NESN Diary: Making A Case To Integrate Virtual Sports On Opening Day (And Other Random Thoughts)


Mar 26, 2020

Each day during the sports pause stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, will publish a diary full of random thoughts, opinions, takeaways and other cool tidbits we’ve stumbled across in the absence of actual games. Because why not? We’re all in this together.

We’re another day closer to the weekend, people.

One day closer to moving from our desks in our home offices and onto the comfortable living room couch — a whole one room away. And thus one day closer to a Netflix binge (just started “Designated Survivor” myself) and the only sporting event on the calendar — NASCAR’s iRacing Pro Invitational Series.

While it’s certainly unfortunate live sports aren’t taking place, it seems NASCAR has found a diamond in the rough during an unprecedented time. The virtual series, which includes drivers practicing social distancing techniques, has taken off. You don’t have to look any further than the 903,000 viewers, or the fact FOX Sports found it beneficial enough it will broadcast the remainder of the series.

What’s next?

Well, we think other sports should take notice. And thus, try to adopt — in some form — the virtual experience themselves.

How awesome would it have been to watch Boston pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez personally (he’s clearly into video games) throw seven-plus innings while shortstop Xander Bogaerts handled a bat and went 4-for-5 at the plate? That’s what a simulation game courtesy of “MLB The Show,” as noted by CBS Sports, took part in Thursday. Oh yeah, and the Red Sox wiped the floor with the Blue Jays in a 9-1 virtual victory.

It goes to prove we all missed Opening Day on Thursday. And seeing how nobody, not even commissioner Rob Manfred, knows when baseball will return, isn’t it worth a shot?

Here’s what the Washington Nationals versus New York Mets simulation looked like Thursday. And it certainly would add more excitement if the players themselves were able to get involved.

And that’s just baseball. What about other sports?

If there’s a time to try anything — shorter schedules, an altered postseason, or even a virtual component to the NFL Draft — this is the time to do so.

(It’d certainly beat watching TikTok videos. No offense, Benny.)

— While Tom Brady may have told his father, Tom Brady Sr., to play nice in media appearances after the quarterback’s departure, the elder Brady had no problem appearing happy about the change.

Here’s one excerpt we found particularly interesting from Brady Sr.’s interview on the “Raising Fame” podcast released Thursday.

“Bill has a lot of responsibilities to keep the Patriots on track, and that’s a bigger responsibility than keeping Tommy under the hood. So, both of them are mature individuals, and I really respect Bill’s decision and respect Tommy’s decision as well.”

Past rumors have hinted at how the Brady camp feels about Belichick’s stance on the 42-year-old quarterback, and it wouldn’t be a huge shock if they were hoping the six-time Super Bowl champion would move on.

— Drew Brees is the leader in the clubhouse for the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year honor.

Brees continues to be as impressive a man as he has been a quarterback. The New Orleans Saints signal-caller has made a $5 million (!!!) pledge to the State of Louisiana and plans to provide 10,000 meals per day to children, families and seniors in need “for as long as it takes.”

Twitter had quite a reaction to the news.

We all salute you, Drew.

— Celtics’ Jayson Tatum held a late-night Q&A for all of Twitter on Wednesday night. And in addition to answering the hilarious “He’s only 19” jokes, the Boston star was asked, and revealed, his top-five NBA players of all-time.

“Mike, Bron, Bean, Magic, Kareem,” Tatum tweeted, insinuating Michael Jordon, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Not a bad list.

Video of the Day

The coronavirus and Tom Brady have independently consumed the news cycle.

Well, they were independent until President Donald Trump brought both parties into one of his answers during a press conference Thursday. The POTUS only had nice things to say about the Buccaneers (it still sounds weird) quarterback.

Stat of the Day

We know Tampa Bay was among the NFL’s easiest tickets in 2019, but a 4,000 percent increase?! Yikes.

Tweet of the Day

The MLB and Fanatics have taken an awesome (an extremely clever) step to help out during the tough times. Masks and gowns now will be the same fabric MLB jerseys are made from.

Thumbnail photo via Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports Images
Wells Fargo Center
Previous Article

NBA Rumors: Top League Officials See Big Pay Cuts Amid COVID-19 Crisis

Boston Red Sox's Brian Johnson
Next Article

Red Sox Opening Day Roster Starting To Take Shape After Four Pitchers Get Sent Down

Picked For You