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Trying To Figure Things Out
[Posted early Sunday p.m.]
*This is being posted before the International Olympic Committee makes a statement on the status of the Tokyo Games later today.
Masters Quiz: The tournament has an 83-year history, interrupted from 1943-45 for the Big One, so 1) Who was the first winner in 1934? 2) What is the all-time winning score (under par)? Name the two to shoot it. 3) Three have won the Green Jacket shooting +1. Name the last to accomplish that. Answers below.
The Tokyo Olympics
USA Track & Field called on the U.S.’s Olympics governing body to push for postponing the 2020 Games in Tokyo, adding to the growing momentum to delay them.
At this point it’s impossible to follow the strict regime to prepare for the Games that all athletes require. USATF chief executive Max Siegel told U.S. Olympic head Sarah Hirshland that it’s about the welfare of the athletes, whom the IOC has told to continue training as if the Games will go on as scheduled, despite massive health risks and widespread government restrictions.
USATF joined USA Swimming in asking for the postponement.
You really just need one example, hurdler Lolo Jones, who is training in Louisiana. She said her races have all been canceled, and she can’t find gyms or college tracks to train at because they have all been closed. Meanwhile, members of her family have lost their jobs and fallen into financial distress.
Sally Jenkins / Washington Post
“Call the Olympics off. It’s time. The Tokyo Games cannot possibly go forward without jeopardizing people all around the world, and every day that International Olympic Committee officials hesitate, they contribute to the crisis and the imminent collapse of medical systems. A hard shutdown is the responsible thing to do, and anything less is negligent, maybe even lethally so.
“The models and projections are clear, and the reality on the ground is brutal, from Italy to Iran to Seattle to New York. An emergency room doctor in a large hospital, an old friend, tells me that without widespread, immediate and dramatic stay-at-home measures, coronavirus could ‘make the Spanish Flu look like a party.’ She hasn’t seen her daughter in a week or her elderly father in two, and every night as she disinfects herself, she worries about colleagues in harder-hit regions who are trying to bleach and reuse protective gear meant for single use, their masks and gowns and goggles, because their supplies are already running out….
“Do the basic math. Things are accelerating…Hong Kong has reported its single biggest jump in cases to date, apparently because people are still traveling. Get it? The disease is speeding up because we aren’t shutting down fast enough.
“We don’t have time for athletes to keep training, or meeting with coaches, risking infection or becoming asymptomatic spreaders. We don’t have time for women’s soccer players to go to events like the one in Dallas on March 11 that may have exposed them. After which, they traveled and congregated in pro league training camps, like the Washington Spirit, which flew to West Palm just last week….
“The name of the game is to buy time – just a little time – so that hospitals can prepare and supply, or resupply or repurpose. And the way to do that is with shutdowns and social distancing. So that hospitals will not become quite so crushed four months from now [Ed. This was written a few days ago…she would now say 1-2 months or less], and fewer patients will be sentenced to death for lack of beds and ventilators, or caregivers become sick because they lack protective gear. So that other regions don’t experience what’s happening in northern Italy, where the physician Marcello Natali died Wednesday, after warning recently that medics had run out of latex gloves….
“The IOC’s propaganda undercuts the seriousness of what’s happening….
“The facts are plain, and the only thing preventing Olympic officials from making the right, responsible decision is the scale of the event and the size of the financial commitment. Shut it down.”
--So I picked up my Sports Illustrated Baseball Preview the other day, but only to look at their projections.
Yankees over the Astros in the ALCS…which would be delicious
Dodgers over the Braves in the NLCS
The Yankees over the Dodgers in the World Series.
SI had the Mets taking a wild card with an 87-75 record. That would have been a fun season for us fans.
But, alas, this exercise is meaningless. I didn’t even bother reading the issue otherwise. If the season ever gets going I will then.
--Boston pitcher Chris Sale is undergoing Tommy John surgery on his left elbow. He clearly should have done this over the winter. Now, he probably wouldn’t be back until mid-2021, at best. He battled elbow issues all last season.
--The saga of Aaron Judge and his numerous injuries continues. We learned that he hasn’t just been dealing with a fractured rib, going back to a dive in the outfield last September, but he also had suffered a collapsed lung.
A CT scan Friday showed “slight improvement” in the rib, but also showed a collapsed lung, which hadn’t been disclosed previously, had healed.
