PONTIFICATING FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE – AUGUST 15
By Leo Haggerty

AND THE WINNER IS

I’m going to take this opportunity to rate the efforts of the major professional leagues that have attempted to start or restart their 2020 seasons.  Not an easy task but I’ll give it my best shot.

I will be rating them on three categories.  The first (1) is controlling Covid-19 within their players .  The second (2) is effort.  The third (3) grading will be the willingness to watch.  Then I will come up with an overall grade for each league.

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
1-B
The only reason it isn’t an A is because of the “strip club hot wings” incident.  Other than that misstep, the NBA has been diligent in keeping the guys in the bubble.
2-C
As I have stated in an earlier column, the next team that plays defense will be the first.  I’m not even asking for 48 minutes of trying to stop the opposition.  I’ll take a quarter but I’m not even seeing that.
3-D
The NBA games, right now, are glorified pick-up games.  I’ve seen more energy exerted on the defensive end on the asphalt at the park.  They are bordering on unwatchable.
Overall Grade-B+
That’s being generous.  The perception that the NBA is giving is why should we play hard for 48 minutes because they’re no fans in attendance to cheer or boo the effort.  The perception fans have now is that players are just going through the motions to get paid.  Not a good look.

PROFESSIONAL GOLFERS’ ASSOCIATION
1-C
Too many players have tested positive for the coronavirus.  Not surprising being that the PGA travels from city-to-city so there is no way of controlling movement.
2-A
Especially when one of the Majors are being contested.  All the players are giving a maximum effort.
3-B
The PGA is the group that is hurt the most from playing in front of empty venues.  The ebb and flow of action occurring over 18 separate holes as well as the sound that reverberates when fans erupt when an extraordinary shot takes place is sorely missed.
Overall Grade-B
Could move up to close to an A.  That’s because players seem to be concentrating on being extra careful as to where they go and whom they associate with when not on the links.

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
!-D
The worst part is that this grade is trending toward an F.  Four teams have already forced the postponement of their games, as well as their opposition’s, due to positive test results for Covid-19. That’s the big problem of not using the “bubble” concept because it’s just not practical for the MLB.
2-B
Still don’t see players hustling on all plays especially running out ground balls.  You’re only asked to put forth a maximum offensive effort about four times a game.  Biggest drawback even before the pandemic.
3-B
For me, it’s just not the same with cutouts for fans.  Just loses something, right?
Overall Grade-B-
Once they convince their players, especially when they go on the road, that it’s imperative that they sequester themselves, the grade will go up.  If they don’t, not only will the grade go down by Commissioner Rob Manfred may have to pull the plug on the season.

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
1-A
Not one positive test for coronavirus by their players.  Either the NHL has been able to convince their players to sequester themselves in the Canadian “bubble” locales of Toronto and Edmonton or the league is reporting it as an “upper body injury” and not a positive test result.  I’m hoping it’s the former.
2-A
My biggest fear was that because of the long layoff as well as the questionable ice surfaces (making ice in August sound almost comical) that would lead to a lackluster effort especially during the play-in series. Not so.  We have seen playoff intensity from the opening game.
3-A
When your opening Stanley Cup playoff contest goes 5 overtimes, what more can you ask for from an excitement angle?  The “Drive For The Cup” is must see TV.
Overall Grade-A
If the NHL is not “cooking the books” when it comes to Covid-19 positive tests, then they take the trophy for the best pro sports comeback attempt.  Kudos to you.

Whatever the NHL is doing, it may not be a bad idea for the other groups, including the National Football League and the NCAA, to inquire into what’s their secret for success.  Is it worth a phone call to Commissioner Gary Bettman?  Hell, yes.

Please understand that this is MY rating. Do you agree?