Johnston 18th WHL coach with 400 victories . . . Habscheid one W from catching McLean in sixth . . . Oil Kings’ Knight proves dreams do come true

Mike Johnston, the vice-president, general manager and head coach of the Portland Winterhawks, ran his WHL regular-season victory total to 401 on PortlandAlternateSunday as his guys beat the Chiefs 4-3 in Kent, Wash. This one will go into the books as a Portland home game thanks to the schedule that has been put together in the midst of this pandemic. The remainder of the Winterhawks’ home schedule is expected to be played in Portland’s Veterans Memorial Coliseum, starting Friday with a visit by the Everett Silvertips.

But back to Johnston . . .

He became the 18th coach in WHL history with at least 400 coaching victories on Saturday night when the Winterhawks dumped the host Seattle Thunderbirds, 4-1.

Johnston, 64, has recorded all of his victories behind Portland’s bench. He is only the fourth head coach in WHL history to post at least 400 victories with one franchise. The others? Ken Hodge (Edmonton-Portland, 742), Brent Sutter (Red Deer, 526) and Kelly McCrimmon (Brandon, 465). While Ernie McLean put up 548 victories with the Estevan/New Westminster Bruins, he did it with two Bruins franchises — the one that relocated from Estevan and one that moved from Nanaimo.

Next up on the victory list for Johnston is Marcel Comeau (Calgary, Saskatoon, Tacoma, Kelowna, 411).

Other active coaches with at least 400 victories are Marc Habscheid of the Prince Albert Raiders, with 547; Sutter, 526; and Shaun Clouston of the Kamloops Blazers, 432. The Blazers, of course, have yet to play a game this season.

Habscheid has an opportunity to tie McLean for sixth place on the list tonight when the Raiders meet the Swift Current Broncos at the Brandt Centre in Regina.

Don Hay, who is on Johnston’s staff in Portland, leads the list, at 750, with Hodge second at 742.

Don Nachbaur, who has joined the Tri-City Americans as associate coach, is third, at 692, with Lorne Molleken fourth, at 626.

They are followed by Mike Williamson, 572; McLean, 548; Habscheid, 547; Sutter, 526; Pat Ginnell, 518; Jack Shupe and Peter Anholt, each 466; McCrimmon and Dean Clark, each 465; Bob Lowes, 453; Clouston, 432; Doug Sauter, 417; Comeau, 411; and Johnston, 401.

Please note that the figures involving active coaches are unofficial and subject to adjustments from the 2019-20 season should any of them have missed games while scouting or for any other reason. The WHL hasn’t yet updated its record book to include coaching records from that season.


Narc


G Dustin Wolf of the Everett Silvertips had quite a weekend — two games and Everetttwo shutouts. He stopped 22 shots on Saturday night in a 2-0 victory over the visiting Spokane Chiefs, then turned aside 18 shots in a 7-0 victory over the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash., on Sunday. Wolf now has 22 career regular-season shutouts, four of the WHL record that is shared by Tyson Sexsmith (Vancouver, 179 games, 2005-09) and Carter Hart (Everett, 190 games, 2013-18). Wolf now has appeared in 129 games. . . . Wolf’s career GAA of 1.82 is second among goaltenders with a minimum of 100 games played. Kelly Guard (Kelowna, 115 games, 2002-04) holds the record of 1.73. . . . The Calgary Flames selected Wolf in the seventh round of the NHL’s 2019 draft. He has signed with the Flames. . . .

The Red Deer Rebels (2-6-2) got swept in a three-game series with the RedDeerEdmonton Oil Kings on the weekend, losing 5-0 in Edmonton on Friday, 3-1 in Red Deer on Saturday and 5-2 back in Edmonton on Sunday. . . . The Rebels won’t play again until early April — the WHL hasn’t yet released the April schedule for the five Alberta teams — and they are without five players so can use the time off. F Ben King and F Kyle Masters were injured Friday and missed the next two games, but could return in two weeks. D Mason Ward apparently was injured Saturday, because he couldn’t go last night. D Joel Sexsmith last played on March 12, while F Jayden Grubbe, the team captain, won’t play again this season as he is to have knee surgery. . . . With three defencemen injured, the Rebels dressed five blue-liners on Sunday, two of them (Hunter Mayo and Jace Weir) 16 years of age. . . .

