ANY GIVEN MONDAY
So here we have it: Sport 2020 style, perfectly captured in another credibility-defying weekend.
The world has derailed. It's gone full Through the Looking-Glass; it's Hunter S. Thompson after 75 pellets of mescaline and five sheets of strong acid.
Politically the world is up the wazoo. This is a bad year to be having elections while we're all checked into the metaphoric Overlook Hotel, but have them we must.
Culturally we are trapped in a tumbler stuck on spin cycle.
Oh yeah, there's that pandemic thing that continues to transmit its way around the world with frightening ease as human beings waste time debating the efficacy of face masks and whether social distancing impinges on civil rights.
The effect on sport of all this insanity has been profound. To illustrate, in the time before the coronavirus, today we would have been contemplating New Zealand's prospects in a bunch of rowing semifinals, or watching the first day of the Olympic sevens. (Instead you're reading this – bad luck.)
Gradually the professional leagues have come back online. In keeping with the tenor of the times, it's been ridiculous – and occasionally sublime.
Let's recap a porangi weekend.
The Crusaders are beaten in Christchurch.
Madness. It took 37 attempts but a Super Rugby team went to Christchurch and returned with the spoils. A tip of the cap to the Hurricanes for their deserved 34-32 win – and to think it only took one of the great games to make it happen.
The Hurricanes had superheroes across the park, including at fullback where a certain ...
Jordie is making a case to be the best Barrett.
Seriously, when you were contemplating the 2020 Super Rugby season, no matter what format, hands up if you pegged the youngest of the three contracted Barrett brothers as having the greatest impact for their franchise this year. Liars, all five of you.
If there's a team crying out for a Barrett now it must be the …
Chiefs, who are still oh-fer.
O for six now. They were pretty good in a brutal game against the Blues, which is a none-too-gentle reminder that Super Rugby Aotearoa has been ferociously good. Which is an excellent time to observe the crazy fact that …
New Zealand Rugby and Rugby Australia are stuck in a boardroom brawl for the ages.
The narratives have been set. In the black corner we have the arrogant and the opportunistic. In the green and gold the incompetent fantasists.
The end result? With all the posturing at the moment and expressions of zero interest, something approaching mutually assured distraction.
If I'm reading this rightly (and it seems to change by the hour so forgive me if the Bondi Beach sand has shifted) Australia are not interested unless NZR guarantees five slots for Australian teams in a remodelled transtasman Super Rugby competition, which by definition guarantees at least two teams (arguably three) in thin or disinterested markets with limited rugby infrastructure.
It hasn't worked in the past but hey, that sounds like a solid plan for future success.
Oh, and this five-five split will be expanded to a 12-team competition shortly thereafter, because the whole expansion and contraction thing has worked brilliantly for Sanzaar up to now.
Or the alternative is Australia are going to start their own juiced up competition with the Sunwolves and teams from Fiji and Argentina.
Good luck with that.
What an unholy mess. NZR might have gone about this with all the subtlety of a Stallone movie but they're coming from a position of at least knowing what their markets wants – a clue: It's not the Highlanders at home to the Rebels in round four.
But if rugby's a mess, league isn't a lot better - as we've seen with the hype surrounding …
SBW returning to the Roosters while somehow remaining under the salary cap.
THE NRL seem pretty keen to bring the ageing cross-code star back and with reports that league viewership is tanking nobody is bothering to fudge the reason.
Here's NRL head honcho Peter V'landys: "Bringing a brand like Sonny Bill Williams into our game will attract substantially more attention, which improves your ratings, which improves your revenue."
The excitement seems totally disproportionate to the product. Even the most ardent of SBW supporters will concede that recent evidence suggests there is little to nothing left in the tank.
Still, if it needed to be said again, these are strange times we are living in. Strange enough that …
An Auckland schoolboy suffered head and facial injuries and was left bleeding profusely after an under-13s league match erupted into violence involving adults at the weekend.
Really this is a story so gross it needs no further explanation other than to say read the age grade again. That's right, under-13s.
From a dreadful underage incident, we'll awkwardly globetrot to an over-age sensation as …
The first pitch of the Major League Baseball season, perhaps the most ceremonial tradition in sport, was thrown by a 79-year-old infectious diseases expert.
The perfect sporting moment for the times occurred in Washington DC where director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr Anthony Fauci threw out the first pitch to start the shortened season.
It was a terrible pitch. He has been rewarded with his own baseball card.
Meanwhile, the man who in normal times would be a leading candidate for the honour gave it a miss. These are …
Busy times for the "leader" of the free world.
As his country is hit by a virus shockwave and is reeling from a tidal wave of protests aimed at systemic racism, President Trump is on the frontlines battling the disease and offering his citizens hope. Nope. Trump is instead playing golf with Brett Favre and giving soft interviews to obnoxious Barstool Sports owner Dave Portnoy where one of the major points of discussion was NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's attire while he was supporting the players' right to protest against police brutality.
This is an actual quote from a sitting President. To make it a fun game, close your eyes and try to say it in the voice of Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, or in fact anybody you know over the age of 15.
"I don't know why he [Goodell] did it in the middle of the summer; all of a sudden he's sitting in a T-shirt in his basement … I don't understand, he's talking in the middle of the summer and he's sitting there, he looked nice in his T-shirt, okay, I don't know if I would have looked much worse than that to be honest. I wouldn't wear a T-shirt. He would have looked better in a suit and tie.
"If I had any advice, number one, he could have waited until at least the fall [autumn], right? More importantly I would have worn a suit or tie or even an open shirt that's loose, not tight."
It's beyond surreal, but that's the state of the world. Football fans after all woke up this morning to see …
The Premier League concluded in front of empty stands to the sound of canned crowd noise.
It's disorientating enough to make you realise, as crowds continue to pour into Eden Park and Orangetheory Stadium …
We're doing all right down here.