By Jose M. Romero
NBA teams all over the country held Media Days/openings of preseason training camps Monday, and serious basketball fans had to be pretty excited.
It will be a full season. No lockout, no protracted schedule, jamming dozens of games into a shorter time frame and no more back-to-back-to-back games for the players.
Not like they should complain anyway, given the salaries for NBA players. It’s unbelievable really. Good but not elite players got huge contracts in free agency this offseason. Roy Hibbert – back with Indiana for four years, $58 million for 13 points and nine rebounds a game. Landry Fields – three years, $20 million from Toronto. Brook Lopez (is he Latino?) – four years, $61 million for the Brooklyn Nets.
There are others among the NBA’s lower-profile, middle-of-the-road teams. It’s like a spending spree for pieces to a puzzle, not for stars that will push teams over the top.
Of course, the biggest stars that moved on to other teams got plenty of attention Monday. Dwight Howard and Steve Nash in Los Angeles, Ray Allen in Miami, even Luis Scola here in Phoenix.
So the NBA is back. It’s October and by the end of the month, the games will count.
But until then, there’s plenty of baseball and football (and for us soccer fans, that too) to keep sports fans occupied. And who’s going to miss hockey? Not many Latinos, I would imagine. Only the ones who work in the arenas where hockey games are played, because they need the games to go on for them to report to work, as was pointed out by a colleague, Maria Burns Ortiz, not long ago.
That’s not a good thing at all. But I’m grateful to have baseball’s playoffs starting this week with those one-and-done wild cards and then the divisional series starting Saturday.
Saturday and Sunday are going to be crazy with so much college and pro football and baseball on TV.
The new baseball playoff format is fantastic. Look at what it has produced: the Dodgers and Cardinals are down to the final regular-season series of 2012 to decide the final National League wild card spot. If somehow the Dodgers and Cardinals end up tied with the same record, the Dodgers would host the tiebreaker on Thursday.
There’s still no division winner of the three in the American League. Baltimore and Oakland could still win their divisions (AL East and AL West) – who would have picked those teams? The Orioles are already in the playoffs either way.
The Angels, Rays and White Sox need wins and help, but all three came into Monday still alive for a postseason spot.
In the NL, Washington and Cincinnati are in but are still trying to win home-field advantage in the playoffs with the league’s best record.
So baseball is going to come down to the last day of the regular season and possibly beyond. Sports fans win!
The NFL is entering Week 5 (after Monday night’s game that matches two of the best Latino players in the game, Tony Romo of Dallas and Roberto Garza of Chicago) and it’s always wild.
So yeah, welcome back NBA. I’ll check back with you around Halloween.