Coronavirus Diary: Korean Baseball

The desperate search for live sports on TV reached a new level today as the Korean Baseball Organization debuted on ESPN2. A Zoom call kept me from the first 15 minutes of coverage, and I did not DVR the game, because the quest is for live sports. So, maybe I missed something, but after an inning with none of the KBO’s vaunted bat flips or cheerleaders and the stands as empty as a Marlins game, there was just no buzz.

In terms of finding any compelling sports programming in recent weeks, the NFL Draft was not bad. At least the event itself was newsworthy, and we were spared the spectacle of draftees boating across the fountains of the Bellagio, per pre-Coronavirus crisis plans. This Thursday’s three-hour Schedule Release ’20 on the NFL Network? No, thanks.

Just about the only game in town now for quality sports TV is The Last Dance.

Next post in series: Coronavirus Diary: Signs of Life

Series begins at Coronavirus Diary: Introduction

Coronavirus Diary: Streaming Consciousness Bay Path Bike Ride

Press play on Spotify.
Start Strava.

Push off the asphalt.
Pedal true north.

Slalom through Covid warning signs.
“Social distance,
Breathe at your own peril,
Etc.”

Skirt the shore fishermen,
Chattering Tagalog through their masks.
Warm up into the wind,
Face frozen,
But heart warming.

When the breeze allows, go fast.
When it doesn’t, go hard.

Weave through the oblivious.
Kids know no risk
Because the world revolves around them,
And parents blessed with precious child time still screen-stare,
At the center of their universe.

A family frolics on the beach,
Where windsurfers used to launch.
The golf course is closed.

The tide is out.
The stench blows in.

The sky howls.
Cold eyes drip hot tears.

Next post in series: Coronavirus Diary: Korean Baseball

Series begins at Coronavirus Diary: Introduction

Coronavirus Diary: Fit Kids

Inkflow client Fit Kids released its new series of Home Workouts via the e-blast below. School closures during the Coronavirus crisis limit even further the scant fitness resources in the disadvantaged communities where Fit Kids operates.

Each workout uses bodyweight only, providing a fitness solution for underserved youth who live in crowded housing conditions. The pursuit of fitness — with its physical, mental, and social-emotional benefits — is critical to people living in the most vulnerable communities, where COVID-19 has disproportionate impact.

Next post in series: Coronavirus Diary: Streaming Consciousness Bay Path Bike Ride

Series begins at Coronavirus Diary: Introduction

Coronavirus Diary: Anniversary

What a day! Probably the best one since the start of our shelter-in-place order.

8 a.m.–Led a webinar for Sports Philanthropy Network titled “Content and Communication in the Coronavirus Crisis.”

10 a.m.–Zoom workout with Lori Fhima, my dear friend from University of Minnesota days.

noon–St. Thomas Academy work resumed with an interview of Jackson Najarian, nephew of Peter Najarian, whom I used to interview when he played football for the U.

1 p.m.–Phone call with Arabella DeLucco, Founder of WeXL, followed by shooting video selfies for WeXL.org.

1:30 p.m.–Phone call with my son, Sam.

2 p.m.–Another St. Thomas student interview.

And all day, the one-month anniversary of the Coronavirus crisis, I celebrated my 27th wedding anniversary, thanks to the spectacular Valerie Liberty!

Next post in series: Coronavirus Crisis: Fit Kids

Series begins at Coronavirus Diary: Introduction

Coronavirus Diary: Week Four

When last week’s gradual closure of parking options limited access to my running stairs, I started biking there instead. But the inevitable occurred, and the stairs shut down completely. Now my go-to outdoor exercise is a 20-mile bike ride along the bay.

Other activities during the Coronavirus crisis include standing in line to get into Trader Joe’s and wondering why major TV networks don’t replay more classic sports. While I wandered the TV desert on Easter Sunday, Willie texted, asking if I planned to watch the H-O-R-S-E competition.

Hell, no!

He texted back wondering what had happened to me. What has happened is that I won’t settle for junk “sports.” If the games don’t matter, I’d rather work, read or write. When it’s TV time, a quick channel check occasionally turns up a classic, such as this one that aired on Showtime last night.

Even without the suspense of the original fight, the athleticism and courage still inspire. A meaningful story still unfolds. That’s why the next bit of appointment TV sports will be Sunday’s debut of “The Last Dance.”

Can’t wait!

Next post in this series: Coronavirus Diary: Anniversary

Series begins at Coronavirus Diary: Introduction

Coronavirus Diary: Week Three

The Coronavirus crisis is both slowly and suddenly squeezing out my sustenance. Most immediately, as seen in the sign of the times shown above, government-ordered park closures limit access to my running hill.

Even before the park closed, a motorcycle cop patrolled the bike path at the bottom of the hill to check for social distancing. Then, the parking lot shut down. Then, when too many people walked in, the nearby street parking turned into a towaway zone.

Granted, this is a first-world problem. Especially now, I appreciate my privilege. But, this being a personal diary, it’s worth noting that the gradual limitation of access to this workout — which has been my saving grace during shelter-in-place — starts to feel, at least metaphorically, like a noose tightening around my neck.

