By Gary Schofield , ESPN 930AM/102.1 FM, Delaware’s Sports Station
Some people immediately think of the Holiday Season when you hear that phrase, but for me, we are squarely in the midst of the most wonderful time of the year, if you’re a sports fan. No offense to Prom Season, as that is exciting for all those decked out High Schoolers, but for sports fans, this is the time that will try your marriage and raise your blood pressure more than at any other time.
Why you ask? Well let’s see, we are just coming off of the high of the NCAA Basketball Tournaments, where Villanova brought another championship to Philadelphia and Notre Dame brought buzzer beaters to a whole other level in winning the Women’s tournament! And those events are always my signal that Spring has arrived, and though some sports fans will tell you the Fall is the most Wonderful time on the sports calendar due to the World Series, NFL Season kicking off and College football arriving, the Spring gets my vote and even more so this year.
That’s because simultaneously you have the NBA and NHL Playoffs, the start of the Major League Baseball season, not to mention The Masters in Golf, Wrestlemania (if you’re into that sort of thing), plus your grass is getting greener, the sun is getting warmer and days are growing longer, if you’re a sports fan and just a human being in this area that is tired of the Winter blahs.
As exciting as this time of the year typically is, it’s even more exciting this year, with the Wizards and Sixers in the NBA Playoffs and the Caps and Flyers both in the NHL Playoffs (although they may be eliminated by the time this prints, LOL!) Couple that with Baseball’s Opening their season and you’ve got the best time to be a sports fan! We are not ready to give up on any of our baseball teams and you can hold on to the idea that this will be the year for your favorite basketball and hockey teams.
Although, it may be false hope since the Caps consistently fail in the playoffs and as I write this piece they’ve dropped the first 2 games in their series with Columbus, both in overtime. Plus the fact that coach Barry Trotz doesn’t seem to be convinced that he’s playing the right goaltender, stating Philipp Grubauer in each of the first 2 games, but replacing him with Braden Holtby after he allowed 4 goals in game 2. You’re not alone though Caps fans, the Flyers have been the epitome of Jekyl and Hyde thus far in the playoffs. Dominated in an embarrassing fashion in Games 1 and 3 and thrashing Pittsburgh in Game 2. This leaves Flyers fans wondering which team will show up from night to night, although truth be told Philly doesn’t have any business beating the Pens. Pittsburgh is deeper, faster, more talented and overall the better team as they strive for a 3rd straight Stanley Cup championship. Yet despite knowing all of that, I’ll still be excited when I hunker down to watch Game 4 tomorrow night, thinking that they can find some sort of magic to continue the euphoric Philadelphia run that began with the Eagles winning the Super Bowl, a guy can dream can’t he?
In the NBA it seems the Process and trusting it may have paid off for Sixers fans, as even though most experts are sticking to their pick of Cleveland to make the NBA Finals out of the East, a close 2nd choice is in the fact Philadelphia. So Sixers fans are feeling something that they haven’t since the days of A.I. in the early 2000s and honestly it’s just nice to be talking about the Sixers in a way that doesn’t position them as a punchline. It’s good for the NBA to have Philadelphia be relevant, as old rivalries fade, the Sixers history with Boston could make for some interesting theater if both teams can advance past the 1st round. And although they are the 8th seed, the Wizards played half the season without John Wall, who is now back and has Washington poised to give the #1 seed in the East the Toronto Raptors a test in Round 1. Stay Tuned…
And finally baseball is back, although teams in the North have been dodging rain drops, snowflakes, sleet and ice there have been some games played, in fact we joined some listeners at Orioles Park at Camden Yards for Opening Day on March 29th (one of the few games the O’s have won this year, YIKES!). It was a blast! The Nationals are off to a slow start, but take advantage of seeing Bryce Harper in a Nats Uni, because it may be his last season in the Nation’s capital, he’s off to a hot start leading the Majors in home runs, including hitting one out while breaking his bat against the Mets, pretty amazing! And if nothing else we have a new manager, who has a different style than we’re used to, to second guess and criticize in Philadelphia. There is a new batch of young guys to cheer for too, Rhys Hoskins, J.P. Crawford and Scott Kingery may be the core that leads to more fruitful times at Citizens Bank Park.
You put all that together and I don’t believe that any stretch of time in sports is better than from April to June with all this hope and excitement in the air, coupled with the dawn of a newer season, golf clubs swinging, little leagues playing and opening the windows in the house and letting the breeze blow through while rooting for your favorite team! That’s why this is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!!! So sit back and enjoy it, and we’ll talk about all of it, every day from 1-3 on ESPN 930AM and 102.1FM or online at espn930.com! You can call the show at 422-2428. Hope to talk to you soon and Happy Spring.
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