Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering what MLB will do about the Marlins . . .

Scattershooting

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 . . .”


Shoe


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.


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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?”

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Not that old? Google is your friend, and make sure you find a photo of Sistrunk with the Oakland Raiders.

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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.”

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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.

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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?”

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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”

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Clemson has had more than 30 players test positive, while West Virginia is at 28.

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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.

Dale Hawerchuk rings Bell of Hope . . . Will some junior teams not make it? . . . Doughty can’t see NHL season resuming


One of the things I’ve been wondering about over the last month is whether there will be some junior teams who won’t answer the bell when it’s time to start another season, whenever that might be.

On Monday, Tyler Yaremchuk, who among other things is the host of Inside The AJHL on TSN 1260 in Edmonton, tweeted (@tyleryaremchuk) a couple of things that he has “heard about the AJHL” . . .

“As many as three teams are considering a sabbatical. They would take a season off and then reassess.

“The league will vote on whether or not to make players pay a fee to play next season. somewhere around $2,500 per player for the 20/21 season. Other CJHL leagues considering this as well.

“Finally, don’t expect this to impact the arrival of the new Blackfalds franchise. (It) should be okay to begin play in 2021/22.”

I fully expect that before we are out of this mess we will be hearing more about junior hockey franchises pondering their future, especially if the start of the 2020-21 season is delayed in any fashion.

None of these leagues were able to get anywhere close to a conclusion with their playoffs, which means a number of teams lost out on a great deal of revenue. In other words, the gravy train never did reach the station.

As well, junior A and junior B teams have had to cancel the spring camps they hold on an annual basis, all of which are revenue generators.

After Yaremchuk’s tweets landed, Trent Wilhauk, governor and vice-president with the AJHL’s Olds Grizzlys, tweeted: “Because my phone is blowing up I will comment only that the Olds Grizzlys ARE NOT in this situation. Yes COVID19 has been financially hard on us losing possible camps but the Grizzlys are business as usual.”



I am sure that you have heard rumblings about the NHL, NBA and MLB all having discussed playing games in facilities without fans in attendance.

Here’s Chip Kelly, the head coach of college football’s UCLA Bruins on the possibility of the NCAA playing without fans:

“If it’s not safe for fans to attend the games, then I don’t know why it would be safe for players to participate in the games.”


And here’s Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginia-Pilot:

“Baseball’s Arizona plan is an example of a league thinking it can outsmart a pandemic. Science? Who needs that when you can send 30 teams to the desert for a mid-May start, sequestering players in hotels before letting them out to play in any of 11 stadiums? It also would prevent players from seeing their families and significant others. Whatever idea the NBA may come up with to restart its season, it cannot top this for stupidity.”


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Here is Jack Finarelli’s Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong.”


Drew Doughty, the Los Angeles Kings’ all-star defenceman, spent some of his Monday on a conference call with reporters. Here is part of what he had to say:

“I don’t see how this season is going to return. I really don’t. We have no idea when this virus is going to be over. We’re all kind of just sitting at home, just hoping to return to the season or hoping to watch the playoffs return. But we’re just sitting here, waiting, working out, being ready to return at any point.

“I think the NHL would have to make some kind of decision on that soon, and it seems like it’s pretty tough to resume the season or the playoffs.”

Greg Wyshynski of ESPN has more right here.


Steve Ewen of Postmedia wonders “what will our new normal be?” . . . Or will there even be a normal? . . . He has a whole lot of questions but, like all of us, he doesn’t have any answers. . . . “Could we be waiting until there’s a coronavirus vaccine before the NHL and other pro sports have fans in the stands?” he wonders. “Could we be a year from big-time hockey, football, soccer, basketball and baseball with cheering crowds?” . . . Ewen’s complete column is right here.


Carl Mallette is the new head coach of the QMJHL’s Victoriaville Tigres. He had been an assistant coach with the Tigres for three seasons. . . . He also played in Victoriaville for five seasons and has had his number (97) retired. . . . Mallette, 38, takes over from Louis Robitaille, who left earlier this month to sign on as general manager and head coach of the QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympiques, who had dismissed Eric Landry.


The family of the late Colby Cave returned to North Battleford, Sask., on Monday and folks lined up for miles along the highway as a show of love and support. The Saskatoon StarPhoenix had photographer Matt Smith on hand, and the photos are right here.


