Sunday, July 9, 2017

Summertime "news"

My wife is much smarter than I am.

This comes as no news flash to people who know us both, because she's the practical one who can carry on a grownup conversation in grownup social settings, and I'm the one who says "Didja you see that video of the guy in the T-Rex suit walking down the beach playing bagpipes? Hilarious."

In other words, I'm not the go-to guy to talk seriously about Putin and Trump at the G-20 summit. I'm the guy who says "You know who Putin and Trump are? Putin's Dr. Evil and Trump is Scott."

Or something like that.

In any case, last night we were sitting in a local restaurant having dinner, and the TV in the bar was tuned to ESPN. Or should I say, it was tuned to NBA Summer League Action! Yes, that's right, a full half-hour of chit-chat to preview a Summer League game between the kinda Boston Celtics and the sorta Los Angeles Lakers.

And, yes, I know, LONZO BALL!* was playing for the Lakers. Which I guess was reason enough to roll out the full Hey Look It's A Great Big Event treatment by ESPN, except for one thing: It's Summer League basketball, people.

In other words, rookies and various down-roster schlubs playing glorified pickup ball. Your basic noontime at the Y, only with higher tax brackets.

And yet, somehow, it's everywhere now. ESPN seems to be airing every game. Summer League results are listed every day on its website. Which prompted me to wonder aloud, "Why the obsession with the NBA Summer League all of a sudden?"

To which my much-smarter wife responded: "It's summer. What else is going on?"

I started to say, well, baseball, and NASCAR, and also real motorsports, aka, IndyCar. And, you know, soccer. And Wimbledon. And the British Open. And ... and ...


She's right. What else is going on?

Because, listen, if it's not the NBA or the NFL these days, it's basically Cricket City in Sportsball World, or so ESPN seems to believe. And ESPN, for all its many financial woes these days, drives public perception. We are now in the very heart of summer, and yet drive-time sports-poodle radio is still 90 percent NBA or NFL. Sometimes they'll accidentally talk about baseball, which used to be the king of summer. But then it's right back to "What will LeBron do next year?"

The crotchety old back-in-the-day part of me thinks this is a shame, and who cares about the NBA in July anyway, for God's sake, and what did my Pirates do last night? (They beat the Cubs, 4-2. So there.) The more reasonable part of me wonders why NBA teams are risking their high-dollar draft picks in games that don't matter. I mean, was it worth it to the 76ers to have No. 1 draft pick Markelle Fultz go down with a sprained ankle yesterday in a pickup game?

I think not. I think if I were Magic Johnson, I wouldn't be letting LONZO BALL!* participate in such nonsense. I've spent too much money on him. Why risk getting him hurt three months before training camp?

Well,. because ESPN (and the NBA) think it's important. And, besides ...

"What else is going on?" my much-smarter wife says.


(* -- A registered trademark as soon as LaVar Ball thinks of it.)

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