A number of the Yankees have stayed at the training camp, with MLB telling players they should go home…or they could stay at training camps or travel to their club’s city.
But a big issue for MLB is a lot of players returned home to the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Nicaragua, among other places. Now, with all the travel restrictions, it’s not clear they could easily return.
And there are the minor leaguers, who were already eking out an existence on poverty wages. The Dodgers are among the organizations at least continuing to pay them allowances and stipends.
--I agree with Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera. A 60-game schedule is too few. I wrote the season needs to start July 1, or a little after, and I think everyone could accept an 80-game run to the fall, but that would require Covid-19 to “wash away” by end of May. Ah, I don’t think so.
--I imagine aside from Tampa Bay Buccaneer fans, about six other Americans give a s--- about Tom Brady officially signing his contract the other day on Instagram.
“Excited, humble and hungry,” he said. “I’m starting a new football journey and thankful for the Buccaneers for giving me an opportunity to do what I love to do.”
It will be interesting, slightly, to see where Jameis Winston ends up, Brady replacing him, Winston now an unrestricted free agent. The 26-year-old did, after all, lead the league last season with 5,109 passing yards and threw 33 touchdowns, but also 30 interceptions, becoming football’s first 30-30 man.
--Running back Melvin Gordon signed a two-year deal with Denver worth up to $16 million, this after Gordon last season turned down a multiyear extension offer from the Chargers worth about $10 million annually. Yup, that was a big mistake. He held out the first four games of 2019 and then was just a so-so back the rest of the way. He was a Pro Bowler in 2016 and 2018.
In the same week, the Rams released 2017 NFL offensive player of the year Todd Gurley, at age 25, highlighting again how being a running back ain’t what it used to be. It’s a pass-first league.
Gurley signed a one-year contract with Atlanta. The Falcons had released Devonta Freeman Tuesday with three years remaining on a five-year, $41 million extension he signed after Atlanta reached the Super Bowl in early 2017.
This week, the Falcons decided Freeman had become too much of a salary cap drag.
Of the NFL’s top 12 rushers in 2019, 11 were still on their rookie deals. Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott was the lone exception. Seven of the 12 made less than $1 million in base salary.
--Saints coach Sean Payton was the first NFL coach to test positive for coronavirus.
“This is not just about social distancing,” Payton told ESPN. “It’s shutting down here for a week to two weeks. If people understand the curve, and understand the bump, we can easily work together as a country to reduce it. Take a minute to understand what the experts are saying. It’s not complicated to do what they’re asking of us. Just that type of small investment by every one of us will have a dramatic impact.”
Payton was recovering at home.
--I realize I never posted the final AP rankings, for what it’s worth. I can’t imagine Kansas will be hoisting a banner for this. They better not!
1. Kansas (63) 28-3
2. Gonzaga (1) 31-2
3. Dayton (1) 29-2
4. Florida State 26-5
5. Baylor 26-4
--What does matter is the AP released its All-America team the other day.
First team: Obi Toppin (Dayton), Luka Garza (Iowa), Markus Howard (Marquette), Myles Powell (Seton Hall), Payton Pritchard (Oregon…boy, just realized I didn’t see more than a half of one game of this guy all season…as opposed to seeing every game of Myles Powell’s).
Second team: Devon Dotson (Kansas), Udoka Azubuike (Kansas), Malachi Flynn (San Diego State), Cassius Winston (Michigan State), Vernon Carey Jr. (Duke)
Third team: Filip Petrusev (Gonzaga), Jordan Nwora (Louisville), Jared Butler (Baylor), Tre Jones (Duke), Jalen Smith (Maryland)
--Georgia shooting guard Anthony Edwards is among the players declaring they were heading out for the draft and he is rocketing up the boards, to No. 1 on some of them. Edwards, 6-5, 225 lbs., has the body of a linebacker, averaging 19.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists a game as a freshman.
But this is an incredibly mediocre class overall. No Zion or Ja Morant this time, for sure.
Duke’s Tre Jones will enter the draft.
--The coronavirus could hit the NBA to a tune of $1 billion, according to team executives and media estimates, as reported by the Washington Post’s Ben Golliver, which in turn would bring a record drop in the salary cap.
