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A group of students from Uruguay pose for a souvenir picture on the Olympic Rings set outside the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, Saturday, March 21, 2020. The Olympic flame from Greece arrived in Japan Friday, even as the opening of the the Tokyo Games in four months is in doubt with more voices suggesting the games should to be postponed or canceled because of the worldwide virus pandemic. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Weekend winners

Recalling the memories of sports. Got to admit, I watched a piece of the Houston-NC State 1983 title game and a fair chunk of the Duke-UK classic regional final in '92. Three things jumped off the screen. First, man, they used to get the ball inside to a back-to-the-basket big man. Second, the graphics have come light years. (Gary Bender and Billy Packer did the game and for the Cougars' hot stretch to start the second half, the shot chart was an old coaches board with magnets in Packer's hands. Seriously.) Third, and Chas you will recognize and appreciate the Big Blue blood in these youngsters, the power of sports and how it can move those of us who love them in general and a team in particular is what I miss the most. And these two young UK lifers watching the 1992 game for the first time is everything — great and tragic — about that relationship we have with sports.

Mike Leach. The new Mississippi State coach is the hero we need right now, and he appears to be posting his version of a "Jack Handey Deep Thoughts" on Twitter. Here was one over the weekend with a picture of Bigfoot with a sly grin and the words, "The look you get when all the stupid humans are fighting over toilet paper but you know the woods are full of soft absorbent rabbits." Never change, coach. Ever.  

Vin Sculley. Not only did I watch the legendary broadcaster be the voice of "For Love of the Game" with Costner and Kelly Preston over the weekend, but I also watched this. (Side note: Kelly Preston is perpetually underrated.) His message of hope on the L.A. Times website. Man, I could listen to Vin Sculley read a box score and be attentive. Some of the great lines in his soliloquy: "This thing is burning up days like an express train." "I have no idea what to do." "It's a very difficult time to go without hugs."

Freddie Freeman, who appears to be ready to get back in the batter's box whenever the sports shutdown is over. The Braves first baseman rocked a long Wiffle ball homer off his 3-year-old Charlie and the video went viral. Hey, kid left that ball up in the zone.

Chris Godwin. Yes, he and the Bucs won all of last week with the addition of Tom Brady. But the Tampa Bay star wideout — seriously, he's a star and had a much, Much, MUCH better year in 2019 than most realize — offered over the weekend that he would give TB 12 the No. 12 for free.  

Bonus pick: Kudos to Showtime, which is among the pay channels that have offered free access to its services for the foreseeable future as we are holed up. Good move, and beating HBO to that goodwill gesture is smart.

 

Weekend losers

Country music fans everywhere. Kenny Rogers died over the weekend. He was 81. Man, he was a dude now. And know this: Unless you were alive and not paying attention during their heydays, Kenny Rogers and Burt Reynolds were the epitome of cool. How cool? Movie makers were lined up to make not one but two "Cannonball Run" films with all of Burt's buddies and make multiple movies out of Kenny's ballads. And just for fun, here's Kenny ball-faking and draining a jumper on MJ during a celebrity game back in the 1980s. (And if you watch the entire clip, The Gambler's move and bucket completely flipped the switch and motivated the competitive nature on MJ.)

Atlanta travelers. Hey, debate the details of self-quarantining all you want, but this image of lines at Hartsfield is nuts. The story goes on to say the TSA had one lane open because of a lack of staff. How many people missed flights? Hundreds?    

Governmental leaders — on both sides — who continue to politicize this issue. Just stop, and we need to keep a running scorecard so we can remember the folks that made this about issues rather than health and safety.

Those of us wanting baseball back. Yes, sports everywhere are waiting and wondering, but this statement from an executive from Toronto makes you really wonder if there's going to be baseball before the middle of June. Some big logistical details in that story, that a) the league is planning to announce an agreement with the players union about the current situation (that's years of service and arbitration and such) and b) that Mark Shapiro, the Toronto Blue Jays president, believes baseball will need a four-week "ramp up" period. Translation: Whenever the social distancing ban is lifted, Shapiro believes it will be another month after that before baseball returns. Crap.  

Now this is some serious quarantining rule. In China, an Australian woman was kicked out of the country for breaking the quarantine. She went for a jog.

 

Next big shoe

With mounting pressure from some of the biggest participating nations, it appears the 2020 Summer Olympics will be at least postponed and most likely pushed back at least a year.

Two big thoughts here:

First, we have discussed the heartache we all have for the seniors in high school or college who have had their last seasons and meaningful sports moments wiped away with the precautions and safety moves to fight the corona.

The reality for Olympic athletes in a vast majority of those sports is even more tragic. Sure, for basketball players or golfers or some other higher-profile sports, an Olympic medal is not as coveted as an NBA ring or a green jacket.

But if you are a swimmer who has worked your whole life for this moment, wow, could you imagine?

Secondly, you have to wonder if this resets the comeback date and timeline for return to sports.
Sure, there are way more moving pieces in the Olympics than every other sport. It's a worldwide event, after all.

But now if the Games are on an undetermined hiatus — they were scheduled for late July — does that mean all sports are done until then?

Discuss.

 

This and that

— This story by Emily Waldon for The Athletic is excellent. Talk about the title saying it all. It's on minor league baseball players and the headline includes this quote: "We are pros at scraping by."

— Enjoyed this story in the TFP Sunday sports section from TFP all-around ace David Paschall on former Baylor School star golfer and current PGA Tour pro Harris English.

— How about this NFL Rumor? The Raiders passed on Tom Brady because of inconsistent game film from the last two years. (But they signed Marcus Mariota? Hmmmmmmm.)

— Harkening back to a more enjoyable, corona-less time, this headline on 247sports.com made me think of the good ol' days when we'd get bent out of shape about college football recruiting. Headline: USC commit Jay Toia names a top 8. But if you are a commit, don't you have a top 1 already?

— While we are here, watched the "Richard Jewell" movie over the weekend. Solid B to B-plus. The AJC in general and one of its lead cops reporters in particular were not portrayed in the best light, though, which is not exactly fair considering that in all the lawsuits the Jewell family filed, the AJC was the only party that did not settle out of court and the AJC eventually won the lawsuit.

 

Today's question

Weekend winners and losers. Discuss.

What are you binge watching? I am looking for nominations because we are closing in on having watched all 20 years of the original "Law & Order."

Did anyone watch the slippery stair-climbing competition on ESPN the Ocho over the weekend? Kids loved it.

We will post our weekend kitchen exploit tomorrow. It was pretty sweet. Seriously, and literally.

As for today, March 23, let's explore:

On this day 35 years ago, one of the best examples of very attractive ladies loving musicians was made bonafide as Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley got hitched.

Speaking of matrimony, Bruce and Kris Jenner divorced on this day five years ago. We'll call it irreconcilable differences, huh?

Some of the best NCAA title games ever were played on this day. In 1957, UNC beat Wilt and Kansas 54-53 in three OTs. Spy, didn't you cover that game?

In 1963, Loyola-Chicago beat Cincinnati 60-58 in overtime to win it all. Lew Alcindor got the second of his three NCAA tournament MOP awards as UCLA rolled UNC in 1986.

Happy 66th birthday to Geno Auriemma. Moses Malone would have been 65 today. (There may not be an easier Rushmore than best high schoolers who went straight to the NBA: Malone, Kobe, LeBron and KG. Miss anyone?) Chaka Khan is 67.

Jason Kidd is 47 today. Rushmore of NBA point guards. Go.

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