Select Page

Under Further Review – Douglas Smith with Contributors Ted Tait, Bill Myles, Bill Morphy and Dave Kittle. This week, we pontificate till the cows come home! What the hell would you expect when you are living like a monk? You need a Geiger counter to find any sports news but we managed to cull a few items of interest. 

During these uncertain and unsettling times, we can always turn to music. We can learn so much about good hygiene in the course of a song.

With things spiraling out of control in the U.S., it’s obvious how Canada and the U.S. have responded differently to the outbreak. The Guardian newspaper tracked the slow response by the White House.

It was uplifting to know there are some in the U.S. who actually appreciate having Canada as a neighbour. This is an open letter written by a Florida circuit court judge about the CANADA/USA relationships & history. Robert Meadows (Circuit Court Judge, Florida) wrote:

“Have you ever stopped to consider how lucky we Americans are to have the neighbors we have? Look around the globe at who some folks have been stuck sharing a border with over the past half century:

North Korea / South Korea

West Germany / East Germany

Greece / Turkey

Iran / Iraq

Israel / Palestine

India / Pakistan

China / Russia

We’ve got Canada! Canada. About as inoffensive a neighbor as you could ever hope for. In spite of all our boasts of “American exceptionalism” and chants of “America first,” they just smile, do their thing and go about their business. They are on average more educated, have a higher standard of living, free health care, and almost no gun problems. They treat immigrants respectfully and already took in over 35,000 Syrians in the last two years.

They’re with us in NATO, they fought alongside us in World War I, World War II, Korea, the Gulf War, the Bosnian War, Afghanistan, the Kosovo War and came to our defense after 9/11. There was that one time when Canada took a pass on one of our wars: Vietnam. Turned out to be a good call.

They’ve been steady consumers of American imports, reliable exporters of metals and petroleum products (they are the biggest importer of U.S. products from 37 states), and partnered with NASA in our space missions.

During 911 many aircraft were diverted to Newfoundland, an island province off Canada’s east coast where Americans were housed in people’s homes for two weeks and treated like royalty. In return for their hospitality, this administration slapped a 20% tariff on the products of Newfoundland’s only paper mill, thereby threatening its survival.

And what do Canadians expect of us in return? To be respected for who and what they are: Canadians. That’s what I call a good neighbor.

But the King of Chaos couldn’t leave well enough alone. Based on his delusions of perpetual victimhood, out of the clear blue, he’s declared economic war on Canada. On CANADA! And he did it based on Canada being a national security risk to the US! For no good reason, other than the voices in his head that told him it was a war he could win. So why not do it, then?

Trump went ahead and imposed his tariffs on aluminum and steel even though we have a trade surplus with Canada on those products! Trudeau retaliated in kind. And now this morning, the White House is preparing a new wave of tariffs in retaliation for Trudeau’s retaliation. This time he threatens a tariff on automobiles even though 70% of their components originate in the U.S.! It’s just a temporary spat, right? Except for that smile on Vladimir’s face in the Kremlin, as the NATO pact unravels a little more with each passing day.

Again, we’re talking about Canada. Our closest ally, friend and neighbor.

On behalf of an embarrassed nation, people of Canada, I apologize for this idiotic and wholly unnecessary attack. Please leave the back channels open. We the People of progressive persuasion stand with you.”

Starving for Content – We mentioned last week that the sports networks are scrambling to find content with no live sports to broadcast. The whole idea of showing ‘classic’ games is laughable. It did bring to mind what may be ‘classic’ to some may not be ‘classic’ to another.  Well, we received a lot of response last week to this whole subject.

A follower and great friend in Vancouver has offered up his list of games that he would like to see on TV.

“I agree that it is hard watching games when you already know the outcome. I can only watch for a few minutes. They bill them as ‘Classics’ but that often seems like an exaggeration to me.

I also scratch my head about some of the programming. I mean, are they trying to drive us to our windows so we can stick our heads out and shout ‘I’m bored (sic) as hell and I can’t take it anymore,’??? Wednesday night TSN gave us Ocho, which is the ESPN-8 station. It should ‘Ouch-o.’ They were showing an NCAA Spikeball game between Texas A&M and Georgia. Spikeball? WTF? Two guys per team trying to bounce a ball off a little goal, net gizmo set in the middle of a gym floor and then have the ball bounce off and get past the other guys. There were about 20 people in the stands, most of them probably bored girlfriends. And then there’s Field of Dreams and Rocky. Like we all haven’t seen those 100 times.

Here’s my suggestion for some classics that I would like to see. Some of them are personal choices because the games have special meaning to me but even they’d be better than freaking Spikeball.

