TOO SOON?

Del Olaleye: Hey baseball, it's not your time yet

The Astros just celebrated a World Series win. Harry How/Getty Images

When did the final whistle of the NFL season start the clock on the baseball season? The moment Tom Brady’s final pass hit the turf and the Eagles won their first Super Bowl twitter took a dark turn. I don’t follow many people to avoid clutter but my picky twitter habits didn’t stop the onslaught of baseball tweets and retweets. It came from team-run accounts, media members and fans. Everyone was celebrating the start of the baseball season. On Feb. 5. The same Sunday night as the Super Bowl. What the hell is wrong with these people?

Baseball is fine if you like that sort of thing. That “sort of thing” is a sport that has traditionally frowned on players showing emotion that falls outside of what is deemed acceptable. A sport that features an archaic set of unwritten rules that you have no idea exist until one is broken. Do you think you might enjoy a sport that polices itself by hurling a hard fist-size projectile at a person’s ribs? Then I’ve got 162 games for you. That’s right, 162 games. Games that can range in length from two-plus hours to double the length of a feature film.  The following will be a common scenario at the beginning of April:

“Meet me at Cinemark at 9:30 for Black Panther? I’m watching the Astros right now.” - Baseball Fan

“But it’s only 4. I was thinking 7:30. How long can a game take?“ - someone smarter than Baseball Fan

“We never really know.” - Baseball Fan says wistfully

There is more than enough baseball to go around. The games that count begin in early April and end in October, if we’re lucky. In the case of the 2017 season we were “treated” to November baseball. A logical person might say that is way too much baseball for anyone reasonable. I’m resigned to the fact that the season won’t be shortened to 100 games or to my preferred 80. But baseball fans will not convince me that the third most popular sport in America actually begins in February. Don’t get too comfortable with that distant bronze medal either. Soccer is gaining and if the US Soccer Federation could put together a decent product baseball would get knocked off the medal stand.

There are multiple major sporting events on the calendar before baseball actually begins to matter. NBA All-Star weekend begins on the 16th of this month. The NFL Draft starts April 26th. The NBA Finals begin May 31st. The World Cup begins June 14th. These are all things that will take over the national conversation while baseball twitter is telling us “it’s too early to make draw conclusions” or “there is still so much baseball left.” Your favorite baseball team could put together a ten-game winning streak and it wouldn’t cause a blip. No one will care but the seven percent of the American population that still considers the sport America’s Pastime. By the way, a 10-game winning streak in baseball happens to equate to just under 6.2 percent of total games in a season. Yeah, the season is way too long.

I’m getting distracted. This isn’t so much about baseball as it is about baseball twitter. Twitter accounts operated by the Astros, MLB and something called Cut4 immediately announced the start of baseball season after the Super Bowl ended. They weren’t the only ones. Of all teams, the Marlins decided to tell us it is “their turn.” The Marlins? How many people in south Florida could name four Marlins? Just stop it. You have your place, baseball twitter. There is that little sweet spot after the Final Four and before the conference finals in the NBA. A little over a month to try to not overwhelm us with early season stats that you readily admit don’t mean much. Until then keep quiet. The rest of us just tolerate you.

The World Series lasted into November and the Astros defeated the Dodgers in Game 7 to win their first World Series. Baseball season was taken to the very limit and I guess it was so great people can’t wait to start it all over again.

Well I can wait.

The season really begins July 4. You know this baseball twitter. Don’t try to change the rules now.

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Martin Truex Jr. won his 2nd race of the season last week. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

NASCAR returns to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway. This is the first of two races here at this track as they will race on Sunday afternoon. This will be different from the normal night race they usually have here as this will definitely affect the racing surface considering how much the sun could make the track slick. It should be a fun race come Sunday.

Last week, Martin Truex Jr. passed Denny Hamlin to capture his second win of the season after rain moved the race to Sunday. He became the first driver to win multiple races after a fierce battle with his teammate Denny Hamlin. The race was filled with tons of wrecks including a fifteen car pileup including Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. It was one of the better races of the season as there was lots of beating and banging.

The race was not without controversy but not the kind you would expect. Early in the race Rick Ware Racing teammates Cody Ware and James Davison were involved in an altercation. The two were battling towards the back of the pack when Ware decided to drive through his teammate in turn four. The race got much worse for Cody Ware as he was involved in three more cautions all throughout the race. Many people around the sport were quite perturbed by his antics including broadcaster Mike Joy as he was audibly annoyed after Ware spun out later in the race. Many have questioned if the fifth-year driver should even be in the car and overall I can understand why some of those people think that. In his five years of driving, he has finished on the lead lap one time. I hope that he is able to figure it out and find success in the future, but this was not a good look.

The slump continues for two-time champion Kyle Busch

Throughout the race, Busch was running okay for the most part but towards the closing laps of the race he and Chris Buescher got together triggering a fifteen car pileup. Despite all this, he was able to rebound to a respectable tenth place finish. This has been more than likely the toughest stretch of his career since his championship in 2019. Many would say that the omission of Practice and Qualifying has really affected his performance. Whatever the issue is, this team really needs to find some speed, or he could be in danger of missing the playoffs. I look for this team to bounce back considering how talented he is.

Prediction

The driver that I have winning this week is Kyle Larson. This has been an incredible rebound season for Larson as he currently sits fourth in points. He is also second in laps led only to Denny Hamlin. Richmond has been a great track for him as it fits his driving style perfectly as he can run the outside line and find grip where others can't. This track is also rather sentimental to him considering he won his first pole award here during his rookie season in 2014. While he may not have the results he would want he has always been extremely fast here and even won back in 2017. I look for him to capture his second victory of 2021 come Sunday.

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