This is the worst time of the year, but not for the reason you think. It’s because everyone in sports media all the way down to a three-watt radio station in Cow Skull, Saskatchewan, tells you it’s the worst time of the year. “Nothing’s happening,” “Nothing’s going on,” “We’re so bored,” and “I know, let’s talk about Odell Beckham’s hair”—that’s the menu today, kids. Hell, the founder of this squalid little corner of the internet, some total berk named Nick Denton, called it “cucumber season” from some central European saying he dug up in the mid-1700s.
But this is a lie. It’s always been a lie. There is ALWAYS something going on; you just have to make a better effort to find it. Oh, and don’t expect the TV network deep thinkers to help you. They’re the intellectual cheese wedges who thought cornhole and high-stakes nitrate gluttony would hold your attention.
And no, we don’t expect you to suddenly decide to become a more attentive parent. Your kids know you, and they’re on to your empty phrases and cheap attempts at re-ingratiating yourself to them. Leave them alone; they have enough problems without you regimenting their summer vacations with things you hate just as much as they do.
So dig a little deeper. With Twitter down for much of the afternoon, you sort of don’t have a choice.
Thus, we begin with:
It’s better than waiting for training camp, it’s much better than waiting for Hard Knocks, or as we will soon learn it is actually titled, The Jon Gruden All About Me Show, and it’s a sport that plays better while on mild hallucinogens. Wide receivers running willy-nilly all over the place, scores of 3-1, cities and nicknames you never heard of—it really plays best as a total blur. If you’re a purist, you’ll hate it, but unlike the AAF, XFL 2.0, or most college football west of the Colorado-Utah border, it’s always there for you. Yes, your spouse will know what you’re up to (avoiding household work and human interactions are a full time job for us all), but once you’ve embedded the couch with your massive hindquarters, it will take more time for you to rise again than he or she is willing to wait. Also, see if you can score an Atlantic Schooners T-shirt; it’s the Halifax franchise that has never existed because it has no stadium and isn’t in a hurry to build one as far as I know (and please don’t tell me if it is, because it will just depress me), but let’s be honest: anyone can find a St. Louis Browns hat, a Cleveland Barons sweater, or a Syracuse Nationals warmup jacket on the internet. It is far more fulfilling to brag on a team that is no team at all.
Yes, it’s the same as it always is, but we’ve missed the story of the year so far—the guy who went all-in in the dark, drew a queen-trey, lost, and decided to remove his wedding tackle in a surrealist attempt at poor sportsmanship. He was ushered out, as have been two other players who grabbed other people’s chips. You missed Richard Seymour, the former NFL player, finishing 131st out of 8,000-plus players and cashing $59K, but this seems like a perfectly acceptable way to fill in the time between now and the time you stop bitching about nothing happening.
Again, accept the incomprehensible. Don’t go in complaining you know nothing, go in reveling in the fact that you know nothing. “WTF” is the new “Go Team Go.” You don’t have to stay for all of it; most folks don’t. But with the right mixture of CBD and supermarket brandy, you’ll be properly and entertainingly confused.
If you are cursed with a bad team (see Baltimore, Detroit, Kansas City, Toronto, San Francisco, the Mets, the White Sox or Miami), go follow a good one, or a bunch at different times. It doesn’t have to be the Yankees or Dodgers; take any team. Take any player. Hell, if you want, follow the Reds just for the sleeveless uniforms and the gun show. Go follow Mike Trout for a couple of days, then Mookie Betts, then Max Scherzer, then Vladito and Christian Yelich and whatever the Mets do off the field next to remind you that most of their best history has been off the field. If baseball as it is isn’t working for you, make the baseball you want. Fantasy dullards did that long ago, and you can too, without all that obnoxious math and faux arbitrage. Oh, and stop spending time waiting for the game to die; trust me, you’ll die before baseball does. So suck a little fun out of it while it’s still there.
No matter what anyone tells you, Hard Knocks is going to blow because it will degenerate quickly into a cartoon show, and once you’ve watched Rick and Morty, you’re going to find this stuff a bit run-of-the-mill weird rather than “Now that’s genuinely, organically weird.” HTUW is always on, the animation is very yes indeed, you might learn something you didn’t know but should rather than something you aren’t that keen on learning about Richie Incognito, and like the CFL, a psilocybin smoothie as your refreshment of choice makes the colors whirl around your head faster. I mean, you’re not getting the Chernobyl musical any time soon, and there are already seven seasons of binge-watching there for you. In either event, you’ll never care about dragon counts again.
I know this doesn’t actually exist, but imagining the NBA’s shadow commissioner without three phones nailgunned to his head might worth at least an hour of fill-in programming. I haven’t given this much thought, I grant you, but I do worry that the NBA’s free agency period may be getting ready to jump the shark, as all good ideas eventually do. I mean, how does it get weirder than this? At some point, someone is going to try to outdo the unfathomable, with predictably hideous results. Woj not being Woj instead of being Woj is the only counter-programming I can think of that doesn’t involve a pre- or postgame show.
But only if the weather is cold and windy and rainy and lousy. Dry golf is just Holey Moley with too much grass.
Four weeks. Be patient.
Draw a beer and watch the world do nothing for a change. Just don’t find an innocent bystander and complain about it. Nobody wants to hear it. Nobody has ever wanted to hear it. Believe me on this: I polled the planet and I speak for everyone. If you don’t like the programming this time of year, either go out and make some of your own or shut the hell up until further notice. And I mean that with all the love in my heart, if you know what I mean and I think you do.
Ray Ratto telling people to stop complaining is what we lexicographers call a galactic oxymoron.