October 13, 1960 … Forbes Field, Pittsburgh. Bill Mazeroski hits a ninth inning homer to beat the Yankees 10-9 in Game 7 of the World Series. Yanks out-scored the Pirates 55-27 over the seven games with wins of 16-3, 10-0 and 12-0 but the Bucs still won. I got home from school just in time to see the homer and I have been a baseball fan ever since.

December 1-2, 1962 … Exhibition Stadium, Toronto. Winnipeg beats Hamilton 28-27 in a Grey Cup that began on Saturday and finished on Sunday thanks to a fog that turned the field, the players and the ball into a rumour. They halted the game with 9:29 left in the fourth quarter. No one scored the following day and the Bombers got the win.

January 12, 1969 …Orange Bowl in Miami, Super Bowl 3. After talking the talk and predicting a win, Joe Namath walks the walk by helping the Jets shock the Baltimore Colts 16-7. Namath didn’t throw a TD pass but he was still voted game MVP.

April 8, 1969 … The Expos make their debut in New York by beating Tom Seaver and the eventual World Series champion N.Y. Mets 11-10. Maureen Forrester sings O’ Canada. Reliever Dan McGinn hits the first homer in Expos history.

April 14, 1969 … 29,000 fans cram Parc Jarry, 200 more stand on a huge snowbank behind the right field fence, Mack Jones hits a 3-run homer, drives in five and the Expos beat the Cardinals in their home opener. Sweet. Names like Coco Laboy and John Boccabella are immortalized.

June 26 (I think), 1969 … Anyway, late June, the summer of ’69. Bryan Adams has his memories and I have mine. The Phillies beat the Expos 2-0 in Game 1 of a Sunday doubleheader. Lowell Palmer over Jerry Robertson in a tidy two hours, four minutes. Not remarkable in any way except it was the first Major League game I ever saw live — my dad and I sitting about 20 rows up from third base — and I would love to see it again.

September 2-28, 1972 … Games 1-8 of the Summit Series. All of them. Please.

April 7, 1977 … The Blue Jays win their MLB debut. Exhibition Stadium, frigid, Doug Ault does his Mack Jones impression hitting two homers to drive a 7-5 win over the White Sox in a winter white out.

October 24, 1992 … The Jays beat the Braves for Canada’s first World Series championship. Sean McDonough (it might have been Tim McCarver) on the final out says “For the first time in history the World Series flag will fly north of the border.” I watched it in a bar with a female friend. We went out onto Denman Street and there were hundreds of people screaming and yelling. Carter’s homer the next season was an iconic moment but for me this one was the best. The first time and all that, ya know.

April 13, 1993 … Mike Weir beats Len Mattiace in sudden death to win the Masters after sinking an eight-foot putt on the 18th to tie it. Tiger presents him with the green jacket. Wouldn’t it be nice to self-isolate on the couch on a Sunday afternoon and re-visit that!

March 1, 2010 … Iggy gets the puck to The Kid and he buries it for a golden goal in OT over the Americans. Olympic gold in my home town. I wept. Then I walked down to Robson Square where it seemed like half the city was partying. People of all races, decked out in Canada white and red. Never felt more connected to my country. Lost in the celebration of winning was the thought about much it would have sucked to lose.

Well, that’s it. There are others. I would like to see Donovan Bailey’s 100 and 100-m relay triumphs in the 1996 Games in Atlanta and Alex Bilodeau’s first Canadian Olympic gold medal on home soil. I’d like to see our women’s hockey win over the U.S. in Salt Lake City; the game that saw all those crazy penalties to Canada. Or Lennox Lewis in the ring or Oleksiak in the pool. Or how about Andreescu’s U.S. Open win? Or some of last year’s Davis Cup?

But hey, if none of that happens, we will always have Spikeball.”

The Good Old Days – Our intrepid contributors have been mining the vaults and coming up with all kinds of great old NHL footage. The Montreal Canadiens swept the Maple Leafs in the 1966 Stanley Cup semi-finals four games to none.  There were numerous penalty records set in game four of that series.  A major brawl takes place 10 minutes into the YouTube link below with John Ferguson and Eddie Shack as the main protagonists. Eddie goes bananas after being jumped by two Canadiens.  One player holds him down while Claude Larose pummels him with haymakers.  It was a free-for-all back then. Back alley rules.

The Maple Leafs would get their revenge the following year by beating the Habs in the final four games to two.  Jim Pappin would lead the Leafs in scoring with 7 goals and 15 points. The big change came in nets where Terry Sawchuk took over the goaltending duties from Johnny Bower. Little did we know at the time that the Leafs would not win another Cup for 53 years and counting.

