It was a tough weekend for Saskatchewan Roughriders’ supporters of a certain age as they learned of the deaths of Steve Molnar and Bruce Bennett. . . . Molnar, who was a terrific fullback in the Ron Lancaster/George Reed era, was 73 when he died on Saturday. Molnar backed up Reed, then took over as the team’s workhorse following Reed’s retirement and had a terrific 1976 season. . . . Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post has more on Molnar right here. . . . Vanstone also remembers Bennett with a piece that is right here. Bennett, 77, died on Tuesday of complications from pneumonia and COVID-19. Bennett was Saskatchewan’s starting safety in 1966 as the Roughriders won the Grey Cup. Bennett went from there to a truly hall-of-fame career.
Actor Rob Gough purchased a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card for US$5.2 million at auction in November. Had you strolled into your neighbourhood’s cornerstone in 1952, you could have purchased a pack of Topps baseball cards for a nickel. Gough’s card was graded Mint 9, meaning it was never bounced off a wall, stuck in the spokes of a bicycle, or atop a stack that had an elastic wrapped around it. . . . There are reportedly three Mint 10 Mantles in existence. . . . Prior to this purchase, a 2009 autographed Mike Trout card from Bowman that sold in August for $3.93 million had held the highest price of any sports card. Prior to that, the record ($3.7 million) belonged to a T206 Honus Wagner card that changed hands in 2016. . . . Records in other sports: A 1979 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky rookie card, $1.29 million, sold in December; a 2003-04 Upper Deck LeBron James rookie card, $1.8 million, sold in July.
On Thursday, Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, weighed in on the NBA trade in which James Harden moved from the Houston Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets:
“Harden and (Kyrie) Irving both want/need the ball to be as effective as they can be. (Kevin) Durant does not need the ball as much as the other two, but he is more efficient offensively than the other two in the sense that he scores a lot of points with the ball in his hands for a relatively short time. There is an unalterable fact about NBA basketball that applies here. There is only one ball in use on the court at any given time. We will soon find out if James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant learned their lessons about ‘sharing with others’ in kindergarten.”
Here is the curmudgeonly one on Urban Meyer’s move to the Jacksonville Jaguars as head coach: “In his seven years at Ohio State, Meyer’s teams lost a total of nine games. If his first year with the Jags results in the Jags losing fewer than nine games, he might be the Coach of the Year in the NFL.”
Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, who tracks such things, provides us with a couple of headlines . . .
At Fark.com: “NHL announced that each division will have sponsor names this year. NFL expected to follow suit, starting with the Waste Management NFC East.”
At TheOnion.com: “Nervous Browns fan still worried team going to blow 48-37 lead over Steelers from days ago.”
A couple of notes from Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle:
“As part of its pandemic vigilance, the NBA may eliminate shoot-arounds — a notion certain to be applauded by the players. Show up in the morning with a game that night? Total waste of time for everybody. . . .
“More good news: Players are banned from touching hands with teammates at the free-throw line. Not sure who started this, several years ago, but it’s very dumb. (Ball clanks off the front rim.) ‘Hey, great miss, man.’ And if it goes in, why would you want your routine interrupted?”
So . . . what happened to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who started 11-9 and finished 1-5. Head coach Mike Tomlin explained to reporters: “We were a group that died on the vine.”
Among other things, the late Tommy Lasorda was known for run-ins with mascots. If you haven’t seen Lasorda get Youppi, the Montreal Expos’ mascot, tossed from a game, click right here. . . . But Lasorda also got into it with the Phillie Phanatic and the San Diego Chicken. . . . As Michael Clair of MLB.com pointed out: “Probably for the best that Lasorda never appeared on Sesame Street.”
THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .
CBC News — Manitoba is reporting 189 new cases of COVID-19 and 8 additional deaths. Sunday’s total includes 95 new cases in the Northern health region and 65 new cases in the Winnipeg health region. The province’s 5-day test positivity rate is 10.4%.
CBC News — Saskatchewan is reporting 287 new cases of COVID-19 and 3 new deaths. There are 4,121 known active cases in the province.
CBC News — Alberta is reporting 750 new cases of COVID-19. The province is also reporting 19 new deaths, pushing Canada’s total COVID-19 death toll past 18,000.
Keith Baldrey, Global BC — Latest BCCDC data shows 5 kids (under 20 yrs) were in the ICU with COVID-19 over the holidays and that 3 more people in their thirties in BC died from the virus. This is not just an old person’s ailment folks.
