Colossal Retardation

September 3, 2008

http://images.tsn.ca/images/stories/20080612/casey-t_79587.jpgby Jon Dwyer… Hamilton Ti-Cats head coach Charlie Taaffe’s decision to allow Jeff Piercy determine the fate of Monday nights Labour Day classic, leaving Jesse Lumsden idle on the other side of the offensive-line, was nothing short of colossal retardation. In a city where the combined IQ of the fan base is most likely a negative number I suppose I shouldn’t be terribly shocked, but as a McMaster University alumni its painful to see my surrogate team leave such a talented player (a former MAC Marauders running back) helpless. The guy is an immovable force, plain and simple…at 3rd down & 8 Taaffe might of well have asked Mike Weir to run the ball.

Why do coaches occasionally defy logic? With a coaching career that spans nearly four decades, Taaffe is the Shake-&-Bake of seasoned coaches. Yet, his decision to ignore the talents of a franchise player like Lumsden, who trained his entire career for moments such as these, is emblematic of his fall from grace in the NCAAF and perhaps the reason why he landed in the CFL. After coaching South Carolina’s military college “The Citadel” to an 11-2 record, the best in the schools history, Taaffe was suspended for the entirety of the 1996 season after being charged with drunk driving for the second time. The following year he ended up with the Montreal Allouettes where he temporarily proved himself regaining a position in the NCAAF until midway through the 2006 season when Taaffe was momentarily rejoiced by dimwitted Hamilton fans as the one to take them to the promise land…most likely because they made the punch and he likes to drink it.

I guess his drunken ass was sent to Montreal because New Brunswick doesn’t have a team…zinggg!

When franchise players aren’t utilized the psychological impact cannot only strain the relationship with the coach, but other members on the roster as well. The tricky thing with people who are very good at something is the level of expectation i.e. baggage, that accompanies them; when expectations are let down in a situation where one has repeatedly performed, they tend to rebel against those who’ve held them back. Not knowing Lumsden all that well though acquaintances with a lot of guys who played with him at MAC, he’s the kind of guy who would never compromise the team or his own integrity by having a blow up with the coach. A true sportsmen like his father before him (former CFL fullback and TSN analyst Neil Lumsden), Jesse is a Canadian athlete in that his conduct is inline with that of an NHL player, rather then the pageantry of so many pro-football players.

But patience is a virtue that wears thin…and its not like he has a huge salary to comfort him from his team’s mediocrity like Mats Sundin.

Regardless of the outcome in this specific situation Taaffe would have been scrutinized even if Jeff Piercy levitated across the field, slapped a cheerleaders ass and ran the ball in for the game-winning touchdown. Hamilton is virtually a talent-less team and after three shitty seasons you’d think the availability of a healthy, era defining running back would be a no brainer; a simple 43-yard field goal or give it to the team MVP…

I guess not.

Then why did Taaffe go against the grain and disregard the obvious choice(s)?

There is an objective nature all teams seek when coaches are hired, its obvious they not brought in for their reputation of being fickle individuals who cant make hard decisions; sport thrives on the ingenuity of the leader. However, there has to be a leader both on and off the field. Ultimately, all Taaffe’s decision did was eliminate the presence of leaders. I guarantee every player on that field thought either one of two things; Nick Setta should be kicking a field goal right now to put us into overtime, or, Jesse Lumsden needs that ball to get us a first down. When the play was called and everyone realized that none of the aforementioned was going to happen…they were a group of men left to their own devices…

And that’s a big problem in professional sports.

Anyways, who gives a shit…it’s the Ti-Cats.

ARRRRRRRRRR-GOOOOOOOOOOOOOSS

GO BOATMEN!

The Cito Regime and the Wilson Puppetry

August 26, 2008

by Jon Dwyer… Baseball served the city of Toronto well this past weekend. Gone were the ominous incantations summoning the spirit of the 92’ and 93’ Jays, present was Cito and the Samuel L. Jackson of Baseball, Vernon Wells; who I assume also has a wallet that reads “Bad Motherfucker” –see Pulp Fiction.

With a surprising 14-3 vic against the Yankees Thursday evening and an 11-0 ass thrashing that, pending you’d not seen the jerseys and notable players, might have seemed like the Jays were matched against the Canadian Special Olympic team, we were sick! Though we didn’t post a “W” Friday night and while Sunday’s match ended in the 11th inning when Jed Lowrie destroyed Brandon League’s beleaguered fastball, statistically 50% of the time we were pennant contenders and the other 50% we were just plain contenders…either way we were good.

Not wanting to inundate you with statistics normally reserved by journalists to remind us that were normally not this good, I’d rather dwell on what this means for the Jays and the psychology of the city. The transition witnessed in the bullpen since the Jays fired John Gibbons June 21 is nothing short of a revolution. When revolutions occur within a state, certain indicators of change are measured by the degree in which the new leader changes existing structures. For example, if we lived in South America, say Venezuela in the late 1980/early 90’s, and Cito was Hugo Chaves (which he could be, Cito loves the Cubans), Populism would be the new “thing” for the Jays. Everyone would hit homers (or at least use a corked bat), occasionally be the DH, wealthier players would subsidize rookie salaries and those of outgoing players (i.e. Gregg Zaun) outfielders would share equal praise with infielders and Cito Gaston would be the scourge of the MLB.

