4th and a Mile with Paul Muth

Coronavirus has officially changed the game

Expect a lot of empty stadiums in the coming months. Photo by Paul Muth.

Here's what we know from the major sports leagues so far (UPDATED 3-13-2020)

  • NBA: Season suspended indefinitely.
  • NCAA: Tournaments have been cancelled.
  • NHL: Season suspended indefinitely.
  • NFL: Not currently affected. Draft still scheduled to go on in public as planned.
  • XFL: Season has been cancelled
  • MLB: Season suspended for 2 weeks, spring training suspended immediately
For a more detailed list, click here.

Why it matters

It may seem weird for people to be so up in arms over sports being cancelled, but it shouldn't. For most, sports are seen as a constant. A lot of memories are attributed to "the year x team won the championship." Personally, I found a sense of comfort in streaming the Astros games from my zip-locked phone, tucked away in the chest pocket of my waders as my friend and I did welfare checks through neighborhoods in waist-deep water after Harvey. It was a semblance of normalcy during a week that was anything but. Now, we're beginning to lose even that.

It's also about community. It's about the legions of disjointed Astros fans anticipating opening day so they can finally be together after an off season where outsiders were hell-bent on ripping them apart. It's about taking nephews to the last basketball game of the season, or meeting up with pops to show him what that "newfangled XFL league" is all about. It's El Batalion and Texian Army. It's Red Rowdies.

Sports has always served a purpose beyond merely spectating athletic ability. We may now discover to what extent.

Moving forward

The NBA cancelling their season was just the first North American domino to fall. Expect other leagues to take similar precautions, either by locking fans out or cancelling the season entirely as early as today. I expect my Roughnecks season tickets to be affected, and I expect Astros opening day to be affected. If it doesn't happen, OK. I'll happily admit that I'm wrong, because I very much would like to go to these events. But in the event that I'm right, and no one is allowed to these events, there are alternatives.

Provided you are healthy, and exercise caution, go watch it at your neighborhood bar. The service industry is very likely about to take a beating and those ladies and gentlemen have taken care of all of us at one point or another beyond what we deserved. This is one of the few times you can chalk up throwing back a few cold ones with the boys as a legitimate community service.

The games are going to feel weird. It's hard to imagine a WrestleMania in a potentially empty stadium or a Tomahawk dunk reverberating like a solid putt to set up a birdie. It's an alien reality that never seemed truly plausible, but here we are. We may not have caused it, but collectively we're the only ones who can get everyone through it. And while sports may take a backseat to everything that is unfolding, they still matter for reasons beyond box scores.

Don't panic, but don't downplay

It's hard to find the right tone about something like this.

On the one hand, it's not productive to be an alarmist and shout from the rooftops that the sky is falling. Besides, there are plenty of other outlets that are more than happy to accommodate.

But on the other hand, it's foolish to downplay it's effects. As we speak, the economy is shuddering, the NBA is shuttering, and sports leagues across the country are no-doubt taking subsequent queues. Yet in spite of the physical evidence in front of us, we have people continuing to downplay the seriousness, claiming that coronavirus is simply another SARS or Ebola scare.

It's not.

Let's get two things straight:

  1. There is currently no vaccine.
  2. There are not enough testing kits available to identify and track it.

This is why things are shutting down. It's not because everyone will die. In fact most wont. If you're a thirty-something like me and in generally good health, it will probably just knock you for a loop for a few days and you'll be right back at it.

But it's not about you. It's about your grandma you go hug. It's about someone else's grandma using the same ATM as someone who was infected but didn't know. It's the unknowing.

If you don't agree with the measures being taken, that's fine. They might seem insane to some, but what is equally insane is telling everyone that it is being blown out of proportion, that it's just hysteria about nothing, or that it's some conspiracy. Preaching caution to a thing that might be overblown will simply result in over-preparedness. Downplaying and convincing people to let down their guard over a thing that could potentially be 10 times as fatal as influenza can have more dire consequences.

We're in uncharted territory. So if you're not qualified to read the map, please don't give out directions.

NOTE: The beginning of the article has been updated to accurately reflect the current state of the leagues mentioned

4th and a Mile with Paul Muth

WrestleMania 36 for beginners, because what else is on - Part 2

Royal Rumble in January is the beginning of the road to WrestleMania. Photo By Paul Muth

The following is part 2 of a two part guide to watching WrestleMania for people who don't normally watch wrestling.

Part one can be found here.

