Well, hello! I read a comment from one of our readers on your Bombers column today and he said he was happy to see you were still alive. Guess he missed you while you were on yet another vacation.
Funny, nobody left me a message wondering where I was — since I was also traipsing around Europe for a couple of weeks myself. Hmmm...
Haven’t had the chance to get off a good rant for a bit, so here we go..
Heard a great term yesterday from our colleague Melissa Martin — performance sanctimony. I’m going to try hard not to fall into it myself here, but the grandstanding and preaching from the hilltop by many, many members of the media over the last couple of days in regards to the Tiger Woods situation is well best described as just that — ‘performance sanctimony.’
Now don’t get me wrong — I’m not condoning what Tiger did. The only problem is, I’m not exactly sure what it is he did yet. And even if he did make a huge mistake getting behind the wheel while under the influence of his prescribed medication — or something else — I’m not sure I wanna be casting judgment on him or bemoaning how he has let us down again.
A number of media — Shannon Sharpe and Skip Bayliss were over the top; and even his former teammate at Stanford Notah Begay — were throwing Tiger under the bus Monday morning chastising him for drinking and then getting behind the wheel. The police report came out later in the day and it said no alcohol was involved. It all looked like a lot of guys trying to draw attention to themselves and their righteousness.
I heard and read a few references to Tiger being the all-time most tragic fall from grace by a sports figure. Holy hyperbole Batman! Was he driving a white Bronco with a gun to his own head?
Listen, I’ll admit it — I was a Tiger Woods fan. He changed the game of golf — and made a lot of people rich, including himself, doing it. He’s certainly had a fall from grace since his serial infidelity was exposed and all these on-again off-again comebacks have not looked good on him either. The Monday morning mugshot was a new low, but my reaction was more concern than condemnation.
As I witnessed the jackels pounce on the story Monday, I wasn’t sure what to feel — man, we can be a pious bunch at times is the best way I can express it. And I don’t mean just us media types by the way.
I'm not sure that reader missed me as much as he was genuinely wondering if I'd died. I share his concern most mornings.
This little exercise we do here with Say What?! is always more entertaining when you and I disagree but you're bang on with this Tiger thing. The sports journalism this week has been appalling — and that's saying something given how low that bar is most weeks. My advice to Tiger — next time, don't get busted on a Monday morning when all the columnists and talking heads are rolling into work after the weekend and looking for something juicy to write about at the start of a work week.
The normally staid Globe and Mail had a hyperventilating column by Cathal Kelly up on their site already by Monday afternoon, which made the paper and Kelly — who is usually excellent — looking very stupid when the police report came out Tuesday morning and it painted a much more nuanced portrait of what had happened than everyone had assumed based on nothing more than the disheveled mugshot. (Who isn't disheveled at 3 am?)
But leaving aside the bad journalism, I was just really uncomfortable this week with the way everyone immediately made all these wild assumptions about Tiger having addiction issues. I've got no shortage of personal experience in the area of addiction and the only one who really knows if you have a problem is you. The sanctimony and presumptuousness that went on this week reminded me of the old gag: "Fred must have a drinking problem — every time I'm in the bar, he's there too."
I even read a story this morning where one news outlet decided to give John Daly a voice — with a headline John Daly Gives Tiger Woods Advice after DUI Arrest. That’s meant to be a joke right?
Jim Furyk was the classiest saying, "I think the immediate reaction is just concern, and also wanting to get kind of the facts of this story, exactly what happened. I’ve spent a lot of time around Tiger throughout my career and also just recently a lot of time at the Ryder Cup. But really just more than anything else, just concern. Hopefully he's OK. I'm kind of wanting to find out more about the story and hope all is well."
Right on Jim. Thank you.
So, I have to confess something: After a long winter and Jets season — and with a few weeks off for vacation — I had not watched a single period of the NHL playoffs heading into Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. I know, I’m the sports editor and probably should be keeping an eye on things. But, hey after a long week of welding, do welders go home for the weekend and watch welding?
Anyways, what I mostly heard about the early rounds of the playoffs was the hockey had digressed to clutch and grab and that I wasn’t missing much. So Monday, I thought I would watch the first game between the Penguins and Predators — wow, after the opening period I wanted to turn the TV off and go for a walk instead.. and it was raining, I might mention. But since I do kinda get paid to watch sports, I persevered and watched the entire game. What a waste of time.
