YOSHONIS: During bad baseball season, thank goodness for international sports

The Detroit Tigers are painful to watch sometimes, and the temptation to ignore them is strong. 

Okay, now what?

This is the time when a lot of American sports fans, those who follow baseball teams that are obviously not going to do anything this year, find themselves looking for ways to get their sports fix with football, hockey and basketball all in their off-seasons.

The NBA is trying to take advantage of the comparative lull in American sports with its “Summer League,” and ESPN has done its part by televising as many of the games as they can.

But it’s really just a junior-varsity version of the NBA, with most of the players representing each NBA team simply preparing to ride the pine during thr season, play on the G-League or just be cut, and even the Worldwide Leader can’t fool anyone to the contrary.

Thankfully, with all of the dedicated sports channels also looking for content, they only have to change the channel to look beyond the borders of this country.

When America’s Pastime doesn’t satisfy, there are lots of other pastimes in other countries that can fill that void.

And I’m not just talking about the World Cup, although every four years (and usually with the USA participating — I’m not bitter, YOU’RE BITTER!), the World’s Biggest Sporting Event takes over a month of the summer, providing almost enough content to last until NFL camps open.

Even if you’re one of those who refuses to “get” soccer, there are many other international sporting events to choose from.

Wimbledon is a good one, with a sporting tradition second to none and not one but two singles championships to follow.

In recent years, the reason to watch the women’s (sorry, Ladies’) tournament has been to see which Williams sister is going to win. Serena and Venus have taken the crown in 12 of the last 18 years, and Serena looks like a good bet  to make it 13 of 19 this year.

On the men’s (Gentlemen’s) side, Roger Federer appears poised to break his own record of eight Wimbledon titles this year, but it’s far from a foregone conclusion. 

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, each of whom have won the tournament multiple times during Federer’s reign, are still in the field, currently in the quarterfinals.

So is the last remaining American, the 6’10” John Isner, whose career has been an interesting story.

Isner is known mostly for playing in the longest tennis match is history, in the 2010 Wimbledon Championships. Isner and Nicolas Mahut played a match that lasted over 11 hours over the course of three days before Isner finally prevailed in the fifth set 70-68. 

That can only happen at Wimbledon, which is the only tournament left that doesn’t use a tiebreaker in the fifth set.

Isner is playing in his first Wimbledon quarterfinal, after a slow but steady career trajectory that sees him playing his best tennis of his career at 33.

Tennis not your thing? Well, the Tour de France has also begun. Watching cycling on TV is a tough sell, especially when you don’t have a rooting interest, and even more so after the doping scandals of the past decade or so have turned lots of folks off to the sport on moral grounds.

Even I don’t follow cycling enough to tell you who can win the thing, but I like to watch the coverage as a travelogue to some of the most beautiful scenery in Europe.

Golf’s British Open is a week or so away, this year at Scotland’s Carnoustie Golf Links, which is best known for how much fun it is to say “Carnoustie” with an exaggerated Scottish accent.

I do love my sports history, though, and there are few sporting events with more of it that the Open Championship. After all, this tournament invented the concept of an “open” championship (which means Open to both professionals and amateurs), and is one of the last events that sees significant amateur participation.

The reason for that is that the Open organizers want it that way. As the almost-official World Championship of Golf, the R&A (short for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, which puts on the tournament) makes sure to invite the winners of several amateur competitions around the world. 

The American Masters does the same thing, and the U.S. Open to a slightly lesser extent.

So, there is more for a disaffected baseball fan to do this time of year than simply pine away for the NFL season.

Which starts in 58 days.

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Posted by Scott Yoshonis

Scott is the sports editor of the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach him at (231) 398-3112 or syoshonis@pioneergroup.com.

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