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Covid-19...Don't f'n ignore it! Stay the blank inside!
[Posted Tues. late p.m.]
***Friends, I kept out the local news last chat after explaining what was going on the time before.
But I can’t hide the truth. 69 died in New Jersey just today, Tuesday. Last weekend I happened by chance on a local message board I never normally go on to and this nurse was pleading for PPE at our very good hospital in town, Overlook. In many states Overlook would be first or second. I have been there way too often over the years to see both of my parents, my brother, and friends, in various states of distress and I have to admit, I’ve had problems sometimes with the cleanliness, but it’s been better the last few years and it sure as hell is not a hospital in Newark, like that of which my good friend Mubby Swain died in, in his early 30s, of a simple ailment.
So this nurse, Ms. S., posted Overlook needed help, urgently, and being a pseudo official reporter, I had to make sure her plea was real. She wrote back, “(Editor), this IS real.” [I have never in 21 years revealed my name in this space….it could be Vladimir…]
I offered to give my two N95 masks in their original package…leftover from 9/11 days…to her and she didn’t respond.
Yesterday, Monday, there was a piece in the Star-Ledger (NJ Advance Media as it’s called now…though the print edition is still Star-Ledger), and it talked about a local woman who finally felt sick enough where she had to go to Overlook, where she was then placed in a tent outside the emergency room entrance I have walked through all too many times in the past. There were ten people in the room, one nurse. Amazing. Eventually this woman was told to go home because she wasn’t sick enough, though she was also told it was clear what she had. As in, no room at the Inn. No ventilators if she really needed one.
It was so sad, her tale. I assume she is recovering.
So today, my antennae being up, I went to Overlook just to drive around the entrance. It’s called Overlook for a reason. At the top of a hill, with views of New York City (it’s why Summit is called what it is). And as I drive up the hill, I could tell immediately it was far from normal. Ambulances lined up by the emergency room entrance, a big tent, as described in the article, in front of it, health care workers walking up the hill to go to work. It was grim. Just trust me. Real grim.
By the time I got back down the hill I felt like crying.
I have told you before. If you are in some rural area, thinking it won’t hit you and you have no cases in town and don’t understand what is going on in the rest of the country, be careful. And when your local authorities give you some orders, don’t f’n ignore them. Don’t let your kids out with others! Keep them home! The little urchins can give it to you!
NASCAR Cup Championship Quiz: I miss the sport. So, name the nine drivers to win at least three Cup championships. One accomplished this in the 1950s. The others are post-1960. Answer below.
As expected, the NCAA announced Monday that it will grant an additional year of playing eligibility to all spring student-athletes who compete at college athletics’ highest level after the pandemic wiped out their already-underway seasons, but it will not do the same for winter sports.
The NCAA Division-I Council, with at least one representative from each of the division’s 32 conferences, voted to approve a blanket waiver for all impacted spring athletes.
But while this is a feel-good story for many athletes, how the schools pay for it will be a major issue.
Financial aid regulations will be relaxed to allow schools to go over limits to accommodate returning athletes and incoming recruits, and baseball roster limits will be adjusted, but a recent USA TODAY analysis projected a blanket relief grant for senior spring student athletes alone would cost the 66 members of the Power 5 conferences between $500,000 and $900,000.
Schools outside the Power 5 have smaller costs, but they are facing far lower cash distributions from the NCAA after the body slashed distributions as I wrote of last time, following the cancellation of March Madness and other championship events.
Rutgers athletics director Pat Hobbs told NJ Advance media’s James Kratch:
“There is a lot of financial uncertainty for universities over the course of the next year. To have that additional expense that you have to try to work into already-challenged budgets is going to be difficult,” Hobbs said. “I think [the proposal is] well-intentioned, there’s no question about it. I think the logistics of it and the cost of it probably weren’t thought through… I think there are some challenges to it.”
