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Bonobos and Dogs Rule
[Posted Tuesday p.m.]
Baseball Quiz: Facing a 60-game season, since 2000, four teams have had a 48-12 or better 60-game stretch. All made it to the playoffs, none won the World Series. Just try to identify the teams…if you get the years, you’ll earn college credits for the online university of your choice, or receive your long-sought high school GED. Answer below.
Play Ball! Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci is throwing out the ceremonial opening-day pitch as the Nationals host the Yankees, Max Scherzer vs. Gerrit Cole. I’ll be tuned in for sure.
But I have not in any real way been enthused about the whole process and without an extensive spring training, it’s been virtually impossible to get a read on your team’s hitting and pitching, though Yankees fans could take heart with the hitting displays of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton in their exhibition games over the weekend.
I’ll be watching the first games, of course, but my interest is minimal.
--Well we have an agreement. The players will be tested daily for coronavirus infection for the first two weeks of training camp under an agreement reached between the league and the players union Monday night.
“It is expected that players will need more than one negative test before first being allowed to enter team facilities,” the NFL said on its website Monday, citing Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer. The NFL also offered to eliminate preseason games in response to player requests.
So with the concessions, particularly the daily testing at least at the outset of training camps, it looks like all teams’ camps will open fully by July 28 as scheduled. The league had previously cut the preseason from four to two games per team and was planning testing every other day, but the NFLPA had been adamant about daily testing and no preseason at all.
Players are now going to go through an “acclimation period for up to 18 days” before they must start practicing.
Player A to Player B… “Hi.” “Hi.” “Great summer.” “Yeah.” “Ok, see you tomorrow.”
Some rookies have been reporting to their camps early, though it’s up to each team when they bring them in.
Bottom line, as NFLPA spokesman George Atallah tweeted: “Of course our union had to advocate hard for all of these protections because everyone wants…to start and – most importantly – finish a full season, but the fact is we all conceded to a virus that is still rampant in our country. Crassly put: no protections, no games, no [money].”
--But when it comes to both the NFL and College Football, a lot of us just have serious doubts (as clearly the college folks already do) about the prospects for having a full season when we’ve all been told we have an issue with Covid-19 come the fall, on top of the serious issue we face today. There is not going to be a widely available vaccine until end of the year at the earliest, period. And we’ve all become experts on everything and know enough that despite the hype over some of the early vaccine candidates, we don’t know nearly enough, yet, as to whether they will be truly effective, though there is legitimate reason for optimism.
That said, many hold the same opinion as that of Bill Plaschke / Los Angeles Times:
“It’s a Hail Mary pass that just doesn’t fly.
“It’s a two-minute drill in the final 10 seconds.
“It’s a desperate money grab at potentially great personal cost to the players and their families, and it has to stop now.
“Football, all of it, from Pop Warner to Roger Goodell, needs to avoid the inevitable sack from a surging coronavirus and call a six-month timeout.
“Shut down NFL training camps before they open. Forget the idea of unpaid college athletes playing abbreviated schedules on campuses deemed unsafe for regular students. Follow the lead of California high schools and temporarily dim all Friday night lights.*
*Ed. note: The California Interscholastic Federation announced that the high school sports season will be delayed until December or January, but this is not that depressing. Under the new CIF calendar, football has been scheduled through April 10, volleyball March 13. Basketball June 12. Baseball and softball mid- to late-June. So it seems like a lot of thought went into this and kids should keep the faith…and wear masks and not attend stupid parties! [Depending on the local health situation, practice could take place all fall…so fall is treated like it was summertime.]
“Start the seasons in January. Play the championships in the spring. Learn from the mistakes that will be made by the restarting of sports. Understand that you are playing a very different, far more dangerous game.
“You’re not the NBA, which has covered itself in a bubble. You’re not baseball, which competes with most players standing a baseline apart.
“You’re tackle football. You’re a contact sport. You’re the exact opposite of coronavirus safety. You don’t do social distancing. You do antisocial colliding….
“Many players spend entire games at a social distance of about six inches.
“ ‘I would say given the fact we’re seeing spikes all over the country, and we don’t have a national strategy, still don’t have enough testing and tracing capacity, playing a very close contact sport like football would come with significant risk,’ said Anne Rimoin, professor of epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Health and an expert in emerging infectious diseases. ‘There’s no way to socially distance as you play, you’re sharing a lot of air space, I just think football players are going [to] end up in a situation where every interaction during a football game has the potential for spreading disease.’
“If there wasn’t such a tremendous monetary incentive, this wouldn’t even be a debate. All of football would have been postponed a couple of weeks ago, with everyone following the Ivy League when it shut down the sport with no apologies. Of course, in the Ivy League, football is not a big revenue producer. Safety is not costing them much money. So other leagues just ignored them….
