The Mourning After: Gruden Gonna Gruden, MLS Gonna MLS & MLB Gonna Step on More Rakes

Illustration for article titled The Mourning After: Gruden Gonna Gruden, MLS Gonna MLS & MLB Gonna Step on More Rakes
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We’ll start with the truly weird, or at least it would be if it weren’t the world of football coaches. We should have guessed that some coach would have taken the situation in the world and used it to perform some sort of deluded, self-designed Rorschach test on their own team. Which is exactly what Jon Gruden did, having an assistant coach falsely inform the team that Gruden had tested positive for COVID-19 to see how they’d react.


We could sit here and try to analyze what Gruden thought he would find out, or the effect he thought it would have. It almost certainly would be filed, again in his mind, under “brought the team together.” Or, “We became a team that day!” because that’s how football coaches think. If they win, it was an act of unifying genius that revealed some inner truth about his team. If they lose, it revealed a weakness that he’s known about all along. Just watch.

But to try to really rationalize whatever the fuck he thought was going on here would be folly. Football coaches don’t live in the same world you and I do, where everything that goes on in their daily life is something that’s getting between them and studying more film or turning his players into soulless robots, at least as close as they can. Why does Bill Belicheck fuck other people’s wives? It’s all he’s got time or mental capacity for. It’s the exact amount of time and nature that he’s got allotted for as a break from figuring out how to get the matchups he wants to beat the goddamn Broncos in Week 9. They long ago stopped having anything to do with humanity, and perhaps even normal conversation with loved ones is beyond them or viewed with heavy suspicion.

Maybe Gruden wanted to see if anyone was genuinely concerned (highly unlikely). Maybe he wanted to see if a player or players would be genuinely frightened of entering a workplace where the boss has an extremely dangerous disease that could alter their lives or kill them. Which would have certainly been construed as an obstacle by Gruden.

Anyway, it’ll add another layer to the upcoming 6-10 Gruden is about to serve up in the toilet they’ve constructed for him in the desert. And he’ll probably get very testy when asked about it. So that’s something to look forward to.

- The MLS Is Back tournament is nearing its conclusion, and last night’s second semifinal was yet another hole punched in the league’s bid to be taken seriously. While the league would prefer we look at all the young talent they are producing and the competition between teams, every season it’s impossible to ignore the 30-plus stars who come to the U.S. from Europe and simply run riot over MLS. The latest in this tournament has been 33-year-old Nani, who had spent a few years bouncing around Europa League-level clubs in Spain or Italy or Turkey. Nani isn’t totally past it, but the way he did whatever he wanted to Minnesota tonight, and all tournament long, makes it hard to erase the idea that MLS still remains a retirement home for guys you watched in the pub at 7 a.m. because no major network had gotten Premier League rights yet.

Still, this is a pretty exquisite finish.


Of course, goals like this happen when the closest defender to a seasoned international pulls up a lawn chair and cracks open a Coors Banquet instead of closing him down. Anyway, Orlando and Portland will contest the final, and then MLS can figure out how and if it wants to finish the rest of the season.

- In more MLB-has-gone-through-the-looking-glass news, the Blue Jays attempted to use a pitcher who wasn’t on their lineup card. We did this in high school once because the freshman who was supposed to run over to the other dugout to inform the other manager of our pinch hitter was too afraid of said-other manager to do so. Shame, we started that inning with a leadoff double that became an out.


Anyway, Jacob Waguespack was removed without throwing a pitch. At least he’ll have a story to tell. Perhaps Canada banned the Blue Jays simply because they didn’t want incompetent horseshit like this happening on their soil. Hard to blame them.

Adding to MLB’s day, it certainly was a time for the Oakland Athletics yesterday. It started with the announcement that the A’s were suing the California Department of Toxic Substances Control over a metal shredding facility that just so happens to be next to the land the A’s want to build their new park on. So caring, these A’s.


The day ended with the A’s having to apologize for their bench coach making a Nazi salute on the field. Some days are diamonds. Some days are rocks. Some days you’re posing as a tree hugger while trying to stuff the Nazi on your staff under the couch. Seriously, who hasn’t had that day? If we had a nickel...

- In the NHL bubble, the Toronto Maple Leafs are on their way to yet another playoff full-body dry heave. They blew a three-goal lead to Pierre-Luc Dubois, who just happened to be the guy who crosschecked Jake Muzzin in Game 2, causing Muzzin to try to do his impression of Free Willy off the ice and launch himself into a femur, fucking up his head and neck. The irony is delicious.


As you might imagine, Leafs Nation took it well:


It’s kind of amazing how one fanbase can act like this was always on the cards and they’re doomed to suffer because that’s what Leafs fans do and the Leafs make them do while also crying conspiracy and that the refs have it out for them. Do you know the wheel pose you have to perform to feel entitled, screwed over, bewitched all at the same time? Welcome to Toronto.

We can't be too careful. Two guys in an airport...talking? It's a little fishy.