First off, video replay on offside plays is stupid. The announcers couldn’t even agree on whether or not that first goal by PK Subban should be called back. But of course it was — talk about feeding the preferential treatment for the Pens conspiracy theories. Secondly, what kind of hockey game sees the defending Cup champs and current Cup finalists go 35 minutes without a shot on goal?! What is this soccer?
I’m going to give it one more try for Game 2 tonight — only because the Jays and Reds are playing this afternoon — but I’m sorry I can’t commit to more than that until I actually see something worth watching.
Not to mention summer has finally arrived. There should be no hockey after the May long weekend.
I've taken a few lessons out of this year's Stanley Cup playoffs:
1) The performance of Pekka Rinne for the Predators and Craig Anderson for the Senators proves, once and for all, that great goaltending is the great equalizer in the NHL. An average team — and, let's face it, that's all the Preds and Sens are — can go far on the back of a good goaltender. The Preds and Sens each had one and the results this spring couldn't be plainer to see.
And the Winnipeg Jets? They've been golfing for six weeks. Are you paying attention, Chevy?
2) Systems are going to ruin the NHL. Boring hockey is winning hockey in today's NHL. Again, just ask the Sens and Preds — the most somnolent teams in hockey since Jacques Lemaire's New Jersey Devils were rocking us to sleep back in the 90's.
Remember how exciting the run-and-gun Team North America was at last year's World Cup of Hockey? Yeah, forget you ever saw that. It's a race to bottom now. The last team still awake next June please turn out the lights — and collect your Stanley Cup.
Chevy did an interview with TSN’s Pierre LeBrun this week. He didn’t say much as usual, but there was a discussion about the team’s goaltending I found potentially revealing. Chevy said a lot of good things about Connor Hellebuyck; he happened to have some stats on hand to support his young goalie — 15th in wins with 26 and 10th in shutouts with four. I made a note that it seemed to me Chevy is planning to go forward with Hellebuyck as the No. 1 goalie. At no point did he say, they need to improve in goal.
Perhaps they think that season-ending winning streak will carry over into next season. Sound familiar?
There is a faction within Jets management that continues to believe the only problem with the team's goalies has been the defence the Jets have been playing in front of them. Those same guys will look at what Ottawa and Nashville did in the playoffs this spring and say it's their defensive systems — not their goaltending — that got them as far as it did.
It's both of course. And even the second coming of the 1994-95 Devils wouldn't have dragged the Jets into the playoffs this season with all the soft goals — at the most inopportune times — that Hellebuyck gave up.
Chevy is cherry picking his Hellebuyck stats. He points to wins and shutouts, I point to a sub-par .907 save percentage and 2.89 goals against average. And, oh yeah, here's another stat you won't hear from Chevy: Hellebuyck was pulled eight times. Eight times. Just wow.
If Chevy is seriously planning on running Hellebuyck back out there without a net again next season, he's either incredibly bold or incredibly stupid.
I would wager the Jets do not go all-in with a trade for Marc-Andre Fleury or Jimmy Howard or some other established vet like that. I’m also betting the free agent goalie they sign is a guy they hope is solid playing 25 games, not the 55 Hellebuyck is going to play. Hey, Connor finished strong ya know and the Jets went 8-2 in their last 10 games. I had a Kool-Aid stand when I was a kid too.
You managed to get out to Bombers training camp this week. The Blue and Gold look to have a solid team heading into the new season. Man, does Mike O’Shea look a lot more comfortable these days — guess a good team and a three-year contract extension will do that for a guy.
It’s hard to find any holes on the Bombers — they’ve done a bang-up job stockpiling import and non-import talent over the last few years. Guess, the only question mark is what the ceiling is on QB Matt Nichols. Personally, I think the guy can be a star — i lobbied for him over Drew Willy right from the start. I like his pedigree and I really like his demeanor — tough as nails and a team guy all the way.
Lots to like about the Bombers this season, for sure. Kyle Walters has very quietly made a case the last two years as one of the best GM's in the CFL. And that's a high bar in a league with the likes of Wally Buono and John Hufnagel.
