In the spring of 2020, the world of sports has been put on hold. There are no games to watch, no crowds to join in celebration, no standings to keep track of.

Yet there is sports news. A lot of it. Especially here in New England, where sports remains an obsession even as we self quarantine and socially distance ourselves.

Even in good times we turn to sports for distraction from the mundane. Last week, as we tried to spend a few minutes on something other than the pandemic, there was news from the sports world to focus on. None of it was good. And none of it was shocking.

Tom Brady was becoming a Buccaneer. Chris Sale was awaiting surgery. Marcus Smart was in isolation after testing positive for coronavirus.

The news of Brady leaving New England didn’t come as a shock to some of us. The signs have been there for a long time. He reworked his contract to reach true free agency this month. And he did not wait around, pouncing on his opportunity and renouncing his Foxborough residency the moment he could.

The landing spot was a bit of a surprise. Tampa Bay hasn’t won a playoff game since Brady’s third year in the league. But the Buccaneers have a pair of deep threats in Chris Godwin and Mike Evans to complement a pair of tight ends that can give Brady options all over the field. It’s been a long time since he’s had those type of weapons in New England.

By the weekend the Pats had signed quarterback Brian Hoyer, returning for his third tour of duty at Gillette Stadium. It’s hard to imagine they signed him as a starter, meaning this is Jarrett Stidham’s job to lose.

Almost as hard as it is to imagine Brady wearing a red and black jersey.

The news of Sale needing Tommy John surgery was even less surprising. We all expected this ever since he had to shut himself down once again at the beginning of the month (when the Red Sox were still playing spring training games). There will be a lot of questions as to why this wasn’t done last August, which would have given Sale a much better chance to be ready for the majority of the 2021 season.

There are even more questions surrounding the Red Sox rotation. We don’t know how much baseball will be played this season, but the Sox will be hard pressed to put together a starting staff that can handle the workload.

“It was a bad rotation last year,” said Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley when he joined me on NESN’s “After Hours” last week. “They had an ERA close to five and now you see it’s decimated. The season may not start for some time, but this is really depressing. It really is.”

Not exactly the uplifting take we’re looking for to take our minds off the current crisis.

Neither was the announcement that Marcus Smart had tested positive for the coronavirus. No surprise there. Positive cases had been popping up around the NBA ever since the Rudy Gobert news broke on March 11, leading to a rapid suspension of the season. The NBA has been at the forefront of the sports world’s response to the outbreak and was the first league to shut down games. Since then, players from multiple teams have tested positive.

Smart posted a video telling fans he was asymptomatic, and reminding people to avoid crowds and make good decisions as we try to limit the spread of this disease. It was good to see him personally deliver this message, rather than reading a statement from him or the team.

He said he felt fine. A little bit of good news in a time when it seems to be in short supply.

Tom Caron is a studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on NESN. His column appears in the Press Herald on Tuesdays.


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