by John Walters
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.
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).