In case you didn’t know, we’ve got some pretty interesting races going on in baseball this summer. In case you missed it, there are some very intriguing storylines being played out in NFL camps across the country. In case you didn’t know, we’re less than a month away from what looks like it might be an ultra-competitive season in college football.
And you couldn’t be blamed if you did miss these stories. Why? Because we have been distracted by other things this summer, that’s why!
We’re talking about steroids (again). We’re talking about players making idiotic mistakes off the field (Plaxico Burress). We’re talking about whether a convicted felon (Michael Vick) should get another chance after paying his debt to society. We’re talking about a guy who can’t decide if he wants to play or stay retired (Brett Favre). We’re talking about Twitter and Facebook. We’re not talking about what’s happening on the field.
That would be the fault of my friends and colleagues in the media. The Skip Bayless’ of the world won’t stop screaming about cheating in baseball. Websites like Rotoinfo.com have now twice published a rumored list of the 103 players that tested positive for steroids in 2003. Plaxico Burress and his future – both legal and in the NFL are being talked about more than the baseball pennant races right now. Brett Favre and his flip flopping has taken our attention away from Tom Brady’s return from a blown out knee.
And then there’s the Twitter/Facebook controversy that seems to have writers like my friend Jay Mariotti at Fanhouse all hot and bothered.
So, athletes use Twitter and Facebook to get their messages out there. Is that a big deal? So Chargers defensive back Antonio Cromartie hates the food the team gives him during camp. Is that worth the fine they gave him? And, is it really worth spending an hour or two writing a column complaining about it? I sure as hell don’t think so.
The fans don’t spend nearly as much time obsessing about these off field stories as the media does. They do spend time obsessing about how their teams are doing. And the stories on the field are very compelling.
Let’s start in baseball, where nearly every division is up for grabs. The Yankees and Red Sox are going toe to toe in the AL East. The Tigers are trying to hold the White Sox and Twins off in the Central. The Angels haven’t shaken the Texas Rangers in the AL West.
Over in the National League, the picture is a little less murky. The Phillies have the upper hand in the East. The Dodgers are the class of the West. The only division up for grabs is the Central, where it looks like it will come down to the Cardinals and the Cubs. The wildcard race promises to be interesting as well, with the Giants and Colorado Rockies still in the picture.
In the NFL, there are compelling storylines that are beginning to unfold. Tom Brady is back under center with New England – will it make them the team they have been in the past? Jay Cutler is the new man in Chicago – can he lead the Bears back to the promised land? Now that Brett Favre has (for the moment at last) told the Vikings he will stay retired, can a team led by Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels play up to the potential it has on defense and in the running game? And, will this be the year that Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys finally get over the hump?
And then there is the upcoming college football season. Florida’s Tim Tebow will go for his second career Heisman. He will try to cement his legacy as (maybe) the best player in college football history.
Tebow will have plenty of competition for the Heisman. Colt McCoy is going to be in the race. Sam Bradford – who happened to have won the Heisman last season – is going to have something to say about this year’s race. And those three teams – Florida, Texas, and Oklahoma, should be in the mix for the BCS national championship as well.
I’m sure I’m leaving some things out. But at least I’m paying attention to what’s happening on the field. I don’t think a lot of people (outside of the media) really care who’s Twittering and who isn’t. Fans aren’t worried about who is and isn’t using performance enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball. The average fan cares more about what happening on the field than what’s happening off the field.
That’s the biggest difference between being a fan and being a media person. There are plenty of people in the media who think that they are the watchdogs for the rest of us. That they are looking out for what’s right and wrong in sports. In reality, these media types just want to hear themselves talk and just want to be part of the story as opposed to covering the story.
So, for once, I beg my colleagues to just look at what’s actually happening on the field. Try it for one day (because I know it’s impossible to do it for a week). You might actually find out what a lot of us already know.
That it’s actually fun to be a fan.