EVERY-THING SPORTS

Jermaine Every: July and August are more exciting than you think

The Justin Verlander deal is an example of what can happen in the summer. Bob Levey/Getty Images

In early June, I wrote an article to help you guys combat your summer sports boredom. Every year in the months of July and August (more July than August), sports fans complain about nothing to watch. The week of the MLB All Star Game is widely viewed as the worst week in sports. The game itself is competitive, but the festivities surrounding it aren’t as exciting.

ESPN puts on the ESPY’s the night after the All Star Game, but some fans don’t feel as though they are must-see. It’s turned into a hokey show that leans towards being all-inclusive instead of a real representation of sports over the past year. Yes, that is a reference to the Astros losing best game to women’s hockey.

This year, there was the World Cup to help bridge the gap. However, it only takes place every four years. That and the fact that people in America won’t give high level soccer a chance makes it hard to fill the void. The Olympics come along every four years also. They hold attention better than the World Cup because of the variety of sporting events. But 2020 will be the next time they help divert our attention in the summer.

But why is it that sports fans have such a difficult time late in the summer? Is there not enough to wet your palette? Besides the sporting events I listed in June, there are other goings-on that sports fans can keep an eye on that can hold them over:

NBA offseason

The NBA offseason is oftentimes the most exciting offseason of the major pro sports. Free agency kicks off in high gear as teams and players strike deals within minutes of the opening of the signing period. Trades are more prevalent, so player movement is all over the place. Stars tend to move via either avenue so there’s more of a seismic shift in competitive balance more so than other leagues. MLB and the NFL have collective bargaining agreements that give teams more control over a players’ prime years, therefore restricting player movement. Waiting on a “Woj Bomb,” reading the tea leaves waiting on a player to decide where he’s going to sign, or speculating on trades and buyouts can occupy your time. The Trade Machine alone will have you playing GM for hours on end.

NFL offseason

NFL offseason starts in March when the new league year starts. The rookie combine takes place in February, and draft in April. However, the hype around rookies and other new team acquisitions abounds during OTAs and training camp. EVERY fan of EVERY team believes in their team's chances to win. Hope is what keeps fans going throughout the offseason. Then there are the preseason games in which guys look like Hall of Famers against inferior competition. That gives fans even more reason to feel better about their  chances. Lestar Jean anyone? This time of year puts faith in fans and teams alike around the NFL. There are only a few weeks left before those hopes come crashing back to Earth when fans realize it’s time to get ready for the draft next year.

MLB stretch run

MLB has the most exciting and active trade deadline of the major pro sports. Sure the NBA makes moves at their deadline, but MLB has superstars on the move every trade deadline. Not to mention the waiver wire trades made in August can change the landscape. Justin Verlander to Astros last year is a perfect example.  Every year there are teams that make runs towards a playoff spot. Now with the expanded wildcard spots, there are more teams that will have a shot at the postseason making the stretch run more exciting, and the trade deadline more interesting.

Take a look at things in the sports world from a different perspective. You’ll see how much fun and interesting things can be if you give them a shot. It’s not all doom and gloom during the dog days of summer. There are tons of interesting things you can get into. Besides, you could be doing worse things with your time, like arguing in a Group Me chat about frivolous topics like I did last night.

 

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Keep an eye on Alex Bowman this weekend. Image via: Wiki Commons.

For the first time since July 1984, NASCAR returns to one of its most popular cities in Nashville, Tennessee for the inaugural Ally 400 at Nashville Super Speedway. This track is a 1 1/3rd mile concrete oval that was dormant for nearly ten years and was only used as a testing facility. So it came as a bit of a surprise last season when it was announced that this track would be getting a date. For a lot of drivers, this will be a brand new racetrack, but we will see practice and qualifying, so that will be a huge help for the newcomers that haven't raced here before. Back when the Xfinity and Trucks ran here, this track featured a lot of first time winners. Back in 2008, future NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski shocked the world by jumping in Dale Jr's car and capturing his first win here. There will be a lot of veterans like Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick who have plenty of experience at this track, but it will be tough to compare. It should be fun with everyone coming into this race with minimal knowledge.

Last week, Kyle Larson continued his hot streak by winning the All-Star Race. Overall, while Larson and his Hendrick teammates probably enjoyed the race, the feedback from crews and fans was less than positive. As I was walking through the garage area and talking to a few crew members, a lot of them were very critical of the 450 horsepower motor and the tall spoiler to try and keep the cars bunched up. When I asked one of the crew-members what he thought about the package he told me, "Oh it's awful. The track is terrible, the package makes it impossible to pass and it's super hot out here." On green flag runs, it was the same as it ever was as the lead car would pretty much take off and the only time there was really any "pack racing" it came after there were restarts. The whole race was well-intentioned and the fans showed up as it was nearly a capacity crowd, but the whole thing just didn't make any sense. From the start time being in the nearly 100 degree heat to the wacky full-field invert at the end of each stage. Let's hope that next season's All-Star Race is a lot more concise.

In Silly Season news this week, Truck Series regulars GMS racing announced that they would be fielding a full-time cup series team. The team is currently owned by Allegiant Airlines CEO Maurice Gallagher and his son, Spencer, who used to drive for them in the Xfinity Series. This move seemed to come from out of nowhere as there was never any indication that this was a move they were exploring anytime soon after they turned down the opportunity to purchase Furniture Row Racing in 2019. This is certainly a great sight for the sport as there will be more new teams on the track and with their close relationship with Chevy, it wouldn't be a surprise if they step in and help this team become competitive. The favorite to drive their car has to be 2020 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Sheldon Creed. He has easily been their best driver in trucks, and it would make the most sense for him to get the promotion.

This week at Nashville, the driver that I have winning is Alex Bowman. Now while this is a brand new racetrack and he has a grand total of zero starts here, this track suits his driving style perfectly. With the inclusion of this track, there are now four tracks with a concrete surface. Nashville, Bristol, Dover and Martinsville. At the three of the tracks they have run at, he has shown a lot of speed, including a victory at Dover this season and a top ten finish at Bristol. This is also a track where crew-chief Greg Ives said Bowman has gravitated towards during testing. In an interview with Sirius XM Ives was quoted as saying "we used to have a lot of fun testing there," so this is clearly a track that they both enjoy going to. Another big factor going into Sunday will be just how fast these Hendrick Motorsports cars are, they have finished 1-2 over the last four points races. He has watched his teammates Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott have immense success, and now this week I think he is due for a third win of the season. Look for the bright purple #48 Chevy to go to victory lane this week at Nashville.

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