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No Choice On CTV

September 17, 2007 @ 09:01

When it was announced earlier this year that CTV had won Sunday afternoon NFL rights off Global it was received as good news by most football fans.

Global did a horrible job with the American feeds, going to commercials too late, coming back too late and then aggravating us all with those phony blimp and scoreboard ads.

However, to Global's credit, they would offer different games in different time zones across the country which you could take advantage of if you had a package that offered Canadian channels from coast to coast.

Toronto of course would show the Buffalo Bills, but the Maritime channels might show New England while the western channels would pick up on games in their times zones.

Unfortunately, it seems CTV isn't going to be so generous and it all comes back to money. They don't want their audience fragmented anywhere, so they show the same game right across the country.

From coast to coast yesterday, for the second week in a row, CTV affiliates got the Buffalo game. Again, that might be alright with Southern Ontario viewers, but you've got to believe out west they'd have rather been watching a different game and there were several to choose from.

But this is Canada people. Forget about choice when it comes to broadcasting, CTV doesn't want people in Southern Ontario tuning into a western CTV affiliate to watch a different game. It might affect their ratings. Like wise in Vancouver or Calgary and Edmonton.

By offering just one game across the board they know they have a captive audience.

It sucks for the consumer, but given the bizarre broadcasting rules in Canada which give the networks perverse protection at the expence of choice, why would we be surprised?

Category: Sports | Television

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Double Standard

September 13, 2007 @ 09:29

There's going to be a lot of debate over the next several days regarding the Mark Bell suspension.

All of a sudden NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has decided to get tough with off-ice activity that's deemed disparaging to the league, so Bell has to sit for the first fifteen games of the season.

I look at it this way. If Mark Bell had been traded to the New York Rangers or the Los Angeles Kings or the Chicago Black Hawks he would not have received a suspension.

Bettman would have sited Bell's rehabilitation and clean record since his accident as indication that he was on his way back and a suspension would not be warranted.

The commissioner would want to leave the impression in those big American markets that everything is fine and everything is under control and the NHL doesn't have the problem with its athletes that the other professional sports have.

Toronto's a different story. With the Leafs he can flex his muscles knowing this will have little or no affect on the image of the league because down in the States, most people won't even know it happened.

Now, having the story buried in Canada, Bettman can feel like he's actually playing the part of a big league Commissioner and use the opportunity to send a message to players throughout the league that if you step out of line, you'll pay.


Category: Sports

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Who's Gonna Pay

September 12, 2007 @ 09:32

I find it very interesting that the Toronto Argonauts are considering a move to BMO Field within the next couple of years.

Talk about bad planning. Let's review.

A couple of years ago the Argos were considering an association with soccer Canada to build a new outdoor stadium on the grounds of York University.

But somewhere along the line that plan went tits up and the football team held a news conference to tell us how wonderful the Skydome is and that a new deal with Rogers would allow them to stay there indefinitely.

Meanwhile, MLSE had figured out a way to fleece the city of Toronto for the tune of 37 million dollars to build BMO field which would be used for the under 20 World Cup that happened this past summer, and it would be used for the MLSE property, Toronto FC.

Where were the Argos when the stadium was being planned and built?

As it stands BMO can't handle a CFL size field and the Argo owners claim there aren't enough seats - but they're still interested in moving there.

I hate to be suspicious but I'm wondering if this is another one of those smooth moves by MLSE. As you know, pro sports franchises don't like to pay for their facilities and there's no doubt, judging by their first season, Toronto FC could use a few more seats.

I wonder if MLSE and the Argos are in cahoots to squeeze more money out of government at any level they can. But this time the Argos will be the front man.

MLSE got a nice gift from the citizens of Toronto so they can't ask for more, but if the Argos make the pitch for tax payer money to expand the stadium, it might be a little more receptive.

Who knows, maybe this was the original plan and that's why the Argos pulled out of the York University deal. It sounds far fetched, but when it comes to pro sports anything's possible.

I'm going to keep a close eye on this one and enjoy the maneuvering that's sure to come.

If the Argos have one solid argument, it's this. Long term, they'll end up as the only tenant because believe me, Toronto FC ain't gonna survive.

Category: Sports

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Facing Reality

September 10, 2007 @ 09:32

I read with interest yesterday, Steve Simmons column in the Toronto Sun. According to Simmons, if the Argonauts had lost to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Saturday, Pinball Clemons would have been fired.

As far as I'm concerned, he should have been fired anyway, and it probably should have come prior to the Tiger-Cats game.

It's almost blasphemous to say such things in Toronto but I think we all have to face reality; Pinball Clemons isn't a very good football coach any more.

There's no doubt that he's one of the great players ever to pull on an Argo jersey, he's been a fantastic ambassador for the city of Toronto and there's no athlete more gracious when it comes to charity and kindness - but that doesn't make him a good coach.

In fact I think Pinball is such a wonderful person it actually detracts from his coaching.