If you’ve been wondering, the Toronto Blue Jays are 6-11 and six games back in the AL East as the gang at Strat-O-Matic plays out a simulated version of the 2020 MLB season. . . . On Monday, the Blue Jays were blanked 2-0 by the visiting Minnesota Twins, who won despite being out-hit, 5-3. . . . Former Toronto 3B Josh Donaldson gave the Twins a 2-0 lead with a solo shot, his second homer of the season, in the fourth inning. . . . The Tampa Bay Rays (12-5) lead the AL East by two games over the New York Yankees (10-7). The other division leaders: Kansas City Royals (12-4), Oakland A’s (12-5), Washington Nationals (11-5), Chicago Cubs (11-5) and San Diego Padres (12-4). . . . Wondering about the Seattle Mariners? They’re 5-13 and 7.5 games off the pace in the AL West. It doesn’t look to be their year. Again.


Mona

Like good Neighbours, Jake was there. . . . Koch to Nielsen and it’s over in Langley. . . . McIndoe does it for Chiefs


ThisThat

After posting a piece here on Friday night about the price of tickets for the 2020 World Junior Championship, I received a note from a reader:

“My wife and I have been to Europe three times for the World Juniors. I get strange looks when people ask if we are going to the games in Canada and I respond with ‘It’s too expensive.’

“Every time we have gone (to Europe) . . . with the package we choose we have Christmas in a different country from where the games are, hotel accommodations with breakfast and hospitality room at the rink.

“In 2008, the tournament was in Czech Republic; we had Christmas in Vienna. In 2014, the tournament was in Malmö, Sweden, and we had Christmas in Copenhagen, Denmark. In 2016, the tournament was in Helsinki, Finland, and we were in Munich, Germany, for Christmas.

“This year, we will have Christmas in Budapest, with the tournament in Ostrava and Trinec, Czech Republic.

“There are buses to take us to the rink for the games. All you have to do is remember your bus number.”

If you were looking for a reason to go on a European Christmas vacation, well, this sounds like it might be the time!


D Calen Addison of the Lethbridge Hurricanes has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. Addison was a second-round pick by the Penguins in the NHL’s 2018 draft; in fact, he was their first selection. . . . With the Hurricanes having been eliminated from the WHL playoffs, he has joined the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for the remainder of this season. He had 11 goals and 54 assists in 67 games with Lethbridge this season.



The OHL’s Barrie Colts have signed head coach Dale Hawerchuk to a four-year contract extension. They also have brought Marty Williamson on board as the senior advisor and director of hockey operations. Williamson will remain as the head coach of the Brock U Badgers. . . . Hawerchuk, a Hockey Hall of Famer, just finished his ninth season as the Colts’ head coach. The Colts are 305-269-38 under Hawerchuk and have made the playoffs in seven of the nine seasons. . . . Williamson is a former Colts’ head coach, having filled that role for six seasons (2004-10).


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: There were three second-round games on Saturday night, and there’ll be three more today. . . .

In Edmonton, the Oil Kings were anything but good neighbours as they beat the Calgary Hitmen, 3-2 in OT, to win Game 1 of their series. They will be back at it in Edmonton today. . . .

The Spokane Chiefs, who were 1-3-0 in Everett during the regular season, scored four third-period goals and beat the host Silvertips, 6-3. They’ll play Game 2 in Everett today. . . . Keep in mind that this series has a 2-3-2 format because Cirque de Soleil is in Everett’s Angel of the Winds Arena for a five-day run, from Wednesday through April 14. . . .

In Langley, B.C., the Vancouver Giants outshot Victoria, 39-10, but had to go to OT before beating the Royals, 2-1. The teams will resume the series with games in Victoria on Tuesday and Thursday with the Giants holding a 2-0 lead. . . .

The other game today will be in Prince Albert where the Raiders hold a 1-0 lead over the Saskatoon Blades. Game time is 6 p.m. Central, and the game will be televised by Sportsnet. The Raiders won Friday’s opener, 6-1.

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SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Jake Neighbours scored the game’s last two goals to give the Edmonton Oil Kings a 3-2 EdmontonOilKingsvictory over the visiting Calgary Hitmen. . . . The Oil Kings lead the series, 1-0, with Game 2 in Edmonton today. . . . The Hitmen took a 2-0 lead on goals from F Kaden Elder (2), at 10:00 of the second period, and F Luke Coleman (4), on a PP, at 7:09 of the third. . . . D Parker Gavlas (1) pulled the Oil Kings to within a goal at 15:57, and Neighbours (1) forced OT at 19:47. . . . Neighbours then won it at 3:20 of the extra period. Neighbours, who turned 17 on March 29, was the fourth-overall selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. He had 11 goals in 47 regular-season games. He now has two goals and four assists in seven playoff games. . . . Calgary was 1-4 on the PP; Edmonton was 0-3. . . . The Oil Kings held a 34-22 edge in shots, including 3-0 in OT. . . . G Dylan Myskiw stopped 20 shots for Edmonton. He now is 7-0-0 against Calgary this season. . . . The Hitmen got 31 saves from G Jack McNaughton.


