Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Players demand real grass for Women's World Cup

From where I sit it looks like some of the top women footballers in the world are making a stand...

via sportslogos.net

Not against racism. Not against the horrific way women are still treated in some parts of the world. But against artificial turf. Yes, they claim it's a sexist decision. I gather that being forced to play on the same quality of field as the MLS and CFL is a step back for the women's game. Perhaps the ladies would like to see the tournament moved to the only other country to put forward a bid. Zimbabwe. Sadly, they withdrew before the vote was held, so I guess that's not an option. The players are demanding all the field turf be replaced with real grass. There's no word on how they are planning to pay for it though. Let's face it, FIFA knew what they were getting into, so they aren't likely to pay for the changes. The local and provincial governments won't pay either, it's a waste of taxpayers dollars and as mentioned FIFA has already approved the fields anyway. That leaves it down to the players themselves. If they can come up with the millions of dollars to pay for the switch, up-keep and switch back, I think we can make it work. Or they can go ahead with their lawsuit. I bet it will be just as successful as the suit to get womens ski jump in the Vancouver Olympics.

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

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Eskimos fumble on record 50/50 draw

From where I sit it looks like the Eskimos managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory...

via globalnews.ca
No, I don't mean their performance on the field. In fact, the Edmonton-Calgary game ended up being quite engaging, the deluge only adding to the festivities. No, it wasn't the game that came up short on Thursday night. It was the Eskimos as an organization that failed miserably. A staggering 50/50 pot had people flocking to Commonwealth Stadium just to get a shot at the biggest total in league history. At $350,000 it was impossible not to get excited. Where's the failure? Simple, the team was so overwhelmed by ticket demand they couldn't actually make the draw during the game. They spent the last few days trumpeting about the huge pot, then can't actually deliver on the promise. Some people stood in line for over an hour. Rumour has it others never did get to buy tickets. Then to top it all off they decide not to announce the winning ticket during the game, but post it on their webpage. Pathetic. They weren't ready. No matter what story is brought forward, the Eskimos dropped the ball. It should have been made clear from the start that the prize would be awarded after the game. There should have been 2 to 3 times the normal number of 50/50 sellers. And even if there was, clearly more were needed. Finally, just to add insult to injury, the Eskimos lost.

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

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Jason Whitlock resorts to racial profiling

From where I sit it looks like there's a new villain for Canadians to despise...

via awfulannouncing.com

Jason Whitlock's comments are so stupid as to be comical. I'm not insulted; I'm amused. It's hardly original to be insulting to Canadians. In fact, go for it Mr Whitlock. Be as ridiculous as you would like. But wait, maybe he's right. Perhaps Canadians just don't want to win at basketball as much as Americans and some Europeans do. Just like Americans aren't as good at baseball as players from other nations. Let's face it in 5 Olympic tournaments the US only won once and they've never finished higher than 4th at the World Baseball Classic. Of the past 10 World Series, only 4 MVPs have been American, one in the past 5 years. Clearly, there's something missing from American kids when it comes to baseball, they just don't have the drive they need to be the best. Basketball has the smallest roster of all the professional sports, 12. Yet, somehow Whitlock thinks Canadians are simply too lazy to be the top players. On the other hand is it possible Canadians aren't the best because it's not a major sport in Canada. Outside of Toronto, the NBA has a toe hold at best. It's a secondary game and with idiots like Whitlock running their mouths, there's not going to be much change.

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

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Howard shows quality of US Soccer

From where I sit it looks like the US has a new folk hero...

via abcnews.go.com

The long term results of Tim Howard's performance against Belgium won't be felt for years. Just as players like Mike Modano and Brian Leetch were inspired by the Miracle on Ice, it's hard to say how many future stars will be inspired by Howard's heroics. But it's safe to say the US has announced it's presence on the international scene. Yes, the Americans have been here before. Knockout games and never advanced. On the surface this looks just like any other World Cup exit. But there's much more at work here. This game was special. 16 saves, only about 12 of them tough. Howard was the only reason the US had any sort of chance at winning. Even when the Americans were down 2-0 after the first half of extra time it never seemed like they were beaten. The pressure from the US in the second 15 minutes was sustained and substantial. It wound up being difficult not to cheer for the Americans. Not because they were a rag-tag bunch of underdogs looking for a Hollywood ending. No, this was because they were playing good football. Attractive football. Even during their moments of attack during the 90 minutes it was fun to watch the way the worked the ball and looked for openings. It wasn't about the US trying to create their own way of playing, it was an understanding of the style used by the top international teams. And best of all it was entertaining.

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

Monday, June 30, 2014

A weekend of thrills at the World Cup

From where I sit it looks like the first four knockout games have given plenty of talking points...

via thenewstribe.com

To begin with does Brazil have what it take to actually win the tournament? An upstart Chilean side gave the host team all they could handle and more. Quite frankly the Brazilians looked sloppy in defence and were not fully deserving of the win. Columbia is next and that will hardly be a walkover. The Colombians showed nicely against a shorthanded, but game Uruguay team. Costa Rica managed to make history by qualifying for the quarter-finals in a match that was a stone drag. Costa Rica tried to hold on to a 1-0 lead against a Greek squad that seemed to forget they were up a player. Even in the closing stages as the team traded chances the Greeks still didn't manage to produce a winning goal. However, the match of the weekend was the delightful Netherlands-Mexico affair. The teams traded chances and domination as the game ebbed and flowed. Most great games also have a tinge of controversy and this was no exception. Was Arjen Robben guilty of diving? Yes. Was he fouled? Yup. Therefore, it's a penalty. The Mexicans can complain all they want, but the correct call was made. Here's a simple way to avoid getting called for a penalty - don't foul inside the box. Add to that they still produced a chance to tie after the PK and it was a scintillating game. And there's still four more to go.

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

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The NBA makes another great play and Odjick faces another fight

From where I sit it looks like the NBA got it right again... 

Isaiah Austin could have been a good to great NBA player. Could have. A diagnosis of a rare medical condition ended his playing days before the ink was dry. Making Austin an honorary pick was essentially pointless. It also transcended sport. Creating a spot to pay tribute to a deserving young man was almost perfect. Classy is an overused word, but I can't think of a better way to describe the gesture from Adam Silver and the NBA. Following their strong performance in the Donald Sterling affair, the NBA is now 2-for-2 on the season.

From tears of joy to tears of pain...the health battle facing Gino Odjick...

via blogs.theprovince.com
I grew up cheering for big Gino. Living in suburban Vancouver, the harsh realities of First Nations life were far away.  Odjick brought those concerns to the coast.  He talked openly about growing up and the struggles he faced.  It came as no surprise that Odjick never played a pretty game. It was always raw and emotional. He was a force on the ice. A straight ahead style that had Canuck fans (myself included) chanting "Gi-no, Gi-no" with every hit or fight. The occasional goal brought a raucous celebration from fans and player alike. More than that Odjick battled on the ice. No matter the situation, Gino could be counted on to give it everything he had. Now the battle is in his body. I've got no doubt that he will fight as long as he can. It was how he played and I would expect nothing less. 

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

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Suarez leaves his mark again and the NHL misses the mark

From where I sit it looks like Uruguay may be in deep trouble...

via independent.co.uk

Not just the challenge of a surprising squad from Columbia in the round of 16. Nor the prospects of Brazil in the next round. It's all falling at the feet, or should that be stuffed in the mouth, of Luis Suarez. Believe it or not Suarez has attempted to defend his actions saying, “These things happen on the pitch.” I'll freely admit I've never played competitive football. I'm hardly an expert on the beautiful game, but with the notable exception of Suarez, I wouldn't describe biting as 'part of the game'. Hard tackles, flying elbows, heads knocking together. I have seen all of those. For all North Americans like to ridicule footballers for flopping all over the place, some of those collisions must hurt. But Suarez seems to enjoy going above and beyond. Biting someone is one thing, but trying to pass it off as part of the game is really reaching. Add to that he's a repeat offender in multiple leagues and I don't see Suarez getting back on the pitch in this World Cup. In the meantime, he should just keep his mouth shut.

The NHL handed out their annual awards in Las Vegas...

via thestar.com

I really like that the NHL makes a big production out of awards night. When any league honours it's best there should be a proper level of showmanship involved. There certainly can't be much in the way of complaints about the winners. Crosby, Rask, Kieth, Bergeron, Roy and McKinnon. Deserving winners all. That being said there is one thing missing. Live TV coverage. Yes, it was live in the east. But for those of us in the western time zones, we were left waiting and wondering about the victors. Or, we just followed proceedings on twitter. I'm sure the NHL put on a great show. But I had some shopping to do, then put my daughter to bed. So I just followed along on twitter. For all the NHL does it right, this isn't the 1980s, nothing can be aired on tape-delay and expect people to tune in. Either show the whole thing live or don't bother. It's not something I'm going out of my way to watch, particularly when I already know the results.

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

Monday, June 23, 2014

A tough draw, but massive upside for US Mens team

From where I sit it looks like the US team has a reason to be thrilled with a draw against Portugal...

via fivethirtyeight.com

This was heartbreaking. It was a split second of brilliance from Ronaldo that cost the Americans full points. The entire second half was as engaging as anything we've seen in the tournament. Watching the reactions of fans around the US was as enthralling as it was sad. So close to a birth in the knockout stages and a come back win over a football powerhouse. What's to be thrilled about? People care. There are viewing parties. It's the lead story not just on the sport pages, but in the news. It's easy to get people excited about a winning team in any sport. There are plenty of bandwagon jumpers no matter who's playing, it's even easier when it's being played at home. But it's when you can see real disappointment; you can tell they are truly fans. The people along for the ride shrug their shoulders and go on with their day. This wasn't a collective shrug from the American people. This was a palpable reaction. They got kicked in the gut. It was like watching reactions in London or Madrid. But this was Los Angeles and Kansas City. In the end the Americans still control their own fate and can advance with a win or draw against Germany. No matter the outcome on Thursday, US Soccer should look back on the tie with Portugal not just as proof they can play with and beat the best; but as evidence that football is finally becoming a major sport in the United States.

