Baseball and bupkis — nada, nothing.
That’s what we have on our local sports scene during a period on the calendar that, unless you’re saddled with the sorry likes of the Blackhawks and Bulls, can be a barrel of fun. Even the NFL Draft this week, normally an event worth obsessing about, comes around like a party to which we’re not invited, with the Bears holding neither a first- nor a second-round pick.
But the NBA and Stanley Cup playoffs rage on, even if some Chicagoans struggle — like lost, lonely souls peeking through a window from the sidewalk — to handle the indignity of it all. And though we might not have a dog in either hunt, I’m fairly certain of this:
The NBA playoffs are a blight on humanity.
The NHL postseason is merely a billion times better.
Look, maybe some people get a kick out of knowing who’s going to win before the competition even starts. Maybe some are so deep into ‘‘Game of Thrones’’ that they’re comforted by the ability to take the NBA’s opening round entirely for granted. In that case, they can be psyched that the East’s No. 1-seeded Bucks swept the Pistons in four games, the West’s No. 1-seeded Warriors are about to put the no-chance Clippers to sleep and the rest of the series basically have plodded along according to script.
Since the NBA expanded its playoff field to 16 teams 36 seasons ago, only five of 72 No. 1-vs.-No. 8 series have ended in upsets. The last one was in 2012, when Derrick Rose tore an ACL in the Bulls’ Game 1 victory against the 76ers and, well, the rest was heartbreaking history. If the Warriors or Bucks win the title in June, it’ll be the 24th time in 36 years that a top-seeded team celebrates.
Want to bet against the Warriors, who are going for their fourth title in five years? You wouldn’t dare.
Yet we have no earthly idea who’s going to raise Lord Stanley’s Cup a little less than two months from now, and that’s a beautiful, thrilling thing. We know it won’t be the East’s No. 1-seeded Lightning — winners of an NHL-record-tying 62 regular-season games — who were outscored 19-8 in a four-game sweep by the Blue Jackets. And we know it won’t be the West’s No. 1-seeded Flames, who were bounced in five games by the Avalanche.
As many as seven of the eight NHL first-round series could result — depending on what happens in Game 7s on Tuesday and Wednesday — in lower-seeded teams advancing.
‘‘Yeah, it sucks,’’ the NHL’s leading scorer, the Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov, said of his team’s early exit.
On the contrary, it’s all kinds of awesome.
I’m just sayin’
I don’t have a large enough piggy bank to gamble on sports, but sometimes it’s fun to note what bettors are flushing their hard-earned dough down the toilet on.
As of Tuesday morning, the Warriors were 1-2 favorites to win the NBA title. Not much drama there.
Stanley Cup odds, on the other hand, were the ultimate crapshoot, with the closest thing to a ‘‘favorite’’ being the Blues at 5½-1. The Capitals (6-1), Blue Jackets (6½-1) and Islanders (6½-1) were right there with them.
At least, that’s what my pal Big Vig at the end of the bar tells me.
• Jake Arrieta publicly criticized teammate Bryce Harper after the superstar right fielder was thrown out of the Phillies’ game Monday —the 12th ejection of his career. Arrieta also said the dugout was ‘‘flat’’ and the defense ‘‘wasn’t good’’ in a 5-1 loss to the Mets.
Arrieta’s presence in the clubhouse vs. his presence on the mound: Which do the Cubs miss more?
• Hey, what do you know? Mike Krzyzewski and Duke have rounded out the top-ranked basketball recruiting class in the country again. No offense to the bobbleheads at ESPN, but my ears are bleeding just thinking about it.
• Has the world gone barking mad?
Don’t answer that.
But I’m still trying to figure out why so many among us flipped out all season about whether the Bulls would tank their way into the bottom three of the overall standings.
A bottom-three spot would’ve meant a 14 percent shot at Duke phenom Zion Williamson. Finishing fourth from the bottom, as they did, gives the Bulls a 12.5 percent chance instead. I ran the numbers through the supercomputer in my basement, and — who knew? — it turns out 14 percent and 12.5 percent are pretty much the same thing.
• From the start, viewing the upcoming NBA Draft through a Zion-or-bust lens has been silly. RJ Barrett, Williamson’s Duke running mate, is a lengthy lefty with enormous scoring potential. Murray State point guard Ja Morant could light this town on fire. North Carolina point guard Coby White is in the Morant mold, only 2 inches taller.
Get me one of those guys, and I’m good with it.