NESN Diary: The Worst March In Sports Is Almost Over (And Other Random Thoughts)


March 30, 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.

The longest month of March ever experienced is over.

OK … so there’s still one day left. But boy, what a month it’s been.

Sure, March tends to be one of the toughest months to endure each year, but 2020 definitely takes the cake. The majority of professional sports leagues in the United States have been put on hold while the COVID-19 crisis consumes the globe, leaving fans scraping around for some form of entertainment.

The NBA was first, indefinitely suspending its 2019-20 season nearly three weeks ago on March 11. The NHL paused its season less than 24 hours later, the same day Major League Baseball canceled the remainder of spring training and postponed Opening Day for the 2020 season. Even March Madness was canceled, perhaps the biggest blow of them all.

So, what can you look forward to sports-wise in April? There actually might be more than you think.

Luckily for NFL fans, the 2020 Draft will continue as scheduled — well, kind of. Though the draft no longer will be held in Las Vegas amid social distancing orders from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the annual event still will take place (sans public events) from Thursday, April 23 to Saturday, April 25.

The WNBA Draft still is on, too. Teams will select players in the virtual draft come April 17, with top prospects taking part remotely to safeguard the health of all involved.

What’s more, the BIG3 is planning to hold a reality television-style tournament sometime in April, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes. Players will reside in a “large home” (which will include an on-site basketball facility) provided by the league during the seven-round event, with players’ every move being captured on camera “Big Brother”-style.

Players will be eliminated after accumulating three losses, with cash prizes awarded to the first-, second- and third-place individual winners. Any player that breaks quarantine will be eliminated “and removed from the premises,” as well. (It’s unclear when this will occur, however.)

It won’t be the action-packed April most fans are used to. But hey, it’s something. And if March has taught us anything, it’s to not take our wonderful world of sports for granted.

— Things in the Formula One Racing world just got a little strange.

Helmut Marko, head of driver development for Red Bull Racing, apparently considered intentionally infecting F1 drivers with the coronavirus as part of a COIVD-19 “camp.” (Seriously.)

Naturally, the plan was “not well received.” Yet Marko recently defended the idea:

“The idea was to organize a camp where we could bridge this mentally and physically somewhat dead time,” he said on Austrian television station ORF. “And that would be the ideal time for the infection to come. … That way they would be prepared whenever the action starts. And you can be ready for what will probably be a very tough championship once it starts.”

Big yikes.

— Chris Sale, meanwhile, celebrated his 31st birthday with a quick trip to the OR.

Don’t panic, though. The Boston Red Sox ace simply underwent the Tommy John surgery Monday in Los Angeles, according to the team. Sale was informed he needed the surgery two weeks ago after continuing to struggle with the pain in his elbow that caused him to miss the end of the 2019 season.

— On a much lighter note: Remember when Cam Neely was in “Dumb and Dumber”?

To refresh your memory, the Boston Bruins president portrayed “Sea Bass,” a hot-tempered trucker, in the classic 1994 flick. He had a little trouble with the movie’s famous bathroom scene, though.

“I kick the door open and I’m supposed to have this surprised look on my face,” Neely said on the “Spittin’ Chiclets” podcast. “(Director): ‘Cut! Cam, can you get a little bit more of a shocked look on your face?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, OK.’

“Second take, third take, fourth take ? now I’m freaking out. ? So, I pulled Jim aside. I go, ‘Listen, Jim, please just bear with me ? I’m really struggling here.’ He goes, ‘Ah, Cam, don’t worry about it. I’ve had some scenes that have taken 50 takes ? just relax.’ Next take, I kick the door open and he’s mooning me, so they got the shot.”


Video Of The Day
Which Bruins teammate would Zdeno Chara not want to be quarantined with? Tuukka Rask.

And his reason why is downright hilarious.

“The way he farts … it’s awful,” Chara said during a Zoom call with other NHLers on Monday. “He likes his chicken wings. After (he eats) the chicken wings, I sit behind him on the bus — I’ve got to tell you, I’ve got to control myself sometimes.”

Stat Of The Day
March 30 is a historic day in Boston Celtics history.

Larry Bird made C’s history with a 53-point night at the Boston Garden against the Indiana Pacers 37 years ago. it was the most Bird scored in the old Garden, according to Boston Sports Info.

Tweet Of The Day
Rask apparently isn’t the only NHL player people wouldn’t want to get quarantined with.

Colin White apparently isn’t the best chef in the world. According to Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk, the Hanover, Mass. native (shoutout to my hometown!) has a pretty limited palette, so getting quarantined with him probably wouldn’t be the best idea.

“He’s a great guy to hang out with, but I don’t think I could handle having steak and mashed potatoes for two weeks,” Tkachuk said Tuesday via video chat, per The Patriot Ledger’s Mike Loftus.

Thumbnail photo via Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports Images
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