Got the shakes this morning? Having trouble breathing? Cold sweats? Nausea? Youêre going through football withdrawal. The Super Bowl is over, and now you donêt know what to do. But donêt worry. Weêre here to help. There are plenty of sports to follow during the next couple of months, and, for most of them, you donêt even have to turn on your television. You could actually go to all of these events. Next year, the Super Bowl comes to Tampa Bay. But during the next few months, Tampa Bay and Florida take over a good chunk of the sports landscape. Check it out:
Rays pitchers and catchers report - Feb. 14
The new-look, new-name Rays report this day and start working out the next day. You could go out and watch guys play long toss and see pitchers cover first base. For those who follow really good baseball, the Yankees report and start on the same days. (Warning: the drills pretty much look the same.)
Daytona 500 - Feb. 17
This is NASCARês Super Bowl. Then it has the regular season. Little backward, donêt you think? Ah, but weêll be watching because É itês the Super Bowl of NASCAR.
NHL trade deadline - Feb. 26
This could be an interesting day over on Channelside Drive. Maybe go to the Lightning game against Boston on Feb. 23 just in case itês the last one of Brad Richards, right, or Marty St. Louis in a Tampa Bay uniform.
Rays exhibition season starts - March 1
The Rays kick off the old Grapefruit League. Ever wonder why they call it grapefruit? Why not the Orange League? Or the Strawberry League? Anyway, this is the final go-around for legendary Al Lang Stadium, which shuts down the exhibition baseball schedule March 28. Of course, you could check out the Phillies (Clearwater), Blue Jays (Dunedin) and Yankees (Tampa).
PODS Championship - March 6-9
At the luxurious and pristine eighth wonder of the world known as Innisbrook. (Well, thatês what we read in the brochure, we think.) Actually, there arenêt many more relaxing days than walking around in the sun at this truly beautiful course. No Tiger Woods, but weêve had big names such as Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson and Retief Goosen and 2007 winner Mark Calcavecchia, right. Hereês your chance to go out and yell "You Da Man!"
NCAA Tournament first and second round March 21 and 23
Six games in two days. Four on Friday and two on Sunday. We have no idea who is coming, but there is certain to be a powerhouse and maybe even a Cinderella or two in the bunch. Hey, itês March Madness in Tampa Bay. Doesnêt get much better than this. If Kentucky comes to play, maybe Ashley Judd will show up.
Rays season opener - March 31
The Rays open the season in Baltimore. So this one youêll have to watch from the easy chair in your living room. Itês a 3:05 game, so you have to come up with a, ahem, "doctorês appointment" so you can leave work early.
Grand Prix of St. Petersburg - April 6
The favorite week of the year for those who live downtown. Okay, not so much, but for the rest of us, itês pretty cool to have the greatest drivers in the world "taking over the streets of St. Pete." (We just love that line.) And who knows, maybe David Letterman will show up again. Heês no Ashley Judd, but weêll take him.
NCAA Womenês Final Four - April 6-8
The best of womenês college basketball comes to the St. Pete Times Forum. If weêre lucky Ñ and the world doesnêt tip off its axis Ñ we will see a Connecticut-Tennessee matchup in the final. By the way, as far as coaching rivalries, if you find a more bitter one than Tennesseeês Pat Summitt and UConnês Geno Auriemma, let us know.
Rays home opener - April 8
Good news: You can watch the Rays in person. Bad news: Itês the Mariners. Oh well, a chance to see Ichiro and a game where the starters donêt come out after three innings.
The Outback Pro-Am - April 14-20
Besides the best of the senior tour Ñ oops, sorry, we mean Champions Tour Ñ a few high-profile celebrities such as Kevin Costner show up. Thereês talk that Bill Murray, right, will be back at the TPC of Tampa Bay in Lutz. So, you have that going for you.