Baseball is Back – With a Twist
It’s baseball season, but what are fans supposed to do during a pandemic that prevents large gatherings? Major League Baseball (MLB) has been on hold due to the Coronavirus, but it’s just starting up again – with a shortened season and a few rule changes to allow for social distancing and hygiene measures. Some of the new rules are for making shorter games, as well as bans on spitting and arguing.
Many teams took inspiration from the Chinese Professional Baseball League that used cardboard cutouts of fans back in April to make their stadium look a little less bare. A German soccer club took that idea a little further and set out about 13,000 cutouts of fans in May. Now, several MLB teams have decided to be creative with their fans, too.
The Chicago White Sox and the Milwaukee Brewers will be featuring images of their fans in the stands. The Brewers intend to take it even further and offer a “Pets in the Park” section of the stadium for fans to have cutout pictures of their dogs and cats.
Are you a fan of the San Francisco Giants? Their fans will be much closer to all the action, and the team plans to put the pictures next to cutouts of celebrities such as Joe Montana.
The Oakland Athletics are selling cutouts to raise money for the Piscotty family foundation and a cure for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), a nerve disease. Outfielder Stephen Piscotty’s mother died from ALS. Cutouts will be placed on the first-base side of the coliseum, and lucky fans will also get an autographed photograph from Piscotty.
Virtual fans will not get to sit in the stands in person, but at least they can enjoy the game and see themselves on television, perhaps even sitting next to a famous person.
Violence and Federal Officers on City Streets
This week, President Trump announced that federal law enforcement will be sent to assist local police in dealing with violence in certain cities around the country.
“Operation Legend” will see “hundreds of skilled law enforcement officers” sent to cities including Kansas City, Chicago, and Portland. Officers will be sent from federal agencies such as the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to “help drive down violent crime,” according to Trump. The operation was named after LeGend Taliferro, a four-year-old boy who was killed in Kansas City; about 200 federal officers have been sent to the city.
The move comes after protesters have continued to commit violence. Gun deaths have reached a high point in Chicago. Demonstrators in Portland have clashed with the police and attempted to burn down a federal courthouse.
“Frankly, we have no choice but to get involved,” Trump said. Not everyone agrees with the president, though. Some have said that federal officers on the streets will only make the violence worse and violate Americans’ rights.
Mayors of these cities have resisted federal help, saying they don’t need it. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said, “The tactics that have been used by our federal officers are abhorrent. They did not act with probable cause, people are not being told who they are being arrested by, and you’re being denied basic constitutional rights.”
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot at first refused the offer but seemed to change her mind later on. “If those agents are here to actually work in partnership … not trying to play police in our streets, then that’s something different, and that may add value,” she said. “But the proof is going to be in the pudding.”
Looking for the NEOWISE Comet
Look up in the sky, what do you see? If you’re lucky, you just might be able to catch sight of the NEOWISE comet. The space rock is named after the spacecraft that discovered it, the Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Space Explorer, or NEOWISE for short. One of the things that makes this comet so special is that it can actually be seen by the naked eye. You won’t need a powerful telescope to see this guy flying through space. But you’d better look for it soon because it won’t be around again for another 6,800 years!
The light streaming from the comet is created by the sunlight reflecting off its tail, which is made up of gas and dust that trails away from the rock as it moves.
“This comet is about 3 miles across, and most comets are about half water and half dust,” explained Emily Kramer of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “It’s about 13 million Olympic swimming pools of water. So that’s a lot of water.”
To catch this spectacular sight, you will need to wait until just after sunset, as the first stars start blinking in the sky. It will be located below the Big Dipper in the northwest sky. The comet is only visible in the Northern Hemisphere, and it would be best to find a star-gazing spot outside of a city where the bright lights will not interfere. NEOWISE will look like a fuzzy ball with a trail.
“It’s quite rare for a comet to be bright enough that we can see it with a naked eye or even with just binoculars,” Kramer said.