Saturday, February 18, 2012

Manning, Lin, Repeat

Each year, the national sports calendar has only two dead spots – two days in which nothing much is really happening.  It’s the day before and the day after baseball’s All-Star Game.  For those 2 days every July, there is no football.  It’s off season and camps haven’t opened yet.  There is no basketball.  The Finals ended a week or so prior at the latest.  Hockey is on ice until training camps open in September.  College sports are on hiatus.  Wimbledon is still a few days away, and any scheduled golf tournaments wouldn’t start until that Thursday.  The quadrennial Summer Games are never in early July.  In fact, with the ascension of the Home Run Derby as spectacle, you could argue that the day after the All Star Game is the only respite for the avid sports fan.  Otherwise, the action and entertainment of professional sports never sleeps.

When nothing is happening, the sports talk air time must be filled with something, and for years, that July void has been filled with Brett Favre un-retirement rumors, Tiger Woods marital woes, and Mel Kiper, Jr.’s mock draft board.  Now I know what can consume that dead space on the airwaves the day after the MLB All Star Game this year – Lin-Sanity and Manning-Mania.

Driving around in my car this week, I think I am trapped in that boring, action-free July Wednesday here in mid-February.  Sports talk radio is becoming the sound track to my own personal Ground Day hell when the same stories get repeated over and over and over.  Nothing can be happening in sports today.  They are filling the time with only 2 topics, and detailing it from every conceivable angle – Payton Manning’s future and the meaning of a Chinese American playing point guard in New York.

These are big stories.  I know this not just because the pundits keep picking the stories apart for hours on end.  It’s because each story has a catchy name.  Jeremy Lin is in the eye of the Lin-sanity hurricane.  Peyton Manning is living inside Manning-Mania.  For the past 5 days, on an endless loop of talk, I have learned about Lin’s Harvard GPA (3.1), Manning’s maximum reported throwing distance as of this moment (25 yards), Lin’s career numbers as a starter (after 6 games, ranks 5th all time since the merger in total points scored), and Manning’s throwing yards during his last full season (4,700).  If anything else has happened in the world of sports since Sunday, you would never know it by listening to the radio.

There should be some discussion of the final quarter of the hockey season.  We could use a little respite to discuss Tiger’s chances of winning on tour this season.  We could begin the analysis of the new California Angels line up with Albert batting 4th.  I even think that other teams are playing basketball while Jeremy Lin is lighting up Broadway.  Judging from the coverage, I could be wrong, though.  Maybe nothing else is happening.  Maybe Mel Kiper Jr. doesn’t even have an updated mock draft board this week.  It’s possible (but not probable).

At least there are no Penn State-gate stories right now.  We could use a break from the sports “–gate” stories.  I’ll take a –sanity or a –mania story over a –gate story any day.  In fact, the Lin story is the exact opposite of a –gate story, at least until some blogger finds a college girlfriend he cheated on or an English paper he didn’t properly footnote.  Even the Manning story is safe so far since he is pretty well liked as a sports personality.  The Peyton Haters Club has poor meeting attendance.  It’s rare that safe stories like these dominate together.  But I am still over them both.  I am starting not to care. 
Time to get in the car and turn on sports radio.  It’s Ground Day all over again.  I wonder if I’ll get to hear from Jeremy Lin’s high school biology teacher, or the guy who cleans the doctor’s office where Peyton Manning once visited for a consultation.  Probably both.  After all, it's the day after the All Star Game all over again. 

Bonus:  Check out The Onion's take on the Lin story -,27395/ 

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