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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Kyle Tucker had a big day at the plate on Sunday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games of the series, with one team or the other putting on a solid offensive performance in each, the Astros tried to win their fourth series in their last five by taking the rubber game on Sunday against the Blue Jays. Thanks in part to a big day from Kyle Tucker, who played a significant role in the early offense they used to power to the win, they would accomplish their mission.

Final Score: Astros 7, Blue Jays 4

Astros' Record: 18-16, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Nate Pearson (0-1)

Kyle Tucker helps lead the offense to seven unanswered runs

Houston did not go easy on Nate Pearson in his 2021 debut. After a scoreless first, the Astros loaded the bases on two walks and a single, then brought the first run of the day home on an RBI walk by Michael Brantley. Another walk opened the door in the bottom of the third, and Kyle Tucker capitalized with an RBI triple to make it 2-0, followed by an RBI single by Robel Garcia to make it a three-run lead, ending Pearson's day one out into the bottom of the third.

Things didn't get easier for Toronto's pitching in the next inning, as Jose Altuve would lead off the bottom of the fourth with a solo homer. A single and a walk then set up another big hit for Kyle Tucker, a three-run dinger to make it seven unanswered runs and giving Tucker four RBI on the day.

Blue Jays pound Greinke in the fifth

After four shutout innings to start his day on the mound, working around a few hits along the way, Zack Greinke tried to cash in on his team's offense to get another win on his record. He wouldn't be able to get it done, though, as Toronto would get after him in the top of the fifth. They would score four times amongst five batters that came to the plate, with a solo homer by Rowdy Tellez, a two-RBI double by Bo Bichette, and an RBI single by Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

That made it a 7-4 game, and with Greinke still not having recorded an out in the frame, Dusty Baker would lift him at 88 pitches in favor of Bryan Abreu, who would get a pop out and a double play to end the inning and keep the lead at three runs. Greinke's final line: 4.0 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 88 P.

Houston takes the series

No more runs would come on either side the rest of the way, with Kent Emanuel working around a single for a scoreless sixth, Ryne Stanek getting a 1-2-3 seventh, and Andre Scrubb doing the same in the eighth to set up Ryan Pressly for the save. Pressly would get the job done, sending the Blue Jays down in order, including two strikeouts to wrap up the win and giving Houston the series victory.

Up Next: The Astros will stay at home to continue this homestand, welcoming in the Angels for three games starting Monday at 7:10 PM Central. The opener will feature a pitching matchup of Alex Cobb (1-2, 5.48 ERA) for Los Angeles and Luis Garcia (0-3, 3.28 ERA) for Houston.

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