Mondays With Murray: Two columns on Tom Terrific . . . Enjoy!

Tom Seaver passed away on Aug. 31. He was 75. The cause of death was complications of Lewy body dementia and COVID-19, according to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Here are two Jim Murray columns on the pitcher known as Tom Terrific.

——

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 17, 1973, SPORTS

Copyright 1973/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY

JIM MURRAY

Seaver Deserves Better

  NEW YORK — Usually when a pitcher is a veteran who has a series of 20-win seasons and has pitched his team into two World Series in four years, he is a mondaysmurray2grizzled old party who spits tobacco and you could scratch matches on his beard. He talks in four-letter words and comes from coon-hunting country and never reads anything that doesn’t have pictures in it and his favorite actor is John Wayne.

  But George Thomas Seaver looks as if he just stepped out of the pages of a Ralph Henry Barbour novel or is one of the Merriwell brothers.

  He looks as if he might go around helping old ladies across the street or rescuing babies from drowning. As if he had just two more knots to tie or fires to start rubbing sticks together to get his Eagle Scout badge. He is Mr. Cleancut; as wholesome as a Saturday Evening Post cover, or a Disney movie, the kind of guy who would put splints on broken cats, the sort of fellow who would help his mother with the dishes and bring home all A’s on his report card.

  You’d want your daughter to marry someone like Tom Seaver. You’d want your son to grow up like that. They call him “Tom Terrific.” He looks as if his name should be “Roger Trueheart” or “Peter Pluck.” He’s the kind of guy who might spend more time in museums than bar rooms. He’s concerned, was one of the few baseball uniforms to take a stand on the Vietnam war.

  His fastball makes baseball men drool and hitters slobber with rage. He could throw the proverbial strawberry through a battleship. His control is uncanny. Tommy Strikethree has as much control of his pitches as he has of himself.

  Without him, the Mets are a .380 club. He pitches nearly 300 flawless innings a year. He’s such a competitor, he would bite a lion or pull a bear out of a tree.

  You would think, if God were paying attention, Tommy Strikethree, by now, would be working on his fifth or sixth World Series win. I mean, guys who would be lifted by the fifth inning pitching against him have won that many.

  But George Thomas Seaver’s record in World Series is about what you would expect from a crooked-armed junk thrower with a hitch in his delivery and a bad habit of tipping his pitches.

  The Mets get him runs in clumps of one. They send about 28 men to bat the night he pitches.

  Take Tuesday night. In a gelid Shea Stadium amid an Arctic front moving through Queens, Seaver, sporting a 19-win year and an earned-run average you would need Palomar to read, struck out the side twice. He had the feared Reggie Jackson, a 117-runs-batted-in MVP candidate looking like a revolving door. He struck out 12, walked none and was — well — Terrific.

  His team gave him a one-inning attack. They didn’t really need bats for the other eight. Seaver was in there.

  Over on the other mound, Catfish Hunter who is not “Mr. Terrific” or Walter Wonderful and is more of a pitcher who nibbles around the outside and wears out the corners of the plate, had given up a homer, a double, assorted singles, a wild pitch, several walks and even threw in an error for good measure and wasn’t around for the seventh inning. But he got exactly what Tommy Strikethree got — a standoff. His World Series record is still 1.000. Seaver’s is still .500.

  I’m glad to see God has better things to do than see justice served in baseball games but, the point is, Tom Seaver joins some distinguished company. Walter Johnson was .500 for his six Series decisions.

  Tom Seaver is nine decisions behind Whitey Ford who won 10 World Series games but look at some of the company he’s chasing besides Ford. Shucks, Orval Overall won three and only lost one. Bill Hallahan (surely you remember Bill Hallahan? “Wild” Bill Hallahan?) won three. Ernest G. Shore was 3-1. Guys like Harry Brecheen and Lew Burdette and Mickey Lolich won three in ONE Series.

  Great pitchers like Christy Mathewson were .500 for World Series. But they did get five victories.

  Lefty Gomez never lost a World Series game. He was in some real cliff-hangers. He won one 18-4 in 1936. That’s more runs than the Mets get Tom Seaver a season.

  For Seaver, it’s like someone painting a masterpiece and having somebody use it for a doorstop or to hang in the garage at work. He’s their bad luck charm.

  It was a foregone conclusion the Mets would lose for Seaver. On a passed ball, at that. They’re not much of a ball team when you move off the mound. They have to hoard runs. Never have so many done so little for so few. The pitching staff consists of five guys with their fingers in the dike.

  But I have a feeling somewhere there’s a ghostly crew looking on and nodding safely — Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson and a lot of other guys who pitched 300 innings or 400 victories and then got in World Series only to see journeymen win the car or the plaudits.

————

SUNDAY, AUGUST 31, 1975, SPORTS

Copyright 1975/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY

JIM MURRAY

The Other Seaver

  If they were caught in a hotel fire, lots of people would try to throw their jewels or stocks or money out the burning window. Tom Seaver would want to throw his right arm.

  As ex-teammate Tug McGraw once said, “Seaver is exploring the possibility of keeping his right arm at Ft. Knox over the winter.”

  He won’t sleep on it, open car doors with it, cut meat with it, drink beer with it. He won’t hang it out the car window, let it get sunburned. He treats his arm as if it had a life of its own. He won’t pat dogs with it, play tennis with it, cut wood with it or comb his hair with it.

  He treats it the way a captain treats a ship, a gunman his gun, or a cowboy his horse. He pampers it, worries about it. He trots it out only every fifth day.

——

  Most pitchers pitch every fourth day, but Seaver’s arm lets him know it needed an extra day’s rest, and Seaver never contradicts his arm.

  No Hope diamond, no Rembrandt, no British Guiana stamp ever recorded the tender loving care of Seaver’s right arm. He does everything but keep it under glass. He takes better care of it than a bank takes care of money — and for the same reason. It is probably the most expensive parcel of fleshy real estate in the game — $250,000 a front foot.

  It is a one-purpose appendage. It throws strikes. It has no other function. That is all Seaver asks of it.

  Any manager in the big leagues can tell you it is valuable only because it comes with Seaver attached. But Seaver is not persuaded. He lets the rest of Tom Seaver shift for itself. He will even open beer cans with his left arm, slice bread, let it hang out the window, comb hair, shave whiskers, and do all the things God intended an arm to do. It is an orphan. Cinderella. Tom makes it do all the work he wouldn’t dream of asking its brother to do.

——

  Tom sat in the dugout at the ballpark the other night and watched, fascinated, as two Dodgers pitchers, Mike Marshall and Andy Messersmith, practised double plays around first and second base. “Isn’t that swell?!” he said, not unsarcastically. “They’ve got the double play down pat. Shouldn’t they be working on getting guys to hit into them?” The lesson was clear: Seaver would never ask his arm to complete a double play. Start one, perhaps, but there were other arms to take it from there: arms that couldn’t sneak a fastball part Henry Aaron.

  “You can transplant organs — kidneys, hearts, livers,” Tom said, “but you can’t transplant shoulders and elbows. Or arms. You get one to a customer.” Even in casual conversation, Seaver tends to forget his poor, sit-by-the-fire left arm.

  There have probably been purer arms in the major leagues — although I don’t make that even money, by any means. But there’s never been one more consistent. Seaver can trust his arm. And vice versa. Every year, it delivers 200 strikeouts, some 280 innings pitched, 18 to 20 complete games and the occasional pennant. The pennant borders on a miracle. Because the New York Mets are a one-armed team.

