Monday, October 25, 2010

MONDAY MORNING MUSINGS Oct25/10


Somebody give the boys of summer a calendar. Barring a four game sweep by either the Giants or the Rangers, baseball's World Series - once an early-to-mid October ritual - will be played in November for the second year in a row. Texas visits San Francisco in Game 1 of the 2010 Fall Classic Wednesday, October 27th. As recently as 2002, a seven game World Series ENDED on October 27th. At this rate, it's only a matter of time before the World Series victory celebration conflicts with the Santa Claus parade...I can appreciate the concept of bringing rookies along slowly, but it's got to be difficult for Canadiens forward Lars Eller to get any sort of confidence and rythym when he's bounced from line to line and doesn't get a regular shift. Eller fits the bill of what the Canadiens have been lacking for a long time: a skilled big man at center, and he hasn't looked out of place in the NHL. Let the guy play already...I didn't watch every play of every NFL game yesterday, but from what I saw, the sport didn't deteriorate into a glorified form of flag football just because the league instituted a crackdown on helmet-to-helmet hits...That CCM commercial with Alex Ovechkin's talking head in a high school kid's locker not only makes me laugh out loud every time, it also serves as a useful reminder that I still need to get a pumpkin for Hallowe'en.

Monday, October 18, 2010

MONDAY MORNING MUSINGS Oct18/10



There are hard times afoot in Canada's comedy industry, and the Toronto Maple Leafs are to blame. By winning their first four games, the undefeated Leafs have rendered 40-plus years of traditional Canadian standup material irrelevant, at least for the time being...The Canadiens came up huge over the weekend by winning back to back games against division rivals, thanks in no small part to a defence that allowed fewer shots in both games combined than they did in last week's home opener loss to Tampa Bay, and in the ongoing absence of number one defenceman Andrei Markov...Read a piece this weekend by a reputable mainstream sports columnist who regaled readers with out-of-school stories about the late Mickey Mantle and how when it came to drinking and womanizing, Tiger Woods and Brett Favre couldn't carry the Mick's martini. Be that as it may, it's more than a little unseemly to impugn a dead man's reputation if he's not Hitler or Jeffrey Dahmer...It's a measure of how the moment can be disproprotionately magnified that Saturday's matchup between Philadelphia's Roy Halladay and San Franciso's Tim Linceum was touted as the greatest pitching matchup in National League Championship Series history. Really? Better than Randy Johnson and Greg Maddux? Mike Scott and Dwight Gooden? Tom Seaver and Phil Neikro? Tommy John and Steve Carlton? Calling something the greatest-ever this or the best-ever that purely for the sake of hyperbole only detracts from its greatness...All of that being said, I thought Lincecum was terrific as the kid in Third Rock From The Sun.

Friday, October 15, 2010

WHAT'S DENGUE IS DENGUE

Well, Canada didn't own the podium at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, which is just as well, considering the podium was probably made out of termite-infested plywood and built over an open sewer. It tells you everything you need to know about how badly organizers in Delhi dropped the ball that in restrospect, runner-up Hamilton would have been a practical and pristine alternative when the Games were awarded in 2003.
Aside from corruption charges, construction delays, faulty facilities, filthy conditions in the athletes' village, punishing heat, record-breaking monsoon rains, an outbreak of dengue fever and a few other pesky details, the Delhi Games went off without a hitch. Say what you will about Hamilton, but at least you can visit the Steel City without having to get vaccinated for hepatitis A and typhoid.
The good news for athletes who survived the Commonwealth Games in Delhi is that conditions can't possibly be any worse at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara - Mexico's so-called Pearl of the West and by most or all accounts a thriving, modern city with a solid and safe infrastructure, if you don't count the urban poverty, air pollution and the time back in 1992 when a series of gas explosions blew up the Guadalajara sewer system. Other than that, a definite pearl.
Hamilton never looked so good.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

