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story.lead_photo.caption In this July 16 file photo, a worker sprays the dugout rail to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus before the Marlins' practice at Marlins Park in Miami. Photo by Associated Press / News Tribune.

For years, I have subscribed to the mentality of planning for the worst and hoping for the best.

It all began when I was 14 years old. I was preparing to go on a vacation with my aunt and uncle's family, and just before we were ready to leave, I noticed I was missing my wallet.

I began to panic. I had about $200 in that wallet — this was before debit cards were commonplace — and I tried to retrace my steps in my mind, wondering where it could be. My best guess was the wallet was still in the hotel room, and hopefully no one had picked it up yet.

My uncle and I headed back to the hotel, and he helped me work through my nervousness. He said hopefully we'll find it, but we should start plotting out emergency scenarios, just in case we couldn't find it.

As it turns out, the wallet was exactly where I thought it would be in the hotel room, and the vacation wasn't ruined before it began. Still, in the years since, I've found it helpful to plan for the worst and hope for the best.

Well, the coronavirus pandemic has me rethinking that stance when it comes to sports.

It has been four-and-a-half months since sports were first canceled due to COVID-19. Sure, several sports leagues have resumed their seasons, some as recently as last week, but I'm still not filled with enough optimism to hope for the best.

First off, planning for the worst when it comes to sports is depressing when you cover sports for a living. From mid-March until the end of May, there weren't any games for our sports department to cover. Instead, we wrote about plenty of coaching changes and several "what could have been" stories.

But it hasn't been all gloom and doom.

We had June 2 circled on the calendar weeks in advance for the start of the summer baseball league season. We also took note of the Russellville Summer Series and the Russellville Tournament well in advance, so I guess you could say we've been as optimistic as possible.

Optimism grew when Major League Baseball began its abbreviated season, joining auto racing and golf, which had resumed their seasons much earlier. Then the NBA and NHL resumed their seasons last week. Suddenly, we were watching live games on TV, not replay after replay of past games.

And then the Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals really took the air out of the balloon, otherwise known as cautious optimism.

The Marlins had as many as 18 players test positive for coronavirus, while the Cardinals have had three positive tests from players so far. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is confident the league will finish the rest of the regular season, as well as the postseason, but I'm not sure many share his optimism.

A week ago, I would have. Today? Not so much.

It has me wondering why the MLB didn't copy the NBA and the NHL, sending all of its players to one location — either Arizona or Florida — and playing its games inside a "bubble."

It has me wondering what will be the tipping point to pausing the season.

It has me wondering which team will be the next to suffer a coronavirus outbreak, because I don't see how it's going to stop with the Cardinals.

Saturday began the nine-day summertime dead period mandated by the Missouri State High School Activities Association, so there won't be much local activity in sports this week. Fall sports practice begins Aug. 10 once the dead period has expired.

So far, Mid-Missouri teams are planning to be ready to go once that day gets here. As for me, I'll do all I can to hope for the best, but it's the planning for the worst that has me worried.

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