Constant Speculation is Worse Than No Sports
BOSTON – The sheer amount of speculation and conveying of mixed messages from the various sports bodies and government agencies has done more to hurt the psyche of a typical American sports fan than to help them cope.
In the past week of so, the wide-ranging views for any type of return for sports has gone well beyond the initial guessing game. It’s even worse if you try to factor in spectator sports.
Here are just a few examples of the back-and-forth speculation:
- The NBA allowed teams to open camp(s) on Friday (May 8) but only two opened (Cleveland and Portland). Facing uncertainty, the league and its players association conducted a league-wide player conference call. Commissioner Adam Silver and NBA Players Association executive director Michele Roberts answered players’ questions and the league reportedly issued 14-pages of instructions to teams.
- Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks’ team contradicted the edict, stating on The Athletic’s “77 Minutes in Heaven” podcast that he isn’t willing to put his players and others at risk, citing the lack of available testing. Said Cuban, “the problem obviously is that because we can’t test people, then we can’t assure everybody’s safety, whether they’re basketball players or anybody else,” Cuban said. “Even though we can try to take all different kids of precautions, it’s just not worth it — particularly when our guys are staying in shape and they’re going outside and shooting on outdoor hoops and working out in various ways. So I just don’t think the risk is worth the reward.”
- The NFL, which is operating on a full speed ahead basis with its draft completed and schedule released this past Thursday night, found itself going in two different directions when reports surfaced of NFL league office cutbacks and reduced salaries for executives making over $100,000 a year.
- Meanwhile, Oregon Governor Kate Brown said there’d be no gatherings for large gatherings like Oregon Ducks NCAA football in the state through September, putting doubt in place for all college football.
- The UFC is staging events on a closed set in Jacksonville, Florida complete with their Pay Per View operation activated. One of their fighters tested positive for the virus but the event forges onward.
- While the NHL was weighing its options, Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau announced that Canada would have to consider a long quarantine of players traveling from one country to another (USA to Canada). While his comments were focusing on the NHL, the viewpoint had to be shared for the NBA’s Toronto Raptors and MLB’s Blue Jays.
- Speaking of Baseball, reports surfaced from Cleveland via The Athletic midweek that spoke of a mid-June start for player workouts and a July 1st start to games.
- The PGA Tour is plotting its way for The Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas on June 8 while most State Governors have opened businesses for golf courses and driving ranges.
Of the various positions listed, Trudeau’s press briefing was most telling as it underlined the fact any competition for the NHL, NBA or Baseball could not have the teams based in Canada host visiting American clubs.
“I think it’s a question we’ll have to look into,” Trudeau said. “Certainly at a strict minimum, anyone who arrives from another country will have to follow all the rules of quarantine in an extremely strict manner, but we’re not there yet in our discussions with the NHL.”
He continued: “We recognize that it’s a possibility, but it depends on an enormous amount of things, and I don’t want to speculate on this until there’s more discussion.”
Right! He doesn’t want to speculate. Isn’t that the issue we’re all facing?
A lot of speculation, with no one really knowing what they’re talking about.
As NBA Commissioner Silver reportedly stated during his call with the players, “The ultimate issue is how much risk we’re all comfortable taking.”
Here Now, The Notes: LA Clippers team owner Steve Ballmer finalized his $400 million purchase of the Forum in Inglewood, California this week, allowing the Los Angeles Clippers to move a step closer to building their new arena in the neighborhood. … CAPSS LLC, formed recently by the Clippers owner, bought the Los Angeles Lakers’ former home from Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. … Plans call for the Forum to be more of a concert venue with sports at the new place to come. … Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks isn’t ruling out Nets free agent acquisition Kevin Durant‘s return if the NBA season should resume. Play has been suspended since March 11 due to the health crisis and that has given Durant nearly two extra months of recuperating time in his recovery from last June’s ruptured right Achilles tendon. Marks, a native New Zealander, told Newshub of New Zealand.,”In all seriousness, we’ve tried not to talk about his timeline a lot. When you’ve got enough invested in a player like Kevin, we’re never going to push him to come back. When the timing is right, he’ll be 100 percent when he gets on the court.”
