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Quickly Forgotten

October 31, 2007 @ 10:01

Here's something else that's intriguing, Americans ignorance of Canada.

If often happens when you travel south and mention to people that you're from Canada, the reaction is often hilarious.

Like last winter when I was in Florida and told people from Minnesota that I was from Toronto. They were amazed I had traveled so far.

Meanwhile, I was roughly 400 miles closer to home than they were.

This past weekend in Ann Arbor I spoke with two different people from Michigan and they too were mystified at the distance I had traveled.

Meanwhile, the border is only forty miles away and Brampton is only three and a half hours away. And you can bet your ass the same people would have thought nothing of someone traveling from Chicago and it's basically the same distance away as Toronto.

Anyway, I digress. The reason I make this posting today is because the Raptor's regular season starts tonight, and although they won the Atlantic Division this year, they are getting no respect from anyone this year.

Most American publications pick them to barely make the playoffs, and ESPN which shows a couple of NBA game a week apparently doesn't know they exist.

There's a promo that's currently running on ESPN. It features ESPN basketball analyst Stephen A. Smith. He rambles on about all the teams in the east, all but the Raptors.

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On The Road Again

October 26, 2007 @ 09:12

I'm leaving this morning for what we hope will become an annual trek to Michigan for a sports weekend. This will be our second.

This years cast includes my buddies, Darren, Doug and Fred (Ball). We used to travel a lot back in the 80's on CFNY trips. Back then there was a ton of brewery money and Labatt's wouldn't think twice about loading up a plane and sending us to Boston or New York for a baseball weekend.

Those were great times and the four of us haven't been together for a weekend since before we started growing hair out our noses and ears and we still had a strong steady urine stream.

We plan to arrive in Detroit early this afternoon and park the car at Joe Louis Arena before calling the shuttle service for Carl's Chop House, an old fashioned steak house in the heart of downtown Motown.

Carl's is one of those places where the moment you walk in the old school waiters are all over you making sure your visit is a pleasant experience.

They have big pickles and olives on the table, but Carl's goes one step further with pickled herring in a tzatziki sauce. It's cool.

The steaks are great and reasonably priced, and given the strength of the Canadian dollar it will be like they're giving them away compared to what they want for a steak in Toronto.

Carl's has one of those deals where if you order the 48oz sirloin and eat it all, you don't have to pay. Twenty years ago Ball was going to do it then sucked out at the last minute. There's no way he'll do it this time because his 51 year old system would probably take six weeks to pass 48 ounces of beef.

After we mow down at Carl's, probably the dainty eight ounce cuts, we'll take the shuttle back to Joe Louis Arena for the Red Wings game. They host the San Jose Sharks tonight.

After the hockey game we'll pile back into the car and head for Ann Arbor where tomorrow we'll join 107 thousand other people for the University of Michigan's game against Minnesota.

Unfortunately, the game doesn't mean much. Last year when we went in November, the Wolverines were ranked second in the country and looking forward to their season ending match-up with Ohio State to decide number one.

Tomorrow Michigan goes into the game against Minnesota ranked 24th in the country.

But that's OK because it's the experience that matters and sitting in Michigan Stadium with all those people is something you have to experience to believe.

Tomorrow night we're going to Wolverines hockey game. Michigan plays Boston College in the cozy confines of Yost Arena. This should be a great game with the Wolverines ranked number three in the country while Boston College is number five.

After the game we'll probably head for a place on State Street called "Buffalo Wild Wings"

They have a whack of styles but I've got to tell you, the garlic parmesan wings are fantastic.

After that we'll consider going to a bar in a famous university town to view some of those college girls gone wild, but why aggravate yourself.

We'll probably go to bed.

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A Great (Canadian)

October 26, 2007 @ 09:11

Speaking of American college sports, be watching ABC tomorrow afternoon when Doug Flutie and Scarborough's John Saunders host the pre-game and half time shows.

