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Place Your Bets

March 19, 2008 @ 09:43

This time of year reminds of the good old days when my morning routine included writing a sports comment on the Edge and Mojo.

Every March I would become mildly aggravated by the NCAA Basketball tournament because I found the sudden interest to be disingenuous and no different than playing a government lottery.

Pool sheets would come out at most workplaces and everybody would be making their picks for a sport that virtually nobody paid attention to during the regular season.

There would be this storm of sudden devotion to something that wouldn't have gained a lick of attention if wagering wasn't involved. And that was played out by most of the people I knew who were involved in NC-double A pools because after making their picks they didn't bother to watch any of the games.

It's a lot like the NFL. A lot of people don't realize that back in the 1970's the NFL was actually struggling. The CFL was just as strong, as a matter of a fact, there was several incidences of CFL teams outbidding NFL teams for players.

But then along came the NFL office pool and everything changed dramatically, it became the strongest league in professional sport, again with a large following that never even bothers to watch their games. They just follow their pool sheets.

Hey, each to their own and whatever turns your crank, but I'm not a big fan of gambling in its most basic form, so having sporting events become bigger than they should be, only because of wagering, isn't something that's going to suck me in.

I won't be watching.

Category: Sports


Dougie Would Have Played

March 17, 2008 @ 09:26

This may be terribly unfair but it’s a feeling I have.

Put in the same position as Mats Sundin on Saturday, I’m sure Dougie Gilmour would have played against the Buffalo Sabres.

Let’s review. The Leafs had ten games to play and they trailed the Philadelphia Flyers by five points for the final playoff spot.

Sundin skated on Saturday morning and it was determined that although his groin wasn’t that bad, it would be better to hold off for at least a game to make sure he was fully recovered when he returned.

I don’t get it.

Now the Leafs are six behind with nine to play and there are three teams between them and the Flyers.

The Leafs couldn’t afford to screw around on Saturday night. Sundin should have been in the lineup even if it meant shooting him up with some kind of a wonder drug.

Sundin should have insisted on playing because losing Saturday meant the playoff run was all but over. And now it is.

So if Sundin returns tomorrow against the Islanders, what was really gained by holding him back for an extra game? It was an urgent situation but the Leafs, and obviously Sundin, didn’t treat it that way.

And now the playoffs are gone.

Dougie would have played Saturday night. So would Wendel and Darryl.

Category: Sports

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The Fall Of The Habs

March 14, 2008 @ 10:50

I almost hate to write this piece off the back of two Maple Leaf victories because it makes me look like a homer, but I’ve felt this way for the past few weeks, so I have to say it.

First of all let me say this. I don’t think the Maple Leafs are going to make the playoffs, and I think its almost funny how the tide of public opinion has so quickly turned around for the boys and now everybody’s behind them.

In the Toronto Sun this morning there’s an article featuring a business professor who’s calculated the Leafs chances, and not surprisingly, they’re not very good.

All you have to do is some basic math.

Having said all that let me say this. If the Maple Leafs stumble forward and make it into the post-season, and the Montreal Canadiens luck out and finish first in the Eastern Conference it’s going to be ugly for Hab fans.

Not only do I think the Leafs would knock the Habs out in the first round, I don’t think the series would go beyond five games.

From top to bottom the Maple Leafs are actually a better team than the Montreal Canadiens but that only adds to the aggravation of Leaf fans. And that’s not to say the Leafs are that good, far from it. It’s to say the Canadiens have played above their heads this year and have had virtually everything go their way in a very week Conference.

I’m not sold on the Canadiens because I think they’re a soft team that won’t fare very well once the rigors of the playoffs begin and I can see them being knocked out by virtually any of the teams that will slip into the final two or three playoffs spots.

You just wait and see.

Category: Sports

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Not Cutting It

March 10, 2008 @ 08:38

Listen, as an unemployed man who am I to question the abilities of others, but I have to say the Cassie Campbell experiment should come to an end.

Cassie’s a sweet heart and she done a lot of woman’s hockey not only in Canada, but around the world.

She’s from Brampton too, which makes this posting that much harder to do, but Cassie just doesn’t have the right stuff when it comes to broadcasting.

I find her appearances on Hockey Night in Canada painful to watch. I feel embarrassed for her, because she’s been thrown into a situation that she really isn’t ready for.

