If February is the dullest month on the sports calendar, it's not the fault of the sports. It's the fault of the calendar. For two millennia, man has measured his years mainly by the Julian calendar (named for Julius Caesar) or the Gregorian calendar (named for Pope Gregory XIII). But neither serves the specific needs of sports fans, who deserve a calendar that reflects the unique rhythms of their lives. And so we give you the Jock Calendar (named for Jock Callander, the minor league hockey legend who played parts of five seasons in the NHL).
On the Jock Calendar, January becomes Montanuary, after San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana, who has, more than any other athlete, dominated the month. Montanuary narrowly eclipsed Donjanuary, in homage to the man who won 10 tournaments on the PGA Tour and still evokes, in midwinter, reveries of green fairways and swaying palms.
February suffers from an undeserved reputation for tedium, despite the A-list film and music stars who grace (and disgrace) its many spectacles: the Super Bowl, Pebble Beach, the NBA All-Star Game, the Pro Bowl and the Daytona 500. So we've rebranded February as Celebruary. The month has two major holidays, commemorating sports' biggest stars: Boxing Day (the 25th) falls on the anniversary of Cassius Clay's defeat of Sonny Liston for the heavyweight championship of the world, while Leap Day (the 17th) marks the birth of Michael Jordan.
Celebruary is followed by Marchmadness, a monthlong religious festival that involves the ritual filling in of brackets and the ceremonial cutting down of nets.
February 21, 2005
What used to be April is now Augusta--not after Augustus Caesar (for whom the month of August is named) but after Augusta National (a more iron-fisted ruler than the Roman emperor). The major national holiday during Augusta is, of course, Opening Day. Workers are not given the day off, but they stay home anyway.
The word May is most likely derived from Maia, the Roman goddess of spring, whose name means The Great One, which is also what we call Wayne Gretzky, who won four Stanley Cups inMay. Still, we're changing the name of May to Neigh, which is what you hear in the winner's circle at the Kentucky Derby. During Neigh we celebrate Arbour Day, which honors former New York Islanders coach Al Arbour, whose dynasty was ended by The Great One.
The Romans probably named June for Juno, the principal goddess of the Roman pantheon. But we'll call the month Junho, which is how it is spelled (in Portuguese) by Pelé, the principal god of the Brazilian pantheon. He won two World Cup finals in this month. On the ninth of Junho we dress up for Valentine's Day, which honors former New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine, who wore a disguise in the dugout after being ejected from a game on June 9, 1999. Also in Junho we observe the Summer Sanders Solstice, which marks the opening of municipal swimming pools.
The lazy heart of the basketball and hockey off-seasons is July, the month that Rome's Senate named after Julius Caesar. On the Jock Calendar, as on the Julian Calendar, July will still be called July. But the Julius and Cesare it honors are former Philadelphia 76ers forward Julius Erving and longtime Minnesota North Stars goalie Cesare Maniago. Both spent this month in a hammock. (Major holiday: Bastille Day, when Lance Armstrong annually storms some part of France.)
What baseball fans call the dog days of August are now encapsulated in the contraction Dawgust, which also embraces the early days of NFL training camps, where a hot breeze feels like a dog's breath. Bereft of action, Dawgust is the new February, but without the Swimsuit Issue.
September is now called March, which is what bands do at halftime of college football games. In this month we observe Flag Day, which celebrates the pennant races that have historically enlivened the 30 days previously known as September.
Reggie Jackson may think he's Mr. October, but that distinction truly belongs to another New York Yankee, which is why this month shall now be known as Octoberra. The name comes from octo (eight) and Berra (Yogi, who won 10 World Series in October while wearing number 8).
November is replaced by Stovember. It's when baseball's Hot Stove embers are first stoked. On the 24th we observe Pass-Over, which commemorates Doug Flutie's Pass, with the game all but Over, to defeat Miami. And that brings us to....
December--or, as we now call it, Dismember, which is what we'd like to do to the people who created the Bowl Championship Series. On the 23rd the feast of the Immaculate Reception kicks off the 12 Days of Crisco, in which fried foods and bowl games are consumed for 288 consecutive hours. As the calendar year expires, a ball drops in New York City. A Mets outfielder is charged with the error. ‚ñ†
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To reflect the needs of sports fans, April should be called Augusta and October should be known as Octoberra.