PARDON the baseball reference, but let’s get one thing out of the way right off the bat.
Count me among the many who miss having sports as a form of entertainment. Heck, it’s my livelihood. This is costing me (and so many others) money. And it’s boring, to the point of I can’t see myself complaining about the length of a baseball game any time in the immediate future.
It’s not fun. It’s costing me money. In short, it’s driving me batty, in a non-baseball sort of way.
I miss it. And if I have to see Sidney Crosby win the first Winter Classic with a five-hole shootout goal one more time I’m gonna scream before throwing something at the television.
All that said, I also think the idea of resuming baseball in the heat of the Arizona desert or Florida heat is wrong for many reasons.
If you haven’t heard, here’s what they’re thinking of doing:
Give the players time to get ready — likely 3-4 weeks — while being secluded in their Florida and Arizona spring training sites to guard against infection. No families. No friends.
When the games start, Chase Field, the home of the Diamondbacks, and spring training sites in both states would be used for games, perhaps three in a day. You can use robot umps calling balls and strikes to keep the catcher and batter away from a live umpire. No fans in the stands. The players would bus from their “dorms” to the stadium of the day. And we’d have some sort of regular season.
A plan revealed by Bob Nightengale of USA Today Friday would eliminate the two leagues, just for this season, and break teams into divisions based on spring training sites in Florida (Grapefruit League) and Arizona (Cactus League). The Red Sox, Rays, Blue Jays and Yankees would be in the same division in the Grapefruit League, but the Phillies and Mets could be in one of the three Grapefruit divisions. The suggestion we saw had the Red Sox, Twins, Rays, Braves and Orioles in the Grapefruit South.
Interesting idea. But there’s a hitch to all of this. Actually, lots of them.
First of all, Chase Field is the only stadium that would give anyone involved in Arizona the relief of air conditioning. Remember, this is the desert. I recall returning from a day trip in Vegas at 11 one night, to a temp of a balmy 99. The water was too warm in the resort pool.
Then, there’s the matter of there being no such thing as an empty stadium. The fields have to be cared for, lights have to be turned on and off. So it can never truly be real isolation.
Players playing games in empty stadiums is the least of the worries in this idea, though.
What if one player gets infected? Are they tested every day? If one shows up positive, is he then quarantined at a separate hotel? Same goes for umpires. Do they wear masks while calling the plays on the bases and down the lines? Do the players wear masks?
As an official scorer, I wonder about needing at least one other person in the park. And what about media? I suppose scoring and covering the game can be done remotely, but that’s liable to set a bad precedent for when we don’t have a pandemic.
And how about the emotional welfare of the players? It’s tough to go through a season with half your days being spent on the road. This would be one long trip. Babies will be born while Daddy is away. Shaky relationships are liable to get even shakier.
One more thing: Having traveled in baseball for 15 years or so, I know players (and managers and coaches) like to go out after a game with the hope (and not always the guarantee) of staying out of a trouble. Yes, going to bars. Without a place to let off some steam, the season would be a tiresome drone, with players in their rooms FaceTiming with loved ones.
On the field, we would have baseball games. The cheating Astros would avoid the wrath they were set to absorb as a visiting team. No fans, no booing. But also no cheering to rattle the opposing pitcher, either.
The players seem to want this, on paper, anyway. They want to play baseball. Most fans want to SEE them play baseball, but that would be reduced to TV only. (You wonder if crowd noise would be pumped into radio and TV casts.)
“I like it. I think that for teams to be all in one central area, I really like it,” the Mets’ Pete Alonso told The Athletic. “The only thing I have an issue with is guys only being able to stay at the hotel and not being able to see family. That would be very, very difficult.
“You’re ripping guys away from their wives and kids and significant others. I think that would be very, very difficult to do if everyone had to stay in a hotel. If guys were allowed to stay in their own apartment or house, that would be amazing.”
But it can’t happen. Assuming this becomes a way for the sport to resume, one would think isolation would be a key.
We assume the schedule would call for eastern teams to play earlier in the day, thus allowing for home broadcasts at a reasonable hour. But in games played outdoors in 105-degree heat, in the daytime, it really wouldn’t be fair for any team.
While baseball would appear to be the safest of the four sports to use neutral sites to get back on the field, the indoor sports may well be cooked for the season. Football? Who knows?
If that happens, it would mean the end of certain players on certain teams. Torey Krug was thinking about that just the other day. He can be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
“I can’t put any assumptions on it, but I can only guess that things are going to look different from a salary-cap perspective next season,” Krug said. “Team structures as well are going to be affected by it, but I have no clarity about it. ... It’s just the reality of the situation.”There was a thought GM Don Sweeney getting rid of David Backes and the remainder of his contract, could be the thing that keeps the talented Krug in Boston. Thursday, on a conference call, Sweeney said, “I dearly hope Torey hasn’t played his last game (with the Bruins) this year or going forward.”
