The Pallilog

The sports world halts for Coronavirus; what does that mean for we the fans?

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Friday the 13th. That's just a silly superstition for triskaidekaphobes. If only COVID-19 was so silly. I have said on multiple occasions that the most important variable in sports is the same as the most important variable in life. Health.

So how to go about typing a sports column when the sports world is essentially shut down? Amidst this coronavirus pandemic and the specific fallout of the last couple of days, it's absurd to do nuts and bolts sports analysis and commentary. So I won't do so here, though I very much look forward to embracing the next chance to rightfully do so.

This is unprecedented ground. The 9/11 attacks in 2001 were a giant fell swoop of devastating terrorism. Less than a week later Major League Baseball was playing again. The NFL resumed after one weekend off. Now? An altogether different and open-ended March Madness has forced cancellation of the NCAA Tournament in its entirety. The NBA is on hiatus for least a month. Just two weeks from the scheduled start of the baseball season, we know that that season won't be starting until at least two weeks after March 26. The NHL is temporarily out of business. And MLS. And XFL. And the world tennis tours. And golf tours. The rest of college sports and presumably all high school sports. It's everything.

The Rockets mostly brutal play the last week and a half of games? Big deal.

The Hate On The Astros road show? It'll just have to wait.

Tom Brady's free agent destination? Who gives a flip right now? Next week, different story since the NFL will open for free agent business as scheduled on Wednesday.

I have not seen the 2011 movie Contagion, but it feels like we're living a real life sequel. It's starting to feel like that leading a semblance of a normal life may make exposure to if not contraction of COVID-19 a probability. It is worth noting, or reminding, that beyond the heightened risk for the elderly and already ill (which of course is very serious), for most coronavirus is something to be ridden out. Let the scientists and medical community do their work, and accept some new realities as to how we should lead our lives. As in the aftermath of 9/11.

It's said you can't miss what you never had. Man will we miss sports for however long we're without them. But it's not going to be forever. In the meantime, we can talk, and read, and explore other interests.

Buzzer Beaters

1. It's also said that absence makes the heart grow fonder. That's not always true. But work with me here! 2. Faint silver lining: Say the start of the baseball season is pushed back a month. That consumes part if not all of Justin Verlander's recovery time from his lat strain. 3. Maybe trite to some, but should be true for all: Bronze-The Golden Rule Silver-Take nothing for granted. Gold-Tomorrow isn't promised.

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Should Watson be in the MVP conversation? Composite image by Jack Brame.

The 2020 NFL season has a lot going on. Even if we take the coronavirus out of it, there's still a lot to digest. There are so many great performances being put up, one can make an argument for several players to win league MVP. The quarterback position typically gets more credit than others. If I restrict the argument to quarterbacks only, we're looking at Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, and Aaron Rodgers. Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, and Derrick Henry are the leading contenders at running back. On defense, there really isn't a standout defender. The defense gets no love, but there are several guys in the running for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Deshaun Watson has been putting up numbers that have matched or rivaled some of the top MVP candidates over his last seven games. That stretch has coincided with the firing of head coach/general manager Bill O'Brien. Coincidence? I think not. Taking the reigns off a wild horse can often lead to said horse running free and flourishing! So question: Should Watson be getting league MVP considerations? I think so.

For starters, he's been one of the best players in the league over the course of the last seven games. 18 passing touchdowns and only two interceptions. The only quarterback with a better touchdown to interception ratio over that same span is Mahomes (19 and 2, as opposed to Watson's 18 & 2). Factoring in total season stats, of course Mahomes is doing much better. He's on a better team with a much better coach and general manager. The same could be said for Wilson and Rodgers. Put Watson on any of those teams and their records wouldn't be any worse than what they are now.

The Texans are 4-3 since firing O'Brien. While that isn't a great record, consider the fact they started the season 0-4 and looked like a total disaster. Watson looked like he was caged and couldn't wait to be freed. The team's record could be even better if the defense had a pulse. The proper supporting cast has a lot to do with a player's MVP candidate's chances. Now that one of his favorite weapons, Will Fuller, and the team's best corner, Bradley Roby, are both suspended for the rest of the season by the league for violating the substance abuse/PED policy, things will get much tougher for Watson.

If he continues to put up these cartoon like numbers, I don't see why he wouldn't be in the MVP conversation. He's currently fopurth in passing yards, sixth in completion percentage, tied for fifth in passing touchdowns, eighth in QBR, and third in quarterback rating. Watson is emerging as the star he was projected to be coming into the 2017 draft. I'm not saying Watson deserves to be the league MVP, but he deserves to be in the conversation. His MVP candidacy should be treated like the family gathering hierarchy: once you reach a certain age and/or status, you're no longer resigned to the kiddie table. Now you get to sit with all the adults, engage in their conversations, and gain access to things you couldn't previously. Watson won't win the MVP award, but I strongly believe he could finish top five. Especially if he keeps making lemonade with the lemons he's been given.

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