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Thinking out loud: Some thoughts on coronavirus

John Rooke
July 24, 2020 - 1:35 pm
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Thinking out loud…while wondering if age is but a number, after another trip around the sun…

  • My head has been on a swivel.  My heart has been full of hope and promise.  It has also been stomped flat as a pancake.

 

  • These past few months have been an experience many of us certainly hope to never see or live through again, including within the sports world.  But it seems, for now, we just can’t have nice things any longer.

 

  • ‘Cuz we’re stupid is as stupid does.  Forrest Gump was right on.

 

  • Common sense for many appears to have left us.  Especially at the beaches, indoors in restaurants and any other place where social distancing is slim…or non-existent.  

 

  • I’ve done a personal 180 on this – from the moment I left Madison Square Garden in New York, at the cancellation of the Big East Tournament in March…to now. 

 

  • This isn’t a hoax.  People I know have been very sick.  Some have been hospitalized.  One I know, died.  Many have recovered, and they have said the same thing.

 

  • You don’t want this.

 

  • Of course, we don’t want this.  But not enough of us care about our fellow man, and therein lies the problem.  Too much entitlement.  Too much selfishness.  Little-to-no common sense.  Or in my case back in March, little-to-no-belief that the Coronavirus was real. 

 

  • I know common sense has been relegated to the further reaches of my brain, where some might argue it has been for some time.

 

  • But not because I don’t keep social distance in mind, and a mask on my face.  I do both.  However, even though a fall without football may appear to be the most sensible, reasonable thing we could have right now, considering the health ramifications…we need football.

 

  • Hear me out.  Fall without football could be, would be, devastating financially.  And emotionally.

 

  • If there is a way, any way, to play this game in a traditional sense or season…we need to play it.

 

  • Another college conference, the SWAC, has cancelled fall sports and is moving them to spring, joining a growing list of leagues and schools punting on the fall. 

 

  • For schools in the FCS and lower classifications, maybe that works.  Practice in January, kickoff in February, play into April.  Okay.

 

  • Hope those athletic departments are ready for the spring onslaught.  Talk about being over-worked and underpaid.  Whoa.

 

  • For the 130 schools in the FBS, the big boys…spring ain’t gonna cut it.  Especially within the Football/Power 5, many of whom have already red-lined their athletic budgets to look like candy canes at Christmas.

 

  • They need to play.  Now.  Because they need the TV and media money that comes along with their playing to fund their athletic departments, and non-revenue generating sports.  Spring football likely won’t go 12 weeks or games, which means less $$$ from TV contracts.

 

  • They could use the ticket revenue too, even in partially-filled stadiums.

 

  • And, because their (mostly) college towns need the revenue associated with these teams playing ball.

 

  • Perhaps a delay into September, or a possible shortening of the season like the Big 10 and Pac-12 have planned will work.  But they all need the revenue and they all need the 42 bowl games that would follow. 

 

  • For the schools outside of the Power 5, any revenue at all may just keep athletics (especially in the spring) afloat.  Canisius, for instance, is slashing personnel within its athletic department…including one of their men’s basketball coaches.

 

  • Yet, FBS programs keep pushing forward.  Texas, for instance, sent its season ticket holders an email saying they plan to play all of their scheduled games, and at 50% capacity at home – in a stadium that seats 100K.

 

  • And in a state that has hospitals turning away patients they have no room to treat, deciding who should live or die…and in a state that is ordering more refrigerated trucks because funeral homes are overrun.

 

  • The almighty and powerful SEC sez it will decide something on a season by next week.  Who wants to bet against their playing ball?

 

  • Within the SEC and Big 12 footprints, those states are also playing HS football, so…damn the torpedoes.  They’ll be moving ahead, for now.

 

  • California is one of the national Covid hotspots at present.  As such, the state high school governing body has announced sports won’t begin until December.

 

  • Another negative hotspot, Texas, on the other hand has merely postponed HS football in the two largest classifications (5A and 6A) for five weeks.  They’ll kickoff by the end of September, if they can.

 

  • The MIAA has decided to push back high school athletics’ start date to September 14…even with health matters trending in the right direction.  At last check, the RIIL doesn’t yet have a date to start anything…with an August 17th date apparently pushed back to a future date TBD.

 

  • Kwity Paye, the ex-Hendricken Hawk and star-in-the-making at Michigan, was this week named to the Bronko Nagurski Watch List for the nation’s defensive player of the year.  If we have a year.

 

  • Still, pretty good for a product of RI high school football, no?

 

  • So, gotta ask.  How do you think we move our lives, sporting or otherwise, forward from this point? 

