Locker Room: Touching all the bases – Even if nobody is swinging the bat

As I see it today. Baseball says it is continually looking at every means possible to begin the baseball season at some point this summer, but there doesn’t seem to be anybody eager to commit to a plan. It’s hard to do in this uncertain time. It is my opinion that you could likely play baseball in a lot of locations around our country today without being scared of the ramifications. However, there are those other places. There is also a bit of a squabble about how much the players will be paid.

I do believe somebody will eventually toe the rubber, but will that day ever come in New York? As of this moment, that does not seem likely. So where would the Yankees and Mets play? Will there be concerns about Detroit, Chicago, and Boston? Will the Reds want to play its home games somewhere else other than Cincinnati?

There seems to be some in this country that do not want to push the button until everyone in the nation is considered to be 100% safe. I think most of us realize that’s never going to happen, and that’s never been the case before or after COVID-19 anyway. So, what do we do? Wait, and keep watching replays of the national cornhole playoffs.

  And what about everything else? Any thoughts of anything concerning basketball or spring sports should no longer be a topic of conversation. But what about football? If you spend much time at all into researching all that must take place, you become frustrated and doubtful. That’s not a good place to be.

I believe the NFL will play football and I think it’s likely the season will start on schedule. College football is a thousand times more complicated. Everything about college football is fan driven. You want to buy a ticket, buy a t-shirt, sweatshirt, have a tailgate, buy gas to drive three hours or even longer to the game, spend the night in a hotel, and visit a few restaurants before you get home maybe even the next day? It’s totally fan driver, and I’m totally confident from every opinion and rational discussion I’ve listened to that if there are no fans in the stadium there will be no college football.

Certainly you lose all the enthusiasm if you play in an empty stadium, but if you think about all sports, you lose money if you do not play, but you will lose more if you do play in front of an empty stadium. But first and foremost, it just wouldn’t be the same. And the players and coaches would know. Maybe in pro sports it might be a tad different, but it would lessen the competition in college. But there will likely be college football. When it begins is the big question, but I doubt it starts on time at this juncture. It might start very late.

We will look at all these things over the coming weeks, and many of you no doubt are wondering about high school football. Will the Cougars get to play? I sure do hope so. However, high schools are pretty much at the mercy of decisions made by other people. The Pulaski County School System cannot say it’s time to play football, or for that matter time to go to school until the governor says it’s time. I wouldn’t even make a guess.

But at the very least, until there are college students on campus, and until there are students in the hallways, there will be no college or high school football. Let us all hope for great progress in the month of May.

The Wahoos Are Hot:

Even with all the uncertainty of the virus, college football recruiting continues. No doubt, it is hurting the effort of some programs, but it’s just as obvious, it’s not hurting some others.

The new hot team around here is Virginia. The Hoos just got its second quarterback of the recruiting season. I’ve seen his video. It’s very impressive. It’s 3-star rated 6-2, 205 Jacob Rodriquez of Texas. He can go! He was also offered by Baylor, Kansas State, Texas Tech, Houston, Iowa State, Southern Miss, Tulsa, and Air Force among others. As a junior he passed for 3,003 yards and 33 touchdowns. He also ran for 1,247 yards and 16 more TDs.

And the latest catch happened just 48 hours later when Micah Gaffney said yes to the Cavaliers. He’s a three-star rated cornerback out of Spanish Fort, Alabama. UVa bested Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Cincinnati, and Missouri in that recruiting battle. Gaffney says his 3.8 GPA was a big factor for why he chose UVa.

The last two commitments push UVa to 20th in the recruiting rankings, much better than at this time a year ago. Virginia Tech is 29th, and West Virginia 21.  UVa now has nine commitments, one four star and eight 3’s. The Cavs have gotten four commitments in April.

Three Good Ones:

As Jerry Reed once sang, “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot.” The first three players taken in the NFL Draft last weekend were quarterback Joe Burrow by the Bengals, defensive end Chase Young by the Redskins, and Jeff Okudah, a defensive back by the Lions. All three were recruited by Urban Meyer at Ohio State. Obviously, Burrow didn’t finish there, but that’s ringing the bell pretty good.

Conferences: The SEC had the most players taken in the seven rounds of the draft, 63. Then came the Big 10 with 48, Pac 12 with 32, Big 12 with 21, and the ACC with 17. What’s the most disturbing aspect of that? Of the 17 ACC players taken, seven of them were Clemson Tigers. The rest of the conference combined for only 10. That statistic speaks for itself.

What state had the most players taken? Texas, 34! That speaks for itself too. Maybe that’s why the Hokies are spending so much time out there. And for those that like to question recruiting, and the rankings consider this, 26 of the 32 first round players taken came out of high school as 4 star or five-star recruits. And I guess that speaks for itself too.

LSU had the most players drafted with 14, Ohio State was the last team to have that many back in 2004. Michigan and Ohio St. both had 10 players drafted, Alabama nine, and Clemson its seven to lead the way.  I was also intrigued a bit when Wisconsin linebacker Zack Baun was picked, and his hometown was announced. Baun is from Brown Deer, Wisconsin. I’d like to drive through Brown Deer one day. But there’s good hunting.

Outstanding:

“The Lance Dance.” It is an ESPN documentary on the basketball career of Michael Jordon. It is without question the most entertaining sports programming I have watch since old “COVID” stopped by. Thank you, China. But while the production, which has 10 episodes, four of which have taken place so far, makes it obvious that Jordan is without a doubt the greatest basketball player ever, he just might be the greatest athlete ever in all sports. It also brings to light why. His talent is unmatched. But his focus, his desire to compete, his work ethic, and his desire to win and be the best, are all unmatched as well. I’ll have to take my eyes, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson as examples. All those say Jordan was the best. I’m not sure it’s even close.

Why?:

In the world of sports change does not always indicate progress. If you think about it the most successful professional, college, and even high schools, seldom change, some basically never have. For instance, I think the Penn State football uniform is a thing of beauty. If what you have is good, and popular, not to mention traditional, why change?

That was my thought as soon as I saw that UVa decided it needed three logos, two of which are totally knew. They are proud of the typography provided by Nike who no doubt made a few bucks. I thought the “V-SABRE” looked great. I thought it had become the official logo of the university. It was simple, but sharp, and easy on the eyes, you didn’t have to study it to figure out what it was.

Now there is a new more modern style to UVa’s logos and the numbers on the athletic uniforms have changed. The university says things needed to be refreshed and establish a new visual identity system for UVa. Why? Like most of the logo changes, I fail to see any improvement at all. What you had was good. Why mess around with it? No doubt, somebody is being creative and demonstrating their value. And likely upsetting a large percentage of UVa sports fans as well. Totally unnecessary.

By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot