by John Walters

Starting Five

Death March

By the time you read this, the United States will have surpassed 1,000 reported coronavirus-related deaths (the actual number could be twice that when you consider how many victims never were tested). It may be difficult to fathom, but when you went to sleep on the last day of February (29th), the first coronavirus death had not even taken place.

You may remember that it was not until Saturday, March 1st, that the first coronavirus fatality, in Washington state, was reported. President Trump reported that the patient was a woman in her 50s. It was a man. The next day, March 2nd, Robert Redfield, the director of the CDC, noted that “the person was erroneously identified as a female.”

He never mentioned who erroneously identified that patient.

We’ve been rather conservative with many of our predictions, both here and on Twitter. Three weeks ago we said sports should shut down for all of March (it will be longer). On Monday we said the U.S. death toll would top 1,000 by Sunday (it was shorter). Then yesterday we had a record number of deaths for one day, 223. So here we are, on March 25th, and we’ll go ahead and say that the U.S. death toll, which took 25 days to get to 1,000, will be at 2,000 by April 1st. We’ll see.

Best thing we heard yesterday, from Dr. Anthony Fauci to CNN’s Chris Cuomo: “We don’t decide the timeline. The virus decides the time line.”

From Spring Breakers To Record Breakers

In just the past 12 or so hours, the United States has broken two very dubious fiscal records. First, the Senate passed a $2 trillion relief bill, the largest aid package in American history (remember, though, the government never had the funds for universal health care). Then this morning, a record-high jobless claims number of 3.28 million came in from the Department of Labor.

Sniff, sniff. Do you smell that? It smells a lot like socialism to me.

Just What I Didn’t Want*

*This will make sense when you read the above

Hopefully, you’re healthy. And if so, you may find yourself reading more books during this isolation period. This week I finally tackled my old SI colleague and friend Steve Rushin’s childhood memoir, Sting-Ray Afternoons.

I really enjoyed it. Steve and I were born 12 days apart in 1966 and it was enjoyable to read a master craftsman relive a parallel suburban childhood. Those of us who lived through it will tell you that we cannot imagine having grown up in a better decade than the ’70s. Steve hits on plenty of notes that will resound with anyone now in their 50s: Evel Knievel, killer bees, Saturday nights on CBS, the undeniable street cred of Levi’s corduroys (for Catholic school students), the woods behind one’s house/neighborhood where all types of nature were explored (our Crestview woods, in New Jersey, was where I spied my first Playboy mag), wood-paneled station wagons (ours was a Chevrolet), basements, baseball cards (I still have more than 4,000 of mine) that came in clear plastic packs of 42, etc.

It was also eerie to have so many personal connections: a big brother who could bench-press a small automobile and who’d impose his will on you, a sister who threw up inside the car on a family outing, an almost pathological connection with wordplay (Steve discovered palindromes, spoonerisms and alliteration way before I did, while I was reciting the alphabet backwards at age 5… and yet they never tested me for dyslexia, which, like gluten allergies, did not yet exist in the 1970s), and a first basketball coach (for him, Jim Thomas, or Jamal Tahoma; for me, Sgt. Ted Lovick) who was the Jesus of Cool.

The only cultural touchstones I don’t think Steve tackled, and I’d have to go back and read it to be sure, were The Exorcist (terrified me) and Bigfoot (growing up mostly in New Jersey, my friends and I knew our chances of spotting Bigfoot were minute, but we always held out hope). Oh, and the Son of Sam, but that was more a tri-state area phenomenon, I guess.

Alan Page, Rushin’s childhood athletic hero, was sort of a sports Bigfoot

Steve’s great advantage growing up, by the way, is the same one I had: He was blessed with the world’s greatest parents.

Finally, it’s surreal to read that Steve’s best friend growing up is now one of my closest friends (the husband of MH contributor Katie McCollow). Great read. Pick it up if you’re looking for a story of childhood, of the Seventies, of days when parents seemed more concerned with teaching you how to be an adult than with being your friend. I’m looking forward to reading the follow-up, Nights In White Castle.

