If you had to pick the best sports month of the year (and we tried in a previous column), October would probably be the winner. The World Series, NFL Football, and the NBA and NHL gearing up. April, though, would have to be high on the list. March could be second with the NCAA Tournament, but the Final Four is in April. If you're not watching baseball, there are playoffs in other sports going on.
Think about it. Sure, there's Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger hitting home runs like they are in the batting practice cage. Everyone back east is worried about the Boston Red Sox and their sub-.500 record, or the New York Yankees, and their injury-a-day affliction that has wiped out most of their Opening Day roster. It's early for baseball, though. The Tampa Bay Rays and Pittsburgh Pirates are in first place, but that's likely not going to last. The Seattle Mariners are in first, too. Could they be for real? Let's check back in another six weeks.
While the baseball season is unfolding, basketball and hockey are unfurling their postseasons. Not much drama in the never-ending playoffs so far for the NBA, though. Some game sevens in the National Hockey League tomorrow night, including the upstart Vegas Golden Knights and San Jose Sharks. The New York Islanders are good again, and the Tampa Bay Lightning have made , hockey history. They became the first team to get swept in the first round of the playoffs after having the best record in the league during the regular season. If you like a long ride for your playoffs, the NHL and NBA have a lot to offer.
There's even plenty of golf and soccer in April. Tiger Woods won the Masters last week. Major League Soccer is about ten matches into their season, while leagues in Europe are finishing up (I've yet to hear any real interest in teams like Arsenal or Tottenham over here, but ESPN, FS1, and other networks put their scores on the screen all the time like everyone needs to know). It's all going on in April.
Yes, there's one sport where no games are being played, but there's still a lot to talk about. Of course I'm referring to the NFL, where their draft is this week, being hyped larger it seems than the season itself. At least this year, there's reason for the attention in northern California much like there is every year in Sacramento for the NBA draft. Both coming off abysmal seasons, the San Francisco 49ers have the number two pick, and the Oakland Raiders will select fourth (Arizona picks first and the NY Jets have the number three selection). The first round is Thursday, but the whole thing continues through Sunday. It's like a four-day toga party at ESPN the way they hype the thing.
So, the sports world is waiting (I even saw a Rugby match on TV this week). Pick one, or try to follow them all. Tennis fans have to wait, though. The French Open is in May.
Yankee loving: I actually have a book entitled 'This Date in Yankee Hating'--an almanac of sorts of bad things that happened to the Yankees. However, if you love the Bronx Bombers, injured as they are, they are in California this week. They began a four game series against the Angels tonight, and will be in San Francisco against the Giants over the weekend. They then go to Arizona for two interleague games before going home. If you miss that sojourn, they make an Oakland-Dodgers-Seattle trip in August.
Gold Sox nation: With a rash of injuries hitting Philadelphia, the Phillies called up right-handed pitcher Drew Anderson from Triple-A Lehigh Valley Saturday. Anderson, from Reno, pitched only two innings for the Marysville Gold Sox in 2012, but got the win, and really appeared so that Philly scouts could look at him. Anderson was drafted in the 23rd round that year by the Phils, and made his Major League debut last year.
It's all about the schedule: The NFL Network had a two-hour broadcast of the release of the 2019 schedule. Well, they need programming this time of year. Anyway, I peeked in on it and it was disappointing. I actually expected drum rolls, bells, whistles, and other such things as they went through the list week-by-week and game-by-game. They really didn't do that. They just put up all the games on the screen and started discussing each team. It was actually toned down! What a bummer.
What planet are you from?: Milwaukee Brewers TV analyst and former big league catcher Bill “Rock” Schroeder really said this after Christian Yelich hit another of his prolific home runs. He said that Yelich is “literally on a different planet.” Literally? I mean the balls are flying out of the ball park, but from out of the atmosphere? That would explain a lot. Yelich has 13 home runs, and has a week to be the first to have 15 homers by the end of April.