I was recently referred to as a former sports writer and didn’t buck back. Granted, while I’m paid to write, per say, the only place where I can about sports is here and I haven’t.
So why not?
Because, to borrow a Stephen King book title, this is The Dead Zone. But instead of Christopher Walken with psychic abilities, it’s the section of the sporting season where little to nothing is happening and everyone is searching for stories.
The Winter Olympics came and went, as they always do. Once the NHL signed a contract with NBC Sports, they fell off the national radar, only to briefly reappear for the final rounds of the playoffs. Only hardcore NBA fans care about the Association before April and without a true dominate team and/or player, college basketball becomes a conference-specific sport that will be fascinating once the Madness begins…
But it hasn’t yet.
So what remains is the NFL Combine, which only receives the unnecessary attention it does because it’s placed within this Dead Zone and football has long passed baseball as the National Pastime. But sadly, this draft runs into a similar issue as college basketball.
There are a bunch of good players, some really good players, but none that anyone admits is a can’t miss prospect. For those that can remember back to January, the sport was once again dominated by Nick Saban’s Tuscaloosa turnstile, a mechanism that generates championships regardless of the circumstances.
So it’s easy to forget that a freshman quarterback came off the bench to start the third quarter and beat another freshman quarterback for the national title. In Overtime, no less. But I dare you to name five players from either team.
Go ahead, I’ll wait.
If you can, you’re a college football die-hard and are eagerly anticipating spring practices. And when it comes to practicing in the spring, that’s exactly what I’m overly excited about.
Yes, I’m watching spring training baseball games. Not just watching, but have made it appointment viewing, planning my day around being in front of a mobile device for a 1:05 p.m. first pitch. I know I’m watching minor league players that may never reach Citi Field. Yes, starting pitchers are throwing 25-40 pitches at most and any slight injury can shelf someone for a couple of weeks since it won’t be a couple of weeks until they truly need to be ready.
But I’m still watching.
It beats thinking about the New York Giants and the No. 2 pick in the upcoming draft. Thinking about the fact that while the world has decided they need a quarterback, none of the candidates seem worth it…with the exception of Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield. But it also seems like they could trade down and get him in the middle of the first round or later.
But why delve into the deep list of issues with my favorite NFL team, one that won’t start practicing for like six months when I’ve got six months of baseball to get prepared for…by watching them practice now.
I get to see guys like Zach Borenstein, a 27-year old with a career .283 average in the minor leagues that reminds me of Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and other barrel-chested sluggers that seem more suited to DH than anything else; a blight that’s been repeated time and time again by the Sandy Alderson regime.
This same regime has watched two of my favorite players come up with similar skill sets and let them go. Justin Turner was a journeyman minor leaguer, bouncing around organizations before joining the Mets for a cup of coffee in 2010. His versatility in the field earned him 117 games and his bat (30 doubles in 2011) kept him on the major league roster.
Two year later, he was signed as a free agent for $1 million dollars by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He rewarded them by batting .340.
Batting was the lone reason Daniel Murphy was in the League. His position has changed, starting in the outfield and moved to first base before it was decided that a .290 batter wasn’t good enough without being a home run threat. The team shifted him to second base where he continued to hit for a high average.
But in the absurd longing for a long ball hitter, Murphy wasn’t deemed valuable enough to keep. It will go down as one of the worse management decisions for a franchise that traded the pitcher nicknamed “The Franchise” for Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson, Dan Norman and Pat Zachry.
So instead of thinking back, I think forward and wonder if Kevin Kaczmarski is the next high average/high on-base guy without an ideal position to get moved before his time. Is Brandon Nimmo’s smile and knack to get on base enough to keep him around, despite the gluttony of outfielders clogging Queens at the moment?
I would rather worry about these silly questions, questions that will be answered within the next couple of weeks, than think about who will win an award for movies I haven’t seen, songs I don’t like or a gun control policy that’s long been paid for with the blood, sweat and tears of the thousands that have come before, crying about the same injustice to the same deaf ears.
It’s an abrupt change of topic, but the answer is a simple one. Every American has three fundamental things to do during their time here: Pay your taxes, Vote and Die. The best way to affect change is to do number two and that’s the truth.