Let's get back to it:

Singles Match: Kevin Owens

vs Seth Rollins


The skinny

Seth Rollins has been an outspoken on obnoxious bad dude with a big old posse that beats up every one and plays dirty, win or lose. Kevin Owens is out to "shut Rollins up," and has been harassing him and interfering in matches since. They've been building this match up for some time, so it should be pretty good.

Who should I root for?

Personally I don't like either of them. WWE continues to push Rollins on fans, trying angle after angle and it's exhausting. Plus, he's glove guy. I don't like glove guys. Owens is supposed to be the guy you root for, but I can't root for anyone who uses Stone Cold Steve Austin's signature stunner move. Can't do it.

Prediction

Owens wins because he hasn't been great in WrestleMania matches and I figure they'll throw him a bone this year.

Raw Tag Team Championship -- The Street Profits (Champs)

vs Austin Theory & Angel Garza

The skinny

The Street Profits just recently won the belts, and the original match was supposed to be against newcomer Angel Garza and Andrade, but Andrade suffered an injury on Monday. He was replaced by Austin Theory, another NXT guy making his debut, so there's no real backstory build up to this match really. Any chance to watch the Street Profits is worth it though, so it should be fine.

Who should I root for?

The Street Profits hands down. They bring an unmatched energy to every performance, and their social media game is on point. Angel Garza and Austin Theory were piecemeal-ed together at the last minute, there's nothing there.

Prediction

Street Profits. Easy.

SmackDown Tag Team Championship Ladder Match -- The Miz & John Morrison (Champs)

vs. The New Day

vs. The Usos

The skinny

Well there's speculation that this match might not even happen, but if it does here's the rundown.

The New Day and The Usos have beef over who should get to challenge for the titles, but after the champs interfered both teams were given the chance.

Who should I root for?

The New Day are a lot of fun, but I'm a fan of just how good Miz and Morrison are at being heels. The Usos don't do much for me.

Prediction

Assuming the match happens, I'll go with The Usos I guess. The other two teams have had the belts more recently, so maybe they're trying to regain some credibility with them, I don't know.

Women's Tag Team Championship -- The Kabuki Warriors (Champs)

vs Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross

The skinny

The Kabuki Warriors have held the titles for some time and now they'll be defending them against the tag team they win them off of. It seems like a match for the sake of having a match, but there's talent on both sides so it should be fine to watch.

Who should I root for?

Both teams are easy to root for. The Kabuki Warriors are crazy as hell, and the chemistry between Bliss and Cross is top notch. I'm a bigger fan of Asuka's insanity though.

Prediction

The Kabuki Warriors retain their titles. They're more entertaining when they're rubbing their belts in opponents' faces.

Aleister Black

vs Bobby Lashley

The skinny

None. There was no build up to this at all. But Lashley is a big dude, and Black is an up and comer that looks like WWE is trying to give a huge push to.

Who should I root for?

Black for sure. He's got the whole dark and brooding thing going, but he also has some awesome tattoos and kicks people in the face.

Prediction

They put in a hell of a show and Black gets put over. Black wins.

Elias

vs King Corbin

The skinny

This is another filler match. King Corbin is a heel, and a good one, but WWE just can't seem to find a gimmick that works. Elias I guess wants to fight him. This match is just there. It's a thing.

Who should I root for?

A quick match

Prediction

Corbin wins to maintain relevancy so he can go harass another big name on the roster.

Singles "Firefly Funhouse" Match: John Cena

vs "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt

The skinny

John Cena returns for a WrestleMania match against one of the most unique characters WWE has seen in some time. Bray Wyatt is part Mankind, part Kane, and there isn't a better wrestler on the roster when it comes to mic skills. I have no idea what a Firefly Funhouse Match is, but it sounds a lot like Undertaker and AJ Styles' Boneyard Match. I expect this to be one of the better matches this weekend.

Who should I root for?

Bray Wyatt. John Cena is just here to do some WrestleMania stuff and then he's back to Hollywood.

Prediction

Cena wins, because otherwise why would he come back?

Singles "Last Man Standing" match: Edge

vs. Randy Orton

The skinny

They've done a really good job building this story line up since late January. After nine years Edge was medically cleared to go back to wrestling (real life, not story line), and did so by debuting as an entrant in the Royal Rumble. The following Monday Orton and Edge reunited in the ring on Raw, where Orton then attacked his former tag team partner and "tried to end his career again." Orton brutalized anyone coming to Edge's defense and once Edge came back it was pretty apparent that they were going to meet up at WrestleMania. Like I said, they built it up really well so this should be awesome.

Who should I root for?

Edge, are you kidding? The dude's been working to get back to wrestling for NINE YEARS. Root for him, jeez.

Prediction

If Edge doesn't win, America loses.

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