Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp lifts the Stanley Cup after winning the trophy against the Boston Bruins June 22 at TD Bank Garden. Courtesy of MCT

Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp lifts the Stanley Cup after winning the trophy against the Boston Bruins June 22 at TD Bank Garden.
Courtesy of MCT

Oh my gosh, the Cincinnati Reds have a losing record. Time to panic right? Wrong.

According to my calculations, there are 2,225 games left in the MLB regular season, so trust me when I say there is no need to be alarmed.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy baseball just as much as the next person … in the summer. There is no reason to play baseball when the temperature still drops below what likely will be the Houston Astros inevitable win total for the 2014 season.

However, the Stanley Cup playoffs start Wednesday and no other sporting event should even be allowed on television until the cup has been raised.

In a prelude to the playoffs, college hockey held its Frozen Four over the weekend and if you didn’t watch, you missed out, plain and simple.

North Dakota, Union College, Minnesota, and Boston College put on a championship weekend worthy of replaying on ESPN for years to come.

Minnesota’s senior defenseman Justin Holl scoring with 0.6 seconds left to defeat North Dakota in the semifinals, while the Gophers were shorthanded, was jaw-dropping. But nothing was better than watching Union College, whose enrollment is about 2,200, take down mighty Minnesota two days later to win its first National Championship.

What the Frozen Four provided was just a small sample of what occurs every night during the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The heart, hustle and sacrifice is next to none.

Players give it their all just to hoist the cup and call it their own for a day (yes, every player on the winning team gets to have the cup with them at home or wherever they want for a day), not to mention having their names engraved on the Cup forever.

It is also important to note that unlike most professional sports leagues, the NHL does not produce a new trophy every year, there is only one.

The Stanley Cup playoffs gives hope to all teams, not just the powerhouses.

Who could forget the Los Angeles Kings improbable run in 2012? They were an 8-seed who made a dream run all the way to the finals where they took down the New Jersey Devils to win their first Stanley Cup.

Wait, Los Angeles has a hockey team? Yes.

Many hockey fans remember the tears rushing down hall of fame defenseman Ray Bourque’s face when, after 22 years, he finally won his first Stanley Cup before announcing his retirement from the Colorado Avalanche in 2001.

Or last year when Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw held up the Cup with blood coming down his cheek because he blocked a shot and got cut on his face? And by the way, he got stitched up and came back later that game. An injury like that would probably be a trip to the 60-day disabled list in baseball.

But for all the moments that bring tears to our eyes, good or bad, the best part about the NHL is the respect displayed between teams and players.

It doesn’t matter if you’re rivals, if you have true hatred for another player, or if you’re heartbroken because the season didn’t go your way — you shake the other team’s hands at the end of every series.

Because after all, the Stanley Cup isn’t yours until you shake on it.

So, since the playoffs start Wednesday, I thought I’d mention a couple of key points.

The Colorado Avalanche went from being one of the worst teams in the league in 2013, to legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. Canada’s hopes of winning its first cup since 1993 rests solely on the team who won that cup, the Montreal Canadiens (I don’t like those odds). Finally, the Columbus Blue Jackets are in the playoffs for the second time in team in history. I repeat, the Columbus Blue Jackets are in the playoffs.

There, now you have no excuse. Hop on the bandwagon all the way down to Nationwide Arena and watch as the Blue Jackets search for their first playoff series win against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

At the end of the day, many people won’t take my advice, and that’s fine. But I should let you know right now, the entire south side of Chicago has already been convinced.