Some baseball numbers to chew on. . . . I watch a fair amount of baseball, so obviously am aware that there are a whole lot of strikeouts in today’s game. In fact, I would suggest that the numbers have become mind-numbing. . . .
John Shea is the national baseball writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. A couple of days ago, I read a story he had written about what the headline referred to as “baseball’s rising tide of strikeouts” and the numbers were out of this world. . . . The gist of the story was how the Giants and Oakland A’s were adding flame-throwers to their pitching staffs because of the preponderance of strikeouts in MLB. . . . The numbers are stunning. . . .
Going into last weekend, MLB teams had played 576 games. There had been 5,263 strikeouts and 4,414 hits, a difference of 849. As Shea reported, “From 1900 through 2017, hits always outnumbered strikeouts. . . . In 1998, the year the sport expanded to 30 teams, there were 12,596 more hits than strikeouts.” . . . In 2018, there were 189 more strikeouts than hits, the first time that had occurred. That number was 784 in 2019 and last season, in only 60 games, it was 1,147.
As I said . . . mind-numbing numbers.
The Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to begin on July 23. But, yes, there are questions, lots of questions. . . . If you’re a Canadian, you know that tennis star Bianca Andreescu won’t play in the Madrid Open after testing positive, and Canada won’t compete in the World track relays in Poland in May. And now there have been two positive tests on one of the teams that was entering the Calgary bubble to play in the women’s World Curling Championship. . . . As Myles Dichter of CBC writes: “It remains unclear how positive tests and cases like Andreescu’s would be handled, and it also remains to be seen if Japanese citizens will come around to hosting, as the latest polling reveals that at least 70 per cent are opposed. Meanwhile, just one per cent of the Japanese population is vaccinated and the torch relay has been rerouted to avoid hot spots on multiple occasions as the country lives under its third state of emergency.”
Are you aware that the Vancouver Canucks once won the Walter A. Brown Cup as United States Amateur Hockey Association champions? Yes, they did. . . . The Canucks played in the Pacific Coast Hockey League in 1945-46, winning the league championship by beating the Hollywood Wolves, 4-1, in a best-of-seven final. . . . The Canucks then challenged the Boston Olympics, who had won the Eastern Hockey League title, for the U.S. crown. Boston’s lineup included future Hockey Hall of Famers Fern Flaman and Allan Stanley. . . . The series was played in Vancouver with the Canucks losing three of the first four games before storming back to win the title. . . . There’s more on this story, from Jason Beck of the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame, right here.
The late Andy Clovechok was the scoring leader on that Vancouver team, winning the PCHL scoring title with 103 points, 56 of them goals, in 54 games. In September 2012, I wrote a bit about him and the 1945-46 Canucks as they were about to be inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame. . . . “The next season,” Clovechok said of the Olympics, “eight of Boston’s 14 players were in the National Hockey League. That’s how good they were.” . . . That story is right here.
The 2021 IIHF U18 World Hockey Championship opened Monday in Frisco and Plano, Texas, and there was a shocker in the opening draw. . . . F Nikita Chibrikov, Russia’s captain, went end-to-end in OT and scored at 1:25 to give Russia a 7-6 victory over the U.S. Russia had trailed 5-1 in the second period. . . . Lucas Aykroyd has the game story right here. . . .
In the other Group B game on opening day, Czech Republic beat Germany, 3-1. . . . In Group A, Sweden bounced Belarus, 5-1, and Switzerland doubled Latvia, 4-2. . . . Canada plays its first game today when it meets Sweden (TSN, 6 p.m. PT). The other Group A game has Switzerland against Belarus. . . . In Group B, it’s Finland versus Russia and Germany against the U.S.
While the U18 teams began battling it out in Texas, there were three WHL games on Monday night . . .
