Friday, October 3, 2014

For Sports Fans, October is the Happiest Time

Games in October are the promise of glory.  They are the death of dreams.   It is the beginning of seasons; the final sprint at the end of a marathon; and the point at which reality sets in. 

October is the only time of year when all four major sports in the United States are active at the same time (sorry soccer).  For Major League Baseball it’s the end of a six-month chase, as ten teams are quickly reduced to eight, four, two and one over the course of the month.   
In the National Football League, reality sets in during October, when about half the league is virtually eliminated (sorry Jets fans).  In the National Hockey League, teams are completing their training camps, playing exhibition games and dropping the  puck on a season that could potentially last until June (except for you, Islander fans).  The National Basketball Association is tipping off training camps all over the country, getting back to work after the mini-vacations that are known as the off-season (maybe the Knicks can get an extension?).

The Yankees had their October calendar cleared after an injury-plagued, offensively
inconsistent season, which saw them fall four games short of a wildcard spot.  Since this is only the third time since 1995 that the Yanks have missed the post-season, they can have a pass.  But this is also the second consecutive season without playoff baseball in the Bronx.  That leaves some of us who remember the dark ages of 1982-1994 (or even 1965-1975) wondering if we’re back to the future.   The Yanks are entering their first year of the post-Jeter era filled with question marks that will occupy everyone’s attention until Spring Training.

The Giants are entering the month filled with promise after recovering from their 0-2 start to win their last two games.  This included a 45-14 drubbing of the Washington team (I’m being politically correct by not using their nickname and just to spite their weasel of an owner).   The offense seems alive with possibilities, and new weapon Odell Beckham, Jr. will be joining the team for week five.  Given their late season schedule and the parity (mediocrity) of the NFC East, there is hope for a Big Blue playoff push come December.

The Rangers, coming off a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, are hoping to maintain their momentum while infusing the team with youth.  Gone are stalwarts Brad Richards and Brian Boyle (free agency) and Derek Stepan (broken leg).  In their place, they’re hoping that youngsters Anthony Duclair (19), Jesper Fast (22) and Kevin Hayes (22) can provide enough consistency to support all-stars Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis.   The defense also improves with the addition of veteran Dan Boyle to work with Ryan McDonaugh, Dan Girardi and Mark Staal who should be entering the prime of their careers.   Of course, the team’s foundation is goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who returns for his tenth season with the Rangers between the pipes.   As he goes, so goes this team, who should be ready for another deep playoff run.

With West Point as the backdrop, the Knicks begin training camp determined to forget the 2013-14 season.   Team President/Guru/Zen Master Phil Jackson and new coach Derek Fisher inherit a team of question marks that severely underachieved last season.   Re-signed perennial all-star (and underachiever-in chief) Carmelo Anthony, shooting guards Tim Hardaway, Jr.  and (felon-in-waiting) J.R. Smith, and new point guard Jose Calderon will try to convert the Knicks to a stronger defensive team running a triangle offense.   We can expect growing pains as the team (and first-time coach Fisher) learns on the fly. 

But it’s October, so there’s always hope.

Just Sayin’

My fearless predictions for the World Series are my hometown Nats vs. Detroit  (although I can’t recall a year when the American League was so wide open). 

Carmelo has said that he’s the “most underrated superstar in the NBA.”  Sorry, but if you’re a great scorer who has never been to a conference final (and has only advanced out of the first round once), you’re “barely” a superstar.  

Giant safety Antrel Rolle says the reason for CB Prince Amukamara’s increased level of play this season is due to the fact that he is now having sex.  Prince was famously saving himself, and is now a happily married man.   If anything bad happens, you know he’s going to blame her as well.

Fantasy Football Update:  I’ve decided to take the Costanza approach to setting my lineups.  Anything I think I should do, I’m going to do the opposite. 

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