Flutie will be wearing the blazer he received last night after becoming the first ever American to be inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.

I had the pleasure of being at the dinner and Flutie was recognized because of his contribution to Canadian football, and I'll tell you, he was moved by the gesture.

He said he loved playing in Canada because the CFL allowed him to play the game the way he wanted to play the game and his best moments in football happened up here.

Flutie almost apologized to the audience last night for going back to the NFL for one more kick at the can, but he said it was important for him to go down there and shut a few people up.

Unfortunately, all it did was cause him a little more grief. Sure he made a few million dollars, but he had to put up with the wing nuts in Buffalo who never really appreciated him.

Ironically, in retrospect, Flute is the best and really the only quarterback the Bills have had since Jim Kelly. Flutie provided Buffalo with some exciting football and was the last guy to take them to the playoffs.

Anyway, it was a great night and before leaving the podium Flutie said he would wear his Canadian Sports Hall of Fame blazer on American national television tomorrow and wear it proudly.

Among the other inductees last night were Mike Bossy, Larry Walker, Cassie Campbell and Becky Scott.

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Shame Shame Shame

October 25, 2007 @ 10:42

I've got to admit I'm extremely surprised that this story didn't get a lot more attention over the past few days.

It's an insult to the city, the province and the country and explains why soccer remains at secondary "sport" in North America.

The Canadian Soccer League championship will be played this weekend, but special consideration had to be made to avoid violence between Toronto's Croatian and Serbian communities.

If it was up to me I'd cancel the whole bloody thing and collapse the stupid bloody league.

Piss off soccer nuts.

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First Things First

October 25, 2007 @ 10:42

With the Maple Leafs suckin' shit lately the hysteria has begun. Fire the general manager, fire the coach and trade Mats Sundin are some of the songs that are being sung today.

It's all so predictable and all so tedious I can hardly bring myself to write about it, but I have to.

Steve Simmons goes after John Ferguson Jr. in this mornings Toronto Sun and I have to agree with him. Before anything else is done, JFJ has to go.

Having said that, I also think Mats Sundin should be traded, but there's no way the dirty job of trading the captain should be left up to a lame duck general manager.

Sundin should go to the highest bidder which means the team willing to give the Leafs the highest draft pick or picks but the trade has to be made by the next general manager who's been given the mandate to rebuild.

The next guy has to be a guy with impeccable credentials when it comes to building a team from the ground up and he's got to be given full reign over the hockey team much like Brian Colangelo was given over the Raptors, then and only then should Mats Sundin be moved.

But lets not kid ourselves with what Sundin would bring in return. Any team that would want Sundin is a team that is riding high in the standings and they need him to put them over the top. Unfortunately, teams like that, unless they have them from previous trades, don't have any high draft picks to offer.

Conversely, the bottom feeders in the league that do have draft picks to give wouldn't be interested in a 37 year old centre, and they definitely wouldn't be willing to part with draft picks.

So here's the deal, if the Leafs trade Sundin it will probably have to be done with the idea of purposely tanking. Get us much for the guy as they can, but more importantly take him out of the lineup to ensure a lower finish in the standings.

Finishing near or at the bottom of the standings is the only way to go, and the Leafs could go a long way in pulling that off without Sundin.

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Number Four Bobby Orr

October 24, 2007 @ 11:20

Cyberspace is a wonderful place; it attracts so many different people with different attitudes and levels of intelligence.

Sometimes you got to websites you can't believe what you see and read, and one of those was brought to my attention by Craig and Matt when I did my bit with them on The Rock this morning.

The site I called "nomoreorr" and it's a campaign to have Bobby Orr removed from the Hockey Hall of Fame because as far as they're concerned, he's over-rated.

Needless to say, a website like this is a scream for attention and I guess it worked because we talked about it on the radio this morning and I'm writing about it today.

I often laugh at the comparisons that are made between today's athletes and athletes of other eras.

