The Rundown: New Hope as NPB Schedules Practice Games, Heyward Donates $200K To COVID-19 Aid, Update On a CI Reader
When I wake up in the morning and it’s still dark outside, and before I have turned on my television to see what’s happening in the world, everything seems normal. I fire up my laptop and start thinking about what I can use as the foundation for my daily Cubs Insider post and I am still filled with the promise of the coming baseball season.
But as soon as I start surfing the web for content, I get slapped back to reality. I’m sure all of you feel the same way. We’ve watched movies like Contagion and Outbreak that deal with pandemics, we’ve read articles about how pathogens could become global catastrophes, and there have been countless fiction and non-fiction novels written on the subject, including The Stand by Stephen King. But now that we’re living it, we all just want it to go away.
Welcome to the first day of spring, though it certainly doesn’t feel like it at the moment.
From Elias: This is the 1st time since the 1994 MLB strike where there will be no MLB/NBA/NHL/NFL games for at least 7 consecutive days.
That year, we went 23 straight days without those sports from Aug. 12th to Sept. 3rd, as the NFL kicked off its season on Sept. 4th. pic.twitter.com/oTfw2M7fVI
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 19, 2020
Today represents 10 days since I’ve left my home. There are 7.8 billion people in the world and a large percentage are either partially or fully sequestered. I was speaking with a pathologist friend of mine last night and he believes events like this happen because the earth is fragile and needs balance. One way to think of the current pandemic, he added somberly, is as a population cleanse. It took 200,000 years for the world’s population to reach one billion, and just 20 more years to reach seven billion. Regretfully, something had to give, particularly when nations annually cut spending on disease control and prevention.
Viral epidemics such as the flu, he added, will remain an annual feature of the rhythm of human life, and the newer strains that are less deadly in general are often the most difficult to overcome without proper immunization. Because highly lethal strains, like Ebola for instance, kill their host rapidly, they can be contained more easily than those that are less destructive. The incubation period for COVID-19 has been estimated to be 5-14 days or longer, which makes containing the virus much more difficult.
We continue to hold out hope that the disruption to our lives is going to be short term. Baseball offered just a little ray of sunshine yesterday when it was reported that Nippon Professional Baseball has scheduled a few practice games. COVID-19 concerns have delayed Opening Day in Japan’s MLB equivalent from March 20 until April 10, at the earliest. Imagine having that same sense of vacated hope finally unbound when MLB announces the return of its exhibition and “spring” training schedule.
Cubs News & Notes
- Former Cubs pitcher Dan Straily and ex-A’s starter Zach Neal say things are starting to return to normal in Japan (subscription to The Athletic required).
- No Cubs players or employees have tested positive for the novel coronavirus so far. Let’s hope it stays that way.
- Jason Heyward announced that he is donating $200,000 to coronavirus relief in Chicago. The right fielder will give $100,000 to MASK, which is collecting supplies and meals for families affected by the virus, and another $100,000 to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
- Heyward joins teammate Anthony Rizzo and Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins in assisting those affected by the coronavirus.
- Rizzo remains one of just a few players still practicing at the team’s training facility in Arizona.
- Dontrelle Willis, who once pitched in the Cubs organization, trolled the team’s fans on social media yesterday with a reference to the Bartman game of 2003. Willis pitched for the Marlins that season. Moisés Alou still struggles with that memory, apparently.
- Marquee Sports Network is currently airing the Cubs’ 2016 World Series run.
- I suppose if there is a silver lining in the dark cloud of baseball’s suspension it’s that it gives Marquee and Comcast more time to reach an agreement.
- If you don’t have Marquee, CI’s Laura Messer provides a list of 10 iconic Cubs games that you can watch in their entirety on YouTube.
- I’ll add one: The 20-strikeout performance by Kerry Wood against the Astros on May 6, 1998, undoubtedly the greatest regular season pitching performance of all-time. I still contend Wood deserved credit for a no-hitter.
I wanted to give everybody an update on Scott Crandall, better known to our readers as Twin31s. Scott had surgery on Tuesday after a mass was discovered on his liver and things didn’t go as well as he’d hoped. The biopsy revealed a malignancy and he has been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, a disease that carries a combined 9% five-year survival rate. I would like to ask that you keep him in your thoughts and prayers. Scott and I are communicating daily and share passages from the Bible with each other.
Scott runs a prison ministry which has been suspended due to COVID-19 and he is determined to beat the seemingly insurmountable odds so he can eventually get back to helping others,. I will keep everybody updated as he shares more information with me.
Odds & Sods
Something to warm your heart.
Cool baseball moment. A kid caught a Shohei Ohtani foul ball, then saw a man in front of him in an Ohtani Nippon Ham Fighters jersey and offered it to him. The guy let the kid keep the ball. pic.twitter.com/svketk9oTn
— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) June 19, 2019
MLB News & Notes
Mets first baseman Pete Alonso is one of baseball’s good guys.
Bradford Doolittle of ESPN offers a glimpse of what the 2020 MLB season might look like once it resumes.
The coronavirus could force MLB to scrap its annual draft.
The Cincinnati Reds, whose spring training facility is in Goodyear, Arizona, released a statement Wednesday. It says “an Arizona-based employee has tested positive for COVID-19… The dates involved are February 29, 2020 through March 14, 2020. [Staff members] who came in close contact with this employee are being tested and have self-quarantined.”
Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer released edited footage from the “Sandlot”-style wiffle ball game he arranged with other MLB players Saturday in Arizona. Bauer posted a 21-minute highlight video to Facebook.
Dodgers minor league player Connor Joe revealed he is battling testicular cancer.
The Rockies have officially closed their spring training complex, ending voluntary workouts for players that chose to remain at the Arizona facility.
Angels manager Joe Maddon is advocating that baseball start the season in empty stadiums with television audiences only.
Some good news: Five dollars is officially “gas money” again. Too bad we really don’t have anywhere to go.
99 CENTS IS HERE: Just got off the phone to verify, but a BP station in London, KY has dropped its price to 99 CENTS PER GALLON. pic.twitter.com/S7yx8TNSRg
— Patrick De Haan ⛽️? (@GasBuddyGuy) March 19, 2020
They Said It
- “[Things] are returning to normal. I don’t think we’re any more than five weeks ahead of where the United States is now. I’m not saying it’s going to be like that. If I’m looking into the future, there’s hope, there’s light.” – Dan Straily
Thursday Walk Up Song
Do They Know it’s Christmas? by Band Aid
- What went wrong? Possibly the most culturally insensitive Christmas song of all time, the Band Aid supergroup led by Bob Geldof of the Boomtown Rats, George Michael, and Bono of U2, may have raised money to alleviate an Ethiopian famine in 1984 with this single, but the message is horribly twisted. When Bono sings “Tonight thank God it’s them instead of you,” I get more than a little nauseous. And hey, by the way, “there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time…”
- How does it play today? I am amazed it is still one of the more popular songs on radio stations across the country every holiday season. Africa, as an entire continent..bereft of Christmas spirit, snow, water, and I suppose any semblance of joy.