The NCAA sent the University of Louisville a Notice of Allegations related to men’s basketball violations. The notice includes one Level I violation, which is tied to the pay-for-play scheme under former head coach Rick Pitino. Pitino’s lawyer issued the following statement in his defense: “Today, the NCAA released an NOA and alleges a Level II violation against me,” Pitino wrote. “I firmly disagree with this allegation and will follow the protocols in addressing this allegation through the administrative process. Due to NCAA bylaws on public disclosure on enforcement issues, I will have no further comment on this matter until it is resolved.” … There are three Level II violations in the notice. Pitino was fired after the FBI found that top recruit Brian Bowen’s father arranged for a payment from Adidas to the family. … Current Louisville coach Chris Mack released a statement implying the university, with the backing of president Neeli Bendapuli, could fight some of the allegations. … There was no word on whether the violations might follow Pitino to his new gig at Iona College.
Last weekend, the first Saturday in May, they ran two “split squad” versions of the Arkansas Derby instead of the famed Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. There was considerable talk and speculation as to the 2020 horse racing season, although the authorities overseeing the Run for the Roses are promising a September time-frame for the prestigious race. … “We’re going to run the Kentucky Derby in 2020,” current Churchill Downs President Kevin Flanery promised to USA Today. “Matt Winn famously said, ‘I don’t care if there are two horses on the track and two fans in the stands, the Kentucky Derby will be run.’ That’s true today as well.” … Winn was a Kentucky businessman who became the President of Churchill in the early 1900s. A skilled marketer, Winn convinced horse owners from other parts of the country to enter their best in the Kentucky Derby. His efforts fueled a national obsession for racing and he was recognized accordingly when inducted to the Racing Hall of Fame in 2017. … As of now, the race is set for September 5, 2020. …
Tennis great Rafa Nadal said in interviews with local Spanish newspapers and media outlets that he’s hoping the 2021 season is a realistic goal for sports. “I’m more concerned with the Australian Open than with what happens later this year. I think 2020 has been practically lost. I’m hopeful of being able to start next year.”
Diamond Dust-Ups: Just as The Last Dance put old storylines back in play (Chicago Bulls’ 1997-98 season, Michael Jordan, Isiah Thomas, Dream Team snubs, etc), baseball’s Pete Rose was thrust into the news once again. … Rose, already banned from Major League Baseball for gambling, is now accused of breaking another of the sport’s rules. … A former groundskeeper for the Montreal Expos recently told the Montreal Gazette that Rose routinely had an Olympic Stadium staffer cork his bats in 1984. Rose played most of the 1984 season for the Expos before he was traded back to his original club, the Cincinnati Reds, that August. … Joe Jammer, then an Expos groundskeeper and now a musician in London, told the Montreal Gazette in a telephone interview, “Pete Rose would have his bats corked in the visitors’ clubhouse at Olympic Stadium. I found out he was corking bats. … “Pete was too smart to deal with Expos equipment manager John Silverman (to cork his bats in the Expos’ clubhouse). So Bryan Greenberg, who worked in the visitors’ clubhouse, did it. He took me into a room, a door to the left, and underneath tarps there was this machine.” … Jammer said Greenberg told him the machine was used to cork Rose’s bats. … The slow news and no game results resulting from this pandemic LOCKDOWN have us all living, writing, reporting in the past with this column just as guilty as any other media outlet. … Going forward, we’ll be drawing a MUCH harder line.
Happy 50th Anniversary of the 1970 Stanley Cup Championship being commemorated by the Boston Bruins with rightful salute to hockey’s all-time great Bobby Orr. Orr shaped the game, the future of the NHL and only Wayne Gretzky can compare.
Here’s to the 50th for The Beatles “Let It Be” album, too.
Happy Mother’s Day. Stay safe, all.
Digital Sports Desk posts a once-a-week Sunday Notes column entitled: “While We’re Young Ideas.” It’s a throwback of sorts to the days when sportswriting and the baseball beat were the best jobs in the entire sports industry, maybe the entire world. One of those sportswriters was named Dick Young and he wrote “Young Ideas” with a “Diamond Dust” section for notes and quotes. (We’re calling our version Diamond Dust-Ups) … Please follow and encourage (at least) another person or two to plug into (@DigSportsDesk) (@WhileYoungIdeas) and (@terrylyons)