Thankfully, the “Cito Revolution” has played out in the Toronto’s favour, with the old way of doing things succumbing to Gaston’s winning strategy. John Gibbons’ combative nature, inability to execute strategy and ultimate lack of respect from a majority of the roster is nowhere to be seen. Like a hybrid of Mohandas Gandhi and Hugo Chaves, Cito is stern yet patient, benevolent yet shrewd, all at once a shying media figure and yet a masterful dictator of they new direction being praised by the media. Much the same way Chaves overthrew Carlos Perez and Gandhi fought the oppression of the British Raj, Cito is fighting an uphill battle against a losing record and prospering NL East rivals. The structure created by Gibbons was more easily removable then initially thought and this past weekend serves as an indication that the Cito regime can and will prosper, however it may be too late to salvage this season.
So, what does that say for a city defined not by baseball, but another sport in dire need of a rebirth?

A lot really.

The incompetencies of both Paul Maurice and John Gibbons can be paralleled all day long, most notably the inability of either coach to command the respect of their former teams, elders and rookies alike. Obviously the removal of Gibbons has spurred the dormant talent of the Jays to start hitting the ball again, however I’m afraid the case will not be the same for the Leafs. “Roster,” originally a Dutch military term denoting the placement of troops, just doesn’t seem to fit with the Blue and White. Our leaders are false prophets in absence of real men; speaking of absence don’t get me started on our captain! Star players in the past have all gone the way of the 8-track and singing fat women.

For that very reason I wasn’t all that excited when “ole-wrinkly-balls” Cliff Fletcher, a man occasionally mistaken for Methuselah and a few other characters from the book of Genesis, named Ron Wilson as the new head coach. Assistant-coach in last years all-star game and proprietor of the most winning-est. record in San Jose Sharks franchise history, Wilson was drafted by the Leafs in 1975 and played a less-than mediocre 3 seasons with the Buds before heading to Europe. It is a step in the right direction for the Leafs to appoint a veteran player and coach who clearly has first–hand experience with a diverse group of players, but that wont mean shit this season.

In a sense Cito has it easy, his roster is stacked with some pretty good players, Wilson on the other hand will not only struggle with a short list of goodies and a long list of nobodies, he’ll soon come to find out that drafting and trading for quality players is not something the Leafs do well. Perhaps the first time n a few decades, the Leafs organization have noted the upcoming season as the beginning of a new era, in which the team may not post a lot of wins, but will set themselves up as contenders in the future.

Let me ask ya this, do you believe them? What else were they gonna say?

-“Hey, we were fucking garbage last year and were probably gonna be this year”

I thought not…cause’ that would have been honest for the Leafs.

GO JAYS!!!

Man, I’m such a Patriot!

August 11, 2008

by Jon Dwyer…

Baseball will bid a not-so-fond farewell to the Olympics once the 08/08/08 Olympics close out later this summer. I think the sheer fact the I.O.C. waited to launch the games on a date that has little to no positive historical relevance is reflective of the brainiacs running the show (on August 8, 1922 fascism had its first real breakthrough in Italy, the Ku Klux Clan held its first national march in Washington DC and the Russians admitted they possessed a Hydrogen bomb in 53’…way to remind us of the happy moments Olympic committee!)

Perhaps it’s fitting that the Olympics be phased-out the year the summer games are played in China. In baseballs inaugural season as an official Olympic sport, Cuba made the Chinese look like the 38’ Phillies (they went 45/105), winning the gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona games. The following three tournament showings for Olympic baseball weren’t much better. Although the US won in 2000, Cuba again dominated in 1996 and 2004 (baseball is clearly rife with communists, Joseph McCarthy is rolling in his grave).

While Canada had a slow start, which to be honest was expected, last time around the boys in red and white hit the field with an impressive showing, placing just out of medal contention thanks to the very capable Japanese team. Australia took the back seat to this year’s incumbent, Cuba.

(Australia has a baseball team?)

So, what can we expect from Canada in this, the last year planet Earth will witness Olympic baseball? (Thankfully, Mars and Jupiter will still feature the boys of summer)
I suppose the best way to assess our capability is to assess our assets…

