Many of us older Americans are sheltered at home avoiding contact with others to minimize our risk of contracting the deadly COVID-19. To keep from going crazy from COVID induced quarantine, which I call covidtine, some of us have renewed our interest in sports, especially when live sports, especially major professional ones, returned to our televisions and computer screens. We are being treated to live games and contests, while tricked out of in-person attendance, by-and-large.
The NBA, WNBA, and NHL have concluded their seasons and crowned champions in past weeks, playing in closed facilities, nicknamed “bubbles”. MLB (major league baseball) crowned its champion this week. The NFL is back, as well, with some stadiums allowing fans while others do not. MLS (soccer) is in swing also. High school and college football is hot again, and like the pros, with some venues allowing fans while others aren’t.
Tennessee Titans fans have been treated to a season which began with 5 victories in a row. However they were tricked with a bitter loss last Sunday at home to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who also came into the contest at 5-0, but are now the only unbeaten team in the NFL at 6-0. The other previously unbeaten team, the Seattle Seahawks, led by the phenomenal Russell Wilson, fell to 5-1 at the Arizona Cardinals, now 5-2, in an exciting Sunday Night Football overtime game seen nationally on NBC. After treating the Steelers to a 20 point lead, the Titans came back to within 3 points near the end, but a missed last-minute field goal cost the team a chance to possibly win in overtime. Trick! The Titans were treated to a $350,000 fine by the NFL for violating COVID protocols. Another trick.
In professional basketball, the Los Angeles Lakers treated their fans to a record-tying 17th NBA championship on October 11, and the Seattle Storm treated their fans to a record-tying fourth WNBA crown as champions on October 6. Alysha Angelica Clark is a mainstay of the Storm since 2012, born and raised in Mt. Juliet, She played college ball at Belmont, treating them to their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance in 2007, and at MTSU, where she was Sun Belt conference Player of the Year in 2009 and 2010. Alysha has had a stellar career in the WNBA and in Europe, earning multiple awards and two WNBA championships. It was a treat to watch their playoff games this season as they swept (trick!) the Minnesota Lynx and Las Vegas Aces en route to their 4th title.
Mookie Betts was born in Nashville, and attended John Overton High School. Mookie scored twice in the deciding game of the 2020 World Series Tuesday night, October 27, including a solo home run in the bottom of the 8th inning to give his team a 3-1 lead, essentially sealing the deal for the 2020 World Champion Dodgers. Now essentially the face of major league baseball, Marcus Lynn Betts was traded from the Boston Red Sox on February 10, 2020, along with Murfreesboro native pitcher David Price and cash, to the Los Angeles Dodgers, after helping the Red Sox to a world championship in 2018.
On July 22, Betts had signed the third richest contract in North American sports history, a 12-year deal worth $365 million including a $65 million signing bonus as he now plays right field for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Mike Trout’s deal is 12 years at $426 million, and Patrick Mahomes tops all with his 12-year $503 million deal. David Price opted out of playing this season due to COVID-19 concerns. Ironically, Price had pitched the series clinching Game 5 against the Dodgers in 2018, with teammate Mookie Betts winning the American League MVP that year. Price is in the middle of the 19th richest deal in sports, a 7-year, $217 million treat.
In the NHL, the Tampa Bay Lightning won their 2nd Stanley Cup on September 28. The Nashville Predators failed to make the eight-team playoff field after being eliminated by the Coyotes one game to three in a qualifying round.
Tonight, Friday, October 30, the Pearl-Cohn Firebirds, ranked #5 in the state, travel to play at #23 Giles County. After a late start, the Firebirds are undefeated at 5-0, 3-0 in Division I Region 5 AAA football. We previously reported on their first two victories against Hillsboro and East in our October 9 COVID19 Special Edition, and since then, they have steam rolled Stratford 70-0, Whites Creek 57-0, and Brainerd 40-0; yep, do the math — that’s 167 points scored while allowing none, zero, zilch, nada in three games, literally averaging more than a point a minute. Tonight’s final (ir)regular season opponent, Giles County, has a 5-6 record, also 3-0 in the same Region; BUT it’s a trick that’s based on two COVID forfeits against East and Stratford, who were scheduled while Metro public schools could not play. TSSAA playoffs begin next Friday, November 6 and culminate in the Blue Cross Bowl, with the Region 5 championship game scheduled for December 4.
Motorsports around the world are active, and six-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton just won the Portuguese Grand Prix Sunday, October 25 to push his win total to 92, surpassing the previous mark of 91 held by retired seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher. Hamilton has won 92 races in 262 starts compared to Schumacher’s 91 wins in 306 starts. Lewis has won eight of the twelve races run so far this season, with five contests remaining, concluding in Abu Dhabi on December 13. Hamilton is leading in points with 256, teammate Valterri Bottas in 2nd with 179, and Max Verstappen in 3rd with 162. Here’s hoping Hamilton can treat his fans by tying Schumacher’s seven world titles this year.
Closer to home in motorsports, Scott Dixon won a record sixth IndyCar championship Sunday, October 25 in St. Petersburg, Florida. He came in third place in the race, but finished with enough points to win this year’s championship ahead of the race winner and defending champion Josef Neugarden. This race was of local interest because IndyCar is set to host a Grand Prix event here in Nashville in August, 2021. The race course in St. Pete treated us with what to look out for in terms of street closures and barricades which will be necessary for the race scheduled to come here next summer. The 2021 IndyCar season is scheduled to start March 7 in St. Pete.