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LGHL Group Chat: Gene’s Islanders headed to Game 7, did the Cardinals actually go to the casino?

A glimpse into the inner workings of our staff’s minds

Philadelphia Flyers v New York Islanders - Game Six Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

When the Big Ten canceled its fall football season, and then considered bringing it back Thanksgiving weekend, and then met with the president, and then said they were bringing football back Oct. 12, and then said they definitely weren’t bringing football back Oct. 12, and then said they were going to vote again... we got to thinking. If all of this chaos ends and we’re still left without any tangible plans for a fall football season, what the hell are we, an Ohio State sports blog, going to write about for the next four to six months?

So after much discussion, we decided on quite a few cool ideas, some of which are already underway. We have Gene’s 12-for-12: Ohio State’s Perfect Season series and George’s virtual Ohio State season, which he will be streaming live on Twitch beginning this Saturday at noon ET. Trust us, the Ohio State content will be alive and well here at LGHL this fall, regardless of the outcome.

But this series? This series is something totally different. In Land-Grant Holy Land Group Chat, you’ll find what we like to call our “staff brain dump.” Despite absolutely no one asking, we here at LGHL are going to write about whatever the heck is on our minds. Maybe its our current favorite Netflix series, how our MLB team is doing or a meme that we laughed at for five minutes. In other words, if it’s something we’re talking about in our staff Slack channel, you’ll probably find it here.

Now, that doesn’t mean this series will be void of all things Ohio State football. It just won’t be all Ohio State, all the time. Because contrary to popular belief, we have many other interests that aren’t college football, and we assume you do as well!

So without further ado, here’s what we’re chatting about at LGHL.

Gene Ross

While navigating the minefield of everyone’s “sources” about the Big Ten season, I’ve been more focused on my hometown teams. The Mets kinda stink as usual, but the bigger story this week was the passing of legendary pitcher Tom Seaver — lovingly nicknamed “The Franchise.” My Islanders have been one of the biggest surprises of the NHL playoffs, but are trying to avoid blowing a 3-1 series lead against the Flyers with Game 6 happening Thursday night (we’ll already know how that went by the time you’re reading this). Other than that, not all that much going on. I hope everyone is staying safe and wearing their masks, and have a wonderful weekend!

Connor Lemons

The St. Louis Cardinals “COVID Casino Trip” that (probably) didn’t happen.

As a lifelong baseball fan and more specifically a St. Louis Cardinals fan, I was thrilled when Major League Baseball got its sh*t together in mid-July and was able to have a season. Roughly a week later, the Cardinals endured a COVID outbreak within the organization that infected 16 people, nine of which were players.

After waiting through a nearly nine month offseason, I got to watch five whole games before the Cardinals were forced to sit back and miss the next 17. Rumors quickly spread that the COVID infection arose from some Cardinals recklessly going to a casino. This rumor caught fire and was spread by the biggest names in the business, such as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. Former MLB infielder Jerry Hairston Jr. tweeted, “A few Marlins go to a club & now hearing a few Cardinals went to a Casino? That’s not following protocols. MLB players are furious cause 28 other teams have worked hard to follow guidelines.”

But did the Cardinals actually go to a casino? The story dominated headlines for about two days, and seemed to be a widely accepted theory. An open and closed book. St. Louis Cardinals players selfishly went to a casino, caught COVID-19 and endangered the whole league. However, Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeilak, following an internal investigation, told reporters that he “found no factual reason to believe that is true.”

A potential cause of confusion may be that Cardinal outfielders Dexter Fowler and Harrison Bader both posted photos of themselves wearing masks and sitting on top of a car at a drive-in movie which was hosted by the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in St. Louis. The outdoor amphitheater is sponsored by said casino, but is not next door, or anywhere near a casino. Additionally, the Hollywood Casino is currently requiring that customers make reservations to come in. The St. Louis Dispatch requested the “guest list” from the casino for the several day stretch when Cardinals allegedly went, but there were no Cardinals on the list. Not a single member of the St. Louis Cardinals organization was on the list of individuals who went into the casino.

If you’re interested in reading the Dispatch article where they dug into it, you can find it here.

Maybe I’m just mad because my team was the biggest virus hotbed of the year and I had to watch the Reds for two weeks instead of my Cardinals. But I also think this reminds all of us, including those of us in the media, to not latch onto a narrative that hasn’t been proven yet.

Tia Johnston

Have you guys seen the new-ish ESPN 30 for 30 on Lance Armstrong yet? I just finished it last week and I am conflicted.