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

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A scintillating start to the World Cup

From where I sit it looks like this is shaping up to be a fantastic World Cup...

I'm not even sure where to start. We are a week into the tournament and several delightful things have been established. Don't count on the favorites. Spain is out, Brazil was held to a 0-0 draw by Mexico, Cameroon is imploding and it looks like the Dutch can score at will. That being said, Holland is also riding another trend from Brazil. Come backs. We have seen seven games were the trailing team has fought back to win. Add to that the number of late goals and it's a recipe for excitement. Fully 25 goals have been scored in the last 30 minutes, nine of which came in the last 10, four in stoppage time at the end of the 90. All this has given fans every reason to stay tuned in. We are only just starting the 2nd round of matches and this excitement is already playing out. It's exactly what FIFA needs to distract from the rest of the political and sociological issues surrounding the tournament.

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

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A fun Stanley Cup Final and FIFA deals with headaches in Brazil

From where I sit it looks like a classic end to the Stanley Cup final...

For starters I'll claim partial points on predictions. I got the winner and overtime in the last game. I'm honestly pleasantly surprised going 10-for-15 in the post season.  It really isn't much of a surprise that the Kings managed to take the series in 5 games. In fact, what was a bit of a shock was the Rangers were so competitive. New York dominated long stretches of the series. Even at that the end result was never really in question. The Kings are full value for their win and managed to show how good the Western Conference is. Los Angeles won the Cup and a good argument can be made that they aren't the best team in the west. Chicago, Colorado, Anaheim, even the much maligned Sharks are powerful teams. Boston is the only team from the East that would present a real challenge to the top western teams. That being said, it was still a thrilling final. Given the three overtime wins, they played an equivalent of 6 games. It was eerily reminiscent of the 1993 final between LA and Montreal. But this time the Kings were ready and the Rangers just couldn't keep up.

Meanwhile, the World Cup is off to an interesting start to say the least...

The referees managed to overshadow everything for the first two and a half games. That is until the Dutch decided to show Spain some beautiful football. Dubious penalties and cards marred the first couple of games, and even in the early stages of the Netherlands-Spain match the decisions were questionable at best. Then we saw a return to Total Football. The Orjane showed speed, skill, tenacity and a healthy dose of magic in a second half that was as stunning as it was fantastic. Thankfully, it seems the onslaught of goals from Holland managed to settle everything down. Subsequent matches have shown pace and style, but little in the way of controversy. I know I'm a couple of days late, but here's my picks. It will be a challenge to take Brazil off their perch as favourite, but their road to the final will probably run through either Spain of Holland. Germany and Argentina seem set for a smooth run through to the semi finals. Naturally both England and Italy have their supporters, but will be hard pressed to find themselves in the late round matches. But who will win? Argentina feels like a safe pick. But I'm a proud Dutchman. So, I'm following my heart and picking Holland to finally remove their names from the list of also rans.

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

Monday, June 9, 2014

Coburn bites off more than he can chew

From where I sit it looks like there is some major controversy over the Belmont Stakes...

via gamedayr.com

I can fully appreciate how Steve Coburn feels. It's frustrating to say the least. I have never seen a Triple Crown winner. I wasn't born when Affirmed won in 1978. Every year we all go in hoping to see history, but once again we are greeted with disappointment. For the majority of sports fans the only time they pay attention to horse racing is the Triple Crown. There have been plenty of close calls in the years since Affirmed. But this one seems particularly galling. It was the glorious underdog, with the blue collar owners taking on the establishment. In other words it had the making of a perfect Hollywood script. And since we all grew up on the ideal of a perfect ending, this felt like it should be preordained. Sorry gang, but reality and the rules got in the way. To begin with there's the basic principle of sport: For every winner there is a loser. I'm sure the Miracle on Ice played out much differently in the USSR. Bill Buckner, Steve Bartman and Ralph Branca all have their names etched in history for their part in losing. That's the reality of life. California Chrome will be remembered as a great horse, who came up one race short. The other issue is the use of fresh horses. And that just comes back to the whole idea of playing by the rules. Any eligible horse can be entered in any or all of the races. It's that simple. Coburn can stand screaming in self-righteous indignation until he's blue in the face. But he's still the newcomer taking on a couple centuries of horse racing. Nevermind the lack of a Triple Crown winner since 1978, there hasn't been an English Triple Crown winner since Nijinsky in 1970 and he's the only post World War 2 winner. The point is that it's hard to do. And that's what keeps people tuning in. The chance, however remote it might be, that some day we will see a horse beat all comers and write his name in hsitory.

