Every-Thing Sports

Sports and social distancing: what to expect moving forward

Jermain Every

We're living in very strange and scary times right now. The coronavirus pandemic has the world at a standstill. Lives have been greatly interrupted, and too many of them have been lost. The economy is screwed. People are hoarding unnecessarily. The country feels like it was woefully underprepared. And the one person uniting us equally is a gay, tattooed, gun-loving, multi-pierced, faux politician, private zookeeper who's doing time for a botched murder for hire scheme! What a time to be alive!

Usually in times like these, we have sports to distract us. After 9/11, we had sports to help us get through the worst act of terrorism on U.S. soil. When the housing market crashed in 2008, sports were there for us. This time, we don't have that shoulder to lean on because of what the virus has done to society. Social distancing is very real. People are wearing masks, gloves, and quarantining. Restaurants are carry out or take out only. HEB has the best social distancing process for their checkout line (pictured above). However, how will this affect sports moving forward? What will our sports look like in the future?

The immediate return: fans or no fans

Jermaine Every

Whenever we get back to having sports on a somewhat regular basis, will there be fans or not? Empty arenas have been done in soccer recently during the beginning of the pandemic, and several times over the years because of fan craziness. The notion of no fans in arenas was floated around until things got shut down. I knew it was real when the NCAA basketball tournament was canceled. Initially, I think there should be no fans. When there's a med that can treat the virus or a vaccine, there shouldn't be any fans. If leagues are that desperate for fans in arenas/stadiums, they should only allow a certain number in, only have a set number of seats equally spaced apart, and have a scheduled bathroom and concession time.

Handshakes, huddles, and celebrations

Spec's social distancing sign

Jermaine Every

Handshakes, huddles, and celebrations are as apart of sports as the athletes themselves. I've read things that lead me to believe some won't be shaking hands and stuff when play resumes. Most sports involve at least some physical contact. Will athletes be scared to return? Will leagues require all athletes get tested before returning? What happens if a player tests positive soon after play resumes? Will things get shut down again? What about fan interactions with the athletes? Will that be done away with as well? So many questions and not enough answers. One thing I think we'll see is an easing into these things. Athletes who come back will more than likely have some assurances that they won't get sick by playing. I also think the celebrations will be spontaneous and come back slowly but surely. Combat sports such as MMA and boxing will likely have a hard time keeping things clean. I could see testing being an issue when it comes to setting up fights, especially with athletes from hard hit areas.

A new normal

EA Sports' message about social distancing

Jermaine Every

Eventually, things will get back to normal. What that new normal will look like is hard to tell. I can see someone inventing some sort of virus scanner just like there were new body scanners and such after 9/11. People at gates checking tickets may be equipped with those temperature gauges and check people before they come in. How would you feel if there were sanitizing misters like those water misters? Let's say they mist sanitizing spray on you as you enter a building, arena or stadium and they're also placed in various places around said buildings. I wonder how contracts will be written in the future? Insurance companies (Lloyd's of London specifically) will be in the business writing policies to protect athletes, and maybe even teams and leagues in case something like this happens again. Could we see masks invented specifically for athletes to wear until there's a vaccine?

While I like many others can't wait until sports come back, we must take all precautions we can to prevent the spread of this virus. Use this time wisely. Spend it with those closest to you. Learn something you've always wanted to learn. Watch those shows and/or movies you've always wanted to watch. Gvie some new hobbies a try. Start exercising. Some of you could use this time to learn how to cook finally! Sports play a major part in our lives, but this is showing us how much bigger our lives are than sports. We'll make it through this, but we have to stay vigilent in our efforts. Are you looking for some things to do while waiting on sports to come back? Tune in next week when I give you some things to watch or do to while practicing good social distancing.

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After splitting the first two games of the series, including the extra-inning affair on Saturday, the Astros looked to defeat the Angels on Saturday to secure the series win and leave Los Angeles with a winning record. On the mound were two pitchers looking to shrug off bad debuts to the season. Here is how the game went on Sunday afternoon:

Final Score (11 innings): Astros 6, Angels 5.

Record: 5-4, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Blake Taylor (1-0, 0.00 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Jacob Barnes (0-2, 3.86 ERA).

James walks his way into trouble

After a disastrous start to his pitching season where he was unable to record an out, Shohei Ohtani was able to sit down the Astros 1-2-3 on just eight pitches in the top of the first. However, Houston would take advantage of his struggling command in the top of the second, working three straight walks to load the bases with no outs. They then would get two more walks with two outs to grab an early 2-0 lead and end Ohtani's day early yet again.

Meanwhile, on the mound for Houston was Josh James. He, too, allowed some walks but was able to work around them in the first two innings, erasing two in the bottom of the first and one in the second for two scoreless innings.

That changed in the third when he would walk the bases loaded with two outs before Albert Pujols continued his nearly twenty-year reign of being a thorn in Houston's side, hitting a grand slam, Los Angeles' first hit of the day, to put the Angels up 4-2. James would get the final out of the third, but that would conclude his day, making it two straight starts he would be unable to reach the fourth inning. His final line: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 6 BB, 4K, 1 HR.

Valdez impresses as Bregman makes it a one-run game in the seventh

Framber Valdez was first out of Houston' bullpen, likely to try and eat up several innings. He would accomplish that mission, getting through the next three innings scoreless, holding the 4-2 score. It remained locked on that score despite Houston getting runners on base in each of those innings, as they would struggle to turn players on base into runs yet again in this series.

Alex Bregman gave the Astros a spark in the top of the seventh, leading off the inning with a solo home run to straightaway center to make it a one-run game. Valdez returned for yet another inning, another scoreless frame to keep it 4-3 going to the eighth.

Reddick ties it in the ninth, Astros win in extras

Houston would threaten to tie in the top of the eighth, getting a pinch-hitting Carlos Correa to third base after a single to leadoff the inning, but would be unable to score him, leaving it at 4-3. Valdez would record another scoreless inning in the bottom of the eighth, giving the Astros one more chance to tie or go ahead in the top of the ninth.

Michael Brantley led off the inning with a double and was pinch-run by Myles Straw, who would score the tying run on an RBI-single by Josh Reddick, but the Angels would hold the Astros there. Valdez remained in the game trying to push extra innings and would do so, erasing a leadoff walk.

Kyle Tucker started the top of the tenth on second base and moved to third on a sac fly by Carlos Correa to start the inning before scoring on another sac fly, this time from pinch-hitting Garrett Stubbs to give Houston a 5-4 lead. Valdez, well above his comfortable pitch count, was still on the mound in the bottom of the tenth, and allowed his first run, though unearned, on a leadoff RBI-single to tie the game again at 5-5. He would get one more out before Houston moved to another reliever, bringing in Andre Scrubb.

After an intentional walk to Albert Pujols, Scrubb would walk the bases loaded before getting a popout, then Houston would turn to Blake Taylor. Taylor would come through, getting a big strikeout to send the game to the eleventh. Springer started on second in the top of the inning and would score and put the Astros back in front on a one-out RBI-single by Alex Bregman. In the bottom half, Taylor would get through the inning, giving Houston the win and series victory.

Up Next: The Astros will have a day off tomorrow before picking up a three-game set with the Diamondbacks in Arizona on Tuesday. The opening game of that series will be at 8:10 PM Central. While Arizona is expected to start Madison Bumgarner, the Astros will have to pivot as they had Framber Valdez slated for that start, who made a lengthy appearance out of the bullpen on Sunday.

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