With President Obama’s declaration of swine flu as a national emergency, anxiety about H1N1 has only escalated. People are lining up to get the vaccine, and shortages are not helping the problem. As the disease spreads across the world, how will the sports world be impacted?
It would appear that sporting events this winter are prime locations for H1N1 to spread. Large groups of people, many of them young, are packed together in an enclosed space during peak flu season. Athletes, who are so often seen as invulnerable to world events, are also coming down with flu-like symptoms left and right.
In response to the pandemic, Paris has already cancelled one soccer match. Teams are being forced to cancel practices and are playing games shorthanded. The NFL has already begun addressing the issue by allowing relief to flu-stricken teams.
Clearly, the sports world is not ignorant to the threat of H1N1. However, as we wade further into to flu season, how prudent will it be to host large sporting events? France’s cancellation may only be the beginning–cancelled games could spread as fast as H1N1 itself.
Despite lost revenue and disappointed fans, taking the safe side is definitely the smarter course of action. Until vaccination production can fully meet demands, teams should consider how important their games really are.
It’s the first round of the playoffs, and Sox fans have found themselves in a strange (lately) position. Their beloved team has been knocked out of contention by the postseason punching bag, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Two questions now present themselves to hapless Bostonians everywhere: How the hell can the Angels be in Los Angeles and Anaheim at the same time, and where do the Red Sox go from here?
The most obvious thing the Sox need to do is become more offensive. No, not in the Kevin-Youkilis-Will-Throw-His-Helmet-At-You kind of offensive, but the kind that sends a baseball into places that are not the infield or the catchers mitt. This means, first and foremost, getting rid of the increasingly burdensome Jason Varitek and adding some power hitters.
Yes, the Sox were third in the A.L. in runs scored (872) and second in OPS (.806). That is all well and good, but the main power sources in the Red Sox clubhouse may not be sticking around.
Jason Bay, who swatted 36 dingers despite an abysmal half-season slump, is worth a whole bucketful of arms and legs in this lackluster free agent market. He may be too rich for Theo Epstein’s suddenly thrifty blood. He is the best power hitter on the team by far, and his loss would leave a massive gap.
There are plenty other question marks in their aging lineup. Mike Lowell, with his oft-repaired hip, is well on his way to becoming a cyborg and is 35 years old. J.D. Drew, the highest-paid Sox player this season ($14 million!?!?!) did not become the stable offensive force Sox brass thought he would be. Victor Martinez, while an excellent acquisition, is already 30. Finally, David Ortiz is not nearly as threatening as he once was.
The Red Sox made it to the World Series in 2004 and 2007 because they had great pitching and deadly hitters in the middle of their lineup. Now, they have a solid pitching staff and a group of good-but-not-great hitters, with Bay as the only elite source of power.
To remain contenders, the Sox will have to acquire a big bat at third, say goodbye to Varitek, re-sign Bay, and find a solution for the revolving door that is the shortstop position.
Daniel Bard proved his worth this season, so perhaps Boston could use Papelbon as trade bait for a marquee hitter. With Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz leading the rotation, pitching will not be an issue. As the seven total runs against the Angels painfully demonstrated, it was the offense that was not built for the playoffs.
Long praised for their defensive prowess and solid fundamentals, the Patriots have suddenly become a mistake-ridden team this season. Some will point to the losses of Richard Seymour, Rodney Harrison, Tedy Bruschi, Ellis Hobbs and Mike Vrabel as the reason. While their departures are certainly a factor, it seems to me that Tom Brady and the coaching staff are not providing the leadership they once did.
Brady is no longer the god who terrified defenses around the NFL. He appears hesitant and often out-of-sync with his relievers. Brady-to-Welker is no longer a sure thing, and that in itself is a major problem for the Patriots offense. The quarterback’s frustration is visible, and may be affecting the abilities of his teammates.
Look at some of the errors the Pats made in the final minutes of the game. With 5:27 left in the final quarter, Brandon Meriweather made the huge mistake of taunting Eddie Royal after he sent him out of bounds. The gaffe resulted in a first down and a 1st-and-ten from the 11-yard line—an open invitation for Orton to work his magic.
That was just the beginning. After the Pats regained possession, Brady waited too long on a 2nd-and-eight and had the ball batted out of his hands. During overtime, the Patriots defense looked confused and unorganized as Orton marched down the field. The Broncos were seemingly stopped at the New England 27-yard-line, but another costly error (an offside by Banta-Cain) gave them an extra five yards.
What would have been a tricky 46-yard field goal became a more manageable 41-yarder, and the Broncos rolled to 5-0.
If they want any shot at the playoffs, the Patriots’ defense and Brady alike will have to regain their old confidence. They need to go back to what they do best: making the other team make mistakes.
Click here for game highlights.
This piece done by 60 Minutes for their Oct. 11 segment compliments my “Stakes Too High?” post concerning the dangers of football injuries. Unfortunately, I am currently unable to upload the full video from the 60 Minutes website. For the full video, click here. Below, I have posted a preview of the piece.
This blog, which I have been keeping track of in various degrees since 2007, has stagnated for far too long. Sports, especially baseball, have been a passion of mine for many years, but I have been unable to translate that interest onto this medium. I am coming to realize that this blog needs a change, and this change will either make or break my efforts here.
Originally, I started this blog as a requirement for a class. Entitled, “Writing for the Web”, the class was one of the most engaging of my college career. I was enticed with the idea of combining so many forms of communication together. On the first day of class, the professor told us we were required to start a blog about the topic of our choosing and make at least three posts a week.
After deciding on sports for a topic, (the internal debate was rather brief) I went about posting. For a while, navigating the blog and monitoring my “Blog Stats” was exciting. Shortly, though, I began to realize that meeting the required number of posts was becoming a drag. I didn’t want to make at least three posts, but did so because I had to. This waning enthusiasm affected my writing and I eventually fell out of love with the entire process.
I kept the blog up and running after the class ended (sort of), but I realize now for all the wrong reasons. I wanted my material to be recognized by some big-time media company; I wanted to be the “Next Big Thing”. Now I see that’s not how you go about doing things at all. Try too hard to do something and you will invariably fail. Instead, you have to (cliche time) do what you absolutely love, and let everything else follow.
So I will let this blog follow–with what I am still unsure. I know I will continue to cover sports here, but now I wish to integrate it with more…weighty topics. An infusion of sports, politics, technology, society, hell even some philosophy here and there. Now that would be refreshing, would be truly Beyond the Stadium. Time to stop dreaming and give this site some new meaning.