  The Arm delivers a rising fastball, a sinking curveball, a slider so deceptive it looks like both of them at once. It puts the ball where Seaver wants it to — usually where the hitter least expects it.

  With It in there, the Mets are armed and dangerous. Without It, they’re just a good Triple A club. And maybe not so good, at that.

  It is never erratic, rebellious, temperamental. It doesn’t win one game, 1-0, and lose the next, 10-2. It has allowed 652 runs in 312 games in nine years, which comes out to two runs per game. If the Mets score three, they win.

  Seaver knows every muscle, tendon, bone or capillary in it. But to the Mets, it is not full of trapeziuses, triceps, adductors or whatever else comes in ordinary arms, it is full of dollar bills.

  Some men send their gloves to the Hall of Fame when they get elected. Others send bats, shoes, mitts, masks or caps. Seaver may just cut off his arm and send it on. After all, Roy Rogers stuffed his horse. And, by that time, Tom won’t need it anymore. Tom’s other arm will have long since learned how to take care of him now that It is no longer needed to keep that funny little team from falling through the bottom of the league anymore.

Reprinted with the permission of the Los Angeles Times

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation P.O. Box 661532, Arcadia, CA 91066

——

info@jimmurrayfoundation.org|

www.jimmurrayfoundation.org

Monday’s With Murray: You Can Teach an Old Horse New Tricks

JimMurray 

  Twenty-two years ago today, the world awakened to the news of Jim Murray’s passing shortly after 11 o’clock the previous night — Aug. 16, 1998. He died of cardiac arrest at his West L.A. home after returning from Del Mar where he had covered the Pacific Classic. He wrote his final column on a horse named Free House ridden by jockey Chris McCarron.

   From the first column to the last column, Jim kept his readers entertained for 37 wonderful years at the Los Angeles Times and before that at the L.A. Examiner, Sports Illustrated, Time Magazine and more. He brought humor to an otherwise statistics heavy section of the paper. He gave us a glimpse into the people (and sometimes animals) who played the sports we loved to watch.

——

Jim aspired to be Eugene O’ Neill. Hemingway, even Tolstoi. But Harry Luce, the publishing giant of Time and Life magazines, the blockbuster journals of their time, made Jim a sportswriter.

To quote Jim. “Harry knew everything there was to know about world politics, the domestic economy, Hollywood, Foggy Bottom, Whitehall and Park Avenue. But he didn’t know any more about sports than Mother Teresa.”

Harry traveled the world over, dinner conversation would invariably switch to sports. Demanding to know why, he was told, “. . . sports, like music, is a universal language. Everyone speaks it.” With that, Harry Luce retorted, “Well, then why don’t we have a sports magazine?”

On that chance remark, Sports Illustrated was born. Jim was a Time magazine cinema correspondent in Hollywood at the time.

Jim got to be a sports writer in his journalistic dotage “which is just the right time for it,” he said.

– Linda Murray Hofmans

——

Some classic Jim Murray quotes:

The Bears aren’t very genteel; some teams tend to remove the football from you, the Bears remove you from the football — it’s much quicker.

For those who know golf, no explanation is necessary. For those who don’t, no explanation is possible.

(Seattle) Slew was a compassionate horse. He never beat anybody more than he had to. He was like a poker player who lets you keep your watch and carfare home.

A racetrack crowd comprises the greatest floating fund of misinformation this side of the pages of Pravda, the last virgin stand of optimism in our century.

Pete Rose played the game for 24 years with the little boy’s zeal and wonder until, if you closed your eyes, you could picture him with his cap on 

sideways, knickers falling down to his ankles and dragging a taped ball and busted bat behind him, looking for all the world like something that fell off Norman Rockwell’s easel.

Seeing a goal scored in hockey is like picking your mother out of a crowd shot at the Super Bowl.

——
What follows is Jim Murray’s final column, the one he wrote after covering the Pacific Classic at Del Mar. . . . ENJOY!

——

SUNDAY, AUGUST 16, 1998, SPORTS

Copyright 1998/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY

JIM MURRAY

You Can Teach an Old Horse New Tricks

   DEL MAR — Well, it was a slam dunk for Free House, a “Where is everybody?” win.

   The Bridesmaid finally caught the bouquet. The best friend got the girl in the Warner Bros. movie for a change. The sidekick saves the fort.

   Free House just won’t fold the hand. Three times last year, in the most publicized races mondaysmurray2in the sport, he chased his competition across the finish line in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont. In the money in all of them, in the photo in one of them, he was the hard-luck champion of horse racing.

   He was expected to go quietly into the sunset. A game effort but no cigar.

   He got a measure of revenge Saturday in the Pacific Classic here. He ran away from Touch Gold, who beat him in the Belmont. The horse who beat him in all three Triple Crown races, Silver Charm, didn’t make the dance or he might have gotten a different view of Free House, too.

   The Pacific Classic is not your Run for the Roses. No bands play Stephen Foster as the horses come on the track. But it’s not your basic overnight allowance, either. It’s a $1-million race, major on the schedule. It’s a very big win for Free House. He’s not What’s-His-Name anymore. He’s Who’s Who.

   You know, in most sports, the athlete gets a generation to prove himself. A Jack Nicklaus wins his first major at 22 and his last at 46. A George Foreman wins Olympic boxing gold in 1968, and 30 years later he’s still fighting. Babe Ruth hits his first home run in 1915 and his last in 1935.

   But a racehorse has to act like he’s double-parked. He gets only months to prove he has been here.

   And if his prime coincides with that of Man O’War, Citation, Secretariat or even Count Fleet, he might as well have been born a plow horse.

   What did Free House do that turned him into a star? Well, he got older.

   You know, it’s the public’s notion that the racing begins and ends with the Kentucky Derby and its Triple Crown satellites. Everything else is New Haven.

   Trainers know better. Every real horseman knows a colt’s (or a filly’s) 3-year-old season is not indicative of real prowess. I mean, a Kentucky Derby is not only too early in the career, it’s too early in the year.

   It has been won by a lot of horses who are just better than claiming horses. It has been lost by a lot of horses who were too good to have that fate. Native Dancer comes to mind. Gallant Man. Damascus. Bold Ruler.

   Of course, a horse doesn’t know whether he won the Kentucky Derby or not. But his owner does. His rider does. History does.

   But trainers as a class manage to hold back their enthusiasm. There’s even evidence a trainer resents a Triple Crown race.

   That’s where a Pacific Classic comes in. It’s a trainer’s race. A real test of his skill in bringing a horse up to a race. The real business of racing.

   A Kentucky Derby can be a crapshoot. Not a Pacific Classic. You win a Pacific Classic because you’re at the top of your game, not because eight other horses were still wet behind the ears. Many a Derby has been blown by an immature runner jumping shadows, spitting bits, lugging out, horsing around.

   Not a Pacific Classic. Here, the horses are all grown up, professional. These are the true class of the sport, older horses. Dependable, crafty. Consistent. They don’t beat themselves.

   There probably has never been a good older horse who couldn’t beat a good 3-year-old. It’s so taken for granted, they have to give the kids weight. Handicap horses used to be the glamour stars of the track anyway. They made a movie about Seabiscuit, who never ran in the Triple Crown and never got good till he got middle-aged. They wrote poems about John Henry, who never did either, even though he ran in 83 other races. They used to Equipoise “The Chocolate Soldier.” Exterminator, called “Old Bones,” ran 100 races.

   They were the heart and soul of racing.

