All Points West: Celebrating the end of summer
     2015-07-30      By Frank Marquez    frankmarquez@geringcitizen.com
Heading into the last few weeks of summer, I am bouncing off the walls as football season starts next week, or more specifically, Nebraska Cornhusker football. The boys of summer, at least the local boys of summer, have wrapped up their season. Senior Legion Baseball ended for the Gering Platte Valley Company team at the hands of Chadron, 9-5, at the senior area tourney in Sidney Monday night. Congratulations to the winners of classes B and C who move on with a chance to win the state title at Cozad Aug. 1-5.

As for the MLB, we still have about three months starting in August before another World Series is played − a Game 7 if necessary is scheduled for Nov. 4, only the second time in history the series will go past October. I hope one day, the game is played on a snow covered diamond. I never understood how, given how popular football is across the land, how baseball’s main stage still manages to rake in some of the highest popularity ratings year in and year out, figuring overall attendance versus the NFL, which some say is now America’s game.

In 2014, 73.7 million people attended professional baseball games, according to Wall Street Journal website. That’s less than the peak of 79.5 million in 2007. The total number of people going to NFL games has never come close. Last year, only 17.6 million people attended professional football games, the high for the sport. But factor in that MLB regular season—or 2,430 games total—compared with only 16 regular-season games for NFL teams, or 256 in all. So on a per-game basis, an average of 30,345 people attended each MLB contest, compared with 68,776 for each NFL game (usually in bigger stadiums).

The top sports stories this summer? Well, the U.S. women won the FIFA World Cup in soccer or futbol as the rest of the world knows it. Starring players were featured on Sports Illustrated’s July 20 cover after the dramatic deed in which USA downed Japan, 5-2, avoiding any front cover hex. And, then there was more baseball. You know its summer when the top sports story on ESPN is about how A-Rod a.k.a. Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees is getting older. What can you say about one of the longest seasons in sports?

While the Yankees hold the top spot in the American League East, my adopted team since living in D.C. for nearly three seasons, the Washington Nationals hold the top spot in the National League East. It’s doubtful the Nats will give up that mantle, as this week’s Citizen rolls off the press. Though they will never garner my true cheers, yelling at the top of my lungs for my beloved Huskers. C’mon, it’s baseball.
In an interesting side piece, Sports Illustrated’s columnist Alan Shipnuck wrote about the decline of once great golf champion Tiger Woods, a sure bet to win at least a half a dozen tourneys a year, and maybe a few majors, but that was before infidelity struck and he decided to retool his swing, not once but twice since then. And that’s not to mention a plethora of injuries that have plagued him in mounting any kind of return to greatness. That’s not the real news though. SI columnist have written about the demise of Tiger a few times, and join Golf Digest and ESPN’s magazine’s Rick Reilly, former SI columnist, in driving a nail in the coffin.

You know it’s the end of summer when sports fans have nothing better to do than fill the air waves and publications with false rankings, and prognosticators break out their pencils and calculators deciding the Las Vegas line for the college season (never mind the NFL), which by the way if you are the least bit curious, the Huskers have 100/1 chance of winning the National Championship in 2016, according to Vegas Insider.

Nebraska takes to the practice field on Aug. 6, in preparation for the season in which predictions say the Huskers for all intents and purposes will win the Big Ten West Division. In the East Division, I predict it will be a toss-up between Ohio State without quarterback Braxton Miller and Michigan State without defensive coordinator Patrick Narduzzi, who after last season took the head coaching job at Pitt. The Huskers open their season on Sept. 5, hosting the BYU Cougars. Non-conference tilts against better-than-average teams have tested Nebraska in the past few years. Do Wyoming and McNeese State count? Unknown quantity Head Coach Mike Riley might be the difference maker. Let’s hope.

You know it’s the end of summer, when you think a group of shirtless teen boys riding their bikes up a local country road is better spectator sport than baseball, as they raised dust trails and dodged pickup trucks and tractors. It only served to stir up memories of mud fights with boyhood friends in the irrigation ditches on Ty Gall’s farm. Boredom and angst, some of the best fuel.

But wait! Before we close the book on summer this year, there’s still a few weeks of vacation left, and plenty of water skiing and fishing and tubing and … See you at the lake.


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