Maybe she’ll get there one day, because it really isn’t rocket science, but until she can at least add some inflection to her voice and display a little more personality, she isn’t doing herself any favours by appearing on the countries most popular television show.

Her work as the colour person in the broadcast booth was flat, but her pre-game rink side interviews aren’t any better.

It ain’t workin’ folks.

Category: Sports | Television

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Mickey Mouse

March 6, 2008 @ 15:28

I hope the Canadian Football League doesn’t spend a lot of time wondering why it has a credibility problem with fans, especially young ones.

Can you imagine Eli Manning being traded by the New York Giants?

That’s basically what the Saskatchewan Roughriders have done by trading quarterback Kerry Joseph to the Argonauts.

Not only did Joseph lead the Roughriders to the Grey Cup, but he was named the leagues outstanding player – and for that he gets traded.

The CFL’s number one problem over the years has been it’s lack of team continuity, players move around too much which makes it hard for teams to build up a following that spreads across the league.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m an Argonaut fan and I’m thrilled Joseph is coming to Toronto, but from a league standpoint, its bad news and an extreme insult to the fans of Saskatchewan.

Apparently the Roughriders were forced to trade Joseph because of his financial demands, but as far as I’m concerned that’s no excuse and it doesn’t help the leagues image.

Saskatchewan has some of the best attendance figures in the CFL, so what does it say about the league if Riders can’t afford to pay their marquee player three hundred thousand dollars a year?

It says the league will never be taken seriously.

Category: Sports

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Wilbur Wiped Out

March 1, 2008 @ 10:40

Over the past four decades the Toronto Maple Leafs have a done a lot of things that have been insulting to their fans.

To dissect and name would take too long, but thanks to their incompetence it can be summed up rather easily with four numbers. 1967.

But of all the screwy things they’ve done, this has to rank right up there with the worst.

Leaf management has ordered all reference to Bill Watters be taken out of the ACC because they think he’s too critical of them on his radio show.

None of the posters or banners or billboards that referenced the Watters show inside the building had anything critical written on them, it was just promotional material, but the powers that be, and you know who that is, decided they should be removed.

It’s the usual buck-passing, MLSE claims it was a decision makes by “marketing people”, but that’s a load of hooey. I’m sure it was made by a few incompetents at the top who can’t stand to be criticized.

In a way, this is a mild form of communism. Stifle the critic by snuffing the messenger, and I find it hard to believe that of all the problems they have, this seems to have taken priority.

I’m sure very few people who sat in the ACC and looked at Bill Watters Show promos made the connection to his criticism of the hockey team, but now that management has brought attention to it, everybody will know.

It’s very Peddie, er petty.

Category: Radio | Sports

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Sucking Large

February 26, 2008 @ 16:37

The Toronto Maple Leafs will never cease to amaze me.

On January 22nd with great fanfare they announced that John Ferguson Jr. had been fired and replaced by veteran NHL general manager Cliff Fletcher.

The strategy was for the Leafs to make some dramatic changes leading up to the NHL’s trade deadline on February 26th, and position them to be an active participant in the amateur draft in late June.

It seemed like a reasonable strategy. Get rid of the general manager who should have never have been hired in the first place, and replace him with a general manager, who despite being over-the-hill and yesterday’s news, at least had the experience to do what had to be done.

Along the way the Leafs would shed some bulky salary and hopefully plummet in the standings to the point where they’d be a participant in the draft lottery on June 2Oth. It would get them away from their hopeless history of finishing mid-pack, never being good enough to win while never being bad enough to improve through the draft.

But it all blew up over the past couple of weeks because of several no-trade clauses that were granted by the general manager who should never have been hired, which tied the hands of the over-the-hill general manager who was well aware going in that those contracts existed.

All of a sudden it became apparent that there was really no use in making a managerial change mid-season because it didn’t matter who was running the show, because there was no show to run.

All it seemed to do is inspire a previously uninspired team to get off their asses and start playing hockey out of fear of being traded, (those without no trades) but that’s become a problem as well because they've started winning too many games.

So here we are on February 26th, the trade deadline has come and gone and the Maple Leafs not only failed to shed any significant salary or gather any notable draft picks, since changing general managers they’ve won eight games while losing only seven.

Enough to take their focus off the draft and put it squarely back on a delusional chase for a playoff spot.