2008 BASEBALL CANADA OLYMPIC TEAM ROSTER

35 Chris Begg Uxbridge ON 12-Sep-79 28 R R 6′4″ 195 RHP San Francisco Giants (AAA)
22 Tim Burton Ottawa ON 30-Jul-83 24 L R 6′3″ 195 RHP Cleveland Indians (AA)
11 Stubby Clapp Windsor ON 24-Feb-73 35 L R 5′8″ 175 2B Former Cardinals (MLB)
37 Rheal Cormier Moncton NB 23-Apr-67 41 L L 5′10″ 197 LHP Former Phillies (MLB)
28 David Corrente Chatham ON 13-Oct-83 24 R R 6′2″ 210 C Toronto Blue Jays (A)
23 David Davidson St. Catherines ON 23-Apr-84 24 L L 6′1″ 200 LHP Pittsburgh Pirates (AA)
17 Emerson Frostad Calgary AB 13-Jan-83 25 L R 6′1″ 220 1B / C Texas Rangers (AA)
15 Emmanuel Garcia Montreal QC 4-Mar-86 22 L R 6′2″ 185 SS New York Mets (AA)
31 Steve Green Greenfield Park QC 26-Jan-78 30 R R 6′2″ 195 RHP Philadelphia Phillies (AAA)
25 Mike Johnson Edmonton AB 03-Oct-75 32 L R 6′2″ 200 RHP Former Expos (MLB)
14 Brett Lawrie Langley BC 18-Jan-90 18 R R 6′0″ 200 C/INF/OF Milwaukee Brewers (A)
27 Jonathan Lockwood Toronto ON 12-Dec-81 26 R R 6′2″ 195 RHP Former Mariners (A)
32 Brooks McNiven Vancouver BC 19-Jun-81 27 R R 6′5″ 190 RHP San Francisco Giants (AA)
19 Ryan Radmanovich Calgary AB 9-Aug-71 36 L R 6′2″ 200 OF Former Mariners (MLB)
34 Chris Reitsma Calgary AB 31-Dec-77 30 R R 6′5″ 240 RHP Former Braves (MLB)
38 Scott Richmond Langley BC 30-Aug-79 28 R R 6′5″ 220 RHP Toronto Blue Jays (AAA)
30 Chris Robinson Dorchester ON 12-May-84 24 R R 6′0″ 215 C Chicago Cubs (AA)
4 Matt Rogelstad New Westminster BC 13-Sep-82 25 L R 6′3″ 190 INF Washington Nationals (AA)
20 Mike Saunders Victoria BC 19-Nov-86 21 L R 6′4″ 215 OF Seattle Mariners (AAA)
7 Adam Stern London ON 12-Feb-80 28 L R 5′11″ 185 OF Former Red Sox (MLB)
42 Robert Swindle Vancouver BC 7-Jul-83 25 L L 6′3″ 200 LHP Philadelphia Phillies (AAA)
40 Scott Thorman Cambridge ON 6-Jan-82 26 L R 6′3″ 235 1B Atlanta Braves (AAA)
29 Jimmy VanOstrand Richmond BC 7-Aug-84 23 R R 6′4″ 225 1B / OF Houston Astros (A)
33 Nick Weglarz Stevensville ON 16-Dec-87 20 L L 6′3″ 245 OF Cleveland Indians (A)

The six guys who have proper MLB experience are “no-names,” and that’s paying them the best of compliments. No Jason Bay, Eric Bedard, Justin Morneau and more realistically, no Scott Richmond. The Jays official website noted Richmond’s “rocky start today” in the Jays 4-0 loss Sunday afternoon to left-hander Cliff Lee and the Cleveland Indians, who sit last place in the AL Central with a crumbling roster. Perhaps the Jays should have taken a breather on putting Richmond in as a starter…it wouldn’t have cost a dime to let the 29 year old first-time Major League pitcher gain a little more big-game confidence at the Olympics.

Dude would have been a bit more effective against the slightly less-talented Olympic batsmen then he has in the MLB with the offence-challenged Blue Jays.

I can wax intellectual about Canadian baseball prospects this summer (or the lack thereof), but perhaps its just better to give the lads the benefit of the doubt. We play our first game August 13 against China. The following day we face Cuba in what will most likely be the most difficult game of the tournament, then we’re on to South Korea, the U.S., Japan, the Netherlands and finally Chinese Taipei.

The top four teams enter the “knockout stage” whereby the first place team plays the fourth and so on, determining the gold and bronze game matches according to win/loss. Since the Aussies are a no-show this year I think we stand a decent chance of posting a few “W’s” and a good crack at a medal.

Canada needs all the help they can get, so please, refer all comments to the fact I cited ineligible MLB players like Morneau and Bedard for the Canadian roster, saving your well thought out cynicism for my ignorance rather then the national team.

Man, I’m such a Patriot!

GO CANADA

Can Norman fight the stormin’ at Royal Birkdale?

July 20, 2008

by Jon Dwyer…

Being an Irishman I’m not very fond of the whole British Open thing. I think there should be a Scottish Open and beyond that Scottish autonomy from the oppressive talons of the English Monarch (fuckers). I also think a Welsh Open would be pretty sweet. John Daly (won the British Open in 1995, awesome) would host the inaugural event…be wasted, sleep with a few prostitutes (or, as the English call them “women of ill repute”) and do an 8-ball or two to his face (all on the first tee).

Now that’s what I call an Open!

I think its fitting that this year a member of another colony is leading the race as we enter the final round of the 137th British Open. At 53 Greg Norman is the oldest poll leader in Open history and this is the first time he’s led after 54 holes going into the final round (At the Open).