The Winnipeg Ice scored three third-period goals to beat the Prince Albert Raiders, 4-3, in the Regina hub. . . . Winnipeg (17-5-1) has points in six straight (5-0-1). . . . The Raiders are 8-11-4. . . . Prince Albert scored three PP goals to take a 3-1 lead into the third period. . . . F Ozzy Wiesblatt (6) got it started at 11:16 of the first period. . . . F Jackson Leppard (2) pulled the Ice into a tie at 6:36 of the second. . . . The Raiders went up 3-1 on goals from F Spencer Moe (2), at 10:29, and F Justin Nachbaur (6), at 17:07. . . . F Conor Geekie (8) started the Winnipeg comeback at 9:28 of the third and F Zachary Benson (9) tied it, on a PP, at 10:48. . . . D Karter Prosofsky got the winner, his first WHL goal, at 15:20. . . . A second-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft, Prosofsky was playing in his 57th game. . . . Ice F Peyton Krebs drew an assist on the game’s final goal to run his point streak to 22 games. That is a Kootenay/WInnipeg Ice franchise record, breaking the previous record that was set by F Mike Comrie with Kootenay in 2000-01. . . . Winnipeg got 24 saves from G Daniel Hauser, who is 7-0-1, 3.10, .898. He was a sixth-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . .
D Rhett Rhinehart’s OT goal gave the Saskatoon Blades a 5-4 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors in the Regina hub. . . . The Blades (15-5-3) had lost their previous four games (0-3-1). . . . The Warriors (8-13-3) finished their 24-game schedule by dropping four straight (0-2-2). . . . F Kyle Crnkovic had two goals and two assists for the Blades, with F Colton Dach, who assisted on the winner, scoring once and adding three helpers. . . . Crnkovic, who has 10 goals, gave Saskatoon a 1-0 lead at 3:49 of the first period, with Moose Jaw F Logan Doust (2) equalizing at 7:27. . . . Crnkovic scored a shorthanded goal at 11:24 of the second period for a 2-1 lead, only to have the Warriors tie it on a goal by F Jagger Firkus (6) at 12:02. . . . The Blades broke the tie on goals from Dach (9) and D Chase Wouters (9) at 0:08 and 5:29 of the third. . . . D Daemon Hunt (8), on a PP, and F Calder Anderson (3) scored for the Warriors at 7:02 and 15:43 to get proceedings into OT. . . . Rhinehart won it at 1:27. . . . Despite nine goals, 12 minor penalties and OT, the game took only two hours 12 minutes to complete. . . .
In Kamloops, the Prince George Cougars opened a 3-0 lead en route to a 4-1 victory over the Victoria Royals. . . . The Cougars (5-7-2) had lost its previous four games. . . . The Royals (1-12-1) have dropped nine in a row. . . . F Kyren Gronick (5) and F Ethan Browne (4), on a PP, scored first-period goals for the Cougars, with F Jonny Hooker (6) making it 3-0 at 11:11 of the second. . . . F Trentyn Crane (2) got the Royals on the board at 5:44 of the third period but F Craig Armstrong (6) got that one back for Prince George at 7:30. . . . G Taylor Gauthier stopped 25 shots for the Cougars. . . . Ryan Spizawka made his WHL debut with the Royals, joining his twin brother, Jason, in the lineup. The brothers, from Victoria, are defencemen. Jason, the 19th overall pick in the 2019 bantam draft, has three assists in 12 games. Ryan was a seventh-round selection in that draft. . . . According to Cleve Dheensaw of the Victoria Times Colonist, they are the “fourth set of identical twins” to play on the same WHL team. Dheensaw writes: “Jeremy and Josh Schappert skated with the Seattle Thunderbirds from 2005 to 2007, future NHLers Ron and Rich Sutter with the Lethbridge Broncos from 1980 to 1983, and Ted and Brent McAneeley with the Edmonton Oil Kings from 1968 to 1970.”
Dorothy, my wife of almost 49 years, had a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, and now is preparing to take part in her eighth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk. It happens virtually on June 6. You are able to join her team with a donation right here.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
Living Kidney Donor Program
St. Paul’s Hospital
6A Providence Building
1081 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6
Toll free: 1-877-922-9822
Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney
Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre
Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street
Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9
604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182
Or, for more information, visit right here.
JUST NOTES: Colin Campbell, who has been with the Seattle Thunderbirds since 1994, has been promoted to president. He had been the team’s vice-president for business operations for 19 seasons. According to a news release, he will “oversee all hockey and business operations” for the organization. That news release is right here. . . . Brandin Cote, an assistant coach with the Swift Current Broncos, will leave after this season to become the associate coach with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies. The Broncos and Huskies confirmed the move on Monday. Cote is in his third season with the Broncos. Cote will work alongside Mike Babcock, the Huskies’ new head coach. Cote spent three seasons (1997-2000) as a player under Babcock with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs.