A season of asterisks
The pro leagues are attempting to pull of the impossible in a season that, no matter what, will always be remembered. Hopefully, it will be remembered for the greatness of athletes and the organization’s mindfulness in keeping everyone healthy during the pandemic. I’m a sucker for optimism and wish them all the luck in the world but will be amazed if they pull this off without seriously jeopardizing someone’s life.
Yet, here we are. Players are reporting to camps and getting ready to play a game possibly in front of no one in the stands. Protocols are being thrown about to ease everyone’s mind but, at the same time, over 60,000 people are getting infected daily with coronavirus. We can talk quarantine all day long but these players aren’t in a bubble. They’re interacting with folks every day and some players are going to get the virus.
Hopefully everyone makes it through. Hopefully the seasons are completed. Hopefully they’re great. Hopefully no one gets sick or carries the virus and gets someone else sick. Hopefully bars and restaurants can stay open. Hopefully the bartenders, wait staff, kitchen staff and everyone else that make this city run can pay next month’s rent. Hope, hope and more hope. It can be exhausting.
No matter how this ends every record, win and loss and championship banner will have a big fat asterisk by it, just like this entire year. 2020 — the giant asterisk.
Anyway, Major League Soccer has already kicked off their return to play. I have no idea who is good but, from the one half of a match I watched, can tell you that the Football Club Cincinnati is not good at all. The only thing I really know about this sport is that there are some passionate fans in Atlanta. Like the kind of fans that show up and watch the game as opposed to the typical Atlanta Falcons fan. Zing!
If you have a jones for soccer then this tournament runs until Aug. 11. Hopefully, they get there as one match has already been postponed due to players testing positive. On top of that, two teams (FC Dallas, Nashville SC) pulled out of the tournament after their teams were hit by the virus. So, yeah, it’s a tournament but you can’t say it’s as good as the real thing, i.e. before all this junk started.
Which leads me, and everyone with a brain, to ask the question, why in the hell are these leagues playing in Florida? The state government hasn’t given a damn about quarantine. The state reported 15,299 cases in a single day. If I had the power that some of these players have — hello Lebron — I would have serious questions for my league. Number one being why are we playing in the middle of a COVID-19 cesspool?
The next big league to kick off will be Major League Baseball, who kicks off their asterisk season on July 23. The shortened season has my interest and I’ll be watching my newly adopted fave team the Oakland Athletics. Teams are already in camp and, yes, players and coaches are coming up positive for the virus. The entire Houston Astros pitching staff didn’t report to practice due to possible exposure. So, what happens during the season when a team gets hit by the virus? Because, I assure, it will. Will a team go into quarantine for 14 days and forfeit all those games? Asterisk.
If I’m going to Mr. Brightside about all of this, I’ll tell you how excited I am about the New Orleans Pelicans getting back on the court. It’s a team with infinite upside and I think the postponement works to their advantage. A rested Zion Williamson is a scary Zion Williamson.
The 8-game sprint to qualifying for the playoffs has been released and the Pelicans have a great shot to grab a playoff spot. The renewed season starts on July 30 with the Pelicans taking on the Utah Jazz.
Some players, like the New Jersey Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie, won’t play for the remainder of the season after catching the virus. Other players, who have already had it, will. You’re going to have to turn your pandemic brain off as you watch these games.
For the cult of hockey heads out there, the National Hockey League will resume play on Aug. 1. The season is moving directly into an expanded playoff format and has announced Edmonton and Toronto as its host cities. It’s a great move having the league play only in Canada, as that nation has a relatively tiny amount of cases of the virus compared to, you know, the state Florida. Like every other sport, and literally anywhere where people gather in groups, players have tested positive. So, at some point, teams will have to remove players from their lineup. Asterisk.
I’m not even going to ponder what will, or more specifically, what won’t happen when a franchise player develops systems for the virus right before the Big Game. Good luck, everybody.
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Beer Pairing: Great Raft Brewing’s “Reasonably Corrupt” Black Lager
Playlist Recommendation: The B 52’s – “Dance This Mess Around”
Around the Way
I’ve rediscovered a sport. It’s call driving. Honestly, it feels like a sport because I do it so rarely these days. Anyway, we’re making a point to take Sunday drives to change up the scenery a bit. It’s pleasant. We cruise around the Quarter or go and stare at Lake Pontchartrain. The pandemic has turned us into old people.