Ever since I was hired at the Standard, I wanted to do an April Fools Day paper. The opportunity rarely comes up, but when it does, I always bring it up in the office.
At times, I thought I may be able to pull it off. Even if it was just a joke on the front page of sports, followed by the real news inside, it would be a success to me. After all, one of my favorite stories I ever read when I was a kid was about Sidd Finch, the French-horn-playing, hiking-boot-wearing, Mets pitcher who threw over 150 mph.
My dad introduced me to Finch when I was young, pulling out the story and letting me read it. Instantly, I wanted to know why I hadn't heard of him before and how I could learn to throw like him. It was days before he finally let me know it was all a joke.
Since then, I wanted to fool somebody as bad as he did me - and Finch did the whole sports world.
Two things usually stopped me. First, I never could come up with a story as good as Finch’s hoax back in the 1980s. Second, I didn’t want the blow back if something I wrote was actually taken seriously.
This year, there was a third reason – what could you come up with that’s stranger than our present reality?
If I would’ve pitched the idea back in February of writing an April Fools Day story of how all sports would be shut down – for any number of reasons – it would’ve been called too farfetched. I can already hear my friend and co-worker Seth Wright saying, “It has to be semi-realistic for people to believe it.”
Now we’re here.
By now, I’m sure most of our readers have seen the memes going around about COVID-19 and its subsequent shutdown of everything. As one post read, “It’s like this year is being written by a fourth-grader, "There was this virus and people got scared. And then the world ran out of toilet paper. And then school shut down. And it snowed."
We’re only missing the snow. And at this point, would you really rule it out?
Being where we are at as a community, it just felt like there was no headline I could run – even the most ludicrous – that could top the current state of sports. It’s a blank slate right now, something people point out to me on a daily basis.
Of course there could be headlines that could set Matt Turner and Chris Sullens into a panic, like announcing CJ Taylor is transferring to Alcoa to finish his high school career (CJ, please don’t do that - I don’t want to be blamed). Even channeling the Finch story and announcing the transfer of some super athlete doesn’t seem appropriate right now though.
I’m hopeful that one day soon we’ll be able to have fun with sports again. I’ll settle for just having sports again.