Here Comes Amazon (Again)

Relax, Susie B. I think your Amazon (AMZN) stock is going to be just fine. MH Capital bought a lot more under $1,900, by the way. Yesterday morning CNBC’s Jim Cramer said he could see it being a $3,000 stock after all the coronavirus mess plays out (and when will that be???) but even right now, how could you not love it?

If you need to purchase any item for the next month or so that is not food, your options are severely limited. CostCo? Target? Walmart? Sure, but in all of those places you actually have to enter and deal with people. Amazon, well, is there any large business in America (unrelated to pizza delivery) that is more suited to exploit the coronavirus crisis?

And, by the way, why isn’t Amazon in pizza delivery already? Seems like a natural fit.

Heisman Winners Given The Heisman

A trio of Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks from the past decade, Marcus Mariota, Cam Newton and Jameis Winston, were all allowed to depart their respected teams in the past week with not even a “Don’t let the door hit your tail pad on the way out.”

Of the three, Newton has been the most successful, leading the Carolina Panthers to a Super Bowl berth five years ago (where he will be remembered for a moment of ignominy related to a fumble). Mariota has signed with the Las Vegas Raiders (yes, it’s odd to type that). Winston seems to be drawing no interest: I guess teams aren’t in love with interception-slinging dudes who have problematic character issues.

Nine of the past 10 Heisman Trophy winners are quarterbacks. The first five are no longer with their original franchises and at least one, Johnny Manziel, is no longer in the NFL. The most successful besides Newton, who was the NFL MVP in 2015, is Lamar Jackson, the reigning NFL MVP. The jury’s still out on Baker Mayfield (trending down) and rookie Kyler Murray (trending up).

The first overall pick in next month’s NFL draft? It will almost surely be the reigning Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, Joe Burrow. There’s something about a Heisman passer that teams drafting first find irresistible. And sure, Burrow looks like the real deal. But here’s the truth: quarterbacks are almost never sure things. If you’re looking for a sure thing this spring, pick LB Isaiah Simmons, wideout Jerry Jeudy, or defensive tackle Derrick Brown (that’s right, we did not include Chase Young).

13 thoughts on “IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

  1. Corona virus added to the (bottom of the) list.
    Deaths per year in the US:
    Heart disease: 647,457
    Cancer: 599,108
    Accidents: 169,936
    Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 160,201
    Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 146,383
    Alzheimer’s disease: 121,404
    Diabetes: 83,564
    Influenza and pneumonia: 55,672
    Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 50,633
    Intentional self-harm (suicide): 47,173
    Car accidents: 32,999
    Corona virus:. maybe 2,000 by April 1.

    • I guess we’ll have to wait and see how many coronavirus deaths there are in the US by Feb. 28, 2021.

      I get your point. Still, most of those causes you list are somewhat preventable, or at lea see individuals can take actions to reduce the risk. At the moment there’s no such action to be taken for corona other than isolation. Would 100,000 deaths by this time next year warrant taking steps to prevent its spread?

    • Kurt’s context-free cut and pasting of death statistics ignores that infectious disease researchers currently think that even with the heavy restrictions currently in place, perhaps 240,000 or so Americans could die in 2020 from COVID-19.

      Also, what exactly would the Shawshank-style rock hammer approach be? Would it involve limited testing, issuing general guidelines regarding hand-washing and sneeze-catching, and canceling only those gatherings that would attract stadium-size crowds? Because that is what we tried up through the first two weeks of March or so, and the ever-growing death totals (considering the delay between public health efforts and actual reduction of infections) show that this approach simply didn’t work.

  2. I completely agree some steps are necessary. I’m just not sure a sledgehammer is the right choice when a rock hammer, a la Shawshank Redemption, would have been wiser. That’s a debate for historians. I woner if we have 60,000 deaths, similar to the annual flu, was it worth a global depression, 10s of millions of unemployed and bankrupt, and other associated calamities?

