Warszawski: February nevers fails to underwhelm

The Fresno BeeFebruary 22, 2014 

How's this for some sports excitement? Miami's Seantrel Henderson, right, blocks Florida's Jonotthan Harrison during a drill at the always engrossing NFL football scouting combine Saturday in Indianapolis.


Hang in there, fellow sports fans. This misery won't last forever.

Six more days until we can finally flip the calendar to March, turning the page on the lamest, most superfluous month of the year.

February only has 28 days, but it's astonishing how much sports crumminess can be crammed into four weeks. To the point where only March Madness can restore our sanity. (Yes, I realize the Super Bowl fell on Feb. 2. After that fiasco, your point is? A doff of the cap to today's Daytona 500. Not my thing, but it towers above this wreckage.)

Shield your eyes, hold your nose and proceed with extreme caution:

NFL combine

Someone kindly explain what a bunch of dudes prancing around in stretchy fabrics has to do with football.

Very little. But that doesn't prevent ESPN, NFL Network and every other national media entity with gazillions invested in the NFL from oversaturating us with this brawny pageant. (No, I don't care how fast Rich Eisen runs the 40. Nor should anyone.)

Truth is, these inane drills -- the broad jump, really? -- tell us very little about someone's playing ability. Justin Ernest, record-holder for the most bench-press reps (51), lasted one season on a practice squad. Tom Brady, record-holder for the slowest 40 time of any quarterback, won three Super Bowls.

But that's not even the worst part: The NFL decided this year to push back the draft until May. So we have to stomach this regurgitated pig slop three more months.

Winter Olympics

Everybody likes the Olympics. Clarification: The ones that take place in summer. The ones with track and field, boxing, wrestling, swimming, basketball and soccer. You know, sports we actually recognize.

But the Winter Games? They're like a witness protection program that comes out of hiding once every four years.

There are exceptions. Hockey is fantastic on the bigger rink, more artistry and less thuggery. And it's pretty cool watching downhill skiers contort their legs (and their skis) into angles that would make Gumby wince.

The rest leave us cold. Ski and snowboard tricks? Whoop-de-doo. Curling? A mixture of shuffleboard and cleanup on aisle 9. And let's not forget figure skating, the only "sport" where judges are paid more than athletes.

The instant the flame goes out is the moment the Winter Olympics are forgotten.

Signing day

It's a pretty big deal when a high school kid signs a national letter of intent to play college football. We get that.

But what we don't get is the cottage industry that has exploded around recruiting -- all designed to get gullible fans to purchase "insider" website subscriptions.

Social media has only made things worse. Thanks to Twitter, some dull-brained fans think they have the right to get involved in the recruiting process. They hound, stalk and even threaten recruits and their families.

And for what, exactly? When I mentioned to Dave Schramm that he was named to someone's top 10 list of recruiters, Fresno State's offensive coordinator smirked and said, "Yeah, check back in two years."

What Schramm meant was it'll take at least that long to determine whether any of the guys he signed can actually play. But the recruitniks can't be bothered with that. They'll be busy hyping up 2016.

Spring training

All winter long, baseball fans wait anxiously for spring training. And as soon as it arrives, they realize there's still six weeks until the games actually count for something. Six weeks!

Back in the days when players had to sell insurance during the offseason to pay the bills, they needed that long to get in shape. Now, most of them can afford to buy insurance companies, and all have personal trainers.

One of the biggest jokes about reporting day is how every player (with the exception of Jesus Montero, oof) claims to be "in the best shape of his life." So the first two weeks in Arizona and Florida are mainly spent stretching and scratching.

So far, there has been so little actual news around Giants camp that the team's beat writers have taken to providing live updates of batting practice on Twitter.

Batting practice!

Oh, April. You can't get here soon enough.

League basketball

Everyone loves March Madness. You, me, even your great-aunt who can't tell the difference between a pick and roll and a California roll.

Problem is, something had to be sacrificed in the name of all that excitement. And that sacrifice is the regular season.

College basketball teams don't get rewarded for regular-season titles. Except in the Ivy League, automatic bids to the NCAA tournament go to the winner of each conference's postseason tournament. So what exactly is the reward for finishing first?

Things are just as bad, if not worse, at the high school level. In yet another sign of our no-one-gets-their-feelings-hurt world, all Central Section schools automatically qualify for the postseason and get to choose whether they'll participate. Which renders the league standings practically meaningless.

Enough of this February sports nonsense. Next year, can we just skip straight from January to March?

The columnist can be reached at (559) 441-6218, marekw@fresnobee.com or @MarekTheBee on Twitter.

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