I see him on the sidelines laughing and joking and conversing with his players like no other coach in the game. You'd like to think this would be a good strategy, a successful strategy, but it's not.

Today's player still needs a good measure of discipline and social detachment from his coach and sometimes I think Pinball is just too buddy buddy.

I give Pinball credit for winning the Grey Cup in 2004 - it was a great accomplishments, and on some level unexpected. He got the job done that year. But in 05 and 06 and again this year his teams have underachieved and looked undisciplined while doing it.

This the Argos have just four wins in ten games and three of those victories have come against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, without a doubt the worst team in the CFL.

Granted, Michael Bishop was out of the lineup for five games, but heading into the season, Bishop wasn't even considered the Argos number one quarterback so we can't hang a lot on his absence.

Going in, Pinball considered Damon Allen and Mike McMahon his one/two punch.

To tell you the truth, I don't even like writing this posting but it's something I believe and something I've felt for a long time. In fact I wrote something similar last year, but I didn't call for Pinball's firing.

This is a big year for the Toronto Argonauts. They're hosting the Grey Cup and it would be good for the franchise and the league if the Argos could be part of it but the way it looks, they might not even make the playoffs.

Shakeups aren't necessarily good for the sake of shakeups, but maybe that's what the Argos need.

Argo ownership has been very good with management giving them generous resources to put a good team on the field, and personnel wise, they're there.

They're just not coached very well.

Category: Sports

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Let's Play Hockey

September 7, 2007 @ 09:21

On some level I can relate to what Jimmy Lang is saying about the NFL, but I'm getting even more excited about the hockey season.

This weekend the Leafs rookies play their mini-tournament before the veterans report for training camp next week.

A week from Tuesday, September 18th, the Leafs actually play their first pre-season game in Edmonton.

Looking ahead I'm trying to be optimistic about the Leafs and to be honest, compared to last year there's some room to be positive.

Vesa Toskala, Mark Bell and Jason Blake can only make the team better although as usual, with the Leafs there are always questions marks.

Will Toskala prove to be the solid number one goaltender the Leafs think he is, will Mark Bell be able to shake all his baggage and will Blake get along with his team mates.

That's something that was brought to my attention by an Islander insider last week. He says Jason Blake was not a very popular player with his Islander team mates and that's why there wasn't much of a road block for the Leafs to sign him.

Some on the Island feel they'll be better off without Blake's "weird" attitude and wonder if Blake brings the same attitude to Toronto, how long will it be before he tangles with Darcy Tucker in the Leafs dressing room.


Category: Sports

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Surprise Surprise

September 5, 2007 @ 10:03

You've got to love it. It doesn't matter that the citizens of Toronto built the stadium, or that the team is dead last in its division, or that they haven't scored a goal in a billion games, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment still wants to stick it to the fans of Toronto FC.

The current season isn't even over yet and already MLSE has announced a ticket price increase for next season - an average of thirteen percent.

We shouldn't consider a surprise. MLSE has been screwing Leaf fans for their loyalty for years, so why should it be any different with the soccer team.

FC has been wildly successful at the ticket wicket this season, so rather than tip their hat to the fans and look forward to a better season "on the field" next year, they decided to reward soccer fans with a hot poker up the ass.

Now I definitely won't go to one of their nil-nil games.

Category: Sports

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How Could This Happen

September 4, 2007 @ 11:47

I've got to be honest; I found today's news that the NHL had indefinitely suspended the Leafs Mark Bell very bewildering.

Apparently Bell will enter the league's substance abuse and behavioral health program and this carries an automatic suspension which means he won't be at training camp.

All the details haven't been released as to why, but you immediately have to raise the question "were the Leafs not aware of this situation before they agreed to the deal with San Jose?"

It's no secret now that in order to get Vesa Toskala, the Leafs had to take Bell as part of the deal with San Jose, but did they not know there was a chance Bell might not be available at the start of the season?

It leaves you shaking your head and repeating to yourself "only in Leaf land" would they make a trade like this for a back-up goaltender, overpay him and then not be able to use the other player they were forced to take to make the first part possible.

Up until last week all we heard from John Ferguson Jr. was how happy he was to have Bell, his life is turned around, and the Leafs expect big things from him.

How did they not know a suspension was a possibility?

Category: Sports

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August 22, 2007 @ 09:01

I could waste a few lines calling Michael Vick names but what's the use. I'd rather give my opinion on what he did and why the reaction has been so severe.

Above all else, Michael Vick is guilty of stupidity.

What he stands to lose has been well documented, millions and millions of dollars and probably his career.

I don't have to repeat in this piece how much I love dogs and how disgusted I am with everything that Michael Vick did, but I do have to say that part of me feels for the guy.

There is something wrong with the man.

Dog fighting and betting on it is wide spread and avidly followed by millions of creeps throughout the world, but I'm sure very few of those involved had as much to lose as Michael Vick and therein lies the route to sympathy.