 

  • With sensible, reasoned, cautious movement forward.  By wearing masks, certainly.  Testing often.  And if you believe in prayer, that couldn’t hurt, either.

 

  • A lot of livelihoods, in many sports, male and female, are depending on all of the above.  Lives may continue to depend on it, too.

 

  • Yes, happy baseball is back.  And in a comforting, nauseating way, it’s almost good to see the Sox blowpen picking up right where they left off last year.

 

  • And the pitching is only going to get worse, what with Eduardo Rodriguez sidelined by his Covid difficulties. 

 

  • Not for nuthin’, but I can’t blame Canada for the Blue Jays’ homelessness.  Actually, Canada is smaht.  Smahtah than we are when it comes to this Covid stuff, anyway.

 

  • Wonder if they ever considered Pawtucket’s McCoy Stadium, which is available for use by, you know, an actual team.

 

  • Looks like the rest of the world has beaten President Trump to the punch – we pretty much have a virtual wall around us now.  No country wants us, and I can’t say I blame them.

 

  • I wouldn’t want too much sickness or stupid in my country, either.  But I live here already, so…

 

  • Did you see where Washington Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle recently said, “sports are like the reward for a functioning society?”  Clearly, we are not (yet) deserving.  Especially after the recent brainlessness going on in Chatham.

 

  • Bye Mookie.  With that kind of dough, it’ll be tough NOT to love LA.

 

  • It was a pipedream getting him to come back here anyway. But shame on the Red Sox for not realizing a generational talent when they see/have one. 

 

  • And make no mistake about it – the Sox could have signed him.  They were $120 million apart.  They chose not to pay him.  Don’t ever forget that when you start to ‘like’ ownership again.

 

  • Four World Series trophies for this group, sure.  But they’ll mostly be remembered for two huge blunders – not re-signing Betts and not bringing back Jon Lester, amiright? 

 

  • Fair?  Probably not.  But that’s Boston.  Just sayin’.

 

  • Two Rhode Islanders sticking with the Evil Empire – Chris Iannetta (St. Raphael Academy) and Mike King (Bishop Hendricken) is outta sight. 

 

  • Shh, don’t tell anyone, but I’ll be rooting for the guys in pinstripes when they’re in the lineup.  My Yankee buddy Bernie must be giddy with excitement over that one.

 

  • 16 playoff teams, instead of 10, will certainly keep interest around once we reach the fall.  If we get there with anyone healthy enough to play, of course.  Expanded playoffs will also help offset some of the $10.7 billion in annual revenue lost from ticket sales and concessions.

 

  • Pitcher Daniel Bard made the Colorado Rockies’ roster, seven years after he was deemed damaged goods by the Red Sox and the baseball gods.  Couldn’t find the strike zone to save his life at one point.  Worst case of pitching yips, maybe ever.

 

  • Bard hasn’t pitched in the bigs since 2013, or even in the minors since 2017.  Comeback Player of the Year has already been decided.

 

  • In my best Bob Lobel, “how come we can’t get players like that?”

 

  • Charlie Steiner is calling LA Dodger games from his home, after his physician told him it would be a bad idea to report for work.  The Dodgers came to his rescue, set him up in his living room – and at age 71, he’s getting the job done.

 

  • Kneel, stand, whatever.  You knew it was coming.  But the Yankees and Nationals this week all stood for the national anthem, after first kneeling.  What I want to know is – will the Yankees be kneeling when the President throws out his first pitch?

 

  • And the gender barrier in NFL radio play-by-play has been broken, with Washington announcing Julie Donaldson from NBC Sports Washington as their new voice.  She will also hold a senior-level role in the organization.

 

  • It’s a great move, but it shouldn’t cover up the number of issues this organization has had going on internally under Dan Snyder…well beyond just the name-change.  Sexual harassment, racial inequality, poor management on and off the field?

 

  • I mean, by comparison the Patriots get punished for just blinking their eyeballs.

 

  • Training camp next week?  Maybe, maybe not – if the NFL and NFLPA can’t reach agreement on an economic impact plan for the league to play this season.  Owners want a lower cap, because of revenue losses due to the coronavirus.  The players feel that would lead to veterans being cut.

 

  • And they’re probably right.  It also may be the only way any UDFA’s can make a roster this year without any preseason games being played, and only 80 players on opening rosters.  The Patriots’ streak of 16 straight years with at least one undrafted free agent making the team looks to be in trouble.

 

  • One thing the two sides have agreed upon – virus testing.  For the first two weeks of camp – whenever that may be – daily tests will be conducted.  At the owners’ expense.