   Free House bid fair to join them Saturday. He won so easily, jockey Chris McCarron should have brought a book. He rode him like the Wilshire bus. “You could have ridden him today!” he called out to Free House’s co-owner Trudy McCaffery.

   McCarron rode such a confident race, he remembers thinking, “If I were a cocky individual, I would have turned to the other riders and said ‘Shame on you!’ ”

   Added McCarron, “This horse is so generous with his speed, I knew if he ran the way he trained, these guys were beat.”

   He has one holdover from his misspent youth: He tends to kick out sideways and decelerate in the stretch, almost start to tap-dance. “He gets to wondering where everybody went and to want to slow down and wait for them,” McCarron explained. McCarron hustled him across the finish line four lengths ahead of second-place Gentlemen on Saturday and about 16 lengths ahead of Touch Gold.

   Ironically, McCarron rode Touch Gold to victory in the Belmont. 

   So, is he glad the order was reversed Saturday? Is yesterday’s jinx horse today’s king of the handicap division?

   “Arguably,” said McCarron, “a case could be made.”

   Anyway, it’s nice to know getting older has its flip side.

Reprinted with the permission of the Los Angeles Times

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation P.O. Box 661532, Arcadia, CA 91066

——

info@jimmurrayfoundation.org|

www.jimmurrayfoundation.org

OHL aiming for Dec. 1 start . . . 2021 Memorial Cup gets June 17 start . . . WHL update expected today

The OHL announced Wednesday that it is hoping to begin a 64-game regular schedule on ohlDec. 1. It would end on April 29, with 16 of its 20 teams moving into playoffs. . . . The OHL also revealed that the plan is for the 2021 Memorial Cup to be played from June 17-27 with either the Oshawa Generals or Soo Greyhounds the host team. . . . Here’s David Branch, the OHL commissioner, in a news release: “Players will remain at home until the season resumes and teams will work closely with them on both their academic studies and overseeing their on- and off-ice development. In addition, the league will liaise with our facilities to ensure that our venues are safe for our return to play.”

The WHL, which earlier said that it hoped to begin play on Oct. 2, is expected to announce today — governors chatted on Wednesday — that it has moved that date to early December. I am told that date could be Dec. 4 and that the WHL schedule is expected to include 68 games for each of the 22 teams. Teams will spend the first two months playing inside their own divisions. . . . Of course, among a whole lot of other things, like testing and tracing, the WHL still will have to solve the U.S.-Canada border conundrum and the fact that, at least in B.C., large gatherings aren’t likely to be allowed by health officials until at least the new year.

——

——

What follows are 2020-21 starting dates as proposed by various hockey leagues:

AHL: Dec. 4

AJHL: Sept. 18

BCHL: Dec. 1

ECHL: Dec. 4

KHL: Sept. 2

KIJHL: Oct. 2

MJHL: ??

NAHL: Oct. 9

NHL: Dec. 1

OHL: Dec. 1

Pacific Junior Hockey League: Sept. 29

QMJHL: Oct. 1

SJHL: Sept. 25

USHL: ??

Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League: Sept. 7 (48 games), Oct. 12 (40), Nov. 16 (40), Dec. 14 (32)

WHL: Oct. 2

(NOTE: These were compiled off the Internet and from news releases. Feel free to email greggdrinnan@gmail.com with additions or corrections.)


Pandemic


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

——

The ECHL was to have started its 2020-21 regular season on Oct. 16. It announced Wednesday that it now hopes to get started on Dec. 4, with teams playing a full 72-game schedule. . . .

The NBA announced Wednesday that it conducted 343 tests over the previous week with no positives. In the two weeks before that it conducted 344 and 346 tests without any positive tests. . . . The NBA has its teams in a bubble in Orlando, Fla., as it works toward finishing its season. . . .

The U of Connecticut has cancelled its 2020 football season, citing the coronavirus pandemic. UConn, which left the American Athletic Conference after last season (when it finished 2-10), was to play this season as an independent. . . . It is the first FBS school to cancel its season. . . . The Huskies’ roster includes two Canadian quarterbacks — Jack Zergiotis of Montreal and Jonathan Senecal of Quebec City. . . . Here’s David Benedict, the school’s athletic director, in a news release: ”After receiving guidance from state and public health officials and consulting with football student-athletes, we’ve decided that we will not compete on the gridiron this season. The safety challenges created by COVID-19 place our football student-athletes at an unacceptable level of risk.” . . .

——

——

The U of Louisville has suspended all activities involving its men’s and women’s soccer, field hockey and volleyball teams after 29 players on the four teams tested positive. A number of other teammates and student-athletes from other sports are in quarantine after contact tracing. The primary source of the outbreak apparently was an off-campus party. . . .

——

——


Fiji


Enio Sacilotto has taken over as the head coach of the Vancouver Northwest Hawks U15 AAA team. . . . Sacilotto, 62, spent the past three seasons at the West Van Academy. . . . He has extensive coaching experience in Europe, including with the Croatian national team program. . . .  He also spent six seasons as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Chilliwack Bruins/Victoria Royals.


The Regina Pats announced on June 29 that Phil Andrews, their director of media and communications, was leaving the club effective July 31. On Wednesday, Andrews, who also has been the club’s play-by-play voice, tweeted that he will be hanging around for a while longer. . . . It seems that he will be with the Pats until the whole pandemic thing gets sorted out and there is more definition surrounding the start of a new season.


Old

Zach facing one more speed bump . . . Mom: What we really need is a matching kidney

Zach16

So . . . you’ve got kidney disease . . . you go on dialysis . . . you get a new kidney.

Easy peasy! Right?

Oh, if only it was that easy. If only the process wasn’t so damn heart-breaking in some instances.

Zach Tremblay, a 17-year-old from Robson, B.C., needs a kidney. He has been on dialysis, peritoneal or hemo, since 2014. He had a live donor transplant in 2017 but there were complications and it didn’t work out.

He was doing peritoneal dialysis (PD) at home, but it began to lose its effectiveness as 2019 wound down, and he and his mother, Jana, ended up at B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver where he was transitioned to hemodialysis.

That transition included the removal of a catheter that was used for PD and the insertion of a fistula to make hemo a bit easier by allowing an increase in blood flow.

So much for that.

On Thursday, Jana posted on Facebook:

“I guess to be blunt is best. The fistula surgery failed. We found out on Monday that the fistula has clotted off and did not grow. Fistula surgeries have a 25% failure rate, and he fell into that 25%. We are heartbroken and sad and angry and all the things. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t change that the surgery was a failure. It is unusable as an access for dialysis.

“We aren’t sure when, but another fistula surgery will be scheduled. Please keep sharing his story when you see it.

“A fistula is great, but what we really need is a matching kidney.”

——

If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Shortly after Jana’s post hit Facebook, Joan Alexander replied with an emotional plea of her own:

“This is hard to read and even harder to live! Zach’s mom . . . has shared the most recent update on his journey with kidney disease. Zach is the reason I became a living kidney donor.

“I wonder sometimes if people get tired of reading my posts about organ donation. Well, I will not stop until Zach receives his gift! Please take a moment and read more about his journey on Jana’s page or on the public page: Zach Needs a Kidney . . . Like Yesterday!

“Getting tested to become a donor is so easy.”

——

Meanwhile, there was more news from Vancouver where Ferris Backmeyer continues her battle.

Her mother, Lindsey, reported via Facebook that Ferris celebrated something of a birthday . . .

