The Tuesday Discussion: The Other Sports and Teams We Enjoy…
This week our writers share the sports and team they enjoy watching and rooting for in the off-season.
Tim Kabel – I hate to admit this publicly but, I am a Jets fan. I suppose I have to balance the Yankees tradition of winning with something from the opposite end of the spectrum. I will probably also watch the Olympics.
Lincoln Mitchell – I root for the 49ers and Warriors during the offseason, but the truth is I spend my sports fan energy in the post-season reading baseball books.
Chris O’Connor – I am a big Jets and Knicks fan, so I follow the NFL and NBA pretty closely during the MLB offseason. While the Knicks have been much better of late, the Jets and Knicks are two of the most dysfunctional, unsuccessful sports franchises of the 21st century. Those two teams really put my Yankees fandom in perspective. As much as I want a Yankees championship every year, I still enjoy the thrill of a playoff run, and the Yankees consistently give that. The baseball playoffs are more of a crapshoot than any other sport, so I think my Jets and Knicks fandom allows me to appreciate the difficulties of sustaining any kind of success in the cutthroat world of professional sports.
Ed Botti – Each year when the World Series is completed, things change dramatically in my house. My Wife, who patiently watches every single preseason, regular season and post season game with me, gets the remote control from November through March.
As a result, my sports viewing “hobby” dwindles down big time. I try and grab as many NY Ranger and Brooklyn Nets games as possible, either in person or on the Radio or TV. I enjoy College Football on Saturdays. I have little by little dumped the NFL on Sundays and even Monday Nights. It’s just not for me anymore, although I do check the Giants score.
But I would have to say that when March Madness rolls around, I am back to full time control of the Remote!
Other sports I like to watch are Golf, UFC and Boxing.
But, I have a feeling, the next several months will be filled with Netflix and the final season of “This is Us”, and of course Jeopardy every night!!
Mike Whiteman – I follow Penn State football and basketball, and enjoy watching the NHL Winter Classic on New Years Day.
Aside from that, I channel my best Rogers Hornsby: “People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring”
Paul Semendinger – In the early 1980s, I fell in love with the NFL. I loved the Jets. The NY Sack Exchange, Richard Todd, Freeman McNeill. They were awesome. I also loved the Redskins, especially John Riggins. It was a great time to watch football. I loved it. Alas, it was a short lived love affair. By the end of the 1980s, I wasn’t very interested any longer. Today, I just watch the playoffs mostly. I root for players rather than teams. My son Ethan grew up watching Tom Brady being great. His enthusiasm for Brady brought football excitement back to me. I found myself rooting for the Patriots and now the Buccaneers. I don’t really watch many games, but I do hope they win each week. When the playoffs come around, I’ll root for those teams. And because I loved the Redskins all those years ago, I still always root against the Cowboys.
So, I am a very occasional football watcher. I don’t watch hockey or basketball.
Boxing interests me, but it too hard to follow with the best fights always on pay channels or Pay-Per-View.
So, that’s it, really, until baseball season. It’s a long, cold, lonely winter without the Yankees.
Tamar Chalker – UConn basketball. I stopped caring about hockey when the Whalers left Hartford, I was never a huge football fan (and the Giants have done nothing recently to win me back), and I grew up in CT as both the UConn men’s and women’s teams were coming to prominence so I was always a bigger college fan than NBA (though I grew up a Celtics fan and cheered on the Cavs when I lived in Cleveland). March Madness is probably my favorite sporting event, made even better by the fact that once it is over the baseball season begins.
Cary Greene – In the offseason, I primarily watch college basketball and football. I go back to the pre-Big East days and I’m a life-long Syracuse fan. My father, Bob Greene, was a famous Cross-Country and Track & Field coach at Newark Valley high school in the Southern Tier and he was from Syracuse, as was my mother, Janice Greene. Much of my extended family lived in the Syracuse area and we were an entire family of Syracuse fans.
Syracuse football was easy to like, with the rich history of winning under their legendary coach, Ben Schwartzwalder, back in the 1950’s and 60’s and then again in the late 1980’s and 90’s. My father made sure to teach me all about the great Jim Brown and the significance of the now retired number 44. Many all-time great running backs have come out of Syracuse, including Brown, Floyd Little, Ernie Davis, Joe Morris, Daryl Johnston and Larry Csonka and the school also produced many other great players like Art Monk, Dwight Freeney, John Mackey, Marvin Harrison, Donovan McNabb, Don McPherson, Jim Nance and many others.
This season has been a struggle, with the team presently sitting at 5-4, but the emergence of star running back Sean Tucker, out of Calvert Hall high school in Owings Mills, Maryland. Tucker has rushed for 1,267 yards this season, averaging 6.7 yards per carry. He also averages 14.9 yards per reception.
I’m known as a college basketball junkie and I’m probably one of the most passionate Syracuse basketball fans on the planet. Though I would have loved to see Syracuse embrace the local Onondaga Nation indian tribe and craft an identity more rooted in honoring the Onondaga’s, in similar fashion to the way the Florida State Seminoles do, I still love Syracuse despite the school adopting an orange named “Otto” when Syracuse officials made the switch from Orangemen to Orange in 2004, after consulting with Nike regarding the school’s desire to re-brand its athletic teams.
Legendary coach Jim Boheim, who is in his 45th year on the job, is now coaching his two sons, Jimmy Junior and Buddy in what should be another middle of the ACC pack season. I miss the rivalries of the old Big East conference for sure and I can’t say that I’ve been enamored ever since Syracuse switched to the ACC conference. Syracuse football games against Penn State and basketball games against UConn, Georgetown, St. John’s and Villanova were events that were highly regional and with the new alignment, this regional flair has been lost. College Basketball has been dying a slow death for some time now and much more change is now facing the sport, but I remain a fan of the game I grew up playing and loving.
Being a Syracuse fan is challenging. Coach Boeheim is rigid and unrelenting, but when he gets a group of players buying in to his system, the team can be a tough out in the NCAA Tournament and it does seem that we Syracuse fans have been spoiled over the years, with lots of deep tournament runs from teams that were not predicted to do much at all.
I do casually follow NFL football and I’ve been a lifelong Pittsburgh Steelers fan as well.
Andy Singer – It’s hard to believe that I pay attention to any sport other than baseball, even in the offseason, but somehow I manage it. When I’m not eating, breathing, sleeping, and dreaming of baseball, I’m also a lifelong hockey fan that has sat through some tough years with my hometown New Jersey Devils. In fact, my very first job offer during my Senior year of undergrad was to be the play-by-play guy for a minor league hockey team that shall remain nameless, while ghost writing for a prominent hockey personality. That job just didn’t fit for me at the time, but I’ve maintained my enjoyment of the sport through adulthood. In fact, until recently, it was a good bet that you’d find me in the upper levels of the Prudential Center rooting on the Devils for anywhere from 10-35 games per year (as an aside, for all of the people that tell you that MSG is the best place to see an arena-based game, I think the Prudential Center does a great job of giving fans a really immersive experience for hockey games).
In addition to rooting for my Devils, I also spend significant amounts of time following my other sports obsession: golf. Golf isn’t a sport so much as it’s an illness that metastasizes to your whole body, so I watch the Golf Channel and mime my swing more than I care to admit.
Beyond that, I’ll follow any good game in football or basketball if the mood strikes. I also love boxing, but it’s getting harder to watch the fights I really want to see given the proliferation of Pay-Per-View extravaganzas that I just have a hard time swallowing (though Wilder-Fury III was pretty fantastic).
However, I not-so-secretly spend a lot of time counting down to Spring Training, even as I pass the time with other sports in the Winter.