“Football generates billions for NLF owners. Football rakes in as much as 85% of the entire athletic budget for Power 5 conference teams, who average more than $60 million in football revenue per season. Football generates priceless identity and community for countless high school teams.
“But if football doesn’t drop the swagger and humbly respect a Covid-19 virus that has killed more than 140,000 people in this country and is surging through Southern California, our national pastime could become a national disgrace….
“Postponing a season would be a great inconvenience to many people. But then again, so is wearing a mask.
“ ‘I’m optimistic that we will have breakthroughs in therapeutics and vaccines and testing that will make sports and life in general much safer in coming months,’ Rimoin said. ‘But where we stand today, we don’t have those things in place. …I would love to be able to watch football on TV, but it’s all a matter of trade-off, and right now we’re not doing the hard work that is necessary to shut down the spread of this virus so we can reap the benefits.’
“C’mon football, do the hard work. It’s fourth down with lives on the line. It’s time to punt.”
--A few bits and pieces I failed to note from last week’s action at The Memorial, won by Jon Rahm.
As I went to post I noted Rahm had been penalized for his spectacular chip shot on No. 16 but didn’t have time to note his comments when he was presented after the round with the video evidence that showed he caused his TaylorMade ball to move, resulting in a two-stroke penalty, which reduced his margin of victory from five to three.
Rahm appeared genuinely shocked when first advised of the potential penalty by CBS’ Amanda Balionis, and after reviewing it with PGA Tour officials said, “All I can say is as minimal as it was, it moved; I accept it. It doesn’t change the outcome of the tournament. It just puts a little bit of an asterisk in it in the sense of I wish I could just keep that birdie because it was one of the greatest shots of my life.”
Slugger White, PGA Tour Vice President of Rules & Competition, commented.
“The rule is 9.4. It was a ball at rest by the player, moved, and since he didn’t put it back, he was assessed a general penalty, which is two strokes. That’s pretty much the bottom line. …
“When he put the club down behind the ball, it moved ever so slightly to the left, so it changed positions. He accepted it like a gentleman and the man that he is, and we just went on with it.”
As I said last time, Rahm clearly wasn’t intending to cheat. We’re all just glad his lead wasn’t two shots instead of five. That would have been a s---show.
New Top Five Official World Golf Ranking
1. Rahm 9.10
2. Rory McIlroy 8.48
3. Justin Thomas 7.51
4. Dustin Johnson 7.18
5. Webb Simpson 6.87…Go Deacs!
--I failed to mention that Jack Nicklaus and his wife, Barbara, both had the coronavirus in March, as Jack revealed on Sunday to Jim Nantz. The two have since recovered after suffering only mild effects.
“We were very lucky,” said Nicklaus. Barbara was asymptomatic and he had a sore throat and a cough for a few days. They sheltered at their home in Florida from March 13 to April 20.
--Will we see Tiger in two weeks at the WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational? Or will he wait to tee it up next at the PGA Championship in San Francisco in three weeks? I’ll say he waits for the PGA, which won’t be an easy event for him, assuming the normal cool weather in San Fran…bad for Tiger’s back.
--Not for nothing but Tony Finau has to start stepping up. He was -12 on Saturday at The Memorial, in the lead by three over Rahm, made some incredibly poor decisions, as is his wont, and finished -2, 8th. For all his success, he has one win.
--And then there’s Bryson DeChambeau, whose patronizing comments about Tiger Woods I noted last chat. Eamon Lynch of Golfweek is one writer who clearly doesn’t like the guy (I recently noted some of Lynch’s comments following Bison’s previous event) and after this week Lynch wrote some of the following.
“Every sport needs a Tom Brady, an Alex Rodriguez, a Kevin Garnett – athletes whose accomplishments win the admiration of some but whose acts and attitudes earn the loathing of many.
“Hate figures supply one of the main arteries in sports fandom, permitting us to really savor those moments when karma kicks them in the teeth. It’s not a noble sentiment worthy of the Olympic Creed, but disasters inflicted on antagonists bring almost as much joy as the triumphs of heroes.
“Social media has fueled the ripe current of hatred in sport (and society), as folks once limited to braying from the bleachers have found both a wider platform and a community of the like-minded. The objects of their derision share one trait, of course: all excel in their sport. Bench-warmers don’t vex anyone. But in a pandemic when most other sports are mothballed, it’s increasingly apparent how uneasily golf co-exists with this new reality.
“The PGA Tour resolutely refuses to lean into the idea of villains being good for fan engagement.
