Pick of the Day: Red Sox vs. Cardinals

The Regina Red Sox opened the 2010 WMBL season with road victories over the Yorkton Cardinals 3-1 on Tuesday and 3-2 against the Mosse Jaw Miller Express on Wednesday. In the games, the Red Sox received strong pitching performances from Daniel McKinney and Jake Mitcheltree. Tonight at Currie Field they open the home portion of their season with a rematch against the Yorkton Cardinals. Game time is 7:05 p.m. Tix are Adult $10, Student & senior $7, Kids $2. 721-0666.

Musicwise, The Braids are playing O’Hanlon’s Pub tonight with Seattle-based  Astronautalis backing them up. Here’s link to the preview James Brotheridge did for our June 3 issue (just scroll down). And here’s video of the Montreal-based band performing at a small house-type concert. (YouTube) Also Regina hip hop artist Def 3 is at the Exchange. He recently returned from a couple of months in Europe and will doubtlessly be looking forward to performing before a hometown audience again.

Pick of the Day: Saskatchewan Roughriders: The Team the Fans Built

Not sure what impact the weather will have on this, but between 8-10 a.m. on the Scarth Street Mall there’s supposed to be a pancake breakfast to kick off the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ 100th anniversary season.

Today also marks the opening of the exhibition Saskatchewan Roughriders: The Team the Fans Built at the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame. Later this summer, two other exhibits with a similar theme are scheduled to be held at the Dunlop Art Gallery and at the Legislature’s Cumberland Gallery. The former is called Green is the Colour: The Art of Rider Pride, while the latter is titled HeART of the Rider Nation: a Centennial Exhibition [1910 – 2010] Celebrating the Greatest Fans on Earth.

I’m not sure when, but sometime during the season we’re planning a special feature on the Riders that, in typical prairie dog fashion, will go beyond mindless boosterism to take a critical look at what the team has meant, and continues to mean, to the province and its citizens. With revenues of around $30 million last year, the Riders have definitely transformed themselves into a CFL juggernaut. 

That’s good, I guess. But at some point you have to wonder how healthy it is for Regina, and the province as a whole, to have a situation where a sports team, due to the fanatic support it enjoys, is more or less able to write its own ticket when it comes to corporate and other forms of support. Formal ties may or may not exist between the Riders and the Sask Party, but certainly Brad Wall and his MLAs have never met a Rider photo-op that they didn’t leap at. With the province currently considering whether to proceed with a hugely expensive domed stadium for the team in Regina, that raises obvious concerns. 

As far as music goes tonight, local metalmeisters Agonal are at O’Hanlon’s Pub with Royal Red Brigade. And at McNally’s Tavern, Montreal-based reggae artist Auresia is playing. Here’s video of her performing “What is Right” in Banff.

NHL Playoff Update

Memo to all Leaf fans out there. If the Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup this year the burden of being the team that’s endured the longest Cup drought will shift to them. If the Hawks win, it will be their first championship since 1961. The Leafs, meanwhile, last won the Cup in 1967.

The Upside Of Down And Out: Winnipeg Jets Edition

Okay, this is getting serious. The hydra that is the Phoenix Coyotes Clusterfuck will come to its latest head tonight when the City of Glendale, AZ. votes on an NHL blackmail package to keep the team in the desert. The league’s ultimatum: Glendale must agree to cover the Yote’s losses next season if the NHL can’t find a buyer for the team.

If Glendale won’t agree to this obviously insane deal, the team could be moved. And the city most likely (but not guaranteed) to get the team? Winnipeg.

Unlike the ’90s when the Jets moved to Phoenix, there’s a billionaire in place to buy the team and run it in a small market that can easily guarantee 15,000 bums in seats per game. And that’s at real ticket prices, not the Coyotes’ cheapo seat sales.

Will it happen? Dunno. Could easily not. But there’s no doubt prospects for the NHL’s return to Winnipeg have never looked better.

You can read more here (Winnipeg Free Press).

Pick-of-the-Day: NHL Playoffs

I’m not sure if there’s a hockey game tonight, ot not. I know Montreal and Washington play tomorrow night in game seven of their first round series (go Caps!). And pretty soon after that, the second round will finally get going.

Yeah, I know there’s been some decent series so far — a few upsets, some high-scoring games, plenty of overtime. But, I mean, come on. If the Stanley Cup Final goes seven games, the season won’t end until June 12. Hockey in June? Sounds like the name of a Northern Pikes album. But that’s what we’re faced with.