“Well happy half birthday little miss! 3.5 years old . . . oh my!” Lindsey wrote. “Celebrated with a night-time discharge from the hospital and (Thursday) is a day completely free of appointments and dialysis!! She had HD (Wednesday) followed by 3 flushes of her PD cath and a sample was taken late (Wednesday) afternoon. The results came back at 8pm and cell counts continue to improve. Original samples haven’t grown anything so we’ve stopped the IV and oral antifungals. Which meant we could pull the IV and sleep in ‘our own’ beds!!

“Ferris is so happy to have her ‘colouring hand’ back! I’m hoping she will start to feel better as it’s become quite obvious with the IV med anyways that it really makes her feel like crap. Blood pressure has been pretty high lately and I’m fairly certain she’s lost some real weight and is ‘wet’ at 11.3kg. Feeling such a strong need to get back on PD so we can get more calories into her. The fluid restriction on HD makes it so ridiculously tough to grow her. She’s also pretty anemic so hoping once that improves we will see better energy. She seems to be recovering well from surgery and hasn’t had any Tylenol for over 24hrs.

“Plan is to be admitted Tuesday to start using the PD cath. It’ll be a hybrid of HD and PD for a little bit until we can hopefully switch over fully, pull the HD line and come home. Middle of August maybe? That’s the most current plan anyway.”

——

If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca


Mike




kidney2

‘Just why are we doing this?’ . . . ‘If we don’t deal with it, it will deal with us.’



The MLS is Back tournament in Orlando, Fla., continues to stagger along, having lost two teams because of players testing positive, and having to postpone a Sunday morning game for the same reason.

Major League Baseball teams are trying to hold something resembling training camps between positive tests and teams having to cancel workouts for reasons that include delays in receiving results.

The NBA has its teams in bubbles in Orlando, practising and preparing to restart their season. There have been positive tests — CBS Sports has reported “dozens” of them — since late June when players returned to practice facilities.

The NHL has teams opening training camps today (Monday) and later will head for the two bubble cities — Edmonton and Toronto — in hopes of resuming their season. In its last weekly report, the NHL said 35 players have tested positive in the past month, with 23 of those coming since workouts began at team facilities on June 8.

The NHL has placed a gag order on its teams, with the league office taking over the reporting of player absences. The NHL won’t provide illness or injury specifics.

On Sunday, Arpon Basu of The Athletic reported that at least three players with the Montreal Canadiens have tested positive “in recent days.” Neither the NHL nor the Canadiens would comment.

As of Sunday evening, seven players had opted out of returning to play — D Karl Alzner, Montreal; F Sven Baertschi, Vancouver; D Mike Green, Edmonton; D Travis Hamonic, Calgary; D Steven Kampfer, Boston; D Roman Polak, Dallas; and D Zach Trotman, Pittsburgh. I believe all of them made the decision to put their health and that of their families ahead of playing in what is truly a bogus season.

(I admit to having stole ‘bogus season’ from Ann Killion, a columnist with the San Francisco Chronicle.

(After C Buster Posey of the Giants opted not to play in this MLB season, Killion wrote: “Every single one of the roughly 2,500 or so individuals being asked to participate in a bogus, truncated baseball season have their own personal decisions to make.”)

The deadline for NHL players to opt out without penalty is today (Monday) at 5 p.m. ET.

The Canadiens have given F Max Domi an extra seven to 10 days to make a decision on reporting to camp. Domi has Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease.

Keeping the previous paragraphs in mind, I have to ask: Am I the only person wondering what is going here?

Have we as a society gotten to the point where we sit idly by, in some instances applauding and cheering, as billionaire owners march their athletes like so much chattel into what they all seem to be calling a return to play but in which there are so many unknowns?

How is it that we are in a place where a young man like Domi has to make this kind of decision?

With the U.S. government calling for a return to school next month, Canyons School District in Utah is making plans to re-open. Part of its return-to-school protocol includes this, after it touches on things like exposure letter and distance learning plan information:

“Template letter for the death of a student, teacher.”

It’s enough to make one wonder if various leagues and teams have such a thing in their return-to-play protocols.


Bee


In a brilliant piece in The New York Times, John Branch writes:

“On Wednesday, the day that the Ivy League canceled fall sports, nearly 60,000 new cases were reported in the United States, a new high.

“Some of those were college athletes. Through Wednesday, at least 426  had tested positive for the coronavirus among roughly 50 Division I programs, but the number of cases is likely much higher. About half of American universities either did not respond to requests for testing results from The New York Times, or declined to provide numbers, under the auspices of protecting the privacy of student-athletes.

“Ohio State, in suspending its off-season workout programs this week, did not reveal how many students tested positive. It only said that the shutdown impacted seven sports, including football.

“Such news accelerates as the fall sports calendar approaches. And if reasonable people at some of the world’s great universities had not seriously pondered this question before, they are now:

“Just why are we doing this?”

Branch’s piece is right here.


Look, I’m sorry, but COVID-19 is here and it isn’t going anywhere, at least not for the foreseeable future. I want to see live sporting events on my TV set with fans hooting and hollering in the background. I want to see a  return to some kind of normalcy just as badly as anyone, but I have come to realize that in the months ahead we are going to have to get used to a new normal, whatever that might be.

As Dr. Jeff Duchin, the health officer for Public Health in Seattle and King County, told a news conference on Friday:

“It’s just critical that, as a community, we understand the long-term nature of COVID-19. None of us asked for this, none of us wanted this. But it’s with us and we have to deal with it. And if we don’t deal with it, it will deal with us.”


Kevan Smith, a catcher in camp with the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla., spent the early part of summer working out at home in Pittsburgh.

It seems that he has found Florida to be a bit different.

“Felt like you couldn’t even walk outside without a mask on (at home),” Smith told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. “I feel like here you go out with a mask, we have guys getting called names and all the above. Just a totally different feel.

“I heard a story, one of the (guys), I don’t know if I can use this word, he was in a store shopping for food and I guess it was a resident called the player a pansy for wearing his mask.

“I went out briefly to just pick up some takeout food, and I swear I got like a dozen eyeballs on me, looking at me like I’m like the weirdo walking in with a mask. Little do they know what is at stake for my life and for my livelihood. It’s just very immature and just whatever you want to call it. It’s comical. It’s going on all over the world, but we’re seeing it firsthand here.”


Early last week, 2B Scott Kingery of the Philadelphia Phillies, who is back on the field after being out with COVID-19, told Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia: The virus “can creep up on you and get you pretty bad like it did with me.

Kingery now is symptom-free, but he continues to deal with shortness of breath, a month after being diagnosed. . . .

On Saturday, the New York Yankees revealed that Aroldis Chapman, one of MLB’s best relievers, had tested positive. He has some symptoms and is out indefinitely. . . .

Kenley Jansen, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ closer, was late reporting to their camp because he had tested positive. He said he is “doing great and better now.” He told reporters that he had family members who also tested positive, but they have recovered. . . .

C Cam Gallagher of the Kansas City Royals played in an intrasquad game on Friday and tested positive on Saturday. The Royals now have had at least four players test positive. . . .

P Luis Perdomo and SS Luis Urias of the Milwaukee Brewers have tested positive, but are asymptomatic. The Brewers also are without P Eric Lauer, who didn’t get to camp until Friday. He hasn’t tested positive, but was in contact with someone who did.


TV


Jockey Flavien Prat tested positive after riding in Kentucky on Saturday. He was tested in La Jolla, Calif., on Sunday. He had eight rides at Del Mar on Sunday, but had to give them up. . . . Victor Espinoza, a jockey who is in horse racing’s hall of fame, tested positive in La Jolla on Friday. . . . Two other prominent jockeys — Martin Garcia and Luis Saez — also have tested positive.



