This could be one of the most depressing times of the year for many people. But if you’re a true sports fan, there are reasons to be extremely excited when the calendar page turns beyond Labor Day, and I’ll give you five of them.
1. By now, you all have hopefully held your fantasy football drafts, you know who your quarterback is going to be, and you’re ready. Post-Labor Day Blues mean one thing: you can drink your misery away while watching 10 hours of football on Sunday! Yes, the NFL season is here. It’s exciting in New England, and what better way to open up the 2010 season on Sunday than with the two most ridiculous TV (I mean football) personalities with Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens. Did you ever think you would know more about an NFL player’s choice in women than in his total receiving yards last season? The T.O./Ochocinco train pulls into Foxboro on Sunday afternoon, and you better be front and center at 1 p.m. to witness the showboating and eclectic display of talent that will be on the field.
2. The NHL season is right around the corner. Teams open up training camp a week from Friday. That means the Bruins will be taking their first skate on the ice as a team since the … well, never mind. Let me rephrase that: The Bruins will open up their training camp with the No. 2 overall draft pick Tyler Seguin and the rest of the Black and Gold. A healthy Marc Savard, a solid defensive unit captained by none other than the biggest blue liner in the league, Zdeno Chara, and a certified No. 1 goalie coming off his rookie season, Tuukka Rask. This year’s Bruins team is eager to erase the mistakes from the past, and reestablish themselves as a Stanley Cup contender. The Oct. 9 season opener in Prague can't come soon enough.
3. For two weeks in the summer, the greatest tennis players in the world compete on American soil at the U.S. Open, held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows in New York City. Whether you’re a tennis fan or not, these are the most exciting and entertaining matches you’ll see all year — and the East Coast TV times make it that much easier to enjoy this great sport. After Labor Day, we witness the men’s and women’s quarterfinals through finals that are held at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday. I’ve got my money on defending women’s champ Kim Clijsters; on the men’s side I am going with Rafael Nadal, the No. 1 ranked player in the tournament who has spent most of the last five years as one of the top two players in the world but has never reached the final in this Grand Slam tournament.
4. Shaquille O’Neal’s arrival! The NBA superstar has decided to give it two more years in the league and will be arriving in Boston this month for training camp with the Celtics. You can expect a media firestorm to take place with the always-entertaining Shaq. Now the oldest player in the NBA, Shaq is sure to take some heat from his teammates, and rightfully so. In addition to his basketball career, O'Neal has released four rap albums, with his first, "Shaq Diesel," going platinum. He has also appeared in numerous films and has starred in his own reality shows. But don’t think the 7-foot-1 future Hall of Famer is out of gas. Shaq can dish it out as well as he can take it, and plans to make sure that Kobe Bryant doesn’t end up with more rings on his hands than he does. This is good news for the Boston Celtics. The more motive there is for Shaq, the better.
5. Finally, the Fall Classic. While Boston’s beloved Red Sox may miss out on this year’s postseason, there is still reason to appreciate America’s pastime when the World Series rolls around. The history, rivalries, length of series and crisp Autumn nights spent in front of the TV after dinner watching games makes the World Series one of the most memorable times of our childhood. The stage for the 2010 World Series has yet to be set, but the next month leading up to it will be some of the best baseball you’ve seen all season.
So you see, while another summer has come and gone, there’s much to look forward to. And if you’re not a sports fan, then enjoy the foliage and cider donuts.