Random Thoughts – If the NHL does not award the Stanley Cup this season, it will be only the third time in history this has happened. The Cup final was cancelled in 1919 due to the Spanish Flu epidemic. The Cup was also not awarded in 2005. The season was cancelled because of the lockout. It would be a shame if the Cup is not awarded this season but it is becoming more likely by the day.

The coaching carousel this summer may be like none other in NHL history. The amount of potential movement could be unprecedented. Already you have former Cup winners like Mike Babcock and Peter Laviolette on the market along with former Adams Trophy winners Gerard Gallant and Bruce Boudreau.  Throw in out-of-work ex-coaches like Mike Yeo, Michel Therrien and John Stevens and the list of candidates seeking employment is lengthy. You have openings in San Jose, Minnesota, Calgary and New Jersey and depending on the collateral damage from the shutdown, there could be more job openings. Plus, Ron Francis is going to need a coach for expansion Seattle.  It will be interesting to see the landscape when the dust settles.

It’s encouraging to know that Paulina Gretzky is doing her part during the Coronavirus crisis. Paulina and the sister-in-law of Dustin Johnson got in some bikini dancing during their self-isolation this week. It seems the two were boating in the Florida sun when they fired up their phone cams to participate in the latest viral TikTok trend. “Social distancing with my sista,” said Paulina, who is seen rockin’ the tiny blue bathing suit. Of course, we had to cut the audio (legal reasons!!!) … but you’ve heard the Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage” song before, and you’ve had to have seen this dance by now.”

Thanks, Paulina!  Glad you are thinking of others during this time of crisis. I’m sure Wayne is very proud.

Under Further Review often talks about the importance of good ownership in sports. Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula are the poster children when it comes to dysfunction. The sprightly pair donated more than $1 million dollars to a Buffalo area fund to help those hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. A positive gesture for sure. The Pegulas then turned around and laid off employees in their own organization and balked at paying staff affected by the shutdown of the NHL season.  The Sabres will miss the playoffs for the ninth consecutive year under their ownership.  The team hasn’t won a playoff series since 2007. You don’t think good ownership is important?

Glaring Needs – Seahawks General Manager John Schneider handled NFL free agency in typical fashion, eschewing big names and choosing instead to shop in the bargain bin. So far, the Seahawks have not repaired their most glaring weakness, the need to improve the pass rush. Seattle tied for the second-fewest sacks in the league last season with only 28. Schneider signed former Seahawk Bruce Irvin to a one-year deal and re-signed defensive tackle Jarran Reed but that’s all they’ve done to date. They have yet to ink FA Jadeveon Clowney and if he happens to get away, the Seahawks will be in deep doo-doo.

While everyone expected Seattle to be aggressive in improving their defensive front, they have instead focused a lot of resources on the offensive line. Some of it was necessary because of the departures of George Fant, Germain Ifedi and possibly Mike Iupati. Seattle has signed seven free agents so far and four are offensive linemen. The question remains however, will the OL be any better next season? There could be even more upheaval because the Seahawks could save over $11 million against the cap if they cut veterans Justin Britt and D.J. Fluker.

The Seahawks best move has been the acquisition of cornerback Quinton Dunbar from the Washington Redskins for a meagre fifth round pick. Dunbar should unset Tre Flowers at the cornerback spot opposite Shaq Griffin. He’s fits the Pete Carroll mold of a prototypical cornerback at 6’2” with speed and long arms.

Dunbar’s story is similar to former Seahawk Richard Sherman. Like Sherman, he was a receiver in college who was converted to cornerback after arriving in the NFL. Dunbar was a flop as a receiver in his first training camp with the Redskins and would have been cut were it not for his outstanding work as a gunner on special teams. Redskins coach Jay Gruden decided to convert him to cornerback and Dunbar flourished. He could end up being the steal of the off-season.

MLB Notebook – Major League Baseball was planning to test an electronic strike zone in the minors this year. The days of umpire error may be coming to a close. It would not be surprising to see MLB using technology to call balls and strikes within the next five years. Get ready for it. Angel Hernandez should start looking for a job now.

 As we sit idly trying to stay busy, we found an interesting ESPN article on the best games ever pitched by each major league team.

There’s little doubt the greatest game ever pitcher by a Chicago Cub and arguably the greatest game ever pitched in MLB history was turned in by Kerry Wood. It was 1998 and Wood was a much-ballyhooed rookie.  He was facing the Houston Astros, a team that would win 102 games that season and included two future HOF’ers. His pitching line – 9IP, 1H, 0R, O BB, 20 SO. (Game score:  105)

The 20 year-old Wood took the mound at Wrigley Field and was lights out. He threw what many regard as the greatest game ever pitched. It wasn’t a perfect game; it wasn’t even a no-hitter. It may have been better. Wood tied Roger Clemens’ record with 20 strikeouts and allowed only an infield hit in the third inning on a slow roller down the third base line. He overpowered the Astros with a blazing fastball and sharp breaking curve that had Astro hitters flailing like schoolkids.