How screwed up, misguided and moronic is this man to have put everything on the line for something as needless as dog fighting.

Michael Vick doesn't need to be spurned and ridiculed, he needs to be pitied for being so bloody stupid it's hard to measure his stupidity on the stupidity scale.

He didn't murder his wife, he didn't molest a child and he didn't sell anybody drugs - he was cruel to some dogs, but how he didn't measure all of this in his mind before embarking on what he did is mind boggling.

How did he not think about what the reaction would be before he did it? How did he not consider the emotion attached to animals that would spew forth once his pastime was revealed? How did he not weigh dog fighting against what he had to lose?

How did he not know that killing a dog might actually get more reaction than killing a human?

It's bizarre and one of those inexplicable things about our society, but the results are there to be witnessed and he should have known better.

Such paramount stupidity has to be clinical.

Category: Sports

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The Man Who Ruined My 1970's

August 16, 2007 @ 10:26

Certain things happen along the way that make you realize how time flies, and one of those things happened yesterday.

Former Montreal Canadiens general manager Sam Pollock died just a few months short of his 82nd birthday, ironically on the same day my dad turned 82.

Wow, where did that time go?

It's hard to believe that my dad can be 82, and it's hard to believe that it was 30 years ago that Sam Pollock was in the midst of ruining a decade for me, while he was roughly the same age I am right now.

I was a little late getting into professional sports. I played hockey, baseball and touch football when I was a kid, but I really didn't get into watching the Leafs and Argos until 1968 - yes, the year "after" the Leafs won their last Stanley Cup.

Once I got interested I latched right onto it and didn't miss a game of either team.

Unfortunately being a Leaf fan post 1967 was excruciating and it was only made worse by Sam Pollock. Pollock as general manager of the Habs was light-years ahead of other GM's in the league, and while the Leafs bungled their way through the 70's, the Habs became a handsome dynasty.

And it was all because of Sam. Pollock had figured out the entry draft way before anyone else, and his dumping of has-been veterans on bottom feeding teams in exchange for their draft picks is now legendary.

The most notable was May of 1970 when he sent Ernie Hicke and a first-round choice to Oakland for Francois Lacombe and the Seals' first-rounder. He was putting the Habs in position to draft Guy Lafleur, who at the time was dominating junior hockey with the Quebec Remparts.

The following season, when it appeared Los Angeles may finish last and claim the top pick, Pollock sent veteran Ralph Backstrom to the Kings who then leap-frogged Oakland allowing Montreal to claim Lafleur first overall in 1971.

That was Sam Pollock and his wizardry led to six Stanley Cups for the Habs in the 1970's, including an excruciating four between 1976 and 1979.

As a Leaf fan it was horrible. I developed such a hate-on for the Habs through pure jealousy, that it bordered on unhealthy. I got sick of watching them win while my beloved Maple Leafs floundered under the ownership of Harold Ballard.

The only highlight for me, and it was extremely infrequent, was when the Leafs would rise up and beat the Habs from time to time - like a typical Leaf fan that was like the Stanley Cup to me.

In 1978, when the Leafs miraculously beat the New York Islanders in the quarter-finals, lifting the spirit of all Leaf fans, it was Pollocks mighty Habs who put things in perspective by crushing the Leafs in four straight games in the semi-finals.

Yes, the 1970's could have been perfect for me. I graduated from high school and college, I met my wife, I got engaged and I started my radio career.

But perfection was prevented by the Montreal Canadiens. That aggravating hockey team and all those bloody Stanley Cups - and Sam Pollock was mostly responsible.

Category: Sports

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Jail Bird Bell

August 15, 2007 @ 09:52

Is it just me, or do you find it weird that the Toronto Maple Leafs would trade for a hockey player who's going to spend six months in jail?

I guess on the surface it's not really that big a deal because apparently Mark Bell is a pretty good hockey player, and it's widely felt that if he can ever be controlled or disciplined, he could be a great hockey player.

He was convicted of drunk driving causing personal injury and leaving the scene in a San Jose courtroom yesterday and the result was a six month jail sentence.

The incident happened last Labour Day.

He doesn't have to serve the sentence until the end of the hockey season, which is good for the Leafs, but you have to wonder how this will play on Bell's mind as the season unfolds.

It doesn't matter that he makes two millions dollars a year and is expected play a big role with the Maple Leafs, you have to wonder how a 27 year old player will react with this hanging over his head.

And this could really become bizarre next year if for some reason the Leafs made the playoffs and actually won a round or two.

If the Leafs season was to end in mid-May, Bell wouldn't be released from prison till almost November. That means no training camp and improper conditioning. He probably wouldn't be back to normal until the new year.

I don't know, I hate to always be a cynic when it comes to the Leafs, but I honestly can't remember a situation where a team traded for a player who was sentenced to jail before he ever played for them.

The Leafs have a miserable history of turning good players into mediocre players and that's without them carrying any baggage.

This situation could be ugly.

Category: Sports

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