CANCEL CULTURE

This may seem like a no-win situation, but there's an easy solution

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The Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference and Big 12 can announce their fall football schedules and scramble for non-conference patsies - I'll be stunned if any games are played. If the season does start, it will end abruptly. It's too risky. There's just too much at stake. Like the old baseball sayin' – just wait till next year.

Cancel college football now.

Heck, the Olympics postponed the biggest event in all of sports this summer until next summer, and Olympic organizers and Japanese officials aren't positive the Games will happen even then.

They postponed the Boston Marathon, Kentucky Derby, Masters golf tournament, Tour de France, Burning Man, Emmy and AVN Awards. And flat out canceled March Madness, Wimbledon, Little League World Series, the Houston Rodeo, Calgary Stampede and most of the Major League Baseball season.

If this year in sports were reduced to Twitter shorthand, it'd be "smh." What is so special or essential about college football, especially in the face of a pandemic that has paralyzed the rest of American society?

We don't have to wonder or predict: we already know that students are bringing highly contagious coronavirus to campus during move-in days this week. Watch the local news. College students are returning to campus without face masks, some making jokes about drinking Corona beer, waiting for frat parties to begin.

North Carolina, a member of the ACC, opened its campus to in-person classes last week, and sent everybody back home this week. Michigan State has told students to wait and study online in the meantime. Notre Dame has a "Temporarily Closed" sign on classroom doors. An entire sorority at Oklahoma State is in quarantine. Schools across the country are reporting or preparing for spikes in the virus.

The Big Ten and Pac-12, two of the Power 5 conferences, have said no to football this fall. The Pac-12 went even further, no sports until next January. The Mid-American Conference, Western Athletic Conference, other smaller conferences, UConn and UMass have canceled fall sports. In all 54 percent of the 130 FBS colleges will not play football this fall.

The Big Ten has two schools, Nebraska and Ohio State, stumbling and grumbling about putting together a football schedule outside their conference. It's all bluster and posturing, Nebraska and Ohio State won't play a single snap.

Presidents of Pac-12 colleges voted unanimously to cancel fall football after listening to a doctor – not a politician or football coach – explain how COVID-19 may have long-term consequences to players' hearts. That was enough for the Pac-12 to say they'll consider some sort of football schedule next spring.

If colleges say their campus isn't safe for in-person instruction, how can they say it's OK to play football? After all, the players supposedly are student-athletes, and part of the college experience is getting an education in classrooms, mingling with non-sporty, regular ol' students.

Of course college players want to play, and college towns will lose billions of dollars across the country if football is postponed. Their misery will have company. They can cry on the shoulders of 20 million Americans who've lost their jobs to the COVID-19 crisis.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said: "Unless players are essentially in a bubble, insulated from the community and they tested nearly every day, it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall."

The NBA is operating under an airtight bubble in Orlando without fans. It's working. Baseball, however, is not in a bubble, and players are testing positive. Games are being postponed so often that teams may not play the same number of games during its coronavirus-abbreviated season. Records and championships won't be taken seriously.

College players are not professional athletes. If football is played this season, on top of career-ending football injuries, players will risk possible long-term medical issues. It's just not worth the gamble. If the SEC, ACC and Big 12 play, while the Big Ten and Pac-12 sit, the championship game will have the biggest asterisk in sports history.

Colleges will not be able to ask players to sign a waiver, releasing the schools from coronavirus-related issues. Colleges already are reporting numbers of players bringing the virus to campus. No sport is more susceptible to spreading the virus than football, with crowded training facilities and physical contact on the field.

The fact is, America has 4 percent of the world's population and 20 percent of COVID-19 deaths. This virus is contagious and dangerous. While young people, say college age, may not exhibit symptoms, doctors say they can spread the virus just the same as older people.

If colleges keep football players on campus for practice and games, while other students are told to stay home and take classes online, the NCAA can no longer pose players as student-athletes.

America is such a hot spot for the virus that most countries are not accepting tourists from America. Even at home, some states have roadblocks keeping out visitors from other states.

The world will survive without one season of college football, while we safely wait for a COVID-19 vaccine. There's just too much at stake now.

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Houston pulls of the victory

Astros get comeback win over Diamondbacks to take the series

Jose Siri and Chas McCormick's back-to-back homers pushed the Astros over the Diamondbacks on Sunday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

With a disappointing loss in the middle game of this set, the Astros tried to end their streak of "playing down" to teams by getting a convincing win to take the series on Sunday. They would get the victory, but it would take an eighth-inning comeback to get the job done.

Final Score: Astros 7, Diamondbacks 6

Astros' Record: 88-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Peter Solomon (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Brandyn Sittinger (0-1)

Greinke roughed up as teams trade big innings

The Astros jumped out to a first-inning lead against Arizona, getting a leadoff walk and one-out single to set up Carlos Correa for a two-out three-run homer to make it 3-0. Zack Greinke retired the first seven batters he faced, but the Diamondbacks' first hit was a loud one, a solo homer by Pavin Smith to cut the lead to two runs in the top of the third.

Greinke ran into big trouble in the fourth, giving up a one-out single, walk, then three-straight RBI singles, the third bringing in two runs as Arizona went in front 5-3. He would get the final two outs, and his day would end short there as Houston moved to their bullpen in the fifth. His final line: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HR, 68 P.

Houston goes back in front with big eighth inning

Peter Solomon, recently recalled by Houston from Triple-A to grab a fresh arm for the bullpen, made his fourth appearance of 2021 when he took over for Greinke in the top of the fifth. He allowed Arizona to extend their lead to two runs, giving up a leadoff walk, a single, then later a sac fly to make it 6-4 before getting through the inning. He kept going for a 1-2-3 sixth, and in the seventh, erased a couple of walks with a double play to keep it a two-run game.

Houston had their first chance against Arizona's bullpen in the bottom of the seventh and threatened to do some damage by working three walks to load the bases but would strand all three runners. Jose Siri made it a new game in the bottom of the eighth, capitalizing on a leadoff walk that set him up for a game-tying homer, and Chas McCormick followed that to make it back-to-back homers to put the Astros back in front, 7-6.

Astros get the series victory

Despite having pitched the first two games of this series, Houston elected to bring in closer Ryan Pressly to try and close things out in the top of the ninth with the one-run lead. He did not look the least bit fatigued, striking out the side in order to give the Astros the series win and move them another game closer to punching their ticket to the playoffs.

Up Next: With this short homestand over, the Astros will begin their final road trip of the regular season on Monday, with the opener of four in Los Angeles against the Angels starting at 8:38 PM Central. Framber Valdez (10-5, 3.26 ERA) is expected to get back on the mound for Houston after missing a turn due to a finger cut, while the Angels should have a start by Jaime Barria (2-3, 4.93 ERA).

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