MLB just isn’t what it used to be . . . Sea Dogs lay out season-ticket, seating plans . . . No fans for Derby

In his Friday posting, Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, dropped the curmudgeonly gavel on MLB, and I can’t disagree with him. Here is part of what he wrote:

“I have not been overly impressed with MLB games on TV this season. To be clear, I am not talking about the absence of fans in the seats or the cardboard cutouts of fans; the games are not compelling. Most teams have played about 25 games so far; for 2020, that is 40 per cent of the season.  Here are some stats:

“Five teams – 20 per cent of the teams in MLB – are hitting below .220 as a team. . . . Four teams have an OBP below .300. . . . Twenty teams — 67 per cent of the teams in MLB — have more strikeouts than hits. . . . Twenty-nine of the thirty MLB teams have struck out at least  100 times more than they have walked. . . . Two teams are averaging 10 strikeouts per game.”

His entire post is right here.



And while we’re on the subject of MLB, hey, it’s about that extra-inning rule that puts a runner on second base to start each half inning.

Baseball once was a slave to statistics — there always had been a certain symmetry to it — and that is one of the things that so many fans loved about it. It isn’t anymore, unless it eventually will just erase all the numbers from this bastardization of a season. . . . I mean, we now get lead-off two-run home runs. . . . In a game between the Dodgers and Angels, the ghost runner stole third base and scored on a sacrifice fly by the leadoff hitter. Yes, a leadoff SF. . . . Jayson Stark of The Athletic pointed out that there has even been a two-up, three-down inning that included the ghost runner getting doubled up. . . . 

And here’s one that hasn’t happened yet, but is likely to at some point. As former MLP pitcher Ryan Dempster explained to Stark: “What about: You come in with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning and you get the guy out. So you’re the hero. Then you go back out and pitch the 10th, and you get a punchout and a groundout, and then they take you out. And now the other guy comes in and gives up a single, and you get the loss. If that doesn’t sum up 2020, I don’t know what would.”

If you’re a baseball fan, you don’t want to miss Stark’s columns from The Useless Info Dept.


What do you know about your kidneys:


Earlier this week, the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs released season-ticket information for the approaching season. . . . Their home arena, the TD Station, seats 6,307. Last season, the Sea Dogs’ average attendance was 3,345. This season, the Sea Dogs are expecting to be allowed to use about 25 per cent of the seats, so that means attendance will be capped at about 1,500 per game. . . . One of the results of that is an increase in season-ticket prices, from $499 to $575, even though there will be four fewer games (60) this season. . . . There are other changes, too. From a Sea Dogs news release: “Some of the bigger changes include very limited capacity (around 25% of seats), social bubbles, and masks once you get inside TD Station. Also, because of all the changes to the seating plan, you shouldn’t expect to sit in your same seat, and possibly not in your same section as last season.” . . . Jamie Tozer of Station Nation has more right here.



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The NHL’s Arizona Coyotes laid off and furloughed an unspecified number of employees on Friday, citing financial issues caused by the pandemic. . . . The Coyotes, who furloughed half their business staff in April, were eliminated from the NHL playoffs on Wednesday when they lost to the Colorado Avalanche in Edmonton. . . . Earlier in the week, the Washington Post reported that Monumental Sports & Entertainment, owner of the Washington Capitals, Washington Mystics and Washington Wizards, was about to furlough 232 employees. . . .

In recent times, I have on occasion mentioned the apparent link between COVID-19 and myocarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart. . . . Amanda Christovich of frontofficesports.com has a whole lot more on this issue right here. . . .

The MLS’s Chicago Fire has had a player test positive. The unidentified player didn’t travel with the team for a Thursday game against host FC Cincinnati on Thursday. The Fire lost, 3-0. . . . The Fire said the team is asymptomatic and self-isolating. . . . 

The U of Iowa has decided to drop men’s gymnastics, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and men’s tennis when the 2020-21 academic year ends. . . . In a statement, the school said it “projects lost revenue of approximately $100 million and an overall deficit between $60-$75 million this fiscal year. . . .

