One of the really unfortunate thing about the past 18 months — or however long this damned pandemic has dominated our lives — is how so much of the fight against it has been politicized, seemingly right from the start, and how no two jurisdictions seem capable of working together on any part of this.
Well, other than the Maritime provinces and their travel bans, that is.
But take the parties that are planned for Regina and Winnipeg later in the week.
In Regina, the Roughriders are scheduled to play their CFL regular-season opener on Friday against the B.C. Lions. The game is to be played in front of a sold-out Mosaic Stadium, which means more than 33,000 fans. All are welcomed, including those who are unvaccinated or not yet fully vaccinated.
As Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post put it: “You can’t bring peanuts, blow horns, selfie sticks or sunflower seeds into Mosaic Stadium, but you can bring in COVID-19. Proof of vaccination is not required for entry.”
Then, on Saturday, the defending Grey Cup-champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers — they won it in 2019, the last time the CFL played a game — are to entertain the Hamilton Tigers-Cats at IG Field, likely in front of around 33,000 fans. You must be fully vaccinated if you want to attend that game.
Adam H. Beasley of profootballnetwork.com reported on Sunday that “the NFL currently has more than 50 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including nine Arizona Cardinals, the most of any team in the league.” . . . He also reported that “nearly 10 per cent of Washington Football Team’s roster” is on the list. . . . Ron Rivera, the WFT’s head coach, is a cancer survivor and, as a result, has a compromised immune system. He spoke out last week about being disappointed and frustrated with the reluctance of some players on the team to get vaccinated . . .
George Godsey, the Miami Dolphins’ co-offensive co-ordinator, also has tested positive. One of the Dolphins on the list is tight end Adam Shaheen, who is an anti-vaxxer. . . . Keep in mind that being on the COVID-19 list doesn’t mean a player tested positive. It might be a case of someone having been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive. . . .
On Saturday, the Minnesota Vikings had one QB test positive with two others identified as close contacts. As a result, starter Kirk Cousins, backup Nate Stanley and freshman Kellen Mood all missed practice, leaving Jake Browning as the only QB available for practice. Head coach Mike Zimmer said that Browning is fully vaccinated to didn’t have to isolate like the other three. . . . “I am disappointed that this happened,” Zimmer said. “I’m frustrated with, not just my football players that won’t get vaccinated, I’m frustrated with everybody . . . It’s disappointing.” . . . As for Browning, Zimmer added: “Jake’s really smart. He’s vaccinated.”
So . . . I ate in a restaurant for the first time in 16 months on Sunday evening. In the interim, I have seen lots of stories on social media relating to restaurant staff being mistreated by impatient customers. So I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when one of the young women working in this particular restaurant stopped by our table to catch her breath. She obviously just needed a shoulder for a few minutes. . . . Between dealing with those of us eating inside and lots of takeout orders, the staff was running, running, running. It seems that one customer spotted her order sitting under the warming lights, so just had to get up on her hind legs and bark, wondering if she was supposed to “come back there and get my order.” . . . In telling us what had happened, this employee was almost in tears. . . . Have people always been this miserable, or have they lost their humanity in this pandemic? Or maybe the smoke in these parts made this customer lose her marbles.
BTW, if you’re wondering about not eating in a restaurant for 16 months, let me just say that you really, really take this pandemic seriously when your significant other has a compromised immune system. Yes, we will be wearing our masks for a long, long time.
So . . . what does Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmugeon, think of the new nickname for Cleveland’s MLB franchise? Well, after noting that team officials said they had considered 1,200 possibilities before narrowing it down to one, he wrote:
“How did you wind up with a team name as lame as the Cleveland Guardians?
“Seriously, if I woke you up from a dead sleep at 2 a.m., and asked you to give me all your free association thoughts that go with ‘Cleveland,’ would you have gotten to ‘Guardians’ any time before 6 a.m.? The explanation offered is that the team is named in alignment with four large statues on a bridge in Cleveland and the statues are known collectively as the ‘Guardians of Traffic.’ It took almost two years and 1,199 other possible names to come up with that. Well, OK then . . .”
The curmudgeonly one had a great week at the keyboard. On Thursday, while ranting about the “proposed movement of Texas and Oklahoma” football from the Big-12 to the SEC, he wrote: “Texas A&M officials have been less-than-happy about the Texas move since the Aggies have been the sole focus of SEC football in the state of Texas for the last decade. Of course, the reason that has been the case is that Texas A&M switched conferences from the Big 12 to the SEC back in 2012 — but let us not bring that up now.”
Then he added: “The Big-12 Commissioner’s lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter to ESPN saying that ESPN had lured the two schools away from the Big-12 thereby doing harm to the conference and the other schools in the Conference. I assume the ESPN lawyers are drafting a response that is the legal and more genteel version of “WTF are you smoking?”
Don Mattingly, the manager of the Miami Marlins, tested positive on Saturday, so wasn’t around has his club lost to the visiting New York Yankees. He also missed Sunday’s loss to the Yankees, the club with which he played 14 seasons (1982-95). Mattingly, 60, who has mild symptoms, is fully vaccinated. . . . Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Brewers are without pitchers Jake Cousins, Jandel Gustave and Hunter Strickland. Cousins and Strickland have tested positive; Gustave was identified as a close contact. The Brewers also are without OF Christian Yelich, who tested positive earlier in the week, and INF Jace Peterson, who was a close contact.
Seattle Times — At least 60 Seattle bars and restaurants now require proof of vaccination to eat on their premises.
Bruce Jenkins, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Great stuff from the Olympic baseball and softball tournaments: A pitch clock (20 seconds with nobody on base) and a rule demanding that batters keep at least one foot in the box between pitches. Pay attention, MLB. There’s your key to shortening the games.”
Ed (Rusty) Patenaude, who played in each of the WHL’s first four seasons, has died. He was 71 when he passed away from complications due to Guillain Barre Syndrome in Williams Lake, B.C. . . . Patenaude played two seasons (1966-68) with the Moose Jaw Canucks in what was then the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League. He spent the next two seasons with the Calgary Centennials in the Western Canada Hockey League, the CMJHL having changed its name. . . . In 218 regular-season games, he scored 115 goals and added 121 assists. . . . He went on to play six seasons in the WHA — one with the Alberta Oilers, four with the Edmonton Oilers and one with the Indianapolis Racers.
F Jayden Perron of Winnipeg has made a commitment to play for the U of North Dakota Fighting Hawks, starting in 2023-24. . . . Perron, 16, is expected to play for the USHL’s Chicago Steel in 2021-22. . . . He was the Portland Winterhawks’ first selection in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft, going to them in the second round, 23rd overall. In 2019-20, Perron had 104 points, including 46 goals, in 36 games for the U15 AAA Winnipeg Warriors A team.
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