I see three question marks surrounding the Bombers heading into 2017 — which is down from about 300 just a year or two ago. But they're big question marks:
1) Can Nichols stay healthy? If he does, I think the Bombers are likely a playoff team. But Nichols has a history of catastrophic, season-ending injuries and the Bombers don't have much of an insurance policy if he goes down. O'Shea and Walters firmly believe the untested Dominique Davis is ready to step in if Nichols gets hurt, but those same two guys also believed Drew Willy was ready to be a starter in the CFL and we all know how that turned out. I think Dan LeFevour ends up being the No. 2 guy this year. At least he's got some pro experience, but I'd still be saying a prayer every night for Nichols to stay healthy if I was O'Shea and Walters this season.
2) What two teams do the Bombers beat to earn a playoff spot in the West? The Saskatchewan Roughriders are a huge wild-card this year, destined to either be the biggest surprise in the league or to fire Chris Jones by Labour Day. I don't see any middle ground. So that leaves B.C., who look great again; Calgary, who look great again: and Edmonton, who have Mike Reilly at quarterback. The Bombers are good, but so is the rest of the West. See the problem? On the plus side, there's a good chance four teams in the West qualify for the playoffs this season.
3) Do the fans return? I wrote at length earlier this week about the Bombers attendance declines over the past three seasons, so I won't belabour the point again here other than to point out this team's entire business model — in which every Manitoban has a financial stake — is in jeopardy if they can't stop the bleeding in the stands.
There was a time I really liked LeFevour and thought the Bombers should go and try to get him, so he might be able to hold down the fort if Nicholls is only out for a game or two. Davis is untested, but he does have some physical skills. The Bombers might not have the best backup QBs, but it’s a far cry from Mavre and Brohm.
I’m not sure I agree with ya on the strength of the rest of the division. I know, it’s Hufnagel and Buono but sometimes I think we just presume they will be good because of those guys. Although past-performance most often does predict future performance. correct? The Eskimos and Riders are a mess off the field — I can’t imagine either team doing much on it.
My question mark with the Bombers at this point is special teams — the coverage aspect. I think losing Garrett Waggoner and Tony Burnett will hurt. They did pick up Mike Miller, who led the league with 27 special teams tackles while with the Eskimos in 2016 so that should help.
I might be just looking for something here — I think O’Shea and Lapo are both hitting their stride as coaches and the Bombers are going to be a very good team. And yeah, worth watching.
You watching any baseball — notice who’s on top of the AL East? Still po'd at Brian Cashman? Perhaps you remember the last time we chatted in one of these, I was contemplating switching teams to cheer for — from the Jays to the Reds. Those two teams have been playing this week at Rogers Centre and well, no dice. The Jays bats are back, they just completed the sweep this afternoon and they’re creeping up in the standings — only one game below .500 as they get set to host the first-place Yankees for four games starting tomorrow.
Your Bronx Bombers have been impressive so far — Aaron Judge has a shot at AL MVP now that Mike Trout is out for a couple of months. And Matt Holliday is such a pro — always has been. Nice signing by your boy BC.
Come on — it’s the Jays and the Yankees; you always have a good shot at me heading into a series like that!
I've been a Yankees fan my entire life but I really find this bunch, with the lone exception of Judge, to be profoundly unlikeable. And I'm not the only one — did you see the New York Times piece this week on how Yankees attendance is in the toilet?
Get this for a stat: Yankees ticket and suite revenue is down $166 million since the end of 2009. You could ice a couple sweet NHL teams with just what the Yankees have lost in revenue because everybody, including even New Yorkers, including even this season, is tired of Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman.
Having said all that, the Yanks are the loveable Bad News Bears compared to the loathesome Blue Jays. I see that Postmedia editor got convicted this week for throwing that beer can on the field during last year's playoffs at Rogers Centre. I'm still waiting for the perp walk for the guy who threw the beer at the baby two playoffs ago.
Having said all that, I think you gave up too soon on your Jays this year. Their hitting was bound to come around, just as the Yankees lousy starting pitching is bound to ultimately do them in. Ain't gonna matter either way — the Red Sox are going to win the division and the AL pennant anyway.
You may be right. Just checked the forecast for tonight — too nice to watch hockey.
Good to have ya back. Talk soon.
Thanks, it's good to be back.
I'm off to the Downs. A night spent around horses is a night well spent.