Australia has withdrawn its teams from the IIHF’s 2021 U20 World Championship Division III and U18 Women’s World Championship Division II Group A, citing travel restrictions in place due to the pandemic. . . . The U20 event is scheduled for Mexico City from Jan. 10-17, 2021. . . . The U18 women’s tournament is to be played in Dumfries, Great Britain, Jan. 19-22, 2021. . . . 

Athletics Canada has cancelled the 2020 Canadian cross-country championships that were to have been held in Abbotsford, B.C., on Nov 28. The event would have drawn about 800 competitors. . . . 

The Kentucky Derby, originally scheduled for May 2, will run before empty grandstands on Sept. 5. The pooh-bahs at Churchill Downs had said they would limit attendance to 23,000. That changed because of the way the virus is spreading in Kentucky, which had 2,300 new cases this week. . . . 



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

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604.875.5182 or 1.855.875.5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Taras McEwen has taken over as the head coach of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues. He already was the general manager. . . . McEwen has coaching experience with Fort Knox of the junior B Prairie Junior Hockey League and with the SJHL’s Notre Dame Hounds. . . . The Blues also have named Zach Heisinger as an assistant coach. Last season, he was an assistant coach with the Vincent Massey team in the Winnipeg High School Hockey League. He also spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League’s Fort Garry Twins. . . . The Blues are owned by 50 Below Sports + Entertainment, which also owns the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice. . . . McEwen was the Ice’s manager of scouting. His father, Brad, is Hockey Canada’s head scout. . . . Heisinger’s father, Craig, is the assistant GM and director of hockey operations with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, while a brother, Jake, is the Ice’s assistant GM and vice-president of hockey operations.


WHL backs up proposed start to Dec. 4 . . . Aiming to play 68 games in 147 days . . . Still lots of questions without answers

Under what once was considered normal circumstances, the 22-team WHL would start a regular season in late September. Each team would play 68 regular-season games, with whlplayoffs — four rounds of best-of-seven series — beginning in late March.

In other words, teams would take six months to play those 68 games. In 2018-19, the teams played the regular season in 178 days, then took 53 days to complete the playoffs.

Then, like the big, bad wolf, along came the coronavirus and the resulting disruption of all things normal.

A few weeks ago, the WHL announced that it hoped to open its 68-game regular season on Oct. 2.

On Thursday, the goal posts moved again; now the WHL is targeting Dec. 4 as opening day, and continues to say it plans on having each team play 68 games.

While the WHL didn’t reveal a closing date, the OHL on Wednesday said that it hopes to play a 64-game season from Dec. 1 through April 29, with the Memorial Cup scheduled for June 17-27.

Presumably the WHL will be following a similar blueprint, meaning it will have to play its regular season in five months. Should it get to open on Dec. 4 and play through April 29, each of its teams would play 68 games in 147 days — 31 fewer days than it took to play the same number of games in 2018-19.

That means teams would be playing as many as four games a week. There likely would be an increase in the dreaded three-in-three weekends. You may recall that decreasing the number of tripleheader weekends was one of the reasons given when the league shortened its schedule from 72 games.

A Dec. 4 start surely would mean a shorter Christmas break — the league stopped for 10 days in 2018-19 and nine days in 2019-20.

But let’s be honest. There aren’t any guarantees there will be a season.

As the WHL’s news release read, all of this “remains contingent on receiving the necessary approvals from the government and health authorities in each of the six provincial/state jurisdictions in WHL territory.”

The WHL’s announcement didn’t mention the situation involving the U.S.-Canada border being closed to non-essential travel, something that doesn’t seem likely to change in 2020, at least not at B.C. crossings. That would lead to teams playing inside their own divisions for the early part of a schedule.

The news release also didn’t mention players and school. The OHL said Wednesday that it will have its players stay home and start school there, so it likely is safe to assume that the WHL do the same as everyone awaits further developments.

The most important thing to remember is that everything — and I do mean everything — is fluid.

What follows are some thoughts from a few WHL officials, all speaking after Thursday’s announcement . . .

Gord Broda, the president of the Prince Albert Raiders, who are the WHL’s defending Raiders50champions, told Trevor Redden of panow.com: “As frustrating as this (process) has been, I just can’t emphasize enough that as a league, safety is at the forefront. Safety for our players, safety for the people in our buildings when we get going, safety for our fans. We’re at a time where patience is necessary.”