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

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Rangers have legitimate complaints about game 2

From where I sit it looks like the NHL will be pressured for more video reviews...

via sports.yahoo.com

There is no such thing as a perfect system for reviewing plays. Baseball has it's new challenge system and is still seeing arguments over calls. In the NBA the refs make the review themselves and can still get it wrong. Instant replay has been in use in the NHL since the mid-90s. It's undergone many changes, but is more needed? Possible following the controversy in game 2 of the Stanley Cup final. Not only should Dwight King's goal have not counted, but the Kings should have been given a delay of game penalty just seconds before the winning goal was scored. However, goaltender interference is a judgement call and delay of game isn't reviewable. Let's face it, the last thing we need is a return to the idiotic 'skate in the crease' rule of the late 90s. The name Brett Hull should be enough to put that to rest. So, what can be done? Give the goalie free reign to defend his crease? Back to the days of Billy Smith copping players to the ground?  It's hard enough already to score goals, we really don't want them being taken off the board. Nor do we want to see defender pushing players into the crease in a desperate attempt to get a goal called back. As for flipping the puck over the glass. Sure it could be reviewed, but how long could be wasted for something that could often prove inconclusive? In the end for all the Rangers can comaplin about a couple calls being missed, they were the one's up 2-0, 3-1 and 4-2 and couldn't hold the lead.  They were also 0-for-2 on the power play in overtime.  Yes, there will be a demand for change, but don't expect to see any major updates.

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

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Apathy a real threat to the CFL

From where I sit it looks like the CFL could be facing a major issue...

If a league implodes and nobody cares, does it make a noise? For all the gesturing through the media, there isn't a whole hell of a lot being accomplished. That includes engaging the public. The biggest hurdle at this point in time is that so far everything is normal. Even in football crazy Saskatchewan the talk is more about punt returning than strike votes. Outside of that, the bigger the centre the less interest there is. As various strike/lockout situations continue to float around, the Canadian public doesn't seem to worried. And for both the CFL and CFLPA that should be a grave concern. Canadians have been conditioned lately by 2 NHL lockouts to find other forms of entertainment when the primary is unavailable. However, the CFL is not a billion dollar industry like the NHL. The league can't afford to lose too much in the way of money and still have something worth saving. I do enjoy the CFL, it's a great game. It's part of the heritage of Canada. But Sportcentre won't be running endless clips of Mark Cohon riding an escalator. There are plenty of stories for TSN to cover. The Blue Jays are red hot. Genie Bouchard and Milos Raonic are moving up the ATP ranks. The Stanley Cup and NBA final are both underway. And the World Cup starts next week. The CFL is already facing an uphill battle for attention, getting themselves buried in a work stoppage is only going to make things worse. The feels like a tragic return to the CFL of my youth: overflowing with mismanagement.

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

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Plenty to talk about in Cup Final

From where I sit it looks like the NHL should be excited for the Stanley Cup Final...

via nhl.com

And no, it's not just for the obvious reasoning of two of the world's biggest markets going head-to-head. It's that there's actually some interesting story lines going into the final. Not the least of which being the Kings seeming incapability to win a series in less than 7 games. However, it's not like the Rangers have been making quick work of anyone either. Of a maximum of 21 games Los Angeles has played 21, New York 20. The Kings have already faced elimination 7 times, the Rangers just 3. Although I don't have a cheering interest in either team I'm quite looking forward to seeing what this series can produce. Both goalies are world-class, finishing 2nd (Lundqvist) and 4th (Quick) in Sochi. Both are quite capable of putting in a stellar performance to hold their team in the game. And both looked amazingly average in the last series. Quick was shaky in games 5, 6 and 7 against Chicago; while Lundqvist was pulled in game 6 against the Habs. Both defences can be solid and porous in the same game. Both offences can be explosive and non-existant. Honestly, this looks to be a series that's just as likely to be a sweep as it is to go the distance. That being said, and given my poor performance in the Conference finals, I'm taking the Kings in 7. Maybe even in overtime. It's been 60 years since the last one, I think we're due.

