10 things in sports that I’m thankful for

Ah, Thanksgiving – the time to give thanks.

I thought that since it was Thanksgiving (which don’t forget, is the time to give thanks) that I would lay out 10 things that I’m thankful for in the world of sports.

I’m thankful for…

1…there’s no possible way we’ll see a Big Ten team play in the national championship.
I love the Big Ten for many reasons – the physical brand of football, the traditions, the rivalries, etc. But there’s no team in that conference this year that could match up with the likes of Alabama, Florida, Texas or Oklahoma on a national stage. Penn State and Ohio State are solid teams, but if the Nittany Lions took on the Gators in the title game, there’s a good chance that we’d all be watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas” by halftime.

New York Jets
2…parity in the NFL.
How exciting is the NFL again this season? None of the divisions outside of the NFC West and maybe the NFC East have been decided yet and we still have five weeks of action left. Granted, there has been a lot of mediocre football being played around the league, but at least parity has bred competition on a weekly basis. Who would have thought that at this point in the season, the Jets, Ravens and Falcons would all be vying for a playoff spot?

3…rivalry week in college football.
Granted, not all of the matchups are attractive, but how great is it that Auburn is playing Alabama the same week Florida is playing Florida State? Even Ole’ Miss and Mississippi State will be entertaining and the possibility that one of the ranked schools will be knocked off by a rival is exciting.

4…the Hot Stove League is heating up again.
Outside of Opening Day and the postseason, this is by far the best time in baseball. Who doesn’t love hopping on the computer each day and surfing through all the rumors? And once your team lands one of the prized free agents, it’s all you can do from imaging your team playing in the Fall Classic next year.

5…fantasy football playoffs.
Everyone sitting in the bottom half of their fantasy football standings right now just flipped me the bird, but for those of us gearing up for the playoffs, the culmination of everything we’ve been working for all season is finally here. This is the time of year when you say, “Work? What work? Sorry boss – I’ve got to check my roster 4,000 more times before noon and then hit the Steelers training room so I can massage Ben Roethlisberger’s hamstrings so to ensure he’s ready to go this Sunday.”

6…shootouts in hockey.
Hockey purists tell me that shootouts determining which team wins and loses “isn’t really hockey.” Fair enough, but at least when I spend $80 on a ticket now I actually see my team win or go down in flames. There’s nothing more unsatisfying than a tie in sports – any sport. If I watch a bunch of players go at it on a slab of ice for three hours, I want to feel either ecstatic or traumatized at the end.

Manny Ramirez7…Manny Ramirez being a free agent.
If you don’t like following the circus that is Manny Ramirez, than you’ve got issues. And the fact that he’s a free agent this offseason only means we’ll get “Manny being Manny” on full blast over the next couple weeks/months. I seriously can’t wait to see where this goofy bastard winds up playing next year, but I’m going to enjoy the process even more.

8…humorous sports blogs.
How great is it that I can get a recap of the Cowboys-Giants game at the same place I can read about how Tony Romo nailed Jessica Simpson on a beach in Mexico? It’s a beautiful thing.

9…MAC football on a Tuesday night.
When most people see that Northern Illinois is taking on Buffalo on a random Tuesday night, they usually keep flipping until they land on a new episode of “Dancing With the Stars.” Not me. During football season, I don’t care of Texas is playing Oklahoma or Texas School for the Blind is taking on Oklahoma Little Sisters of the Poor – I’m watching it…and recording that new episode of “Dancing with the Stars.”

10…Erin Andrews working the sidelines.
‘Nuff said.

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