G Colby Knight of the Oil Kings earned his first WHL victory on Sunday in Edmontonbeating Red Deer. The victory allowed the Oil Kings to run their record to a WHL-leading 7-0-0. . . . “It feels amazing,” Knight, an 18-year-old from Red Deer, told Andrew Peard of oilkings.ca. “I had a dream about it last night and to have it happen, it’s just awesome.” . . . The Oil Kings selected Knight in the fifth round of the 2018 bantam draft. . . . Edmonton has won each of its last 14 meetings with Red Deer.



Brent Brekke, the head coach of the St. Lawrence U men’s hockey team, has tested positive for COVID-19, meaning the Saints have had to withdraw from the NCAA championship tournament. . . . The Saints (4-8-3) won the Eastern College Athletic Conference title on Saturday night, beating Quinnipiac in the final after sidelining Colgate in a semifinal game. . . . “The roller-coaster of emotions in the last 24 hours for everyone is unimaginable,” Brekke said in a statement released by the school on Sunday. “(Saturday) night we are holding the trophy above our heads and today we are shaking our heads in disbelief that the season is over. This hurts.” . . . Quinnipiac, which had won the ECAC regular-season title, will replace St. Lawrence in the NCAA tournament.

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As I watch the NCAA men’s basketball championship, I have to wonder why they bother having the coaches wear masks. I mean, what’s the purpose? . . . You have to know that a whole lot of coaches live in another world — they really are oblivious to the world outside their small circles — and they prove it with the way they handle masks. Embarrassing! . . . Perhaps hearing that Brent Brekke, the head coach of the St. Lawrence U men’s hockey team, has tested positive will be enough to make other coaches, no matter the sport, wear their masks properly at all times. Then, again, maybe not.


Spotted this headline on Twitter on Sunday — Tiger Woods didn’t brake before car crash. . . . Perhaps someone can explain why this is news.


Joey Votto, the Cincinnati Reds’ all-star first baseman, rejoined the team on Sunday for the first time since March 10. Votto, 37, left spring training in Goodyear, Ariz., after testing positive. . . . Votto indicated that doesn’t have any idea when he will be ready to play again, or whether he will be in the Reds’ starting lineup when the season opens on April 1.


Fish


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

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

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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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


Poop

Semples on verge of buying out partners in Pats; WHL governors poised to vote on deal . . . MJHL’s Freeze has new GM/coach

Ferris Backmeyer remained in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver on Wednesday, four days after a kidney transplant went awry. The four-year-old from Kamloops was extubated on Tuesday, and late, late that night her mother, Lindsey, wrote:

“At the moment she has an HD line on the right side of her neck, a central line on the left, a JP drain, an 8-inch wound on her abdomen, a femoral artline and a foot IV that has like 6 inches of plastic stopcocks with IV tubings running from it that get tangled in feet and really looks pretty uncomfortable.”

The HD line is for hemodialysis — she has been on 24 hours a day but hopefully will transition to once a day at some point today (Thursday). The JP drain is used to remove excess fluid after surgery.

This, folks, is a gritty four-year-old who has been through oh, so much.

But, hey, this girl’s got some spunk.

In the wee hours of Wednesday, Lindsey wrote: “She’s awake and asking for water and her soother and iPad! She hates that she doesn’t have an ‘outfit’ on. Unfortunately she has no idea it’s 12:30 a.m. She really wanted to sit up tonight and that’s just not a thing quite yet.”

There is a GoFundMe page that will benefit Ferris and her family right here.


Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post reported Wednesday night that the PatsWHL’s board of governors could vote today (Thursday) on a deal involving 50 per cent of the Regina Pats. . . . The sale involves four existing partners, with Gavin Semple and his son, Shaun, having tentatively agreed to buy out Todd Lumbard and Anthony Marquart. . . . As Harder reported, “Marquart is the founder and president of Queen City Sports and Entertainment Group, which purchased the Pats from the Parker family in the spring of 2014 for approximately $7.5 million.” . . . At the moment, the Semples own 50 per cent, with Lumbard, who is the team president, and Marquart holding the other 50 per cent. . . . Gavin and Shaun Semple own the Regina-based Brandt Group of Companies. . . . Harder’s complete story is right here.


