Why does Sam Mitchell drive with his wallet on the dash?

It was Wednesday afternoon.

The Orlando Magic was on the court prior to what was to have been an NBA playoff game.

The Milwaukee Bucks, who were to have provided the opposition, remained in their locker room in the Orlando bubble.

As we now know, the Bucks were deciding whether to play and, in the end, the players chose to boycott, their reaction to the police shooting of Jacob Blake, who took seven bullets in the back in Kenosha, Wisc., which is 40 miles south of Milwaukee on I-94.

Meanwhile, ESPN, which was to have televised the game, was filling time with speculation and stories while awaiting final word. Would there be a game or not?

And there was Sam Mitchell, a Black American who used to be the head coach of the Toronto Raptors. These days, he shows up as an analyst on TSN, NBA-TV, NBA Radio on SiriusXM and, on this afternoon, ESPN.

As I listened, Mitchell, with a chuckle, told how he is of an age — he’s soon to turn 57 — where he still carries his wallet in a hip pocket.

But when he gets in his car, he said, he takes the wallet out of his pocket and puts it on the dash. Because, he explained, if he were to be pulled over by police, he wouldn’t want to have to do any reaching. Why not? Because he never wants to do anything that would give a policeman an excuse to shoot him.

Seriously!

For whatever reason, what Mitchell had to say just blew me away.

I’m on social media. I subscribe to three big city American newspapers. I hear, see and read the stories. I guess I just had never had it explained to me in this fashion.

Maybe it’s because I get in our vehicle, turn the key and drive somewhere almost every day without ever giving a second thought to where my wallet is in that vehicle. (For the record, it’s in my right hip pocket.) But the more I thought about it the more what I had heard from Mitchell really hit home.

And that’s why I wasn’t the least bit surprised to arrive home later in the afternoon — yes, I got in our vehicle, wallet in pocket, and drove away — to find out that three NBA games were postponed, and that WNBA players also had shut it down, dropping three games. Three MLB games, including one involving the Milwaukee Brewers, didn’t take place, nor did five MLS games.

(During a meeting of teams Wednesday night in Orlando, the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers are said to have voted to end the season. Other teams apparently didn’t follow suit. The NBA has called an emergency meeting of its board of governors for this morning.)

Naomi Osaka, the Japanese tennis player, pulled out of a semifinal match at the Western & Southern Open in New York City, saying, “Watching the genocide of Black people at the hand of police is honestly making me sick to my stomach.” (Later, the tournament announced that it wouldn’t hold any matches today as it takes “a stance against racial inequality and social injustice that once again has been thrust to the forefront in the United States.”)

NHL players, of course, didn’t miss a beat. The Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning went ahead with their playoff games in the Toronto and Edmonton bubbles. The NHL spent 27 seconds acknowledging Blake prior to the game in Toronto. There was nothing in Edmonton. Not a peep.

What? You expected the NHL or its players, the vast majority of whom are white, to show awareness of something going on outside their bubbles. They showed little of that a short time ago when the likes of Evander Kane and Matt Dumba, both of whom are Black players, started Hockey is Diversity. That followed the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis policemen on May 25.

On Wednesday evening, before the games began, former NHL G Kelly Hrudey, now an analyst with Sportsnet, offered: “I’m disappointed that we’re talking about hockey tonight. I don’t think we should be here. I think the NHL should postpone the games.”

But when the first intermission arrived, Hrudey was sitting there . . . talking hockey.

Over on TNT, analyst Kenny (The Jet) Smith walked away from the NBA set.

“As a Black man, as a former player, I think it’s best for me to support the players and not be here tonight,” Smith said as he walked away.

Meanwhile, I watched the last few minutes of the first period of the Boston-Tampa Bay NHL game and the first intermission. When the Sportsnet panel all but ignored what was going outside its bubble, I turned off the TV.

I’m not saying I’m done with the NHL for any specific length of time, but for now I can’t watch. I won’t watch. I am embarrassed — but not surprised — that NHL players showed the world exactly how tone deaf they are.

Of course, hockey players, for the most part, learn pretty much from the get-go not to swim against the current. These days, however, some of them might want to check to see if the current is changing direction.

——

If you are on Twitter, check out the thread posted by Kishaun Gervais of the Portland Winterhawks on Wednesday night, part of which is right here:

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

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

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

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

“There are no travel restrictions;

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

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

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

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



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


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


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

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

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

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


Hook


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


Noose


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

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

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

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



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

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


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


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