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Matt Calkins: Fans are getting a much-needed escape from the coronavirus pandemic — a bonanza of sports events

UPDATED: Fri., Aug. 7, 2020

Seattle Mariners’ Kyle Seager, right, is congratulated by J.P. Crawford on his three-run home run against the Los Angeles Angels in the third inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020, in Seattle.  (Associated Press)
Seattle Mariners’ Kyle Seager, right, is congratulated by J.P. Crawford on his three-run home run against the Los Angeles Angels in the third inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020, in Seattle. (Associated Press)
By Matt Calkins Seattle Times

SEATTLE – For many Americans – possibly millions – this may be the worst August they can remember. Unemployment is still stratospheric, social restrictions are still ubiquitous, and the tunnel that is this coronavirus pandemic remains dim.

But if sports are your escape – if competition is your diversion from this grim reality – then you can agree with these three words.

Best. August. Ever.

Sports are no longer choices on a menu but rather items in a buffet. Doesn’t matter how loud your stomach is growling, you’re not going to end the day hungry.

We love the first two weeks of March Madness because, for four days a week, we can start watching hoops at 9 a.m. and keep going till 9 p.m. But what’s happening now goes well beyond that. This is August Absurdity.

Every day we’re treated to a dozen or so MLB games, almost all of which are meaningful given the shortened season and expanded playoff format. Every day, we’re treated to a half a dozen or so NBA and NHL games, almost all of which are meaningful given the postseason jockeying and upcoming playoffs.

Same is true of the MLS. And the WNBA. And NASCAR. And … it never really ends.

Thursday, amid constant contests elsewhere, the PGA Championship at Harding Park in San Francisco will commence. Before COVID-19, major championship golf ended in July every year, but now we might get to see Tiger Woods snatch major title No. 16 in August.

UFC 252 will take place a week from Sunday. There is something live, something significant just about every day.

Normally, the NFL is carrying the sports world this time of year – especially in Seattle, where the Mariners are usually toast by now. And though interest will always swell around the most popular league in the country, there is enough going on elsewhere to make training camp an afterthought.

Yes, the inability to attend live events is disheartening for fans across the country. Checking out a baseball game at T-Mobile Park or a soccer match at CenturyLink Field is a staple of Seattle summers. But the endless options on TV offer comfort for those stuck at home.

The only real losers might be sports gamblers, who think they’re in heaven right now. Save for a few geniuses who can game the system, the house pretty much always wins – and there are more unlocked rooms in the house than ever before.

For all other sports fans, though, you couldn’t ask for a better present in these present times.

It wasn’t long ago that we wondered whether we’d see sports in 2020. The unknown surrounding the coronavirus, the uncertainty regarding testing – it seemed possible that competition would be shut down until the next calendar year.

And with MLS and MLB teams missing games due to multiple players testing positive for COVID-19, doubt about the future still lingers. But for the most part the leagues have found a way to persevere, and, well, here we are.

LeBron James. Mike Trout. Tiger Woods. Alexander Ovechkin. Jimmie Johnson. All candidates to lead off SportsCenter in August. Pretty cool.

Of course, in 27 days, this awesome August will come to an end. Fun as it may end up being, fans will have to come to grips with the fact that the eighth month of the year will never be this entertaining again.

As for the next month, well, all there will be is … the NBA playoffs, NHL playoffs, the WNBA playoffs, MLB playoff jockeying, MLS playoff jockeying, the U.S. Open of golf, the U.S. Open of tennis, the Kentucky Derby, the NFL season, NCAA football, NASCAR, the English Premier League and probably something I forgot.

Best. September. Ever.

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