Go back in time to March 27. The pandemic in which we now find ourselves firmly ensconced was just getting started, at least it was in North America. . . . Now think about April 27 . . . and May 27 . . . and June 27. . . . Today is July 27. . . . Now look around and ask yourself this: What has changed since March 27? . . .
NHL teams, each with as many as 52 people on hand, moved into their ‘bubbles’ on Sunday. Dr. Willem Meeuwisse, the NHL’s chief medical officer, said on Friday: “We don’t expect (the bubble) to be perfect. We expect with the number of people that we’re going to have some positive tests, and we have a method and a process designed in advance to deal with that.” . . .
So the NHL has gone into this part of its bizarre season with eyes wide open, knowing full well that there are going to be positive tests. . . .
Now put yourselves in the shoes of someone who operates a junior hockey team. Do you plan on bringing players, all of them teenagers, most of them away from home, in to training camp in less than two months knowing that there will be positive tests? Do you have a “method and process” in place to handle that situation when it arises? How many positive tests will it take to shut things down?
As Shane Lyons, the athletics director at West Virginia, said last week: “The virus isn’t going away and the virus is going to dictate what we do . . .”
If you haven’t heard about what the Miami Marlins are going through, you need to check it out. Since Friday, they have had their starting right-fielder, DH/first-baseman and catcher and one of their pitchers test positive. . . . They went ahead and beat the host Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday, but then delayed their flight home, apparently because they are expecting more test results back today (Monday). . . . If you have access to The Athletic, you will want to read the piece written by Ken Rosenthal that is right here. . . . “I think that by any definition, this is an outbreak on their team,” Dr. John Swartzburg, a clinical professor emeritus at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, Division of Infectious Disease, told Rosenthal. “And an outbreak on a team means that the team needs to close down.”
The NCAA’s Sports Science Institute released a report last week that concluded with this:
“At the time of this writing, the rate of spread of COVID-19 has been increasing in many regions of the country. Because of this increase, it is possible that sports, especially high contact risk sports, may not be practiced safely in some areas. In conjunction with public health officials, schools should consider pausing or discontinuing athletics activities when local circumstances warrant such consideration.”
Yes, we all are aware that the numbers in the United States, whose citizens have been left to drown by their federal government, have been haywire for weeks now and don’t seem to be improving.
One of the results is that most Canadians want the border with the U.S. to remain closed at least through the end of 2020.
At the same time, Canada’s numbers, while nowhere near those of our southern neighbours, have been trending the wrong way, too, including in the four western provinces that are home to a whole lot of junior hockey teams.
Here’s Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, with a note that will resonate with old-time NFL fans: “The Pentagon team tasked with studying UFOs — the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force — plans to publicly release information on its findings. So maybe we’ll finally get our answer: Did Otis Sistrunk really graduate from the University of Mars?”
Not that old? Google is your friend, and make sure you find a photo of Sistrunk with the Oakland Raiders.
Perry, again: “The NFL says it won’t conduct its own investigation into sexual-harassment allegations by Washington front-office types but will instead use the findings of an ‘independent’ probe paid for by team owner Daniel Snyder. ‘Now why didn’t we think of that?’ groaned the Houston Astros.
On the subject of “independent” reviews/inquiries, the CHL announced a few days ago that it has put together “an independent panel that will review the league’s policies and practices in relation to various forms of player abuse.” . . . With all due respect to the three people on the panel, including old friend Sheldon Kennedy, is it really independent when it was put together by the CHL, whose practices over the years are what is being reviewed?
Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “The president has indicated he won’t watch any sport in which the athletes protest during the anthem. So he won’t be watching baseball, football, basketball or soccer. That will leave him more time to do what we elected him to do — play golf.”
