It was always going to happen.
As the pandemic surges onward, adding week after week to the quarantine, social distancing, shutdown, lockdown, shelter in place, and whatever other horrific names we now have for stay home, logical thinking is becoming harder to find.
People are nervous and worried, to say the least, so it’s understandable.
Look no further than the sports world to find some of the most illogical thinking. And that’s also understandable.
Baseball, for example, should be entering its third week. The Pittsburgh Pirates would be looking for their second or third win, Gabe Kapler would have worn out his welcome in San Francisco, and the Astros would still be the biggest villains in sports. Instead, baseball is on hold, the Pirates are still undefeated, Kapler has yet to be questioned, and the Astros are hearing no boos.
Obviously everyone involved with the game wants to get back on the field sooner rather than later. Every stone is being turned over to try and come up with an idea that will work. Let me tell you, some really strange stones have been overturned.
Starting on July 4 seems to be the most logical idea. This would clearly shorten the season significantly, and still may not be feasible if the medical experts say it still won’t be safe. The other two scenarios being thrown around are questionable at best. The want to stop bleeding money and get as much of the season in has led to these illogical ideas.
The first idea floated by baseball’s leaders was to have everyone converge on Arizona and play all games within the state. They would use Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and all of the Cactus League fields. There would be no fans, and apparently players and coaches would continue to practice social distancing by sitting spread out in the stands rather than the dugout. The potential to use robot umpires was also mentioned, meaning a system with little testing being implemented. In addition, players would have to be quarantined, keeping them separated from their families for months on end.
This idea is cringeworthy.
As one unnamed player said, “The desert is where things go to die. Not interested.”
The second idea calls for a one year massive realignment based on each team’s minor league location. This means half of the games would be played in Arizona, while half would be played in Florida. In addition to the problems stated in option one, the teams and players in Florida would need a plan for travel. Getting a team from one locale to another while social distancing would require a Houdini like maneuver.
These ideas have more of an exhibition feel than anything real.
Baseball is grasping at straws, and I get it. Nobody wants to lose tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. Nobody wants to throw an entire season out the window. Everybody wants to give fans something to take their minds off Covid-19.
These ideas mess with the integrity of the game, and seem unrealistic considering the current circumstances.
Baseball isn’t alone. The NBA and NHL have been hashing and rehashing ideas to try and finish their current seasons. Some think regardless of when restrictions are lifted that the current season needs to be completed.
If restrictions are lifted by June 1, then I think both leagues could commence with their playoffs shortly thereafter. However, if restrictions aren’t lifted until September or later then the proposition of finishing this season and prepping for the new season doesn’t seem logical.
Put an asterisk in the record book for 2020, and start planning for 2021.
Finally, college and pro football, like all the others, is in flux. When will they start their seasons? Will schedule changes need to be implemented? What if the country is shut down again sometime in the fall? How much time is needed to get players ramped up to play games? Can they play games with no fans? And if it isn’t safe for fans, what makes it safe for the participants?
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is convinced God will allow them to start the season on time. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State’s lead man, insinuated that regardless of the situation things need to get started May 1. Gundy thinks because his players are young, their chances of suffering life threatening effects of the virus are slim. Moreover they need to start making money for the great state of Oklahoma. I mean, after all, who will make sure Gundy gets his $5 million?
The voice of reason came from, of all people, Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly and Mississippi’s Lane Kiffin. Yes, Lane Kiffin.
Kelly said, “Just the game itself, football, it pales in comparison to what people are going through. It forces you to look at things from a different perspective.”
The Lane Train, never one to be confused with logic, stated, “People are losing loved ones daily. So the fact that we don’t have football practice, can’t work with our players and may have some games pushed back really isn’t a big deal, in the big picture of things.”
Kiffin playing the role of adult is quite a switch.
This scenario is like an airplane circling, waiting to get permission to land. When that plane runs out of fuel you’ve got a big problem. With each passing day of shutdown that is how each of these sports feels. The difference in this analogy is that when the airplane runs out of fuel without landing it causes deaths. The sports world running out of fuel is helping prevent deaths. They just hope it won’t be the death of their sport.
It won’t be.
