Will we see baseball, football in 2020? . . . Jays fall to 0-2 as Devers homers again . . . BCHL team has new head coach

Had this pandemic not reared its ugly head, the MLB season would be heading into its third day. As it stands, though, there isn’t any baseball and now there are rumblings that perhaps the 2020 season may not get off the ground at all.

On Friday morning, Jeff Passan of ESPN tweeted that “the players and league agreed the 2020 MLB season won’t begin until:

“There are no bans on mass gatherings that limit the ability to play in front of fans;

“There are no travel restrictions;

“Medical experts determine games will not pose a risk to health of teams and fans.”

At the same time, he noted, there is a caveat to the first of those, that being that “they will consider playing games at neutral sites . . . and will consider the feasibility of playing in empty stadiums and just how proper a solution it may be for both sides and especially fans.”

If you have been paying attention, I think you will agree that New York City, for one, is a long, long way from being ready to play host to baseball games. And, on the West Coast, Los Angeles County closed its beaches on Friday.

I’m thinking it could be a year before anyone yells “Play Ball” again.



Our Thought for the Day, from Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, quotes H.L. Mencken: “The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.”


The Toronto Blue Jays are 0-2 after dropping an 8-6 decision to the visiting Boston Red Sox on Friday. . . . Boston got another home from 3B Rafael Devers, who has three in two games. . . . LF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. had two hits and three RBI for the Blue Jays. . . . This game was part of the simulated season being played out by the gang at Strat-O-Matic. . . . There’s more on all of that, including standings and boxscores, right here.


Kirk Herbstreit, one of TV’s top college football analysts, is wondering if there will be college or pro football this year. In fact, he appeared on ESPN’s Freddie and Fitzsimmons show on Thursday night and offered up this:

“I’ll be shocked if we have NFL football this fall, if we have college football. I’ll be so surprised if that happens.

“Just because from what I understand, people that I listen to, you’re 12 to 18 months from a vaccine. I don’t know how you let these guys go into locker rooms and let stadiums be filled up and how you can play ball. I just don’t know how you can do it with the optics of it.”

The NCAA football season is scheduled to begin on Aug. 29. Players would have to be in training camps in late July to make that starting date.


Hook


If you are a follower of the WHL you will be aware that the league held its inaugural U.S. Challenge Cup — a bantam AAA tournament — in Kent, Wash., in late February.

The WHL followed that up by holding a two-round draft of U.S. prospects on Wednesday.

If you’re wondering “Why now?”, consider that the NCAA changed some of its recruiting rules in April. For starters, the NCAA no longer allows “recruiting conversations” between a coach and prospect prior to Jan. 1 of a prospect’s Grade 10 year. As well, coaches have to wait until Aug. 1 prior to a prospect’s Grade 11 year to make a verbal offer.

On Thursday, Darryl Wolski of 2112 Hockey Agency tweeted a couple of times in explaining this:

“High school students may not have recruiting conversations with college coaches prior to Jan. 1 of their sophomore (Grade 10) year. Students may hear from college coaches or reach out to them on their own. Schools may make verbal offers to prospects beginning (Grade 11).”

What this means, Wolski tweeted, is that “WHL teams should have roughly 8 months to attempt to sign players to WHL/CHL education agreements before NCAA teams can speak to any of those drafted or undrafted players.”


I was heading for bed on Thursday night when — Hot Damn! — I discovered that Bob Dylan had released a new song. . . . Murder Most Foul is almost 17 minutes in length, so is that still a song?

Anyway . . . if you haven’t heard it, you are able to give it a listen right here, where you also will find a neat story touching on 20 references Dylan makes in the song.


Noose


Three prominent sports broadcasters have tested positive for COVID-19 and are at one stage or another of dealing with it. . . .

Gord Wilson, a colour analyst on Ottawa Senators broadcasts on TSN 1200, learned Friday that he has the novel coronavirus. Wilson, 59, was in California with the Senators, from March 6-12, and started feeling ill upon his return home. He now is self-isolating at home. . . . Wilson is the third of 52 people who were on the Senator’s charter flight from L.A. to Ottawa on March 12 to have tested positive. The other two were Senators players. . . .

