NESN Diary: A Look At 2020 So Far; The Good, Bad And Ugly (And Other Random Thoughts)


Jul 1, 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.

Well, we’ve reached the halfway point of 2020. And boy, what a year it’s been.

The sports world has been rife with news in the last six months. It’s been a bit difficult to keep up with all the headlines this year, and considering all the ups and downs, it’s easy to understand why.

From some incredible highs early in the year to some of the lowest lows come March, there’s been plenty to follow (and overlook) since the new year began. So if you missed a few things along the way, I certainly can’t blame you.

It’s truly been a year of the good, the bad and the ugly in sports. So I figured I’d compile a quick list of some of the biggest stories we’ve seen in a matter of 26 weeks.

Here’s just a small taste of what we’ve been through as sports fans since 2020 began:

The Good
— The Kansas City Chiefs win their first championship in 50 years, topping the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 in Super Bowl LIV.

— Roush Fenway Racing driver Ryan Newman miraculously walked out of the hospital two days after a horrific wreck during the final lap of the Daytona 500.

— Alex Ovechkin scored the 700th goal of his NHL career.

Players from several professional leagues (ex. Jaylen Brown, Ben Watson, Giannis Antetokounmpo) protest against racial injustice and police brutality following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

More: Has Alex Verdugo’s Arrival As Red Sox’s ‘Top Storyline’ For Summer Camp

NASCAR banned the Confederate flag from its events and properties.

The Bad
— Legendary NBA commissioner David Stern died at age 77 due to complications following a brain hemorrhage.

— Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven other people were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif.

Professional sports leagues in the United States paused their respective regular and offseason schedules after athletes begin testing positive for COVID-19. Leagues overseas were forced to go on hiatus, as well.

— The XFL filed for bankruptcy five weeks after its 2020 season began.

The Ugly
Tom Brady left the New England Patriots after 20 seasons and signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency. (Rob Gronkowski followed in his footsteps a short time later.)

— March Madness got canceled for the first time due to COVID-19.

— Antonio Brown turned himself into police and went to jail after allegedly assaulting a moving truck driver.

— Kyle Larson was suspended by NASCAR after uttering a racial slur during an iRacing event.

— The Washington Capitals placed Brendan Leipsic on unconditional waivers after several misogynistic messages and comments of his made on a private Instagram chat were leaked.

Honorable mentions:
— The Boston Red Sox traded Mookie Betts and David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

— The 2020 Summer Olympics were postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19.

— NASCAR and the FBI investigated a reported noose found in the garage of Bubba Wallace, the Cup Series’ only Black driver, at Talladega Superspeedway.

— Major League Baseball punished the Red Sox and the Houston Astros following an investigation into sign-stealing allegations against both teams.

— The Patriots sign reportedly signed Cam Newton to a one-year deal.

The last six months have been quite a whirlwind, to say the least. Hopefully, however, the second half of the year won’t be nearly as rocky.

Anywho, here are some more fun thoughts from Wednesday’s news cycle:

— The Boston Red Sox are (sort of) back.

Players returned to Fenway Park on Wednesday to begin preparing for the upcoming 2020 season. And the team documented the occasion with some epic photos, videos and tweets.

Here are a few highlights:

I’m not sure about you, but I’ve gone far too long without baseball.

— While MLB is getting ready to start an abbreviated season, the NBA is trying to finish what it started.

But that might be hard if Damian Lillard’s latest opinion has any merit.

The Portland Trail Blazers star is having a hard time believing every single player will fully comply with the NBA’s health and safety protocols for resuming play at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. And while he hopes things work out, he’s not positive they will.

“My confidence ain’t great,” the Portland Trail Blazers star said Wednesday, per ESPN’s Royce Young. “My confidence ain’t great because you’re telling me you’re gonna have 22 teams full of players following all the rules? When we have 100 percent freedom, everybody don’t follow all the rules. I don’t have much confidence. But hopefully it’ll be handled to a point where we’re not putting everybody at risk or in a dangerous position.”

I mean, he’s not wrong.

It’s extremely hard to believe every single player will follow every rule to a tee. It’s like that in just about any large group setting, however. There always are people willing to bend the rules a bit as long as they don’t get caught or face any sort of repercussions (though the latter will be much harder to avoid). And if enough players break enough rules, the league could have a big problem on its hands, and fast.

Let’s just hope things go smoothly.

— Like the NBA and MLB, the NFL also is preparing to hold its 2020 season amid the pandemic.

But one former NFL star wonders if there will be a season at all.

Rodney Harrison isn’t too sure how the NFL will manage to complete this season as scheduled as coronavirus cases continue to climb in the United States. So the former New England Patriots safety has his doubts about how things will play out once August and September roll around.

“In football, you have to breathe on people,” Harrison told ProFootball Talk’s Mike Florio. “You have to tackle people, you spit on people. Guys have cuts, guys cough. … I don’t know how we’re going to have a season.

“… Competitively, it’s an unfair advantage. If Atlanta’s playing against Tampa Bay and (quarterback) Matt Ryan comes down with coronavirus, then the Falcons probably won’t even have a chance.”

Hard to argue with that logic.

Stat of the Day
An impressive feat celebrates its 100th anniversary:

Tweet of the Day
A very big mood.

Video of the Day
Antonio Brown recently worked out with someone interesting… *insert eyes emoji here*

More COVID-19: NBA Tells Coaches ‘Age Alone’ Won’t Keep Coaches From Going To Disney

Thumbnail photo via Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports Images
Boston Red Sox Left Fielder Alex Verdugo
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