J. Brady McCollough / Los Angeles Times
“Coaches will have to have some tough conversations with seniors who want another shot at finishing their careers on a championship note but would have to pay for more of their education out of pocket.
“ ‘The Council’s decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decisions at a campus level,’ Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, Penn’s athletic director, said in a statement. ‘The Board of Governors encouraged conferences and schools to take action in the best interest of student-athletes and their communities, and now schools have the opportunity to do that.’….
“Turned out, with the NCAA handing athletes eligibility relief and the schools the flexibility on how to accomplish it, there was no clear winner or loser.
“ ‘I think this was a decision made with the heart, trying to support student-athletes that didn’t have the opportunity they’d thought they have,’ Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said when reached by phone Monday night. ‘But when the head kicks in, and you figure out how you’re going to pay for it and what other implications there will be for student-athletes, I think that’s a recognition that for many conferences and schools there’s a fiscal reality to this.’”
The rich won’t necessarily get richer, as implied above in Power 5 schools receiving more than non-Power 5.
“You’re talking about an equality issue,” USC baseball coach Jason Gill said Friday. “It costs $74,000 a year to go to USC. It costs $18,000 per year to go to Long Beach State. So, you can come back, but you have to pay your way? Well, we’re going to have guys transfer out that can’t afford it.”
You’ll also have an issue of equality. Some schools could have a heck of a lot more seniors than others.
But as Brady McCollough wrote:
“With an precedented scenario like this, no decision was going to hit all the right notes. Officials from schools of all sizes are trying to give the NCAA the benefit of the doubt on this one.”
It’s not just the schools, though, who will be turning down requests from seniors to return, unless they want to pay full freight, but, what of the careers put on hold? Many a college senior thought they had a new job lined up. Will that job be there? Probably not, depending on the career, or certainly they’ll be told to wait until the fall, until commerce begins to return at a sizable level. What if your job was supposed to be as an accountant with a top retailer, not a bad starting position. Think again.
But in terms of the athletes, so then you turn to your parents if the school can’t give you your old level of financial aid for playing on the baseball team, and you ask your parents to kick in far more than they ever budgeted for. You see the dilemmas the NCAA’s decision, however well-intentioned, is now passed down to schools and these seniors.
As for the fans, we will just be thrilled if, regardless of the structure of the roster, next spring is back to normal, with fans in the stands for a USC-UCLA baseball game, and spectators on the course at the NCAA golf championships.
--College golfers are among those catching a break in receiving an extra year of eligibility, having had their season wiped out.
But schools will be responsible for the financial costs associated with keeping on the student-athletes. They will have the option of providing equal or less aid to seniors who decide to return for the 2020-21 season and had otherwise exhausted their eligibility. The NCAA’s Student Assistance Fund could help in limited ways.
U.S. Amateur champion Andy Ogletree and runner-up John Augenstein, seniors at Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt, respectively, have both indicated they will not return. Each had been expected to play as amateurs at the Masters and turn pro after the NCAA Championship in May.
But for top golfers there is a carrot out there should they return. The 2021 Walker Cup is set for May at Seminole Golf Club in Florida. Given the early date, and the probable difficulty of getting starts on the PGA and Korn Ferry Tours, it’s an incentive to return and then turn pro after the 2021 NCAA Championship.
--On a totally different collegiate matter, Phil W. and I were musing further about the Wake Forest men’s basketball team on word two players from the current roster, Sharone Wright Jr. and Michael Wynn, were transferring. Both had played little and it was zero surprise.
But that means 4 of the 5 players from this particular recruiting class that entered in 2018 have now left or turned pro. Yup, that’s Wake hoops under Danny Manning. [We did bring in a nice grad transfer from Houston Baptist, I have to add.]
--Covid-19 can hit anyone. One of New Jersey’s many victims was 30-year-old high school baseball coach Ben Luderer of Don Bosco Prep. Back in 2008 he was a member of the team there that was ranked No. 1 in the nation.
