So its officially spring, as I look out my window and see a flowering cherry tree, and this is a time of transition in the world of sports. All of the Winter sports are ending or have ended, gone is the NFL, gone is March Madness(Go Heels!), gone is College Football, soon to be over NHL and NBA as well as many foreign soccer leagues. So what does the sports fan do during these months? Well you could either go outside and play something yourself or follow these sports…
A sport basically designed for warm Summer evenings with some popcorn and a hotdog. The crack off the bat of a home run, the jubilation of winning a come from behind game in the bottom of the 9th, the 98 MPH fastball to strike out a potentially winning run. Watching a player run down a line drive in the gap. The season is less than a week old and many teams look to have a chance to go to the playoffs this year. The usual Yankees and Red Sox media domination will continue like usual but the Rays will have something to say about that in the AL East. The AL Central seems wide open but the Indians seem to have been made favorites but any team can take this below average division. The AL West is more open than people think, the Angels are old and have injury issues to go along with the Nick Adenhart tragedy, the A’s are young and unpredictable, the Rangers continue to hit their way to wins but still lack pitching and the Mariners have many issues but one of them is not defense. The NL East seems to be between the Mets and Phils but watch out for the Marlins who amaze me how they can continue to compete with the lowest payroll in baseball. The NL Central is for the Cubs to lose, they’re the best team but hey they’re cursed so you never know what may happen. And the NL West is between the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks although the Giants will be much better than they were last year.
Like Baseball the MLS season is young and there are some good stories out there like the expansion Seattle Sounders. A number of new players entering the league has seen the quality of play go up from a couple years ago. Good news for the people of Vancouver BC and Portland as they’re getting their own teams to see if they can measure up to local rival Seattle. David Beckham is gone so hopefully the media will talk about something different for a change. Don’t forget about World Cup qualifing for basically every nation on the globe so you can follow if your favorite nation gets into the South African 2010 World Cup. The USA team has looked good, with an exception of a bad first half in El Salvador, and leads the group for a qualifying spot. Mexico has not, and recently fired their coach, they have a lot of work to do to get into one of the qualifying spots.
The first of the four major tournaments is going on right now, the Masters, and it’ll be interesting how many of the majors Tiger Woods wins this year. I usually predict 2 but he could win them all or go winless. There are plenty of really good players on the tour and all it takes is one bad round and they can take advantage. The Players Championship is another tournament to watch since it’s seen as the unofficial 5th major for the year. Golf is a fickle sport that frustrates millions but when something good happens it makes it all worth it. Watching the professionals make unbelievably tough shots boggles my mind, but that’s why they’re earning big money for something most people consider a hobby. I enjoy playing the sport more than I do watching it but Tiger Woods’ greatness is something I can’t ignore. Others to watch this year, Phil Mickelson, Padraig Harrington, and youngster Anthony Kim.
The French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open are the three tournaments to watch. All on different surfaces which play very differently, so we could see three different winners for each tournament. You can pretty much pencil in Rafa Nadal to win the men’s French Open since he’s never lost there, but who knows there might be an upset this year. Can Roger Federer keep up with the younger guys on tour? I love watching five set matches between two even opponents, hopefully we’ll see a few of those. The women’s field seems more wide open with a number of good players able to win, so you can count on a number of really good matches this year.
The F1 Series, the most followed and expensive racing series, is two weeks into the season and unexpectedly Jensen Button is the leader in his Brawn car. The big names have struggled so far this season but expect them to come roaring back and make this another good season. The World Rally Championship is about a third the way through their season with the best driver on earth, Sebastien Loeb, winning every race so far. The Ford team of Finns, Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala seem snake bitten so far. The cheerful Solberg brothers are always fun to watch as well. If NASCAR is your thing, the season is two months old and oval veteran Jeff Gordon is in the lead of the Sprint Cup, but you never know what’ll happen in the Sprint Cup chase for the Cup. There are many other series but I can’t cover every one so I’ll leave it at that.
There are other sports to follow like ummm Lacrosse…and…ummm… Horse Racing… and Womens Professional Soccer…yeah…