With all due respect to Major League Soccer, professional sports have finally returned, after a nearly five-month shutdown, with Major League Baseball, the NBA and NHL re-entering our lives to varying degrees of success.
Baseball’s season hangs in the balance as scores of games have been postponed due to positive Coronavirus tests of players and staff members of several National League teams.
The other biggest story of the first week of the season was Dodgers reliever Joe Kelley headhunting several members of the Houston Astros with 98 MPH fastballs.
The games were played in empty parks and stadiums. Some teams filled up many of the seats with cardboard cutouts or virtual fans. This gave the product a creepy, eerie, dystopian feel of an episode of The Twilight Zone.
Throughout it all, Commissioner Rob Manfred’s lack of leadership and foresight made NFL Commissioner Roger Goodall look like a leader on par with Abraham Lincoln.
Meanwhile, the NBA and NHL resumed their seasons to rave reviews.
Opening night of the NBA reboot saw a pair of exciting two-point games. The nightcap matching the Lakers and Clippers in a likely Western Conference Championship Finals preview.
Taking place inside the bubble at Disney World, Florida, the league has reported a minuscule number of positive Covid-19 tests that can be mitigated through quarantining players within the bubble setting.
The end of the regular season and post-season promise to be an exhilarating sprint, culminating with the NBA Finals in October.
The league’s players, led by the incomparable LeBron James, are using this platform to voice their concerns with racial injustice. Per usual, the NBA does this better than any other professional sports league.
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Meanwhile, the NHL has set up two bubble cities north of the border in Toronto and Edmonton, Canada.
The league has reported nary a positive Covid-19 test and seems primed for yet another unpredictable and frantic post-season. The bubble settings are clearly working in terms of player safety. In addition, the NBA and NHL products look spectacular on television.
Baseball, which rejected the idea of a bubble, feels like it’s a 50/50 proposition, at best, in terms of finishing this season before something goes completely awry. Without a bubble setting, the risk of getting and spreading the Coronavirus seems more likely than not.
— Full Press NHL (@FullPressNHL) August 3, 2020
Full disclosure, baseball has been my favorite sport for as long as I can recall. That is no longer the case. The pace of play and lack of action has turned our former national pastime into a sport that we watch more as background noise while doing something else.
Analytics. Something I’ve been intrigued with in the past has choked the life out of baseball. Instead of admiring a tape-measure home run, we are now inundated with exit velocity and launch angle. This over-analytical information would be akin to enjoying a great meal at a restaurant only to have the chef come out from the kitchen to explain all of the ingredients used and directions to cook up that fabulous meal. As we kids say TMI. Some things are better left unexplained.
It’s now August, a time for exciting pennant races. Instead, I’m looking more forward to the NBA and NHL crowning champions, four months after they usually do. And I feel it will be worth the wait.
John Sapochetti is Co-Host
The “SAP & KAT SHOW”
Heard On FullPressCoverage
Follow Him On Twitter @JohnSap25