Thinking about all sorts of shorts about sports

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Opinion

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/08/2017 (1827 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Some days, a column idea grabs you by the throat.

And then other days, a dozen column ideas just tickle your throat.

This is the second kind of day:

Canada comes home from London empty handed

What do Canada, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe, Cabo Verde and Equatorial Guinea all have in common?

They all failed to win a single medal at this month’s World Track and Field Championships in London.

It was Canada’s worst result at the track and field worlds in 16 years and tells you everything you need to know about how it went for Canada in London that our team’s head coach, Glenroy Gilbert, afterward lit up our men’s relay team for being, get this, “out of shape.”

Just wow.

For the record, 38 countries won at least one medal in London, including such international sporting powerhouses as Kazakhstan (a bronze), Burundi (a silver) and Lithuania (a gold).

Heck, even “Authorized Neutral Athlete” (a.k.a. Russia, whose athletes competed in London but not for their country because of a drug ban) went home with hardware (one gold, five silver).

Protests and the NFL

Whatever slim hope the NFL had of stuffing the anthem-protests genie back in the bottle this season vanished over the weekend in Charlottesville.

One dead, 19 wounded and the sight of white supremacists openly marching through the streets of Virginia — they don’t even bother with hoods in Donald Trump’s America — had Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch sitting out the anthem Saturday night.

Expect more black players — a lot more — to be doing the same this coming week.

With Colin Kaepernick still out of work and NFL training camps well underway, the NFL was cautiously optimistic the sideline protests Kaepernick instigated last year would be a thing of the past.

But this thing was always bigger than just Kaepernick and the idea that the league’s owners could blackball one player and the problem of race relations in America would simply go away was always a fool’s errand.

Canada’s Derek Drouin competes in the men’s high jump final, during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016. Canadian high jumper Derek Drouin has withdrawn from the world track and field championships with an Achilles tendon injury.Drouin is the reigning world and Olympic high jump champion. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Lee Jin-man

Sorry, Sask.

My mistake: In previous editions of this column, I incorrectly stated the Saskatchewan Roughriders would be the worst team in the CFL during the 2017 season.; in fact, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are the worst team not only this season, but in any season in recent memory.

I regret the error — and, also, Saskatchewan.

Tabbie talk

Count on Milt Stegall to tell it like it is.

Asked on TSN over the weekend what’s wrong with the 0-7 Tabbies this season, the hall of fame former Blue Bombers slotback was blunt: “They just don’t have enough talent.”

Riding to the playoffs?

If you predicted the Riders would dismantle a very good B.C. Lions team on Sunday, you saw something coming that I didn’t.

The Riders have steadily improved week after week, but their stunning shellacking of the Lions seems to suggest a team that was everyone’s consensus to finish dead last in the West might challenge for a playoff spot yet.

And that sets up a critical home-and-home series with the Blue Bombers coming up soon in the Labour Day Classic and the Banjo Bowl.

Those games looked like freebies for the Bombers just a few weeks ago. Not anymore.

Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive back Ed Gainey outleaps teammate Duron Carter to record his fourth interception during second half CFL action against the B.C. Lions, in Regina on Sunday, August 13, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Taylor

Electronic strike zone

Chicago Cubs veteran Ben Zobrist got rung up on a bogus strike three call to end the game in Arizona over the weekend and Zobrist used the opportunity to — once again — call for Major League Baseball to institute an electronic strike zone.

“If we want to change something like that, we’re going to have an electronic strike zone because human beings are going to make mistakes,” Zobrist said.

“That’s something the league is going to have to look at, when you start ending games and games turn on one pitch like that. It’s an unfortunate situation, and now that we have the technology, we should probably get it right.”

No kidding.

Now, I’ve got lots of problems with the way video review is taking over professional sport and ruining the viewing experience for fans, but letting e-technology handle balls and strikes would make the game infinitely better, not worse.

It’s absurd that in the age of the 100-mph fastball and all kinds of filthy late movement that we still expect a fat guy squatting behind a catcher who is squatting behind the dish to determine if a pitch painted the corner.

At best, that’s an educated guess and there’s no reason to be guessing anymore.

Having said all that, if you get rung up looking, that’s your fault not the umpire’s.

They teach you in Little League: if the pitch was close enough to be called a strike — even erroneously — you should be swinging.

Contract talks

Lots of email and reaction over the weekend to my column wondering why there still hasn’t been an announcement of a contract extension for Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice.

Man, there’s lots of theories out there. For their own good — and Maurice’s — the Jets are going to need to provide an answer, either in words or deed, at some point.

It’s still mid-August, but the back-to-school sales are on and Winnipeggers’ thoughts are already turning to wild hockey conspiracy theories.

Chicago Cubs’ Ben Zobrist (18) talks with home plate umpire Mark Wegner after being called out on strikes to end the baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Phoenix. The Diamondbacks defeated the Cubs 6-2. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

Youngsters against the old boys club

Did you catch Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler waiting on the 18th green at Quail Hollow Sunday afternoon to congratulate Justin Thomas on his first victory in a major at the PGA Championship?

Maybe it happened, but I cannot recall ever seeing Arnold Palmer waiting around in street clothes to high five Jack Nicklaus after a big win or — and this definitely never happened — Phil Mickelson giving Tiger Woods a congratulatory pat on the butt like Spieth gave Thomas on Sunday.

There’s no more restrictive “old boys club” than golf — some of those country clubs in the U.S. are still barely integrated — and trying to break into that world as a youngster cannot be easy.

I got the feeling on Sunday the kids on tour have rallied around each other in a sort of “us against the world” mentality.

It’s a good look — and long overdue in an insufferably stuffy sport.

Here’s hoping the kids replace the annual champions dinner at Augusta National with a spirited round of beer pong.

Thomas has increadible putt. Twitter cries ‘cheater’

Speaking of insufferably stuffy, how about all the repressed golf fans who took to Twitter Sunday to complain Justin Thomas cheated on the 10th hole when he paused to see if his putt, which had come to rest perilously hanging over the lip of the cup, might fall.

It did eventually fall — 12 seconds after it stopped rolling. But instead of enjoying a remarkable moment, golf’s Twitter police accused Thomas of cheating and demanded he be penalized.

Get a life.

The rule in question reads: “When any part of the ball overhangs the lip of the hole, the player is allowed enough time to reach the hole without unreasonable delay and an additional 10 seconds to determine whether the ball is at rest.”

What Thomas did was fine, in other words.

But the better question is: what kind of guy — and I guarantee it was guys — sits around in front of his TV on Sunday just waiting to tell the teacher that someone broke the rules?

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @PaulWiecek

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