“Consider: Over the last 35 years, the NBA’s salary cap, which is tied directly to the league’s revenue, has shown annual declines just twice, and never by more than $2.3 million…. That number has nearly doubled to $109 million this season, thanks in large part to lucrative new media rights deals. The league’s annual revenue now tops $8 billion, more than double what it was a decade ago.”
If the playoffs are lost, the total damage could be more than $1.2 billion.
“The money adds up quickly. Gate receipts and ticket prices vary widely based on market factors, but NBA teams average roughly $2 million of revenue per regular season home game. There have been 259 regular season games postponed, and last year’s playoffs saw an additional 82 games. Conservatively, that’s nearly $700 million in lost game-day revenue alone.”
The salary cap hit could be $8 million to $15 million, which means that young stars like Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam who signed a max contract extension before the season that was worth 25 percent of next year’s salary cap figure. Such contracts would drop proportionally with the cap, potentially costing millions in anticipated earnings.
I know zero people will be crying for them…it’s just interesting how this will play out.
Free agents hitting the market this summer will also be hit hard.
--NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in an interview with ESPN that eight NBA teams, including the Lakers, have offered coronavirus testing for their players since Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive March 11.
“We’ve been following the recommendations of public health officials,” Silver said. “…We’ve had eight NBA teams – full teams – that have been tested now and members of other teams that were showing symptoms. And again, I understand from a public health standpoint why some people have reacted the way they did but I’d say from an NBA standpoint, we were following directives.”
Yes, I too understand the public outcry, but I’m with the NBA on this one. In the last few days we’ve learned the Staples Center in Los Angeles was a hotspot. These guys are in contact with a ton of people.
Four Nets players tested positive after returning from California on March 12, including Kevin Durant.
Nerves are frayed, some players are lashing out on social media against those blasting them for seemingly jumping in front of the line.
But we have bigger issues. Much bigger.
As opposed to NASCAR, run solely in the U.S., Formula 1 has an obvious crisis on their hands. The first six races were postponed – or cancelled completely in the case of the Monaco Grand Prix, the crown jewel of the season, a la Daytona or the Indy 500 – and no one is quite sure what happens next.
Some countries have had success in containing the virus, such as South Korea and Singapore, but what does that really mean? There is talk (hopeful talk), that the first race could be held in Azerbaijan on June 7.
But among the spots for races to be held after then would be the Dutch Grand Prix, Hungarian, Belgian, and maybe slot in the Spanish Grand Prix somewhere, but that is highly unlikely today.
Then you have Singapore, Russia, Japan, the U.S. and Mexico…
What’s inevitable is the sport will take a massive financial hit. Television contracts are paid under a complicated formula based on F1’s income and are subject to a sliding scale as the number of grand prixs drops below 16.
--Just like those in the hospitality and leisure sector, golf caddies are now unemployed. Very few of them have guaranteed money from the pro whose bag they carry. And as Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee said the other week, “You can fire your caddie if you don’t like the pants he’s wearing, and they do it. Ed Fiori famously fired his caddie. ‘Why did you do it?’ ‘I don’t know, I just got tired of looking at him.’”
Dale Vallely caddies for Abraham Ancer.
“For some guys, (a long work stoppage) would really suck, and for other guys it would be fine… If your guy hasn’t been playing good, and you’re not working for one of the better players, you want to be working.”
Jim McGruk, Ryan Armour’s caddie, was asked what he’d do if the stoppage continues well into the summer, as seems distinctly possible.
“Mow some lawns in the neighborhood…that’d be about it.” [Shane Ryan / Golfworld]
--We note the passing of actor-singer Kenny Rogers, the Grammy-winning balladeer who spanned folk, country and rock with such hits as “Lucille,” “Lady,” and “Islands in the Stream,” while embracing his persona as “The Gambler” on record and on TV. Rogers was 81.
The Houston-born performer sold millions and millions of records, won three Grammys and was the star of TV movies based on “The Gambler” and other songs. He was a total superstar in the 1970s and ‘80s.
Rogers was also a true rags-to-riches story, raised in public housing in Houston Heights with seven siblings. Rogers had a gold single as a 20-year-old called “That Crazy Feeling,” under the name Kenneth Rogers, but after he stalled out, he joined a jazz group, the Bobby Doyle Trio, as a standup bass player.
The big breakthrough came in 1966 when he joined the New Christy Minstrels, a folk group. The band then reformed as First Edition and scored a pop hit with the psychedelic song, “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In),” which peaked at #5 in 1968.