Most people, I suspect, will keep an eye on the second round. It still is April, after all. And while the weather’s been pretty decent so far, it’s still kind of iffy. But after that, how many people want to be stuck inside on a warm early summer evening watching hockey? Less than two months from now, June 21 to be exact, the days start getting shorter. They won’t start getting colder. At least not for a couple months. But they inevitably will.

If I had my druthers, hockey would start in late October and end by mid-May. And while I’m on the subject of sports leagues that need to give their head a shake, if Major League baseball doesn’t institute some sort of salary cap it’s dead outside the major markets. Attendance so far this year has been horrendous. There are teams that are capable of playing some exciting ball. But realistically, how many have a shot at the World Series?

Yeah, a Yankee vs. Phillies rematch of last year’s World Series will be interesting. Last year, the Yankees won handily. But the Phillies have Roy Halliday this year, and he’s always enjoyed success against the Yankees. So theoretically, it would be a great series. It’s just too bad that other teams don’t have a legit shot at competing because of the salary discrepancy, especially where the Yankees are concerned.

At $207 million, their payroll is by far the largest in the league. The Jays payroll, in comparison, is $61 million. And Pittsburgh’s is $34 million. Kind of lame if you ask me.

“It’s A Full Program. All The Things We Were Talking About – Suckers And Toys.”

NPR posted this story yesterday about a 10-year-old fifth grade student who’s getting some attention for his basketball skills. According to the piece, this is a growing trend in college basketball:

The popularity of the NCAA tournament games, he says, has parents pushing their children into basketball. “They see their sons or daughters being the next superstars.”

Those parents may post videos on YouTube touting “The Next Kobe Bryant,” but at 10 or 11, how much can you really tell about a child’s potential?

“You don’t know if they’re going to grow — if they’re going to mature,” Weber says. And, he adds, college coaches don’t know if the child will one day be able to compete academically as a student athlete.

I can’t read that story without thinking about Mr. Show, and just how oddly prophetic they were at times:

Six In The (Early) Evening

“THE 18 PERCENT OF AMERICANS WHO IDENTIFY THEMSELVES AS TEA PARTY SUPPORTERS TEND TO BE REPUBLICAN, WHITE, MALE, MARRIED AND OLDER THAN 45.”: A New York Times poll confirms what a lot of people were already assuming about the Tea Party folks.

CAN’T KEEP A GOOD WRITER DOWN: StarPhoenix columnist Bob Florence is “awake, alert and undergoing physical rehabilitation as he recovers” from an attack on Feb. 27. More good news: they’ve charged a suspect, according to the Leader-Post.

TAXIDERMY, NAZIS, AND SEX: What’s there for Minister of Canadian Heritage James Moore not to love about this exhibit at the National Gallery? According to the Globe and Mail, Moore need not worry about kids seeing any of it, since they’ll be ID’ing everyone who comes in.

HOW IS THIS GUY NOT ALREADY IN JAIL?: Because if he really did use a samurai sword to break through an unlocked door, as CBC Saskatchewan reports, then he can’t be too bright.

NEAR-BEER WILL PROBABLY STILL BE AVAILABLE REGARDLESS: The Georgia Straight says the Vancouver PD considering closing liquor stores early during the Canucks playoffs run. Some are saying the PD are treating them like kids, but if they want to stay up past their bedtimes to watch the game, they shouldn’t complain if they get their bottles taken away from them.

MARLINS WILL SOAR: If you’ve been wondering what Scott Stapp of Creed fame is up to, the answer is just pouring out love for the Florida Marlins:

NHL Playoffs

Kind of a night of upsets in the NHL playoffs. There’s still a long way to go, obviously. But Ottawa’s 5-4 victory in Pittsburgh has to rank as a definite surprise. Hopefully the Penguins will recover and go on to win because from where I sit, a Pittsburgh vs. Washington match-up, hopefully in the East Final, looks pretty good.

Philly beating the Devils 2-1 in New Jersey is a pretty big surprise too. Going into the playoffs the Devils were being touted as a force to be reckoned with while the Flyers, perennially plagued by shaky goal-tending, generally fold in the playoffs.

Like New Jersey in the East, Detroit had been playing its best hockey of the season and had momentum going into the playoffs. But they fell 3-2 to the Coyotes in Phoenix. The ‘Yotes are a definite Cinderella story given their non-existent ownership structure. They’ve had a magic season so far. Can they keep it up and defeat Detroit? I know one hockey poolster who fervently hopes not. He’s got something like seven, or maybe even eight Red Wings on his 18-man team. And if they exit in the first round he’s done like dinner, to borrow an old Tiger Williams’ phrase.

I guess Colorado’s 2-1 road win over San Jose ranks as an upset too — maybe a big one. But geez, the Sharks sure have a monkey on their back when it comes to the playoffs. Same with Joe Thorton. Because he’s running out of chances to prove he can be a leader in the playoffs.

