Lamentation for sports in 2020: A year of living virally

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Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

File-This Jan. 28, 2020, file photo shows a remembrance board at a memorial for Kobe Bryant near Staples Center in Los Angeles. Bryant, the 18-time NBA All-Star who won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, died in a helicopter crash Sunday. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File)

Well, had enough yet?

Don’t look at the score.

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How bad did it get?

Like nothing before.

B.C. (Before Coronavirus)

The Setup

An omen, maybe. Hard to say.

The drumbeat starts on New Year’s Day.

The calendar flips, one quick turn

And then we’re mourning David Stern.

Wild-card Patriots thrown off course.

New England, Brady mull divorce.

A perfect Cajun title run --

Joe Burrow 's cooking; Clemson’s done.

Astros punished, sign-stealing scheme.

Hinch and GM are dumped by team.

No need to wait. Oh, yes, there’s more --

Cora, Beltran are out the door.

Conor McGregor’s in the cage,

Fighting again, all fists and rage.

Jeter ’s up … for the Hall of Fame.

Just one voter omits his name.

Then in the California hills

The fog rolls in, the heart soon chills.

A chopper’s down: shock, disbelief –

Kobe, daughter and waves of grief.

LeBron, on court, gives heartfelt shout,

A declaration: “Mamba out.”

Sports still reeling by Super Bowl,

Where Patrick Mahomes takes control.

Chiefs rally with alarming speed --

At last a crown for Andy Reid.

Down Under, Novak has his way,

Bulks up his Grand Slam resume.

Pete Rose makes yet another plea:

The Astros were much worse than me.

Auto race scrapped, Chinese Grand Prix.

Whirlwind’s coming we don’t yet see.

Tyson Fury reclaims the throne,

Pummeling Wilder to the bone.

Daytona ends in flames and fear

And Hamlin winning like last year.

Staples Center fills to the hilt

For Kobe at the house he built.

A.C. (After Coronavirus)

The Shutdown

Rudy Gobert is feeling well

But lost his sense of taste and smell.

High-fives banished by NBA,

Fans in Europe are kept away.

Olympic angst: Delay? Abort?

Indecision, a medal sport.

We then look up and turn around --

The house is burning to the ground.

The NBA shuts down its game.

In college sports it’s much the same.

March Madness hangs on hope and prayer

But it’s soon gone, beyond repair:

The games not played, the crowds not heard,

The shots not made, the dreams deferred.

No bracket busters, office pools.

Coronavirus sets the rules.

The NHL, with ample cause,

Decides to put the league on “pause.”

Spring training stops. It’s getting rough.

The Ides of March throws nasty stuff.

Masters forced to run for cover --

A revision like no other.

Kentucky Derby scratched for May;

French Open topples on same day.

Indy 500, down the hatch.

Same with Wimbledon – game, set, match.

Tokyo’s off, the Olympics done.

The torch is passed to ’21.

Sports keep falling like dominoes,

And no one cares about the ‘Stros.

Amid the chaos, doubts and fears

Tom Brady joins the Buccaneers

The Substitutions

Fans are desperate, start to show it --

End of the world as we know it.

They don’t feel fine. They want some juice.

Hey, there’s soccer in Belarus.

Need some action to get it on?

Then bet on baseball in Taiwan.

Try some arm wrestling on TV.

Ax throwing, maybe? Spelling bee?

Filling the void till hoops restarts

Is Jordan’s “Last Dance” (in 10 parts).

Virtual sports help get us back

And NASCAR has the inside track.

Make-believe spin, make-believe crash.

What’s real? Kyle Larson ’s racist trash.

Live and remote! NFL draft.

The league shows off its high-tech craft

Managing this odd displacement --

Roger Goodell in his basement.

Big cable draw, golf’s got the goods:

Peyton, Brady, Mickelson, Woods.

Baseball? Just negotiations,

Insults, tweets and accusations.

Comeback plans for Fourth of July

Go stale like month-old apple pie.

The Struggle

Part I

Death on a Minnesota street

Turns up the volume, spikes the heat.

A time to march, a time to seethe:

Black Lives Matter and “I can’t breathe.”

“We want justice,” says Eric Reid,

Brought with all deliberate speed.

“Enough,” says Jordan, on new ground,

“Pained … plain angry” and now unbound.

Lisa Leslie’s online decree:

If not “outraged,” don’t follow me.

Osaka is, no need to ask.

Come the Open, it's on her mask.

NASCAR moves to another lane,

Bans Dixie’s flag -- a blight, a stain.