The problem is, “The Shark” couldn’t close the deal if they let him play best ball! Okay, that’s not all true; he won The Open in 1986 and 93’ but the man has the consistency of a runny egg. Dude fucked up the Masters, the US Open and the PGA championship more times then I can count (my struggles with numeracy are just plain sad). Word around the camp fire is, after suffering a devastating loss in the 1996 Masters to none other then Nick Faldo, in which he blew a six stroke lead in the final round, Norman was never the same.

Born in Queensland, Australia, the home of red-neck racists and unhygienic women (I lived there last year), Norman kicked a lot of ass in his early career, but the advent of metal drivers lessened his viability as a top-notch player as he no longer dominates the long-drive category. After the collapse of his game in the 90’s Norman sought out swing guru Butch Harmon. Butch (great name) helped The Shark slow things down and hone his natural ability to hit long, straight drives and then follow it up with a competitive short game. However, it hasn’t yielded any positive results…until now.

Norman is a tremendous businessman and a true ladies man, though it remains to be seen if Norman can knock his fucking head out if his ass and pull it through today. (As a side note, his daughter is a serious “mans lady”…having dated golfer Sergio Garcia amongst a list of other notables)

Ladies and Gentlemen, its Sunday, I’m hung over as fuck and the only thing to do is drink myself out of it while cheering for The Shark…win or lose, I’ll still love him.
Okay, not really. If he loses I’m probably gonna throw a beer at the TV and piss on the “Greg Norman Is God” effigy I built in the closet.

And hey, if Norman loses maybe my boy Padraig Harrington (the incumbent) can pull off an upset and mount a surge thereby creating what could possibly be the happiest day of my life…come on Paddy!

Be thirsty my friends, be thirsty!

The Incredible History of the Most Powerful Team in Hockey: Part 1

July 13, 2008

by Jon Dwyer…

http://cdn.nhl.com/mapleleafs/images/upload/2007/07/barilko_300.jpg

Not since Red Kelly and Frank Mahovlich won their fourth Stanley Cup rings have the Toronto Maple Leafs posted a decent postseason record capable of capturing another Stanley Cup victory. The date “1967” is seared into the subconscious of every Leafs fan; that year Red Kelly retired, Dave Keon won the Conn Smythe trophy and the Leafs stood for one last time as the victors in a hard fought battle against the Montreal Canadiens. The following year Toronto lost to the Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs, Frank Mahovlich was traded to Detroit and perhaps most disappointing of all coach Punch Imlach was fired by owner Stafford Smythe, causing defenseman Tim Horton to exclaim “if the team doesn’t want Imlach, I guess it doesn’t want me”. The loss of Horton and Imlach signifies the end of the last era in which so many NHL all-stars donned the blue and white simultaneously.
Say what you will about Sittler, Salming, Clark, Gilmour and Sundin but the fact remains that from 1962-1967 ‘the Buds’ brought home four cup victories as the result of an all-star lineup featuring Hall of Famers Andy Bathgate, Johnny Bower, Tim Horton, Red Kelly, Dave Keon and Frank Mahovlich.

The fanaticism with which Toronto’s record is regaled by fans who were actually around for the last successful Stanley Cup bid seems infinitely overshadowed by the mythology of “the Leafs Curse” and the reality that since the death of Stafford Smythe in 1971 (son of World War One veteran and father of the Maple Leafs and builder of Maple Leafs Gardens, Conn Smythe) the Leafs have sullied every opportunity at redemption. The decades following Smythe’s passing saw the deconstruction of the Leafs dynasty at the hands of Harold Ballard and the beginning of the Leafs descension into a dark age that would amaze even Petrarch.

A changing of the guard occurred when Supermarket mega-lord Steve Stavro manned the helm after Ballard’s death in 1989. Stavro successfully picked up former Calgary Flames GM Cliff Fletcher (Current interim GM) who successfully turned the team around. Fletcher’s acquisitions undoubtedly led to Leafs success in the 1992-93 season during which Toronto nearly defeated Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angles Kings to once again meet the Montreal Canadiens in the finals; not wanting to dwell on further sadness I’ll concede that victory to the Kings and later the Canadiens (which coincidentally was the last year Montreal won the Cup and seemingly the beginning of their own era of descension and disappointment). In 2003 Stavro sold a majority of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) shares to the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, a move which only serves to reinforce the distinction with which Toronto has emerged as the big-business, all non-sense team that maintains the highest profit margins the league round with an incessantly mediocre roster.

The absence of what is believed to be the most effective winning NHL pedagogy can be traced neatly to the mystery of Bill Barilko’s death and more importantly the unscrupulous tactics of Harold Ballard and Stafford Smythe in the 1960’s and early 70’s.

William “Bashin’ Bill” Barilko played 5 seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs and while he wasn’t known as a goal scorer, registering a meager 26 goals career total (5 of which were in the playoffs), his number 21 jersey will forever maintain its infamy for two very important reasons; Barilko’s game winning overtime goal to clinch the Stanley Cup in 1951 against the Montreal Canadiens and his mysterious disappearance four months later in August of that year.

