The times they are a-changin’.
Let’s talk about sports, the virtual kind. Video game simulations are as close as sports fans and professional athletes can get to the real thing right now, and all indications are that everybody is loving it. I mean, everybody. Football beat writers are picking up the latest version of MLB The Show at Target and realizing that baseball is kinda, sorta, awesome. Anthony Fenech, the Tigers beat writer for the Detroit Free Press, is hosting daily live streams of Tigers games on MLB The Show (CPU vs. CPU, but from their exact 2020 schedule). Fans tuning in ask him questions, comment on the simulation itself, or quietly enjoy the virtual sunny day. (As of Wednesday, the Tigers were 11-18 on the season.) The MLB is doing this, too: Here’s virtual Twins-Cardinals from April 23, a matchup on that date that wouldn’t have matched real life (way to shatter the illusion). MLB Network has even started showing live online games between pros with a play-by-play person calling it. (It follows a trend — ESPN did it with the NBA — but it’s not good. I’ll spare you a link.)
. . . The BBC is airing at least three digital recreations of sporting events: Formula One racing, Premier League soccer, and the fourth and fifth stages of a cycling race across the Schallenberg mountain in which “the cyclists are riding their real bikes on turbo trainers, which mimic the resistance of a hill climb.” The Guardian: “The crossover with real sports is crucial for engaging audiences, says Gallop. With FIFA, for instance, ‘you’re seeing household names, in their own homes. You’re seeing their real competitive instincts – they’re dedicated to winning – and you’re seeing that tribal element of football. I found myself strangely invested in watching Moussa Sissoko’s performance in the ePremier League, because I’m a (Tottenham) Spurs fan. I was absolutely gutted when he was out of the running.’”
. . . Even tennis is in on it. The ATP and WTA setup a virtual Madrid Open for a collection of the best players in the world, “where they will swap their rackets for games consoles.” (Honest question: How many game consoles did they have to ship?) After round robin play, the tournament was into the semifinals Thursday. Here’s where you can watch the live feed, and here’s journalism taking it seriously.
What to Watch Tonight: ‘Parks And Recreation’ Returns To NBC As Cast Reunites For Benefit Special Amid Pandemic. (Deadline) “The story comes from the events of the day – Pawnee’s most dedicated civil servant, Leslie Knope, is determined to stay connected to her friends in a time of social distancing.”
. . . Price Watch: The May Queen Dress from “Midsommar.” A24 is raising money for charity by auctioning off props, costumes and set pieces from their films. Dani’s dress is up to $30,000 after four bids. (The high bidder might be Ariana Grande.)
When’s the last time you thought about Marie Kondo? Early 2019? In the last year, Kondo released a new book about tidying your workplace, sold a majority stake in her company and, finally, agreed to do another Netflix show. A profile in Fast Company: “As she goes after the corporate world, Kondo appears to be wrestling with the question of what kind of work makes her happy. For several years, it seemed like she was following the playbook of other celebrity entrepreneurs. But now she has clearly decided to throw that strategy out the window. Apparently, it no longer sparked joy. Perhaps it never did.”
The L.A.-centric new season of “Top Chef” premiered four days after the city instituted social distancing measures. Watching the show now stirs up a complicated mix of emotions, writes The Ringer’s Alison Herman: “Top Chef has always managed to make the unattainable seem accessible, with editing and performances that make you feel like you have a seat at the judges’ table. But through no fault of its own, it can’t pull off the same magic trick for an entire set of rituals. A supply run to the Santa Monica Farmers Market happened to coincide with the week during which many markets in Los Angeles, including my local one, were closed out of concern for social distancing. … The very knowledge that makes Top Chef such a convincing representation of eating in America also makes it a painful reminder of what’s on hold, and what’s at risk.”
“On Easter Sunday, while on her afternoon stroll, the Irish novelist Denise Deegan realized she still had not yet called her mother. ‘Hello,’ she said cheerily into her phone. ‘Hello, a man on the street replied. Looking at the man’s face, she realized the voice belonged to the actor Matt Damon.” (Come on, Matt…) The New York Times: Where in the world is Matt Damon?