There was a thought Bruins GM Don Sweeney getting rid of David Backes and the remainder of his contract could be the thing that keeps the talented Krug in Boston. Thursday, on a conference call, Sweeney said, “I dearly hope Torey hasn’t played his last game (with the Bruins) this year or going forward.”
Thanks to the pandemic, the sides haven’t spoken since March 12, but Sweeney said, “We’ve had very good discussions with Torey’s group. We just haven’t found a landing spot yet. ... We’re hopeful that we’ll find a resolution.”
Not the GOAT?
Count Terry Bradshaw among those not willing to hang the “greatest ever” title on Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady.
“I don’t think he’s the greatest quarterback of all time,” Bradshaw told Pittsburgh’s 93.7 The Fan. “It’s hard to say. He may be the best quarterback we’ve had in the last 30 years. Is he better than (Roger) Staubach? No. Is he better than Dan Fouts? No. Dan Marino? No. I’m talking talent-wise when you’re putting all of it together.
“Does he have more Super Bowls than anybody? Yes. Therefore, he’s the best. I absolutely have no problem saying it. If you’ve got the most Super Bowls, you can be in there, but I don’t put anybody as the greatest of all time. Is he better than (Joe) Montana? Not in my opinion. Is he better than Drew Brees? Yeah, maybe.”NBC’s Tony Dungy is among those endorsing Brady’s move to Tampa Bay.
“They’ve got good receivers and they have a dynamic offense,” Dungy said of the Bucs. “All they kind of needed is that general to put it together. I can see where he’d be excited about this.”
Last year, Jameis Winston became the first QB ever with 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in the same season. Brady, even at 43, HAS to be better than that.
Julian Edelman got some good news this week? he will not be prosecuted for jumping on and damaging a car in Beverly Hills, Calif. The charge was a misdemeanor. Edelman, who was out to dinner with Danny Amendola and Paul Pierce, paid for the damages and charges were dropped.
Sale ponders COVID-19
Chris Sale, who will miss at least the 2020 season (regardless of whether it’s played nor not) after Tommy John surgery, thinks he may have had COVID-19 when he was sick in spring training.
“Honestly, yes,” Sale told MassLive when asked if he thought he had contracted the virus. “It has been talked about a lot. ... It’s crazy to look at my symptoms and think about the symptoms of people that have the COVID-19 virus, and some of the similarities. We may never know, but I’m definitely hoping not.”
If he did have it, he said, he likely would have transmitted it to family members and/or friends.
Sale told MassLive.com reporter Chris Cotillo, “I’m actually really happy with where I am right now. I’ve been chasing a ghost for seven months now ... “The thing I was upset with the most is that I truly thought I was in the clear. I had all the confidence in the world coming into (spring training) that my arm was going to be as good, if not better, than it was my entire career.”
Paul Pierce is one of eight NBA’ers who will take part in a H-O-R-S-E tournament of special shots — with all eight located in their own gyms on camera. It starts Sunday. …
For the past 17 years, Wimbledon has paid a $2 million insurance premium for protection against cancellation. Now, they stand to collect $141 million after canceling this year’s event. …
I’ll watch old games, but I do prefer the old ones in black and white.
The Pawtucket Red Sox’ final season is on hold. Same for former PawSox GM Lou Schwechheimer, whose Triple-A Wichita Wind Surge, a Marlins affiliate, has a brand new stadium waiting to open. …
The XFL has laid off most of its office staffs and there are no plans for a 2021 second season. I watched some of it — — and was pleasantly surprised. It was just football. …
Forbes has the Red Sox ranked third in the latest look at MLB franchises. The Yankees lead at $5 billion, while the Dodgers are second at $3.4 billion. The Sox are right behind at 3.3, just ahead of the Cubs and Giants. …
Yankee Aaron Judge and his Rays buddy, Nate Snell, have a friendly $5,000 bet on the season — over who finishes ahead in the standings. …
New Hall of Famer-elect Kevin Garnett hopes to be an owner of a group that brings the NBA back to Seattle. You also might not want to invite him to the same party with Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor. KG’s number hasn’t been retired by the Wolves and he told The Athletic, “Glen knows where I’m at. I’m not entertaining it. First of all, it’s not genuine. Two, he’s getting pressure from a lot of fans and, I guess, the community there.” …
Great line from Tim McCarver during the 1985 Mets-Cardinals opener, which was won by new Met Gary Carter with a walkoff. As second baseman Tommy Herr ran out into the outfield and the ball fell between him and two outfielders, McCarver said, “Neither Herr, nor him or them were able to catch it.” …
Brady on his marital difficulties: “She (Gisele Bundchen) didn’t feel like I was doing my part for the family. She felt like I would play football all season and she would take care of the house, and then all of a sudden when the season ended, I’d be like, ‘Great, let me get into all of my other business activities. Let me get into my football training,’ and she’s sitting there going, ‘Well when are you going to do things for the house? When are you going to take the kids to school and do that?’”
Finally, one of Lou Gehrig’s bats sold at auction (actually after the auction when the reserve of $950,000 was not met), for an impressive $1,250,000.
Stay safe, everyone.
Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay