NBA PLAYOFFS in September. Hockey on melted ice in August. Baseball on Christmas Day in warm weather, at neutral sites. Deshaun Watson playing quarterback for the Patriots. Baseball doubleheaders with seven-inning games. Drafts via conference/video call. Mookie Betts and others granted the year of service time even if there’s no baseball season, this meaning Betts never plays for the Dodgers (while the Red Sox keep the LA players).
No sports at all?
As we remain secluded in our homes, the above are all thoughts on what the sports world could look like when this virus destruction finally ends.
In truth, no one knows what will happen when all this ends. The leagues — and their players — continue to talk contingencies, presumably all with their sports continuing at some point in 2020.
ESPN football voice Kirk Herbstreit, as respected a voice as there is out there, opined ominously Thursday night, saying, “I’ll be shocked if we have NFL football this fall, if we have college football. I’ll be so surprised if that happens.”
So, according to Herbstreit, the pain of watching Tom Brady in a different uniform, about to be endured by so many Pats fans, may not be a problem after all.
The NBA can be played at any time, resuming a regular season or going right to the playoffs, whenever that might be.
The NHL wants a Stanley Cup winner and is checking into arena dates in August. Imagine hockey in Tampa in August?
NHL stars Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin weighed in, saying they would like to see the league go directly to playoffs, with the seeding set by the current standings.
Regarding baseball, the most interesting thoughts I’ve seen in recent days came from super agent Scott Boras.
Long a proponent of playing the World Series at a neutral site — thus giving baseball its Super Bowl-like big-event status — Boras came up with plans based both on full and 144-game schedules, but with Game 6 of the World Series set for Dec. 25, in one of the 11 proposed sites with warm-weather or stadiums with retractable roofs.
All with full playoffs.
“We have it all mapped out,” Boras told the LA Times. “It’s workable. We’ve done climate studies, and in Southern California, the average temperature in December is 67 degrees, which is better than late March and early April in most cities. We have 11 stadiums we could play postseason games in. I’m gonna get my neutral-site World Series after all.”
Clearly, Boston would be left out of the World Series site scenario. But with Chris Sale going down for the season, the Red Sox don’t look like great bets to be going for another title in ’20, right?
From the Times: “Under the Boras plan, wild-card games would be played Dec. 3, the division series would be Dec. 5-9, the league championship series Dec. 11-17 and the World Series on Dec. 19-26.
“There would be no days off in postseason series, and games would be played in Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Diego, Miami, Seattle, Arizona, Milwaukee, Toronto, Houston, St. Petersburg, Fla., and Arlington, Texas.”
Said Boras: “I think having a planned World Series at a designated site would be a tremendous economic gain for our industry. You could secure corporate sponsorships and have entertainment surrounding it. The Super Bowl has one game. Here, we can have five to seven days of festivities.”
The same idea could be used in the indoor sports, thus eliminating hockey in the summer in hot climes.
The NFL will continue with its draft next month, but even that has to be altered to keep people apart. After that, who knows.
By the way, I also like the idea of seven-inning doubleheaders.
When (and if?) the NFL gets things underway, Brady will be the quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Yes, it’s real.
Deshaun Watson? He has two years of team control left on his Houston contract (more with franchise tag) and there’s no way of knowing what head coach Bill O’Brien is thinking these days. Trade him now? Ride it out and try to sign him?
One idea I saw this week had a proposed Patriots trade for the talented Watson. From CBSSports.com:
“Patriots receive: QB Deshaun Watson, 2021 sixth-round pick; Texans receive: 2020 first-round pick, 2021 first-round pick, 2021 third-round pick, 2021 fourth-round pick, 2022 second-round pick, OG Joe Thuney.”
That’s a lot, but let’s face it, Patriots coach Bill Belichick doesn’t regard the draft as that big a deal, anyway. If he wants to make this trade, he would have to pay Watson down the road, and we know the Pats aren’t great at paying a star QB the way other QBs are paid.
“Bill Belichick is shrewd, so a Watson extension would be likely,” says former agent and contract expert Joel Corry said on CBS. “(But) New England doesn’t make a habit of paying top dollar, so resetting the QB market like Watson would presumably want (well north of Russell Wilson‘s $35 million per year and more than Jared Goff‘s $110M in total guarantees) would be another stumbling block.