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

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Questions surround FIFA

From where I sit it looks like FIFA is facing more trouble...

via fifa.com

North Americans love a conspiracy. From JFK to 9/11 there always people looking for answers to anything they can't understand or have trouble accepting. Let's face it there are plenty of conspiracy theories about sports. Does anyone think the NHL isn't thrilled the Rangers are in the final? Against either LA or Chicago, both of those are major US markets, it's perfect. Sadly, in the world of FIFA those conspiracies are all too real. The outcome of games in any sport can result in massive payouts for those placing wagers on the game. So, it's hardly surprising when players or even officials fall to temptation. The greater concern is obvious. For starters questions are swirling around the awarding of the World Cup to Qatar in 2022. Millions of dollars in payments for a country without the best human rights record. Add to that the lack of proper climate it's easy to question the legitimacy of the process. Now these latest allegations of match fixing create a series of questions about the World Cup in a couple of weeks. Managing an event of this size is difficult enough without the added pressure of sniffing out corruption to the game itself. In Sochi, the compromised building process was well documented. However, once the games themselves got underway all of that fell to the wayside. The picture in Brazil is, as amazing as this sounds, bleaker. Not only was the building process questionable, but it looks like the matches could be too.

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

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Why don't fans go to Blue Jays games?

From where I sit it looks like there is a major question surrounding the Blue Jays...

via blogs.reuters.com

Specifically, where are the fans? Take a look at their attendance figures. The Jays are 22nd over all with an average of 24,067 per game. However, when you take out series against the Yankees and Red Sox the numbers plummet to 19,066, 28th over all. Only Tampa Bay and Cleveland average fewer. Arizona is averaging 27,145 and the Diamondbacks are a brutal 21-33. What can the Blue Jays do to get more fans? They are at or near the top of the Majors in runs, hits and home runs. Toronto has won 14 of their last 16 games. So, it's not a lack of excitement. How about price...get in the door for $11, field level seats start at $44. Not bad, above the league average, but given the price of other sporting events certainly nothing to complain about. Part of what make this so surprising is the borderline insane dedication to even the slightest hint of success from either the Leafs or Raptors. Yet, the Blue Jays show signs of life and they're greeted with a big yawn from Toronto. I guess Yogi Berra was right, “If people don't want to come out to the ball park, how are you going to stop them?”

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

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Oil Kings make their mark on Edmonton

From where I sit it looks like the Oil Kings need a new slogan...

via ca.sports.yahoo.com

Since the team's renewal in the WHL the Oil Kings have billed themselves as 'The other Oil in town'. And since 2007 they have played second fiddle to the Oilers. However, in the past 3 years it's become apparent the best bet for good hockey in Edmonton is the Oil Kings. The team has won more league titles in the last 3 seasons than the Oilers in the last 25 years. Not only are the tickets more affordable, but they also played better hockey. The team can put up points or dominate in a tight defensive game. Case in point the Memorial Cup final against Guelph. Not only did they give up the opening goal a minute into the game, but trailed 2-1 after the 1st to a team they had lost badly against a week prior. Add to that the Oil Kings played basically two more games than the Storm, it becomes an increasingly impressive performance. Too add a poignant touch Oil Kings players brought out the jersey of their late teammate Kristans Pelss as they celebrated their championship.  Judging by the throng of fans greeting them at the airport and the front page spreads in the local papers, it looks like the Oil Kings are becoming a larger part of the Edmonton sports scene.  Perhaps calling themselves the better Oil in town would be more accurate, but they like to let their play do the talking.

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

A tight Indy 500 finish follows red flag

From where I sit it looks like IndyCar is taking a tentative step towards the edge...

via usatoday.com

It should be first pointed out that throwing a red flag due to a crash isn't new. The horrific crash of Swede Savage comes quickly to mind. Although in 1973, the track was almost blocked and the severity of the crash was fully apparent. This crash was clearly not serious and the track was damaged; however cars could have continued rolling and it would have meant the race finished under caution. Certainly not the optimal result. I can see both sides of this issue. At the very least IndyCar managed to avoid the dangerous NASCAR idea of extending the race distance in a vainglorious attempt give fans a green flag finish, or to wreck more cars, it's hard to tell which. That being said if a race ends under caution, it ends under caution. It's that simple. This juvenile attempt to placate part-time fans is quite needless. Somehow a thrilling 470-or-so miles isn't enough to create a fan? Not every race is going to be decided by inches. That's the reality of racing. In fact these forced finishes are just as likely to crate carnage as they are to stage a perfect ending.

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

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Rangers lose two and dont read much into the World Championships

From where I sit it looks like one hit will create more trouble for the Rangers...

via nesn.com

Yes, Prust deserved to be suspended. It was a bad hit and late. His two games seems to be in line with the NHL standard for playoff games. However, it's the Rangers paying the bigger price. Not only have they lost Derek Stepan for an unknown length of time, but Dan Carcillo for 10 games. Yes, the refs should have called the penalty of Prust, but that doesn't excuse Carcillo for losing his mind. It wasn't even like he was the only one trying to get a Prust. If he's not restrained, he's the third man in. It will remain to be seen how losing two players will impact New York. Stepan is the team's third leading scorer, but thanks to Carcillo they now have two holes to fill. Sure, Carcillo had only played 8 games, but now he can't play any. No matter what minor contribution he was making, he will spend the rest of the playoffs in the press box. It's a stupid, needless loss for New York, now it's up to Montreal to take advantage of it.

