Ironically, NASCAR had a best-case scenario last night: Die-hard racing fans were watching the Daytona 500 anyway.
And -- because of the totally insane fire-on-the-track thing -- plenty of casual (or non-) fans were watching, too. Or following the instant social-media star Brad Keselowski on Twitter, where he posted a photo from his car on the fiery track. Or, this morning, entirely curious about this MASSIVE FIRE ON THE TRACK FEATURING JET FUEL AND TIDE DETERGENT that everyone is talking about this morning.
"Just when you think you've seen it all..." moments are the best in sports. Frankly, THAT is why we watch.
Is it too bad that it took an extreme novelty for the Daytona 500 to gain mainstream traction? For as much as NASCAR wants Daytona to be something everyone watches as a matter of course, not really. It's better than the alternative where folks didn't care.
*NFL Draft: The Rams are ready to deal that No. 2 pick, now that Robert Griffin III has turned into the most sought-after No. 2 pick in recent memory, coveted by enough teams that the Rams should bring in a franchise-changing haul (while giving the team trading for RG3 a shot at a player who could become one of the NFL's Top 5 talents inside of a season or two... and if that sounds like hyperbole, two words: Cam Newton, who is already one of the NFL's Top 5 talents.)
*MLB: Jason Varitek to retire today, which might distract fans from Boston's ludicrous ban on beer in the clubhouse. What a dumb idea. The team didn't choke away the 2011 season because of beer in the clubhouse, and if you can't trust a bunch of professionals not to abuse beer in their clubhouse, you have bigger problems.
*College hoops last night: Good win for Georgetown against Notre Dame. After the flame-outs of the past few seasons, the Hoyas scare the hell out of me with bracket-picking. Are they a totally new team from the chokers of recent Marches? Or are they the same-old same-old? (I'll split the difference: Better than the first-round flame-out but I probably don't have the wherewithal to take them to the Sweet 16.) Meanwhile, Kansas rolls on.
*NBA: Kings staying in Sacramento. What a win for Kings fans, who deserve it. Sorry, Sonics fans: I never thought it was fair that you'd get a new team by stealing one from another city of die-hards, and I can't believe you'd want one that way. Now, the Kings are years away -- if ever -- from being a playoff team, but it beats not having a team at all.
*Pop Culture: Normally, on Dancing With the Stars, my default is that NFL players are the prohibitive favorite to win. But in the case of the new season and Donald Driver, I just don't think he has the overall popularity of a Jerry Rice or Emmitt Smith to get him to the finals. The other big athlete name is Martina Navratilova, and I could see her going far. (Honestly, I don't pay much attention to DWTS, aside from curiosity over the athletes named to each new season and if any of them make it to the finals.)