“While its marketing slogan may have changed to ‘Live Under Par,’ the Tour’s governing message remains the old ‘These Guys Are Good,’ without an asterisk and small print cautioning, ‘But Some Can Be Jerks.’ There are players who stray from the ordained conventions. Patrick Reed has embraced the antihero role, though admittedly that’s like a hamster embracing the wheel in its cage. There’s no alternative. Brooks Koepka too has shown an enviable aptitude for Twitter trash talking, which surely discomfits the Tour more so than his opponents.
“But golf’s unease is most readily apparent in a player who unwittingly finds himself becoming a focus of fan hostility, and who can’t seem to help himself.
“There is much to admire about Bryson DeChambeau. I’ve seen him be exceedingly respectful to people at tournaments and he exhibits a single-mindedness about his craft that more talented peers are just too lazy to emulate. He works tirelessly and deserves his success. But he is also at times the walking embodiment of an observation by the old Giants designated hitter Chili Davis, who said that growing old is mandatory but growing up is optional.
“This was yet another week in which we witnessed awe at DeChambeau’s performance and gasps at his immaturity. The former was inspired by his blistered tee shots on Thursday at the Memorial Tournament. The latter came Friday afternoon during his plaintive exchanges with a rules official on the 15th hole as he bludgeoned and blundered his way to a 10 and an early flight home.
“There was no sin in DeChambeau pleading his case to an official in search of relief that even the most casual of rulebook Clintonistas would know he’s not entitled to. Less defensible was his churlish response when he didn’t hear the answer he wanted. ‘I don’t believe it. Can I get a second ruling?’ he said snippily. [Ed. if you didn’t see the full episode play out, it’s on YouTube. Lynch’s description is spot on.]
“Retail workers must have empathized with the unfortunate rules official suddenly confronted by another ‘Karen’ demanding to see the manager.
“When a second opinion confirmed the first – that his ball was out of bounds – DeChambeau sullenly picked it up and walked away. He was later recorded bemoaning a ‘garbage ruling.’
“As an upset DeChambeau left the next tee, his caddie appeared to deliberately obstruct a camera operator from filming.
“Apparently Bryson’s concern for how his brand image appears on TV does not extend to the conduct of his oafish bagman. It was all enough to make one wonder if there’s a single person in in his inner circle who has the gumption to tell him to grow up.
“DeChambeau won’t be the last player to embarrass himself with on-course rudeness, and he’s not the first to think that the Tour exists to line his pockets and venerate his image. But his occasional petulance gives license to fans who relish watching the pseudoscientist short circuit when his data input does not generate the expected result.
“Being brusque with rules officials and camera operators are not exactly war crimes. …But the sports fan commentariat doesn’t have much else to occupy it these days, and that means DeChambeau is perilously close to finding himself branded a self-absorbed crybaby. Even when other sports have resumed and casual fans have moved on, that would be a terribly difficult reputation to shake.”
And there you have it, boys and girls…on the first tee…Dick Chambeau.
--Monday, Wolverhampton defeated Crystal Palace 2-0, leapfrogging Tottenham for sixth in the standings and the second Europa League slot.
So we have the standings…36/37 of 38 played…
3. Chelsea 36 – 63 points
4. Leicester City 37 – 62 …goal differential 28
5. Man U 36 – 62 …GD 28
6. Wolves 37 – 59 …Europa League line
7. Tottenham 37 – 58
Wednesday, Liverpool hosts Chelsea; Man U hosts West Ham.
Then Sunday, we have Crystal Palace and Tottenham; Chelsea vs. Wolverhampton; and Leicester vs. Man U.
The chances are Man U defeats West Ham, meaning not only will Leicester have to beat United on Sunday, but by enough to have the tie-breaker on goal advantage.
If the Wolves lose to Chelsea, who if they had lost to Liverpool Wednesday have everything to lose Sunday, then that is a terrific contest, coupled with the Tottenham-CP result.
Reminder, first four make Champions League, next two Europa League, which for the Wolves and Tottenham would be big.
The FA Cup Final, Arsenal-Chelsea, isn’t until Aug. 2 and could impact the Europa League entrees, but that’s for later.
Meanwhile, in the battle to avoid relegation, Aston Villa had a stirring 1-0 win over Arsenal today, giving them the advantage over Watford for the final spot to stay in the top flight.
17. Aston Villa 37 – 34 … -26 goal differential
18. Watford 37 – 34 … -27 GD
*Norwich is relegated, Bournemouth most likely so.
All of the 20 PL teams play their finale at the same time on Sunday, 11:00 a.m. ET. Tune into NBCSN for the final action and the season-ending stories.
--Interesting article by Marlene Cimons in the Washington Post the other day:
“British naturalist Charles Darwin got it right, but maybe we got Darwin wrong.
“Most people assume that Darwin was talking about physical strength when referring to ‘survival of the fittest,’ meaning that a tougher, more resilient species always will win out over its weaker counterparts. But what if he didn’t mean that at all?