In other words, since firing the general manager who should never have been hired, absolutely nothing has changed except a few more wins when they weren't wanted, which in the end proves how unbelievably incompetent this franchise is.

They don’t even know how to lose properly.

Category: Sports

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Trade Toskala

February 26, 2008 @ 10:20

I almost hate to say this because I have a problem with anything that would make the Ottawa Senators better but I think the Leafs should trade Vesa Toskala.

Apparently the Senators are very interested in the slightly over-rated Leaf goaltender and they’d be willing to cough up something good in return to ride Toskala into the playoffs.

Needless to say the Senators aren’t sold on Martin Gerber and their attempts to hand the number one job to Ray Emery has been met with indifferent play, so they’re desperate to shore up their goaltending situation and the trade deadline arrives at three o’clock this afternoon.

Toskala is a good goaltender, he’s not great, but he’s better than what the Senators have right now so it would make sense to make a move for him, and it would make sense for the Leafs to comply.

The Leafs rebuilding situation will not be a brief project, on the contrary, it will take a few years, so having a goaltender like Toskala isn’t going to do them much good anyway.

If they can force the Senators into coughing up a couple of solid prospects, then Cliff Fletcher shouldn’t hesitate to trade Toskala and then consider Justin Pogge part of the immediate future.

Category: Sports

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He Prefers To Lose

February 25, 2008 @ 09:27

I guess when you get right down to it, you have to shave-away all the bullshit and admire Mats Sundin’s integrity.

He honestly doesn’t want to become a rent-a-player. He doesn’t feel joining a team in February to win a Stanley Cup in June isn’t the way to go. You’re either in it for the long haul or you can’t lay claim to the glory and you can’t argue with that.

You’d think the guy would be anxious to get out of Leaf land and join a legitimate hockey organization under any circumstances, but that’s not his make up and it looks like he’s going to have the last laugh.

Word is Sundin has also refused to sign a contract extension, which means come July, the Leafs could end up with nothing. Sundin will probably retire.

Some might think he’s being a tad selfish and even though I’ve never be a huge Sundin fan over the years, I completely back the guy in this case.

The Leafs are getting everything they deserve and underlines what a screwed up mess they are.

And when you get right down to it, Sundin is the least of their problems. Darcy Tucker, Brian McCabe, Thomas Kaberle and Pavel Kubina remain under no-trade contracts with a few years left on them.

At least with Sundin, the Leafs will be able to clear some cap space if he retires – the other guys are over-paid, un-tradable and not very good hockey players.

Yes, John Ferguson is responsible for a lot of what ails the Leafs, but let us not forget, somebody up top made the decision to hire a rookie general manager and its not like there weren't a few problems before Ferguson arrived.

So the ball is back in the court of the fans.

Stop supporting them.

Category: Sports

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Tiger Leads The Way

February 25, 2008 @ 09:26

As I watched Tiger Woods win another golf tournament over the weekend I got to thinking about Barrack Obama.

Obama owes a lot of his success to Tiger. I know it sounds crazy, but follow me on this one.

Obama has become the first black American to actually be taken seriously in a Presidential run. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton were nothing more than token candidates, but Obama has not only been taken seriously, he’s also taken a sizable lead in his battle with Hillary Clinton.

Americans have accepted the idea of a black man leading their country and I really think that Tiger helped ease them into it.

When Tiger turned pro in 1996, golf was still and predominantly white sport, dominated by white players and run by extremely white establishment.

This wasn’t basketball, football or baseball. This was something much different with a much different attitude.

Then along came Tiger who took ownership of the PGA tour. Nobody would admit it, but in the beginning it made a lot people of uncomfortable because it represented a dramatic change in the profile of the sport.

But not only has it survived under Tiger’s reign, it’s also thrived. The sport of golf has never been bigger or more popular and Tiger Woods is the reason. A black kid from California has made a lot of money for a lot people and needless to say he’s been widely accepted by everyone involved with the sport.

And I really believe Barrack Obama has been a benefactor of this.

Tiger proved to a twisted and generally intolerant American society that the sky won’t fall and the world won’t end if a black man takes control of a white institution.

I realize its only golf, and it’s hard to compare it to the highest office in the world but I truly believe they’re connected.

Category: Politics | Sports

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