Every-Thing Sports

Coronavirus: How it's impacting sports

Coronavirus: How it's impacting sports
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When some people go to work, they go into an actual building or office of some type. Generally, you work with and around other people. There's always "water cooler talk" that takes place discussing the topics of the day that are most pressing. It could range anywhere from sports to politics to pop culture to whatever is hot in the news cycle. Lately, it's been the coronavirus (COVID-19). The virus originated in China and has spread all over the globe. It's similar to the flu, but has some differences. Nonetheless, it's still deadly and can be highly contagious unless proper precautions are taken.

Proper precautions being taken is what led me to this article in the first place. So many people let the media's coverage control their thinking. There's been reports of widespread outages of common items like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, hand soap, water, and other various items you'd normally see on shelves. Price gouging is rampant as well. I've seen disinfectants, cleaners, bleach, and other necessities to combat the spreading of the virus go for as much as ten times their normal value! So how is it effecting sports?

Games without fans

Italy is one of the countries that have been hit hard by the coronavirus. Italian based Serie A, one of the top soccer leagues in the world, has suspended all non-essential personnel to its matches, meaning, they have no fans and very few others in attendance. Other leagues around the world have similar statutes in places, or have canceled events altogether. Several non-sporting events have been canceled as well. Not all events have been this restricted or canceled however...

Restrictions in place

There are other restrictions placed upon other events that haven't been canceled. For example, media access to locker rooms have been instituted. Some leagues have mandated that the media will only be allowed to interview players in general media availibility before and/or after games instead of the locker room access. Players have self-imposed restrictions as well. C.J. McCollum of the Trailblazers came out and said he isn't signing autographs for the time being after the outbreak hit Oregon.

More potential fallout

When the NBA came out and said they may play games without non-essential personnel, LeBron James strongly disagreed. He went as far as saying he wouldn't play because he does it for the fans. The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo were thought to be in danger until the IOC came out and said the games will be played. Some organizations state-side have taken precautions, but no major cancellations or serious changes as of yet. There's been talk of making changes. I imagine leagues are monitoring the situation and will act accordingly.

All we can do as the public is stay calm and well-informed. All the unnecessary stuff, like clearing the shelves at stores and price gouging, needs to stop. Sports serve as a respite from our lives. If we can't have sports to serve as an escape, what do we have? Thank God sports radio hasn't been affected...yet. The fact that I even felt compelled enough to write this was too much for me. Sports is the one thing that helps us get through tough times. If those tough times begin to effect how and/or how much we consume our sports, you know things are getting bad. Bottom line: be careful, stay well-informed, and wash your nasty ass hands!

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The Astros are back in action Friday night against the A's. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

The Astros need to whip up on the Oakland A’s this weekend in California as they did in sweeping four from them last week at Minute Maid Park. That was the start of a homestand which ended up with seven wins in 10 games. That goes down as a successful homestand, especially since it felt like the Astros’ prior winning homestand came while Donald Trump was President (it actually started in late July). Still, 7-3 doesn’t feel like a smashing success with it ending by dropping two of three games to the lowly Los Angeles Angels.

It is not exactly with bated breath that anyone should be waiting on Jose Abreu’s return to the lineup, but it’s coming. It should not be on this road trip. After the three games with the A’s the Astros move up the coast for a big four game set with American League West leading Seattle. The M's start all right-handed pitchers. That is no time to sit Jon Singleton to see if Abreu has managed to pump a few drops of gas into his tank while spending the better part of this month at the Astros’ minor league complex. It’s not as if Singleton has been stellar since Abreu’s departure, but by comparison, he’s been Lou Gehrig-esque. The series with the Mariners isn’t make or break but the Astros are strongly advised to get at least a split. That it should be Framber Valdez starting the opener Monday night doesn’t breed tremendous confidence, coming off his meltdown outing against the Angels. Another start, another opportunity.

The Mariners are at the Nationals this weekend, starting it a mere four and a half games ahead of the Astros. In four of the five other divisions the Astros' 22-28 record would have them at least 10 games off the lead.

One step forward, two steps back

Speaking of washed-up first basemen, Joey Votto should be a future Hall of Famer. The 40-year-old Canadian is trying to make it back to the big leagues via the minor leagues with the Toronto Blue Jays. Votto was an absolutely tremendous player with the Cincinnati Reds. As the Beastie Boys said, “Ch-check it out.” Over Jeff Bagwell’s first ten seasons with the Astros he hit .305 with a .417 on-base percentage and .552 slugging percentage, yielding a phenomenal .970 OPS. Over Votto’s first ten full seasons with the Reds: .313/.429/.540 for an exactly phenomenal .970 OPS. Where am I going with this? Read on!

Votto had phenomenal strike zone and bat control. He turned 30 during the 2013 season. That year Votto had 581 at bats. He popped out to an infielder once the entire season. Alex Bregman turned 30 the third day of this season. Bregman popped out to the shortstop four times in the Angels series. So much for Bregman’s “knob past the ball” epiphany that saw him hit three home runs over two games last week. Going into the weekend Bregman has one hit in his last 23 at bats. His season stats continue to be pitiful: a .209 batting average and .607 OPS. Bregman has only struck out once in the 23 at bats of his latest deep freeze. It’s that so much of his contract is feeble. There is a lot of season left for Bregman to build up to decent numbers, but one-third of the regular season will be complete after the Astros play the Mariners Monday night.

While Bregman’s season to date has basically been one long slump, Jose Altuve is in a funk of his own. Since blasting a homer Monday, Altuve is hitless in 12 at bats. Mini-slumps happen to everybody but Altuve’s woes trace back farther. Over his last 15 games, Altuve is batting .175. He last had more than one hit in a game May 5. He’s also drawn just two walks over those 15 games. It’s tough to ever sit Altuve, but he’s probably playing a little too much. Altuve turned 34 earlier this month. He has started 48 of the Astros 50 games at second base. Mauricio Dubon should be getting a start per week at second (and probably another at third given Bregman’s level of play). Over a full season not playing the field once per week still means 135 starts. Altuve should mix in some more at designated hitter (he has just one DH game so far this season). Wear and tear is a real thing, players don’t grow less susceptible to it as they get to their mid-30s.

King Tuck

On the flip side, Kyle Tucker! So far this season, he’s making himself as much money as Bregman is costing himself. Only Shohei Ohtani (1.069) starts the weekend action with an OPS higher than Tucker’s 1.060. The law of averages dictates that Tucker won’t finish as high as 1.060, but if he does, it would be the greatest full-length season offensive performance in Astros’ history. Jeff Bagwell posted an absurd 1.201 OPS in the strike-shortened 1994 campaign. Yordan Alvarez came in at 1.067 in his 87 games played rookie season of 2019. Lance Berkman’s 2001 was a monster. Enron Field was more hitter-friendly then than Minute Maid Park is now, but Berkman’s numbers were “Oh My Gosh!” spectacular. .331 batting average, 55 doubles (second in franchise history to Craig Biggio's 56 in 1999), 34 homers, .430 on-base percentage, .620 slugging percentage, and 1.051 OPS. And that was just Berkman’s second full season in the majors. Lance finished fifth in National League Most Valuable Player Award voting. Giant-headed Barry Bonds won MVP with his 73 home runs among other sicko stats.

* Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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