THE SPORTS DOCTOR- October blues: A month-long sad sports story
T.S. Eliot claimed that April is the cruelest month, but Eliot was no sports fan. Born in 1888 and an immigrant to England in 1914, Eliot wouldn't have associated April with preseason baseball; for him it would have been just wet. For those of us who are sports fans and still live stateside, there's no month more cruel than October.
Some people say the dreariest time of year for sports fans is the day after baseball's All-Star game. I beg to differ. There may be no baseball game, but the prospect of fall sports is laid out like a banquet. There are wild card races in the offing, fantasy football drafts to organize, and college t-shirts to buy. The All-Star break is nothing if not a cornucopia of promise.
Sports fans luxuriate in September. Baseball finally gets really interesting, college football is just starting, and basketball is still months away. There's no better time to be a sports fan than September, when dreams can still come true.
And then comes October, the dream killer.
Let's be honest: even the most dedicated baseball fans are ready to slit their wrists by mid-October. Does any other sport reduce its fan base as effectively as baseball? By World Series time, 90 percent of baseball fans don't have any interest in who's playing, much less who wins. For non-baseball fans, the World Series is an exercise in torture: five-hour games with players no one's ever heard of, all neatly wrapped in an advertisement for Chevy trucks.
It's enough to make one watch the news.
So October is bad for baseball– what of it? Everybody knows that World Series or no World Series, God and the BCS intended college football to rule October. People who turn on baseball after September get what they deserve. Why watch the World Series when you can watch UCF vs. Tulsa on ESPN2?
If there's one thing more disappointing than October baseball, it's October football. For all but a handful of schools, October is little more than a death knell. By the time the leaves change, college football fans who at the beginning of the season would rather have "had an accident" on the sofa than miss a second of the game are stalking away from the television to see if they can help with supper.
It's a sad state of affairs.
The NFL offers no respite either. Everybody knows professional football doesn't get interesting until the playoffs, as is evidenced by fantasy football. Without money at stake, the NFL regular season may as well be arena football.
I have bad news. As boring as sports is right now, it's going to get worse before it gets better. Even the World Series will be over by the end of the week, and college basketball is still weeks and weeks away. There's a reason colleges schedule their big rivalry games so late in the season: it's the only way to wake sports fans from their comas.
I wish I could offer a cure for the October blues, but I'm afraid you're just going to have to take it. October is the time when all sports fans have to pay the piper for March Madness, opening day, and the Orange Bowl. Nothing comes free in the world, and sports are no exception. For every time you frantically switched the channels to catch three ball games, you have to choose between the World Series of Poker and NFL Europe.
Don't worry too much, though. This too shall pass. October is almost over, and all those Thanksgiving Day bowl games are just around the corner. Soon enough, we'll be back to frantically switching channels from game to game.
But as we get caught up in all the excitement to come, we need to remember that come February, the piper will have to be paid again.