Sports fans are well aware of what they are missing or have already missed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
No Boston Marathon. No Olympics. No Wimbledon. Maybe even no Major League Baseball.
Rewatching old games, as redundant as they can become after a while, has filled some of the void. NESN was basically the Pedro Martinez channel this past week, while NBC Sports Boston delivered a whole lot of Larry Bird. Reliving the highlights of those two is as enjoyable as it gets. Now, if the NHL Network would just go all Bobby Orr all the time.
Still, we long for live sports, not to mention something new and suspenseful to watch. With the caveat that this is all tentative given that the virus could interfere with even the most cautious plans, there is hope that we’ll have our favorite teams and sporting events back soon.
We could — could — even have them back in abundance and packed into a smaller time frame, filling some weekends with enough events that the batteries in our remote controls will be in serious danger of burnout.
Baseball could have seized our attention over the next couple of weeks had the owners and players been able to come to an agreement and hit the oft-stated and symbolic restart date of July 4. That hasn’t happened, of course, and so what remains of the summer, even if baseball returns, will belong to the NBA and NHL playoffs.
The NBA has a tentative start date in mind of July 30, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, with the NBA Finals ending no later than Oct. 12 on ESPN/ABC. (Game 7 of the Finals — might it have been between the Celtics and Lakers? — originally was scheduled for June 21 before the pandemic halted the season March 11. )
The NHL’s return plans are not as thorough yet — the two host “hub” cities have not even been determined — but it did announce Thursday that the 24 teams competing in the restart will report to training camp July 10.
The length of camp isn’t determined, but there has been speculation that the games would begin by the end of July (including the Bruins in a four-team round-robin to determine seeding). The Stanley Cup playoffs are arguably the best postseason in sports, and it’s going to be interesting to see how rights-holder NBC approaches the tweaked format.
The sports calendar will feel full once the NBA and NHL playoffs are under way, especially with the Celtics and Bruins prominently involved at the start. It’s rare that a team in either sport has more than two days in a row off during the postseason (though the Bruins did have a 10-day hiatus last year between the Eastern Conference finals and Stanley Cup Final), so there will be something compelling to watch just about every night.
Again, with or without baseball. And the NFL, to mix our sports metaphors, is waiting right there in the on-deck circle.
The Patriots are scheduled to report to training camp July 28. The first preseason game, versus the Lions on Channel 4, is slated for Aug. 23. The regular-season opener is Sunday, Sept. 13, on CBS, three days after the Chiefs and Texans kick off the season on NBC.
The most action-packed stretch of the sports schedule might come in mid October. The Patriots host the Broncos (1 p.m., CBS) on Sunday, Oct. 11. If the current NBA plan holds, Game 7 of the Finals would be on ABC on Monday, Oct. 12, while over on ESPN, the Chiefs and Chargers would be colliding on “Monday Night Football.”
It’s possible that the Stanley Cup Final would still be under way on NBC. Three days after a potential NBA Finals Game 7, the NBA Draft is set to take place on Oct. 15 on ESPN. Notably, under the latest 89-game proposal from the MLB Players Association, the regular season would end in this window on Oct. 11.
Here’s a breakdown of some major events on the sports (and sports-viewing) calendar over the next few months, based on current — and yes, tentative — plans.
June 20: Belmont Stakes (NBC).
July 8: MLS resumes with MLS Is Back tournament (full broadcast details not set)
July 10: NHL camps open
July 11: UFC 251 (ESPN-plus, UFC Fight Pass)
July 30: NBA restarts (ESPN, TNT).
Aug. 1: estimated date of NHL playoffs restart (NBC)
Aug. 6-9: PGA Championship (ESPN, CBS)
Aug. 11: MLS Is Back tournament final (ESPN)
Aug. 13: Patriots preseason opener (Channel 4)
Aug. 23: Indianapolis 500 (NBC)
Aug. 25: NBA Draft Lottery (ESPN/ABC).
Sept. 5: Kentucky Derby (NBC)
Sept. 10: Chiefs-Texans NFL opener (NBC)
Sept. 13: Patriots opener vs. Dolphins (CBS)
Sept. 17-20: US Open golf (Fox Sports 1, Fox)
Sept. 25-27: Ryder Cup (Golf Channel, CBS).
Oct. 3: Preakness Stakes (NBC)
Oct. 4: Patriots-Chiefs (CBS)
Oct. 12: potential Game 7 of NBA Finals (ABC)
Oct. 15: NBA Draft (ESPN).
Nov. 8: NASCAR Cup Series Championship (NBC)
Nov. 12-15: the Masters (ESPN, CBS).
That’s a lot packed into a relatively short time, and this list is far from complete, because it’s just not possible to do so right now. I didn’t list several Patriots games — you won’t forget those, I suspect — and all of the NBA and NHL playoff rounds will fall into this window, as well.
And we have no idea right now what to make of the college football schedule, with that season set to begin Aug. 29.
And what’s that? Yes, I suppose that’s true. There might even be some baseball on TV, too, if it can get its act straight before our attention turns to so much else.