OHL now looking at Feb. 4 start to 40-game season . . . Still lots of unanswered questions . . . World Series aftermath mostly about Turner


OK . . . let’s recap the major junior hockey season to this point:

The QMJHL began its regular season on Oct. 1, but, frankly, things have been a bit messy. As of right now, its 12 Quebec-based teams are in a holding pattern, although four of them are expected to return to play this weekend. . . . Three teams have experienced positive tests. . . . It has three teams with eight games played and three that have played two apiece. . . . The Shawinigan Cataractes have moved their players into a dormitory. . . .

Meanwhile, the WHL has targeted Jan. 8 as the opening date for its next regular season. It has said that players will report to their teams after Christmas for short training camps. . . . Last week, the WHL decided to allow its players to transfer to junior A, junior B and U-18 teams. A number of WHL players have taken advantage of that, especially in joining junior A teams. . . . But there remain about a zillion unanswered questions and Jan. 8 is just over two months away. . . .

On Wednesday, the OHL announced that it will open training camps on Jan. 23 with its regular season — each team is to play 40 games — to begin on Feb. 4 and end on May 16. . . . Earlier, the OHL had said it was aiming to begin play on Dec. 1. . . . The OHL said its teams will bring in American and European players starting Jan. 8 and that they will quarantine. . . . Eight teams, four from each of its two conferences, will qualify for the playoffs. . . . The OHL has three American teams, but nothing has been decided on their immediate futures. . . . Jeff Marek of Sportsnet tweeted that the OHL has had “NO discussion about the contact issue. Teams assume that’s not going to happen.” He also tweeted that there wasn’t any “discussion about fans . . . but that’s not a surprise at this point.” . . . If all goes according to plan, the Memorial Cup will open on June 17 and run through June 27. . . . Again, there are a zillion questions that will have to be answered, in whole or in part, between now and February. Yes, February.


charliebrown


With the World Series having ended on Tuesday night, we should be absorbing all that came before the last out of Game 6. We should be saluting the Los WorldSeriesAngeles Dodgers as a truly great team, one that had a dominating 60-game regular season and was on pace to win 116 games had they played a ‘normal’ 162-game season. We should be celebrating a Dodgers team that won seven of its last nine playoff games to win that World Series. Instead, well, it’s not about that at all.

Having been notified that Dodgers 3B Justin Turner had tested positive, MLB was able to get him out of the lineup during Game 6. But it somehow wasn’t able to him off the field during post-game celebrations.

On Wednesday, MLB announced it has launched an investigation into Turner’s post-game behaviour.

MLB ordered the Dodgers to remove Turner from the game, and he didn’t take the field for the top of the eighth inning. According to MLB, Turner “was placed into isolation for the safety of those around him.

“However, following the Dodgers’ victory, it is clear that Turner chose to disregard the agreed-upon joint protocols and the instructions he was given regarding the safety and protection of others. While a desire to celebrate is understandable, Turner’s decision to leave isolation and enter the field was wrong and put everyone he came in contact with at risk. When MLB Security raised the matter of being on the field with Turner, he emphatically refused to comply.”

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Meanwhile, here’s a handful of takes from a few writers of note . . .

Stephanie Apstein of Sports Illustrated: “In a season nearly derailed by risky behavior, this was the most irresponsible moment yet. The league has protocols restricting behavior by people who have contracted the virus. ‘Any Covered Individual who tests positive for COVID-19 must immediately wear a face covering (and) isolate from all people,’ the operations manual states. But on Tuesday, the scientists in baseball pants were allowed to make public-health policy based on what seemed most fun.” . . . Her piece is right here.

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic: “Maybe little will come of Turner’s post-game behavior. Maybe he will recover from COVID-19 with minimal difficulty, like most people in his age group, and the vast majority of the Dodgers’ bubble contingent, if not all of it, will avoid infection. Still, some with the Dodgers are higher risk. (Manager Dave) Roberts is a cancer survivor. (Pitcher Kenley) Jansen, who had a three-week bout with the virus in July, has a heart condition. At least one of the players’ wives is pregnant.