“It’s a shocking loss,” said Greg Butler, the head coach of the 2008 Don Bosco team and now the athletic director at Demarest. “Even the invincible aren’t invincible. That was a group of guys who could not be beaten, then something like this happens and shows just how vulnerable we all are.”
--Former Saints kicker Tom Dempsey, he of the most dramatic field goal of all time, in my humble opinion, his unheard-of-for-its-time-63-yarder for New Orleans to beat Detroit on the final play of a game in 1970 against the Lions, tested positive for coronavirus. The 73-year-old caught it during an outbreak in a senior living center in New Orleans. His daughter said his symptoms are “relatively mild.” Let’s hope they stay that way. Dempsey was already battling Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Dempsey and Graham Gano of the Carolina Panthers remain the only kickers to make a fourth-quarter, game-winning kick of 63 yards or more in NFL history. And Dempsey did it without toes on his right kicking foot.
--And country music star Joe Diffie shockingly died of Covid-19. He was just 61.
Diffie won Country Music Association and Grammy awards and charted five No. 1 country singles in the 1990s.
The Tulsa native’s career spanned three decades and more than 20 Top 10 hits including “Home,” “If the Devil Danced (in Empty Pockets),” “Third Rock From the Sun,” “John Deere Green” and “Pickup Man.” Diffie also wrote hits for the likes of Tim McGraw and Conway Twitty.
Diffie started out working in the Oklahoma and Texas oil fields. Then he drove a cement truck, while dreaming of launching a career in country music.
Several years later, after a divorce, he packed up and moved to Nashville, where he got a job working at the Gibson guitar factory.
“When I moved here, I moved with the idea of being an artist,” he said in 1990. “I wanted to hone my songwriting skills. When you come here, it takes a while to be accepted because there are so many people who come to Nashville who are talented but they have some personality flaws or they are not dependable. By hanging around long enough, they find out if you are dependable.”
Eventually, after spending nights and weekends recording demo records, a friend brought him to CBS Nashville, which signed Diffie to a contract.
--Some of the best engineers gravitate to the sport of auto racing. If you want further proof, look no further than Ryan Newman and the fact he still walks this earth, instead of cruising around heaven at 200 mph.
So seven of the 10 Formula One teams have joined forces with leading aerospace and engineering companies to ramp up production of ventilators while Mercedes has been working with medics and academics to produce an alternative breathing aid.
The oxygen device, a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), can help patients avoid more invasive ventilation. As Andy Obeid, chief executive of the oxygen monitor from Oxford Optronix said, with the help of Mercedes’ high-performance team, “By working flat out…we have accomplished something in five days that would normally take two years.”
--Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona told ESPN that players on the club took a 70% hit on their salaries because of the pandemic, and that they will be making an additional contribution so that none of the non-sporting staff’s earnings will be reduced during Spain’s state of emergency.
Understand the players are paid per week during their season so most of it was already over. But Messi receives about $660,000 per week from Barca and this is not insubstantial.
--So the Tokyo Olympics have been rescheduled to virtually the exact same dates, July 23 to Aug. 8, just one day different from the original ones.
According to local reports, the cost of rescheduling will be “massive.” The cost to postpone equally so.
I feel so bad for the Japanese people…I wrote months ago that the advance ticket sales were off the charts…with very minor events not sold out, which then would have as well.
And you’ll be hearing more and more about athletes losing their critical sponsorships that allow them to focus on their sport to the detriment of making a decent wage in the private sector. Only a handful end up on a Wheaties box and get major endorsements to begin with, like no more than ten in this country and maybe one or two in each other major one. But with the global economy now crapping out, that money will dry up.
Finally, the World Championships slated for Eugene, Oregon, next summer will be held in 2022. Various other big events like the Commonwealth Games and European Championships will be moved as well.
--We have us a CV-19 “Dirtball of the Year” candidate. Incredibly, with the Singer Laren Museum in the Netherlands closed because of the coronavirus, a Van Gogh painting, on loan from another museum, was stolen. The director of the Singer Museum said, “We are angry, shocked and sad.”
