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One day, four sports: The sports equinox is upon us

Jay Busbee
Everything aligns for the sports equinox. (Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)
Everything aligns for the sports equinox. (Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

[This is an excerpt from Yahoo Sports’ free morning newsletter. Tap here to get the best sports news in your inbox every morning.]

Morning, friends! We’re deep into the NBA and NHL playoffs, the baseball season has rounded second base, and we’re just hours from the start of the NFL season. In other words: it’s time for the fabled sports equinox.

An event so rare it’s happened only 19 times before 2020, the sports equinox occurs when all four major sports — NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL — play on the same day. Generally, it only occurs in late October or early November, when baseball’s playoffs run long enough to overlap with the opening days of the NBA season, and both line up with a Sunday, Monday or Thursday NFL game. 

It’s a Vegas buffet of sports content, games on half a dozen channels at once. Sports equinoxes (equinoxii? whatever) used to happen much more frequently, occurring almost every year of the ‘70s, back when the NBA tipped off in early October. We then went nearly 30 years with only two equinoxes (1985 and 2001), but with baseball’s expanded postseason, we’ve seen several over the past few years.

This year, of course, things have been a bit … different. There’s not much good that came out of America’s spring lockdown, but the mega-stuffed sports calendar we’re living in right now does fit that bill. 

Matter of fact, over the next few weeks we could see up to seven sports equinoxes — tomorrow, Sunday and Monday, plus Sept. 17th, 20th, 24th and 27th, according to Sportico. It depends on how long various NBA and NHL playoff series run, but baseball’s going to be in its stretch run, and now football’s back on its regular schedule. 

In fact, the later we get into September, the more sports we can add to the equinox parlay. Sunday will feature the men’s finals of the U.S. Open (tennis version), while Sept. 20th will boast the final day of the U.S. Open (golf version). September 27th will have the NASCAR playoff race at Las Vegas, and all those September dates will include the WNBA playoffs.  

As rare as a sports equinox is, even rarer is the single-city equinox. Phoenix played in all four on Nov. 4, 2001: the Cardinals lost to the Eagles, the Coyotes lost to the Hurricanes, and the Suns lost to the Rockets. But the Diamondbacks won Game 7 over the Yankees, making it all worthwhile. 

Even rarer than that? All four sports taking place at home. That’s only happened once: in 2018, when four Los Angeles teams all played in the same city. The result: a mixed bag. The Kings beat the Rangers, the Clippers beat the Wizards, and the Rams beat the Packers. Alas, the Dodgers lost Game 5 and the World Series to the Boston Red Sox that night. 

This year, there aren’t any candidates for an equinox flush. But some combination of Tampa (Rays, Lightning, Buccaneers), Dallas (Stars, Cowboys, Rangers), Denver (Nuggets, Rockies, Broncos), Miami (Heat, Marlins, Dolphins), Houston (Texans, Astros, Rockets) and Boston (Celtics, Patriots, Red Sox) could hit the trifecta. New York (Islanders, Yankees/Mets, Giants/Jets) could have five, and Los Angeles (Lakers/Clippers, Dodgers/Angels, Rams/Chargers) could have as many as six teams playing across three sports. 

What exactly is a sports equinox good for, other than filling up an entire evening, keeping your remote thumb busy, and maybe winning a trivia contest somewhere down the line? Well, not much. But it’s sports, it’ll be fun, and this year, we’ll take all of both that we can get.

[For the best sports news delivered right to your email inbox every weekday morning, free, subscribe to the Yahoo Sports newsletter here.]

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him with tips and story ideas at jay.busbee@yahoo.com.

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