As a fan looking for silver linings, I hope this catastrophe brings about some reform in the sports industry. When the fallout of this pandemic comes in to view, owners, GM’s, university presidents, AD’s, and television executives will have to do a major tightening of the ol’ financial belt. Gone will be the days of watching money fly around like it was a New York City ticker tape parade. In my opinion, that will be a welcomed day.
Is Gerrit Cole really good? Yes. Is Gerrit Cole worth 36 million dollars? Be serious.
Russell Wilson is a tremendous quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks. Is he 35 million dollars worth of tremendous? I don’t think so.
My goodness, before the pandemic punched us right in the mouth television networks had a bidding war for Tony Romo. He’s an announcer, for crying out loud. Look, it took me a while to get on board with how good Romo is. I now admit he is very good. But I’ve got a news flash for you, I watch the game for um…the game. All I really ask of the announcers is to not be terrible. Yes, ESPN, I’m talking about your Boogerific Monday Night Football crew. If the announcer is excellent it certainly adds to my enjoyment, but if the announcers are at least average I still enjoy the game.
When the dust settled with the Romo battle royale, he ended up with an 18 million dollar per year contract…to announce.
Coaches will have to scrape by on 2 or 3 million, as opposed to 9 or 10 million. Assistant coaches will work just as hard but maybe not see as many zeroes on their paycheck. Free agency may not mean the windfall players were accustomed to in the past. Athletic directors and university presidents may have to accept a cut in pay.
Maybe the television networks will quit creating a bidding war for college conferences and be more reasonable in making sure everyone has a home on television. I admit that even with the current state we are in, it is hard for me to believe the television industry will ever be reasonable. But, hey, we can hope.
I remember growing up in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s when many players had other jobs in the offseason to supplement their pay. For the record, sports were just as good and arguably better back then. I’m guessing today’s world of sports would be just as good, even if there is less money circulating around it.
So, I hope the decision makers in all of the sports, pro and college, don’t go down an illogical path just to force their sport upon us. Missing a year or the culmination of a year stinks for all involved, especially the participants. But everyone will survive. University presidents may have to be creative to avoid dropping smaller sports programs. Coaches, executives, and upper management may take pay cuts. Players should expect less of a feeding frenzy at the free agency trough.
Be smart and let the medical and scientific community guide you. More often than not crazy ideas are just that, crazy. Sports need to be sensible and try not to be guided solely by lost revenue. The money will return. Things will get back to normal, and unlike some small businesses who may be gone for good, the sports industry will survive.
Believe me, I miss sports more than anyone. Having said that I’m not interested in seeing some cockamamie idea to force sports back in some altered state.
Dont we all have enough regrets about things that happened in altered states?
Two Cent Takes
~Wisconsin has decided not to extend an extra year of eligibility for spring sports athletes. AD Barry Alvarez stated the idea is for students to get a degree. Athletes who have done that have met the goal of the university. Great move. This whole thing is very unfortunate, but should be seen as a life lesson(more on that later). With money quickly becoming an issue, the extra cost for another year of a scholarship may not be prudent. Iowa projects the 25-30 athletes that qualify for an extra year would cost them approximately $500,000. This is an unfortunate circumstance, but I applaud this move.
~Another year and another giant wave of underclassmen declaring for the NBA draft. There are only 60 draft spots, many of which will be taken by foreign players. A lot of these kids have a higher opinion of themselves than they should, hate going to class, or are just flat out ready to get paid regardless of where they have to go to play.
~The above fact is making the transfer portal more and more important. Louisville coach Chris Mack said you hope you don’t have to do it every year, but with all the early entrees it is becoming a necessity. The more teams rely on the portal, the more important these players’ roles become.
~Jim Nantz has been on the call at the Masters since 1986. Yesterday, Nantz should’ve been interviewing the 2020 Masters champion in Butler Cabin. Hopefully we will get to see that interview on November 15. Nantz has quite frankly made himself in to the voice of sports. From the NCAA Final Four, to number one man for the NFL on CBS, to golf, Nantz is the man. No other event accentuates his announcing expertise more than the Masters. Here is the opening to Sunday at the Masters from 2019.
That music. Goosebumps.
Ironically, last year they moved the tee times up on Sunday for the first time due to impending weather. This year a pandemic will cause the entire tournament to be moved to November. It was sorely missed. It is easily my favorite golf event of the year.
~Doc Emrick…the best. Watch and you’ll see what I mean.