F Tristen Nielsen, who didn’t finish Game 1, scored in OT to give the Vancouver Giants a Vancouver2-1 victory over the Victoria Royals in Langley, B.C. . . . The Giants lead the series, 2-0, with the teams heading to Victoria for games on Tuesday and Thursday. . . . Last night, the Giants held a 39-10 edge in shots — 9-2, 15-3, 12-5 and 3-0, by period. On Friday, Vancouver outshot Victoria, 28-15, as it won, 3-0. . . . In Game 2, F Lukas Svejkovsky (2) put Vancouver in front at 5:51 of the second period. . . . D Ralph Jarratt (2) got Victoria even, on a PP, at 10:12 of the third period. Jarratt didn’t finish the game, leaving with about three minutes left in the third period. He had fallen awkwardly and appeared to be favouring his left arm or shoulder as he headed for the dressing room. . . . Nielsen (3) won it at 3:29 of the overtime period. He left Friday’s game in the second period with an undisclosed injury. . . . Nielsen also had an assist on Svejkovsky’s goal. . . . F Davis Koch, who leads the playoffs in assists (10) and points (12), set up the winner with a nifty pass. . . . Victoria was 1-2 on the PP; Vancouver was 1-4. . . . The Giants switched goaltenders, with David Tendeck stopping nine shots one night after Trent Miner recorded a shutout. . . . Victoria got 37 saves from G Griffen Outhouse. . . . Victoria lost D Jake Kustra to a cross-checking major and game misconduct for a hit on Vancouver F Jared Dmytriw at 2:54 of the second period. . . . Kustra is a repeat offender, having served a one-game suspension after taking a charging major and game misconduct in a Feb. 18 game against the Rockets in Kelowna. . . . Should Kustra be suspended for this latest transgression, he would become the third Victoria skater to be disciplined in these playoffs. . . . F Tanner Sidaway was scratched by Victoria for a second straight game. He was suspended for the final game of the Royals’ six-game victory over Kamloops for a Game 5 hit on Blazers F Connor Zary. . . . Victoria F Kody McDonald served the fourth of a six-game suspension.


F Ethan McIndoe scored two goals and added an assist to lead the Spokane Chiefs to a 6-3 SpokaneChiefsvictory over the Silvertips in Everett. . . . Spokane leads the series, 1-0, with Game 2 in Everett today. . . . Last night, the Chiefs scored on their first shot on goal of each period. . . . McIndoe (3) got the game’s first goal, at 2:01 of the first period. . . . Everett F Zack Andrusiak (5) tied it, on a PP, at 12:54. . . . F Eli Zummack (2) put the Chiefs back on top at 1:41 of the second period. . . . The Silvertips pulled even at 19:34 on a goal by F Jackson Berezowski (1). . . . The Chiefs grabbed their first two-goal lead on scores by F Luke Toporowski (5) 39 seconds into the third period and F Riley Woods (5), on a PP, at 10:20. . . . Berezowski (2) got Berezowski back to within a goal at 13:08. . . . The Silvertips put it away on goals from McIndoe (4), at 16:26, and F Luc Smith (3), into an empty net, at 18:06. . . . The Chiefs got two assists from F Jack Finley. The sixth-overall pick in the 2017 bantam draft, he now has a goal and six assists in six playoff games. In the regular season, he put up nine goals and 10 assists in 63 games. . . . Spokane was 1-1 on the PP, taking only eight seconds to score; Everett was 1-3. . . . The Chiefs now are 7-12 on the PP in these playoffs. . . . G Bailey Brkin earned the victory with 29 saves. . . . The Silvertips got 17 saves from G Dustin Wolf. . . . Everett F Dawson Butt didn’t finish the game, leaving early with an undisclosed injury. . . . In 34 home games in the regular season, the Silvertips never allowed six goals in one game. They gave up five on Nov. 17 in beating the Vancouver Giants, 6-5. . . . Spokane scored four third-period goals last night; during the regular season, the Silvertips gave up four or more goals in a home on only five occasions.


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