Today is Black Monday — one of two days all year during which not a single game is played in any of North America’s four major professional sports leagues.
The day before the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, which is slated for tomorrow, has no games scheduled. Ditto for the day after the Midsummer Classic, which is a travel day that allows teams to get in place before baseball starts the second half of its season.
Big league baseball is the only major pro sport playing games during the month of July. With 30 MLB teams playing a 162-game schedule, there is plenty of baseball — except today and Wednesday.
The National Football League begins play in September and ends with the Super Bowl the first week of February. The NBA and National Hockey League start in early October and wrap up their playoffs in June.
This is garbage time for televised sports. With no games to broadcast, ESPN will air the overly contrived, made-for-TV production known as the Home Run Derby today. Tomorrow brings the All-Star Game, while Wednesday features two WNBA games as well as the ESPYs. So much for quality programming.
The first week of April is the busiest of the year for pro sports, as three of the “Big Four” are playing. Baseball is getting underway [the 2018 regular season began March 29 – the earliest Opening Day in league history], while the NBA and NHL regular seasons are winding down as those leagues prepare for their playoffs. Mix in the NCAA Final Four and run-up to the Masters and you have plenty of stellar sporting action.
The antithesis of Black Monday is a Sports Equinox, when all four major North American sports leagues play at least one game on the same day. It has happened only 17 times in history, with the most recent coming October 19, 2017. The NHL played nine games that day, while the NBA played three. The lone NFL game was a Thursday-nighter, which ended with the Raiders scoring on the final play of the game to beat the Chiefs, 31-30. The Equinox culminated with the Dodgers thrashing the Cubs at Wrigley Field, 11-1, to wrap up the National League Championship Series, four games to one.
There was a 15-year period without a Sports Equinox, between 1985 and 2001. And after 2001, seven more years passed without it happening. Six have occurred since 2008.
The advent of Thursday Night Football, expansion of the MLB playoff format and increasing parity in the NHL – producing more seven-game playoff series – make the possibility of a Sports Equinox more and more likely.