The Couch Slouch

Olympics, MLB try to get creative in rescheduling

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Have you ever tried to reschedule an Olympic Games? Sure, many of us have postponed weddings – and there are at least two I should've canceled altogether – but those are much smaller affairs to manage. The Olympics? That's got to be the biggest event in the world, even larger than a "Duck Dynasty" Easter egg hunt.

Meanwhile…

Have you ever tried to push a Major League Baseball season back into autumn and winter? It's a scheduling and logistical nightmare – too many games to fit into too tight of a calendar – pitchers and fans won't like the weather and, of course, Houston Astros video equipment might freeze over.

So IOC and MLB officials, used to waking up around noon before strolling to the bank with those oversized checks usually reserved for Publishers Clearing House winners, now are scrambling to get their money trains back on track.

I guess the IOC had the less difficult task: It simply plopped the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo into the exact same time frame in 2021.

Ah, if it were only that easy.

So many factors – housing, venues, food services, security, vendors, et al. Do you know how many sporks have to be reordered for the Olympic Village commissary? Those babies just disappear; sporks are always the first item to walk out of the supply closet.

Heck, rebooking flights – airline change fees alone will kill you – is a financial strain.

It's a massive jigsaw puzzle, and every piece must fit. There are 25 or 30 sports, plus golf; you can't just say, "We're all good schedule-wise except for swimming – swimming doesn't work that week, so, okeydokey, we'll drop swimming."

NBC, naturally, will still be there to televise the 2021 version of the 2020 Summer Olympics, but that still leaves a 7,777-hour gaping crater in its schedule this July 24 to Aug. 9.

Sadly, NBC only has three viewable properties: The Olympics, "The Voice" and "America's Got Talent." And, sure, America's got talent, but I don't know if my beloved, beleaguered homeland has enough talent to fill all the network's needs.

(Column Intermission: With everyone corona safer-at-home at the moment, my immediate family is rather tired of hearing my dulcet tones ranting day and night; our pit mix Daisy is the only one who never leaves the room when I'm talking. So I have started the Couch Slouch podcast – for real, folks – available on your favorite podcasting app. Seeking two-legged listeners.)

As for MLB, it is contemplating a lot of less-than-optimal options.

There is still a glimmer of hope for a June 1 or July 1 start, with the possibility of playing initially at empty stadiums – so, for the Miami Marlins, it would be your typical Opening Day.

MLB might use spring training parks in Florida and Arizona, quarantining the teams in those areas and operating with no crowds until the pandemic allows otherwise.

In any compacted scenario, every day is precious, which means…doubleheaders are back, baby! I assume they will still be separate admission because, even though baseball fans will have no money, the 1 percent still needs to make up for lost yachting-and-penthouse revenue.

Speaking of which, super agent Scott Boras – FYI: "super agent" here is a euphemism for "uber-wealthy" – floated a proposal, and since he negotiated ONE BILLION DOLLARS worth of player contracts this offseason, he has considerable financial interest in this.

Boras wants a summer start, and when the temperatures drop in the fall, he points to 11 stadiums that are either domes or warm-weather sites in which postseason games could be played. He envisions a neutral-site World Series, with Game 6 being played on Christmas.

Christmas? The NBA's holiest day? Wow. Maybe they should play Game 7 in Bethlehem.

Various models have 162-game, 144-game or 100-game seasons. Or – here's a thought – they could just skip to the postseason directly; have Joe Lunardi seed the teams 1 to 30, then engage in autumnal March Madness. Call it September Insanity!

My solution? Play the entire season on Strat-O-Matic Baseball: No weather worries and the Astros can't steal signs.

Ask The Slouch

Q. President Trump spoke Saturday with executives from the NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, WNBA, PGA, LPGA, WWE, NASCAR and others, but the PBA was not included. What gives? (Larry Snider; Seattle)

A. Underground bowling is flourishing. The White House has its own alley – POTUS should try it some time.

Q. Are you going to follow the government's policy and award all the people who write you the $1.25, or just me? (Bruce Kanter; Laurel, Md.)

A. The government's check should cover you.

Q.The Santa Anita Derby has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. If the horse wears a mask, why should this be a problem? (Mitchell Shapiro; Rockville, Md.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Q.Under the new NFLPA agreement, does gambling revenue include all receipts at what will surely be the Oakland-L.A.-Oakland-Las Vegas Raiders Wedding Chapel? (Victoria Dailey; Alexandria, Va.)

A. Pay the lady, 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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The Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

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