DENVER — This is for Bruce, the former Pepsi Center parking lot attendant. And this is for Floyd, who's been pitching baseball beers since the Zephyrs played at the old Mile High.
This is for you and you, and if it's not for you, I understand. Stay home. Don't watch the games, since we likely can't attend for a while, anyway.
But sports are coming back, and it's going to be glorious.
The NBA is coming back (likely in Disney World, of all places). The NHL, too (with a 24-team playoff format that awards the Avalanche a first-round bye). MLB's return is less clear, given its money spat. The NFL never left. At the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, Roger Goodell's ATM conducted free agency, team meetings via Zoom, even a wildly successful draft.
And college football? If you trust the science — we're still doing that, right? — we’ll see Troy Calhoun’s Top-25 Air Force Falcons against Duquesne on Sept. 5. The CDC's latest numbers say people under 25 are more likely to be struck by lightning than to die from the coronavirus.
Say it with me now, nice and loud so the neighbors can hear: Play ball!
Sports can’t return soon enough.
Desiring the return of sports is not a me thing. I've never had more to write about than during this pandemic. Von Miller’s battle with COVID-19. (The world-class athlete recovered, as they do.) Avs regrets, Nuggets drafts, Rockies plans. College recruiting without campus visits. The Air Force graduation of NFL prospect/future fighter pilot Geraud Sanders. Legalized sports gambling. The Broadmoor’s Russ Miller going in the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame. Duane Klueh, an original Denver Nugget. Drew Lock. So much Drew Lock. And on and on.
In a sports market as robust as Colorado’s, there is never a shortage of subject matter.
No, desiring the return of sports is a human thing. It’s a step toward getting the people whose livelihood depends on sports back to work. Vendors, bar owners, wait staffs, RTD Light Rail conductors, security officers, TV and radio production staffs, Uber and Lyft drivers, ticket brokers, the Switchbacks who work multiple jobs to make ends meet. The millionaire athletes will be just fine, thank you. It's us normal folk who need our lives back.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the disease expert, said Friday on CNBC the ongoing lockdowns could cause "irreparable damage." This guy covers more bases than Charlie Blackmon.
The nonsense has gone on long enough. Remember when the stated objectives were to "flatten the curve" and "prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed”? Well, Gov. Jared Polis said way back on April 27 we had flattened Colorado's curve. And judging by the layoffs and furloughs to hit health care — not to mention the $47 million hospital that's yet to see a patient at Denver’s Convention Center — we've done our part.
So why last week was I politely escorted off the putting green at a Denver city course because I didn’t have a tee time? Why is the NBA targeting late July for its return, in Orlando, when Orlando's Universal Studios is opening on June 5?
It's past time to erect the goal posts, not move them once again. Public health concerns turned into moral grandstanding quicker than Nikola Jokic can fling a full-court pass. Speaking of, the latest on the glorious proposed returns:
- The NBA: Last we saw Joker’s Nuggets, they were 43-22 and gripping the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. Will their championship chase include regular-season games, or a leap straight into the playoffs — against the No. 6 Rockets? The Athletic reported Saturday multiple options are in play, at a late-July "bubble" site in Orlando.
- The NHL: The Avalanche hold the fourth-best odds to win the Stanley Cup, according to bookmakers. Not too shabby. Under a proposal approved by the NHLPA, the Avs would skate directly into a best-of-seven series against the Canucks-Wild winner. Here’s a hunch hockey returns first. These guys play through anything.
- MLB: The Diamondbacks have returned to workouts at Salt River Fields, the spring training home shared by the Rockies. The return plan approved by owners includes an 82-game schedule, starting in July, with expanded rosters and playoffs — if they figure out the money.
- The NFL: Business as usual. Some Broncos employees will return to UCHealth Training Center on Tuesday — but not coaches or players, per league rules, for competitive balance reasons. Tell you who’s tired of Zoom calls, though. Vic Fangio’s tired of Zoom calls.
Life is a risk that's meant to be lived. Play ball!