Each day during the sports pause stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, NESN.com 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 always looking for someone or something to blame when things don’t go how we’re expecting. This remarkable-yet-unfortunate case featuring NASCAR, Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. and the reported “noose” is just the latest example.
That said, Wallace should not have to absorb any sort of blame for what transpired at Talladega Superspeedway the last few days.
Wallace didn’t report the “noose,” as it was referred to by both NASCAR and the FBI. Wallace didn’t even have any knowledge it was there until NASCAR President Steve Phelps told him Sunday, as Wallace explained Tuesday night on CNN.
Wallace simply believed him. And who could blame him? I mean the only Black driver at NASCAR’s highest level saw a Confederate flag flying above his head just hours earlier, prompted by a ban he requested.
But that should not and does not put him at fault.
If you want to blame NASCAR, fine. While I believe that NASCAR actually showed initiative with their swift response, I believe it could have been handled better, too. Hindsight is 2020, though. And as Wallace said in a statement of his own Wednesday, “I think we’ll gladly take a little embarrassment over what the alternatives could have been.”
If you want to blame the media, that’s fine, too. Just remember the media, like Wallace, went with what they were told. And the same media, at least for the most part, has also been writing just as many stories about the FBI’s conclusion that it wasn’t a hate crime, too. It’s certainly not like the media avoided what facts came out just to save face.
“Well, who do you find at fault then?” you may ask. That’s a good question.
All I know is that Wallace should be left off the blame list. And hopefully others realize that, too.
Anyway, here are a few other things from Wednesday’s news:
— Could Boston Red Sox fans actually have a chance to fill the seats at Fenway Park this season? Team president and CEO Sam Kennedy hopes that will be the case.
“I would say it would be a possibility,” Kennedy said, via MassLive’s Chris Cotillo. “If it were to become a reality, it would be because of the great work the state of Massachusetts and the city of Boston have done.
“… We are hopeful to have fans at some point, there are clubs around MLB anticipating having fans in their ballparks.”
I can smell the Fenway Franks now.
— Mohammed Sanu’s resurgence will be needed by the New England Patriots. And that’s what makes his trainer’s recent comments to ESPN’s Mike Reiss all the more intriguing.
“I would tell you he’s probably faster, quicker, leaner and in better shape now than prior to the surgery,” Hilton Alexander, Sanu’s trainer, told Reiss. “I would say he’s way ahead of any doctor’s knowledge or prediction where he would have been at this point. Way ahead of the curve.”
Sanu was impacted by a high ankle surgery just three games into his Patriots tenure.
— In what was shaping up to be a weekend the family wouldn’t soon forget, Wednesday turned out to be a tough day at the links for the Koepkas.
While it was unfortunate to hear four-time major champion Brooks Koepka pulled from PGA’s Travelers Championship after his caddy tested positive for COVID-19, it was either worse to hear his brother, Chase, who earned a spot during a qualifying round Monday, also withdrew.
Chase Koepka has played just five times on the PGA Tour, twice with his brother.
”I feel terrible for Chase,” Brooks Koepka told the Associated Press, as transcribed by Yahoo! Sports. ”This course is made for him. He’s playing as good as I’ve ever seen him. And I put him in that situation. I think it’s the right thing to do, and I admire that. But it’s hard.”
Tweet of the Day
I like the looks of that.
It's beginning to look a lot like baseball. pic.twitter.com/ENMa1hkrGw
— Red Sox (@RedSox) June 24, 2020
Jarome's time in Boston was short.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) June 24, 2020
Stat of the Day
Especially in a shortened season, making it much less likely for a game to go 17 innings is a rather good idea.
As baseball is set to return on July 23rd or 24th, extra innings will start with a runner on second base (rule was used in minor league baseball over the last two seasons).
Games ended in one extra inning 73% of the time (was 49% in '17, before rule was instituted). pic.twitter.com/gfq2lATj2n
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 24, 2020
Thumbnail photo via Mike Dinovo/USA TODAY Sports Images