LE FRANCAIS DE GIONTA: CA CE FAIT MAL

So, this is what it's come to: the Canadiens are so preoccupied with appeasing linguistic sensibilities that they're willing to risk disrupting their captain's pre-game routine for the home opener by having him introduce his teammates in French during the opening ceremonies. I don't know about you, but my ears are still bleeding. Brian Gionta's French made Stephen Harper sound like Charles Aznavour, and no one knew that better than Gionta - a born-and-raised American who was clearly uncomfortable with the task at hand. Imagine being handed a sheet of paper in a language you've never spoken or even studied and told to read it aloud in front of 21 thousand people. It was like something out of Borat, except that Sasha Baron Cohen would have had the good sense to delete the scene. Gionta deserves better than to be subjected to that kind of embarrassment and borderline humiliation. You can kowtow to political correctness and applaud the team for the idea and the captain for giving it the old college try, or you can recognize the spectacle for what it was: cheap pandering at the expense of Brian Gionta's dignity.

Friday, October 8, 2010

NOT GOOD ENOUGH

Well, the good news is that Carey Price wasn't terrible. The bad news is that Price wasn't good enough to salvage a point or two on opening night for the Canadiens in Toronto, and that leaves the ball rolling in the wrong direction heading into Pittsburgh this weekend.
As a widely-acknowledged borderline playoff contender, the Canadiens are probably going to need every point they can scrape together to make it back to the post-season, and that makes beating teams like Toronto a priority whether it's the first week of October or the last week of March. No disrespect to the Leafs, but if Price and the Canadiens can't solve Tim Brent and Clark MacArthur, where does that leave them against Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin tomorrow night, not to mention Steven Stamkos, Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis in next Wednesday's home opener against Tampa Bay?
There's not a lot of time for the Canadiens to find their way. They're not exactly equipped to make up a lot of lost ground in a hurry. One year ago, the Canadiens won their season opener in Toronto and went on to make the playoffs by one point. So, yeah, it's only one game, but when you're on the bubble, it's a game that could ultimately make all the difference.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

DOPE(S) IN CYCLING

The ranks of professional cycling are a lot like a prison population - nobody's guilty and everyone got railroaded. The latest self-declared innocent victim of circumstance is 2010 Tour de France winner Alberto Contador, who continues to deny allegations of cheating despite mounting evidence to the contrary. A week after he was suspended for a urine sample that showed traces of a banned drug which Contador blamed on contaminated beef , a second sample has reportedly revealed abnormally high levels of plastic residues commonly associated with illegal blood doping - no doubt the result of Contador unwittingly consuming contaminated Lego.
Is there anyone left who believes these guys? Floyd Landis spent nearly four years vigorously denying doping allegations before finally coming clean and admitting he cheated to win the 2006 Tour de France. While he was at it, Landis threw seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong under the bus, although Armstrong is still officially clean despite persistent allegations of cheating. No matter. The documented history of doping in cycling is so vast and detailed that a positive test isn't so much a scandal as it is a footnote.

Monday, October 4, 2010

MONDAY MORNING MUSINGS

It doesn't matter how much Nino Niederreiter was asking for it, the two-handed slash Mike Cammalleri laid on the Islanders rookie in Saturday's pre-season finale in Quebec was flat out stupid. It was worth a five minute major and a game misconduct on the spot, and pending a league review, Cammalleri's uncharacteristic loss of composure could lead to a suspension. A team that's expected to need every point it earns to make the playoffs and is already without its best defenceman can ill afford to open the season without its second-leading goal scorer...I'm all for supporting cancer research, but the amount of pink merchandise on display around the NFL yesterday to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month was over the top and smacked more than a little bit of profiteering. Pink football cleats, gloves, wristbands, chin straps, caps, towels - even pink whistles for the referees - beg the question: at what point does a charity stop being a charity and become an industry?...Washington quarterback Donavan McNabb wasn't a world beater in his return to Philadelphia, but McNabb didn't have to beat the world - he only had to beat the Eagles, which wasn't too difficult in the absence of an injured Michael Vick...After Calgary's Henry Burris threw for 400 yards to beat the Alouettes the same week he appeared on the Internet wearing a bra, watch for an entire online spread this week featuring Darian Durant in thigh-high fish nets, Ricky Ray in a merry widow and Anthony Calvillo in four inch CFMPs.