I come in search of the worst because, as you may gather, the worst fascinates me.
On the morning of the NBA Draft, I wondered not about the all-time great steals, but about the blunders. Like the Dirk Nowitzki draft day trade, or the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 2009 selections of guards Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn, with consecutive picks, when the next guard off-the-board was Steph Curry.
On the afternoon of a spectacular NFL stat line, I can’t help but remember the unfathomably unspectacular ones. Edgerrin James once carried 37 times for 55 yards, and lost a fumble, in a single game. Anquan Boldin once caught eight passes for 29 yards…and two touchdowns. Ray Rice once played the entire 2013 season.
I’m more intrigued by colossal failures than I am legendary accomplishments, a morbid — but accurate — admission. And so when I made a grocery run this morning, pondering what the hell to write during this grinding week, I became curious: This really might be the worst sports day on the calendar.
This, the day after the MLB All-Star game, provides us with zero baseball, no more World Cup discussion and not much of anything else. We’re a day from the British Open, and just over a week from the beginning of NFL training camp. We do have the first round of the Las Vegas NBA Summer League Playoffs, which I’d argue is more exciting than almost any regular season baseball game, but I recognize I’m in the minority there.
We can even examine the local scene: The Bridgeport Bluefish are off, as are the New Britain Rock Cats, as are the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun, as is every other local baseball team because there’s a 100 percent chance of rain on Wednesday, July 16.
Today is remarkably lame. It is the worst, and therefore it is of extreme interest to me. It is my personal challenge to find a crappier sports day.
We begin with Friday, February 14, 2014. The Super Bowl had come and gone, mercifully, and the NBA was beginning its All-Star break. In NCAA hoops, we had two riveting top 25 games: Louisville annihilated Temple, 82-58, and SMU beat Rutgers in a 77-65 game that was surely far more terrible than its score indicated. And it was Valentine’s Day, so a putrid sports schedule was made infinitely worse for those of us actually spending the day watching sports.
But then, on the West Coast, near midnight, Arizona State had to go and knock off No. 2 Arizona, providing some semblance sports drama right before the clock turned February 15.
What other days absolutely suck?
January 26 was pretty brutal, mostly because the Pro Bowl was held that night and few other meaningful games overshadowed it, so we were all kind of obliged to watch. Also on that Sunday, the Heat did beat the Spurs, 113-101, in a midseason NBA clash that was hardly an indicator of things to come.
Usually a sports lull hits after the NBA Finals, but two days after San Antonio completed its historic romp of Miami, the World Cup was underway. It’s been a busy summer. There hasn’t been a terrible sports day in a while.
Soon, it’ll be fall. And no weekday in November actually matters. The NBA season is in its infancy, the World Series is in the books and, on a Tuesday or Wednesday, we’re merely waiting for the next big NFL game.
Then comes Christmas Eve and its flimsy sports lineup. This past December 24, we had no basketball—college or professional — and no NHL. We simply had the poor kids from Oregon State and Boise State battering each other in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl while us sports fans spent the night with family, flipping between the game and Bad Santa, or some other feel-good Christmas film. Or a Friends marathon, my family’s choice. Who doesn’t love Friends? Who doesn’t love Bing?
Christmas Eve shouldn’t count because no one wants to watch sports on Christmas Eve. ESPN should just play re-runs of the World Series of Poker and call it a night. That’d be fine.
Actually, the World Series of Poker is in progress today. They’re down to the final table. Mark Newhouse just eliminated Luis Velador with pocket fives. Velador was holding pocket fours. Crazy.
So maybe today isn’t too bad.
Ah, but there’s compelling evidence to the contrary. It can be seen on ESPN tonight at 9. Of the 365 days on the calendar, the Worldwide Leader chose Wednesday, July 16 to air the ESPYs, hosted this year by Drake.
It’s a night to celebrate the amazing sports moments: Alabama-Auburn, Mariano Rivera’s final game, the UConn men and their incredible championship run, the UConn women and their utter dominance, the Seahawks’ destruction of Denver, the Spurs’ takedown of the Heat dynasty.
They’re smart over there in Bristol. There’s a reason ESPN picked this day to honor the best in sports.
Because it’s just the worst.