Here's a quick trivia question: What's the worst sports weekend of the year? More specifically, what weekend offers us, the American sports viewers, absolutely nothing to watch at all? Answer: Major League Baseball's All-Star weekend. The date that looms above us like a dark cloud, this year's "all-star break," hits us July 9-11. All the greats of baseball will converge in Seattle for a game that not even they care about.
If the sports encyclopedia read more like the farmer's almanac, it would have that weekend reserved for 108-degree weather with no rain in sight. The NBA playoffs are long-forgotten, the college world series banner has already been hung, college basketball players are more concerned with summer classes or community service than with winning their conference. And MLB acts like there should be a celebration.
The only things I'll be celebrating are the new Weezer and 311 videos on MTV2.
Something's got to give
I'm in the middle of a Stone Temple Pilots concert, but I flip away from channel 107 to see what sports are available to me. Let's see, ESPN has "Baseball Tonight." I can summarize every episode of this highlight show pretty quickly: Barry Bonds did or didn't hit a home run, the Yankees won, the Royals lost, and that ticking noise you hear is the Chicago Cubs getting ready to self-destruct at any moment.
ESPN2 has auto racing. Moving billboards circle a track with the threat of colliding and exploding at any moment. None do for two minutes. If I don't see a twisted wreck in two minutes, I flip the channel.
Meanwhile, Fox Sports has a show where three guys talk about what moving billboard was the fastest and which one exploded into flames. If the commentators ever exploded, I might give them two minutes of my TV viewing. They don't, so they quickly become casualties of the "flipper."
While I was away from the newly found and much-loved MTV2, I missed Stone Temple Pilots performing "Plush."
Summer bright spots
There are a few occasions to turn away from MTV2 in the summer. The NBA draft was yesterday. I always watch the draft, but it can be nerve-racking. I wanted to prepare, so I went to Osco Drug. Then I saw that Osco was out of both Tums and Pepto Bismol. Turns out that Kenny Gregory and Eric Chenowith both shop there, too.
But that was over pretty quickly, and now the summer gets most desperate for good sporting events.
l Wimbeldon. The historic Wimbeldon just started, and that's usually the best tennis tournament on TV. The commentators are always great, especially John McEnroe. With the dominance of American players, the grass courts at Wimbeldon should provide a nice distraction from 95 degree weather.
l USA Soccer. Sunday, July 1, is the day that USA and Mexico have a border war on the soccer field in World Cup qualifying action. As far as soccer goes, it can get no better for me as these are my two favorite teams in the world. America has been on a roll of late, but they have to travel to the unfriendly confines of Mexico for this game. America is 0-20-1 in Mexico, but this could be the year America turns it all around. If America can tie or win, they pretty much seal their spot in World Cup 2002.
l The British Open, July 19-22, promises to be a breath of fresh air this summer. Some of those guys have to face putts that are longer than what I can hit with my 8-iron. Tiger Woods seems just a little more human as of late, so there's a tad more drama at this year's event.
l The decision of Michael Jordan. MJ is supposed to announce if he will return to the NBA by mid-July. By listening to the way he's been talking lately, it seems that his Airness has already made up his mind to un-retire. Too many sports writers are probably afraid to jinx themselves or they'd already consider MJ's return imminent. Once he does announce it, we'll surely be treated to Jordan highlights on ESPN Classics all day long.
With a weak sports schedule, MTV2 popped up at just the right time. Yes, it is summer, and I should really be watching less TV, but then I discovered that VH1 Classics also has been added -- it's right there on channel 128. In only 10 minutes I saw some old-school Michael Jackson, Oingo Boingo doing "Weird Science," and "Eye of the Tiger" from whoever sang that boxing-movie theme. How about that for all stars?
-- The Mag can be reached at 832-7178.