One day, we will all be together again.
And when that day comes, our gratitude for those who helped get us there will overflow.
That, truly, is Doc Emrick's dream. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/Y7r5cGxBWP
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) April 12, 2020
Quarantine Boredom Remedies
~It’s time for another old school video challenge. I’ve shown you Centipede, Frogger, Pitfall, and last week loyal reader Eric Notestine was able to correctly identify(it took him two guesses I might add) Space Invaders. From the all time greatest video game era of blips, blasts, and blocks I give you this week’s old school video game.
~Another thing I’m taking advantage of during this downtime is to do a deep clean around the house. I came across these beauties deep in the recesses of one of my kitchen cabinets.
These were McDonalds giveaways after Super Bowl XIV. There is an action image on one side and player pictures and the game score around the rest of the glass. Jack Lambert, Mel Blount, Rocky Bleier, John Stallworth, Jack Ham, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Greene, and even Matt Bahr made the cut.
Those were the days when all the fast food restaurants had neat giveaways. I remember always bugging my parents to take me to Hardee’s to get chili dogs and a Looney Tune glass. I have Coke glasses and Garfield mugs as well. Fun times!
A Penny For My Final Thought…
Schools across Pennsylvania(and many other states) were officially shut down for the remainder of the academic year. This brought about many feelings of disappointment and despair. It also brought out more of those illogical thoughts I mentioned in the main part of this column. Oh, and the Governor got called every name in the book.
This shutdown has sucked big, fat Easter eggs for a while now. This blow just added insult to injury. I, like everyone else, wanted the kids to be able to play their sports seasons, have prom, and enjoy their graduation ceremonies. However, it’s not the end of the world. Life will go on.
I didn’t even go to prom—yes, I was as hot a commodity back then as I am now—and the only thing I even remember of my graduation is that I wasn’t smart enough to graduate with honors so I was lumped in with the “others”. We were lined up by height back then, and we didn’t have an abundance of tall kids. Heck our basketball team’s center was only about 6’2”. So at 6’0” even I was near the end of the line. I could almost hear the snickers for us “slow” kids in the back.
What I do remember from high school are crazy band trips, including a trip to Disney where the most fun we had was doing “WWF Jimmy Snuka off the top rope” jumps from the hotel room dressers on to the beds. Going to away golf matches in a van driven by our coach, and drivers ed teacher, where we almost always thought we were going to die. Going to away sporting events with friends and coming out of the visiting school to find my parents’ crappy LeBaron’s horn stuck and blaring. I could go on and on with my high school memories, and very few—if any— would involve prom or graduation.
I know for some they missed out on one last chance for a team or individual state or district title, and that is definitely unfortunate. Some are missing a chance to whoop it up on a class or club trip. Heck, my own eighth grader is missing his TSA state competition. It stinks. Nobody will argue that.
Hopefully kids won’t let it get them too down. Just like the memories I have, you have them too. Seniors have three plus years of high school memories. Fun times, sad times, hook ups, break ups, wins, losses, hang outs, road trips, and even fun classes and cool teachers. It stinks that your senior year was cut short, and that you’ll miss prom and graduation. But nobody can take all those memories you’ve already made.
It would be appropriate to allow the valedictorians, salutatorians, and whatever they call the third place kid, to get a chance to write their speeches and also present them. Even if we only see them virtually over the internet, often those speeches give us all hope for a bright future. For all seniors, rather than complaining about what should’ve/could’ve been, go out and do something wonderful for your community, family, or even yourself. Make a new memory.
Some will go on to play sports in college. Others will play intramurals, join a fraternity or sorority, join a club, be in a marching band, a rock band, or just be a regular student. Others will find a job, while some will join the military. The point is, you are still graduating and your future is still all in front of you. Someday this whole coronavirus shutdown will be an interesting story to tell your kids and grandkids. You can explain to them how life isn’t always fair, or if you prefer the good old making lemonade out of lemons version go right ahead and use that.
Life is constantly teaching us lessons, and they aren’t always pleasant. Don’t waste time with regrets and despair. Go make so many memories that you won’t even be able to see this stuff when you look in the rear view mirror.
Forrest Gump said it best when he said life is like a box of chocolates. He just forgot to tell you that sometimes you get that crappy coconut one.
Just my two cents…