 

  • The State of New Jersey says their limit of groups to 500 people or less will apply to sports – so it certainly appears fans won’t be allowed at MetLife Stadium for the Jets and Giants.

 

  • The Patriots have announced they’ll play to about 20% capacity (13K) at Gillette – but all fans lucky enough to attend will be required to #maskup.  Ready to make that sacrifice?

 

  • And if you think you can go to any NFL game this year without a mask? Think again.  The entire league has made them a requirement for attendance.  The decision supersedes any state or local policy.  Or any personal health issue.

 

  • Still think the virus is a hoax?  Not if almighty football sez it isn’t.

 

  • One-time Patriot receiver Antonio Brown appeared to have called it quits through social media this week.  But since when did we believe anything AB sez through social media?

 

  • And one-time Patriot Michael Bennett also decided to hang up his cleats this week.  Best guess – no one else wanted to fool with him any longer. 

 

  • Are the Revs playing yet?

 

  • I kid, of course they are.  But MLS missed a golden opportunity to seize some extra fandom for themselves – TV ratings are basically flat compared to last year’s non-virus season.

 

  • Props to the Revolution, who have advanced to the Round of 16 in the MLS Is Back Tournament in Orlando.  And, kudos for turning chicken bleep into chicken salad with their drive-in, game-watching promotion for fans – in their cars on the field – at Gillette. 

 

  • Very cool deal.  Looked like fun.

 

  • Maui would be fun, too.  Provided it will still be held in November, with Providence in the field for the first time in 29 years.  The latest – it is still on, but contingency plans are also in the works for a possible mainland event should the virus decide to butt in.

 

  • Stadium this week named Brown’s TJ Sorrentine (ex-St. Ray’s and UVM star, too) as the top Ivy League assistant hoop coach in the league. 

 

  • Ex-UConn star Stanley “Sticks” Robinson sadly passed away this week at age 32.  That’s a shocker.

 

  • Robinson was one of the Huskies who kept coming up big, as I recall, in that six OT extravaganza at MSG against Syracuse 11 years ago…a game I had the privilege to call on national radio.  His story included a suspension, working a job at a scrap metal company and then his comeback to the team.

 

  • Congressional hearings have begun on the name, image and likeness issue facing the NCAA and member schools.  Lawmakers are now asking the NCAA for full-scale reform, including a basic rights package for all student athletes. 

 

  • Leading the charge – Connecticut senator Richard Blumenthal and New Jersey’s Cory Booker, a former Stanford tight end.  Expect an initial plan to be set forth by September 15th.  

 

  • P-p-p-paying players?  Guess that’s one cat that will be hard for the NCAA to stuff back into its’ bag, huh?

 

  • This will be interesting.  Faculty at Kentucky want to change the name of Rupp Arena – since the legendary Adolph Rupp coached all-white teams there for nearly 40 years. 

 

  • The Seattle Kraken?  Calling their expansion NHL team the “Super Fighting Squids” would have been better.

 

  • Did David Schwimmer let the cat out of his bag?  Is there going to be a “Friends” reunion? 

 

  • Are they all still single, or hitched-with-rug rats?  Those rug rats would now be college-aged.

 

  • My buddy “Big E” sez he was in line at the Registry of Motor Vehicles getting his license renewed, and as he expected, the line was long.  Finally, when the guy in front of him got his processed, he turned and said, “I was standing in line for so long, I couldn’t smile.  Look at this pic, it’s terrible.”

 

  • “Big E,” ever the pragmatist, took a look at the guy’s pic.  “It’s ok,” he said.  “That’s how you’re going to look when the cop pulls you over, anyway.”

 

  • Erstwhile NBC Sports personality, Olympic host and guardian of the Fountain of Youth Bob Costas is getting back into the commentary biz, joining CNN as a contributor. 

 

  • Costas is 68 years old and qualifies as ‘legendary’ if any broadcaster does.  He was with NBC for nearly 40 years, a run that may never happen again for anyone in the TV biz at a single stop.

 

  • Always thought he and the late Dick Clark, another legendary personality, must have had a deal with the devil – thanks to their ever-present boyish good looks, which Clark kept right up through his last New Years’ Rockin’ Eve…40 years after he started the televised countdown in Times Square on ABC.

 

  • Whatever works for ya, Bob.  Can I have some of whatever it is you’re drinking?

 

  • Interested in having your questions on local Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics, whenever they play again) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? Send ‘em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments and local stories to jrooke@weei.com. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here!  Would appreciate the follow on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and join in on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke ...

 

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