From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times . . .

What a difference four months makes:

March 9: Jazz center Rudy Gobert mockingly touches every microphone at a news conference, contracts COVID-19 and shuts down the NBA season.

July 9: 76ers center Joel Embiid, headed to the Disney World bubble for the season restart, shows up in a hazmat suit.


In my world, Tony Kubek is perhaps the most under-rated analyst in MLB broadcast history. How I used to look forward to Saturday afternoons with Kubek and Curt Gowdy . . .


Headline at fark.com: MLB releases 60-day COVID-19 spreading schedule.


Hartley Miller attacks Redundant Rhetoric in his latest Hartley’s Hart Attack blog entry that is right here. Oh my, there are a lot of pet peeves in here, starting with this point about game times: “How about this traditional one-liner — And tonight’s game will start at 7 ‘PM.’ Thanks for the notice; I would have waited until seven the next morning to watch ‘tonight’s’ game.”


An NFL prediction from Tim Hunter of KRKO Radio: “Patrick Mahomes has signed a contract with the Kansas City Chiefs that will definitely last longer than the team’s name.”

On that subject, the Washington NFL team reportedly will announce today that it is changing its nickname. But it won’t yet announce that nickname as it proceeds through the legalities of a change.



Greg Cote, in the Miami Herald: “Cubs pitcher Jose Quintana lacerated a thumb while washing dishes. Jose, you make big-league money. Look into this really neat invention. It’s called a dishwasher!”


Chimes

Hey, travellers, enough with the lack of respect . . .

Let me tell you why I am feeling frustrated, dejected, ashamed, embarrassed, pissed off and a whole lot more.

I had been sailing, sailing, sailing through this COVID-19 mess — at least, I thought I was doing pretty well. Until now. Good Friday, 6:30 p.m.

Dorothy and I went for a walk in mid-afternoon. We live in Campbell Creek, just east of Kamloops, and walk along a road on the south side of the South Thompson River.

I always walk further than she does, and halfway through I will take a break, sit for a few minutes on a retaining wall and watch the traffic on the Trans-Canada Highway. Hey, every boy loves to watch the big rigs. Right?

On this day, considering all of the politicians and health officials who had been pleading with people to stay home, recommending that they not travel, asking them to avoid family gatherings, I was rather surprised to see how much small vehicle traffic there was going in both directions.

I mean, smaller communities throughout the province were begging non-residents to stay away, petrified that someone from outside would bring the virus into areas that don’t have the medical necessities with which to deal with it.

So, sheesh, I wondered, where is everyone going?

When we returned home, social media, as it had been on Thursday evening, was full of stories of people travelling throughout B.C.

Then, after dinner, I came across a tweet, featuring a few seconds of video, from Tina Lovgreen of CBC Vancouver.

The gent being interviewed — yeah, the one with the smug look on his face — was headed somewhere in the Gulf Islands. Apparently, he also is tone deaf; why else would he agree to be interviewed on camera on this subject?

Anyway . . . asked what might happen if he got ill while there, he looked at the young girl beside him, presumably his daughter, and said: “Not too worried. We’ll bring in a helicopter to bring us out. Right?”

Well, sir, you got to me. Oh, did you ever!

I’m sorry, but I am sick and tired of people like you and the lack of respect that you and others like you are showing to people like my wife.

Dorothy-040719
Dorothy Drinnan: Hugger extraordinaire!

Dorothy is one of thousands of people who live in B.C., and have compromised immune systems. As I have written before, if you passed her on a sidewalk or in a small cafe, you would never know that she is in that situation.

You would never know that she had a kidney transplant more than six years ago, and that she takes anti-rejection drugs twice a day. You would never know that she spent almost four years doing peritoneal dialysis, hooking up to a machine called a cycler every night — EVERY SINGLE DAMN NIGHT — just to stay alive.

And there are all kinds of people with various health problems in the same predicament. In the case of transplant patients, they take drugs in order to keep their bodies from rejecting their new organs, which really are foreign to their systems. In the process of doing that, these drugs suppress the immune systems. These people will take these drugs for the rest of their lives.

That is why the virus that has us in this predicament is so dangerous to them. There isn’t a vaccine for it; there isn’t even a treatment. You can’t imagine anything worse if you don’t have much of an immune system.

While you thumb your nose at all these people with your weekend jaunt, let me tell you a bit about Dorothy.

She is everything I’m not.

OK. Let me tell you a bit about me first. I’m cynical, skeptical, pessimistic, grouchy, miserable and all of that, which is what comes with having worked in the newspaper business for more than 40 years.

Dorothy is a positive person. She loves nothing more than to hug people, something she hasn’t been able to do for a few weeks now, and you have no idea how hard that is on her.

We have been in self-isolation for four weeks now. She hasn’t been in a grocery store in all that time. We order online; if we need something between orders, I go in the store. We have ordered takeout food a couple of times; I’ve gone into the restaurant to get the food.

It was her birthday on Thursday. We went to a favourite restaurant to get some takeout — ate it in their parking lot. She couldn’t even go in to say hi to some of her favourite people.

Shortly after Dorothy found out that she had kidney disease — she was found to have only one kidney and it already had started the downhill slide — she volunteered in the dialysis ward of a Regina hospital. She wanted to help others, while getting a look at what she might be faced with somewhere down the road.

After her transplant, she co-founded the Kamloops Kidney Support Group, and she is one of the organizers of Kidney Walk Kamloops. In each of the six years she has taken part, she has been the Walk’s leading individual fund-raiser. She helps put together an annual Christmas dinner for the kidney community.

She also volunteers at Overlander Residential Care, an assisted living facility in Kamloops. Whenever she gets a text or a phone call asking her if she could come by and play the piano — she plays by ear — her face lights up like a full moon. She often joins in taking residents shopping or to medical appointments. It has pained her not to be able to go there for the past few weeks.

Sir, while you and others of your ilk are ignoring all the pleas and the recommendations, Dorothy has been stuck here with me. No, she can’t travel to Burnaby to see our son, his pregnant wife and Kara, our only grandchild.

Oh, we could arrange to meet somewhere in a parking lot in Abbotsford or Chilliwack and try to keep our distance for an hour or two. But how do you keep a granddaughter, who is soon to turn four, from running to her grandmother for a hug?

Of course, you can’t. So because of a weakened immune system, we will continue to stay home, not travel, and try to do our best to help, you know, flatten the curve while we await the arrival of a miracle or a vaccine, whichever comes first.

In the meantime, don’t concern yourself with any of the people in the medical community who are fighting this from the front lines, or the good folks who continue to keep the shelves stocked in the grocery stores.

Don’t bother yourself with any of this talk about a curve or dead people or intensive care or hospitalizations. Hey, you know that it’ll never happen to you and yours, so you just go right ahead and enjoy your weekend.

I just hope the helicopter isn’t busy if you need it.

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if we need more bananas . . .

Scattershooting

Let me tell you a little about where we’re at in our household right now, and I have a feeling there are others in the same boat.

If you’re not aware, Dorothy and I are both considered at risk these days; she has a compromised immune system from a kidney transplant; I have heart disease.

So we are trying hard to limit exposure to other people, which is why we ordered groceries online for the first time a few days ago. She had the list; I was at the keyboard. Bananas were on her list.

I found them on the store menu. Hmm, how many did we want? The first option was 1. Well, I thought, when you’re in the store you see some singles, some pairs, three together, even four in a bunch. Yeah, four bananas will do for a while, I thought. So I clicked on 4.

When we got home after picking up the groceries a few days later, we discovered that 4 meant 4 bunches with about 10 bananas in each bunch.

So . . . Dorothy quickly drove over to a friend’s home and left half of the bananas outside her door. (Yes, she phoned first.)

I got up the next morning and looked out a window that overlooks our driveway. Hmm, I didn’t park our Tucson that way. I had backed in; now it was parked looking at me. What happened? I had a brief thought that someone had stolen it and brought it back. Hey, c’mon, these are bizarre times.

Finally, it struck me that Dorothy had driven it after I did. And heaven forbid that she would park the same way that I did. Right?

A couple of days later I was lolling in my recliner late in the afternoon when Dorothy asked: “Are you going to shower today after you didn’t yesterday?”

Upon further reflection, I couldn’t remember whether I had showered the previous day. Eventually, I gave up trying to remember. But I can say that I absolutely cannot remember the last time I went one day without showering.

And then when I awoke Saturday morning, I thought it was Friday. But not knowing what day it is . . . well, that is happening with more and more regularity.

Hey, welcome to our new normal and I don’t mean Normal, Ill.


Clown


Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “The Tokyo Olympics have been rescheduled for 2021 but will still be known as the 2020 Games, organizers say. ‘We couldn’t agree more,’ said 12 of the Big Ten’s 14 athletic directors.”

——

Perry, again: “Triple-double … Double-double … Solo-double? Former standout soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo announced she is pregnant with twins.”


ICYMI, Agent Orange met with sports leaders on Saturday and told them that he would like to see games being played in August and September. (Agent Orange? Saw that in a column by Ed Willes of Postmedia on Saturday.)

The conference call included folks from the NBA, NFL, MLB, MLS, WNBA, LPGA, PGA, IndyCar, Breeders’ Cup and yes, WWE and UFC. For whatever reason, there was no one included from, among others, the NCAA, NASCAR or the WHL.

It wasn’t long after word got out about the orange one wanting games in August and September that Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, said: “I’m not anticipating that happening in this state.”

And that should take care of that.

Thank you, Governor.

——

There has been talk about the NBA perhaps taking teams into Las Vegas and playing some kind of neutral-site games.

Yeah, I’m sure NBA players are going to want to leave their families to go into self-isolation in Las Vegas and be tested and tested and tested just to play a few games. What if one of them tested positive? What then? And how on earth would the NBA be able to keep players in self-isolation without even one of them going rogue?

So let’s scratch that idea.

——

BTW, the logistics of pulling off even one NFL game under the circumstances in which we now live — and in which we still could be living in August and September — are mind-boggling.

It’s a big enough production under normal circumstances. Now throw in all that goes into testing more than 50,000 people, in one way or another, and it becomes all but impossible.

And what of the support staff? To give you some idea of how many people work a pro game, there are more than 1,300 workers at a New York Mets’ home game just to deal with food service.

And it only would take one person in the facility to test positive and, well, it would be: HERE WE GO AGAIN!

So let’s scratch that idea, too.


Crayons


No one knows when this is going to end, or what it’s going to look like at the other end.

But I would be curious to know how many schedules the WHL is going to prepare.

Under normal circumstances, the WHL’s 2020-21 regular season, with each team scheduled to play 68 games, would begin on or around Sept. 25. But if teams aren’t able to open training camps in late August, a bit more than four months away, and they start pushing things back, does the WHL also prepare a schedule that would open in late October and would have teams playing, say, 54 or 56 games? And on and on it would go . . . Keep in mind that the WHL has teams in two states and four provinces, each of which operates independently in these bizarre times.



Headline at TheOnion.com: Kawhi Leonard misses second consecutive family game night, citing load management.


Bruce Jenkins, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “MLB has canceled its scheduled games in Mexico City, Puerto Rico and London, but hopes remain for the Aug. 13 game between the Yankees and White Sox in Dyersville, Iowa, where ‘Field of Dreams’ was filmed. The site adjoins a cornfield and has long been a tourist attraction; an 8,000-seat stadium was built for this and future MLB visits.”



The 12-team Western Canada Baseball League announced Sunday that it has “established a timeline that will guide our decisions this spring.” . . . For starters, the league will decide by May 2 if it will be able to get in a complete 2020 season. . . . “There are also provisions for shortened seasons that would start either on or about Father’s Day or on or about Canada Day,” a news release stated. “Similar dates exist for three or four weeks prior for these shortened seasons for logistics to be put in place.” . . . The league also announced that “governors have agreed that if by early June 2020 health and travel restrictions are still such that the league cannon confirm a start date that the season would be cancelled.” . . . The WCBL has teams in Brooks, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Melville, Moose Jaw, Okotoks, Regina, Swift Current, Weyburn and Yorkton. . . .

——

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the PGA Championship will be held at that city’s Harding Park course from Aug. 6-9. It had been scheduled to run from May 14-17 at Harding Park. . . . Of course, keep in mind that California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Saturday that he doesn’t anticipate seeing pro football in his state in August or September. . . .

Former NFL kicker Tom Dempsey died late Saturday in a New Orleans care home. His daughter, Ashley, said he had tested positive for the coronavirus a week previous. . . . He was 73. Dempsey was born without toes on his kicking foot and held the NFL record for longest field goal (63 yards) for 43 years. . . . He had been in assisted living for a number of years as he dealt with dementia. . . .

Aleksandar Prijovic, a Serbian soccer player, was given three months of home detention for violating a curfew that is in place because of COVID-19. He an 19 others were arrested in a hotel lobby bar in Belgrade on Friday. . . . Meanwhile, Kyle Walker, a defender with Manchester City, is in trouble after breaking lockdown conditions in England. He has apologized after holding a party involving two sex workers at this home.


Dinosaur


Here’s the Thought for the Day, from Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, via Will Rogers: “If stupidity got us in this mess, how come it can’t get us out?”


A few thoughts from Patti Dawn Swansson: “Most of us follow our personal doctors’ advice. I mean, if told to take two aspirin and call ol’ sawbones in the morning, I take two aspirin and make that call. Yet when the finest medical minds in our country advise us what to do (stay the frig home) during the COVID-19 crisis, they are ignored by many among the rabble. I find that to be a most curious bit of business. Even more curious: Why would it take a celebrity athlete, singer or movie star doing a PSA to convince some that the safest place to be right now is behind our own closed doors? Seriously, you’ll listen to, say, Connor McDavid instead of Dr. Theresa Tam? The mind boggles.”

For more, click right here.


Scattershooting on a Saturday night as WHL players head for home . . .

Scattershooting

SOME DOTS AND THOUGHTS AS WE WAIT THIS THING OUT . . .

A couple of hours after the above tweet was posted, the Kamloops Blazers announced that they “have released their players to return home immediately.”

“We will have all players return to Kamloops at an undetermined time,” the statement read.

It wasn’t long after that until the Prince George Cougars and Everett Silvertips said they, too, were allowing players to return to their homes.

The Cougars said they “have decided to send players home to their families until further notice as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Silvertips, according to a tweet from Josh Horton of the Everett Herald, are sending players home Sunday morning. As well, there were indications on social media that the Spokane Chiefs and Winnipeg Ice are doing the same.

However, there was nothing official from the WHL as of late Saturday night.

Look, the way things are shaping up “undetermined time” and “until further notice” may well turn out to be late August, just in time for training camp prior to the 2020-21 season.

