Sports wasteland 

July is the cruelest month for sports

July is the cruelest month for sports
This is a tough time of year to be a sports fan. It's that wasteland area between the end of the NBA season and the start of the NFL season, when there's very little sports action worth watching on TV.
This is a difficult time of year. When it gets to the point where the most interesting thing on TV is a three-hour bloc of Lyndon Johnson phone conversations on C-SPAN 3, you're in trouble.
There's baseball, of course, but I haven't been a baseball fan since they unfairly kicked Pete Rose out of the game and they canceled the World Series due to a player's strike. There's NASCAR action, but I'm not enough of a hillbilly to get the maximum enjoyment out of the sport. I mean, I like watching cars go in the same oval pattern for four hours as much as the next person, but I don't care enough about it to argue over which hillbilly driver is the best hillbilly driver. There's Indy Car racing, whose main excitement comes from watching the sport move closer and closer to extinction. The only thing to argue over in IRL racing is when the league will fold. I actually love WNBA hoops action, but I haven't been able to catch a Fever game this season. They have a really good team and look to make the playoffs again. As a bonus, the WNBA is the only professional sport whose MVP, Lauren Jackson, recently posed nude for a magazine. But they're about to take a month off for the Olympics, so I'm out of luck there. I tried to watch the NBA Draft last week but it was as exciting as watching the stock ticker on CNBC. I've been forcing myself to watch SportsCenter, but all they've been showing are self-congratulatory pieces about their 25th anniversary. Yep, this is a difficult time of year. When it gets to the point where the most interesting thing on TV is a three-hour bloc of Lyndon Johnson phone conversations on C-SPAN 3, you're in trouble. I made myself watch the Yankees play the Red Sox after hearing ESPN hosts hype the crap out of the series all last week. All it did was remind me why I hate baseball in general, and baseball on TV specifically. Football and basketball have it all: fast-paced action, colorful players, attractive cheerleaders and comparatively short seasons. Every single NFL game counts because there are only 16 all season. Everything I like about those sports is negated in baseball. Do you like rapid-fire action? Here's a sport where it can take 30 minutes for nothing at all to happen. Do you want every game to count? In baseball, the schedule is structured so that no game really counts until the end of the season. The players look as bored as the fans do. At least the fans can get drunk on cheap beer so they can forget what a boring sport this is. Don't start on the majesty of the game, its beautiful symmetry, its bucolic charm. Those are George F. Will arguments, also known as bullshit. Any sport with obnoxious idiots like Will and Billy Crystal as its biggest fans obviously has major problems. With baseball obsolete and the really good sports a few months away, the only thing left for me is boxing. It may well be fixed but it's at least entertaining seeing someone get the tar knocked out of them. Boxing has fallen so far down on the level of public perception that it barely registers anymore. Just about the only place it's still alive is on HBO and Showtime, which still schedule a few bouts a month for us diehard fans. It's a good thing, too, because otherwise I never would have been able to see Indianapolis' own "Relentless" Lamon Brewster defeat Wladimir Klitschko for the vacant WBO heavyweight belt a few months back. It was one of the most exciting fights I've ever seen. For the first four rounds, Klitschko pummeled Brewster relentlessly. It looked like Brewster was going to be knocked out at any moment. He went down during the fourth round and it seemed inevitable that Brewster wouldn't last through five. Then, as sometimes happens in boxing, everything turned around. In the fifth, Brewster nailed Klitschko with a series of jabs and uppercuts. The hunter had become the hunted. The ref stopped the fight after the round, by which time Klitschko's face looked like a pound of raw hamburger and you could almost see the stars, @ signs and birds circling directly over his head. I'm really looking forward to Mike Tyson's return to the boxing ring this month in Kentucky. Say what you want about Iron Mike, he's undoubtedly one of the fiercest punchers and most dominant presences in the sport's history. And I feel sorry for him, not because Don King stole his money and now he's broke, but for the way Indiana treated him back in the early 1990s. I think it's clear, through recently discovered evidence, that Tyson was railroaded on that rape charge. He was surely guilty of something that night, but probably not the crime he was charged with. A headline-hungry special prosecutor and a mostly-white jury set out to destroy a man and succeeded. You'll never convince me that Tyson was completely guilty, knowing what we know now about the special prosecutor and the withheld evidence. So Indiana is partly to blame for the state of Tyson's life right now. I hope he can come back and regain his former greatness, starting this month in Kentucky. Until then, the sports world will be dead to me. It's going to be a long and boring summer.

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