Falcon Points

What are the odds your favorite sport will be back in 2020? We handicap the possibilities

Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

It's pretty clear the RonaVerse will not end any time soon, so the sports world is going to have to take on a different look. Some sports have managed to muddle on; horse racing never left, the UFC, NASCAR and golf have been successfully staging events fan-free. But the bigger sports are still waiting it out.

The Europeans appear to have figured it out with their soccer leagues, and most games have gone off without a hitch. So plenty of models exist for the big U.S. sports. But some NBA players are balking at a restart, some NFL owners want the start of the season pushed back so the possibility exists for the return of fans, college football is in a full-on panic due to positive tests and baseball is led by a joke commissioner, greedy owners and pouty players and has simply made itself look stupid in the public's eye.

So what are the odds these sports return? Let's take a look at each one (and a couple others).

Major League Soccer

No, they are not as popular as the other leagues on this list, but they appear to have the best plan for a comeback. The league has come up with a setup that should make its return possible, albeit in a tournament format. They will have all the teams in one place in Orlando, and should have learned a lot from the European soccer teams. Of all the leagues, this one seems the most likely to return, so it makes the list.

Percent chance to return to play in 2020: 90. Fans in the stands? No. Our "we would miss you" factor on a scale of 1-10: 2.

NBA

The NBA, too, has an Orlando lockdown plan for a short finish to the regular season and expanded playoffs. However, some players are concerned about a spike in cases in Florida, and there has been some grumblings on other issues. But LeBron James wants to play, so barring something surprising, the league will be back.

Percent chance to return to play: 85. Fans in the stands? No. We would miss you factor: 4.5.

NHL

The league is looking at "hub cities" and a return to play in late July with an expanded playoff tournament. Gary Bettman has vowed that one positive test won't cause another shutdown, and it seems likely we will have some kind of Stanley Cup tournament this year.

Percent chance to return to play: 85. Fans in the stands? No. We would miss you factor: 3.5.

NFL

Let's face it, this is the one we all care about. If the others can't play, oh well. But take football out of our lives? THAT'S the apocalypse. Where the big problem is going to come for the NFL is weight rooms, and if one team has several cases. Do you shut that team down? The teams they played? The whole thing? Some owners want to push the season back in hopes of getting fans back at some point due to the revenue that will be lost. That might be prudent. Still, odds are pretty good the league at least starts up.

Percent chance to return to play: 75. Fans in the stands: Unlikely at first but possible later in the year. We would miss you factor: 10.

MLB

If a trash can gets banged in an empty stadium, will anyone hear it? Leave it to greedy owners, a poor commissioner and a bunch of entitled players to not only have a massive labor fight in the middle of a pandemic when many of their fans are out of work, but to leak each and every bit to the media in hopes of currying fan support. Of all the tone deaf things to happen over the past two months, this is the worst. Who's to blame? Who cares? The union and owners were doing their business as usual back and forth while the world fell apart around them. Not having a season would suck for Astros fans, because this year was probably the end of their title window. But good news; Rob Manfred plans to implement a 60-game season and it looks like it will happen, but the mess they made getting there will be hard to overcome. And there is still a chance the Rona keeps it from happening. A week ago we would have said 5 percent. Now it looks like it will happen. We remain skeptical.

Percent chance to return to play: 70. Fans in the stands: Possible near the end of the season. We would miss you factor: 4.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

While most conferences are hoping to play, the immediate spike in cases that came with athletes returning to campus has slowed the momentum. Barring a breakthrough, it will be tough to put together a traditional college football season. Still, expect them to try. Without football, many schools will be unable to support other sports. Without fans, even some of the biggest schools will struggle. They will have to deal with the problems the NFL will face times 10. It would suck if something can't come together, but as of today it really looks iffy.

Percent chance to return to play: 50. Fans in the stands: Unlikely at first but possible later in the year. We would miss you factor: 9.

Yes, there are some other niche sports - the WNBA, NWSL, other college sports that aren't football or basketball. But none of those really move the needle. The MLS really doesn't either, but maybe a tourney type thing will generate interest. The good news is odds are solid we will have more sports soon.

Just maybe not all of them.

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McCullers Jr. out-pitched friend and former teammate Dallas Keuchel on Father's Day. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With three impressive wins to start this series against the once AL-leading Chicago White Sox, Houston tried to extend their winning streak to seven games and finish a four-game sweep on Father's Day. Thanks to a big inning against former-Astro Dallas Keuchel, they would win to keep their hot streak going.

Final Score: Astros 8, White Sox 2

Astros' Record: 43-28, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (4-1)

Losing Pitcher: Dallas Keuchel (6-2)

Rough return to Houston for Keuchel

In his first game against his old squad, Dallas Keuchel would not have a memorable start on the mound for Chicago. Houston made him labor in the first inning, loading the bases though they only came away with one run on an RBI single by Abraham Toro, grabbing the early 1-0 lead. After going down 1-2-3 in the second, they got after Keuchel again in the third.

They ended up batting around against him that inning, including a two-RBI single by Yordan Alvarez, RBI double by Taylor Jones, and bases-loaded RBI-walk by Jose Altuve, which would end Keuchel's day very early and leave the bases juiced. Chicago's bullpen would walk another batter to give Keuchel another earned run, making it a 6-2 game, with all six going against the former Houston ace. Carlos Correa extended the lead to five runs in the next inning, hitting a leadoff solo home run to make it 7-2.

McCullers Jr. gives up two over six

That gave Lance McCullers Jr. a nice lead to work with, and he managed it well. He had one big mistake in the early goings of the game, giving up a one-out single in the second to set up a two-run home run, which at the time put Chicago in front 2-1 before Houston's offense came alive. He followed that up with four scoreless innings, erasing a walk in each with some tremendous defense behind him—his final line: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 94 P.

Astros complete the sweep to jump on top of the standings

Still a six-run game in the top of the seventh, Blake Taylor entered as the first reliever out of Houston's bullpen, tossing a 1-2-3 frame. He continued in the top of the eighth, getting two strikeouts in another scoreless inning. The 8-2 score would go final as Ralph Garza Jr. would enter as the third pitcher of the day to wrap things up with a scoreless top of the ninth to finish the four-game sweep. The win, their seventh straight, paired with an Oakland loss earlier in the afternoon, moves Houston into the top spot in the AL West based on winning percentage.

Up Next: This long stretch of consecutive games continues on Monday in Baltimore, as the Astros pick up a seven-game road trip starting with a three-game set against Baltimore getting underway at 6:05 PM Central. Jake Odorizzi (1-3, 5.68 ERA) will get the start for Houston, going opposite of Keegan Akin (0-2, 5.76 ERA) for the Orioles.

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