Baseball continues to screw around

The rest of the sports world has figured things out. But not the national pastime.

Good morning, frents …

The Bulls season is over. Which needless Jim Boylen timeout was your favorite?

It is designed to break your heart

Today is Friday, June 5.

It has been 86 days since the sports world was upended after Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 and the NBA suspended its season. Every other professional and amateur sporting organization soon followed.

Since then …

  • NASCAR has returned and is staging races at empty tracks.
  • The UFC has held a couple of events while WWE pulled off Wrestlemania.
  • The PGA made plans for a June 11 return at The Colonial while moving three of its four majors to the fall and preserving the Ryder Cup.
  • The NHL made plans for an expanded 24-team playoff that includes three big markets (Chicago, New York, Montreal) that might not have otherwise made it.
  • The NBA got together with Disney and plans to bring 22 teams down to Florida to play out the rest of the season.
  • The MLS hammered out a new CBA and wants to hold a World Cup-style tournament among its teams in Florida to start the season.
  • The WNBA is talking about a 22-game season.
  • The NFL pulled off its draft, its schedule release and free agency period. It is planning for a full 16-game schedule and preparing as if there will be fans in the stands.

Baseball, meanwhile, has staged a very public and embarrassing labor battle with no end in sight. While every other league is busy making lemonade, baseball is taking 2020’s lemons and forcefeeding them to us.

As Joe Maddon used to say, try not to suck.

Honestly? I can’t even tell if I’m angry.

My energy and emotions these days are being sapped by the current situation in the world. You’re probably not much different. It’s hard to be concerned over the return of a game with the country currently eating itself alive.

That doesn’t mean I won’t be disappointed if this pointless staring contest continues much longer. Baseball is my favorite distraction, my favorite way to pass the time and my favorite sport to write about. I wouldn’t have started Midway Minute if not for the fact that 2020 looked like an intriguing year on both sides of town. We should be about 70 games in by now.

Instead, we’re sitting here at the end of another week that was supposed to lead to the game’s eventual return. The union isn’t budging after the owners rejected their proposal of a 114-game season. The owners haven’t hit the nuclear button for the 50-game season they’re apparently allowed to set — at least not yet.

Fans, meanwhile, are acting with either anger or outright indifference.

Not a great move for a sport that was already moving down the public’s relevance list.

Maybe the two sides will work things out at the 11th hour.

But nothing we’ve seen so far gives us any indication that they will.

Look, here’s the long and short of it: While the rest of the sports world worked together to answer the tough questions of coming back from a pandemic, baseball’s main players have only ensured that the sport will be bringing up the rear.

If we’re lucky.

Will you be mad if baseball doesn’t come back in 2020? Who will you blame? Email me with your thoughts (just reply to this email) and I might use them in a future newsletter.

NHL playoff plan finalized

The league announced that matchups in the upcoming playoffs will be determined each round be reseeding and not by the original bracket. Every playoff round will be best-of-seven, save for the opening “play-in” round, which will be best-of-five.

  • What it means for the Hawks: If the team advances past the Oilers in the best-of-5 series, it will play the highest-seed remaining in each subsequent round (instead of possibly catching a break and playing a lower seed that scored an upset).

Big sports betting news from Joe Ostrowski

Governor J.B. Pritzker has suspended the mandatory in-person registration for bettors looking to place bets online.

What that means for you:  Once Illinois’ sportsbooks launch their online apps, you won’t have to go into the physical casino to register for an account.

Bulls lottery odds locked at slot No. 7

  • The team has a 7.5 percent chance at the No. 1 pick and a 32 percent chance of landing in the top four.
  • The lottery has rescheduled for August 15. The draft will occur on Oct. 15 if the season restarts in late July as planned.

Jean Lenti Ponsetto set to retire as DePaul’s athletic director

  • Ponsetto started the job in July 2002, has been with the university since 1978.
  • The men’s basketball team made the NCAA tournament once (2004) during her 18-year tenure as athletic director. The women’s basketball team made the tournament all 18 years, though never past the Sweet 16.
  • A lawsuit filed in April accused DePaul of ignoring abuse allegations toward Eugene Lenti, DePaul’s longtime softball coach and Ponsetto’s brother.
  • The retirement was first reported by late Thursday night.

Have a link for Midway Minute? Email me!

Darnell Mayberry on the story of the 2019-2020 Bulls. (The Athletic)

Ramona Shelburne on how Adam Silver, Chris Paul, Bob Iger and Michele Roberts worked together to bring the NBA back. (ESPN)

• I laughed.

Jeff Agrest with a fact that will blow your mind: Once the season starts, Len Kasper will be tied with Harry Caray for number of seasons (16) with the Cubs. (Sun-Times)

Bruce Levine reported that all MLB broadcast teams won’t travel for road games and will call the games off television from their home cities. (Twitter)

Joe Cowley on the real damage the Bulls will take by being left out from Orlando. It has nothing to do with the games. (Sun-Times)

How WCCO sports anchor Mike Max found himself on the frontlines of the George Floyd story. Thanks to #frentofthenewsletter Mike for passing this one along after yesterday’s newsletter about Ben Pope. (Star Tribune)

My friend Jerry Brewer wrote the best thing on Drew Brees that I’ve read. (Washington Post)


That’s it for this incredibly long and tiring week. Everyone be safe out there this weekend. As always, thank you for being a #frentofthenewsletter.