Broda also said: “I’ll speak for the Prince Albert Raiders only, even at 50 per cent capacity, we’re going to have financial shortfalls. I think it’s a realistic goal as a starting point to maybe work with our medical authorities and hopefully they find that an acceptable capacity level. And at the same time at least it’s a reasonable start from a financial perspective. It’s going to be financially very challenging to have reduced capacity in all the buildings. We all know we’re a ticket-driven venue and we’ve got to have fans in the seats.” . . .

Don Moores, the president of the Kamloops Blazers, told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week: “Being fluid is really important. If the border remains closed, we’ll have to deal with it. If it opens and there are restrictions we have to adhere to, we’ll see if that’s workable and make those decisions as we go.” . . .

Brent Sutter, owner, president, general manager, and head coach of the Red Deer Rebels, Red Deertold Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate: “We gotta have people in the building, no question. We have to have some kind of attendance and that’s our goal right now. And yet we’ll just have to see where it goes because it continues to move. It’s a moving target that’s changing all the time. It changes from week to week. You look at the other leagues — junior A leagues, American Hockey League, National Hockey League — no one is going to be playing in November.”

Ron Robison, WHL commissioner, told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post: “It’s all part of the outcome on where we arrive at with respect to capacity. We’re having ongoing discussions with the provincial/state governments on trying to obtain the capacity that we need. If that is not successful, we will be considering some form of financial support to help us get started. But right now we’re focused on trying to get to a capacity that will work for our teams.”

Zoran Rajcic, the chief operating officer of the Everett Silvertips, told Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald: “The anticipation was that we would be further ahead with (the pandemic) within not only Washington and Oregon, but the four western provinces. The more we looked at things and the way (Washington) is in a holding pattern with Phase 2 (of the state’s reopening plan), it was probably the only decision we can look at. They’re talking about us in Washington not looking at hosting events until Phase 4, so this makes the most sense now. It gives us time to work through things.”



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

——

The Canadian Junior Football League announced Thursday that it has cancelled its 2020 season and has turned its attention to getting a 2021 season off the ground. . . . The CJFL is the governing body for 18 teams in six provinces that play in three conferences. . . .

The U of Alberta’s men’s and women’s hockey teams have been reinstated by Canada West, so will be eligible to play should the conference start up again in January. The reinstatement comes after the programs received a financial infusion from almuni. . . . The athletic department announced on June 17 that it was suspending all Canada West competition for 2020-21 for financial reasons. . . .

The Hawaii High School Athletic Association has cancelled football’s 2020 season, while pushing girls volleyball, cross-country and cheerleading to January. . . . The only sports left on Hawaii’s fall high school sports calendar are air riflery and bowling. . . . Delaware also has cancelled its high school football season. There are 12 states who have done that, while at least 28 others have postponed the start of the football season. . . .

The U of Louisville booted three players off its men’s soccer team and suspended three others for their roles in a Saturday off-campus party that resulted in 29 positive tests within the school’s athletic department. The three who were kicked off the team apparently organized the party. Players from both soccer teams, as well as the field hockey and volleyball teams, tested positive. . . .

The NFL’s Green Bay Packers said Thursday that they will play their first two home games without fans. That will be re-evaluated after the two games. . . . The Las Vegas Raiders had announced earlier that they will play the entire season without fans in their brand new 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium. . . . The NFL’s regular season is scheduled to open on Sept. 10. . . . Since July 21, when rookies reported to training camps, the NFL has had at least 56 positive tests. . . . The NFL had 66 players opt out of the season by Thursday’s deadline. A complete list is right here.


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

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604.875.5182 or 1.855.875.5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.



Tinfoil

Oh my, those are some horrid numbers . . . How do you hit a homer and not get credit for a run? . . . Some coaching news here, too

OK. I need someone to tell me that isn’t a nightmare. Surely this isn’t really happening . . . I must have fallen asleep while hunkered down in my recliner . . . Tell me that I did and that none of what follows really happened . . .

It was Wednesday evening when I saw a couple of tweets from Ryan Struyk (@ryanstruyk) of CNN.

The first one showed reported U.S. coronavirus cases (I have added Thursday’s updated numbers):

Feb. 15: 15 cases.

March 15: 3,485 cases.

April 15: 638,111 cases.

April 16: 671,151 cases.

The second one showed reported U.S. coronavirus deaths:

Feb. 15: 0 deaths.

March 15: 65 deaths.

April 15: 30,844 deaths.

April 16: 33,268 deaths.

More than 2,000 people a day are dying from this virus and Agent Orange is nattering on ad nauseam about opening things up. On Thursday, he said: “Our experts say the curve has flattened and the peak in new cases is behind us.”

While still digesting those numbers, all of which are from Johns Hopkins University where they are tracking these things, there came news that Brian Allen, a centre with the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams, tested positive three weeks ago. Allen, who now is said to be symptom-free, is the first active NFLer to publicly acknowledge having tested positive. . . . On Thursday came word that Von Miller, a Pro Bowl linebacker with the Denver Broncos, became No. 2 when he tested positive.

And then, as if those figures aren’t bad enough, I awaken Thursday morning to the news that some quack doctor, who surely is in cahoots with Agent Orange, doesn’t think it would be a big deal if schools go back in and a bunch of children die. Obviously, he is perturbed by the fact that there wasn’t even one school shooting in the Excited States in March for the first time since something like 2002. And later in the day, it was Dr. Phil’s turn. (I don’t know if it means anything but the two quacks were given their TV starts by Oprah Winfrey, whose first names spelled backwards is . . . 

And let us not forget the goofy Nebraska state senators who, as Brad Dickson put it on Twitter, “want to basically end social distancing so everyone catches Covid & develops herd immunity. Ya know, it may be faster to just behead the elderly and the vulnerable. #WorstIdeaEver.”

Oh, and what about those covidiots in Michigan who protested at the state capitol in Lansing, demanding that the economy be reopened and damn the consequences. Hey, gang, yes, you have the right to protest but maybe you should first check with the doctors, nurses, first-responders, police and all of those people who are fighting the good fight on your behalf.

Somewhere in all of this I saw something about Agent Orange suggesting the U.S.-Canada border “will be one of the early borders to be released.” The man who speaks in word salad also said this: “Canada’s doing well, we’re doing well, so we’ll see.” Yes, so much winning in the Excited States!

It remained for Doug Ford, the premier of Ontario, to explain things: “I don’t want (Americans) in Ontario.”

In fact, let’s close that border permanently, or at least until Agent Orange and all of his old white pals sail off into the sunset, which might be the only thing that will bring an end to this nightmare.

Hey, maybe we could build a wall and have the Americans pay for it.


On a lighter note, the San Francisco Giants were playing the Los Angeles Dodgers in a game 12 years ago when a batter hit a single that was turned into a home run after video review, but that same batter didn’t score a run. . . . Seriously! . . . Jayson Stark of The Athletic has that great story right here. . . . Stories like these are why I subscribe to The Athletic, which will give you a 90-day free trial these days.


Cockroach


Webster Garrison, a former manager of baseball’s Vancouver Canadians, is breathing on his own and looks to be on the way to recovery after testing positive more than a month ago. . . . Garrison now is a minor-league coach with the Oakland A’s. . . . Garrison, 54, had been intubated for more than three weeks and remains in a Louisiana hospital.


The Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, which is based in Calgary, has shut down for the rest of 2020, cancelling its October induction gala in the process. Also cancelled is the Hall’s Sport + Spirit Charity Gala that was to have been held on May 27. . . .

The seven-team Canadian Elite Basketball Team (CEBL) has postponed the start of its regular season and now is hoping to get started at some point in June. It was to have begun its second season on May 7. . . .

The Tour de France now is scheduled to start on Aug. 29 and run through Sept. 20. Originally, it was to start on June 27. . . . As the race ends, tennis’s French Open will be be starting. . . .

In soccer, the Belarusian women’s Premier League, which was to have opened its season today, has postponed the start of its season indefinitely. . . .

The Mackenzie Tour — aka PGA Tour Canada — has postponed the first six events of its 2020 schedule. Those events had been scheduled for Vancouver (May 28-31), Victoria (June 4-7), Kelowna (June 11-14), Lethbridge (June 25-28), Cardigan, P.E.I. (July 2-5) and Toronto (July 9-12). . . . The MacKenzie Tour plans on issuing an update before the end of this month.


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, has the Thought for the Day, this one from A.J. Liebling: “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” . . . OK, that actually was the Thought for Yesterday. Here’s the Thought for the Day, from Will Rogers: “Advertising is the art of convincing people to spend money they don’t have for something they don’t need.”


Bacon


Hank Steinbrenner, son of the late George Steinbrenner and a co-owner of the New York Yankees, died on Tuesday after a long battle with various health-related issues. . . . It was in 2008 when Hank endeared himself to Yankees fans with this:

“”Red Sox Nation? What a bunch of bullshit that is. That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox fans. Go anywhere in America and you won’t see Red Sox hats and jackets, you’ll see Yankee hats and jackets. This is a Yankee country. We’re going to put the Yankees back on top and restore the universe to order.”


Chris Hebb, the commissioner of the 18-team BCHL, spent some time chatting with Steve Ewen of Postmedia earlier this week. . . . The BCHL was founded in 1961. “We’ve never taken a dime of government support in the history of this league,” Hebb told Ewen. “Here we are, in 18 communities now. In many cases, we are the Vancouver Canucks of those communities, and we could lose teams out of this (COVID-19 crisis).” . . . Reading Hebb’s comments leaves one wondering how many other junior leagues are faced with this same predicament. . . . Ewen’s piece is right here.


Bill Peters is the new head coach of Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg, a Russian team in the KHL. . . . Peters has been out of coaching since he resigned as the head coach of the NHL’s Calgary Flames on Nov. 29. That came after he was accused of using a racial slur and of kicking a player. . . . Peters signed a two-year contract with the KHL team. . . . Avtomobilist’s top players are former NHL star Pavel Datsyuk and Nigel Dawes, who was a terrific player with the WHL’s Kootenay Ice (2001-05). . . . Via a video hookup, Peters, a former Spokane Chiefs coach, told Russian reporters: “I think as time goes on we all grow and improve and become better versions of ourselves, and I’m no different than that. You learn from all the experiences that you’re in, and you become better.”


The BCHL’s Coquitlam Express has signed Dan Cioffi as its new head coach. . . . In 2019-20, he was the head coach of the B.C. Major Midget League’s Valley West Giants. . . . Cioffi has BCHL experience, having worked as an associate coach with the Express (2007-10) and also with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (associate coach) and Trail Smoke Eaters (director of player personnel). . . . In Coquitlam, Cioffi replaces Jason Fortier, the reigning BCHL coach of the year who left after being unable to come to terms on a contract. He has since signed on as the general manager and head coach of the NAHL’s Odessa Jackalopes.


Toast


The SJHL’s Estevan Bruins fired Chris Lewgood, their general manager and head coach, on Wednesday. . . . According to a news release, Cory Prokop, the Bruins’ president, announced “that the board made this very difficult decision after determining that the future success of the team, both on and off the ice, would be best served with new leadership at the GM/head coach position.” . . . Lewgood just completed his seventh season as the Bruins’ head coach and had never finished out of the playoffs. They lost the 2017-18 final in seven games to the Nipawin Hawks. . . . In 2019-20, the Bruins finished second in the Viterra Division, at 31-23-4. . . . Estevan is scheduled to be the host team for the 2022 Centennial Cup tournament.


Todd Woodcroft, who had been an assistant coach with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, has signed on as the head coach of the U of Vermont Catamounts. . . . Woodcroft takes over from the retiring Kevin Sneddon, the head coach for the past 17 seasons. . . . The Catamounts finished with a 5-23-6 record in 2019-20, their poorest showing since 2001-02.


Jeff Tambellini is leaving the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters after two seasons as general manager and head coach. Tambellini, 36, is joining the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning as an NCAA free-agent recruiter and pro scout. . . . In his two seasons in Trail, the Smokies were 70-46-15 with one tie. . . . Tambellini is to help in the search for his replacement in Trail, and he also will serve as a special advisor for 2020-21.


Typing