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Whitt's End: America Battling Two Viruses: COVID-19 and Racism

Whitt's End: America Is Fighting A Battle Against Two Viruses: COVID-19 and Racism

Whether you’re at the end of your coffee, your day, your week or even your rope, welcome to Whitt’s End 5.29.20 …

*3,150 days … and counting. I know it feels like 2020 has already lasted that long. But that’s actually how long it’s been since a Dallas-Fort Worth professional sports team advanced past the second round of the playoffs. 

Yep, there are local third-graders who have experienced nothing more than a post-season cameo from their favorite team. 

On Oct. 15, 2011, the Texas Rangers erupted for nine runs in the third inning en route to a 15-5, Game 6 victory over the Tigers in Arlington that clinched the ALCS. Since then? Nada. A sad, impotent collection of one-and-dones. Over the last nine years our teams are a combined 25-42 in playoff games in losing all seven second-round series. The Rangers are 2-7 in playoff games, failing to advance out of the ALDS. The Dallas Cowboys are 2-3, including 0-3 in Divisional Round games. The Dallas Mavericks are 5-16, not winning a single series since lifting the NBA trophy in 2011. The Dallas Stars are 16-16 and have come the closest to a postseason “run”, twice losing second-round Game 7s to the Blues. 

COVID-19 delays be damned, what’s a couple more weeks?

*I’m about 10 years old in 1970s Duncanville, riding in a van of Little League baseball players headed for a tournament. We pull up in the parking lot next to one of those old, huge, four-door cars. From it spills what I remember being three black adults and maybe as many as five players. Quipped our manager/driver at the sight, “That, boys, is what we call a load of coal.” Our assistant coach, riding shotgun, guffawed at the racist insult. Some of my teammates giggled. 

I thought to myself, “Does that make us a field of cotton?”

After the team from the car run-ruled the team from the van, I was reminded that skin color didn’t matter. And to this day, it still doesn’t. Or at least it shouldn’t. Whether you believe in God the architect or Big Bang happenstance, we’re all made of the same stuff. Maybe Adam and Eve. Maybe cosmic stardust. Maybe a combination of both. Who knows? Inside – equipped with the same ingredients – we’re identical Twinkies. Just, after eons of migration, wrapped differently. 

Throughout my life, I’ve benefited from white privilege. These days, I’m engulfed in white embarrassment. From a woman calling 911 and fabricating being attacked in Central Park, to men gunning down a jogger in Georgia, to Minneapolis cops murdering a man in handcuffs, white-on-black, hate-fueled crime is raging out of control in this country. 

America is currently battling two viruses. We’re mired in a crisis, wrapped around a crisis. COVID-19 will pass. Racism is here to stay.

I’m happy I didn’t get the “joke” when I was 10. Content that I don’t associate with anyone who boasts superiority based on skin color now. Libtards vs. MAGAts. Masks vs. No masks. And, yes, White vs. Black. Real rivalries with real-world implications. Mute the twinkling piano and save the sappy TV ads trying to convince us that “we’re all in this together”. Because we’re not. Sorry. In truth, America hasn’t been this divided since the Civil War. 

The other day I happened upon the re-broadcast of Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record on April 8, 1974. As Aaron slowly, triumphantly rounded the bases, Vin Scully gave me chills. And tears.

What a marvelous moment for baseball. What a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia. What a marvelous moment for our country, and the world. A black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South, for breaking the record of a white, all-time baseball idol. And it is a great moment for all of us!”

*Day 79 without sports … Dig a little deeper and you’ll find a sports angle to the Shelley Luther tale. Before she was hailed as an American hero by some, she was projected as a shortstop by UT-Arlington. Dallas’ drive-thru martyr hit .219 with 20 RBI in her modest softball stint 1994-95.

*This is, well, odd(s). I wrote a couple weeks ago that, according to Las Vegas, Dak Prescott is the third overall best bet to win NFL MVP in 2020. Now comes word that Mike McCarthy is also No. 3 to win Coach of the Year behind only Bill Belichick and Bruce Arians. A reasonable person would deduct that the team with strong candidates in those vital categories would have a decent chance to win the championship. 

A reasonable person, however, would be wrong. 

