As we all continue to hold down the fort, here are some positive thoughts and moments from the sports world to get us through
For anyone in the Northeast who read last week’s edition, I apologize for antagonizing Mother Nature. Snow in May is something I’d never think I’d see, but 2020 is continuing to prove us all wrong.
Starting things off with the best thing I’ve seen all week (shoutout to Scott Van Pelt for the best segment on Sportscenter) our fourth edition of SGN Sports kicks off with coolest moments of #Quarantine2020 – #TheRealHeroes Project. Some of the world’s greatest athletes including Drew Brees, Aaron Judge, DeAndre Hopkins, Donovan Mitchell and more show support for heroes on the frontlines by taping their names across their jerseys and sending personal messages to thank them for their selflessness. It’s easy to forget all of those who are sacrificing for us each and every day as we navigate life in this new norm. Initiatives like #TheRealHeroes Project remind us how important and courageous these individuals are.
Now back to your scheduled programming…
Owners within Major League Baseball approved plans earlier this week for a July Opening Day. Noteworthy changes to the proposed season include; an 82 game season, playoff expansion from 10 to 14 teams, universal designated hitter (hopefully for good), and geographical schedules in which teams play only in-division opponents and interleague opponents in similar area. Meaningful games between the World Series Champion Washington Nationals and the New York Yankees this year? Yes, please. This is a massive step for getting our nation’s pastime up and running. However, there are major concerns by players, notably the uncertainty of full compensation for risking their lives for the betterment of the game and of course, revenue. Next step? Negotiations with the MLB Players Association.
Last Thursday, the NFL released its 2020-21 schedule for all 32 teams. Despite the annual Titans/Jaguars Thursday Night color rush game being taken off the slate, a handful of elite matchups were revealed. Among the games that your favorite team isn’t playing in that you should tune in for, Lamar Jackson versus Patrick Mahomes on Monday Night Football in Week 3 is on the top of the list. Odds-makers in Vegas are taking this down time in sports to start coming up with that over/under.
In the NBA, facilities re-opened last Friday in states where social distancing has been eased. Of nearly half the teams eligible, only two teams – the Cleveland Cavaliers and Portland TrailBlazers – had players show up on the first available day. Since then teams like the Utah Jazz, whose players Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell were the first within major sports to test positive for COVID-19, re-opened on Monday. Despite the positiveness of seeing players return to shoot around and get workouts in, many around the league, are timid to jump back in. Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, said in multiple interviews this week that the Mavericks would not open even though Texas was one of the first states to ease stay-at-home orders. Cuban maintained that “the risk is not worth the reward” for teams that, unlike the Orlando Magic, are not able to administer coronavirus tests to those entering facilities.
For our fighting fans, UFC 249 occurred this past Saturday in Jacksonville, FL, in the first live sporting event without fans during COVID-19. The card was highlighted by Justin Gaethje defeating Tony Ferguson for the interim lightweight title. This sets up a potential matchup between Gaethje and Khabib for the lightweight belt. Keeping his foot on the gas, Dana White has a full card of fights tonight and Saturday, both in Jacksonville airing on ESPN+.
Good vibes all around within the MLB world, as the Philadelphia Phillies treated 350 employees last week to a virtual pizza party. Is there anything better than pizza? Employees from 12 different departments from the front office to the playing field participated in the 90-minute party. Members of the organization logged in from 20 different states and the Dominican Republic; among them was newly appointed manager Joe Girardi, who participated from his home in Florida. Former legends Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley made an appearance to have a few slices as well.
The MLBPA Players’ Trust recently donated $100,000 to Donors Chose, an organization that helps teachers purchase materials to facilitate distance learning. One of the most overlooked areas during this crisis, education systems are in need now more than ever.
The NBAPA has also done its’ part by donating to organizations that are helping fight COVID-19 and supporting those who are in need. The NBPA Foundation has matched a number of player donations, totaling over $5.5 million. Karl-Anthony Towns, whose mother passed away of COVID-19 last month, donated $100,000 to the Mayo Clinic and the NBPA Foundation matched his contribution, chipping in $100,000 to that cause, among other donations from Giannis Antetokounmpo, Russell Westbrook, and Knicks Rookie RJ Barrett.
That’s it for this run! Be sure to check back same time next week for more features, stories, and updates that fill the current sports void in our lives.