Hey, if you are being honest and assuming you have been paying attention to the spread of the COVID-19 virus and all the numbers associated with that, you might be starting to realize that this mess isn’t anywhere near close to a conclusion. . . .

——

The WHL’s board of governors apparently is scheduled to chat on Tuesday. If that’s the case, it is time for them to cancel their season and do all they can to get players back to their families. Hey, billet families are wonderful, they really are, but this league is full of teenagers, some of them as young as 16, who should be with their real families until all of this blows over. . . . So scrub the season and start hoping that things will be better in time to open training camps in August. . . . On second thought, do it today. . . .


On Saturday, the ECHL announced that it has ended its season. “This decision allows our players the opportunity to return to their homes and removes the uncertainty that currently exists,” the ECHL said in a statement. . . . The ECHL is the first North American professional league to cancel its season. . . .


The world mixed and world senior curling championships have been cancelled. They were to have been held in Kelowna, April 18-25. . . . The Memorial Cup is scheduled for Kelowna, May 21-31. . . .

ICYMI, the world men’s curling championship also has been cancelled. It was to have been held in Glasgow, from March 28 through April 5. . . .



Janice Hough, who can be found at LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “Now March Madness is cancelled. No, let me rephrase that: The NCAA basketball tournaments are cancelled. We’re LIVING in March Madness.” . . .


Tom Brady, at the age of 42, isn’t yet ready to stop playing football. Of course, as comedian Argus Hamilton pointed out via Twitter: “He’s 35 years too young to run for president.” . . .


One supposes that you have to be ready just in case they come for the toilet paper . . .


All those people standing in line to buy toilet paper . . . are those the same people who complain about being third in line at a cash register during normal times? . . .


Are you tired of doing jigsaw puzzles yet? Is there anything worse than putting out 1,000 pieces before getting started on putting it together? . . .


Headline at TheOnion.com: Orioles suggest that MLB maybe consider cancelling entire season just to be safe. . . .



Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “The saddest part about MLB prematurely shutting down spring training? Our gritty young Mariners, at 6-12, were still mathematically alive to win the Cactus League championship.” . . .

——

One more from Perry: “One of the best ways to avoid catching the coronavirus, health officials say, is to avoid touching your own face. Lots of luck trying to break a third-base coach of that nasty habit.” . . .


Wash your hands and stay safe out there.

WHL’s governors next scheduled to discuss things on Tuesday . . . CJHL’s 10 leagues end seasons . . . Four more IIHF cancellations . . . and on it goes!

chart


The WHL’s board of governors is scheduled to talk on Tuesday, presumably to discuss 2020MCwhere things are with the suspension of play that was put in place on Thursday in reaction to the COVID-19 virus and also to take a look ahead. . . . “The plan is to pause, not cancel, not do anything other than that and see if the wave slows down a little bit for everybody,” Bruce Hamilton, the chairman of the board of governors and owner of the Kelowna Rockets, told David Trifunov of the Kelowna Daily Courier. “If we end up with a number of players with it, then it’s a bigger concern. We’ve got a couple of weeks to play with here, because we’ve got two weeks left in our season, really, and then we can make plans from there.” . . . At the same time, preparations are continuing for the Memorial Cup, which is scheduled for Kelowna, May 21-31. Hamilton told the Vancouver Province on Thursday that organizers are checking to see if Prospera Place, the home of the Rockets, might be available in June should the schedule need to be adjusted.


The Canadian Junior Hockey League, the umbrella organization under which 10 junior A leagues operate, made it official on Friday, cancelling the 2019-20 season. “All hockey-related activities, including respective league playoffs, the CJHL’s four regional championship events (Fred Page Cup, Dudley-Hewitt Cup, ANAVET Cup, Doyle Cup) and the Centennial Cup national junior A championship won’t be held. . . . The national final was to have been held in Portage la Prairie, Man.


Scott Wheeler of The Athletic put together a comprehensive look at various junior hockey leagues, what went into the decision to suspend operations, the impact all of his might have, and some ideas on what the future might hold. USHL president Tom Garrity, OJHL commissioner Marty Savoie and CJHL president Brett Ladds all were co-operative and open in their answers. . . . When it came to major junior hockey, though, Wheeler got this: “The statement the league issued this afternoon is our only position and comment at this time.” . . . That story, which is quite insightful, is right here.


John Forslund, the TV play-by-play voice of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, is self-quarantined in his home. Why? Because he ended up staying in the same Detroit hotel room as Rudy Robert of the NBA’s Utah Jazz. Gobert was the first NBA player to test positive for the coronavirus. . . . The Hurricanes moved into the Detroit Westin Book Cadillac on Sunday, one day after the Jazz left. . . . Luke Decock of the Raleigh News & Observer reported that Forslund has moved into the basement of his home and his wife Natalie “is leaving his meals at the basement door.” . . . “It’s different. It’s a long time,” Forslund told Decock. “Today it doesn’t seem like much. As the days march on here, you’re just hoping nothing happens. That’s different. Every time I sneeze or I cough, you wonder, ‘Where’s this going?’ ”


The International Ice Hockey Federation cancelled four more men’s championships on IIHFFriday — the Division II, Group A event that was to have been held in Zagreg, Croatia; the Division II, Group B event in Reykjavik, Iceland; the Division III, Group A tournament in Kockelscheuer, Luxembourg; and the Division III, Group B event in Cape Town, South Afrida. . . . The first three were to have run from April 19-25, with the one in Cape Town going from April 20-23. . . .

Still on the calendar: Division 1, Group B, Katowice, Poland, April 27 through May 3; Division 1, Group A, Ljubljana, Slovenia, April 27 through May 3; and the big one, the World championship, in Zurich and Lausanne, Switzerland, May 8-24. . . . The IIHF Council is to hold a conference call on Tuesday during which the status of these tournaments will be the main topic of conversation.


The 15-team Finish Ice Hockey League, perhaps better known as the SM-liiga), cancelled the remainder of its season on Friday and announced that it won’t name a champion. It is Finland’s top pro league. . . . The final round of the regular season was to have started today (Saturday) without fans in the arenas. . . . How quickly things change. The regular season was proceeding nicely on Tuesday, with fans in the arenas. On Thursday night, games were played without fans. On Friday, it all came to and end.


What is some of the impact of shutting down March Madness? Here’s a few notes from Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports:

Nevada sportsbooks took $498.7 million in wagers on college basketball and the NBA combined in March 2019 and won $36.5 million. An estimated 70 percent of that handle ($349 million ) was wagered on last year’s NCAA Tournament. . . .

For perspective, Nevada sportsbooks took a combined $154.7 million on last month’s Super Bowl — one of the biggest gambling events of the year — and won $18.8 million. . . .

Sportsbooks will have to refund any futures bets made since the conclusion of last year’s championship game when 2020 futures were posted. . . .

85 percent of the NCAA’s annual operating budget comes via revenue from the NCAA Tournament.

——

“The good news for you and me, though,” Blackburn points out, “is that we’ll probably have a few extra bucks in our pockets this March without the opportunity to lose bets or brackets. That just means more toilet paper we can afford to stock up on, I guess.”



The BCHL’s Merritt Centennials have signed Derek Sweet-Coulter, their general manager and head coach, through the 2020-21 season. Sweet-Coulter took over from Barry Wolff after the team opened this season by going 2-9.

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while realizing Dave Ayres is getting more than 15 minutes . . .