    • It’s a great question and I leave it to the ‘80s power chord-loving supergroup Asia to supply the answer: Only Time Will Tell.

      Though wouldn’t you agree that if the entire nation behaved like Florida we’d probably kill 10x as many people?

  3. Isn’t the reason we’re (excluding MISSISSIPPI) doing all this is to hopefully PREVENT a MILLION+ COVID DEATHS?

    What makes me even angrier than the people hoarding TP (& the assinine stores that allowed it) is when I see a CNN headline that states “many” people think SOCIOPATH Trump is “doing a great job handling the virus crisis”. WTF?!!! Our federal government AND health care system has ABJECTLY & OVERWHELMINGLY FAILED US! There SHOULD have been warehouses full of ventilators, masks, etc in EVERY community in this country just in case this day came. But no, we spend BILLIONS & BILLIONS on weapons & other military hardware “just in case” that are not used and that’s ok but god forbid, we “insure” the health & wellbeing of our populace!

    Also, either the virus is mutating or the scientific folks also lied at the beginning when saying it “mostly” only affected the “elderly” & those with “underlying health issues”. Bullshit. Every day now I read of HEALTHY folks between 20-50 not just getting but DYING of this virus.

    If Obama or Hilary or Cuomo or ANYBODY NOT TRUMP (or the GOP Nazis) had been the President when this started, we’d be MUCH farther ahead in containment if not cure.

    BTW jdubs, what say mamadubs about being willing to get sick/die to boost the stock market? My 90-something mother is NOT so keen…

    And speaking of the market, I was wondering if you’d scooped up more AMZN when it got close to $1600. Still too pricey for me & I’ve used up most of the cash I had on my account. Still have 3 limit orders waiting, but don’t know if the largest (10 more DIS) will get down to my price of $75/share.

    My 4 largest holdings will survive fine but as for at least 25% of my portfolio? I may become like one of those Italian widows who wear black the rest of their lives. 🙁

    • I don’t think anyone was misleading anyone else when it comes about the most vulnerable to the virus. As Dr. Fauci stated, “We don’t decide the timeline. The virus decides the timeline.” This is an unknown virus. People just look at the stay-at-home orders as a protection of the elderly. It is also buying the experts time to actually figure out WTF this thing is.

  4. One more thing – early today I read the infuriating news that the owner of the Houston Rockets (worth 4.5 BILLION) had already laid off 40,000 of his workers in his various businesses. Then I heard some guy on CNBC talk about the “stimulus bill” & it states IF your company laid off ANYONE you get BUPKIS! I hope that’s true – I don’t want this POS to get a dime!

    In happier news – James Dyson (the inventor of the Dyson vacuum) whipped up a new type of ventilator in 10 DAYS & is now manufacturing 15,000 to send to hospitals ASAP. And the GAP has temporarily stopped making clothing & instead is making masks. And Apple is DONATING a million masks. So, not all corporations are led by sacks of shit like Fertitta.

    • Correction – Apple is donating TEN MILLION masks.

      Which makes me wonder – where are these masks? Do they already exist or are still to be manufactured. If already in existence, WHY haven’t they already been sent to all the hospitals in hot spots? Have the manufacturers been hoarding them in a PRICE GOUGING scheme? I just heard on TV last night that states are BIDDING AGAINST EACH OTHER trying to buy all the neccesary preventive gear. Which would not be happening if there was a NATIONAL COORDINATOR OF EMERGENCY EQUIPMENT! Which of course, dickhead-in-chief (sorry for the language, jdubs) has not & probably won’t do. Hell, he won’t even send NY the thousands of ventilators they need! And he was born & raised there! SOCIOPATH!

  5. You know—- the extent of the Covid 19 situation would not be this serious if A WOMAN was President. Just sayin… we hop on shit like this right away — “Not in my house(country)”

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