According to something called the ESPN Football Power Index – pause for an exaggerated eye roll – the Cowboys have only a 5-percent chance to win the Super Bowl and a 48-percent chance to take the NFC East. Does. Not. Compute.

*Day 80 without sports … In the name of safety, our post-COVID-19 world – like our post-9/11 world – will be a smidge more inconvenient. For the time being at airports it’s shoes off, masks on.

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*Good news: The Stars are in the playoffs. Bad news: I have no idea what that looks like. Best I can figure after listening to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s back-to-the-ice announcement, the Stars will play three round-robin games against the West’s best and then be anywhere from the No. 1-4 seed and face a team anywhere from the No. 5-12 seed in the first – or is it the second? – round. And you thought explaining sports to newcomers was tricky before?! Hockey players don’t even know when to start growing their playoff beards.

*Day 81 without sports … No baseball in sight, but the Rangers’ new stadium is open for tours. As parting gifts, fans receive a Globe Life Field protective mask. How fitting.

*Ready to feel old? Troy Aikman has been an analyst much longer than he was a player. He played 12 years for the Cowboys. He’s preparing for his 20 season at Fox. (By the way: Aikman talks to Fish here and here about the Cowboys, Dak and him being a GM. Good stuff.)



*The Washington Nationals owe Elvis Andrus a World Series ring. Especially now that they put a “Baby Shark” on the darn things. The Rangers’ shortstop began 2019 by walking to the plate to the annoying-but-catchy kids’ ditty. It was a tribute to his son, who loved the song. It was his bit. But then in June, some two months later, the Nationals hijacked it into their bit. Outfielder Gerardo Parra started using it as his walk-up music and it ultimately morphed into Washington’s theme song during its World Series run. Now? Sure enough, Baby Sharks alongside the big diamonds.

*Day 82 without sports … Why do auctioneers talk so fast? When I’m considering an important purchase, the last thing I want is a price tag communicated via mumbly cadence and drowned in cocaine energy.

*Attention professional athletes: 42 million Americans have lost their jobs and filed for unemployment because of COVID-19. We are fresh out of sympathy for NBA players (Damian Lillard) refusing to play in “meaningless” games and MLB players (Bryce Harper) grousing about taking a pay cut from $27 to $6 million. Fresh out, I tell ya.

*Day 83 without sports … Explain to me again how schools that are still unsafe for students are reopening for football players.

*It’s not exactly The Last Dance, but ESPN’s Lance documentary is decent non-sports sports TV. Takeaway: Armstrong, like Michael Jordan, motivated himself by fabricating foils. “Sometimes,” Lance admitted in last week’s Episode 1, “you make up rivalries.” Challenged daily by the second mortgage and the three kids and, well, life, I’d venture to guess that’s something that just never occurs to us mere mortals.

*Day 84 without sports … The other day on social media I published side-by-side photos of Colin Kaepernick and the Minneapolis cop – both “kneeling.” Within 24 hours I lost 116 followers on Twitter and 21 Facebook friends. By their actions, those folks were obviously more offended by a peaceful protest than a violent murder. Good riddance.

*Anyone else think it’s strange – and likely not real good – that Dak’s 31-year-old brother, Jace, passed away suddenly on April 24 and there still isn’t an official cause of death?

*Day 85 without sports … Just when you thought watching Cornhole or darts or Tom Brady splitting his pants on the golf course was a waste of time, ESPN on Sunday morning is enticing you to watch people ride their stationary bikes. Can’t imagine being bored enough to sit through Gordon Hayward, Booger McFarland, Bubba Watson and Victoria Azarenka taking a Peloton spin class.

*Current sports forecasts:

NFL: Sunny. Minicamps to begin in mid-June, regular season set to start on schedule.

NHL: Clearing. Playoffs to begin in July.

NBA: Overcast. Several ideas for returning on the table (and the Dallas Mavericks jogging back into the gym), but nothing close to a “plan.”

MLB: Thunderstorms. Players rejected owners’ plan for revenue split, putting entire season in serious jeopardy.

*This Weekend? Friday, for the first time since he was diagnosed with Leukemia on Jan. 3, I’m playing golf with Dad. As always, don’t be a stranger.