“If other team or family members test positive, the images from Tuesday night will become that much more indelible, that much more regrettable. No one stopped Turner from returning to the field. He also did not stop himself.”

That piece is right here.

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Nancy Armour of USA TODAY: “Justin Turner finally got his World Series title and Major League Baseball got its postseason TV riches, so to hell with everybody else.

“That’s how we’re doing it, right? Personal satisfaction and happiness over the collective good, science and common sense be damned.

The appalling flouting of COVID-19 protocols at the World Series on Tuesday night might as well be a microcosm of the United States, bringing into sharp focus why this country has lost almost 230,000 of its mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, grandparents and friends in the past seven months.”

That piece is right here.

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Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle: “When you were a teenager, did you ever throw a party when your parents were away?

“That’s what the Dodgers and Major League Baseball did Tuesday night.

“With no parents at home, no adult supervision, the Dodgers partied like it was 2019.

“As with your teenage party, it might take a while before we get a complete assessment of the damage, like when your dad found the broken wine bottle in the hot tub a week later.”

That complete piece is right here.

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Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post: “The coronavirus had to make a cameo in this series, didn’t it? What would 2020 be without the virus proving it could sneak in anywhere, even an MLB bubble? But Dodgers star Justin Turner, removed in the middle of Game 6 when one of his test results came back positive, did not have to turn himself into a poster boy for pandemic irresponsibility.Turner will and should never live down returning to the field — knowing that he had the virus — to yell with teammates, pose massless in team photos and hug whomever he please.

“Turner symbolizes far too much of America now: I will take a world health crisis, which looks like it might kill more Americans than died in battle in World War II (291,000), sort of seriously — unless I’m having a real good time.”

Boswell’s complete take is right here. Our best baseball essayist also writes about how great this Dodgers team was and how that shouldn’t get lost in Turner’s faux pas.


Poison


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The AHL now has targeted Feb. 5 as the starting date for its next season. It had been looking to start on Dec. 4. . . . From a news release: “The AHL continues to work with its member clubs to monitor developments and local guidelines in all 31 league cities. Further details regarding the 2020-21 American Hockey League season are still to be determined.” . . .

The Wisconsin Badgers have had 12 positives — six players and six staff — so their game at Nebraska on Saturday has been cancelled. The positive include the first two quarterbacks on their depth chart and head coach Paul Chryst. . . . The Big Ten scheduled doesn’t include room for rescheduling so the game was cancelled. . . . Wisconsin will pause all football-related activities for seven days, while players who test positive, including starting QB Graham Mertz, must sit out for at least 21 days according to Big Ten protocol. . . .

Chilliwack FC, which oversees minor soccer in the B.C. city, has had to hire security in order to make sure that COVID-19 protocols are being followed, in particular by parents. . . . Andrea Laycock, Chilliwack FC’s chairperson, emailed parents on Tuesday, telling them that volunteers, staff and contact tracers have been facing abuse while trying to make sure protocols are being followed. . . . Laycock wrote: “Because the interactions at the contact tracing table and inside the facilities has at times been so horrific and borderline violent, Chilliwack FC has engaged Allegiance 1 Security to do periodic sweeps of all of our venues to ensure everyone is behaving and adhering to our policy. Should any issues be reported, the Chilliwack FC Disciplinary Committee will become involved and the offender(s) risk being banned from attending games to being expelled from Chilliwack FC. Enough is enough!” . . . Tyler Olsen of the Abbotsford News has more right here. . . .

The National Lacrosse League pulled the plug on its 2019-20 season in March and later cancelled it. On Wednesday, the NLL said that it hopes to get its next season started on the weekend of April 9-11. . . . Under what used to be normal circumstances, the NLL season would start in December or January. . . . The league has 13 teams, including five in Canada, so there still are lots of decision to be made before another season can get started. . . .

The 2021 Boston Marathon was scheduled for April 19, but now has moved to an unspecified date in the fall. The 2020 Marathon was cancelled earlier this year. . . .

The NFL’s Houston Texans, who are on a bye week, closed their facility on Wednesday after an unidentified player tested positive. The Texans are next scheduled to play on Nov. 8 against the host Jacksonville Jaguars. . . .

The MLS’s Minnesota United had a player come up positive before playing visiting Colorado on Wednesday night, but the game went ahead as scheduled as all others tested were negative. . . . Also on Wednesday night, the Philadelphia Union, despite having one positive test, went ahead with a home game against the Chicago Fire.



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Or, for more information, visit right here.


Train

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

Scattershooting

Go back in time to March 27. The pandemic in which we now find ourselves firmly ensconced was just getting started, at least it was in North America. . . . Now think about April 27 . . . and May 27 . . . and June 27. . . . Today is July 27. . . . Now look around and ask yourself this: What has changed since March 27? . . .

NHL teams, each with as many as 52 people on hand, moved into their ‘bubbles’ on Sunday. Dr. Willem Meeuwisse, the NHL’s chief medical officer, said on Friday: “We don’t expect (the bubble) to be perfect. We expect with the number of people that we’re going to have some positive tests, and we have a method and a process designed in advance to deal with that.” . . .

So the NHL has gone into this part of its bizarre season with eyes wide open, knowing full well that there are going to be positive tests. . . .

Now put yourselves in the shoes of someone who operates a junior hockey team. Do you plan on bringing players, all of them teenagers, most of them away from home, in to training camp in less than two months knowing that there will be positive tests? Do you have a “method and process” in place to handle that situation when it arises? How many positive tests will it take to shut things down?

As Shane Lyons, the athletics director at West Virginia, said last week: “The virus isn’t going away and the virus is going to dictate what we do . . .”


Shoe


If you haven’t heard about what the Miami Marlins are going through, you need to check it out. Since Friday, they have had their starting right-fielder, DH/first-baseman and catcher and one of their pitchers test positive. . . . They went ahead and beat the host Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday, but then delayed their flight home, apparently because they are expecting more test results back today (Monday). . . . If you have access to The Athletic, you will want to read the piece written by Ken Rosenthal that is right here. . . . “I think that by any definition, this is an outbreak on their team,” Dr. John Swartzburg, a clinical professor emeritus at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, Division of Infectious Disease, told Rosenthal. “And an outbreak on a team means that the team needs to close down.”


The NCAA’s Sports Science Institute released a report last week that concluded with this:

“At the time of this writing, the rate of spread of COVID-19 has been increasing in many regions of the country. Because of this increase, it is possible that sports, especially high contact risk sports, may not be practiced safely in some areas. In conjunction with public health officials, schools should consider pausing or discontinuing athletics activities when local circumstances warrant such consideration.”

Yes, we all are aware that the numbers in the United States, whose citizens have been left to drown by their federal government, have been haywire for weeks now and don’t seem to be improving.

One of the results is that most Canadians want the border with the U.S. to remain closed at least through the end of 2020.

At the same time, Canada’s numbers, while nowhere near those of our southern neighbours, have been trending the wrong way, too, including in the four western provinces that are home to a whole lot of junior hockey teams.


Backer


Here’s Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, with a note that will resonate with old-time NFL fans: “The Pentagon team tasked with studying UFOs — the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force — plans to publicly release information on its findings. So maybe we’ll finally get our answer: Did Otis Sistrunk really graduate from the University of Mars?”

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

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Perry, again: “The NFL says it won’t conduct its own investigation into sexual-harassment allegations by Washington front-office types but will instead use the findings of an ‘independent’ probe paid for by team owner Daniel Snyder. ‘Now why didn’t we think of that?’ groaned the Houston Astros.


On the subject of “independent” reviews/inquiries, the CHL announced a few days ago that it has put together “an independent panel that will review the league’s policies and practices in relation to various forms of player abuse.” . . . With all due respect to the three people on the panel, including old friend Sheldon Kennedy, is it really independent when it was put together by the CHL, whose practices over the years are what is being reviewed?


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “The president has indicated he won’t watch any sport in which the athletes protest during the anthem. So he won’t be watching baseball, football, basketball or soccer. That will leave him more time to do what we elected him to do — play golf.”

