Monday, May 27, 2013

The Indy 500, Notre Dame has more trouble and a great interview

From where I sit it looks like a rare sight in sports...almost universal celebration for a competitor. Tony Kanaan achieved just that at the Indy 500.

To see the losers take consolation from Kanaan's win is a great reminder of the magic of sport. Kanaan is a rare breed in open-wheel racing, someone who wears his heart on his sleeve. He can be counted on to give a great account of himself no matter where he is in the race. Whether leading or running at the back Kanaan is always charging, looking for a way through. Then post race not only giving a frank assessment of his own result, but offering plaudits to the victor. Classy is a dreadfully overused word, but it's the best one to describe Kanaan. A worthy Indy 500 champion.

Notre Dame is in the headlines again...and once again it's not for good reasons.

The biggest question for me isn't so much who will replace Everett Golson, but what did he do? And what exactly is “poor academic judgement”? The Fighting Irish went to the National Championship last year, and since have almost imploded. Various players have transferred out or turned pro. Now the starting QB is gone for the season. However, that's not through injury, but delinquency. How did this only surface now? Obviously, students are free to choose their own course of study, but wasn't someone keeping on eye on Golson? Sure, this reflects badly on Golson, but it's worse for Notre Dame. I should be surprised when something like this happens. I should be, but I'm not.

The vast majority of post-game interviews are mundane...this one, with the Blue Jays Munenori Kawasaki was anything but...

I would love more exuberance like that!

At least that's how I see it...and I sit in the cheap seats.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

More goals needed in the NHL and a great weekend of racing

From where I sit it looks like there's hope for the NHL.

To over simplify an explanation, the NHL has 1 champion and 29 copycats. If one team can make their system work everyone else will follow suit. Thankfully, the Pittsburgh Penguins are reminding fans how exciting scoring can be in playoff games. The Pens are averaging 4.2 goals a game. To put that in perspective the L.A. Kings are at a pathetic 1.9, the Red Wings aren't much better at 2.2. Both those teams are a win away from the West Final. Boston is at 3.2. Let's hope Pittsburgh or even Boston can lead the rest of the league back to the beauty of lighting the lamp.

It's a fantastic weekend of racing with F1, Indy and NASCAR all with major events.  The weekend got opened with a scintillating finish in the Firestone Freedom 100.


My favourite without doubt is the Monaco Grand Prix. The track is an anachronism. A throw back to a long gone era where the race was simply a narrow strip of pavement plunging around corners, through tunnels at break neck speed. Both the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 see cars running flat out in a purpose-built facility. As of Monday, Monaco goes back to being city roads. The margin of error is nil. An on-board camera manages to do some justice to the complexity of the track. 

Monaco is a wonderful reminder of the classic pre-war Grand Prix. It's also serves as a simple lesson: you can't do this.

At least that's how I see it...and I sit in the cheap seats.

Monday, May 20, 2013

RG3 gets wedding gifts and the NBA hits their final 4

From where I sit it looks like Robert Griffin the 3rd is a very blessed man.

Clearly, RG3 is a very admired player for the Redskins. It's a sweet thing to do, every newlywed couple would love to have everything bought from their gift registry. However, this situation is completely different. Here's another sign of the unnecessary level of hero worship of our athletes. This is a guy with a 4 year $21 million contract. He doesn't need help buying household items from Bed, Bath & Beyond. I don't blame Griffin for this at all. He's been very gracious with all the gifts. But, he doesn't really need them. Everything should be passed along to charities. As for the fans, they should be ashamed. What kind of idiot gives money away to someone who doesn't need it? I can think of a number of charities that could use the thousands of dollars spent. Or, if they just want to get rid of their money, I'll be more than happy to take it.

The Miami Heat are continuing their seemingly preordained run to the NBA final.

In 2 rounds the Heat have managed to lose only once. Out of 36 quarters Miami has only been outscored 8 times. They have played one game where the outcome was less than 10 points (game 5 vs Chicago). The Heat have won by an average of 16.3 points, having not given up more than 94 points in any playoff game. Impressive numbers. In the West, San Antonio has only lost twice. Does that leave us with an inevitable Spurs-Heat final? Probably. But the Pacers took 2 of 3 from Miami. While, Memphis and San Antonio tied their season series at 2. There's plenty to break down in both series, but I believe British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli put it best, “There are 3 types of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” There's only one sure way to determine what will happen. Play.

