Thursday, April 2, 2015

Easter/Passover to give us massive sports brawl for public attention

This coming weekend is going to be one of those points in time each year that infuriates the portion of me interested in sports.

The baseball Opening Day, scheduled for Sunday at Wrigley Field and on Monday for all other teams, is going to get drowned out by the nonsense that has become “March Madness.”

AS IN THE NCAA’s men’s basketball tourney – which is now down to four college teams who will play on Saturday, with the two winners advancing to a championship game on Monday.

Opening Day, that ritual that is supposed to be a part of the rebirth of our society each year from the doldrums of winter, is going to get overshadowed by college basketball teams that I suspect the bulk of sports fans could care less about.

It always works out that the basketball tourney commonly called “March Madness” (even though any knowledgeable sports fan knows the term was first used with regards to the Illinois state high school basketball championship tourney) spills over and invades what ought to be baseball’s time clock.

And yes, I’ll be honest and admit I find it equally ridiculous that the World Series always gets played each year in a mad race to complete the event before Halloween. It’s like the sports spectacles we watch don’t know how to keep track of time or when they’ll be played.

IF IT’S REALLY “March Madness,” then why are we still playing it in April? Is this an April Fool’s gag (albeit a few days delayed) on baseball?

Don’t tell me that the average sports fan really cares that much about Duke or Kentucky (a part of me is spiteful enough to hope that the championship game comes down to Big Ten teams Wisconsin and Michigan State, just because it would screw up the thought processes of those who actually care about the game).

Besides, the Great Lakes states could use the public attention. Which they otherwise would have got from the season opener Sunday when the Chicago Cubs take on the St. Louis Cardinals.

And we’ll get to see for ourselves just how far from completion (mid-May is the current time estimate) the Cubs are from rebuilding their outfield bleacher section with ultra-modern video board that won’t look totally ridiculous in a 101-year-old ball park!

ADMITTEDLY, IT IS a novelty for the entire baseball season to begin in Chicago – a move that hasn’t happened since 2006 when that season began at U.S. Cellular Field and the then-defending champion Chicago White Sox (who wound up being a third-place team that season) beat up on the Cleveland Indians 10-4 before a national audience, courtesy of ESPN.

The same attention (on ESPN2, to be exact) that the Cubs are expecting to get from their Sunday opener (the White Sox start their season in Kansas City and don’t get to play a home game until a week from Friday).

But how much of the sports fan attention will wind up getting shifted away to pontificating about who will win Monday? And on Monday, will the basketball winner wind up being the “big” story, rather than the assorted Opening Days taking place across the country?

Somehow, that just seems wrong for a tourney that could have ended a week earlier (the NCAA basketball tourneys for Division II and III are already complete), with those athletes having to return to campus to go back to pretending to be full-fledged college students for the next couple of months.

OF COURSE, THIS isn’t the only intrusion, of sorts, taking place this weekend.

For Sunday is Easter. Major League Baseball has the nerve to use its holiest (allegedly) shrine of Wrigley Field to kick off the season on the holiest of all holy holidays. For those who are Jewish, Passover is Saturday. Does this mean the NCAA semi-finals are intruding on that holy event?

How many clergy of so many religious denominations will have something to rant about this weekend?

Are we likely to see family battles reminiscent of Thanksgiving, where one faction of the family wants to sit down and eat while the other just can’t tear themselves away from the television to watch some football?


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