“The only time Tom Brady signed a contract making him the league’s highest paid player was with his 2010 extension at $18 million per year. Such a move is whole lot easier said than done.”
When people talk about Brady finishing his career elsewhere, Joe Montana, the other GOAT, has his name come up.
Well, Montana chimes in, saying the Patriots blew it by letting TB12 walk.
”I don’t know what’s going on inside there, but somebody made a mistake,” he told USAToday.
And, Montana says, “I think it’s going to be fun for him. Probably for the first time in a long time he’ll be having fun, if I understand what he’s been saying, or what I’ve been reading.”
Mike Evans, one of the two Pro Bowl receivers set to catch Brady passes, said, “It’s surreal” having Brady in Tampa.
Former Pats linebacker Kyle Van Noy, also moving to Florida as a Dolphin, was asked during his intro media conference in Miami if he was surprised Brady moved on, and answered, “No. Given the fact of 20 years, given the fact that he didn’t get a contract done beforehand. It would be hard to pass up an opportunity he would get in free agency where he can make some money. I feel like he got what he deserved.”
In other Pats news, Las Vegas still has New England as the favorites to win the AFC Least. According to BetOnline.ag, the Pats’ over/under win total is 9 ½. The Bills are at 8 ½, the Dolphins at 7 and the Jets at 6.
The Patriots haven’t had a great offseason, but the re-signed Devin McCourty is ready to roll with the “new” group.
”I’m excited, I think we have a great group of guys in the locker room,” McCourty said on a conference call. “I know everyone’s like ‘what’s going to happen, everything is brand new,’ but I don’t really see it like that. I just see a continuance of what we’ve been doing and guys assuming the same leadership roles. We just have to continue to do what we’ve been doing.”
McCourty also loves what Jarrett Stidham could bring to the table, saying, “To me, the best thing for Stiddy was that he had to go against our defense every week. He didn’t have it easy,” McCourty said on his podcast with his twin brother, Jason. “I love his poise. I would be faking a blitz sometimes and we’d make eye contact and he’d just start smiling and laughing.”
There are no real baseball games being played, but there ARE all kinds of simulations taking place, from computer stuff to our old friend Strat-o-Matic.
Through its Baseball 365 (check out 365.strat-o-matic.com), you can immerse yourself in the season that hasn’t started. As the site says, “Be the GM! Draft and trade players, manage your salary cap,” etc.
“Games are simulated nightly.”
The Athletic went through an entire simulated season. Sox writer Chad Jennings was in charge of Boston, and the Red Sox went through a painful 66-96 season.
Jennings wrote: “First, an Opening Day email from John Henry: ‘Welcome to the new season. I hope the offseason has treated you well. This is also a reminder that you should win it all this year! Good luck!’”
We’ve been hearing of athletes stepping forward to help people during this crisis. And while this week brought us Kyrie Irving ($323,000, to Feeding America and a 250,000 meal contribution with City Harvest, for distribution, plus 200,000 vegan burgers to Food Bank), Anthony Davis ($250,000), Adam Wainright ($250,000 to minor leaguers) and Dan Haren (auctioning a huge bobblehead collection for charity), nothing some close to Drew Brees and his wife, who gave $5 million (20 percent of his salary) to the state of Louisiana.
“The priority now is helping our communities get through this tough time,” tweeted Brees.
• Belichick, always better at discussing football history than about this week’s game, has been nominated for a Sports Emmy for his work on the NFL Network’s Top 100 All-Time team. Well deserved. …
• Watching Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS (over and over again), it reminds us that while then-manager Grady Little may well have blown it by leaving Pedro Martinez in too long, neither the manager nor the pitcher got a break with those big hits off Pedro. …
• ESPN had hoped to get Peyton Manning in the booth for Monday night Football but it didn’t happen. …
• The Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron on the long wait: “I think as you get older you realize that you need to make the most of every opportunity since they might not come by often. That being said, this is out of our control. What should be on our minds right now is everyone’s safety. Still, it is hard knowing that we have a great team, not certain if there will be a playoff and a Stanley Cup to compete for.”