You may recall that the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights were to have played the Colorado Eagles in Loveland, Colo., on Monday, only to have the game postponed due to COVID-19 protocols. It turns out that the Silver Knights experienced a false positive, so things are back to normal there.


Twain


The NBA had 465 players tested since March 3 and experienced only two positive tests, both of which came prior to the all-star break. . . . Head coach Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors, who missed two games prior to the break because of COVID-19 protocols, is expected to return to the bench tonight against the Atlanta Hawks in Orlando, Fla. However, the Raptors remain without five players — OG Anunoby, Malachi Flynn, Pat McCaw, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet. . . . With the U.S.-Canada border closed to non-essential travel, the Raptors are playing their home games in Orlando.


Joey Votto, the Cincinnati Reds’ veteran first baseman who is from Toronto, has tested positive. Votto, 36, will be away from spring training for an indefinite period. He was 4-for-9 in four exhibition games.



Clarkson’s men’s hockey team had its season halted on Wednesday. Although the school didn’t offer an explanation in a two-sentence news release, the speculation is that COVID-19 protocols are to blame. . . . Clarkson was to have played in an ECAC semifinal, but the withdrawal means that Quinnipiac will get a bye into the final, with Colgate visiting St. Lawrence in the lone semifinal. . . . Meanwhile, in the WCHA, Denver is going into the playoffs in Grand Forks, N.D., with only 16 skaters because it left eight players at home in quarantine. . . . College Hockey News reports that Colorado College also will have a short roster after having left an “unspecified” number of players in quarantine. . . . CHN has more on the situation right here.


How are things going in B.C.? Glad you asked . . .

CBC News — B.C. records 531 new cases of COVID-19 and 1 more death. There are 244 people in hospital with the disease, 66 of whom are in intensive care.

CBC News — Alberta reports 399 new COVID-19 cases, 2 more deaths. 47 new variant cases identified, for a total of 734 to date.

CBC News — 111 new COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, below the province’s 7-day average of 140. One additional death is also being reported.

CBC News — 77 new COVID-19 cases in Manitoba, highest daily total since February 27. Province’s 7-day average rises slightly to 61. 1 additional death is also being attributed to the virus.


Directions


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

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: Harry Mahesh is the new general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Freeze. He replaces Josh Green, who now is an assistant coach with the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice. Last season, Mahesh was an assistant coach with the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers. The Ice, Freeze and the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues all are owned by 50 Below Sports + Entertainment.


Sneezy

Reports have major junior leagues now aiming for Dec. 1 . . . Former Blades captain dies . . . Morden team changing nickname, logo

If you own a junior hockey franchise, you have to be watching the goings-on in MLB and wondering.

While the NBA and NHL have their teams all bubbled up and, at least to date, avoiding the coronavirus, you know that you don’t have the resources to attempt anything like that.

But then you look at MLB, which is attempting to do what you are hoping to do at some point this year — bring your team together and then travel in order to play games in various venues.

It isn’t going all that well for MLB, which is forging ahead despite having had two teams — the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals — decimated by the virus and another (Philadelphia Phillies) also been hit.

Through Tuesday, 23 MLB games involving nine teams had been postponed. The season is 13 days old.

At this point, then, you likely are holding your breath and hoping.

Earlier, the QMJHL and WHL had announced proposed starting dates of Oct. 1 and Oct. 2, respectively, for their 2020-21 regular seasons. The OHL hadn’t gone public with any such date.

Now there are reports that the three major junior leagues will announce perhaps as soon as today (Wednesday) that they hope to start their 2020-21 regular seasons on Dec. 1.

Postponing the start by two more months buys them some more time. The leagues will be able to sit back and watch developments, including the possible opening of schools.

The OHL and WHL also have teams located in the U.S., where, you may have noticed, things aren’t going so well. Two more months gives the leagues time to watch for improvements in that area, although under present leadership that doesn’t seem likely to happen.