At least that's how I see it...and I sit in the cheap seats.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Another shootout loss, Becks retires and the Rays pay tribute

From where I sit it looks like another shootout loss for Canada.

However, that's not my complaint here. Yes, it's a stupid way to solve a hockey game. Of course I don't like it. It's was really frustrating to see Jordan Eberle miss his 2nd shot. I want to know why Eberle was shooting again. Not, why he was selected, but why the rules allow it. It's bad enough that a team game is being ruined with a glorified skills competition, but why can players go again? For NHL fans part of the fun in lengthy shootouts is waiting to see who comes out as the bench gets progressively shorter. After all the top NHL shootout moment is a stay at home defenceman with an amazing move...

I want to see more of that. Not the same guy taking shot after shot after shot.

One of the world's most legendary footballers is retiring.

Please note I called David Beckham legendary, not great. There's no question he was (and still is) an excellent player. You can't be on that many successful teams without making a significant contribution. However, there are a number of top flight names that belong on a starting 11. Andres Iniesta, Samir Nasri, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Wesley Sneijder are all arguably better than Beckham, even at his best. Yet, none of them have had the global impact of Beckham. To over simplify an explanation, we aren't going to see “Roll it like Ronaldo” in theatres any time soon.

Every so often something happens at a sporting event that truly transcends the game. 


As the father of a 7-year-old girl I couldn't imagine spending so long away from her. So, here's a very sincere thank you to the brave men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our freedom.

At least that's how I see it...and I sit in the cheap seats.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Overtime thrills, a lawsuit against the NHL and racism in football

From where I sit it looks like the first round of the NHL playoffs gave a great reminder of the best form of tie-breaking in sports.

Fully 17 games went to overtime, with all but the Montreal-Ottawa series having more than one. Apologies to fans of the other major sports, but honestly the NHL is far and away the class of the field. NFL, it's sudden death, kind of. MLB, extra innings can be fun, but all too often ends with a sacrifice fly. NBA, it's not hat exciting if you can win by 10. The NHL can last as little as 9 seconds...and as long as 104:46. Yet, it's the dramatic nature of the end. Jubilation and heart break all at once. It's a beautiful simplicity. Next goal wins.

As the NFL is facing a lawsuit from former players over their concussion problems...the NHL is now facing one of their own.

The big difference here is Boogaard's family also includes allegations of heavy prescription drug usage. All coming from various team Doctors. None of this has been proven, nor has the League filed a statement of defense. However, it's worth noting there hasn't exactly been a wave of denial. For me it's not so much whether the allegations are true, but that nobody seems very surprised. Once upon a time it was rare for a player to even use something as mundane as smelling salts, now practically everyone takes a whiff. With specialists in pretty much everything on each team there's always a new way to get an edge. The question isn't when will science slow down...but when will the body simply not be able to keep up.

Racism is still a major issue in the world of football.

How these teams can continue to allow fans like that in the door is beyond me. It's not even like these are minor teams. Roma is a major side with a long (though not always great) history. There is no reason teams can't ban racist supporters. Hooligans can and have been banned. All these fans have managed to accomplish is make their own side look bad. It's not exactly going to make the transfer market any better for Roma with this going on. The Football Association is apparently looking at a 5-game ban for racist abuse. In Europe it could be 10 games. But that still doesn't take care of the fans. Please, just kick them out and don't let them back in. Ever.

At least that's how I see it...and I sit in the cheap seats.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Bad umpires, an end to bodychecking and a big vid from some Giants

From where I sit it looks like MLB needs a war room.

A day after Angel Hernandez blew the home run call, Fieldin Calbraith made his own error. I'm not going to jump all over the umps, but how about giving them some help? The home run ruling should have come from either a video review umpire or, better yet, a group in New York who sit and watch every game to see if there's any controversial calls. The NHL does it, and it works fairly well. Even if it's controversial, you know there's been a consensus ruling. The call by Hernandez has even lead to speculation he deliberately got it wrong. Apart from a public comment the call was wrong there has been no outward action against Hernandez. As for Culbraith, he's gotten suspended for his mistake. Some fans don't like replays because it's against the 'integrity of the game'. Sorry, but horrendous calls does more to ruin integrity than getting it right with a little help.

Hockey Alberta has made a great decision in removing bodychecking from the Peewee level province-wide.

Yes, this has drawn a lot of criticism from various circles, including parents and players. It needs to be pointed out that checking is not being removed...just bodychecking. At the very least, this will teach young players how to remove the player from the puck without taking themselves out of the play (see Phaneuf, Dion). It should also be mentioned, there's no hitting in Peewee in Quebec either, and they have no problem producing top level players. One other, major, issue needs to be addressed. The vast majority of these players will never play pro hockey. Why risk children getting brain damage? If they are great players they will get noticed. With or without bodychecking.

There is so much to take in from their presentation. Although, it's about the Belfast Giants, the vast majority can apply to any team. The Giants expressed the true beauty of sport in a wonderfully worded statement. The message is simple, but profound at the same time. “We wear your jerseys. We play for your team...for your city.” That perfectly summarizes how fans view their team, any team, in any sport.

At least that's how I see it...and I sit in the cheap seats.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A deadly soccer attack, the Canucks can't score and a moron in Toronto

From where I sit it looks like another example of an over-reaction to a game.

Ricardo Portillo's family has been left in ruins thanks to some punk kid. Sadly, this is impacting much more than the Portillo family. The alleged attacker's life will never be the same, along with his family. Both players and fans continue to lose perspective on the importance of sports. This wasn't the World Cup. This wasn't the Premier League. This wasn't even MLS. This was a rec league in Taylorsville, Utah. More importantly violence doesn't belong at any level. It's a game.

For the second year in a row the Vancouver Canucks are facing a 3-0 series deficit. And once again the focus is on the goaltending...for no real reason.

Unless the Canucks are planning to use either Luongo or Schneider at centre there's not much the goalies can do. Sure, Schneider has a meltdown in the third period of game 3. But, they aren't getting any help, 5 goals in three games (1,2,2). In fact, since a 5-2 win over Nashville on April 15th Vancouver has scored 3 or more goals only once. Counting playoffs it's a pathetic 14 goals in 10 games. Only 2 wins, and one of those was a shootout (2-1 vs St Louis). It's a tired point to make, but the Canucks are still missing can't win if you don't score.

Speaking of the playoffs, I need to give a quick take on this jackass...

I can't begin to guess what would make someone want to make such a classless gesture. This isn't the Bruins post-season slogan...this is a symbol of recovery following a horrible act of terrorism. This is the grieving process for three families. This is a city trying to recover. Not a call to arms over a hockey game. Grow up.

At least that's how I see it...and I sit in the cheap seats.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A brutal hit and the Cubs threaten to move

From where I sit it looks like a standard hit. A 'suicide pass' ending with a massive collision.

Eric Gryba got a 2 game suspension for blasting Lars Eller. The major problem is almost everyone thinks the hit was clean. Everyone, but the NHL. And I agree with the league. Sure, hits like that have always been a part of the game, but the game has evolved and it continues to make improvements. Not all that long ago a concussion meant you missed the end of a period before being sent back out. We know better now. It's not about taking hitting out of the game. It's about keeping people safe. How was that hit any different then a hit from behind along the boards? It's up to the attacking player to protect the opposition...not plaster his face to the glass. Yes, it was a bad pass. Yes, Eller was looking at his feet. But Gryba didn't have to leave Eller a bloody mess, any more than running him head-first into the boards.

Another city is being held to ransom by an owner. This time it's Chicago.

500-million is upgrades for a stadium that's nearly 100 years old is hardly surprising. That some people are not happy with this is even less surprising. It's a huge undertaking for any city and a hell of a lot of money. Edmonton, Seattle, Sacramento and others are facing similar dilemmas. How much public money should be going to arenas/stadiums? Is there a better way to spend upwards of 500-million dollars? How much gain does a city get through a state-of-the-art stadium and the connected team(s)? Seattle tried to call the bluff of the Supersonics owners...and now they are in Oklahoma. So, cities are left with a no-win situation. Provide the funding and anger a sizable part of the voters...or don't and piss-off everyone else. I'm glad I don't have to make that decision.

At least that's how I see it...and I sit in the cheap seats.