Meanwhile, Russia is a win away from the World Championship...

via the Canadian Press

It's a great opportunity for the Russians to prove their 'A' team is better than the top B/C teams from the hockey world. Thanks to early eliminations from the playoffs Russia has iced a great team, including Sergi Babrovski, Alex Ovechkin and Yevgeni Malkin. They managed to shut down an underpowered Sweden in the semi finals. Congratulations if you know Anders Nilsson was the goalie of record for Sweden, a bonus point if you know he's in the Islanders system. The World Hockey Championships are a fun tournament. It's a good opportunity for young players to get experience playing international hockey. Honestly, there's no reason to any country to get an inflated ego from winning, nor is there a reason to get too upset with sub-par performances. If you want to accurately judge the level of competition hold a best-on-best tournament. Like the Olympics or World Cup. Evaluate the success at those levels and it's easy to see who are the top countries. Canada, Sweden, Finland, the US, each have medals from the last two Olympics. Those are your top teams. They're the one's who's top players are still playing for the Stanley Cup.

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

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The CFL risks alienating fans

From where I sit it looks like the CFL may be heading to a work stoppage...

It's a situation that both the league and players association need to try to avoid. The CFL is not the NHL, NFL, MLB or NBA. This isn't a multi-billion dollar league. It's barely a mullti-million dollar league. The latest offer from the CFLPA asks for a salary cap of $6.24 million dollars. To give that some perspective there are 60 NFLers making over $6 million a season. The league's offer of $4.8 million sees an increase of about $10,000 per player, at least that's according to the CFL. None of that deals with the major problem staring both sides in the face. Fans. The CFL, despite it's shiny new TV contract, is a gate driven league. Any work stoppage could see games, even pre-season, cancelled. No games means no money. It also means fans get frustrated. Any work stoppage in any league has that ripple effect. It's a very real risk that the players and league will shoot themselves in the foot. Yes, the CFL is a Canadian tradition, but in the biggest markets there are plenty of other forms of sport to get support. Yes, fans in Saskatchewan will come flooding back. They will in Winnipeg too, probably in Edmonton, Calgary and Hamilton. Ottawa will still see decent attendance with a new team. But in Vancouver and Toronto don't count on it. Montreal is too focused on the Habs to even notice the Alouettes might not by playing. In a league that's so delicately balanced the thought of a work stoppage should be terrifying for both sides.

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

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

More allegations of NFL mistreating players

From where I sit it looks like the NFL is facing another headache...

Once again former players are suing the league over allegations of mistreatment of injuries. Just like the concussion issue, I'm really of two minds on this. On the one hand players should be able to trust the team doctors. I mean this is a doctor, right? Someone dedicated to keeping people healthy and safe. He (or she) is employed by the team to ensure that all the players are physically fit to play. It make perfect sense. It also gives players someone they know to talk to openly about their injuries. At least that's how it should work. Just not necessarily in the NFL. At the same time when does the athlete have to take responsibility for their own actions? Didn't these players start to question things when they were, as the suit alleges, lined up to receive powerful anti-inflammatory injections in the buttocks just before kickoff? It seems they didn't talk to family or friends outside of football to see how normal people lived. The allure and pressure of professional sports is clearly creating an untenable situation. Even if this lawsuit is successful, there will be little change. There's simply too much money involved.

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

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

An uphill battle for the Habs

From where I sit it looks like the Canadiens are in deep trouble...

via thestar.com

No, it's no just the loss of Carey Price, it's the loss a pretty much everything that was going right against Tampa Bay and Boston. The once vaunted power play has gone 0-for-7 against New York. Coming into the series the Habs were averaging just over 3 goals a game. They have scored a total of 3 in the two losses. Add to that a respectable shot total in game 2 (41) the picture looks increasingly bleak for Montreal. The next issue is Dustin Tokarski. He made 27 saves in a tough situation. And his team certainly wasn't helping. Take a look a the Ranger goals. A deflection off a defenseman and two perfect pass/shot combinations. Sorry, Habs fans, but Price wasn't going to stop those either. In spite of all that, it's hardly lights out for the Canadiens. Of the 7 series that have seen a 2-0 lead, the team losing the first 2 games has gone on to win the series 3 times (Minnesota, Chicago and Los Angeles). So don't give up hope Montreal, at least not yet.

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

Sunday, May 18, 2014

a close call for Ovi and a national champion from Yorkton

From where I sit it looks like the Capitals season just got a bit worse...

via vancouversun.com

And they quit playing in early April. While the NHL got a reminder about the dangers of having their players in the World Hockey Championships. Eric Staal was the victim last year, this time it's Ovechkin getting low bridged by some German pylon. Yes, Ovi was trying to avoid the hit, but that doesn't preclude the fact that one of the NHL's top stars could have been seriously injured by Marcus Kink. Kink is a pretty good defenceman with the Mannheim Eagles, but nearly lived in infamy for a hit. It's a delicate balance for the NHL and IIHF. We all like seeing the best players face off, but sometimes it seems like the cost could be way too high. Sadly, there isn't really a solution to the problem. No matter where you're playing there is always a risk of injury. Thankfully, Ovechkin looks to be alright. Which, given all the other issues facing the Capitals, must be a great relief.

