Balls in baskets, over fences? Both are a possibility
The lusty month of May, according to the lyrics. The fifth month on the calendar. The third without sports. Or is the seventh?
The guidelines, the games that keep us on track, remain unplayed. If not unplanned.
Keep those masks on. Keep those fingers crossed. There’s talk about the NBA making a comeback, about baseball making an opening. Not as we knew them, but who cares?
We can’t be choosy. We’ll take what’s available.
From the NBA, that would be games at a single site, Walt Disney World in Orlando. From MLB, that would be temporary geographical realignment, three divisions of 10 teams.
The virus still is out there, still in control. More testing is needed. Sports remain more possibility than certainty. Yet possibility is what we need right now, after the suspensions and cancellations.
How satisfying it would be to see a ball fly over a fence or drop into a basket. Or a backhand whip over a net or a 5-iron shot bite into a green. Entertainment, sure, not to be compared with the performances of the first responders and emergency room physicians, but also verification that we’re creeping out of the gloom.
The latest NBA thought is to head to Disney World, where, with several arenas and a ton of hotels, players could be kept in a figurative bubble. Check out everyone — players, team staff, families — then check them in. Restrictions, but nothing like sheltering in place.
Time zones away from Boston or Los Angeles or San Francisco. Imperfect at best. A television show, appropriate perhaps for the resort’s link to ESPN. But do you want to see LeBron in 2014 against the Spurs — again — or LeBron in 2021 against the Bucks?
We’ve reached the point of no return. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said the other day he thought the NBA season, halted in March, was finished, kaput. Now we’re advised there’s a chance it won’t be.
No fans, if it resumes, but no games is a bigger problem. Except for a wealthy 18,000 or so, NBA hoops is a TV sport, In effect, it doesn’t matter whether there’s anybody in the seats, just that it’s on the tube.
Baseball has other obstacles but more time to overcome them, months. Once it does get underway, then the season might extend through late November. Or just before the Masters. Or maybe just after the U.S. Open tennis tournament.
Tradition already has been kicked around by COVID-19. So when the opportunity arises, when medical experts say it’s acceptable to have fans in the seats or along the fairways, there should be no hesitation.
Wimbledon has been scrubbed. The plan from the U.S. Tennis Association is to hold the Open, if not in Flushing Meadows at the end of August then at Flushing Meadows at the end of September — or even Indian Wells in November. And wouldn’t that be ironic? The annual BNP Paribas event at Indian Wells was cancelled in March, the first major sporting event cancelled because of the virus.
Then the NBA went down; then European soccer (football, if you insist); then the PGA and LPGA tours; then the men’s and women’s tennis tours; then American college sports (including the Final Four); then spring training.
Toying around with how to bring baseball, they have hit — or pitched — on something, an idea to merge the teams not by league but by region, glorified Cactus or Grapefruit leagues if you will. The Dodgers, Giants, Angels, Athletics, Rangers, Padres, Mariners, Astros, Rockies, and Diamondbacks would be in the West.
They would play in the regular season ballparks, beginning in June, without spectators, or then with a limited number of spectators until authorities give permission.
Indeed, it should be better. But right now, all sports silent, it is worse.
Nothing against “The Last Dance,” but it would be great to see a first pitch.