  1. If every single top cyclist in the Tour de France was doping (as it was discovered), and Lance was still winning every race, doesn’t that mean he’s still the best in the world? I mean, it’s a level playing field if everyone is doing it, no? Lance was told early on in his career that if he wants to even compete in the Tour, let alone win it, he has to dope. (I’m not saying I think doping should be allowed, ever, in any sport. I’m just saying I feel like Lance’s legacy may have taken too big of a hit from it.)
  2. On the other hand, Lance also seems like he’s...just not a nice person. Judging by some of the things he said in his interviews and what was revealed in the documentary, he definitely could have handled the scandal much more gracefully. He lied about 400 times, one of which was under oath, and dragged his closest friends down to avoid getting caught. So I’m also like, yeah, Lance’s legacy deserved to take a hit.
  3. On the OTHER hand, what Lance did for cancer research was unprecidented. The impact he made in that arena is still being felt today. Did the Livestrong foundation really have to be associated with the doping version of Lance? Again, everyone in the sport was doping!

I’ve thought about this almost every day since watching it, and while I really want to be on the side of “Lance is a big fat cheater,” I can’t get myself to overlook his accomplishments. Also, if you watch it, tell me how hard you cringe during the part when Lance visits his son’s football practice. Yikes.

Matt Tamanini

Today, Sept. 4, Disney is doing something that it has never done before, and something that would have been unthinkable pre-pandemic. The House of Mouse is forgoing a worldwide cinema release for a $200 million major motion picture and is instead delivering the film directly to its nearly one-year old streaming service, Disney+.

Now obviously this wouldn’t be happening had the world not blown up due to COVID-19, but this is where we are at currently. No matter how much you love the original animated musical version of “Mulan,” or how excited you are for the more realistic live-action remake, just the thought of venturing into a crowded movie theater to stew in the same stale air being breathed by dozens or hundreds of others as potentially corona-laden droplets hover all around you likely wouldn’t be worth the effort or risk for the two hour movie that currently sits at an 82 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

But, apocalyptic reasoning aside, this is kind of a big test for Disney, and all other movie studios for that matter. We already saw that “Trolls World Tour” did very well with a Video On Demand release earlier in quarantine, but likely not well enough to be profitable in the short-term. However, “Mulan” is in a different situation, because instead of releasing on platforms like FandangoNow, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Comcast, etc., Disney is putting the adaptation directly onto a platform that it owns, which means that it does not have to share the revenue with anyone else. So, when you pay the $29.99 for the Premier Access to the film, Disney is getting all $29.99 of that fee.

Now, factoring in advertising costs, in order to break even, Disney would likely need roughly 10 million people to buy the film before it transitions to the regular catalog on Disney+. Of course, “Mulan” will generate revenue elsewhere so that streaming purchases alone won’t be the only factor in determining if the film is a financial success, but should this experiment go well (whatever that means to Mickey and co.), we could very well see other major releases go this route during the pandemic shutdown short-term (like “Black Widow,” “Soul,” etc.).

But more interestingly, it could also mean that studios renegotiate how their deals with cinema chains work in the future, allowing them to stream movies much sooner after they debut in theaters than they are currently able to. I love going to the movies and slathering the oily butter substitute on a bucket of popcorn, but there’s often a lot of movies that I’d like to see, but just don’t have the time or inclination to drag myself to the theater to watch. So, having the option to watch those things at home, while they are still fresh in the public consciousness would be a welcome change.

Either way, I will be plunking down 30 bucks for “Mulan,” even though I’ve never seen the original animated version and have very little interest in this one on its own merits. However, the thought of what could come in the future is more than enough to make me want to invest in the possibilities.

Brett Ludwiczak

While we are all disappointed that we aren’t spending the weekend relishing a blowout of Illinois, there is something else in Columbus to get excited about this weekend at least. On Sunday night, Columbus Crew SC welcomes rival FC Cincinnati to MAPFRE Stadium for the HELL IS REAL derby! This will be the third time this year that the Crew and the Chiliruiners will square off this season, with the Crew destroying Cinci at the MLS is Back Tournament in July, followed by the teams battling to a 0-0 draw at Nippert Stadium on Saturday.

Not only will the teams be battling for bragging rights, the Crew will be looking to keep their spot atop the Eastern Conference. The Crew have been stingy on defense this year, allowing goals in just two of their nine league matches this year. Hopefully we can see the good guys secure another win against their rivals!