Photo Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports
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Ugh. It’s that time of year again: All-Star Week. That black hole on every sports fan’s calendar when the only two choices for entertainment are the miserable Home Run Derby followed by the baseball All-Star Game circus.
This is the week every true sports fan dreads, usually finding many of us crawled up behind the recliner of our man cave, shivering in the fetal position as we don’t even have the woeful Phillies to point and laugh at.
The NHL and NBA are weeks away, and the overrated boring routine of NFL training camp still seems a distant milestone.
Hell, even the sports talk radio wars have declared a cease-fire, with both Josh Innes and Mike Missanelli taking individual vacations, so vacant is the talk show fodder.
Yes, the dark cloud of sports nothingness is about to descend upon us starting Monday, frightening fans as the solar eclipse scared the bejesus out of the omen-embracing ancients only to be lifted Friday night when we will be surprisingly grateful to see the Phils take the diamond once again for yet another humiliation.
Or is it? Does it have to be?
Fear not, faithful sports fan: Open your eyes, expand your horizons and not only get through this annual dirge for all things athletic … but, dare we say, celebrate it as surprisingly, there ARE some very exciting events taking place this week to help you make it to the next Phillies loss Friday night. Namely:
THE BRITISH OPEN (ESPN)
Rory McIlroy stupidly spudded the event, injuring his ankle playing soccer, which means of course even more attention will be on Tiger Woods to see if he can make the cut. But the big story will be young stud and Lehigh Valley spawn Jordan Spieth at 7/2 in an attempt to be the first to win the Grand Slam in one year since Benjamin Franklin, which would make him American Pharaoh, Secretariat, and Seattle Slew all rolled up into one in golf.
NBA SUMMER LEAGUE (NBATV)
The Las Vegas SL ramps up this week as overzealous pundits make nightly comparisons between Jahlil Okafor and Wilt Chamberlain because he scores 20 points and blocks shots against other rookies. That said, Philadelphia fans need something to cheer for, and this is as good as it will get this week. The Sixers play the Knicks Tuesday at 5:30, then Wednesday starts the playoffs.
TOUR DE FRANCE (NBC SPORTS)
The seemingly interminable bike race tour enters its middle stages this week. You know the winner will only be brought down by doping charges, but at least the scenery is spectacular, and if we’re lucky, there will be a good crash or two.
CONCACAF GOLD CUP (FOX SPORTS 1)
Monday Night Soccer features a somewhat surprising Jamaica playing El Salvador where Salvador MUST win to advance to the knockout stage. The next night Cuba, who lost to Mexico 6-0, faces Guatemala who must defeat Cuba to advance as well, giving Cuba at least a chance to act as spoiler after being humiliated by Mexico. I’d love to interject a USA! USA! angle into this but 1) they already advanced and don’t play until Saturday when you will stop caring and 2) it’s only the Gold Cup.
HOWEVER, remember later this month the third place game takes place right here in the Del Val at PPL Park, and the Gold Cup Final will be at the Linc. Speaking of the beautiful game, the Union play a friendly against Premier League newcomers AFC Bournemouth at PPL Park Tuesday night, so there is another way to pass some time.
PAN AMERICAN GAMES (FOX SPORTS 2)
The 27th edition of these mini-olympics from Toronto will feature over 30 medal events taking place during the All-Star break. What, you’re not excited about proving to Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and French Guyana that we are still #1 at weightlifting, water polo and archery?
SEC MEDIA DAY (ESPN U)
The biggest, best and baddest conference in college football kicks off weeks of NCAA pressers with its “media days” this week. I have absolutely no idea why anyone gets obsessed with coach and player interviews like Eagles fans and sports talk radio hosts do, but they do and the big stories in college football come out of the SEC.
Can Alabama climb back up? Was Ole Miss a fluke? Will LSU and Auburn return to greatness? College football geeks get a chance to decipher clues to all this and more this week. Bonus: hopefully someone will say something really stupid and give the WIP and Fanatic benchwarmers something to gripe about.
AND, for those 5 of you baseball addicts out there I give you:
CAPE COD LEAGUE (FSC, various)
Who will be the next Ron Darling, Cris Carpenter, Cory Snyder, Robin Ventura, Chuck Knoblauch, Tyler Green, Doug Glanville, Billy Wagner, Mark Teixeira or Max Pentecost? Find out as FSC broadcasts games from this collegiate summer league.
Is there a non-MLB sports event you’re looking forward to that we missed? We’d love to hear from you!- Dan Moreland @danmoreland