Last week I wrote how great it was that baseball was back, but the real story was how the Miami Marlins had numerous players who tested positive for the Coronavirus, and I wondered if baseball could continue if things got worse. Well, they have. This week, it’s the St. Louis Cardinals who have had 16 players test positive. I still have doubts if MLB can get this done. It’s a little surprising to me, at least, that the main cause of these outbreaks are the players, and that they’re not following the rules and protocols. We knew it’d be hard for college kids to stay away from frat parties, college bars, etc. But the pros would be smarter and more disciplined, or so we heard. Well, not so far, not yet. Hopefully this will be a wake up call to the rest of the country: Don’t let up on following guidelines to speed up the demise of this ugly virus.
I do want to talk about what has gone right in the return of sports, and those sports are the NBA and NHL. As I wrote last week, having baseball back was so exciting, and the feeling of not being depressed all the time was a welcome change. But this past week, the NBA was back. The bubble in Orlando has worked out as successful as anyone could have hoped for. And that was great just by itself. But the games, oh yeah, the games! Wow, so many close finishes. I was surprised by the high level of play in these games. I thought the layoff would affect some teams. Every game I’ve watched so far has been down to the last minute, with a high level of basketball being played by all teams. Seeing stars like Harden go for over 40 points, Doncic with a 40-point game, Anthony Davis with 34- and 37-point games. And Giannis has been unbelievable. In two games I watched, he scored 36 and 37 points, and added 16 and 18 rebounds. I could go on and on.
To have the NBA back is one thing. To have the high level of play, I just say, “Thank you, Adam Silver and everyone involved.” I include ESPN and TNT in this, because the broadcasts have been high quality. I really enjoy the virtual fans at the games, the graphics, everything. As baseball is heading in the wrong direction, the NBA and NHL are making it work, and I have no doubt they’ll be able to play right through October and crown champions without any disruption. And by the way, in my opinion, virtual fans are much better than cardboard cutout fans. Not even close. It’s also great that both the NBA and NHL have added more cameras for the games. They can put cameras where fans used to be, and the results have been great.
On Monday, the news come out about former UH football coach Nick Rolovich and his conversation with one of his players at Washington State. It seems players in the Pac-12 are starting a movement with a list of demands that they want from the schools and the conference. Some demands seem reasonable, but the one asking for 50% of all revenue from sports is stupid. To ask for something you’d never get, or deserve, won’t work, and I feel it hurts the athletes cause of maybe getting other demands met.
But Rolo has come out of this looking bad, he’s getting national attention in a way he doesn’t want. First of all, I think it’s so wrong to tape a phone call and disclose publicly the conversation without the other party knowing or agreeing that it can go public. Really low class of the player, and it looks like his mother had something to do with that. Rolo basically told the player if he wanted to opt out this season because of Covid-19 concerns, no problem. But if the player is on this player movement, that could cost him his future on the team and his scholarship at Washington State. Rolo is denying that’s what he meant, but few believe him. I don’t. Coaches use their power over athletes all the time. They just usually don’t get caught on tape doing it. I think the player is at fault for recording the call, and Rolo is wrong for his threat.
He’ll try to do damage control, say the right things, etc. If his team doesn’t have much success this year and next, maybe Rolo will realize that while the aloha spirit Iives on in Hawaii, people might not be so forgiving in Pullman, Washington.
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