A big congratulations to the Yorkton Terriers of the SJHL...

I spent 3 years in Yorkton with GX94 Radio and covering the Terriers on Access Cable. Without a doubt the most exciting part of my broadcasting career was being in the press box for back-to-back SJHL championships. Now, 8 years after I left, my team has won the national championship, RBC Cup. My daughter was born in Yorkton and was sitting next to me when Derek Falloon jammed the puck home to give the Terriers their first national title. We both cheered happily as our team piled on the ice to celebrate. I can only imagine what the scene was like in the bars and watering holes in Yorkton. A big congratulations to the team, coaching staff, ownership and of course the fans!

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

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Goodbye to Teemu and Round 3 predictions

From where I sit it looks like the NHL is losing a legend...

It's often difficult to measure the impact of a player. For others it's easy to think about their place in sports history. Teemu Selanne is one of those rare players who has managed not only a lengthy career, but an effective one. Selanne was one of my favourite players growing up. And now my daughter cheers for him. It's a bit staggering to think that in the course of Selanne's career Winnipeg lost it's team, then got it back. His rookie goal (76) and points (132) records still stand and rank as two of the game's unassailable marks. He played in 6 Olympics and the World Junior Championships in 1989. There was a telling moment after game 7 against the Kings, as both teams stayed on the ice and payed tribute to the Finnish Flash. An easy sign about the level of respect for a future Hall of Fame star.

As for predictions for round 3...

via nhl.com

I'm pleased with a perfect round 2, including another 2 perfect predictions (LA in 7 and Montreal in 7). In the West, the Kings have made stirring comebacks in both of their series, but they aren't playing the Sharks or Ducks. The Blackhawks know what it takes to close out a series and don't have any questions in net. Both San Jose and Anaheim exposed faults in the Kings, but couldn't capitalize on the momentum. There won't be any problems like that for Chicago, Hawks in 6. Meanwhile, in the East it's a Sochi rematch in net. And that's where the Olympic similarities end. Both the Rangers and Canadiens have capitalized on speed in the first two rounds. Both have solid defence and skilled forwards. This series really looks like a pick-em. So, I'm going to act patriotic and chose Montreal in 7.

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

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Lucic should keep his mouth shut or talk quietly

From where I sit it looks like Milan Lucic will get a talking to from the NHL...

It's a great tradition in hockey. Spend up to 7 games trying to kill each other, then line up and congratulate your opponent. Win or lose. It's beautiful to see and the source of a great many classic photos. However, Lucic decided to run his mouth. He's welcome to do that, but he clearly didn't think that reporters would ask what he was saying or that anyone with a decent TV would be able to read his lips. I get that he was pissed off. It was a tough series. The Habs were mocking him. He was probably upset that Montreal was taking offence over gestures that mean something special to him showing support for Boston. None of that precludes the fact that it was needless and stupid. Lucic has painted a target on his own back in a effort to call out the Canadiens. Look, I'm not saying he was out of line for what he said, my problem is that he made such a production of saying it. You can curse people out as you shake each hand for all I care, but if you hold up the line to make juvenile threats you can expect people to react.

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

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

a CFLer is in trouble for his Twitter rant

From where I sit it looks like some people are still struggling with the realities of new media...

I never ceases to amaze me when people post their hate on Twitter (or anywhere else), then get surprised when others chide them for it. Let's face it, we all have our own prejudices, but if you make those opinions part of the public discourse there will be repercussions. That's just the reality of life in a connected world. It also strikes me as odd that Price is making these comments on a Monday...the draft was over on Saturday.  So, not only did he make inflammatory comments, but he was two days late doing it.  Further to that if you are a member of or associated with a particular company or business don't be surprised if your employer isn't too impressed. Maurice Price is quite entitled to his opinion. And the Stampeders are entitled to punish him for making those opinions public. Price even has the gall to complain about the up coming fine. If you're stupid enough to do something that you know will result in punishment from your employer, don't act surprised when you get in trouble.

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

Monday, May 12, 2014

Donald Sterling's antics overtake NBA Playoff talk

From where I sit it looks like the posturing has begun from Donald Sterling...

