Apr 10

This Should Get You Through

Posted By:Brett Haynes  Tags:

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Last week, Jason Cooper contributed an article about things you can do to pass the time until college football season comes around again (scroll down this page). His article was about things you could do. This article is about things you can watch. Believe it or not, there are actually some really good sporting events between now and kick-off. Are these events college football? No they are not. But they are still damn good to watch. So go ahead, print this out and put it on your wall - use it as a calender of sorts -  it will be your guide to the world until the best sport is back.

Spring Training - When, where: NOW, in Arizona and Florida!..... Ok, enough about steroids. I get it, nearly every player in the 90's and early 2000's used steroids. If you didn't, well good for you. But, as I said above, enough about A-Roid and Bud Selig, let's talk real baseball! The Braves are my team, but they need to bounce back. The Yankees are spending high-dollar again, but will it amount to anything this time? And when I see those highlights on TV with the palm trees and hear the sound of the wood bat hit the ball, it reminds me of growing up and going to Florida with my family to spring-training games - always good memories.

World Baseball Classic - When, where: Tokyo, Mexico City, San Juan, Toronto and Los Angeles, March 5th - 23rd.  Defending Champion: Japan. This event is baseball's version of the World Cup, and in it's opening tournament of 2006, became very popular. The event, like the World Cup, will be held every four years, so the next comes in 2013. The tournament will start in four locations around the globe, and then climax in Los Angeles. I am particularly excited about the squad from the USA that will seek to steal the trophy from Japan. Chipper Jones, Brian McCann and Derek Jeter, three of my favorite pros, will anchor the Americans, led by Davey Johnson. As of right now, A-Roid will still be playing for the Dominican Republic. The talent in this event is very strong with Major-Leaguers on nearly every squad. Teams from Europe, Asia, South America, North America and Australia will be competing.

The Final Four - When, where: Ford Field, Detroit, MI, April 4th, 6th Defending Champion: Kansas Jayhawks. Just as the dogwood trees and azaleas flower and the weather begins to warm up, the sound of Jim Nantz and other CBS basketball commentators become all too familiar. One voice you won't be hearing with the broadcast team this spring is that of Billy Packer, who covered 26 straight tournaments for the company. At this time it looks like the Big East and ACC will most-likely send representatives. But this tournament is known for it's upsets, and 2009 will surely not disappoint.

The Women's Final Four - When, where: Scottrade Center, St. Louis, MO, April 5th, 7th. Defending Champion: Tennessee Volunteers. I have to be honest, I really do not know all that much about the women's game. I do know that UConn and Tennessee are two teams that have historically dominated and both are ranked in the top 10 as we near postseason play this year. It seems to me that those would be the two teams to keep your eye on outside of your favorite school.

MLB Opening Day - When, where: Philadelphia, PA, April 5th. Defending Champion: Philadephia Phillies. The Atlanta Braves will most-liley send newly acquired Derek Lowe to the mound to face Cole Hamels (2008 NLCS and World Series MVP) and the defending World Champions. The following day nearly every other major league team will hit the field. This will be a huge relief for all in the sport after a horrid offseason filled with steroid news. Among other MLB season headlines for 2009, New Yankee Stadium will be opening up, the Braves will be looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2005, Wrigley Field will be there rocking for another strong Cub team (I didn't say anything about post-season), and we are still looking for someone to challenge .400.....Play Ball!

The Master's - When, where: Augusta, GA, April 6th-12th  Defending Champion: Trevor Immelman. Now that Tiger Woods will be returning after recovering from a knee injury, the tournament will be a highlight event for golf - not that it already isn't each year. I am not an expert in all of the facts and numbers of the sport, but watching the Master's on a nice spring day is about as enjoyable of a thing as you can do. I have been on Sunday and felt the intensity in person, and I have watched Sunday's unfoldings from my back deck with my shirt off and burgers on the grill. Both ways are "what it's all about", and I am sure 2009 will be no different. Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer I have ever seen, and he has a flare for the dramatic. On questionably golf's biggest stage, with people wondering about his condition with the knee, do not be surprised if he shows again why he is Tiger Woods, and everybody else is not....Just a shot in the dark!

Talladega -  when, where: April 26th, Talladega Superspeedway, AL Defending Champion: Tony Stewart. I don't watch but a few NASCAR races each year. I have tried real hard to be a big fan, but truly, I am just not. However, with that said, I do watch a few races because I just kind of always have, and I like the venues. I watch Daytona, I watch Bristol, I watch Darlington, and I watch Talladega. Sure, I will gaze at the rest of them from time to time, but these are the ones I like to get into. Do I have any kind of prediction on who will win? Nope. But with Jimmy Johnson winning the last three Cup Championships, I would say that would be a pretty good place to start. 

NCAA Golf Championships - When, where: Toledo, Ohio, Inverness Club, May 26th - 30th. Defending Champion: UCLA Bruins. My Tigers brought home a national championship in 2003, winning the event on the home course of Oklahoma State, who finished second. I have no idea who the good teams are for this season. But if you are a college golf fan, then here is your event. I'm reaching here folks, bear with me.

Stanley Cup Finals - When, where: May 30th - June 11th, TBD Defending Champion: Detroit Red Wings I know as much about hockey as I do about open heart surgery. But unlike open heart surgery, I find the Stanley Cup Playoffs, though just as bloody, fun to watch. I have no favorite team, and no favorite player, but in the Cup Finals, fights are often, and the play intense. I still to this day can't believe hockey players weren't required to wear face masks until the late 80's.

The College World Series - When, where: Omaha, NE, June 13th - 24th. Defending Champion: Fresno State Bulldogs. No disrespect to college golf, but here is a college sport that is worth some watching. Omaha, Nebraska hits a home-run with this event each year, drawing crowds of 10,000 plus for two straight weeks and a national TV audience. Over the years, the competition has been known for its intensity, and future MLBers are abound. The venue will change from Rosenblatt Stadium in 2011, so enjoy the two remaining years there. I have always dreamed of seeing Clemson storm that field in victory with a dog-pile on the mound. They will have to do it this year or next year, for after that the event moves to a new downtown state-of-the-art ballpark.

The U.S. Open - When, where: Bethpage Black Course, Farmingdale, NY, June 15th-21st Defending Champion: Tiger Woods . By now, everyone has seen the dramatic victory of Tiger Woods over Rocco Mediate in the 2008 U.S.Open, with Tiger forcing OT with a big putt on the 72nd hole. It will be tough to match the drama, but expect to see Woods in the thick of it again. Man, I am some kind of golf analyst, eh?

USA Soccer World Cup Qualifying - When, where: June 15th - 21st, South Africa. Defending Champion: Italy. This is a three game stretch vs Italy, Brazil and Egypt where the USA will travel to South Africa and play three of the best teams in the world in preparation for the real thing. Other big games in WCQ throughout the summer and into the fall include Costa Rica, Mexico and Trinadad & Tobago. The United States is still trying to make an impact on the world soccer scene after years and years of saying the sport has "arrived" here. In 1994, the USA hosted the World Cup, and the sport seemed to be well on its way to becoming America's "new favorite past-time". Fifteen years later, the sport seems to be treading water both in its participation level among America's youth, and the USA's results in the World Cup. This year, another strong team will make a run for South Africa, and the 2010 World Cup. The USA is 8-1 in World Cup Qualifying in 2008/2009, with the lone loss coming to T&T.

NBA Finals - When, where: June, TBD Defending Champion: Boston Celtics. Last year, the Celtics and the Lakers met in a nostalgic rematch of some classic historical matchups. The two titans put on a good show before Boston pulled away. Many believe the Celtics are the favorite to do it again, unless they are stopped by another team from the East: The Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James. James is arguably the premier player in the game these days, love him or hate him, and many would love to see a Finals between him and Kobe Bryant of the Lakers. Will it happen? Stay tuned.

Home-Run Derby - When, where: Busch Stadium, St. Louis, MO, July 13th, Defending Champion: Justin Morneau (Twins). A year ago, Josh Hamilton (Rangers) stole the show, but didn't even win! Hamilton hit 28 freakin' bombs in the first round, smashing the home-run derby record, but then ran out of gas as Morneau beat him with just five home-runs in the final round as a tired Hamilton had three. The totals had Hamilton with more in the loss. The Derby is cool as hell, no doubt about it. From the jam-packed standing up crowds to the long moon-shot home-runs, the Derby is awesome. But they need to fix the scoring! Hamilton was clearly the best last year, putting on a show and leaving people in utter disbelief....and he didn't even win! I always love All-Star weekend because it falls on or around my birthday. This year, the home-run derby, my favorite event, is a nice birthday gift in waiting!

MLB All-Star Game - When, where: Busch Stadium, St. Louis, MO, July 14th Defending Champion: American League. The National League never wins this thing anymore. And now, not only is it wierdly one-sided, but the winner of the game gets home-field advantage in the World Series. I just do not understand that a bit, but whatever. The All-Star game usually finds me asleep by the 3rd inning as the pregame lasts forever, and the AL will win anyway.

The Open Championship - When, where: Turnberry, Scotland, July 26th - 29th Defending Champion: Padraig Harrington. A year ago, with Tiger out with the knee injury, Harington showed just how dangerous he can be. Woods will be back, and I can't wait to see this tournament featuring these two players. My golf analysis is pitiful, but I look forward to watching this event each year.

Summer X Games 14 - When, where: Los Angeles, CA, July 31st - August 3rd. Defending Champion: Too many to name. While doing research for this article, I was reading some extreme sports message boards. In one forum, a person posted that performing a certain trick gave him a "chronic boner." That pretty much sums up the X games, now going on its 14th year. The event has become wordly popular, with athletes treking the globe to shred it up with the best. I have no idea who the competitors will be, but I will watch the hell out of it, dude!

The PGA Championship - When, where: Hazeltine National Golf Course, Chaska, MN, August 10th-16th Defending Champion: Padraig Harrington . As I have mentioned several times, I am no golf expert or historian. But I do really enjoy the majors, and this is the last one of the PGA season. This sport is extremely hard to predict, even with Tiger, and I have no idea how to even begin to guess what will happen. But I will be watching, you can bet on that!

Little League World-Series - When, where: August 21-30, Williamsport, PA Defending Champion: Hawaii (USA) Ok, call me a grouch, I don't care, but I don't like the Little League World Series. Every American team seems to have a fat pitcher who is best friends with the catcher, and there are way, way too many my-first-mustaches going on. And it never fails, every year there will be a nineteen year-old kid from some Asian team pretending to be twelve. Am I wrong? On top of that, Brent Musberger (yes, the same Musberger that calls world championship events for the major sports) is just too much to handle during this event. Every ground ball is "looking for daylight". Harold Reynolds is there thankfully, in a comical sort of way, to save the day. But, hey, it's all good, because if you weren't paying attention to the date by now, two-a-days would be finishing up, and it's time for college football - YES!!!!

So there you have it, a few things to get you through until next college football season. Combine this list with the one provided by Cooper, and you just might make it to kick-off 2009!

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