Extra Points: Ready if Called Upon
"Put me in coach, I'm ready to play today. …" Centerfield by John Fogerty
Professional sports can take all the necessary precautions, establish the strictest of regulations and the most sterile environments and they still won't be immune from the coronavirus invading their clubhouses, dugouts and locker rooms.
It's already happened.
PGA Tour players Cameron Champ and Nick Watney tested positive for Covid-19 and withdrew from this weekend's Travelers Championship. Brooks Koepka and Graeme McDowell pulled out after their caddies tested positive. Major League baseball has had 47 positive tests, including seven Phillies players, and they haven't even resumed training camps, yet.
In the NBA, Miami forward Derrick Jones, Jr. announced he has tested positive, along with fellow players Jabari Parker and Alex Len of Sacramento, Indiana's Malcolm Brogdon and Denver standout Nikola Jokic. The NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning had three of its players test positive for Covid-19.
As noted by one of my colleagues and golfing buddies, Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Marcus Hayes, leagues and tours are expected to have expanded rosters in case of outbreaks.
I hereby volunteer my services for various sports, as long as they agree to meet my demands and don't make me wear a mask at the beach during off days.
*Major League Baseball: Pitching is out of the question. I couldn't beak 80 on the radar gun when I was 18, let alone now. And I still can't hit my weight, even though I've gained 20 pounds in the last 20 years.
First-base coach, assuming teams are allowed to use them, is right up my alley. As near as I can tell, the job entails waving my (right) arm like a windmill when a hitter wants to stretch a single into a double. If he stops at first, the coach yells "Back!" if the opposing pitcher tries a pickoff.
I'd prefer not to wear a uniform, though. I've never understood the need for a manager/coach to don a jersey, pants and stirrup socks. It's stupid. You don't see a basketball coach in a tanktop and shorts, or a football coach sporting a helmet and shoulder pads.
*NFL: As a longtime Eagles beat writer, I've seen players get bigger, stronger and faster over the years. I've managed to maintain my strength for the most part, but these 62-year-old knees lost their giddyup decades ago. The only quick-twitch muscles I have are in my eyes. I have gotten bigger, but only in my waist.
I think I could be a decent holder. Catching footballs from long snappers such as Cincinnati Bengals standout Clark Harris - a Southern Regional High School graduate - would be difficult, but I think with a some good coaching from someone like former Eagles quarterback/holder Koy Detmer, I'd be able to handle it.
*NBA: Be serious. I'm a foot too short to grab rebounds and my vertical leap can be measured with half a ruler. I remember interviewing former Houston Rockets center Yao Ming a few years back and I came up his kneecaps. I have decent range as a shooter, but it's a lot easier to jack up threes when you're in your driveway and being guarded by a 4-year-old.
I'm thinking I could be an assistant coach. Not one of the top assistants, but one of the underlings, the guy who holds up a whiteboard so the head coach can diagram plays during timeouts. My main problem, like in baseball, is finding the right attire. I only own two suits and maybe five ties. My wardrobe is better suited for the Wildwood Crest Summer League, which is played outdoors.
*PGA: Now we're talking. I'd gladly tee it up with Tiger, Phil, Rory and the guys on a weekly basis. That would mean playing some of the country's best courses, places like Augusta National, Pebble Beach, Pinehurst No. 2, Torrey Pines South and TPC Sawgrass.
Actually, I did have the opportunity to play one hole at TPC Sawgrass' Stadium Course in Ponte Vedra, Florida, home to the Players Championship. When the Eagles played New England in Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville in February of 2005, the media party was held at the course. For a $5 donation, you got a chance to take a shot at No. 17's famous island green. I stuck it on the dance floor and earned a plaque that remains one of my prized possessions.
But if I'm going to play on Tour, I need PGA commissioner Jay Monahan to grant me some concessions.
I need to play from the white tees, which measure approximately 1,000 yards shorter from where the pros tee it up. Being a 14 handicap, I would also require some strokes - one per hole - in order to have any chance of making the 36-hole cut. A mulligan per side would also help, as would gimmes on putts inside two feet.
Once again, there's also a wardrobe issue. I will only play if I'm allowed to wear shorts. Requiring guys to wear trousers in 90-degree heat is ridiculous, right up there with baseball managers wearing uniforms.
But I'm nothing if not flexible.
I will keep my shirt tucked in.