John Kelly, the TV play-by-play voice of the St. Louis Blues, has been in self-isolation since March 13. He tested positive but now is symptom-free and feeling well. . . .

Doris Burke, an ESPN analyst on NBA telecasts, is symptom-free after having been ill for several days. She learned on Wednesday that she had tested positive. She first felt ill on March 11 while in Dallas and was sick in bed three days later. . . .



In B.C., the City of Burnaby has cancelled its Canada Day plans. As Dustin Godfrey of Burnaby Now writes: “The move comes as part of an ongoing response to the COVID-19 outbreak and reinforces the notion that social distancing measures will be in place for months rather than weeks.” . . .

The 47th annual Kamloops International Baseball Tournament (KIBT) has been cancelled for 2020. The eight-team affair had been scheduled for July 9-12. . . .


After two seasons as general manager and head coach, Tyler Kuntz has left the BCHL’s Powell River Kings. . . . Brock Sawyer, who has been on staff for the past six seasons, has been named director of hockey operations and head coach. . . . For the past two seasons, Sawyer has been associate GM and associate head coach. . . . “I have decided I need to do what is best for my family,” Kuntz said in a news release. “These past couple of years have taken a toll and, as much as I love the organization, the players and the city of Powell River, it just isn’t feasible to continue to commute to see my young family.” . . .


The junior A Nepean, Ont., Raiders are looking for a head coach. If you’re interested, the details are right here.


Scattershooting: When .500 isn’t .500 . . . Does Johnston have eyes on record? . . . BCHL team makes coaching change

Scattershooting

I’m sorry, but he’s right. When a WHL team is 23-23-3 or 20-20-9 it doesn’t have a .500 record. Because of the availability of loser points, it has a .500 point percentage, but it doesn’t have a winning record. In order for that to happen, a team has to have won at least as many games as it has lost. That isn’t the case in either of those situations.


“Is no competition safe from the scourge of doping these days?” asks Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, before adding: “A dozen contestants — because of Botox injections to their lips and faces to enhance their looks — were disqualified from a Saudi Arabian beauty contest. For camels.”


A tip of the Taking Note hat to Terry Koshan of Postmedia, for this bit from Thursday’s Top Prospects Game in Guelph, Ont.:

“Fitting that after Don Cherry trotted out his tired view on European players in the CHL his club’s first goal was scored by Russian forward Egor Sokolov, who plays for Cape Breton of the QMJHL. During a scrum with reporters in the morning, Cherry beat his personal dead horse, saying Europeans shouldn’t be in the Canadian Hockey League. If there’s a good reason for keeping Cherry’s involvement in the prospects game, what exactly is it?”


Headline in The New York Times the other day: “Russia is barred from Winter Olympics. Russia is sending 169 athletes to Winter Olympics.


After the Oakland Raiders hired Jon Gruden as their head coach, Jeff Gordon of STLtoday.com pointed out: “The franchise added a questionable haircut to the worst haircut in pro sports.”


This is one of the biggest weeks of the year for the WHL’s board of governors and other pooh-bahs. Why? Because they always spend Super Bowl weekend meeting (?) in Los Vegas. . . . Hey, it beats (pick one of 21 cities — Victoria is exempted) in winter.


Due to slumping sales, the folks who bring us Diet Coke apparently are planning changes to the product’s look and to the marketing strategy.

“Maybe,” notes Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, “the biggest problem is Trump making Americans think the beverage causes dementia.”


New eating game when watching a CHL game on Sportsnet: Eat a hot dog every time you hear these three words together — Mastercard Memorial Cup. . . . Warning: Have plenty of TUMS handy.


Pitchers and catchers report in a couple of weeks, and Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge will be together in pinstripes shortly afterwards. As Greg Cote of the Miami Herald reports,“In the Bronx, Yankees fans are partying like it’s 1927.”