A point of interest, the 1951 Stanley Cup finals was the only series in history whereby every game was decided in overtime play (Toronto won in 5 games).

As his name aptly points out, “Bashin’ Bill” was known for his physical presence on the ice. -“He always managed to get a piece of you as he went by and he left many a bump on plenty of players.” - Former Canadiens great Maurice “Rocket” Richard is one of many players who spoke of Barilko’s uncanny ability to dominate the game along the boards and on open ice; even the Rocket couldn’t escape him.

Not long after winning the Cup Bill and a friend, Henry Hudson (Barilko’s dentist), embarked on fishing trip to Seal River, Quebec in Hudson’s float plane. After 2 days of fishing the couple set off for home with 120 pounds of catch in their pontoons, stopping to refuel along the Quebec/Ontario border, they again lifted the single engine plane to the skies despite ominous warnings that a brewing storm was best avoided. That was the last time either of the two men were seen alive.

Mark this date (August 26, 1951) as the beginning of “The Leafs Curse”.

It wasn’t until June 2, 1962 that Barilko and Hudson were found in the forests just outside Cochrane, Ontario. During his 11 year absence every major Canadian paper featured the story of his disappearance, search parties scoured over 500, 000 square kilometers of dense northern Ontario forest, stories began to surface that Barilko, the son of Russian descended parents, had defected to the USSR to join the ranks of the Soviet hockey squad.
Above all else, during his absence the Leafs just couldn’t seem to win.

Toronto had been the most successful NHL franchise during the 1940’s, winning 4 cups in 5 years; the loss of Barilko seemed to take the wind out of their sails, failing to win another Cup until “the year he was discovered”, to quote the Tragically Hip’s song “Fifty Mission Cap”

FYI…The “fifty mission cap” was an actual hat given to fighter pilots who successfully flew 50 bomber missions in World War 2. Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie came across a Bill Barilko hockey card in the early 1990’s and the song, about Barilko’s death and the impending Leafs curse, was born (attached is a picture of the card). I suppose Downie used the term ironically as Barilko’s plane went down. He may also have researched the history of “the cap”, as he says in the song “I worked it in to look like that”, which could be a reference to the fact that when the hats given out to successful pilots they were often “worked in” so that each pilot could adapt an individual look for his hat…or maybe he was just gloating about working in the 50 mission quote…he’s weird like that.

In May of 1962 Punch Imlach led a new crew of blue and white warriors to a Cup victory against the Chicago Blackhawks declaring the end of the “Leafs Jinx”, just a few months before the discovery of Bill Barilko’s body.

Part 2 is coming this Friday… don’t miss it!!

Vimy

July 4, 2008

by Jon Dwyer…

We should be proud to be leafs fans because were all proud of Conn Smythe…

Time has been the fateful enemy of the Toronto Maple Leafs; its progression has served to display our poor decisions. But, we have to find solace in our roots! Do yourselves a favour and seek out Pierre Berton’s “Vimy”

As a leafs fan, here’s why…

(Discussing how gangster the Canadian military was (still is)…revolutionary for staging trench wars against the Germans (WW1) when it was vogue to march steadfast with your bayonet-attached-single

-shooter facing machinegun fire (the British were clearly behind that one)

Vimy pg 123-24
- “The value of the raids as a training ground for other branches of the service was becoming obvious. That same February morning, the Canadian Black Watch of Montreal decided to take a signaler and an artillery observer with them on an attack against the German trenches. The signaler, who volunteered, was a tough little private from Brantford named Harry Coutts. The artillery observer was lieutenant Conn Smythe who would one day build the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto and become one of the best-known figures in Canadian hockey.

The Germans and the Black Watch faced each other from the rims of the craters that lay in front of their forward trenches. For several days the Montrealers had pounded the enemy with that all purpose piece of trench artillery, the Stokes mortar, which could be fired from behind the security of the parapet, its range corrected by the use of a simple periscope. At 9”13 AM., nineteen rifle grenadiers stationed in the forward craters opened up with a barrage of Mills bombs. Two minutes later, the artillery barrage began, and fifty members of the battalion headed across No Mans Land with Coutts and Smyth right behind them. Coutts carried a phone, stringing wire as he went, so that Smyth could report the effect of the fire close at hand rather than from an observer post father back.

The first Salvo looked too high. Smythe called back on the phone: “Drop two hundred.” Immediately he saw white puffs of smoke among the attacking Black Watch. “My God,” he thought, “I’m killing my own men.”

Smythe had no wish to return to his own lines if that were true and so, drawing his revolver, he ran down among the raiders, peppering away at the Germans up ahead – a wiry bantam cock of a man, determined to expiate his error and sell his own life dearly.