It's not Bobby Orr's fault he played in the late 60's and early 70's when players were smaller, weaker and slower. It wasn't his fault that back in the 60's players used training camp to "get in shape." It wasn't his fault players smoked and drank and abused their bodies like no player could ever dream of today.

Bobby Orr did what Bobby Orr had to do in his era and what he did was establish himself as arguably the greatest hockey player who ever lived. I'm sure if the same Bobby Orr was born into the current era of hockey his talent and athletic ability would make all necessary adjustments to make him the same dominant player.

Granted, there might not be as much space between him and the rest of the pack, but he'd still be great.

Comparing eras is such a waste of time. Look at Babe Ruth, he was a bit fat, womanizing drunk who smoked cigars like cigarettes, but he could crank a ball out of a stadium like nobodies business.

Could someone like Babe Ruth make it in today's game? Probably not, but somebody like Babe Ruth would know enough to live a different lifestyle in 2007 if he wanted to be pro athlete.

Same with Guy Lafluer, can you imagine for one second a player smoking a cigarette between shifts. That's what Lafleur did and he ranks within the top 25 players of all time.

If Lafluer played today he probably wouldn't touch a cigarette and who knows how much better he'd be because of it.

Go ahead, visit "nomoreorr" and take it for what its worth. Not much.

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Here Come The Bills

October 23, 2007 @ 10:00

The Buffalo Bills story could become extremely aggravating over the next couple of years.

The way it's unfolding, it reminds me of 1974 when the Toronto Northmen of the World Football League were chased out of town.

I was 17 years old at the time and a football fanatic. I loved the Toronto Argonauts more than any other Toronto sports team but I was still a fan of the WFL moving into Toronto and giving me another option.

John Bassett Jr. was the owner, and to show Toronto and the football world that he meant business he went out and signed Larry Czonka, Jim Kiick and Paul Warfield who were winning Super Bowls with the Miami Dolphins.

Unfortunately the CFL cried foul and claimed the league was a Canadian institution that should be preserved so the government got involved.

The federal government prepared legislation to prevent the WFL from coming to Canada, and rather than get caught up in a huge steaming pile of "bureaucrap" and lawyers fees, Bassett moved the Northemen to Memphis where they became the Southmen.

At the time I was just a kid but it still bothered me. It bothered me that the government could/would step in and tell me where I could spend my entertainment dollar and it bothered me that I was being deprived of another brand of football.

I'm getting the same vibe right now regarding the Buffalo Bills, who today at NFL meetings in Philadelphia will seek permission to play one exhibition game and one regular season game in Toronto starting next season.

The Bills want to establish a foothold in Toronto as a method of guaranteeing their survival in the tiny market of Western New York. They feel by playing regular season games in Toronto, more Southern Ontario money will latch onto the franchise, including corporate sponsors who may support them permanently.

But already there's been some resistance from Canadians. BC Lions owner David Braley predicts this could be the beginning of the end for the CFL while CFL commissioner Mark Cohon has already contacted NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to voice his displeasure.

I have little doubt that the Bills move into Southern Ontario is only the beginning and eventually they could move here permanently and that's why there's resistance from those involved with the CFL, but there's no way this should be prevented from happening and there's definitely no way the government should get involved this time.

It's all a question of numbers. The Toronto Argonauts are lucky to draw thirty thousand fans to a game, but you can bet your ass the one game the Bills play here next season will be a sellout and if they ever moved here permanently it would become the toughest ticket in town.

We can only hope the the Argonauts would survive as a cheaper option for those who love football and those who love the CFL, but It's a simple case of "give the people want they want" and in 2007 Toronto wants to the NFL.

Back in the 1970's and early 80's the Argonauts played before sellout crowds of 55 thousand, but as time passed Torontonians lost interest in the CFL with its second rate players and laughable payrolls and stopped going to games.

