By: James Smith
A new month, a new set of events for the sports fanatic to get excited about. Here’s what to look for in the world of sports during the month of September:
NFL Kickoff: Wednesday, 5th September
Despite ongoing and growing concerns about player safety and scandals at both the collegiate and professional levels, the NFL is entrenched as the most popular sport in the United States. That makes Wednesday, September 5th, a date that’s been circled in red on many men’s calendars: the first game of the 2012 NFL season, to be contested by the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys. This is going to be a season for the youngsters, with no less than four (and possibly five) teams that will start a rookie for their season-opener. What does the youth movement mean for established superstars like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady? Can Michael Vick’s delicate health hold up? Let endless fantasy football debates and Sundays spent rooted to the couch begin! [Ed. Note: Check out our picks of teams to watch in both the NFC and AFC!]
The US Open: Monday, 27th August - Sunday, 9th September
The final Slam of the year always takes a little more energy to get into, especially since we’ve had the addition of a wild tennis event at the London Olympics. However, there are more and riper storylines this year than we’ve had in recent memory, at least on the men’s side. In three Slams so far this year, we’ve had three separate winners (Novak Djokovic in Australia, Rafael Nadal in Paris, and Roger Federer at Wimbledon) -- the first time that’s happened since 2005. Nadal is out indefinitely, Federer is looking to firm up his grip on the #1 ranking, and Olympic gold medalist Andy Murray is out to prove that he can win on the biggest stage -- not to mention that Andy Roddick, the longtime bastion of American tennis, has now announced that he plans to retire at the end of the Open. Meanwhile, on the women’s side, it’s the final tournament for Belgian star Kim Clijsters, while a rejuvenated Serena Williams is trying to win a second consecutive title.
MLB Playoff Races Heating Up: Ongoing
The really exciting stuff for baseball won’t start until October, when the post-season begins in a glorious free-for all under the new playoff rules. But the final month of the regular season is always fun, with many teams making a mad dash for the playoffs and those out of the hunt doing their very best to make it as hard as possible for the contenders to make it in. This year, two things make the final month especially intriguing. First, the new playoff rules allow for two wild-card teams in each league -- meaning that there are more teams in contention, but also that divisional races have more significance as teams want to avoid the one-game play-in that faces the two wild cards in each league. Second, a number of long-dormant franchises are suddenly in the hunt. The Pirates, who showed flashes of inspiration before the mid-point of last season, suddenly appear in for the long haul, riding an MVP-caliber season from Andrew McCutchen. Meanwhile, the Orioles, perennial basement-dwellers of the AL East, are at time of writing tied for a Wild Card slot. Could this be The Year for one of those teams?
The Ryder Cup: Friday, 28th September - Sunday, 30th September
We’re not huge golf fans here at Daily Lounge, but we’ll get invested in anything that holds the possibility of America triumphing over those filthy, Campari-drinking Communists from Europe. We’re looking forward, therefore, to the 2012 edition of the Ryder Cup, the biannual team golf competition between the United States and Europe. The Ryder Cup also has the distinction of being one of the few pro sports events that players participate in entirely for nationalistic reasons, with no prize money awarded to the winners. No, they receive something even better: national pride and bragging rights for the next two years. This year’s edition will take place in Medinah, Illinois. Go USA!