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 Kevin Harvick. Photo by Wiki Commons

It's been a season of surprises as the NASCAR Cup Series begins its West Coast swing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This is one of NASCAR's many mile and a half tracks, but this one is different as it is much more bumpy and when this track gets in the sun, it gets slippery as well. The track is a lot more narrow than the other mile and a half tracks as well, so there will be a lot more close quarter racing.

Last week at Homestead, William Byron pulled away from the field and went on to claim his second career victory. The Charlotte native battled back from early tire issues and ran as low as 31st until he was able to claw his way back to the front around stage 2 when he drove around the two JGR teammates of Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin to take the stage victory. There has been a lot of expectations and hype around this young phenom but in his first three years, it took him a while to grow into a race winner. It wasn't until last year when Byron claimed his first win at the Daytona fall race. This year he was paired with crew-chief Rudy Fugle. This pair amassed tons of success when they worked together in the Truck Series back in 2016 when they won seven races. It seems now that the pair could be back to their winning ways. This looks like this could be a good pairing down the line.

As we all know, this has been the season of surprises and those surprises continued last week as Michael McDowell went on to his third consecutive top ten finish as he finished eighth. McDowell has been sort of a journeyman driver. He has raced for teams such as LeaVine Family Racing and the now defunct Michael Waltrip Racing where he got his start. While it has only been three races, he's in the midst of a career year beginning with a victory in this year's Daytona 500. Many thought that victory was a fluke and that he was "wasting a playoff spot," but since then he has proved his haters wrong as he currently sits fourth in the points. Will this streak continue? I think it can. His string of good runs puts him in an advantageous position as he gets to start up front each week and knowing how important qualifying was, he has really been able to take advantage of this. Look for the #34 Loves Ford Mustang to build on this.

The favorite for this week's race has to be Joey Logano. In the fifteen races Logano has started in here, he has ten top fives and two victories including last season's spring Vegas race in February. He hasn't got off to the best start as it's been three up and down races for him. From finishing second at the Daytona road course to following that up with a twenty-fifth last week at Homestead. This week though I believe he can get everything back on track with a good run or a victory.

The driver that I am picking to win this week is Kevin Harvick. The future Hall of Famer has been stout this season with a 6th and 5th place finish. The speed for Harvick and his team have been there, but they just haven't been able to get the win. But this week he's going to a track he has excelled at big time. He will start from the pole this Sunday and that should really scare the whole field. He has two victories here and twelve top tens since his beginning back in 2001. I look for him to get his third victory here and begin another run for his second championship.

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