No doubt the CFL is an exciting brand of football and most of us hold it close to our hearts, but that doesn't change the basic rule of supply and demand and the government should keep its nose out of it.

Toronto wants the NFL and Toronto is ready for the NFL and nothing should stop it from coming here except straight forward commerce.

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Don't Pass Me By Don't Make Me Cry

October 22, 2007 @ 09:56

If the Toronto Maple Leafs are proving anything this season they're proving the hopelessness of being a mid-pack team in the NHL.

When you're like the Leafs and you keep finishing somewhere in the middle of the NHL's over-all standings, you never a get a draft choice of any consequence and it perpetuates your problem.

You stay mid-pack.

Saturday night's game against the Chicago Black Hawks was just another sobering reminder for Leaf fans and how their resistance to rebuilding has allowed yet another team to pass them by.

The Hawks did what the Leafs should have done a few years ago. Chicago cleaned house, dropped in the standings and rebuilt through the draft and it's finally paying off.

The Hawks, like so many other teams in the NHL are now a better hockey team than the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Philadelphia, Boston, Pittsburgh, the Islanders, Buffalo and St. Louis are all examples of teams that have dropped to the bottom of the standings only to use it to their advantage.

In Toronto it will never happen and part of the reason is because of Leaf fans themselves.

Leaf fans keep paying horrendous prices for tickets, and Leaf management refuses to rebuild because then they'd have trouble justifying those prices, so the same old bullshit continues.

This is no startling revelation, but nothing will change until Leaf fans stop buying tickets.

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McCabe Scores The Winner

October 16, 2007 @ 09:10

I've been watching the Toronto Maple Leafs for the better part of four decades and I have to admit, last night's collapse has to rank right up there with the worst I can remember.

How fitting that Brian McCabe would actually score the winner for Buffalo. It could happen to anyone, but when you consider what an overpaid waste of time he's become having something like this happen comes as no surprise at all.

What was McCabe thinking? You might be able to forgive the guy if the lead-up to putting the puck into his own net during overtime was a solid performance, but it wasn't.

McCabe has been nothing short of a defensive disaster this year, but unfortunately he hasn't been able to balance his shitty play with offense. Leaf management must have nightmares when they think of the contract they gave him.

But he's not alone. Pavel Kubina made mistakes last night that a ten year old wouldn't make and the captain doesn't get off easy this time either. Mats Sundin was a minus four last night and played the type of game that will prevent him from ever being considered as one the greatest Leafs of all time.

Sundin has a lot of nights like he had last night but somehow he gets off the hook and we hear the same goddamn nonsense about how he's never had anyone to play with.

There's more.

Hal Gill is another contractual nightmare. A pylon would have been a better signing at twice the price. In the new NHL Hal Gill is nothing short of a joke.

Wrap it all up in a nice big bundle, throw in a little Darcy Tucker non-contribution, some suspect coaching and you have one crappy hockey team.

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The Kubina Solution

October 16, 2007 @ 09:09

Pavel Kubina made several mistakes in last nights Leaf game but the most glaring mistake happened in the second period when he carried the puck deep into the Buffalo zone and then delivered a blind backhand pass. It went directly on to the stick of a Sabre and they had an odd man rush.

It's the type of thing that Kabina does routinely and makes his five million dollar contact one of the most laughable in all of sports. But there is a way out and Bill Watters explained it on the John Oakley Show this morning.

The Leafs put Kabina on waivers and of course nobody would touch him with the contract he carries. At that point he's assigned to the Marlies and it frees up five million dollars of cap space for the Leafs.

With that they go out and acquire a couple of players at 2.5 million. Either a couple of forwards or a couple of mid grade defensemen.

Having Kubina play with the Marlies for five million dollars would be a tough pill for the organization to swallow, but they have the dough and they definitely owe it to the fans to do something about the mess that John Ferguson Jr. has created.

And on that note, Watters maintains that Ferguson would have to be fired under this scenario.

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