At that point he discovered to his relief that the puffs of white were caused not by his telephoned correction at all but by German stick bombs busting around him. He jumped into the nearest enemy trench, banged away, hit two of the enemy, ducked around the traverse, and ran straight into the traverse, and ran straight into a huge German standing behind the parapet, his rifle aimed at the advancing Canadians. Smythe jammed his pistol into the German’s belly, fired, and had the satisfaction of seeing the man slide to the ground, cursing him. Now, with Lieutenant Gillingwater, the leader of the Canadians, wounded and out of action, Smythe lead a fighting withdrawal back to the Canadian trenches. He didn’t use his revolver again until he reached the relative safety of his own lines. Then, in an act of defiance, he turned about, leveled his revolver at the enemy trenches, and squeezed the trigger. To his horror it gave only a click. A chill rippled down his backbone as he realiz
ed that he hadn’t fired a shot since he’d his the big German in the enemy trench. If he had got off just one more bullet in the wild dash before that fateful meeting, that click would have meant his own death and he, not the German, would have slid into the mud uttering one final curse.

From raids like this one the gunners gained practical experience in forward observation and telephone communication. Conn Smythe earned a Military Cross. And, because of a single bullet, Toronto eventually gained a new National Hockey League hockey team and an arena to go with it.” -

Gents, hope may not lie on the horizon, but we come from bravery and balls; nuff said!

Lets keep the passion of the Blue And White for Mr. Smythe…regardless of our hatred for the current management (and their incredibly lackluster performance)

tosports.ca soldier at arms,
Jon Dwyer

Get this man Beer, cause’ he’s about to sing!

June 30, 2008

by Jon Dwyer…

I’ve always envied the crowd frenzy stirring in the stands at football (soccer) games. The only North American sport to rival the excitement at European and South American pitches is of a likened namesake…Football. If you go to a Philadelphia Eagles game it’s a distinct possibility that you may be punched in the face, robbed and/or generally humiliated unless you’re an Eagles fan, the same thing would happen if you went Anfield to watch your team play Liverpool.

What creates this kind of intimidation factor and general comradery amongst the likes of American Football and Soccer (Football) fans?

It’s the fucking songs!!!

Boys, we need songs!

Okay, I can hear the cries already,

-“There are no songs in NFL stadiums, and we’re quite happy about that”-

That’s true, but there is public drinking and tailgate BBQ’s! Drinking in public is outlawed in the City of Toronto (or so the drunk-tank attendant keeps telling me), so we need to take another approach. There is no way in the name of God (Jesus, Ala, you name him) that the City of Toronto, with its protestant ethic ingrained so deeply in public policies, that public drinking will ever become a legal reality. So, we’ll just have to carry on buying $11 beers in the Rogers Centre at Argos games and during the 6 Bills games were all nearly wetting ourselves in anticipation of.

But it’s not all lost on us; lets get some songs going boys!

Manchester United, my favourite Premiership squad, are known for their creative chants and taunts that rally not only the crowd, but the gents on the pitch as well (worked like a charm this year as the Red Devils took not only the Premiership title but the Champions League as well). Celtic and Liverpool supporters will “Never Walk Alone” while the Jordies in Newcastle possess a magical ability to express their devotion “to da lads” with a dialect yet to be deciphered by the most cunning linguist.

Sitting at my desk struggling with the idea of writing an Argos fight song, I hadn’t a bloody clue what to write. My creative poetic ability (at the moment) spans somewhere between Notorious BIG lyrics and something Bob Dylan said this morning; iPods will eventually rule us all. So, citing a lack of intelligence on my behalf I respectfully submit to the fans out there…

HIT US UP!!!

Write in a short fight song below that you think will rally Argos fans.

The following is a copy of the existing Argos fight song, honestly its garbage, can you do a better job?

Go Toronto Argos go go go
Pull together fight the foe foe foe
Scoring touchdowns for the blue on blue
The Argos will win for you

Full of Fight and Courage you cant stop
They’ll pile up points until they reach the top
Pull together till’ the grey cups won
Go Agros, Go Go Go

Come on people…

Yea thats our new boy Luck Schenn throwing bows on that dude!

June 20, 2008

Jon Dwyer…

The Blue Jackets were in the hunt for the next phenom to mount the rear after defenceman Adam Foote went over board. Luke Schenn was to be the man, and who swept in to steal Scott Howson’s prom date with incredible timing…the Toronto Maple Leafs; and I’m fucking pumped.

The man was sick in the world juniors and sitting with my two buddies Kyle and John on my back porch, we predict he will bring that same tenacity to the ACC. Described as a “shut-down defenceman whose offense is underrated” – (MacInnis), this 18 year old will leave his Jersey in the Kelowna dressing room and pull on the Blue And White.

And for the love of fuck do we need him!

Finally ladies and Gentlemen…the Leafs are on the prowl. Mind you, old man winter /not-so interim GM Cliff Fletcher still looked 3 farts away from your grandfathers chesterfield and Richard Peddie is not so far from retarded…but it’s a start.