Give them death by the rack. A Medieval-like pandemic requires Medieval solutions.
--Us DraftKings guys miss the action. Johnny Mac said he spent 20 minutes watching 4 geese have a fight in the lake behind his house. He tried to get DK to get some action but, alas, DK wasn’t taking bets on it.
--Finally, Jason Gay / Wall Street Journal…on living in New York:
“What a luxury it was, to complain like we did, not long ago about this town, its inconveniences, its sports, its comical basketball teams, its scattershot football outfits, the Mets, the traffic, the trains, the airports, the weather, the prices, the roads, the crowds, the everything. We complained to complain, as habit, as camaraderie, because deep down, we all knew the score: we loved it so. We were in.
“We didn’t know how good we had it.
“New York City is the raging heart of this now. This pandemic, it is ruthless and multiplying, digging into communities around the country and the world, but a whole awful lot of it is unfolding here, fast, in these neighborhoods and overburdened hospitals attempting to triage the incoming. Once-bustling city streets have gone silent, except for the dull moan of sirens.
“The sirens are jarring. The silence, even more so. New York is a noisy town, unabashedly; if it’s too loud, it isn’t for you.
“Likewise, this has never really been a place to hunker down, barricade indoors, remove oneself from the world, no matter how good your Wi-Fi is. New York City is something that happens when you step outside. It’s a pace and an energy; you feel it’s relentlessness the instant you walk out the door. You could be lonely here, but alone? No.
“It isn’t like that now. The ghostly corners and closed storefronts are chilling. The quiet isn’t peaceful, country quiet. It’s anxious. This isn’t like after September 11, when a grieving New York shocked itself back into action, almost as an act of civic defiance.
“With this, defiance is the hazard. So we stay indoors. We have no choice but to de-New York New York….
“There are pockets of life… There are dogs, who thankfully remain dogs… The children in this neighborhood started taping up little hand-drawn rainbows in the windows of their apartments, and now it’s a thing….
“There was a moment when ‘quarantining’ felt novel and cozy, but that moment has passed. Staying inside with recipes and board games seems like the best sort of luck. Cabin fever is a privilege.
“It’s a fight, for everyone now. It figures to be a good long while before we can go back to complaining about the minor inconveniences, the ball clubs, the traffic, the trains, LaGuardia Airport. We don’t know when and if we will achieve that beautiful sort of normal. But we know what kind of town we’ve got. I can still see it from the windows, with the taped-up rainbows. This is New York."
Top 3 songs of the week 4/2/66: #1 “The Ballad Of The Green Berets” (SSgt Barry Sadler…great tune, heroic, but in 1966 we were rather naïve to what was about to come down…) #2 “19th Nervous Breakdown” (The Rolling Stones) #3 “(You’re My) Soul And Inspiration” (The Righteous Brothers)…and…#4 “DayDream” (The Lovin’ Spoonful) #5 “Homeward Bound” (Simon & Garfunkel) #6 “Nowhere Man” (The Beatles) #7 “California Dreamin’” (The Mamas and the Papas) #8 “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’” (Nancy Sinatra) #9 “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” (Cher) #10 “Sure Gonna Miss Her” (Gary Lewis and The Playboys…not a bad tune in the mix that hasn’t held up over time… ‘A+’ week…)
NASCAR Cup Champions Quiz: Three or more Cup championships…Richard Petty (7), Dale Earnhardt (7), Jimmie Johnson (7), Jeff Gordon (4), Lee Petty (3…Richard’s father), David Pearson (3…one of the most underrated ‘great’ athletes of all time…Tris Speaker, Stan Mikita, Billy Casper, Nate Thurmond…folks like that…), Cale Yarborough (3), Darrell Waltrip (3), Tony Stewart (3).
Johnson is the only one to win five in a row (2006-2010). Yarborough won three in a row (1976-78). No one else did it more than twice.
Next Bar Chat, Monday.