The Super Bowl has come and gone and the start of a new NFL calendar year is upon us.
Spring training is under way and the groundscrew at Petco Park is prepping for yet another San Diego summer at the ballpark.
March has arrived and the Madness is wasting no time this year in college basketball.
We’re watching history before our own eyes in the NBA as the playoffs approach.
The San Diego Gulls and Anaheim Ducks are both pushing towards the Calder Cup and Stanley Cup playoffs, respectively.
And next month, golf’s most prestigious tournament, The Masters, will be live from Augusta.
Simply put? It’s the most wonderful time of the year for sports fans! While October is certainly worth consideration with the NFL in full swing, the NBA/NHL starting up, and the Fall Classic on TV, that season of the sports calendar falls short to the time we are currently in.
Chargers fans received one of the best belated holiday gifts they could have asked for this winter: their team. With the Chargers deciding to stay in San Diego for 2016 (and hopefully 50+ more years) fans of the team can finally release a much needed breath in regards to a lot of the stadium talk and focus on the actual 53 players on the roster. Bouncing back from a 4-12 season is no easy task, and plenty of attention will still be paid to both team and city officials as negotiations continue for a downtown stadium with Los Angeles looming over our heads. But at least during this spring San Diegans can follow along with free agency and the upcoming NFL draft next month with the Chargers holding the 3rd pick.
Many Padres fans are approaching this season “cautiously optimistic” which is very appropriate for a team that only won 74 games last year and failed to meet what turned out to be unrealistic expectations. One new manager and a few offseason transactions later, fans of the Friars are able to embrace the 2016 campaign for what it truly is: a fresh start. Andy Green has a captivating way with words and all signs seem to point that he is instilling an entirely new culture in the clubhouse, which is just what this organization needed. There aren’t a ton of positives that follow a 74-88 season, but glass-half-full type fans can at least admit that 2016 can only be better. Not to mention how spoiled we are to be able to enjoy a venue as nice as Petco Park during summer in America’s Finest City.
The hardwood is where this time on the sports calendar really shines. Let’s start with college hoops. Last week, on March 1st, just hours into this beautiful time of year, the UCSD Tritons made one of the most improbable buzzer-beaters you will ever see to send their game against Sonoma State to overtime where they eventually won the game. That’s why they call it March Madness, right? (I’m sure I’m the first to say that, so I’m going to go ahead and take credit for it) For San Diego State, the Aztecs overcame the self-inflicted uphill battle that was ahead of them after enduring three of the worst losses in program history before beginning Mountain West action. The team responded by going 16-2 in conference play, winning the conference outright by the largest margin in conference history led by a nation-leading defensive unit. The Aztecs absolutely destroyed their 2 biggest MW rivals, New Mexico and UNLV, to close out the regular season and are now turning their attention to this week’s conference tournament with hopes of getting to The Dance for the 7th straight season. SDSU will almost certainly have to win the Mountain West tournament to get in, but the good news is that the team sure seems to be peaking at the right moment which could provide us with a lot of exciting basketball still to come.
In the NBA, history is being made before our very eyes. The Golden State Warriors are on pace to beat the 72-10 record of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. Steph Curry is shooting the ball unlike anything we have ever seen and the team is poised to defend their title with the playoffs approaching next month. Not to be overlooked, the San Antonio Spurs, led by former Aztec Kawhi Leonard, are only 2.5 games behind the Warriors (!!!) at the time this is being written. Those two teams square off against each other 3 times over the next few weeks which could very well serve as a preview of a historic Western Conference Finals series in which TWO teams that finish the regular season with 70+ wins go head-to-head to see who will represent the West in the NBA Finals.
On the ice, our San Diego Gulls are surging in their first season in the American Hockey League and looking to bring home the Calder Cup. This comes at the same time that their parent club just up the freeway, the Anaheim Ducks, are in first place in the Pacific Division of the NHL and preparing for a very exciting run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And for golf fans, Augusta is putting the final touches on the course as The Masters returns in just a few short weeks.
There is so much to be excited about during this season of the sports fan’s calendar. Whatever sport/team is your preference, the next few weeks we are about to encounter will be sure to captivate your attention. All we have to do is sit back and watch the madness unfold. Simply put? It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
Paul Reindl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ThePaularbearSD