The less I can use that hill run to deepen my breath and blast my lungs to gasping each morning, the shorter and shallower my breath becomes throughout the rest of the day. Short, shallow breath is a symptom of anxiety, a natural reaction to the stress of the Coronavirus crisis, given that in week three:

– Coronavirus-related deaths in the U.S. surpassed 10,000 and the Trump Administration estimated that number would reach anywhere from 100,000 to 240,000.

– Today’s election in Wisconsin, where I spent much of my childhood and still have family and friends, carries the stench of dying democracy.

– Although unrelated to Coronavirus, Bill Withers died.

Next post in this series: Coronavirus Diary: Week Four

Series begins at Coronavirus Diary: Introduction

Coronavirus Diary: Wolf Pack Ninjas Campaign

Following is a replicated MailChimp e-blast prepared for Inkflow Communications client Wolf Pack Ninjas.

As we join together to fight the Coronavirus, here is perspective from Wolf Pack Ninjas Co-Founder Dr. Noah Kaufman, an ER doctor on the front lines, speaking with Nicholas “Modern Tarzan” Coolridge (@ModernTarzan) and @AcroSprout.

Now more than ever, the Wolf Pack Ninjas are committed to making the world healthier one kid at a time. Please, stay home, wash your hands frequently, and avoid touching your face.

If you have any questions or concerns about your health, contact your physician.

Finally, take this opportunity to improve your fitness and develop your Ninja skills. It won’t be too long before we’re back on course!

Awoooo!

Next post in this series: Coronavirus Diary: Week Three

Series begins at Coronavirus Diary: Introduction

Coronavirus Diary: Opening Day

Opening Day at Wrigley Field, 1977

On most Major League Baseball Opening Days, I play hooky and watch the Cubs. But on this Opening Day, there is no game to watch and nothing to play hooky from.

Opening Day’s significance lies in the sense of hope it provides. After all, it is the one day that the Cubs are guaranteed to be tied for first place.

More broadly, in terms of hope, Opening Day symbolizes springtime, rescue and renewal from the depths of winter, reward for the faith that hope engenders. Opening Day is another expression of the metaphor contained within Easter and Passover.

On most other Opening Days, we congregate at Clark and Addison, pressed body on body, inching our way toward the gates. Then we enter to the familiar, the sound of the same program hawker forever, the smells of popcorn and beer.

As we rise, walking the steps and ramps, we catch a glimpse of the field and our hearts race. Then, emerging from the tunnel that leads to our aisle, we see a sea of green.

Each shade is different, the ancient scoreboard pale and washed out compared with the rich outfield grass and the deep forest tint of the seats. All those greens mean hope. Even the missing green, the not-yet-grown-in ivy, signals hope because we know those leaves will return soon.

Even with so much hope wrapped up in Opening Day, the loss of today’s occasion to the Coronavirus crisis is no cause for despair. Coming of age and becoming a Cubs fan in the last years of Ernie Banks’ career, I was inspired by his famous, “Let’s play two.”

Enduring some of the worst seasons in baseball history, Mr. Cub still wanting to play two was a clear call to look on the bright side. Cubs fans are optimists. Although Opening Day won’t happen today, it will someday.

Next post in this series: Wolf Pack Ninjas Campaign

Series starts at Coronavirus Diary: Introduction

Coronavirus Diary: New Live Sports

The last few days at my running hill at Seal Point Park, I have seen an amazing display of athleticism. After my regular 20-minute HIIT run on Sunday, stretching on the turf at the foot of the hill, I noticed a young woman balancing on one foot, her other leg stretched parallel to the ground, a perfect 90-degree angle. You can see that in most yoga classes, but while in that pose, she was doing resistance band work that surely should have toppled her.

I’d never seen that before, so I watched for a while and soon could not look away, because when she released the pose, she shook and shimmied like one of those undulating tube man balloons in front of an auto dealership, but with no break in the fluidity, and then she flowed into a regimen that showed unwavering strength and precise form – board-straight push-ups on one fist or both, sometimes with a leg lifted – mixed with yoga, dance, runway model struts, stretches, splits, knees-past-her-nose karate kicks, and Cirque du Soleil-caliber contortionism.

It was sheer joy of motion embodied. Her routine seemed at once both spontaneous and choreographed. That impossibility illustrates how the bending body can bend the mind.

Today, answering my request from the prescribed six-foot distance, Lucy gave me permission to shoot video. In these Coronavirus days, this experience is the closest I get to watching live sports and provides new understanding of why that activity is so valuable.

One reason is that in much of the rest of daily life, you pretty much know what you’re going to see. Although some facets of sports are predictable, our games are set up to deliver surprises. Even if the scoreboard doesn’t deliver on that count, the individual instances of improbable reactions and responses of able bodies and minds can still shock and awe.

Another reason to value watching live sports is the admiration, the aesthetic appreciation, of feats we cannot manage but can imagine performing. Even before Sunday, I had tried every single move in Lucy’s repertoire and completed exactly none of them.

You may feel the same about painting or playing guitar or auto repair or wealth accumulation. I’ve never given any of those an earnest try. But when you know how hard it is to do the thing you’re seeing someone else do, and when you think of what must have gone into getting them there, you can’t help but have hope that whatever you put your most into will happen.

Next post in this series: Coronavirus Diary: Opening Day

Series starts at Coronavirus Diary: Introduction