Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Oh yeah, I almost forgot...

..the NHL All Star Game is tonight!

No shit, I hadn't even realized the season had started and it's already at the midway point.

Don't laugh, you know you had no idea either.

I guess I've been so caught up with Bowl season, NFL playoffs and awards shows/nominations that I forgot the NHL was even back in action after its laughably debilitating work stoppage.

How far has the sport fallen since that ill-fated strike of 2004-05? The marquee event showcasing the league's talent is being held on a Wednesday night on a lowly cable channel called Versus, form-erly known as the Nashville Network and Spike TV, and Outdoor Life Network.

I'm not making this up.

The league announced the unveiling of new uniforms the other day and it barely registered as a blip in the sports universe. Had the NFL tried this ESPN would have devoted an hour-long special to the news. My knowledge of players in the NHL right now consists of Martin St. Louis, Vinny Lecavalier, and wunderkids Alex-ander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. That's it.

Does anyone else play?

If that's not bad enough I barely remembered the NBA season was underway until the MSG brawl & Iverson trade.

How bad are things in David Stern's league? A marquee player accused his wife of spousal abuse; another Atlanta player was fined for pulling a "Vick" on the fans while a ref was reprimanded for hurling ob-scenities at a fan; MJ's former bitch threw a cake at a bystander; and not just one but two star players were punished for attempt-ing to throw punches last week.

Oh yeah, a bunch of superstars are hurt (Wade, Shaq, Jeffer-son, Pierce, Chris Paul, Yao, Rashard Lewis) and last year's draft hasn't exactly produced a bumper crop of future league MVPs, has it ?

Plus the commish decided to switch back to the old ball after players complained of the new ball just as players were getting used to the new ball.

And they wonder why they have an image problem?

BTW, has college hoops started yet? I have yet to see a highlight of a superstar Player of the Year candidate or a lock Final 4 team.

Okay so I lied a little on that last one. I saw the highlights of that 3-OT Texas/Ok St thriller last week (wish I had caught the game), and I realize that the Longhorns' Kevin Durant and Ohio State's giant shot blocker Greg Oden are dominant forces in their first (and only) seasons on campus. I also saw where Boston College coach Al Skinner had the balls to toss his team's postseason aspirations right out the window...

...but where have all the good stories gone? Duke is reloading (they've got a kiddie corps going on in Durham) so everyone doesn't hate them enough, Redick is gone so Public Enemy # 1 has left the sport, the Gators returned all 5 starters from the National Championship team and are about as exciting as an episode of "Hogan Knows Best" and there is not one clear-cut unbeat-able team in all the land.

So where am I going with all this? Merely pointing out that foot-ball, both college and pro, and baseball are the only two sports that matter anymore, and if I were to pick a distant third it would probably be auto racing/NASCAR.

Now that my Pats have been knocked out and my football season has officially ended all I can say is:

35 days until the first spring training game.

That's my state of the sports nation. Thank You all.

I'm going to check out the skills competition.

If I can locate Versus on my cable dial.

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