“We had heard the hype,” Astros shortstop Ricky Gutierrez told the Chicago Tribune earlier this year. “We saw him warming up.  But then came those first three guys. He mows them down.  Biggio.  Bell. Bagwell. It was like “Wow!”

Wood finished with a game score of 105, the highest ever for a 9-inning game. Max Scherzer has the second-highest at 104. The highest for a perfect game is 101. Wood threw 122 pitchers, 84 for strikes, 24 of those were swing-and-misses. Brad Ausmus played for the Astros that day and for the Tigers when Clemens fanned 20. He was the opposing manager when Scherzer fanned 20.  “I’ve never seen a pitcher with that type of stuff for nine innings. Ever! It was the best stuff I’ve ever seen in a game. There’s not a close second.”

Wood would suffer arm trouble in his second year and won only 86 games over a truncated and injury-plagued 14-year career.

Noah’s Ache – I remember being absolutely livid the day former Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopoulos traded flame-throwing right-hander Noah Syndergaard to the New York Mets in a deal that landed veteran knuckle-baller R.A. Dickey. We had watched Syndergaard develop in Vancouver at Nat Bailey Stadium and you knew he was going to be a frontline starter. As much as it hurt to see him moved, the trade has not haunted the Jays as much as you might think. Dickey started 130 games for the Jays while Syndergaard has started only 118 for the Mets.  Now he’s out for at least a year after Tommy John surgery.  Still, I would have never made that deal. Syndergaard made it to the majors in 2015 and would have looked good in a Blue Jay uniform in the 2015 and 2016 ALCS.

Projecting Ahead – Scott Mitchell, who follows the Blue Jays for TSN, had a similar idea as we had for the Canucks and tried to project ahead and determine what the Jays lineup might look like in 2022 when they should be ready to contend. Here’s what he came up with.

The Shot Revisited – In case you missed it, someone got the idea of recreating Tiger’s famous shot on the 16th hole at Augusta.  Not sure how long it took this guy to do this…..but he did!

How about Rory McIlroy reenacting Tiger’s old Nike commercial?  If you haven’t seen it, here it is from an Instagram post. Amazing!

The Rematch – Try to control your enthusiasm but they are talking about a Tiger-Phil rematch. And this time, it looks like they will be adding Tom Brady and Peyton Manning into the mix. There are multiple reports the two Hall of Fame quarterbacks will join Woods and Mickelson in a televised event to benefit coronavirus relief efforts. The two pairings will be made up of Mickelson and Brady against Woods and Manning and they are hoping to make it happen sometime in May.

Woods and Mickelson first competed in a one-on-one faceoff in November 2018, titled “The Match: Tiger v. Phil.” Mickelson won the grand prize of $9 million in Las Vegas by defeating Woods on the 22nd hole. The match was slotted as a pay-per-view event but was made available for free following technical difficulties.

The Mickelson-Brady vs. Woods-Manning outing would be broadcast on TNT without a live crowd. The players will be separated by a safe social distance. The match is likely to take place somewhere in Florida.

Comic Relief – In light of what’s happening in the world, we thought we would offer up a little comic relief.  Here’s are two appearances by the inimitable Rodney Dangerfield on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. It’s Rodney at his best.

Music Video of the Week – You have probably never heard of the name Tommy Tedesco but he just happens to be the most prolific studio guitar player in history. Tedesco was part of The Wrecking Crew, the famed L.A.-based group of session musicians who played on several hundred Top 40 hits, TV and movie soundtracks.

Tedesco’s son Denny directed a 2008 documentary of The Wrecking Crew.

Tommy Tedesco’s great sense of humour came in handy when he got the call to appear on the TV spoof Fernwood 2 Night with Martin Mull. Tommy would play ex-con guitarist Tommy Marinucci, a member of Happy Kyne’s Mirth-Makers. He would later guest on Mull’s solo comedy albums displaying a jazz guitar style reminiscent of the likes of Jim Hall, Herb Ellis and and Joe Pass.

As an added bonus this week, we pulled a couple of tunes by the band Company of Thieves who appear with Daryl Hall on ‘Live from Daryl’s House.’  The first is the classic Zombies tune ‘Time of the Season’ written by Rod Argent. The second is Piece of My Heart by Erma Franklin, made famous by Janis Joplin.