Jon Dwyer interviews Jays President and CEO Paul Godfrey

June 20, 2008

The 500 level at the Rogers Centre can make one feel a bit like Icarus flying dangerously close to the sun, wings parched I cared little as I made my way down to the executive suites; lead through a Labrynth even Daedalus would mire at. Like a sun-soaked Minotaur I seethed at the chance to meet Jays President and CEO Paul Godfrey in the sanctity of his air-conditioned private box. SWEET!
Like a modern day Homer Mr. Godfrey began our interview by answering a question most every journalist would surely ask…
“What’s your mission as Jays President and CEO?”
-“To put the most competitive team in the MLB on the field so that Toronto fans can continue to renew their pride in Jays Baseball.” He answered.

Walking into the Presidents suite (I love saying that) I was greeted by a man who somewhat resembled Gordon Gecko; a well-manicured suit hung easily on his thin frame, his shoes shined with a military keenness, Paul Godfrey looked and acted the part with only one exception…he loves the city and his team almost to the point of obsession. If you’ll remember Gordon Gecko rarely parted with the ideals of buying, dismantling and selling anything he could; I suppose that’s more of a Toronto Maple Leafs tactic
(Gordon Gecko is a character from the movie “Wall Street” for those of you cave dwellers who don’t know)

Admitting the Jays fan base was its strongest during the two championship years in 93 and 94, though not one to seek shelter from the storm Mr. Godfrey hastens to add that recent numbers are promising, with the Jays expecting to play in front of nearly 2.5 million people at home throughout the regular season this year.

“Toronto Baseball has never taken the back seat, but there has been a lot of development in the Toronto sports industries. The Raptors have energized the city’s love of basketball and more recently the Toronto Football Club (TFC) has really done well.”
Operating on a stricter budget then some other MLB teams in the American League, east or otherwise, Mr. Godfrey maintains the Jays are as competitive as any team and possess a roster that shows a variety of talent. That being said, when I interviewed Paul Godfrey last week the Jays sat pensively in third place behind Tampa Bay and the first place Boston Red Sox, now they lay cramped last place in the AL East behind New York and the unmentionable Baltimore Orioles.

Paul stood next to me looking out over the field as B.J. Ryan stood on the mound with two men on base and one out.
“Who is you’re favourite Blue Jay currently?” I asked stupidly.
“Jon, I don’t have a favourite, that wouldn’t be very fair would it?” Mr. Godfrey said looking at me like I was an unwanted nephew.
“Listen, were capable of being one of the best teams in the league” he went on, “look at our roster and recent acquisitions and you’ll see a lot of promise…”
Cutting himself off he threw his hands in the air,
“GO, GO, GO…yeaaa he got him, double play, did you see that? That’s what I mean, double play, these guys are good!”

Sounding eerily similar to the Jays commercials on sportsnet, Mr. Godfrey straightened his suit and looked back at me as I stood at the top of the three stars he jumped down in excitement. Meeting him at the foot of the stairs we walked to the waist high barrier as Felix Hernandez and the Mariners took to the field.
As we began to talk about the city Mr. Godfrey stood noticeably easy, a veteran with guys like me, though I’m sure my not recording the interview allowed for a more “buddy buddy” atmosphere.
“I’ll tell ya, my favourite Jay of all time has to be Pat Hentgen. He’s the nicest all around guy and was a real favourite in the clubhouse and with the fans, still is.”
Avoiding some of the more difficult questions I asked we stick to nostalgia and, before I could say “can I have a press pass” his attention has shifted to his new guest.
Pat Hentgen.
After a quick handshake and picture opportunity I find myself in the hall in front of a buffet tray headed for the HSBC box. Grabbing a handful of food and eying the cart for a beer I make haste to the elevator and the open chance to get a 100 level seat.
Making my way down aisle 120 I look up at Mr. Godfrey’s box and see him chatting with the former Jays great, talking about this amazing interview he just had with Jon from tosports.ca (okay, maybe not).

It may not have been the most riveting interview I’ve conducted and to tell ya the truth I didn’t even get to ask many of the questions I’d set out to, but man, what a guy. It was like hanging out with that guys Dad in high school who would buy you and your buddies beer and let ya drink it in the basement (not that the Jays condone underage drinking).

With the Jays forming into the new “fixer-upper” of the MLB, I tend to think fault may not lie on the guy at the helm, simply because he is such a nice guy…then I took a peek at the current roster.

Designated hitter Matt Stairs is one of the few luminaries on the teams roster and he’s 40 years old! In fact, 72% of the team is 30 or over, compared to 48% in Boston, 28% in Tampa Bay, 56% in New York and 36% in Baltimore. (Thanks MLB roster list)

What in the name of God is going on in Toronto? The Leafs are filled with “old-balls” as far as they locker room eye can see, TFC captain Jim Brennan is 31 (which is getting on in football years…look at how many guys are that age on Manchester United’s roster; Brennan is no Paul Scholes or Gary Neville). And with the retirement of 43 year old Damon Allen earlier this summer, Toronto teams need to follow suit, and quickly.

The retirement of the Argos quarterback great brings me to my final question(s).