Bubba Wallace, all strength and pride,

Has drivers walking by his side.

A reckoning, and none too soon --

Even Goodell changes his tune.

We need, he says, to listen, feel.

The players now are free to kneel.

Missing from this good intention?

Kaepernick’s name, not a mention.

What’s in a name? Here’s something new:

“Redskins” under “thorough review.”

Has Snyder found his moral core?

His sponsors simply said, No more.

New name? You gotta laugh or scream:

For now, “Washington Football Team.”

By year’s end, wanting to do right,

Cleveland Indians see the light.

The Startup

Part I

A kick, a smack, a well-placed knee --

Sports returns with the UFC.

Golf in Texas: Field is rested,

Fans are barred, swabbed players tested.

The Belmont’s empty, out of place

And Tiz the Law rules shortened race.

NBA joins Disney’s bubble,

Makes a wish to wall off trouble.

NHL restores some order,

Puts two hubs north of the border.

Baseball’s back and the sport retools:

Sixty-game season, beer league rules.

Cardboard fans (all gimmick and lark)

Don’t buy hot dogs, don’t pay to park.

Soon all goes wrong -- COVID’s winning,

Marlins pounded in first inning.

Cardinals, poof! Wide infection --

Vanished, gone, witness protection.

Jumbled schedule, ghastly mess.

Who plays where is anyone’s guess.

PGA? Morikawa ’s here.

Brooks Koepka can’t win every year.

Sports giveth; sports taketh away.

College football’s the price to pay,

The risks too daunting to confront --

Big Ten, Pac-12 decide to punt.

Weeks later, pressured, in a bind,

Both leagues reverse: Uh, never mind.

At Indy, Sato wins once more.

The silence drowns the engines’ roar.

The Struggle

Part II

Now Kenosha commands the stage --

Days of anguish and nights of rage.

The Bucks refuse to take the court --

A ripple then waves of support.

The NBA, of course, goes first.

Others follow as bubbles burst.

Floyd and Arbery; Taylor, Blake.

How much longer? What does it take?

Doc Rivers asks, on being Black:

Why won’t my country love me back?

The Startup

Part II

Sports pauses with a mournful heart:

Brock, Thompson, Seaver … days apart.

Baffert's Derby, Authentic scores,

With protests outside Churchill’s doors.

Blue Jays sing, “Oh, give me a home,”

Landing where the Buffalo roam.

So much sports now, to say the least:

April famine, September feast.

NFL season starts anew.

Players link arms, fans promptly boo.

Open tennis: Thiem ’s startling show;

Golf’s Open, likewise, DeChambeau.

Tour de France, Slovenia’s day.

Stanley Cup bubble, Tampa Bay.

Defying odds, even reason,

Baseball makes it through its season,

Leaving summer and into fall --

Bob Gibson ’s time, October ball.

Patriots-Chiefs, virus attack --

Cam Newton can’t avoid this sack.

Whole teams are benched, blow after blow.

Tennessee Titans? Where’d they go?

A Preakness filly makes some noise --

Swiss Skydiver outruns the boys.

WNBA stands tall.

Seattle Storm can play some ball.

Iga Swiatek? What’d you say?

Just like Nadal she wins on clay.

LeBron, Lakers, own Disney’s gym,

Sense Kobe’s there, above the rim.

The Dodgers, Kershaw expiate

The ghosts of 1988

As baseball puts its year to rest

With Justin Turner ’s COVID test.

The White Sox bring La Russa back

(Their deal fell through for Connie Mack).

Chase Elliott takes NASCAR’s jewel,

Family bloodlines filled with fuel.

The Marlins smash that old boys’ gang.

Glass ceilings shatter with Kim Ng.

Dustin Johnson outplays them all --

Green jacket just the style for fall.

Both lightning and the lightning rod,

Maradona, the Hand of God.

College basketball’s set to play --

Mangled schedules, disarray.

Steelers rolling but, yes, there’s flaw.

Niners banished by county law.

Across the week more games are strewn,

Even on Wednesday afternoon.

Through it all, a truth emerges:

Games go on while COVID surges

And records fall, that much is clear --

Consider Tara VanDerveer.

Now set, the college playoff queue:

Tide-Irish, Clemson-OSU.

Then look who’s back? The NBA.

Seems you were here the other day.

But who can tell? It’s all a blur:

The games they played, the way we were.

The Summation

Let’s see this out, get to the end,

And who knows what’s around the bend?

But we’ll toast, of course, don’t think twice --

Take a deep breath and roll the dice.

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