The World Series, the return of the NBA, and all of the football: It's the wildest week of the year

BY Martin Rogers u2014 @MrogersFOX • October 21, 2019

For any sports fan, the weekend is wired into our DNA as the ultimate time of fulfillment and happiness.

The magical window from Saturday morning — with its optimistic sheen and when all things seem possible — to Sunday night is when America turns away from such trivial matters as going to work and making a living to focus on what really gets us going: sports on a mass scale.

Yet every now and then, weekends take a backseat to weekday sports madness. Over the next five days, there will be a head-spinning array of sporting activity to feed this country’s insatiable appetite, so much so that the weekend’s best use this time is for sleeping in and resting up.

It isn’t often that you can look at a game featuring the reigning Super Bowl champion (the New England Patriots meet the New York Jets on Monday night) and legitimately regard it as a mere curtain-raiser to the week’s entertainment. On FOX last weekend, Rob Gronkowski likened his former Patriots head coach Bill Belichick to the Grinch, but not even the gloomy demeanor of the hoodie-clad coaching genius can’t take the sheen off this week.

Yep, there’s going to be a bug in the air, and it’s called sports fever. If all goes well, you’ll be well and truly afflicted by Tuesday.

That’s the day when things truly crank into gear, as two of the most significant happenings on the American sports calendar collide. The World Series, which shapes up as an enthralling dustup between two incredible pitching powers, gets underway with Game 1 between the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals. Gerrit Cole v. Max Scherzer? Yes, please.

Simultaneously, the NBA bursts back into life on an opening night of epic gravitas. After a flurried summer of moves and maneuvers, the two biggest heavyweights of all, the Los Angeles Clippers (with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George) and Los Angeles Lakers (with LeBron James and Anthony Davis) both have the same long-term goal: bringing a title to the City of Angels.

And the same immediate goal: to knock the stuffing out of each other on Tuesday.

“I should have taken a vacation week to sit and watch it all,” Andrew Slack, a Los Angeles-based businessman, told me on Sunday. As it is, Slack will be in Europe on a work trip and figures to spend “at least half the time” checking his phone to keep up with the action back home. “I chose the wrong time to be away.”

He has a point. When bursts of sports activity collect at the same time, the L.A. area is often in the thick of it, due mainly to the large number of teams in the region and other logistical factors.

In 2018, six of the L.A. sports teams played on the same day, featuring two NHL games, an NBA clash, an NFL game and a Major League Soccer showdown, then culminating late in the evening with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Game 5 loss to crush their dreams of winning the World Series.

This time around, following that Lakers/Clippers duel, Southern California has another intra-city struggle on Thursday, as the Major League Soccer playoffs kick into full swing. The Los Angeles Galaxy has won five MLS titles, but will be a sizable underdog against second-year team LAFC, toppers of the regular season standings.

It doesn’t stop there. If you’re going to watch one high school football game this year, it should be Friday’s between SoCal powers and nationally-ranked Nos. 1 and 2 Mater Dei and St. John Bosco. There's also the one sport that never takes a week off, when Friday Night SmackDown airs on FOX. If that weren’t enough, both USC and UCLA football play home games on Saturday.

There will be no such major overlap for the World Series cities this year, as neither have multiple basketball and hockey teams in town, and they will each be on the road when their respective NFL teams are playing.

But it’s not like the rest of the country is left out. Before we even start thinking about the weekend, there will have been three games from the World Series, two from the NFL, seven from college football, four from the MLS playoffs, 32 from the NHL and 25 from the NBA over the course of the week. Phew.

And then, if you’re still hungry for more, Sunday will be one of those rare occasions in American sports when all four of the major leagues play on the same day ... assuming that the World Series doesn’t end in a sweep.

America has gone sports mad — as if it wasn’t already. According to the Business Playbook Report, a 2018 survey about how sports affects workplace productivity, 43% of respondents said they had watched sports at work when their manager thought they were doing something else. And 36% said they would consider calling in sick the day after a big game.

“(It is) important for managers to put protocols in place that will ensure (sports) doesn’t get in the way of long-term business performance,” Mark Robinson, co-founder of the survey’s organizer Kimble Applications, said at the time.

Okay, enough about protocols; it’s time for the sports fan to do some planning of their own. It’s worth thinking about how you’re going to consume this sports feast this week. At times you’ll need eyes in the back of your head and more screens than an electronics store. A friend of mine is enough of a scoundrel to have sneaked his sleep-deprived doctor wife’s tablet out of her work bag so he can use it to watch multiple games at once from the comfort of the couch.

Okay, this “friend” is actually me. But if ever such as dastardly move was justified, it’s now. October is when the sporting stars align, and it makes us act in strange ways. This is no time for rational thought. Those dog days of summer, when it’s hot as hell and sports seem to grind to a halt and you don’t know what to do with yourself, will come back around soon enough.

Welcome to the sporting week of the year. Grab some snacks, draw the blinds, ignore the mail, and silence your phone. If your mom gets mad at you for not returning her calls, or if your college project makes less sense than it should because you were too bleary-eyed to focus, it’s not your fault. Blame it on the sports fever.

Now, where’s that remote?

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