Why is Toronto so comfortable with its relative mediocrity? Is it the leadership of the teams?
Paul Godfrey is a very competent President and, him being a nice guy aside, he does a fantastic job of running the Jays (with the exception of re-signing JP Riccardi). But there seems to be an across the board deficiency restricting the (rational) decision making ability of the management(s); they can’t seem to get rid of the old guys and bring in some new blood (TFC is an exception, all the good young players would scoff at an opportunity to play in the MLS).

Toronto teams, namely the Jays and Leafs, are in the same boat the Pittsburg Penguins were about 5 years ago. The question remains, will they have the leadership (Lemieux vs. Godfrey or Peddie…I dunno boys) to make the sacrifices Pittsburg did in order to facilitate their turnaround?
Only time will tell, but if being a nice guy with a savvy business acumen helps…we should hold on To Godfrey.

p.s.

JP Riccardi made some off-the-cuff remarks about Cincinnati Reds left fielder Adam Dunn last night, causing Dunn to reply,
“I don’t even know who this clown is”
JP Riccardi made a public apology today and is apparently trying to get a hold of Dunn to offer an apology personally.

What a guy, eh?

If The World Only Had More Hockey…

June 17, 2008

by Jon Dwyer…

Maybe we’re all a bit spoiled. Maybe growing up hockey fans first, with soccer sitting a deep third or fourth behind a few other mentionable sports that don’t endorse fake tears and writhing in pain when someone nances’ on your toe (those sports could very well be chess, golf and badminton), gave us an advantage. More importantly, growing up a hockey fan teaches you the ethics of “fanhood”, “team-menship” and a few other nonexistent words that nonetheless exemplify gentlemen conduct matched with love of the game.
It is never, let me repeat, NEVER okay to treat you opponent like a piece of shit simply because ya don’t like his/her team. That douchebag cockney wanker/host of “The Real Football Factory”, a syndicated television show that isn’t fit for the deaf and/or blind, is a great example of why we here in Canada shouldn’t stand for this type of nonsense. “Soccer hooliganism” is something poor-folk with no prospects and an apparent envy of those with downsyndrome use to give themselves an identity in a world that chooses to acknowledge the talented players on the pitch and smart people who lead them, as opposed to the drunk meatballs who perch in the stands and pontificate as if they could do a better job; only to fight the other team supporters.
We are smack-dab in the middle of Euro Cup fever and, living in Toronto we are blessed with a multicultural boulibase that would rival any city…which is great for rivalry. But, there is a fine line between pulling for your team and being an outright dick! I live on the Danforth, being from Irish stock I’m quite disappointed my squad didn’t make it in, but what can ya do; as the lads at home tend to say “it’s a foreigners sport” (the Irish are great at dismissing that which they do not excel at).
On Sunday Greece was knocked out and another team (who shall remain nameless) made it through…I really couldn’t care all that much about the fate of either team, but what transpired after Greece was knocked out was an outrage. The fans of the other team, not being the nicest of fella’s (apparently), made it their business to form a parade of fans, made up of both cars and flag waivers walking along side, to march down the Danforth taunting patrons in Greek restaurants, acting like lunatics and then to top it off…they just stopped right in the middle of the road for a good 20 minutes and laid on their car horns singing and chanting. The patience of onlookers and those in the neighbourhood seeing this kind of poor sportsmanship was tempered by what I can only diagnose as “Canadianism”.

The Canadian sports fan is from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, The Americas, shit even the Arctic…what we embrace as Canadian sports fans is a respect of the opponent and their fans.

When a group of over 20 friends and I, men of different colour, faith, many not born in Canada, set off two years ago on St Patricks day to watch our beloved Toronto Maple Leafs play the Montreal Canadiens in MTL we knew we’d get wasted, spend an incredible amount of money we’d never regret and be generally retarded. Though everyone knew what lay in store, there was an unspoken rule that came first. Ya don’t fight Habs fans simply because their Habs fans. If I grew up in MTL I’d probably be a Canadiens fan too (thank God I didn’t). Though if I had any sense I’d probably just rock an old Nordiques hat and go retro, talking about “the real days of Hockey”. No one acted incredibly retarded and although we did happen to get into a fight, it was with a few guys from Toronto, one of whom pee’d on my friend’s leg at the urinal in the bathroom (I roll with a real renaissance group) But…we acted like Gents in their house even after we lost in a overtime shootout!

The point being, the fans who loitered the Danforth with their special brand of hatred this past Sunday should be ashamed of themselves…wankers! There is absolutely no room for that kind of shit in this country, we are a nation that is fortunate to be in this corner of the hemisphere as life is pretty easy. Lets keep it that way…

This is clearly an indicator that soccer (which I really enjoy) has a lot of lessons to teach its fans…maybe at the world cup 2010 the inaugural event should feature a game between the Leafs and Habs so fans can see that people can get all shitty, have a good time and not act like complete assholes.

Actually, ya don’t even have to go that far to see how sports conduct should be modeled: TFC fans are passionate to the nth degree…though we may start fighting too if the league was of a higher quality of play.

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