Scattershooting

The sporting world was still abuzz on Sunday, the day after the night when goaltender Dave Ayres, 42, came on in relief in his NHL debut and helped the Carolina Hurricanes to a 6-3 victory over the host Toronto Maple Leafs.

What I find most interesting in Ayres’ post-game world is that so many writers have made a bigger deal about his being a Zamboni driver than the fact that he underwent a kidney transplant.

Time after time, you will read something like this: “Ayres, a 42-year-old Zamboni driver . . .” And, later, you’ll see this: “Ayres, who underwent a kidney transplant . . .”

This is why the renal community continues to work hard on educating people on things like this — yes, Ayres underwent a kidney transplant in 2004, but he still has kidney disease. There isn’t a cure for kidney disease. Once you’ve got it, there’s no divorce. Dialysis is a treatment. A transplant is a treatment.

Ayres, whose transplanted kidney came from his mother, will be on anti-rejection medications for the rest of his life.

In the meantime, I look forward to someone doing a story on how Ayres dealt with kidney disease, dialysis and the early days after his transplant.

Ayres flew into New York City on Sunday evening. On Monday, the Hurricanes have Ayres lined up for media hits with the likes of NBC’s Today Show, Golic & Wingo on ESPN Radio/ESPN 2, Fox & Friends, CBS Sports Radio, Dan Patrick Show, Dan Le Batard Show and CNN World Sport.

Later Monday, Ayres will head for Raleigh, N.C., where the Hurricanes are to meet the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night. Besides being saluted by the team and its fans, Ayres will serve as the pre-game Siren Sounder.

On top of that, Mary-Ann Baldwin, the mayor of Raleigh, as proclaimed Tuesday as David Ayres Day.

Immediately after the game, the Hurricanes announced that t-shirts with their logo on the front and Ayres’ name and number (90) on the back were for sale — at US$28 a pop. At one point on Sunday, sales went over 4,000. A portion of the proceeds are to go to a kidney foundation of his choosing.

——

Once a year, I join a few friends for an evening of sports trivia. As luck would have it, our 2020 gathering took place on Friday night.

One of the questions asked was this: “Who is the oldest rookie in NHL regular-season history?” . . . The answer was D Connie (Mad Dog) Madigan, who played his first NHL game with the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 6, 1973. He was 38 years and four months old when he played in a 3-3 tie with the Montreal Canadiens.

While that was the correct answer on Friday, it wouldn’t have been just 24 hours later. The answer now is G Dave Ayres, who made his NHL debut with the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night at the age of 42 years 194 days. Ayres underwent a kidney transplant in 2004.

BTW, the record-holder before Madigan came along was F Bob Barlow, who made his NHL debut with the Minnesota North Stars at the age of 34 on Oct. 12, 1969.

——

——

If you are at all into hockey history, you will want to read this piece right here from puckstruck.com. It chronicles the NHL career of Morrie Roberts, who like Dave Ayres also served as an EBUG. However, that was in 1928.


Road


A couple of questions from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “With the spectre of opposing pitchers plunking Houston Astros hitters at a record rate over the team’s sign-stealing scandal, just have to ask: Will Houston’s promotional giveaways include Astros Replica Jersey Night, sponsored by Target? By season’s end, will Houston — not Boston — be laying claim to the title of ‘Bean Town’?”


Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “It is interesting that the same people who thought drug cheating in baseball was just the cost of doing business now seem to think that sign-stealing cheating is the crime of the century. At least we might have a possible new baseball novel come out of this whole mess: ‘Bang the Can Slowly’.”


Turkey


Greg Robinson, an offensive lineman who played last season with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, was arrested earlier in the week near the U.S.-Mexico border. Among other things, he had 157 pounds of week in his vehicle. As Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports noted: “(Police) also found 23 mason jars, a can sealing machine, an electronic scale and over $3,000 in cash. It would seem that either there was some entrepreneurship going on or Robinson was on his way to the greatest party ever.” . . . WR Quan Bray, last of the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes, was with Robinson at the time. Whoops! . . . As the afore-mentioned Perry put it about Bray: “So much for trying to shake his reputation as just a possession receiver.”


There had been reports that the QMJHL’s board of governors would vote during a Thursday meeting on whether to ban fighting. Stephane Leroux of RDS reported Thursday afternoon that the vote wouldn’t take place.

Michael Roy of Radio-Canada reported that “there was no vote, but a lot of discussion.” Roy also tweeted that “the file will be on the menu . . . at a meeting in August.”

A story carrying a Canadian Press byline included this quote from Gilles Courteau, the QMJHL’s commissioner: “My main goal is to implement new rules to improve player safety. That’s the focal point of this discussion. Whether it’s fighting, blind-side hits, head shots, we’re carefully looking at all of that.”

It also included this from Sherbrooke Phoenix general manager Ronald Thibault: “It may sound strange, but what we’re trying to do is keep our players safe. There are divergent opinions on how to protect players. That’s it.”

Of course, if they really were that concerned about player safety, you would ban fighting. So would the other two major junior leagues— the WHL and the OHL.

The complete CP story is right here.

——

On the topic of fighting in major junior hockey, here is part of a blog entry by Ken Campbell of The Hockey News:

“Junior hockey does not believe the debate is at all nuanced when it comes to paying its players a living wage. All three major junior leagues are very clear on that one. But when it comes to their ‘student athletes’ giving and receiving bareknuckle punches to the head it suddenly becomes a vexing dilemma for them?

“Like any other league, the QMJHL could have easily increased the penalties for fighting. Actually, it’s a lot easier for one of Canada’s three junior leagues to do it because none of them has to deal with a players’ association or go through the approval of a rules committee. The omnipotent rule they hold over these young men is astounding, so perhaps it’s time they used it for something good.”

Campbell’s complete piece is right here.


Marriage


Have I mentioned how much I love The Sports Curmudgeon, aka Jack Finarelli? After the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers moved on from head coach John Beilein just 54 games into his stay, the curmudgeonly one pointed out that the Cavs have a 130-318 record (.290) in recent times without LeBron James. TSC then came up with three possible explanations as to why things are so rotten in Cleveland, which, you may recall, also is home to the NFL’s Browns: “Something in the Cleveland water supply causes coaches to fail . . . An ancient civilization hexed the land there for eternity. . . . Ownership for the two franchises is well short of competency.” . . . As he put it: “You make the call . . .”


The Oakland A’s won’t have any of their games available on a Bay Area radio station this season, as they become the first team in Major League Baseball to make such a move. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, team president Dave Kaval has said, among other things, “we’re excited” and “we’re trying to be innovative” and “we’re . . . trying to attract younger fans” and “I think this is the direction of the future.” . . . If you live in the San Francisco/Oakland area, games will be available via streaming and they will be on some radio stations outside the area. . . . “It’s a big win,” Kaval said. . . . “No,” wrote Chronicle columnist Bruce Jenkins. “Try two other words: colossal failure.”



JUST NOTES: Is there a better anthem singer anywhere in the sporting world than Lauren Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers? All she does is sing, without any of the extras. . . . Chris Speier, a flash from the past for followers of the Montreal Expos, is on manager Dusty Baker’s staff with the Houston Astros. Speier has signed on as a “quality control coach.” With the mess surrounding the Astros, Speier is likely to have lots on his plate. . . . The Toronto Blue Jays opened their spring training schedule with games on Saturday, against the New York Yankees, and Sunday (Minnesota Twins). Both games were on Sportsnet, which picked up the feeds from the Yankees and Twins rather than have their own crew in place. Interesting?