A Baseball Hater's Guide to Surviving August
I love baseball.
I track every trade rumor leading up to the July 31 deadline. I pore over the box scores before going to sleep each night. I track standings and leader boards with a passion.
But baseball isn't for everyone.
And for those sports fans who would rather watch an entire season of Keeping Up with the Kardashians than a full nine innings of a major league ballgame, the excruciating heat of the August sun can seem to linger on forever.
No NFL. No NBA. No hockey. No March Madness. No draft.
It's a barren desert with no nourishment in sight. Just baseball. Just slow, boring baseball.
But fear not. I've got news that you aren't going to hear anywhere else: August isn't that bad. Even if you hate America's pastime.
This month, there are plenty of story lines and plenty of sports to keep all fans perfectly content. So before you go into hibernation, hear me out.
And if you're still not satisfied—the NFL kicks off on September 4. I'll wake you up then.
There was a time that the common question going into any golf tournament was "Who wins, Tiger or the field?"
Now the bald spot has grown, and the legend has faded. Scandals have beaten our hero to the ground, and lingering injuries have delivered the knockout blow.
And Woods still sits four major victories of tying Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 that the American icon once seemed destined to shatter.
The past few years haven't been too kind to Tiger Woods. Will this, the final major of 2014, be the moment that Tiger finally returns to the top, finally restarts his quest for history?
Or will 25-year-old Rory McIlroy win his second consecutive major and fourth of his career, continuing his own ascent to greatness?
One man tries to continue the rapid rise at the dawn of his career while another fights not to get lost in the twilight of his own.
When the PGA Championship tees off on August 7, you'll be wise not to miss out.
Will the Texans improve from a horrendous season that shockingly saw them earn the No. 1 pick in the draft, and how will the Seahawks fare in their quest to repeat their 2014 Super Bowl victory?
When Week 1 of the NFL preseason officially kicks off on August 7, we'll get our first look at the answers to the questions as well as our first chance to see exciting rookies like Jadeveon Clowney, Sammy Watkins and Johnny Manziel get their first NFL game action.
Players fight for roster spots and starting jobs, and the league's best get their last chance to polish off their game before the season begins.
Follow your favorite teams closely, scout sleepers for your upcoming fantasy draft and revel in the splendor of watching professional football for the first time since your backyard was covered in snow.
Kevin Love Trade Talks
The NBA season is a long way off—we won't even get preseason action until October—but NBA news is still front and center, thanks in large part to the potentially looming blockbuster deal that could send Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Andrew Wiggins to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The latest reports indicate that Love is either going to the Cavs or going nowhere, and according to Marc Stein and Brian Windohorst of ESPN.com, "numerous league insiders...have begun to describe a Love-to-Cleveland trade as a 'when' transaction as opposed to an 'if.'"
The deal would rattle the power balance of the NBA and instantly make the Cavaliers one of the favorites—if not the favorite—to win the NBA Finals.
And don't you worry—the drama and suspense will continue to build until at least August 23rd, when Andrew Wiggins first becomes eligible for a trade.
FIBA World Cup
While the FIBA World Cup doesn't provide the same level of intensity and excitement as the NBA Finals, it does give us a chance to watch the best basketball players compete at a high level a few months earlier than usual.
Over the next few weeks, the U.S. team will be practicing, preparing and narrowing its roster down to 12, then launching into action on August 30 against Finland. Led by Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, the U.S. squad will be on a quest to defend the gold medal that it won in the most recent World Cup in 2010.
Don't wait until October to watch Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis and James Harden do what they do best. Tune in this month, and watch them do it now—all as members of the same team.
Cleveland's QB Controversy
Cleveland Brows fans can't wait to accept Johnny Football as their quarterback and savior, but how long will they have to wait?
Perhaps the most interesting training camp storyline in the NFL is the quarterback controversy between flashy rookie Johnny Manziel and steady but unspectacular incumbent Brian Hoyer, which should heat up into a full-on battle come preseason.
Hoyer is no doubt more polished and more prepared. Manziel is no doubt more talented. And based on recent practices, Hoyer is safely in the lead.
