4 Sporting Events to Watch on the Worst Sports Days of the Year

PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- There's a question that gets asked on just about every barroom trivia circuit in America: What are the only two days of the year in the United States when no professional sporting events take place?

If you're at one of these events and the correct answer is "the days before and after Major League Baseball's All-Star Game," protest vociferously.

This is one of the last conceits baseball has left: That the sporting world supposedly stops rotating when the lineups its fans vote into the All-Star Game take the field. The All-Star Game may be a big moneymaker for MLB, but there's way too much at stake for sports to just drop what it's doing for two days at a clip.

ESPN has multiple channels with multiple hours of programming to fill. Advertisers have a lot of inventory to move and a long way to go until the holiday season. More importantly, the typical American television viewer has more to watch on a midsummer Monday and Wednesday than ever before, thanks to pay-per-view options and Internet streaming.

Finally, contrary to what baseball and its most fragile little followers would like you to believe, there's actually plenty going on in sports on the days immediately before and after baseball's All-Star Game. With Monday already in the books, let's take a look at four other sporting events you could be watching today alone:

Major League Soccer
Where to watch: MLS Live (subscription service)

C'mon, MLS. We just told you that everybody thinks there are no professional events going on the day after baseball's All-Star Game. This is where you're supposed to jump in, introduce yourself as a major sporting league and fill the void.

Maybe you make mention of the fact that a few of your franchises, on average, are outdrawing Major League Baseball teams. Maybe you mention that baseball's average and total attendance has been in decline since 2007 while yours is growing. Maybe, just to really tweak them, you mention that the Seattle Sounders are outdrawing the New York Yankees on a per-game basis.

What you shouldn't do is offer a scant two games -- New England vs. Colorado and Chivas USA vs. Toronto FC -- and air them on your streaming-only subscription service. Seriously? You couldn't twist an arm at NBC Sports ( CMCSA) or Univision? They couldn't wedge you in on ESPN3 ( DIS)?

You had a five-game slate on the Wednesday before the Fourth of July. You couldn't capitalize better this Wednesday with absolutely no baseball being played? Even the National Hockey League knows to plant its Winter Classic on New Year's Day when the National Football League is away. This lull happens every year. We understand you think you're growing at a good clip, but 6 million fans a year is microscopic compared with the other leagues.

At any rate, it's shouldn't be enough to make you so overconfident that you don't take the small openings you're provided.

NBA Summer League
Where to watch: ESPN 3

Maybe this is why MLS couldn't get any ESPN3 airtime.

No, it's not the NBA, but these Las Vegas training days offer a pretty good picture of what the NBA is going to look like a few years from now. It's when rookies such as the Boston Celtics' Kelly Olynyk, the Orlando Magic's Victor Oladipo and the Portland Trailblazers' C.J. McCollum get to show their worth and where still-developing talents gets to prove they still have value to their exceedingly impatient employers.

Besides, even though the Miami Heat just won their second-consecutive NBA championship a few weeks ago, this is an exciting time for fans of NBA teams looking to take out the Heat next year. From Dwight Howard leaving Los Angeles for Houston and much of the Boston Celtics' core packing their bags to Metta World Peace coming home to New York and the Knicks, the NBA finds a way to keep fans' attention even when its arenas are empty.

Tour de France
Where to watch: NBCSports Network

And, of course, this is the reason NBCSports had no room for MLS.

It's the network's premiere event and the one time of the year other than the NHL season that it gets a whole lot of attention from sports viewers typically tethered to another cable sports franchise. Unfortunately for NBCSports, its predecessor Versus and the Outdoor Life Network that preceded it, the Tour has been one big drug-addled mess since Denmark's Bjarne Riis admitted to doping during his 1996 run to victory.

With Lance Armstrong just stripped of his seven tour titles from 199 to 2005, Floyd Landis denied his 2006 victory for doping and an entire generation of American cyclists including Levi Leipheimer, George Hincapie and Tyler Hamilton all dishing dirt on the U.S. Postal Service cycling team, it's a bit tough for Americans not to be jaded about their role in the Tour's recent troubles. With current tour contender Alberto Contador also stripped of a title in 2010, though, cycling fans just have to take it a year at a time and watch all the lovely scenery roll by.

Those who've tuned in for the past two years, however, haven't been disappointed. Wins by Australia's Cadel Evans and the United Kingdom's Bradley Wiggins have held up, while the U.K.'s Christopher Froome and Czech cyclist Roman Kreuziger are making this year's race seem like an instant classic.

Where to watch: ESPN

We mentioned that even ESPN had air time to fill on this day. It only took them about nine years' worth of ESPYs to do it.

The sports awards show got its start in winter of 1993, but made its big move to the day after the All-Star Game back in 2002. Since then, it's been doling out awards each year to people who've already received awards for their efforts that year. There's a Best Championship Performance Award just for athletes who've already won awards for their championship.

We're not going to sit here and pretend that ESPN didn't make it interesting. The awards for comeback athletes, best plays, best games, best moments, best upsets and best sports movie are all fairly inspired. We're also not going to pretend that this isn't just a whole lot of filler being aired on a day when ESPN knows most athletes don't have a whole lot else to do.

It may not be a "sporting event," but it's the only event that most of the biggest names in U.S. sports are competing at on this particular day.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.

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