• Pretend you were a Bucs fan from the start with this old school "creamsicle" Bucs jersey. No. 14 (Testeverde) but no name. Current bid: $94.00. Ends Jan. 27, 2003, 6 p.m. PST.

Random Prediction

• The Yankees will make at least one more big roster move before the season begins, trading one of their starting pitchers (and agreeing to pay most of his salary) for a minor league infield prospect.

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