CBC News — Ontario sees 3,422 new cases and 69 additional deaths linked to COVID-19. Toronto recorded more than 1,000 new infections.
CBC News — Quebec is reporting 1,744 new cases of COVID-19. Sunday’s case count was impacted by a delay in the transmission of laboratory data. The province is also reporting 50 new deaths, 8 of which occurred in the last 24 hours. . . . 1,460 people are in hospital, including 215 in intensive care.
CBC News — There are 36 new COVID-19 cases in New Brunswick on Sunday, a single-day record. 24 of those cases are in Zone 4, the Edmundston region. Public health recommended that Zone 4 move to the red level alert effective at midnight Sunday.
CBC News — Nova Scotia is reporting 4 new cases of COVID-19, all related to travel outside Atlantic Canada. There are 29 known active cases in the province. No one is currently in hospital.
CBC News — 1 new case of COVID-19 has been identified in Newfoundland and Labrador. The new case is in the Eastern Health region and is travel-related. There are 6 known active cases in the province, including 1 hospitalized patient.
Public Health Agency of Canada, Sunday, 4 p.m. PT — Total cases: 708,619 . . . Active cases: 75,281 . . . Recovered: 615,324 . . . Deaths: 18,014.
CNN, Sunday, 5 p.m. PT — 23.9 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.
CNN, Sunday, 4 p.m. PT — 397,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.
The NBA postponed a scheduled Sunday night game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the host Oklahoma City Thunder when COVID-19 protocols prevented the 76ers from dressing the league-minimum eight players. . . . Philadelphia had only nine players available on Saturday when it lost, 106-104, to the Grizzlies in Memphis. . . . This was the 14th postponement of this NBA season, with the last 13 of those occurring within the past week. . . .
Things don’t seem to be going too well as tennis players and their entourages begin to arrive in Melbourne for the Australian Open that is scheduled to open on Feb. 8. In fact, there already are calls to cancel the event amid reports that at least 72 players are in quarantine. . . . There’s more right here. . . .
An AHL exhibition game between the San Diego Gulls and Ontario Reign scheduled for Saturday in Irvine, Calif., was cancelled due to COVID-19 protocols. The Gulls are playing out of Irvine for the next while. . . . The game would have featured the pro debuts of F Trevor Zegras and D Jamie Drysdale, both of whom played for the gold medal at the World Junior Championship. Zegras, the tournament MVP, and Team USA beat Drysdale and Team Canada, 2-0, in the final. . . .
Kim Mulkey, the head coach of the Baylor U women’s basketball team, contracted COVID-19 on Christmas Day. She was back on the sideline for the first time on Saturday. . . . Mechelle Voepel of ESPN.com wrote that Mulkey said she is feeling OK physically, but “when asked if she is concerned about the season being completed amid a pandemic, she didn’t mince words:
“The answer is this: The season will continue on. It’s called the almighty dollar. The NCAA has to have the almighty dollar from the men’s tournament. The almighty dollar is more important than the health and welfare of me, the players or anybody else.
“One conference does this, one conference does that. The CDC says this. Everybody is confused. I’m confused. I’m uncomfortable coaching. I understand, COVID is real. I’ve had it — come talk to me sometime. But I don’t know . . . all the calls and procedures, that’s gonna go on and make it unusual, uncomfortable for every program. We’re no different at Baylor.”
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.
Did you know there are more than 750 people in BC waiting for transplants? You can give someone hope by registering your decision today at taketwominutes.ca. One organ donor can save up to eight lives. #Register2Give #TakeTwoMinutes
JUST NOTES: If you weren’t aware, Tom Brady picked up a cool $500,000 in bonus money with Sunday’s victory by his Tampa Buccaneers over the host New Orleans Saints. So far this season, Brady has picked up $1.25 million in playoff bonus money. . . . Almost two weeks after domestic terrorists attacked the U.S. Capitol, their leader not only is still in the White House, but there are reports that he is selling pardons and commutations. Is this a great time to be alive, or what? . . . If you were wondering, there were about 16,000 fans in the stands for the Sunday NFL playoff game between the Cleveland Browns and the Chiefs in Kansas City. The Saints had about 3,500 fans at their game, with 500 of those being vaccinated healthcare workers who were admitted free of charge. . . . On Saturday, there were 6,700 fans in the stadium in Buffalo, all of whom had to test negative before being admitted. Each fan paid US$63 for the test, too. In Green Bay, the Packers played in front of about 6,000 fans.