Every-Thing Sports

Gov. Abbott's soft reopen: what does this mean for sports?

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On Monday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott decided to let his stay-at-home order, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, to expire Thursday April 30. Per his orders, businesses like retail stores, malls, restaurants and theaters to reopen Friday May 1, but limits occupancy to 25%. Museums and libraries are allowed to reopen as well. I'm assuming they'll be under the 25% limit as well. Barbershops, salons, gyms and bars are to remained closed, but it's his hope to have them reopen mid-May. Some places have defied the stay-at-home orders. Culture Map's Eric Sandler wrote about a restaurant in Houston that decided to reopen its doors on Friday April 24. There have also been protests around the country about the right to gather, wanting to get back to work, and playing in public parks. So what are the possible effects this soft reopening will have on the sports world?

Trial Run

Allowing for some public places to reopen at a 25% capacity will let us see if we're ready to go back in public. If we see the number of positive cases go down or stagnate, it could allow for things open back up more quickly. On the flip side, if we see a spike, things will get shut back down. Maybe if the former happens, stadiums and arenas could reopen at the same 25% capacity with the same social distancing orders in place.

Texas Could Be A Host Site

Let's say all goes well and the soft reopen lasts for the month of May. Could we see leagues wanting to come to Texas to resume their seasons? Would the NBA consider using Houston and it's numerous world class facilities to finish its season? Would MLB follow suit? Other potential sites mentioned like Vegas for the NBA, and the traditional Spring Training states of Arizona and Florida may be behind in reopening. This could entice those leagues to come here and get some sort of revenue going.

Setting the Standard

This could set the standard for the rest of the country. If all goes well in May, standards loosen in June, we could see schools reopening soon after. If the schools are open, everything else would follow suit, more specifically, football. Football is as engrained in the fabric of this country as anything. Even if the NCAA and NFL seasons get off to a delayed start, it'll be a welcomed sight. Schools reopening is a major key. Maybe Gov. Abbott will reopen schools at a capacity limit. If that goes as planned, sports will be sure to follow.

This could always go south. Positive test numbers could spike dramatically leaving us in a worse position than before. That would restart the clock on quarantining. Sports have always been our escape from reality. During the Harvey aftermath, we had the Astros and football started soon after. When you're dealing with a worldwide pandemic, the game changes. Personally, I think this soft reopen is a bad idea. However, the capacity limits give me hope. But people are dumbasses and will find a way to ruin things. My family and I won't be out there standing in lines to get in any of these places initially. Besides getting live sports back in some form, I am looking forward to one of my guilty pleasures returning: mall Chinese food.

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The Astros need to beat up on the lowly Rangers. Composite image by Jack Brame.

Collectively so far this season the Astros would not make for very good garbage men. Meaning they haven't been so good at taking out the trash. Swept in a series at Detroit when the Tigers were terrible, swept at Minute Maid Park by the sorry Orioles, swept in an early season series at the Rangers. Presently the Rangers are an atrocity. A nine game losing streak has them 35-62, buried deeply in last place in the American League West, 23 games behind the Astros. So the Astros need to whip up on them in this weekend's three game set, before the Astros head west for a three city road trip with stops in Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

15. The number of home runs Jose Altuve has hit over his last 37 games. Multiply by four and that's a 60 homers in 148 games pace. Over those 37 games, Altuve is batting just .242. But slugging .577.

.029. Carlos Correa's batting average dating back 10 games played. One hit in his last 34 at bats. 14 strikeouts and just one walk over the stretch. That is what you call a funk. Certainly not a way to curry 300 million dollar contract offers.

The Rangers have just two 100 loss seasons in their history, their first two seasons after becoming the Rangers upon moving from Washington D.C. In 1972 the Ted Williams managed squad went 62-100, Ted quit, and the next year the Rangers finished 57-105. If the Astros sweep them this weekend, the Rangers will be on pace to lose 105 games.

It will be a decade ago this October that the Rangers came as close to winning a World Series as any team has ever come without winning the Series. In 2011 the Rangers carried a three games to two lead into game six at St. Louis. The Rangers led game six 7-5 with two on, two out, and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth. The Cardinals' David Freese drilled a ball toward the base of the right field wall. Rangers' right fielder Nelson Cruz didn't make an error but didn't play the ball well, going back awkwardly and reaching out at the last second as if afraid of the wall. It went for a two run triple to tie the game. Two innings later Freese hit a game winning homer to force game seven.

The inning before that the Rangers again came within one strike of winning it all. A Josh Hamilton two run homer had the Rangers up 9-7 going to the bottom of the 10th. The Cards got within 9-8. With the tying run on second and two out, Rangers' Manager Ron Washington opted to intentionally walk Albert Pujols. Albert was still a tremendous player in 2011 (his last with the Redbirds), but he was not better than Lance Berkman that season, definitely not against right-handed pitching. Walking Pujols brought up Berkman to face right-hander Scott Feldman (a matchup of former Astro and future Astro). Berkman lined a two-two pitch to center field tying the game 9-9, ahead of Freese's 11th inning walk-off homer. One of the most incredible games in World Series history.

NCAA

Quite the story hitting that Texas and Oklahoma may be plotting to bolt the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference. That neither UT, OU, nor the SEC denied it has smoke billowing. The Sooners have won the last six Big 12 football championships. The Longhorns last won in 2009. Oklahoma St., Kansas St., Baylor, TCU, all have more recently won at least a share of the conference title. An SEC UT could be looking at being in a division with Oklahoma, Alabama, LSU, and Texas A&M. UT marketing folks should be exploring a huge sponsorship deal with 7-Eleven. You know, Big Gulp. But as usual, follow the money.

The week ahead…

Wednesday: The Texans open training camp! Wait. Delete the exclamation point. Whither Deshaun Watson?

Thursday: The NBA Draft. Unless the Rockets pull off a thunderbolt of a trade to move up to number one and select Cade Cunningham, the winds of opinion are blowing in the direction of the Rockets taking wing Jalen Green second overall pick. That would be fine. Green is generally considered the most potential-laden explosive scorer on the board. The Rockets can use just about everything, a premium wing scorer would be excellent.

Friday: The MLB trade deadline. Does James Click bolster the Astros' shaky bullpen. The Astros have also been linked to Marlins' center fielder Starling Marte. Growing from his wretched start Myles Straw has been plenty acceptable. Free agent-to-be Marte would be a notable upgrade.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. First big beat the deadline win goes to the Rays. 41-year-old designated hitter Nelson Cruz still mashes. Simple frame of reference: he's been notably better than Yordan Alvarez this year.

2. The delayed by a year 2020 Summer Olympics are underway. Any interest at all?

3. Baseball's greatest Cruzes: Bronze-Jose Jr. Silver-Nelson Gold-Jose Sr.

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