Browns scrimmage today. Manziel will continue to work ONLY with second team. Hoyer will take all first team snaps.— bob holtzman (@BobHoltzmanESPN) August 2, 2014
Though Manziel will be facing an uphill battle if he intends to start Week 1—or at all this season—one mistake by Hoyer could be all it takes for the Browns to give their impatient fans a taste of the future that they are all so desperately waiting for.
'When the Game Stands Tall'
Following the moderate successes of Draft Day and Million Dollar Arm, the last major sports film of the year, When the Game Stands Tall, offers the promise of being potentially the most powerful sports film of the year.
According to SONY Pictures, the film, which is based on a true story, "tells the remarkable journey of legendary football coach Bob Ladouceur, who took the De La Salle High School Spartans from obscurity to a 151-game winning streak that shattered all records for any American sport."
Hitting theaters on August 22, this movie, like all sports movies, is about a lot more than just a sports team. It's about forgiveness. It's about brotherhood. It's about, as the trailer suggests, standing tall.
Later this month, step away from your obsession with wins and losses, touchdowns and slam dunks, and get inspired by the true power of sports.
College Football Opening Day
It looks like the NCAA is well aware of how football-hungry fans are come the long, hot month of August. And this year, they decided to do something about it.
College football will kick off on August 23, its earliest starting point in 11 years, with a game between Sam Houston State and Eastern Washington. The rest of the league will follow suit the next week, with almost all major programs playing their first game before September 1.
With the AP Top 25 poll now released to the public—if you watched last year's BCS National Championship Game, you should be familiar with the two teams at the top—the next several weeks will be spent analyzing and debating the rankings as pundits and fans argue over who really is the team to beat this season.
We may be only a few games into August, but college football is here to stay.
MLS in Full Swing, EPL Gets Under Way
Everyone loves soccer now thanks to the World Cup, right?
More American fans tuned into the United States Men's National Team's World Cup matches this summer, and the country was heartbroken when the team was eliminated by Belgium in hard fought match that featured a stunning 16 saves by U.S. goalie Tim Howard.
This month, with football and basketball still in the distant future and baseball a month from its most exciting stretch, offers the perfect opportunity to stay on your soccer high and see what all the fuss is really about.
In the United States, Major League Soccer is already in full swing, and you can catch World Cup star Clint Dempsey scoring goals and electrifying crowds for the Seattle Sounders. Hop on the bandwagon now, and catch the postseason coming this fall.
Or, if you prefer to follow the sport on a global scale, the English Premier League will kick off its season on August 16.
The rest of the world loves it. Why can't you?
Fantasy Football Drafts
The month of April is usually devoted to coverage for the NFL draft.
The month of June is spent dissecting every possible outcome of the NBA draft.
The month of August? That one belongs to you.
In a month where the major sporting events can seem few and far between, you and your fantasy football draft reign supreme.
With the preseason well under way and the regular season breathing down our necks, there is no time like August to gather your friends together in your garage, set up a giant projection screen with your draft board, fill your fridge with beers, throw on your best Tom Brady jersey and spend a few hours filling out a lineup that is sure to bring you that coveted championship.
Novak Djokovic is the No. 1 player in the world.
Rafael Nadal is the defending champion, but he is battling a wrist injury.
Roger Federer may be the greatest of all time.
These three, the best on the planet and among the best to ever play, will all stand in each other's way when the U.S. Open begins on August 25 in New York City.
Yeah, it's a good time to be a tennis fan.
Learn to Love Baseball
Look, I get that you're a hater, and that's why you came to this article in the first place.
But if there was ever a year to give baseball another chance, this is it.
After a flurry of blockbuster trades at the deadline, the Detroit Tigers now have the last three winners of the Cy Young Award—Max Scherzer, David Price and Justin Verlander—in the same rotation.
The Oakland A's, after acquiring Jon Lester from the Red Sox and Jeff Samardzija from the Cubs, somehow have a rotation that's even better.
And that's not all.
Derek Jeter is playing the final season of his legendary 20-year career.
Clayton Kershaw is in the midst of one of the most remarkable stretches for a pitcher ever.
At 22 years old, Mike Trout has established himself as the best player on the planet and could be in the making of the most incredible career in the history of the age-old sport.
Hate all you want, folks. There's a reason baseball is America's pastime, and there's a reason it is still enough to keep August exciting.
I don't think you'll want to miss this.
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