We have reached August – the dog days of summer. And like clockwork every August, the NBA playoffs are about to start in a bubble, the puck has dropped on the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs in a Canadian bubble and the Orioles are right in the thick of the pennant chase, only 1.5 games out of first place. Let’s take a quick spin around the world of sports and see what we can see.
Little bit of a rocky start for the big leaguers, and as usual, Miami is ruining everything. That place is the worst. The Marlins managed to play three games, and for the third game, they decided they would keep playing despite several players having the COVID. Great thinking, fellas!
Since then, the Phillies have had to postpone some games as a result of the visit from the Marlins and the Brewers had a few positive tests, so they’ve postponed games and well, you get the picture. Without being in a bubble, players are going to test positive and they are going to postpone games. Because, you know, that’s how pandemics work. So, two questions:
How did the MLB’s plan allow the players to decide whether or not they should play if they test positive? There have been a lot of stupid decisions made during the last 5 months by a lot of people, but in the world of sports, that might be the dumbest. Well, maybe second dumbest after Rudy Gobert’s decision to mock the ‘Rona in early March by coughing and touching all the reporters microphones a couple days before testing positive. But MLB had a few months to put a plan together and the result was, “if a player tests positive, he gets to decide whether he plays or not.” Next thing you know, they’re going to add a DH in the National League.
Second question…what’s the plan for determining playoffs when there’s no chance everyone will play the same amount of games? One would assume they have contingency plans in place for this, but, you know, read the previous paragraph. Frankly, the Marlins are in great position with a .667-win percentage right now, so it might serve them well just to not play again. You can make the playoffs if you complete 3 games out of a 60-game season, right?
On a slightly different note, Yoenis Cespedes went missing in Atlanta and the Mets had no idea where he was for Sunday’s game. Now, they are saying he’s opting out of the season due to “COVID-related issues.” If that’s not code for, “He’s at Magic City and we can’t get him to leave…those wings, man.”, then all those injury list reports that said “flu-like symptoms” were definitely actual illnesses and not hangovers.
The Disney Bubble appears to be working and the season has restarted with some great games, awkward virtual fans and people complaining that some people are standing for the national anthem. We’re not going to wade into the political debate, but it’s a bit jarring to see an ESPN headline saying that someone “opted to stand for the national anthem.”
In that story, Meyers Leonard talks about the internal struggle he’s had, as his brother served in the military, yet he supports the Black Lives Matter movement and his teammates’ desires to kneel. Sounds like Leonard is handling this much more maturely than anyone that is criticizing him.
As for the actual basketball, the opening night at the Bubble had two great games, with the Lakers-Clippers nightcap setting an incredible tone for the level of play. The Lakers were throttled by the Raptors in their second game, so it will be interesting to watch the teams at the top manage this two-week sprint to the playoffs. “Home court advantage” won’t really be a thing once they get to the playoffs, so for teams like the Lakers, they will likely use these two weeks as an extended preseason, as the playoffs are the only thing that matters at this point.
We thought about doing a preview column about the NBA restart, but we’re taking a similar approach to the Lakers and mailing in our NBA coverage until the playoffs start.
The NHL season has resumed, and all we know is that there are two bubbles, both in Canada, and at some point in the next couple months, they’ll give one team the greatest trophy in sports, the Stanley Cup. The top two headlines on ESPN’s NHL page discuss a suspension for an illegal hit and someone describing a separate hit as “disgusting.” So, business as usual in the NHL? In that case, let’s just give the Red Wings the Cup now! What’s that? The Red Wings are the worst team in the NHL by about a dozen games? What in the name of Little Caesar’s is going on in Detroit?!? Let’s get that Commie pipeline up and running!
This week in DeChambeau’s fantasy land, he said he plans to live to be 130 years old and also asked for a free drop due to killer ants*. We suppose avoiding killer ants is an effective strategy to living to be 130 but consuming 37 protein shakes and 400 eggs a day probably counteracts that level of extreme safety.
*Ants may not have been deadly. Because, you know, they are ants. And we only had confirmed sighting of one ant.
Meanwhile, we have a great tournament playing out in Memphis, with Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka atop the leaderboard as they hit the back nine. This provides a great preview for the PGA Championship next week. Which reminds us…this coming week is the first major of the golf season, so get pumped for lots of golf coverage in the week ahead. Your excitement is palpable. We can feel it.
We realize that you didn’t know that there was a thing called World Team Tennis, much less that it held its championship this Sunday. We’ll spare you the details, but the format is actually pretty exciting and led to a single point to decide the championship. In a tiebreak that is first to 7 points (no win by 2 like regular tennis), the teams in the final were tied 6-6. A crushed forehand by Kiki Vandeweghe nicked the baseline for the winner. Literally fractions of an inch separated the glory of victory and the agony of defeat. As we’re all searching for those moments that only sports can create, it was a pretty great one. Even if it was for a make-believe tennis tournament that no one watched. That’s what we’re here for.
And yes, we know her name is Coco. Two reasons for calling her Kiki. One is an inside joke with a friend of the blog. Two, what are the chances there is a professional athlete named Kiki Vandeweghe, and another professional athlete named Coco Vandeweghe and they are not parent-child? Well, he’s actually her uncle and let’s look at her genetics: Coco’s mom swam in the Olympics, her grandmother was Miss America, her grandfather played in the NBA, as did Uncle Kiki. That’s winning the DNA Lottery. Needless to say, Baby Hangover was not so fortunate. But what he lacks in athleticism, he’ll make up for in chest hair.
If you thought last week was exciting with the ACC announcing Notre Dame was going to be in their conference for a year, the SEC playing only conference games and a group of football players in the PAC-12 threatening to boycott football season, wait till this week when the NCAA Board of Directors vote on whether to hold fall sports championships. We’d write more on this…and we will write more on this…but we spend most of every day trying to figure out how to possibly play college sports in a way that doesn’t put the students at the most risk of anyone involved. Maybe the SEC magically has the answer to that…someone should call them since the states involved with SEC football seem to be doing so well in controlling the spread of the Coronavirus.
In Tennessee, the federal government’s leading doctor on the Coronavirus task force told our Governor on Monday that he should invoke stronger measures to control the spread of the virus. On Tuesday, he rescinded his executive order stopping contact sports at the high school level. Guess we’re going to bring the corner blitz and tackle the virus?
Stay safe out there, and don’t tell Rona about the blitz. It’ll be our little secret.