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Once upon a time, actor Tom Hanks hawked stuff in the stands for the Oakland A’s. As he once told Jimmy Kimmel: “I went down to sell peanuts and soda, and thinking it would be like in a TV show where you saw the young kid trying to make a thing. Well, first of all, I got robbed twice. Note to self: Hide those wads of cash. Don’t be walking with a wad of cash in your pocket. Then, I came across professional vendors, who did not like the fact kids were there.” . . . Now the A’s are going to use his voice over the public address system to sell hot dogs, peanuts, programs, etc., never mind that there won’t be any fans in the pews.

Here’s Ostler, again:

“Sad baseball stat: Number of hot dogs sold at the Oakland Coliseum this season by ace vendor Tom Hanks: Zero.

“Maybe that’s because fans know Tom had the ’Rona.”


Having watched a bit of MLB since play began on Thursday . . . The fake crowd noise and the cardboard cutouts in the stands are laughable. . . . Starting the 10th inning with a runner on second base is horrible. Why not just have a home run-hitting contest? . . . The Seattle Mariners won’t be in the playoffs.



I don’t know if you saw Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S.’s top doc, throw out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals’ opener on Thursday night, but it was just a little bit outside. However, as Alex Brewsaugh noted on Facebook, “Angel Hernandez had it as a strike!”


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Mark Twain: “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”


Just the other day, Ed Orgeron, LSU’s head football coach, claimed that America needs football because “football is the lifeblood of our country.” To which Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union-Tribune responded: “No, Ed, you need football. It is the lifeblood of Ed Orgeron.”


Rutgers became the second U.S. college to put its entire football program into quarantine on Saturday after it announced that six players had tested positive. . . . Michigan State did the same thing late last week after one player and one staff member tested positive.

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On July 1, Milo Eifler, a linebacker with Illinois, tweeted: “I understand that people want to see us play this season but in reality how can a team full of 100+ student athletes fully function during a pandemic. Trust, my teammates and I want to play. But schools around the country are showing blatant disregard for student athletes.” . . . The school responded by postponing his media availability.

Later, when he was allowed to speak, he offered this: “Yeah, we want to come back and want to play, but we just want to make sure our health and our safety is the priority. . . . It’s hard when you’re taking this process day by day. We got through today, but are we going to get through tomorrow? Sure, I want to go back to workouts, but am I going to be good Friday?”

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On Friday, Michigan State OT Jason Reid tweeted: “Guys are testing positive across the country left and right . . . why is there still discussion on a season? Why is it taking so long to make a logical decision? Hmm let me guess REVENUE #NCAA #BIG10”

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

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Meanwhile, the Kansas Jayhawks have announced that they will play host to the Southern Illinois Salukis on Aug. 29. The Jayhawks were to have played the New Hampshire Wildcats, whose season has been cancelled, while the Salukis were to have met Wisconsin until the Big Ten pulled the plug on out-of-conference games. . . . Also on Aug. 29, the Missouri State Bears will visit the Oklahoma Sooners, which is a week earlier than originally scheduled.


JUST NOTES: Taking Note has been told that the Portland Winterhawks will play all of their 2020-21 home games in Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum. In recent seasons, they have split time between there and the Moda Center, which also is home to the NBA’s Trail Blazers. . . . Brock Beck, the 20-year-old son of former New Westminster Bruins D Barry Beck, was Hamilton’s 10th homicide victim of 2020 when he was stabbed to death during what police say was a “street disturbance” on Saturday night. Jeff Mahoney of the Hamilton Spectator has more right here. Barry Beck revealed via Twitter that Brock was his son.


This was a tough weekend as we said farewell to Olivia de Havilland, 104; Regis Philbin, 88; Eddie Shack, 83; John Saxon, 83; and Peter Green, 73. We also learned that former NHL star Dale Hawerchuk, 57, is again in the fight of his life with a reoccurrence of stomach cancer. His son Eric revealed “the resurgence of this terrible disease” via Twitter on Sunday. “We are praying for him and he will continue to fight hard #HawerchukStrong,” Eric tweeted.