Then it was Kenny Rogers and the First Edition with the #6 “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town,” written by Mel Tillis, which was really a country crossover.
After the group broke up in 1974, Rogers reinvented himself and launched a solo career, finding a big hit with the country ballad “Lucille” in 1977, which crossed over to the pop charts and earned him his first Grammy and, as they say, the rest is history. His career took off and he was everywhere, on every variety hour, late-night shows, TV movies, you name it. The guy was as ubiquitous as any musician of that era. It helped that for a time in the mid-80s, he teamed up with Dolly Parton on duets such as “Islands in the Stream.” They also toured together.
Rogers toured until 2017, when he was 79.
--79-year-old Dr. Anthony Fauci was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal and he described himself as a power walker these days, but he used to be a marathoner. His personal record was 3:37 in the 1984 Marine Corps Marathon, and he completed New York in 4:07 the next year and another Marine Corps in 3:52 in 1990.
--Lyle Waggoner, the former TV star and announcer, died at the age of 84.
Waggoner was best remembered as the announcer and a comic performer in the early years of “The Carol Burnett Show” and for playing opposite Lynda Carter on the 1970s television versions of “Wonder Woman.”
From the New York Times’ Daniel Slotnik:
“Mr. Waggoner’s dulcet voice, square jaw and muscular physique made him seem cut out to be a leading man.” But he ended up supporting others.
“Mr. Waggoner started on “The Carol Burnett Show” when it began in 1967 and stayed with the program for seven seasons, going from eye-candy announcer to important player in an ensemble cast that also included Harvey Korman, Tim Conway and Vicki Lawrence, in addition to Ms. Burnett.
“ ‘It was Carl Reiner’s suggestion that we get a hunk of an announcer,’ Ms. Burnett told The Los Angeles Times in 2015, when a collection of the show’s early episodes was released on DVD. ‘Lyle walked in, and it was practically no contest. He was funny and didn’t take himself seriously. He was hired on the spot, and we started using him in sketches.’
“Mr. Waggoner’s good looks led to other employment as well. In 1973 he was the centerfold model for the first issue of Playgirl magazine.”
Lyle Wesley Waggoner was born in Kansas City, Kan., and attended Washington University in St. Louis. He then served in the Army in Germany and appeared in “Gunsmoke” and “Lost in Space” before landing his breakout role with Ms. Burnett.
I suddenly have a hankering to watch some Carol Burnett Show clips. Certainly better than what we are facing today.
Top 3 songs for the week 3/23/63: #1 “Our Day Will Come” (Ruby and The Romantics) #2 “The End Of The World” (Skeeter Davis…yikes, kind of timely…) #3 “You’re The Reason I’m Living” (Bobby Darin)…and…#4 “He’s So Fine” (The Chiffons) #5 “Walk Like A Man” (The 4 Seasons…in their top five…actually, there are 15 tunes of theirs that are tremendous…) #6 “Rhythm Of The Rain” (The Cascades) #7 “South Street” (The Orlons) #8 “Blame It On The Bossa Nova” (Eydie Gormie…my mother didn’t like her…) #9 “What Will Mary Say” (Johnny Mathis) #10 “In Dreams” (Roy Orbison…one year later, my how the music world would change… ‘B’ week…)
Masters Quiz Answers: 1) First Masters winner was Horton Smith in 1934. 2) Tiger Woods (1997) and Jordan Spieth (2015) each shot -18 to win; Tiger by 12 shots, Spieth by 4. In 1953, Ben Hogan was the first to go double digits under par, -14, winning by five over Ed Oliver*, who I admit I never heard of. 3) Three won the event shooting one-over, +1, the last being Zach Johnson in 2007. [The others were Jack Burke Jr. and Sam Snead.]
Jack Nicklaus, 1965, and Ray Floyd, 1976, each shot -17, winning by 9 and 8 shots, respectively.
In all five of Tiger’s Masters’ victories he was double digits under par.
*Ed “Porky” Oliver was an 8-time PGA Tour winner. He also finished second in the 1946 PGA Championship and the 1952 U.S. Open. Tragically, he died of cancer at the age of 46.
Next Bar Chat, Thursday…I said I was doing something on Donald Trump and the USFL, but it will be next time. I’m going to add in some other USFL stuff. Bone up on your history.