• theScore.com gave the Patriots a D+ for the current offseason, noting, “Retaining both McCourty and Thuney boosts the Patriots’ grade, and Belichick is sure to have a plan at quarterback. But until the head coach reveals that plan, it’s hard to be happy with New England’s offseason to date. …
• PK Subban wants the NHL to allow all 31 teams into the playoffs, whenever that happens – not a shock considering Subban’s Devils are out of it. Subban will also be hosting a trivia game show featuring players, celebrities and fans. “I’m sure it could be some fun stuff and it’s also great to create some content that brings some joy to people, gives people some things to laugh about because there’s a lot of things to frown about,” he said. …
• New Brady coach Bruce Arians lived through Jameis Winston becoming the first QB ever with 30/30 on TDs and interceptions. Now, he has Brady and says, “We were so close last year. I mean 7-9 doesn’t sound close, but you eliminate 20 turnovers, we’re in there.” …
• Got a few extra bucks? Dustin Pedroia is selling his Chestnut Hill, Mass., mansion for a mere $8.95 million. The AP’s Ken Powtak suggests this is the latest sign of the end of the line for the second baseman. …
• From NESN’s Zack Cox on Twitter: “Quarantine thoughts: Who’s the least memorable player on each of the Patriots’ Super Bowl teams? Here’s mine: ‘18: Stephen Anderson; ‘16: Michael Floyd; ‘14: Brian Tyms; ‘04: Rabih Abdullah; ‘03: Shawn Mayer; ‘01: Jimmy Farris — had to have been on the final roster to qualify.” …
• Aren’t we glad the president sought out the advice of Alex Rodriguez on the virus? …
• NBC’s Chris Simms ranking the top five QBs in the coming draft has it Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Jordan Love, Tua Tagovailoa and Jacob Eason. On Burrow, apparently headed for Cincy, Simms said, “It’s the cleanest film I’ve ever seen from a college quarterback.” …
• Yes, the report on the Red Sox’ alleged cheating will be released before baseball comes back – we think. …
• ESPN’s Mel Kiper has the Pats taking Utah State quarterback Jordan Love in the first round, saying, “It’s tough to know whether Bill Belichick is going to treat the season as a rebuild, but taking Love makes sense either way.” …
• They’ve melted the Garden ice. That’s sad. …
• Brady didn’t make many demands as he headed to Florida, but immediately asked for the phone numbers of his receivers. Question is: will Antonio Brown be there with him? …
• From the Globe’s Jon Couture, a Boston University alum: “Two years ago today, David Quinn coached his final game for @TerrierHockey, a 6-3 loss to Michigan in the NCAA quarterfinals — their fourth straight tourney trip. Two months later, the Rangers gave Quinn a five-year, $12 million deal to become their coach ... BU is sub-.500 since.” …
• Bob Cousy, to the Worcester Telegram’s Bill Doyle, on fellow Holy Cross alum Dr. Anthony Fauci: “I can’t say he’s my friend, but I’ve been in his company three times and I’ve been telling people for 30 years that he’s my hero.”…
• The WNBA will hold its draft, as scheduled, on April 17, but it will be done virtually. That season is supposed to open in mid-May. Good luck with that. …
From AP Radio’s Gethin Coolbaugh: “I just looked it up ...Who was the Patriots’ last full-time kicker before Stephen Gostkowski & Adam Vinatieri? Matt Bahr... in 1995. Two kickers, two great kickers, in 24 seasons. That’s amazing.” …
• Dayton’s Obi Toppin and Anthony Grant became the 11th player/coach combo from the same school to be named AP player and coach of the year in the same season. While the Flyers won’t get the chance to take things into the Dance, this is the 11th time a combo from the same school both won – eight of the previous 10 made it to the Final Four and six won it all. …
• Former Pats assistant Mike Lombardi on Brady leaving: “As crazy as it sounds, it was 19 years of total domination that became the problem, not because of ego but because of longevity. Nineteen years is a long time. Day after day of the same routine, regardless of the outcome, can wear on anyone — especially a megastar.” …
• And Gary Myers, who wrote “Brady vs. Manning,” tweets, “It’s amazing egos and pride were set aside for 20 yrs in New England between Brady and Belichick. It lasted only five yrs in Dallas with Jimmy/Jerry before they couldn’t stand sight of each other. It lasted just 10 yrs in SF with Montana/Walsh before Walsh walked away.”