‘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

COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc . . . MLS tourney starts tonight without FC Dallas . . . Ryder Cup to be postponed


About the MLS is Back tournament . . .

FC Dallas was taken out of the tournament on Monday after having 10 players and one coach test positive. . . . There still are 25 teams in the competition, which is to begin today (Wednesday) with Orlando City and Inter Miami CF meeting.

The Vancouver Whitecaps left for Orlando without Lucas Cavallini, Fredy Montero, Georges Mukumbilwa, Tosaint Ricketts and Andy Rose. . . . Cavallini said he has lost two family members to COVID-19 and stayed behind “to support my loved ones.” . . . Rickets said he has a pre-existing condition. . . . Rose stayed at home to be with his pregnant wife. . . . Montero cited family reasons. . . . Mukumbilwa apparently isn’t cleared for travel outside of Canada at this time. . . .

Nashville SC arrived in Orlando on Friday, and reported Tuesday that it had five positive tests with four others ruled inconclusive. . . . As a result, Nashville’s game against the Chicago Fire that had been scheduled for tonight (Wednesday) has been postponed.

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Bulgarian soccer club Cherno More revealed that it has had 12 players and four officials test positive after playing Sunday against Tsarsko Selo in Sofia. Tsarsko Selo apparently had one player test positive prior to the game, but didn’t reveal it.


Piano


G Asia Durr of the WNBA’s New York Liberty won’t play this season after testing positive on June 8. She has had symptoms and hasn’t yet recovered. . . . Durr was the second overall selection in the 2019 draft. . . . The league revealed Tuesday that seven of 137 players tested had come up positive over the past week. . . . The WNBA hopes to play a 22-game season in at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., starting later this month.


With NHL teams to open training camps on July 13 with teams travelling to Edmonton and Toronto on July 26, the league announced Monday that it had nine more players test positive. That brought the total to 35. The NHL announces its numbers on a weekly basis.


OF Nick Markakis of the Atlanta Braves has opted out after a conversation with teammate Freddie Freeman, who tested positive and has symptoms. “Just hearing him, the way he sounded on the phone, it was tough,” Markakis, 36, said. “It was kind of eye-opening. With everything that’s going on, not just with baseball but all over the world, it makes you open your eyes.”

The Philadelphia Phillies reported that coaches Rob Thomson, Jim Gott and Greg Brodzinski all tested positive and aren’t in camp. . . . As well, players Scott Kingery, Tommy Hunter and Mikie Mahtook have tested positive. . . . Kingery was diagnosed on June 11 and isn’t anywhere near ready to play baseball. More on that right here. . . .

P Eduardo Rodriguez and Bobby Dalbec of the Boston Red Sox have tested positive. Rodriguez, who had been tabbed as Boston’s opening day starter, has some symptoms but is feeling better. Dalbec, an infield prospect who apparently contacted it at home, is asymptomatic. . . .

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Some positive tests with a high school baseball team in Newberg, Ore. . . .

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OF Joey Gallo of the Texas Rangers has been tested four times over the past 10 days. Two came back negative; two were positive. . . . The negatives came from nasal swab tests; the positives were after PCR/saliva tests. . . . Gallo hasn’t yet been allowed to work out with the Rangers as he awaits the result of yet another saliva test, one that was taken on Tuesday evening. . . .

OF Kole Calhoun of the Arizona Diamondbacks became the third player on that team’s 40-man roster to test positive. He is said to be asymptomatic and, according to manager Torey Lovullo, “feeling great.” . . .

The San Francisco Giants reported two positive tests on Monday. Here’s Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle: “The club did not identify them, and the news release specifically did not describe the two who tested positive as players. It used the term ‘individuals,’ which means one or both could be coaches or other staff members.” . . . Both individuals are in self-isolation. . . .

P Brad Keller and 1B Ryan O’Hearn of the Kansas City Royals have tested positive. Keller has minor symptoms.


G Spencer Dinwiddie won’t be with the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets as they open camp in Orlando where the season is to resume on July 30. Dinwiddie has tested positive and has symptoms so won’t be playing in Orlando. . . . Earlier, C DeAndre Jordan of the Nets tested positive and opted out.


Robots


In golf, the women’s British Open will be played at Royal Troon, Aug. 20-23, without spectators. That’s one week after the Ladies Scottish Open is scheduled to be played. . . .

ESPN reported on Tuesday that the PGA of America and the European Tour will announce today that the Ryder Cup has been postponed to 2021, with the Presidents Cup pushed back to 2022. . . . The Ryder Cup was to have been held at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, Sept. 25-27. . . .

The PGA Tour had hoped to have some fans on course next week for the Memorial at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. But those plans have been scrapped because of the pandemic. . . .



Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, in writing about the kerfuffle about the NFL Washington franchise’s nickname, has a suggestion: “One team name that should offend no one because it is so obviously correct would be Washington Gridlock. That would honor the traffic situation here and the political situation nationally.” . . . He’s got more right here.


The curmudgeonly one also sent a Thought for the Day, along with this note — H.L. Mencken wrote this more than 70 years ago. Imagine what he might say today on a similar topic. . . . Here it is: “Suppose two-thirds of the members of the national House of Representatives were dumped into the Washington garbage incinerator tomorrow. What would we lose to offset our gain of their salaries and the salaries of their parasites?”


The Moose Jaw Warriors have added Gord Burnett to their coaching staff as an assistant to head coach Mark O’Leary. The coaching staff also includes assistant Scott King and coaching assistant Olivia Howe. . . . Burnett spent last season as the head coach of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues, who are owned by the owners of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice. Burnett, who is from Regina, spent four seasons (2015-19) on the Kootenay Ice’s staff before the franchise moved to the Manitoba capital.


James Gaertner has signed on as the head coach and assistant general manager of the junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. . . . Last season, he was the head coach of the VIJHL’s Kerry Park Islanders. Prior to that, he was on the coach staff of the U of Victoria Vikes for five seasons. . . . He takes over the Buccaneers’ bench from Brad Knight, who was hired on May 8 but stepped down late last month.


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