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May 13, 2020

Eytan Shander: COVID-19 is changing sports, possibly for the better

Is it time to get rid of the NL East? Or end Dallas Week in Philly?

Not everything needs to return to normal once everything starts to return to normal. 

Before you hit me with the Elon Musk GIF, hear me out. MLB is pushing their players to accept a deal unfair to them from a financial and safety standpoint. I can’t begrudge any player who laughed at that proposal ratified by the owners, knowing it’s nothing more than an attempt to force players back to work. To be honest, I would be shocked if this thing starts before July 4th of this year. But that’s just the standard attempt by a humongous sports league to start to return to normal. It’s their means to this end that shouldn’t go away when we see sports full-on return.

Don’t overthink it. Re-aligning divisions into three leagues of 10 teams is genius. Yes, it’s born out of limiting travel amidst a pandemic, but this should be the norm every year. Baseball is on to something here, let the Dodgers-Phillies rivalry be back where it belongs, the playoffs. The "East Coast League" would be insane if this is the new norm. Yankees-Phillies would be a regular rivalry, and we could go back to hating Boston for their baseball team.

Every sport should look into this, including the NFL, who should consider regional re-alignment even if it’s a short-term fix to COVID

And, yes, that would mean kicking the Cowboys out of the NFC East. But I’d happily sacrifice the hollow “Dallas Week” for “Patriots Week” and another miserable NY team. Travel is going to be changed from what it once was, and might take a while to get back to any sense of normalcy. Why not take advantage of it when you can justify the change due to fighting a pandemic?

This isn’t anything new — nor would it fundamentally change how any of these games are played. The same goes for the NL keeping the DH after this year. Young people are learning about Michael Jordan for the first time this summer, but do you think they can pick Edgar Martinez out of a lineup? The point is we’ve lived with the DH for decades, adding it to the NL is long overdue and doesn’t hurt the true DNA of the game.

I hate to mess with people’s money, but I do wonder if the revenue share might be a tangible way the season can shorten, while players keep some revenue. If you treat it like your college band getting 40% of the door, you better make sure your buddies fill it up. By limiting the season to the 120 range – effectively eliminating 40+ games – you create more of a demand for seats. Better teams will bring in a higher percentage, and the rev share might be a way to compensate players for losing game checks.

We are all lucky to have half a Phillies season this year. It may be fan-less, but still baseball will be back. These changes made permanent can help the sport grow its audience without sacrificing the true essence of the game.

Coping with COVID-19

Now for an update from my dad, Dr. Aryeh Shander, on the COVID-19 pandemic. I want to keep this as open of a forum as possible. Please DM any questions you have to @shandershow on Twitter.

Dr. Aryeh Shander MD, FCCM, FCCP, FASA

Director of TeamHealth Research Institute; Emeritus Chief Department of Anesthesiology, Critical Care and Hyperbaric Medicine, Englewood Health; Courtesy Clinical Professor, UF College of Medicine; Adjunct Clinical Professor of Anesthesiology, Medicine and Surgery, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York; Adjunct Clinical Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ

Pop Culture Pick of the Week: "Arthur, Spooner"

It’s not often you find comedic range in multiple sitcoms, especially from the same actor. Jerry Stiller might have walked onto the Seinfeld set as a bit character, but he walked off the King of Queens set – after 9 seasons – a legend. By turning Frank Costanza and Arthur Spooner into such memorable roles, in the twilight of his career, Stiller redefined himself in a way few actors can replicate. The man was already a staple on older TV shows. He became truly famous for yelling in his later years, more than any joke he told alongside Meara with the most perfect of timing.

Stiller traded in his version of smart comedy and fully trusted Seinfeld and Larry David. Frank Costanza is one of the most memorable characters on a sitcom, ever. The genius was simply in Stiller’s ability to transition into a different character, while maintaining his most basic control over his body — something as simple as body language and how awkward of a man Stiller looked, a theme brought up many times on King of Queens.

The biggest noticeable difference is how vulnerable Arthur Spooner is vs. Frank Costanza. At the end of the bootlegging episode in Seinfeld, Frank is about to throw hands with Elaine before the credits role. Spooner would never fight anyone. He’s a paranoid weak man who’s too busy buying into his son-in-law’s water filter scheme to hatch any version of Festivus. Yes, both characters yell, but Spooner is more of a child screaming out for attention, he has a dog walker “walk” him for goodness sakes! He’s a self-admitted coward stuck in his daughter’s basement, because he burned his actual house to the ground.

I love KoQ more than most shows, and truly recommend you take a glance at a couple of episodes in Stiller’s honor. In no particular order:

• "Arthur, Spooner" – Arthur’s ridiculous storytelling is put on full display.

• "Paternal Affairs" – You see how belligerent Spooner is, but also his vulnerability.

• "Domestic Disturbance" – Anne Meara regularly appears as the mother of Doug’s friend. Spooner despises her except for this one episode, when Meara becomes the maid.

RELATED: The best moments of Jerry Stiller’s legendary comedy career

Personal Note

Hey, so I have a new show. Thanks to Jakib Media and SB Nation Radio (Gow Media) for allowing me to take my show to the next level… The Second Level to be exact. My new midday show airs Monday-Friday from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on SB Nation Radio. Best way to listen is download the app or go to Please follow and subscribe to my twitch channel so you can watch everything for free! You can also visit

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Follow Eytan on Twitter: @shandershow

You can listen to Eytan on SB Nation Radio (Mon.-Fri. from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.; weekends from 6-9 p.m.) and @foxphlgambler (Mon.-Weds., 6-8 p.m.). You can also catch him on FOX 29 Good Day.

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