THE COUCH SLOUCH

Examining the need for more sports in our lives

Photo by Getty Images.

A while ago – the exact year escapes me – I determined that someway somewhere in some manner or some fashion most of us in America had somehow lost our minds.

Of late, the nation is on tilt because we must stay home for a long, long time due to the coronavirus pandemic, also known to Alabamians and Georgians as the Don't Even Think Of Messing With The SEC Football Schedule pandemic.

Anyway, apparently everyone – and when I say "everyone," I mean anyone within shouting distance of Skip Bayless or Stephen. A Smith – wants sports back ASAP.*

*Incidentally, speaking of shouting distance, does Shannon Sharpe ever whisper?

Last week the ESPN Coronavirus Lockdown Fan Study – that is its actual title, I swear on Chris Berman's bible of nicknames – surveyed 1,004 adult sports fans, and 76 percent were in favor of sports returning even if spectators cannot be in the stands.

My buddy, Houston sports media bon vivant Fred Faour, wrote that the 24 percent against sports without fans "are what we respectfully call 'dumbs.'" Faour wants any action back, like, yesterday and said, "I truly miss being in the stands for Roughneck games." **

**He is referring to the Houston Roughnecks, an almost professional football team that played a total of five games in the late, unlamented second iteration of the XFL.

Meanwhile, former president Barack Obama, during a recent chat with former aides, said that the lack of sports is "driving me nuts."

Now, Faour and Obama are two sharp guys – well, at least Obama is – but I am disappointed by their simplistic and shortsighted apocalyptic vision of a sports-free Sports Nation.

Believe it or not – and saying this might get me fired by the end of this sentence – we don't need more sports in our lives, we need less.

Granted, I speak as someone less affected by the safer-at-home order than most; I went from self-isolation to self-isolation, so it's no big deal.

(Column Intermission: The late comedian George Carlin was born on May 12, 1937; how is his birthday not a national holiday? Who spoke truth to power longer and funnier? His sports riffs were delightful. "Swimming is not a sport. Swimming is a way to keep from drowning…Sailing is not a sport. Sailing is a way to get somewhere. Riding the bus isn't a sport, why the [expletive] should sailing be a sport?" George Carlin Day, my friends. Otherwise, I'll settle for Don Rickles Day.)

Actually, eating at home with family or friends is an uncomplicated, forgotten pleasure. In most of Europe for hundreds of years, entire evenings centered on the meal; food and conversation were entertainment enough. This worked quite well, spoiled only by World War I, World War II and Piers Morgan.

Here in America, we have drifted. I saw a photo the other day of a fella in Raleigh, N.C., walking into Subway strapped with a M136 AT4 launcher. ***

*** What were the chances he ordered a veggie wrap?

What have we become?

Naturally, we have become ESPN. But, honestly, though I try to blame ESPN for everything excessive and execrable, the boys in Bristol don't shape our culture as much as they reflect it.

Alas, during this sports-dry pandemic, ESPN ranked the top 74 basketball sneakers ever worn by NBA players. I repeat – they ranked the top 74 sneakers ever. FYI: The Nike Foamposite Max, worn by Tim Duncan, was No. 47.

Coming in June: The top 50 NFL pylons in history.

Elsewhere in ESPNdom, "The Last Dance" Michael Jordan documentary has been a smash. Great TV, but it's been treated as a cross between "Hoop Dreams" and "The Last Waltz," with various clips parsed endlessly like the Zapruder film.

Which brings us to binge-watching. I constantly get texts touting Netflix or Hulu shows. So I took in "Ozark." "You like it?" a friend asked. "Looks pretty good," I responded. "How many seasons did you watch?" he inquired. When I told him I had only watched the first episode, I half-expected him to schedule an intervention because I had not binge-watched an entire season in just a night or two.

Here's an interesting thought: How 'bout binge-READING?

Ask The Slouch

Q. Ink-stained wretches don't usually make the best-seller list but I like the title of your book, "Hold On Honey, I'll Take You to the Hospital at Halftime." I'll wear a mask when I start checking yard sales for your tome. (Ray Starman; Albany, N.Y.)

A. Trust me, it will be easy to social distance in this situation; no one will be hovering anywhere near that book.

Q. You know those ubiquitous magazine questions about selecting any person, living or dead, with whom to have a meal? I would pick you over Tom Brady every time, and I'm not kidding. (Diane Cohen; Albany, N.Y.)

A. Give me a moment…Uh, Toni, can I talk to you for a second?

Q. Have you tried comparing your wife's income to that of Tom Brady's wife? Maybe you'll have an edge there! (Paul Whittemore; Spotsylvania, Va.)

A. I don't think so.

Q. Just checked out "Hold On, Honey…" on Amazon. Someone thinks it's worth $87.78 – maybe it was signed by Tom Brady. (Bob Doyle, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Mass.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!

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Houston gets the best of the Dodgers

Astros behind McCullers Jr. get shutout win in hostile Dodger Stadium

Yordan Alvarez added some big insurance runs against the Dodgers on Tuesday night. Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Having dropped two of three in San Francisco against the league record-leading Giants over the weekend, the Astros exited an off day on Monday and entered a hostile environment at Dodger Stadium in the first of a two-game series on Tuesday night. With some timely hits and an excellent start from their starter, Houston would grab the win.

Final Score: Astros 3, Dodgers 0

Astros' Record: 65-42, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (9-2)

Losing Pitcher: Walker Buehler (11-2)

Houston scores first as McCullers Jr. out-duels Buehler

After nearly turning the game's very first pitch around for a home run but instead going foul, Jose Altuve still started the game with a single in the top of the first. A double play would erase him, though, as the game remained scoreless into the top of the third. Martin Maldonado led that inning off with a double, moved to third on a wild pitch by Walker Buehler, then scored on an RBI double by Michael Brantley, putting Houston ahead 1-0.

Houston threatened again in the top of the fourth, getting two on with two outs, bringing up Martin Maldonado with an empty base, which the Dodgers would use by intentionally walking him to get to Lance McCullers Jr., who grounded out to strand all three runners. He made up for it on the mound, though, out-dueling Buehler, who finished six innings while allowing a run by getting into the seventh scoreless. He would get two outs into that frame while giving up a single and a walk, leaving two on base for Blake Taylor, who came in to get the third out. McCullers Jr.'s final line: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 9 K, 110 P.

Alvarez adds insurance as Astros take the opener in LA

Clinging to the one-run lead in the top of the eighth, Carlos Correa worked a one-out walk to bring Yordan Alvarez to the plate, who demolished a 415-foot two-run homer to add two big insurance runs, extending the lead to 3-0. Kendall Graveman took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the eighth and, despite allowing a leadoff single and hitting a batter, was able to finish a scoreless inning.

With Ryan Pressly on the paternity list, Houston handed the ball to Ryne Stanek to close things out in the bottom of the ninth. He would get the job done, earning the save by retiring the Dodgers in order, giving the Astros the win at the dismay of the fans in Los Angeles.

Up Next: This short series's second and final game will begin thirty minutes earlier on Wednesday at 8:40 PM Central. For the Dodgers, they will get the debut of Max Scherzer (8-4, 2.76 ERA), while Jake Odorizzi (4-5, 4.30 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros.

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