Masters Update

Been an intriguing tournament so far, and there was some great shot-making today, led by Phil Mickelson’s eagle-eagle-birdie run on 13, 14 and 15; the second eagle courtesy of a 140-yard chip shot.

That stunning five-shot turnaround propelled Mickelson ahead of second-round leader Lee Westwood. But the plucky Limey rallied and ended the round with a one-stroke lead at 12 under par. Tiger Woods, after a great start on opening day, looked to be on the verge of slipping out of contention with putting woes until he ran off a string of three birdies on 13, 14 and 18.

Going into the final round, Woods sits four strokes back.  He’ll be paired tomorrow with South Korea’s K J Choi in the second-last group before Mickelson and Westwood tee off. Choi also sits at minus 8. And one stroke back of them is Fred Couples. At 50, the affable tour veteran is bidding to become the oldest champion in Masters history.

Has the potential to be a great final round, I think.

Blue Jay Banter

How about those Blue Jays? Led by a redhot Vernon Wells (pictured), who in the team’s first four games has batted .500 with seven hits in fourteen at bats, four homers, and seven rbi. Pitching has been inconsistent, although starter Ricky Romero and reliever Kevin Gregg have both had strong outtings. The Jays stole one against Baltimore today, but they let one slip away on opening day against Texas thanks to a shaky Jason Frasor. Pre-season prognosticators predicted the Jays, who are in definite rebuilding mode, might lose as many as 100 games this year. After four games, they sit at 3-1 and in first place in the ultra-competitive AL East. 

 I don’t expect it to last. But thus far the Jays look capable of playing exciting, competitive ball. At this point in their development, what more can you ask for?

Duke vs. Butler

Don’t know a freaking thing about Butler University or the University of Butler, or whatever it’s called. Not the city/state it’s located in. How big its student body might be. Or who some of its famous alumni are. But tomorrow night its NCAA Men’s Basketball team will take to the court in Indianapolis to battle traditional NCAA Men’s Basketball powerhouse Duke University for the 2009-10 championship.

This is a match-up that couldn’t possibly have been predicted at the outset of the 64 team tournament . But with upsets abounding (Hello Kansas, Hello Kentucky, Hello Syracuse, etc) Duke vs. Butler is what we’ve got. If Butler does the improbable and wins (they’re currently seven point underdogs) someone in Hollywood will be making a movie about their title drive in a few years time guaranteed.

Tip off is at 7:21 p.m.

Sexual Predator Pardoned?!?!?

It’s come out today that notorious hockey molester Graham James was apparently pardoned in 2007. (Canadian Press/Globe and Mail)

Before you freak out and start screaming at the computer making the cat worry for your sanity, here is the important part for perspective:

A pardon does not erase a person’s criminal record, but it means the information is kept in a separate file and doesn’t show up on checks of the Canadian Police Information Centre, a key law-enforcement database used by the RCMP and other police forces.

In the case of someone convicted of serious sex offences, the criminal record is kept apart from others, but the name is flagged in the CPIC system. According to the parole board, that means details of the person’s conviction would be discovered by a check that takes place if they apply to work with children, the disabled or other vulnerable people.

So, it sounds like a pardon doesn’t mean the same thing in law that it does in English. Assuming James’ crimes are “serious sex offenses”, he’d still be thwarted from working with Canadian teens by a criminal record check. That should be enough to keep him away from kids and teens in this country. And that’s the most important thing.

Though it still makes the justice system sound awful.

As for James working with kids in other countries? Not having a pardon didn’t stop him coaching back in 2001. (CBC)

Scotland vs Germany

I was out visiting my mom and dad in Victoria this week so I had an opportunity to watch a fair bit of the Women’s World Curling Championship from Swift Current. The curling this year was kind of so-so, I think. But on the plus side, there did seem to be an inordinate number of  reasonably hot blondes! And Ray Turnball is right, Team Canada skip Jennifer Jones  is weak when it comes to calling the sweep. It cost her rink regularly during the week, and in the semi-final she fell 10-4 to 19-year old Scot Eve Muirhead (pictured). So tomorrow at 5 p.m. on TSN Muirhead will take on Germany’s Andrea Schopp in the final.

Brier Final Set For Sunday Night

So it’s Alberta against Ontario in the Brier Final tomorrow night in Halifax. Kind of like a microcosm of Confederation, when you think about it. At least as far as the last couple of decades or so go.

Ontario, long-dominant, but going through a big transition that has resulted in a significant diminishment in its wealth and power versus … an economic power on the rise in Canada, struggling mightily to throw off the yoke of central Canadian oppression and take its rightful place as a leader in Confederation.

