Going to try something a little different as we head into the fall. I am an avid sports reader, and my favorite writers, in no particular order, are Peter King, Steve Simmons, and the now retired Jim Hunt.
If you are a NFL football fan, and not reading Peter King’s “Monday Morning Quarterback” column (not to mention all the related content from his website “MMQB”) then you really are missing out. I would equate it to an East End kid who never had a Glow Sub or Go Go’s pizza. Sadly only one of those two options can you still correct in your life.
Steve Simmons I know is a very polarizing figure. I don’t always agree with him, but his Sunday column in the Toronto Sun is another gem, and it is close to the format I want to take here. Just stream of consciousness thoughts – no deep dive analysis. I view it more as a conversation starter than a thesis presentation.
Jim Hunt was another Toronto Sun columnist, who wrote a Tuesday column “Things I think I think”. Again, it was a fun and random ride, and generated conversation well before “social media”.
So, that is the preface. Open to suggestions here. I can’t promise this will be a “Saturday am” column, but I expect to get something out there most weekends. So let’s get to it.
World Cup of Hockey:
It is a strange thing for a “hockey nut” like me, but I have limited excitement for this tournament so far. I had hoped seeing those Canada jerseys on the ice last night would have stoked the flames…and it moved the needle, but I am not stoked yet. I know it will be great hockey, and a gift to us all given the early start. There are a list of “potential culprits” to my “meh” reaction, in no particular order:
- It is a blatant cash grab by Bettman, and a potential “bait and switch” to the true test of hockey supremacy, the Winter Olympics. I don’t want this in place of the Olympics Gary. Not acceptable.
It is a time of year when so many other sports are gobbling up my attention. The “real” start to the CFL season (Labour Day – more on that later), the NFL kicks off this week (as does slow cooker Sunday! Can’t wait for the first batch of chili!), and baseball is finally into the meaningful part of the season (I will also have more to say on this!).
The whole “adult portion” of my life is a little crazy, with work and back to school and back to activities for the kids.
The weather is still awesome. It almost feels worse to be huddling around a TV now, with a precious few weeks of summer left, than playoff hockey in June feels. Hockey is what gets us through winter, not escorts us in!
Having said all that, I am sure I will get sucked in once the meaningful games start. Canada has a great shot to win once again. Please Canada, resist the urge to go all “Chicken Little” over the pre-tourney loss to the U.S. last night. In my mind, the U.S. played that game like a game 7, and for the first 40 minutes, Canada looked at those blue jersey’s like they were the guy backchecking during a shinny game. It also looked to me that the Canadian “skill game” was just a little off. Passes just a little behind guys, puck bouncing a little. To quote Aaron Rodgers “R-E-L-A-X”.
My only game thoughts from last night:
- Can we dress John Scott tonight? The U.S. seemed to go out of their way to take every cheap shot and late hit at Canada. I say lets give John a 16th minute of fame.
- I didn’t think I would like it, given Brad Marchand is on my “clothesline in an airport” list…but that Crosby -Bergeron- Marchand line looks very effective.
- Nice to see Carey Price back, looking like Carey Price. No issues there, nothing to see, move along.
- Not sure how I feel about these jerseys in general, but I am definitely solidly in the camp of “it’s enough already with the constant jersey changes”! In all sports. Yes, I am becoming a grumpy old man, pull your pants up and get off my lawn!
- I want to go on the record right now. The North American “Young Guns” will be in the semi-final. The U.S.A. will not.
It’s here, it’s really here! NFL kicked off Thursday night with a Super Bowl rematch, and what a game it was. A few thoughts from the game:
- I think we may have been a little premature to right off the Broncos based on the Quarterback position. Trevor Siemian illustrated nicely why Coach Kubiak felt no need to keep the Sanchize on the roster. I will steel a Bill Parcell’s line, we don’t need to anoint him just yet, but he showed some moxie in tough spot to start your career. And let us not forget, he is replacing “Cable” Peyton Manning, not “Dish” Peyton Manning. With that defense, he doesn’t need to be top 10. Just don’t turn it over.
