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The Morning Column: December 15, 2021
A one week pause and reset in sports wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world with the rising number of COVID-19 cases across teams and leagues.
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1. On June 15, California celebrated a full reopening from the pandemic. Fully vaccinated people no longer had to wear a mask, capacity limits and social distancing were eliminated and things began to feel normal for the first time in 15 months.
Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s Health and Human Services secretary, said at the time, “The big message today is we’re at a place with this pandemic where those requirements of the past are no longer needed for the foreseeable future.”
The “foreseeable future” lasted all of one month before the mask mandate returned to Los Angeles County and beginning today, California will reinstate the indoor mask mandate for at least one month amid an increase in COVID-19 cases.
This recent wave has hit sports hard as there’s a new player or coach testing positive every hour as multiple games and events are being postponed or cancelled. The Lakers had three players – Talen Horton-Tucker, Dwight Howard and Malik Monk – enter the league’s health and safety protocol on Tuesday as the Lakers canceled practice on Tuesday and shootaround today before their game against the Dallas Mavericks. The Rams meanwhile had 11 players on the reserve/COVID last as of yesterday, including running back Darrell Henderson, right tackle Rob Havenstein, cornerback Jalen Ramsey, cornerback Donte Deayon, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., defensive back Terrell Burgess, defebsive back JuJu Hughes, tight end Brycen Hopkins, offensive tackle Alaric Jackson, defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph Day and defensive end Jonah Williams. The Rams are scheduled to play the Seattle Seahawks at SoFi Stadium on Sunday.
2. They won’t shut down sports for 4-5 months like they did at the beginning of the pandemic. We have a vaccine now and a better understanding of the virus and the variants and there’s real hope that after this holiday season we might finally (for real this time) be past the pandemic come March. But a one week pause and reset wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world with the rising number of COVID-19 cases across sports.
We won’t have games without fans again but I’m not sure if now is the best time to have fans, especially unmasked, sitting courtside at NBA games, and yelling at players within a few feet of them. Sports will go on but teams and leagues have to figure out a better way to navigate through the next three months because what they’re doing right now is clearly not working.
3. Super Bowl LVIII in 2024 will be played at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. There have been so many amazing firsts over the past five years as Las Vegas has gone from the black sheep of sports with no professional teams to the hottest and fastest growing professional sports town but being awarded the Super Bowl is arguably the crown jewel. There’s no bigger date on the North American pro sports calendar than Super Bowl Sunday and there was no better place to be for the game than Las Vegas if you didn’t have a ticket and now the Super Bowl is actually coming to Sin City.
4. As great as the Kansas City Chiefs have been recently in winning six straight games and as much as the Chargers have struggled with consistency after starting the season 4-1, if the Chargers can beat the Chiefs at SoFi Stadium on Thursday night, they will be tied with the Chiefs at 9-5 atop the AFC West and will hold the tiebreaker after beating the Chiefs earlier this season at Arrowhead Stadium and sweeping the season series. The Chiefs are a three-point favorite while the Chargers are still a great value at +2500 to win the Super Bowl considering the way Justin Herbert is playing and where the Chargers will be if they can find a way to win on Thursday.
5. While we’re in a glass is half full mood, the Lakers are just two games back of the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference as they embark on a three-game road trip that begins tonight in Dallas. As much as the Lakers have struggled this season on the court and with injuries and now with COVID-19, if LeBron James continues to play the way he has recently after winning Western Conference Player of the Week, I like the Lakers chances of finishing the year in the four spot, which would at least mean home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
6. As much as I would like to see sports leagues and teams re-introduce social distancing measures and mask mandates until we get the current wave under control, it’s hard for them to do that when there’s such a high demand for tickets and many teams and leagues are still trying to recoup what they lost during the first 15 months of the pandemic. Look at the get-in price for last night’s Golden State Warriors-New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden.
7. Here are some odds if you’re thinking about placing a wager today brought to you by Circa Sports.
8. Here’s the local pro sports schedule today brought to you by Yaamava’.
4:30 p.m. Los Angeles Lakers at Dallas Mavericks – Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN
7:00 p.m. Seattle Kraken at Anaheim Ducks – TNT
7:00 p.m. Los Angeles Clippers at Utah Jazz – Bally Sports SoCal, ESPN
9. Here are the “get in” prices for tickets locally on TickPick if you’re thinking about going to a pro sports game today.
Seattle Kraken at Anaheim Ducks – $25
10. On Tuesday’s The Arash Markazi Show, we talked about the Rams winning their biggest game of the season against the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football.
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That’s it for today. Talk to you on Friday