When Brian Kilrea retired from coaching, he had won 1,193 regular-season games with the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s. Think about that for a moment. . . . A coach would have to win 50 games in 23 straight seasons just to get close.


From Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun: “Interesting to hear Ken Hitchcock and Mike Babcock being so complimentary to each other when the Leafs were in Dallas. When the Olympics ended four years ago in Sochi, Babcock, the head coach, and Hitchcock, the assistant, weren’t getting along. In fact, there was so much tension around Team Canada, which romped to gold, that just after the celebration on the ice, Steve Yzerman announced that he would never be a general manager again.”



MacBeth

F John Dahlström (Medicine Hat, 2016-17) has been assigned on loan by Almtuna Uppsala (Sweden, Allsvenskan) to Oskarshamn (Sweden, Allsvenskan) for the rest of the season. As part of the loan agreement, Dahlström won’t play when Oskarshamn plays Almtuna on Feb. 10. This season with Almtuna, he had three goals and four assists in 28 games. He also had one goal in two games while on loan to Wings Arlanda (Sweden, Division 1), and one goal and one assist in three games while on loan to Hudiksvall (Sweden, Division 1). Dahlström remains under contract to Almtuna through next season. . . .

F Antonín Honejsek (Moose Jaw, 2009-11) has signed a one-year contract extension with Zlín (Czech Republic, Extraliga). He has 14 goals and 11 assists in 41 games. . . .

F Milan Bartovič (Brandon, Tri-City, 1999-2001) had his loan assignment by Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga) to Vítkovice Ostrava (Czech Republic, Extraliga) extended through the end of this season. He had one goal and one assists in 19 games with Liberec. In 15 games with Vítkovice, he has four assists.


A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

Mike Johnston got his 300th regular-season WHL coaching victory on Sunday when his Portland Winterhawks beat the visiting Kamloops Blazers, 4-2.

PortlandJohnston is the 23rd coach in WHL history to get to 300.

On Saturday night, his Winterhawks lost 4-2 in Kamloops as Blazers’ head coach Don Hay put up victory No. 743 and set a WHL career record in the process. Ken Hodge, who retired after 1992-93 as the head coach in Portland, had held the previous record.

So, Mike, how about 743?

“It’s hard to imagine winning that many games,” Johnston told Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune. “I’ve known Don for a long time. And with Hodgie — what an accomplishment for both of them. You have to throw a few 50-win seasons in or you’re not going to get to those numbers.”

Eggers has more right here.

——

Westman Communications Group Place, the home of the Brandon Wheat Kings is soon to BrandonWKregularhave a new name. The 10-year deal between the Keystone Centre and the Westman Communications Group has reached its end and Westman has to walk away. . . . Among other things, Westman owns Brandon radio stations QCountry 91.5 FM and 880AM and is in its 27th season of owning broadcast rights to the Wheat Kings. . . . The Keystone Centre apparently has a new naming rights deal done and an announcement is to be made in the near future. . . . There is no word as too how much these naming rights go for, but USC just got a cool US$69 million from United Airlines for the naming rights to Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.


TheCoachingGame

The BCHL’s Powell River Kings have fired Kent Lewis, their general manager and head PRKingscoach. . . . Assistant coach Brock Sawyer was named interim head coach, with assistant coach Kyle Bodie remaining on the staff. . . . “(The board of directors) just felt this course of action was in the best interests of the Powell River Kings moving forward,” Rob Villani, the team president, said in a news release. “It was an incredibly difficult decision.” . . . Lewis had been with the Kings for about 25 years. He started as an assistant coach, moved up to head coach, and then GM/head coach. . . . The Kings are 23-15-4-5 (that’s four ties) and is second in the Island Division, two points behind the Victoria Grizzlies. The Kings are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games, including three straight losses.


Scoreboard

MONDAY:

No Games Scheduled.


TUESDAY (all times local):

Red Deer at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.

Prince George at Swift Current, 7 p.m.

Medicine Hat at Kelowna, 7:05 p.m.


TWEET OF THE DAY