Once upon a time, actor Tom Hanks hawked stuff in the stands for the Oakland A’s. As he once told Jimmy Kimmel: “I went down to sell peanuts and soda, and thinking it would be like in a TV show where you saw the young kid trying to make a thing. Well, first of all, I got robbed twice. Note to self: Hide those wads of cash. Don’t be walking with a wad of cash in your pocket. Then, I came across professional vendors, who did not like the fact kids were there.” . . . Now the A’s are going to use his voice over the public address system to sell hot dogs, peanuts, programs, etc., never mind that there won’t be any fans in the pews.
Here’s Ostler, again:
“Sad baseball stat: Number of hot dogs sold at the Oakland Coliseum this season by ace vendor Tom Hanks: Zero.
“Maybe that’s because fans know Tom had the ’Rona.”
Having watched a bit of MLB since play began on Thursday . . . The fake crowd noise and the cardboard cutouts in the stands are laughable. . . . Starting the 10th inning with a runner on second base is horrible. Why not just have a home run-hitting contest? . . . The Seattle Mariners won’t be in the playoffs.
I don’t know if you saw Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S.’s top doc, throw out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals’ opener on Thursday night, but it was just a little bit outside. However, as Alex Brewsaugh noted on Facebook, “Angel Hernandez had it as a strike!”
Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Mark Twain: “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
Just the other day, Ed Orgeron, LSU’s head football coach, claimed that America needs football because “football is the lifeblood of our country.” To which Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union-Tribune responded: “No, Ed, you need football. It is the lifeblood of Ed Orgeron.”
Rutgers became the second U.S. college to put its entire football program into quarantine on Saturday after it announced that six players had tested positive. . . . Michigan State did the same thing late last week after one player and one staff member tested positive.
On July 1, Milo Eifler, a linebacker with Illinois, tweeted: “I understand that people want to see us play this season but in reality how can a team full of 100+ student athletes fully function during a pandemic. Trust, my teammates and I want to play. But schools around the country are showing blatant disregard for student athletes.” . . . The school responded by postponing his media availability.
Later, when he was allowed to speak, he offered this: “Yeah, we want to come back and want to play, but we just want to make sure our health and our safety is the priority. . . . It’s hard when you’re taking this process day by day. We got through today, but are we going to get through tomorrow? Sure, I want to go back to workouts, but am I going to be good Friday?”
On Friday, Michigan State OT Jason Reid tweeted: “Guys are testing positive across the country left and right . . . why is there still discussion on a season? Why is it taking so long to make a logical decision? Hmm let me guess REVENUE #NCAA #BIG10”
Clemson has had more than 30 players test positive, while West Virginia is at 28.
Meanwhile, the Kansas Jayhawks have announced that they will play host to the Southern Illinois Salukis on Aug. 29. The Jayhawks were to have played the New Hampshire Wildcats, whose season has been cancelled, while the Salukis were to have met Wisconsin until the Big Ten pulled the plug on out-of-conference games. . . . Also on Aug. 29, the Missouri State Bears will visit the Oklahoma Sooners, which is a week earlier than originally scheduled.
JUST NOTES: Taking Note has been told that the Portland Winterhawks will play all of their 2020-21 home games in Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum. In recent seasons, they have split time between there and the Moda Center, which also is home to the NBA’s Trail Blazers. . . . Brock Beck, the 20-year-old son of former New Westminster Bruins D Barry Beck, was Hamilton’s 10th homicide victim of 2020 when he was stabbed to death during what police say was a “street disturbance” on Saturday night. Jeff Mahoney of the Hamilton Spectator has more right here. Barry Beck revealed via Twitter that Brock was his son.
This was a tough weekend as we said farewell to Olivia de Havilland, 104; Regis Philbin, 88; Eddie Shack, 83; John Saxon, 83; and Peter Green, 73. We also learned that former NHL star Dale Hawerchuk, 57, is again in the fight of his life with a reoccurrence of stomach cancer. His son Eric revealed “the resurgence of this terrible disease” via Twitter on Sunday. “We are praying for him and he will continue to fight hard #HawerchukStrong,” Eric tweeted.