The World Series Combatants Are Set

Back in late July when MLB began its truncated season, there were no guarantees that we would get to a World Series at all in 2020 let alone a World Series that would take place as scheduled back then.  Well, here we are.  The Rays and the Dodgers will commence play in the Series tomorrow.  The Dodgers are favored in Game 1 at minus-165.

The Rays got to the Series beating the Astros in a Game 7 event over the weekend.  In doing that – and with the Dodgers on tap as the Rays’ Series opponents – the Rays have an opportunity to do something unexpected.  I believe the Rays began the season with the 27th lowest Opening Day payroll in MLB; now consider:

  1. They defeated the Yankees in the ALDS, and the Yankees had the highest Opening Day payroll in MLB.
  2. They defeated the Astros in the ALCS, and the Astros had the third highest Opening Day payroll in MLB.
  3. Now they get to play the Dodgers who – wait for it – had the second highest Opening Day payroll in MLB.

The Dodgers presented this opportunity by beating the Atlanta Braves last night after trailing in the NLCS 3 games to 1.  Cody Bellinger’s solo home run provided the margin of victory sending the Dodgers to the World Series for the third time in the last 4 years.  There was an unusual play earlier in the game that turned out to be particularly important.  The Braves had runners at second and third with no outs.  On a ground ball to the third baseman, the runner at third broke for the plate and that began a 5-2-5-6 double play erasing both of those baserunners and leaving the Braves with a man on first and two outs.  I do not recall ever seeing such a double play sequence.

An interesting situation is brewing in the NBA.  Daryl Morey is “stepping down” as the GM of the Houston Rockets after being in the job for 13 years and having the Rockets in the NBA playoffs in each of the last 8 seasons.  For the record, that is the longest active streak of playoff appearances for any NBA franchise.  Under “normal circumstances”, you would think that Daryl Morey would be a “hot property” for any team looking to take their Front office in a “different direction”.  However, there is an unusual circumstance here…

Recall it was a Tweet from Daryl Morey supporting the Hong Kong demonstrators that caused a rift between the NBA and the Chinese government – – and it cost the NBA lots of money (as much as $400M according to some reports).  The NBA and its players latched onto the Black Lives Matter social justice movement very quickly and made it a centerpiece of the viewing experience for the NBA playoffs; the league and the players studiously avoided any semblance of awareness of – let alone concern for – Hong Kong protesters or Uighurs in concentration camps.  That circumstance might be completely coincidental; if Daryl Morey does not get an NBA executive job offer, it will be a difficult job convincing me that it is coincidence.

  • If that comes to pass, I will be convinced that the ultra-woke NBA and its altruistic players are far more adept at virtue signaling as a means to take in revenues than they are at seeing social injustice wherever it is and whenever it happens.

Sticking to basketball, the preparation for the college basketball season began last week as teams were allowed to begin organized practices.  Athletic Departments around the country are scrambling to fill out schedules that minimize travel and fit into venues that reside in jurisdictions that will allow for games to take place.  Rather than the season being cast in concrete, it seems as if the season is cast in vanilla pudding.

The early days of a normal college basketball season would find teams taking long trips to vacation spots to play in early season tournaments.  This year the “Maui Tournament” will take place in Ashville, NC; the “Virgin Islands Tournament” will move its operation to Washington DC and the “Bahamas Tournament” will happen in Sioux Falls, SD.  Lest there be any confusion, I have been to all of the venues mentioned above and I can assure you that none of the landing spots for these “Tournaments” bears the slightest resemblance to the original sites in the months of November and December.

This year, these tournaments are not a pleasant interlude for the players in the early stages of a season; this year, these events are happening because teams want – and need – to find opponents to play against before conference games commence.  In years past, some Ivy League basketball teams would take a swing around the “Sun Belt States” after final exams were over up north and play four or five games along the way.  A quick look at the schedules for all eight of the Ivy League schools this morning shows eight completely empty schedules.

At some of the powerhouse schools the schedules do not look significantly more certain:

  • Duke will play in the Champions Classic and Appalachian State on a date listed as “TBA”.
  • Indiana has 6 games scheduled – – but no games between Nov. 30th and Dec 22nd.
  • Kentucky’s schedule as listed on the UK athletics website contains this information, “The 2020-21 men’s basketball schedule will be posted as information becomes available.”
  • Kansas has lots of games scheduled – 13 by my count – but 10 of the 13 games have either the opponent as “TBD” or the venue as “TBD” – – or both.
  • UNC has 3 games on its schedule this morning on from Nov 30 through December 2 in the relocated “Maui Tournament”.
  • Washington has 1 game scheduled (on Dec 19th) and three “placeholders” on the schedule with opponents and venues listed as “TBD”.

Finally, here is a baseball item from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times from back in the regular season:

“The Yankees — for the first time in their 120-year history — hit into five double plays and committed four errors in the same game in a 4-3, 10-inning loss to the Marlins.

“Or as the 1962 Mets used to call such an occurrence, Friday.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………