‘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

Scattershooting on a Saturday night while feeling part of One World: Together at Home . . .

Scattershooting


There was an interesting development in B.C. on Saturday as Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, said in her daily pandemic-related briefing that “realistically, we will not be having those big events where people gather together this summer.”

She added: “I would tell people to think small. We are not going to be having large gatherings.”

While suggesting there may be an easing of some restrictions in mid-May, she said: “We can’t lose sight that we continue to have people who are affected by this, we continue to have outbreaks, we continue to have transmission, and so we are not at the point yet where we can let (down) our guard. . . . The storm is still raging, and tragically we see that in the fact that people are still dying from this virus in B.C.”

While Dr. Henry doesn’t appear to have defined the beginning and end of summer, it seems that the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE), the West Coast’s biggest annual show, is in for change. This year, it is scheduled to open on Aug. 22 and run through Sept. 7.

On Saturday, the PNE issued a news release that read, in part:

“Because of COVID-19, this summer will look different at the PNE. The opportunities to celebrate will be different and we absolutely recognize that our plans for the PNE Fair and Playland will need to adjust accordingly. . . .

“So stay tuned, the events may be smaller, and protocols may be different, but we have a few bright ideas up our sleeve for when the time is right.”

Dr. Henry explained: “We do not have enough herd immunity or community immunity to protect everybody and allow that type of event to happen. So I think we’ll see be seeing, globally, those types of events — large parades, large mass gatherings where we all come together — those will not be happening this summer.”

That wouldn’t seem to bode well for any sports leagues/teams that operate in the summer months in B.C., including the Vancouver Whitecaps, B.C. Lions and Vancouver Canadians. As much as we all want to see junior hockey up and running again, you really have to wonder what the future holds, especially considering that major junior, junior A and junior B teams normally would open camps in August.

B.C. is home to five WHL teams, 17 junior A teams, all of them in the BCHL, and 19 junior B teams in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.

Still, hockey fans have to get through four months to get to mid-August and a lot can happen between now and then. Right?


TurnSignal


Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, announced on Friday that the federal government was making $500 million in relief aid available for arts, culture and sports. . . . Lance Black, the president of the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies, told Cleve Dheensaw of the Victoria Times Colonist: “We definitely need to get that help.” . . . Black added: “We are hurting because our sponsors are hurting. This is the time of year we would be out selling advertising. We need the money but no one is buying advertising.” . . . Junior A and junior B teams also won’t be gaining revenue from spring camps, all of which have been cancelled. . . . Dheensaw’s complete story is right here.



The 53rd annual IMG Academy Junior World Championships golf tournament, scheduled for July 4-10 in San Diego, has been cancelled. It draws more than 1,200 golfers on an annual basis. . . .

Soccer’s English Premier League has been shut down for about a month now with no end in sight. . . . Karren Brady, West Ham’s chief executive, writing in The Sun newspaper: “Players will have been able to retain some physical fitness at home. But if social-distancing rules are still in place, physical match-play training will not be allowed — you can’t tackle from two meters away. So, how match-fit will players be if the season commences, as we all hope it will, by mid-June?” . . .

The NBA revealed that players will taking a 25 per cent cut in pay. The first slash will be evident in the payments of May 15. The NBA regular-season would have ended on Wednesday had play not been suspended with 259 games yet to be played. . . .

The MLS announced that it won’t re-open until at least June 8. It has been out of action since March 12. . . .

More golf tournaments have been cancelled, this time in Europe. The BMW International that was to have been played in Munich, from June 25-28, and the Open de France that was scheduled for the following week have been postponed. . . . Large public gatherings have been banned in France through mid-July and in Germany through Aug. 31. . . . The Scottish Open (July 9-12) also has been postponed.


Clinton


Hannah Keyser, a baseball writer for Yahoo, watched the movie Hoosiers for the first time the other night. Her reaction: “I was not prepared for this much upper thigh.”



Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot: “I began social distancing years ago when somebody would approach and try to tell me about his fantasy football team.”


Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, with some news from the Little Apple: “Forbidden Spirits Distilling near Kelowna offered the locals free coronavirus disinfectant, but the jockeying in line quickly devolved into fistfights. In other words, they scheduled a hand-sanitizer giveaway — and a hockey game broke out.”


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought For the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.”


Dale Lambert is the new head coach of the Saskatoon Contacts of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. Lambert, 60, had an extensive playing career in England. He is a brother to Ross and Lane Lambert, the latter the associate coach with the NHL’s New York Islanders. . . . Lane (1981-83) and Ross (1982-83) both spent time with the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades. . . . Dale will take over from long-time Contacts’ head coach Marc Chartier, another former Blades player.


Men