- I think I can’t believe the lack of flags on headshots to Cam Newton. I have no skin in this game, but it seemed to me there were a lot of headshots, and I mean real head contact, not glancing or inadvertent blows, that went without flags. I am the first one to complain QB’s are overprotected, but given the normal standard that is applied, it was a glaring lack of penalties. Me thinks several envelopes will be delivered to Denver this week seeking cheques from Broncos defenders.
- If there is one thing that can derail the seemingly unstoppable NFL train, it is the lack of consistency in officiating. I will provide the caveat that I think the NFL and NHL are extremely difficult to officiate at the elite level, given the speed of the games and the ambiguity of the rulebooks. With instant replay, HD, and slow mo, the stripes are always being second guessed. Having said that, there are plays in every game that just baffle you. I am so grateful for the Twitter feeds of Mike Pereira (@) for football (he does college too!) and Kerry Fraser (@) for hockey. Both gentlemen call it as they see it (not blindly side with the game officials like some TV experts…cough cough “Mike Carey” cough cough. Both guys have really helped me understand some baffling calls, and sometimes just confirm that I am correct and the call is baffling.
- I am not going to do a deep dive into the weekly picks for the season. There are plenty of vastly more qualified opinions out there. I will give my picks each week for your personal amusement:
- Carolina (stupid kickers!)
- Obviously this is a tough opening week. Tougher is that in my long time “Stelco boys” pickem pool, we are required to submit 2 Survivor picks for the first two weeks. This tends to cull the herd quickly. I went Houston and Seattle in week 1. Why am I showing no confidence in my Chefs? I know they will win, but I have a long developed rule for Survivor picks – avoid road teams, avoid division games. Divisional opponents tend to be more unpredictable, given the familiarity that comes naturally from playing twice a year.
- New wrinkle for our pickem pool is a “Loser” pick each week. Despite wanting to avoid at all costs having the same game in Survivor and Loser, I saw no better alternative to Miami. Seattle is good, and has a huge home field advantage, being second loudest building in the league. (Yes, Arrowhead has the record!)
- I will admit, I don’t truly follow the CFL, I am that guy that just pays attention to the Ticats. I am a believer that the CFL season doesn’t really start until Labour Day. And boy did the Ticats ever make a statement (or two) during the Classic.
- They are more than capable of beating themselves, as was readily apparent in the first half. It almost had me finding something else to watch in the second half.
- Zach Collaros is a difference maker at QB…maybe the best QB we have had under center in black and gold since Danny Mac. And I could make a case that he is better. However, I think he needs to win a Grey Cup to take than mantle.
- Is there something in the league rules that requires Ticat DB’s to be incapable of tackling, and play 20 yards off the receivers?
- Reality is in the Hammer, if the Tabbies win Labour Day, the season was a success. Nobody blows like the Argooooooooo’s.
- Saving the worst for last, as this team feels like a polar opposite of last year. They are playing their worst baseball as we enter the stretch. Where is the energy from last year? Why is nobody “stirring it up”.
- I know I am amongst a chorus of detractors, but I think this team needs a true manager, not a sunflower seed spitting soundbite. “Hit away” is not always the answer. How many times can you have runners in scoring position with no outs, and not score? Good teams don’t do that. It costs them against the Royals last year, and is consistently killing them this year.
- Sign Edwin – please. I am not ready for the Jays to go back to irrelevance for 20 years. I am not ready to lose the Edwing. And I certainly don’t want to see parrots in Fenway!
Thanks to both of you that got to the bottom. I didn’t promise it would be short. I hope it was mildly amusing. Be interested to see what you think. I doubt it will always be this long…some weeks it will be much longer. Mr. Pyett was right all those years ago at Hillcrest middle school. I have verbal diarrhea!
I have said it all, I have said too much.