“Scientists Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods, both researchers at Duke University’s Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, believe something else has been at work among species that have thrived throughout history, successfully reproducing to sustain themselves, and it has nothing to do with beating up the competition.
“Their new book, ‘Survival of the Friendliest: Understanding Our Origins and Rediscovering Our Common Humanity,’ posits that friendly partnerships among species and shared humanity have worked throughout centuries to ensure successful evolution. Species endure – humans, other animals and plants – they write, based on friendliness, partnership and communication. And they point to many life examples of cooperation and sociability to prove it.
“ ‘Survival of fittest, which is what everyone has in mind as evolution and natural selection, has done the most harm of any folk theory that has penetrated society,’ Hare says. ‘People think of it as strong alpha males who deserve to win. That’s not what Darwin suggested, or what has been demonstrated. The most successful strategy in life is friendliness and cooperation, and we see it again and again.’
“ ‘Dogs are exhibit A,’ he says. ‘They are the extremely friendly descendants of wolves. They were attracted to humans and became friendly to humans, and changed their behavior, appearance and development makeup. Sadly, their close relative, the wolf, is threatened and endangered in the few places where they live, whereas there are hundreds of millions of dogs. Dogs were the population of wolves that decided to rely on humans – rather than hunting – and that population won big.’”
And now look how far the Dog has come. ‘Man’ is buying him food that’s better than what we eat, for crying out loud. Yet another reason why ‘Dog’ is No. 1 on the All-Species List. He’s outsmarted Man.
Meanwhile, Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods studied bonobos, which have been receiving a lot of favorable press recently, though they are often confused with chimpanzees, yet they are quite different.
“Chimps make war – males take charge – and can be quite violent, even killing one another.
“Bonobos, on the other hand, are governed by females, don’t kill one another and engage in sex to maintain a peaceful collective temperament. Bonobos also are natural sharers. They enjoy sharing food with other bonobos, and never outgrow their willingness to do so, unlike chimpanzees, who become more selfish in adulthood.”
Chimps blow. And as we know they’ll rip your face off if you even glance at them in the wrong way. [In my global travels, I’ve had many a chimp throw s--- at me in some of the world’s greatest zoos.]
But as we are also descendants of apes, you now see that it was the bonobo, not humans, who formed the first gourmet clubs, which was a great way to socialize. Granted, some of these dinners turned into orgies, as researchers Hare and Woods are intimating, but it was through such examples that Jacqueline Susanne came up with the idea to write “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls,” a massive best-seller. [Or so I was led to believe.]
Meanwhile, Hare says: “The friendliest male bonobo is more successful than the unfriendliest chimpanzee,” referring to reproduction. “The most successful bonobo males have more offspring than the most successful alpha male chimpanzees.”
So for humans to continue to evolve successfully, Hare says, “friendliness is the winning strategy. Social problems require social solutions. The secret to our species’ success is the same as it is with dogs and bonobos. We are the friendliest human species that ever evolved, which has allowed us to outcompete other human species that are now extinct. When that mechanism is turned off, we can become unbelievably cruel. When it is turned on, it allows us to win. We win by cooperation and teamwork. Our uniquely human skills for cooperative communication can be used to solve the hardest social problems.”
It’s too late for 2020, but I’m thinking for 2024, Dogs and Bonobos should form a new third party.
Top 3 songs for the week 7/22/78: #1 “Shadow Dancing” (Andy Gibb…as opposed to Shadow Boxing…) #2 “Baker Street” (Gerry Rafferty…another excuse to say this has one of the great beginnings to a tune of all time…) #3 “Miss You” (The Rolling Stones…sorry, more of “Hot Rocks” Stones fan…)…and…#4 “Still The Same” (Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band) #5 “Last Dance” (Donna Summer) #6 “Grease” (Frankie Valli) #7 “The Groove Line” (Heatwave…liked this one, as I was selling books door-to-door that summer in Oklahoma and Kansas, begging for water…never seeing a tornado…) #8 “Use Ta Be My Girl” (The O’Jays) #9 “Take A Chance On Me” (Abba) #10 “Three Times A Lady” (Commodores…eh week… ‘C’ …)
Baseball Quiz Answer: Since 2000, four teams with a 48-12 or better mark over 60 games.
A’s, 48-12…2001, 102-60, lost LDS…went from 54-48 to 102-60.
Mariners, 48-12…2001, 116-46, lost ALCS…from 4-2 start to 52-14.
Indians, 48-12…2017, 102-60, lost LDS.
Dodgers, 51-9…2017, 104-58, lost WS…actually had a 56-11 stretch, 35-25 to 91-36.
Next Bar Chat, Monday…some baseball results! Who will hit 3 homers in a game, go 5-for-5…will any pitcher throw a complete game (highly unlikely).