Scattershooting on a Tiebreaker Tuesday. . . . The doors are open and 5,800 hockey fans are on the move

Scattershooting

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We’re perched high — well, maybe not that high — above the ice surface at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops awaiting a full house of more than 5,800 people with the Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets about to meet in a play-in game. . . . The winner will open a first-round playoff series with the Royals in Victoria on Friday. The loser? Don’t ask. It’s over. . . .

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G Dylan Garand, a 16-year-old from Victoria, will make his seventh straight start for the Blazers in the absence of the injured Dylan Ferguson. Danton Belluk, whose WHL rights belong to the Everett Silvertips, remains with Kamloops on an emergency basis and will be on the bench. . . . The Blazers are 5-0-1 in Garand’s six recent starts. . . . On the season, Garand is 11-7-3, 2.94, .902. Against Kelowna, he is 2-0-0, 0.96, .964. . . . The Rockets will counter with G Roman Basran (20-19-4, 2.79, .906). Against the Blazers this season, he is 4-3-1, 1.61, .942. . . . Judging by those numbers, someone wins by a 2-1 count tonight. . . .

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The Rockets have scratched D Lassi Thomson, D Matt Barberis and F Cole Carrier. . . . The Blazers will scratch F Travis Walton, Ferguson, and either F Jerzy Orchard or D Joonas Sillanpaa. . . .

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According to WHL regulations, the home team keeps tonight’s gate “after applicable expenses are paid” to the visitors. “This includes hotel expenses for one night, applicable meals (two days maximum) and applicable bus expenses to a maximum of $3 per mile. All expenses are in effect even if the visiting club wins the game.” . . .

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The Blazers being on the hook for the expenses may, or may not, have had anything to do with the Rockets having arrived in Kamloops on Monday for a Tuesday night game. During the regular season, these teams make the two-hour drive on game days and return after each game. A tiebreaker, of course, involves extraordinary circumstances. . . . The Blazers paying to bed and feed Rockets? That can only help the rivalry, eh!

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I’m hardly a math major, so I will leave it up to you to guesstimate what the gate receipts from tonight’s game might be with a crowd of more than 5,800 on hand. But the on-ice officials will get a cut — each of the referees is to be paid $155, with the linesmen getting $100 apiece. . . . Tonight’s referees are veterans Chris Crich and Brett Iverson. Nick Bilko and Nathan Van Oosten are on the lines. Willy Saari is the video goal judge.



Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, weighs in on one of last week’s hot topics: “Jose Canseco used a Tweet to accuse A-Rod of cheating on his fiancée, Jennifer Lopez, with Canseco’s ex-wife. Minutes after that tweet ‘hit the streets,’ Canseco put out another one to challenge A-Rod to a boxing match or an MMA match ‘anytime you want’ — apparently as a way for Canseco to defend Jennifer Lopez’ honor. I guess I am glad that he suggested boxing or MMA to settle this matter and stopped short of suggesting they reinstitute duelling with pistols at 10 paces.”


RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com asks: “Lo-Rod is: a) Engaged couple J-Lo and A-Rod’s married nickname, or b) Where Astros star Jose Altuve hangs his clothes?”



Headline at The Onion: Antonio Brown Buys Pittsburgh Billboard To Thank Antonio Brown For Putting Up With City.



Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times reports: “Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson apologized for posting a picture on Instagram that showed him driving at 105 mph. On the bright side, Vegas oddsmakers now list Jackson at 35-1 to win the Super Bowl and 5-2 to win the Indy 500.”

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“How do MLB apologists try to spin it when a player vanishes for half a season because of a marijuana suspension?” asks Perry, before answering: “Tommy Chong surgery.”



Ken Rosenthal and Emily Waldon reported on the weekend that the Toronto Blue Jays are going to give every play in their system a raise of more than 50 per cent. . . . “When the ‘Save America’s Pastime’ act passed in March 2018,” they wrote, “depriving minor leaguers of overtime pay beyond a 40-hour work week, the Blue Jays already were talking about how they could improve the compensation of players in their farm system. A year later, the team is in the process of finalizing a pay increase of more than 50 percent for any player who is on a roster of an affiliated minor-league club, from the lowest rung in the Dominican Summer League to the highest level at Triple A, club officials told The Athletic.”