Must say, I don’t really feel much like cheering for either team.  Ontario does need to be taken down a peg or two. On the other hand, with Stephen Harper and his adherents in power in Ottawa, Alberta already has too much influence in Canada as far as I’m concerned.

Looking at the teams on a personal level, Alberta skip Kevin Koe (pictured) has never won a Brier title, while Russ Howard has several to his credit, so it’d be nice to see Koe win.

But then that would mean Alberta would boast both the reigning men’s Olympic gold medal and Brier champion … and if there’s one thing Alberta doesn’t need any more encouragement to do, it’s boast.

Hate Sports, Love Architecture?

Here is Douglas Cardinal’s proposal for Regina’s domed stadium.

Think about it: it’s Douglas Cardinal’s building that seems to have killed SIFC/FNUC… Maybe if there were another major Cardinal project, it would act like a Flinstones-style bonk on the head and FNUC would go back to being what it was supposed to be. On the other hand, maybe a Cardinal dome would cause untold havoc in Regina’s governance and all our political structures would need to be razed and started over. Heh heh. Either way, I don’t see a downside.

I have no doubt that they’ll cheap out, end up overspending anyway, and we’ll have another architectural blight, the only kind of architecture we seem to get these days. I say if you’re going to throw money away, might as well throw it away on something beautiful.

On a side note, there was a great interview on The Sunday Edition with British comedian, writer and actor Stephen Fry on his recent fact-finding tour of America. One of the things he talked about was architectural ugliness, and how it’s a needless offense to nature, where beauty comes standard in every creation. He said that some tender souls grow up focusing on all the man-made ugliness around them and believing that our whole species is harmful and pointless. Absolutely worth a listen.

Support The Troops Propaganda Is Out Of Control

Just me or is anyone else sickened of the whole “our brave troops serving for us” propaganda coming out of CTV as we head into overtime? What, are we Americans now? And is CTV Fox News?

I understand there can be principled differences on NATO involvement in Afghanistan but this military-boosterism is just propaganda from a brain-dead network.

It’s just disgusting. I’m trying to watch a hockey game here.

UPDATE: I am however pleased we beat the U.S. Even though I feel bad for Ryan Miller.

Pick of the Day

As of today — the final day of the Vancouver Winter Olympics — I’ve watched a grand total of three hours of TV coverage. Feb. 18, I was over at a friend’s and saw the last two periods of the Canada vs Switzerland Mens Ice Hockey game, plus some of the stumblebums in the lower tiers of the Men’s Figure Skating (when did they bring in those extended sleeve-glove things anyway? They look gross).

While I haven’t been watching the Olympics, I have been following them a bit. I lament the amount of trash-talking that goes on in sports these days. Good sportsmanship is hard to find in players, fans, coaches and management. So I was never a fan of the “Own the Podium” smack that some Canadian officials and athletes were talking in the run up to the Olympics.

It’s fine to be enthusiastic. But to pull a Joe Namath and guarantee victory … well, that’s pretty brash. And as host country, a tad ill-mannered. Then when our athletes got off to such a brutal start, it made us look pretty foolish in the world’s eyes. Our climate gives us a natural advantage in the Winter Olympics, sure. But we’re still only a nation of 34 million. And there’s some pretty big countries out there that compete and do well in winter sports.

The low point for the Canadian contingent probably came on Feb. 21 when the Canadian Men’s Ice Hockey team lost to the U.S. 5-3. Since then, Canada has performed tremendously. As I write this, Canada sits third in the medal count at 13 gold, 7 silver and 5 bronze, ahead of countries like Russia, Norway, Korea, France and China, and behind only the United States (9 gold-14 silver-13 bronze) and Germany (10-12-7).

And after getting off to a shaky start due to the tragic death of a Georgian luger in a training run, technical glitches at the opening ceremony, some unseasonably warm weather and early street protests against all the political and economic bullshit that unfortunately accompanies the Olympics now, Vancouver and the rest of Canada have drawn rave reviews for the party we’ve hosted.

That leaves one more bit of unfinished business. It won’t be an easy task. But since getting beat by the U.S. on Feb. 21 the Canadian Men’s Ice Hockey team has looked pretty strong. But the Americans, after squeaking by a tenacious Swiss squad 2-0 in the quarter-final, have also looked impressive. In Friday’s semi-final, they spanked Finland 6-1. If U.S. goalie Ryan Miller stands on his head, as he’s perfectly capable of doing, the U.S. will be tough to beat. If Canada can get to him, though, the gold should be theirs.

Game time is 2 p.m.