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Major League Baseball (MLB) is set to get underway on July 23 and 24 with all teams in action minus the fans.
Unlike the NHL and the NBA, where games are played in a bubble scenario, baseball teams will embark on a risky travel schedule at a time when the coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) is raging in the United States.
About 40 MLB players and staff had tested positive for the virus. Sixteen teams have indicated they have players who tested positive and that is a scary sign.
Some players, including L.A. Dodgers pitcher David Price, have already informed their clubs they will stay home and not play. Baseball’s best player, Mike Trout, has not indicated if he will play, but if he walks, will others follow?
The unhealthy relationship between the players’ association and owners, who forced the players into the 60-game schedule, could re-surface if the virus cannot be controlled.
If and when the season gets underway, the Toronto Blue Jays have an outside chance for the wild card, but will be in a fight with Tampa Bay and maybe Boston for post-season play. There is so much uncertainty right now, starting or finishing the schedule is questionable.
On the NBA front, all the teams are headed to the Disney “bubble” in Orlando, but unfortunately Florida is not the place to be right now. New cases for a single day have jumped from 1,413 cases on April 17 to 11,458 on a single day within the last week, which is overwhelming the health system. In fact, 56 hospitals in the state have intensive care units at capacity but Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis claims his state has stabilized the coronavirus.
Of the major North American sports, only the NHL appears a certainty to continue play with bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton, cities which have been able to stop the spread and where coronavirus restrictions are in place.
Closer to home
Cardigan has been a baseball stronghold for more than 50 years with very competitive baseball teams coming out of the Kings County community for as long as I can remember.
The Conohan, Flynn, Hughes and Johnson families have been the backbone of championship-type teams in all divisions from the Kings County Baseball League (KCBL) to the Charlie Ryan leagues of the 1990s.
The Cardigan pitchers alone have been standouts on the diamond with guys like Billy Conohan, Johnny Conohan and Errol Flynn in the 1960s and 1970s, who never looked out of place even at national tournaments. Quen Johnston was another standout in the late 1980s and 1990s while the best of all them, Niall Hughes, played professional in the Dodgers organization, the hard-throwing lefty went 9-1 in his first pro season.
The new lights at the Cardigan ball diamond ushers in a new era for that baseball hotbed, so congratulations to area Mayor Ed MacAulay and baseball director Kris O’Brien, a top player with Cardigan teams in both the KCBL and in the Charlie Ryan league, for making this possible.
Live harness racing continues tonight in Summerside with the 52nd running of the $25,000 Governors Plate, the signature race at the Prince County track. Rose Run Quest has drawn Post 2 and with Marc Campbell aboard, he’ll likely be the post-time favourite. Campbell’s two toughest competitors, Simple Kinda Man and Avatar J, drew Posts 7 and 8 and that will send Rose Run Quest away as the even-money favourite.
In other major races tonight, the $250,000 graduate final at the Meadowlands has Betters Wish out of Post 10 and he could be the wagering favourite, based on his impressive 1:48:2 score last week. Dr. Ian Moore’s stable has been on fire on both sides of the border and Century Farroh has the rail in this one. He was just beaten by a neck in 1:48 and change last outing. It is a terrific field with Dancing Lou (Brian Sears) and Hurricane Emperor (Mark MacDonald), both winners recently in 1:48, leaving from 4-5, respectively.
Moore’s Tattoo Artist cruised to a 1:48:2 win at Mohawk last week and on Tuesday night his two-year-old Alumni Seelster, from the first crop of State Treasurer, easily won a $72,000 two-year-old Ontario Sires Stakes filly race in 1:52:2 for owners Sally and Paul MacDonald of Souris.
In another $72,000 stake, Moore’s Andra Day (by Shadow Play) stopped the timers in 1:54:2. Also on Tuesday, Betterthanbobbi, trained by Marcel Barrieau for Charlottetown owner Ian Smith, took a new record of 1:52:2 for the Betterthancheddar three-year-old filly in a $16,000 overnight race.
JK Last Chance (by So Surreal) is 2-for-2 in New York for trainer and P.E.I. native Jim MacDonald and driver Wally Hennessey. He is owned by Charlottetown’s Dan McIsaac and was entered at press time in a $57,000 New York stake and picked to win.
Fred MacDonald's column appears every Saturday in The Guardian. He can be reached at [email protected]