Sports, the Pandemic, and Abe Lincoln in Wyoming
August 10, 2020

This is how crazy things can be when you cross the lines of the coronavirus pandemic, the world of sports trying to exist inside it, and my recent road trip. When I set across the Loneliest Road in America in Nevada, en route to Wyoming on July 30, the St. Louis Cardinals were enjoying an off day after losing to the Minnesota Twins the night before. I've been back for four days and they haven't played a game since.

You remember just days into the late start of the season, there was a Covid-19 outbreak within the Miami Marlins. The team was in Philadelphia at the time, and several games were postponed. The Yankees were the next team to visit, and they didn't want to go right away. More games were called off. The estimate is now 15 Cardinals players have recently tested positive—literally half the team. Their weekend series with the Cubs was called off, they were supposed to open a series against Pittsburgh today, and that's been called off. Now a doubleheader against Detroit Thursday will not happen.

While those outbreaks are trying to be considered as isolated incidents by the powers that be, there are other issues. Players are still spitting, high-fiving, and not wearing masks. It was said before the season that fighting was strictly forbidden, but the A's and Astros got into it Sunday after Oakland outfield Ramon Laureano was hit by a pitch twice. Houston hititng coach Alex Cintron gave the 'you wanna piece of me?' gesture from the dougout and Laureano charged. You didn't have to watch the game or the highlight to know that no social distancing ensued.

Then you have reports that Saturday night after his 7-1 win over the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland pitcher Zach Pleasac and teammate Mike Clevinger broke protocols by leaving their hotel room to go out partying.

Something you do have to remember is that these guys are basically kids (from the prospective of a 56 year-old), but they are also professionals, and need to act as such if these sports are to continue. Surprisingly (at least to me), is that the NBA has had few problems, even though several multi-millionaire twenty-somethings, supposedly sealed in a bubble in Orlando, have openly said they wouldn't snitch on teammates if they try to break the rules.

Meanwhile, coronavirus cases are climbing and schools are opening. Most schools around here will start with distance learning, but others are going to try to put kids in the classroom. High school sports are (appropriately) on the back burner right now, and major college football seasons are starting to be either canceled, or postponed until the spring. The Mid-American and Mountain West Conferences have shut down football, the SEC (where all the money is) still wants to play, and the Pac-12 is scheduled fo vote tomorrow. Remember, while college football is a big-time industry (even though players theoretically don't get paid), we are still talking about school kids. Alabama coach Nick Saban can say that his players are safer on the field than they are at home, but there are still liability and responsibility issues. Expect either no college football, or see it next spring. We already have hockey and basketball in August, why not the Rose Bowl in April?

If you think that's weird, the Indy 500 is scheduled for later this month, and the Masters Golf Championship will be played in November. Other than canceling preseason games, the NFL still remains unaffected, and plans to start their season on time. Barring outbreaks getting worse, we shouldn't expect to see the Super Bowl in July. All of this, at least so far, without fans of course.

In retrospect, it's still hard to say if resuming sporting events was a good idea. Not having fans has definitely turned out to be a good call, but now at least we have something to watch on TV. Athletes are violating rules, and probably will continue to until something serious happens, and that's the biggest worry. One or two more outbreaks like the one the Cardinals are experiencing now, and the sports experiment will be over. We're still hoping the athletes will be more serious about Covid before the Covid cases become more serious to the athletes.

This just in: The World Series could be played at Dodger Stadium whether the Dodgers are in it or not. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Major League Baseball is considering a 'bubble' for the playoffs, similar to what the NBA and NHL are doing. Because of the weather around the country in October, the newspaper says the L-A area would be a logical choice.

Making it up as we go: Baseball continues to do their own thing in this pandemic season. After announcing seven-inning doubleheaders last week, MLB has now decided to keep rosters at 28 players for the rest of the season instead of the initial plan of trimming to 26 next week. It's pointless, but understandable, considering the possibility of positive tests, but they still have other players available who are a phone call away.

Road trip (conclusion): One week ago today I was in Wyoming. My car ended up being ready on Wednesday, so I left Cheyenne that afternoon and drove across the state to the picturesque town of Green River (photos below). Thursday, after a morning walk, it was 800 miles straight home along Interstate 80. I really wanted to see my cousin Mikenna in Salt Lake City on this trip, but since I was running late (and she had no idea I was there since I didn't connect with her), my Salt Lake visit was a 20-minute detour through the city without getting out of the car. It's a lot different from when I lived there twenty years ago, including high-rise buildings that block what used to be a downtown view of Temple Square. After driving by the state capitol (I lived across the street), and the building where I used to work, it was back on the freeway, across the salt flats, Nevada (without the peaceful nothingness of the trip out), then over the Sierra and back to Yuba County. Whereever you are going, driving out is always more fun, but you always seem to be more in a hurry on your way home.

What's on your playlist?: When I reached Evanston, Wyoming on my back to Marysville on Thursday, I decided to start a playlist of 500 songs, and see how far I got alphabetically by the time I got home. I only made it to the Ds, or 125 songs when I reached Marysville around 11pm. So, in other words, how long is 500 songs? It's long enough to drive from here to Wyoming and back. Twice.

Why I like the town of Green River, Wyoming. Part I-This is the county administration
building. The town was built at the base of the red rock edifice you might see in Utah.

Part II-Right up the street. How about this view from your back yard, or even just
going for a walk? If you lived in this house, you wouldn't have to go far for anything.

Turn 180 degrees and look down a side street, and you get this view. I believe that's a
school in the foreground.The town population is about 12000 at an elevation of 6100 feet.

Yes, there is a river. The main attraction runs right through the center of town, lined
by a park with bike and walking trails. It even looks pretty cool when it snows, too.

A relaxing place to enjoy the Green River, and think about John Wesley Powell's expedition,
which began here, and went down the Colorado in 1869. Or whatever else is on your mind.

My friends Ed, Daisy, and Maddy at Curt Gowdy State Park near Cheyenne. Ed didn't
know who Curt Gowdy was, but that's ok. Despite car problems, what a great trip!!

Top photo: I don't know of any written record that indicates Abe Lincoln ever visited Wyoming, but this monument stands at a Rest Area east of Laramie. It marks the highest point of Interstate 80, and the plaque says the road below has been dubbed the Lincoln Highway. The monument was also dedicated in 1959, the sesquicentennial of Lincoln's birth. The description from my friend seems fitting at a Rest Area, especially if you take a look at his face, but the statue kind of looks like the Great Emancipator standing at a urinal.

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