It was the cut and dry feel good story; racist, despicable NBA owner gets turfed after being caught expressing his revolting views on tape. Fast action from the league leads to a life time suspension and attempts to force Sterling out. Now the defense has finally started with counter charges and denials. So, fantastic comebacks in two games are completely overshadowed by Sterling. Yes, fans will be talking about the Pacers and Clippers getting amazing late rallies, but the talk about Sterling will still be far too prevalent. What makes this worse is the almost certainty that the whole situation will descend into a 'he said, she said' match. Further to that the players have made it clear what they think of Sterling. All this is leaving the game itself a secondary player. Sports is supposed to be an escape from the pressures and stress of every day life. Sadly, for the foreseeable future the Clippers themselves will serve as a reminder that bigotry is closer than any of us would like.

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

Friday, May 9, 2014

More evidence of a lack of concussion control in the NHL

From where I sit it looks like the NHL needs to take a closer look at concussion protocols...

via veooz.com
The real problem is how do you force someone to admit they're hurt? It's the playoffs. It's a tie game. Max Pacioretty doesn't want to miss a shift, never mind taking 20 minutes in the quiet room. If it was me, there's no way I would speak up. Why not? As the NHL like to remind everyone #BecauseItsTheCup. Generations of hockey fans have grown up on the legends of Maurice Richard, Bobby Baun, and dozens of others who simply ignored pain and played. It's a badge of honour in pretty much every sport. The ability to put physical discomfort aside to make an impact on the game. That being said it's one thing to play with a bloody foot or broken ankle, it's something else significantly if you have a concussion. And yet, control of the issue remains with the athlete. In other words, it's up to the person whose brain isn't working to decide if their brain is working. Somehow that logic seems flawed. This isn't just an NHL issue, but at some point all the sports that feature collisions will need to have independent doctors ready to evaluate players where there's even a hint of brain trauma. Until that happens I remain concerned it will take a tragedy for anything to change.

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

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The NFL Draft gets underway

From where I sit it looks like it's NFL draft day...

via thefinsiders.com

Or should that be draft days? I fully acknowledge any effort to extend the amount of time your sport is in the public focus is a good plan. However, at what point does it start getting ridiculous? How far are we away from a full week of NFL draft? One round on each night. It wouldn't surprise me. Despite all that I will be tuning in to see the selections. It's great drama and about the most fun you can get from watching talking heads. Part of what make it such an amazing event is the lack of anything actually happening. Even with a steady stream of trade rumours there really isn't anything going on. It's a bunch of guys in suits talking. Yes, it's the biggest day(s) of the lives of some young men, and possibly the start of a great career on the field, but this really is nothing but sitting and watching. That really shows the marketing and level of dedication the NFL (and other leagues) have created. There will be viewings and parties all weekend. Not for a game, but to watch men in suits talk to other men in suits about what might happen in four months...and it's can't miss viewing.

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

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Time for a proper NBA awards night

From where I sit it looks like the NBA should doing their awards differently...

A richly deserved MVP for Kevin Durant. And a beautiful speech. Too bad it was all done in Edmond, OK. I'm sure it's a great city, according to the Wikipedia entry it was number 1 on CNBC's 'Top 10 Perfect Suburbs' in 2011. Sounds lovely. Still not the best place to crown the league MVP. The NHL has been doing it for years, the NFL is now on board. The NBA should be doing these awards in a special presentation at the end of the season. The NHL heads to Vegas, the NFL is holding it in the Super Bowl city the night before the big game. Imagine a powerful speech in prime time TV from New York or LA, not from the winner's practice facility. Durant's emotion was palpable. Too bad most of us only saw it on SportsCentre.

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

Monday, May 5, 2014

More heartbreak in Toronto

From where I sit it looks like the Raptors season will have a lasting impact...

For the most part it's a good impact. The series against Brooklyn grabbed the attention of most Canadian sports fans. However, I would like to start by saying their #WeTheNorth was grating at best. I know what they're trying to accomplish, but honestly I'm not enough of a basketball fan to even consider the Raptors 'my team'. Add to that they are from Toronto which is enough to make some people cheer against any team. So they are facing an uphill battle for the hearts of the nation. That being said, they did a great job creating atmosphere but inside and outside the ACC. Each game of the series was competitive, the only blowout being the Nets 97-83 win in game 6. Apart from that it was single digits, with four games being decided by two possessions or less. It was tight, exciting basketball culminating with a frantic charge from the Raptors in the 4th quarter of game 7. The entire series came down to the final possession for the home team as time expired. And the Raptors got no shot. Kyle Lowry dribbled himself into three Nets and was left with nothing. He had Terrence Ross wide open to his left with 3 seconds left and he just lowered his head and tried to drive the lane. Lowry put the ball on the floor and grabbed it away from Patrick Patterson with 1.5 left as he desperately tried to be the hero. Instead he was rejected soundly by Pierce. I don't know why the ball wasn't passed. Was the play designed to have Lowry take it to the rack? Even I know that's a tough spot to go late in the game. Or did Lowry put blinders on and simply think he didn't need help? No matter what was supposed to happen the Raptors season came to a heartbreaking halt in game 7. Kind of like the Maple Leafs last season.

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