And, of course, there’s the little matter of the U.S.-Canada border being closed. Do you think it’ll be open again in 2020?

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COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

On Sunday, the Cincinnati Reds placed 1B Joey Votto, a native of Toronto, on the injury list after he self-reported symptoms of the virus. On Monday, he hit a two-run, go-ahead homer to help the Reds beat the Cleveland Indians, 3-2. . . . It turns out that he tested negative and was reinstated. . . .

The much-ballyhooed Field of Dreams game, which was to have featured the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago White Sox on Aug. 13, has been postponed to August 2021. A date has yet to be announced. . . .

The Cardinals’ season is on hold after seven players and six staff members tested positive. . . . Six of the players are SS Paul DeJong, RHP Junior Fernández, C Yadier Molina, 1B Rangel Ravelo, SS Edmundo Sosa and RHP Kodi Whitley, each of whom gave the team the OK to release their names. The identity of a seventh player wasn’t released. . . . DeJong and Molina are all-star calibre players. . . . In a statement, Molina said he was “saddened to have tested positive for COVID-19, even after adhering to safety guidelines that were put in place.” . . .

Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, had some thoughts on the mess in which MLB finds itself. He concluded with this: “Baseball in 2020 reminds me of a guy at a poker table who is losing his shirt but keeps dipping into his bank account for another stake because he is ‘due for some good cards.’ It seems to me that MLB thinks it is due for some good news and just keeps on keeping on. . . . Albert Einstein reminded us that insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different outcomes.” . . . You should read the entirety of the curmudgeonly one’s latest post right here.

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The NFL’s Detroit Lions moved QB Matthew Stafford from the Reserve/COVID-19 list and placed him on the regular roster, saying that what was reported as a positive test actually was a false-positive. . . . The Jacksonville Jaguars did the same with QB Gardner Minshew after it was determined that he had tested negative. Minshew joked that the virus “took one look at me and ran the other way.” . . .

At least 48 players have opted out of playing in the NFL’s 2020 season. The league has a deadline of Thursday afternoon for players to make that decision. . . . Barry Wilner of The Associated Press has more right here.

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Rafael Nadal, the No. 2-ranked men’s tennis player, won’t play in this month’s U.S. Open, which is to start on Aug. 31. He said that he doesn’t want to travel during the pandemic. . . . The last time a tennis major didn’t feature either Roger Federer, who is out after having knee surgery, and Nadal? That was the 1999 U.S. Open. . . .

Meanwhile, Bianca Andreescu, who won the women’s U.S. Open title last year, said that she will be in New York to defend her title. . . . Andreescu, 20, from Mississauga, Ont., is the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam singles title. . . .

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The 104th running of the Indy 500 will take place without fans. Roger Penske, who owns the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said earlier in the year that the race, which was postponed from Memorial Day weekend to Aug. 23, would allow some fans to attend. . . . But with numbers rising in Marion County, Indiana, home of the Speedway, Penske has decided not to allow fans. . . .

The AHL has cancelled its 2020-21 All-Star Classic that was to have been played host to by the Laval Rocket on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. Instead, Laval will be the site of the 2021-22 Classic on a date yet to be determined. . . . The AHL is hoping to being its 2020-21 regular season on Dec. 4. . . .

Tennis lost the Madrid Open as the 2020 event, which features men’s and women’s draws, was cancelled. Originally scheduled in May, it had been postponed to September. But an increase in COVID-19 cases resulted in the event being cancelled.

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You will recall that the Houston Astros have been branded as cheaters after getting caught up in a sign-stealing scandal that has some baseball folks claiming the team actually stole a World Series title. . . . The other day, with the host Astros playing the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are particularly bitter, Houston’s Jose Altuve, who is really struggling at the plate, happened to strike out. Joe Davis, doing the play-by-play for the Dodgers, said Altuve was “perhaps guessing something else.” . . . Former Dodgers P Orel Hershiser, the analyst on the broadcast crew, disagreed. Said Hershiser: “Guessing’s harder than knowing.”



The QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes announced Tuesday that head coach Gordie Dwyer has left the organization in the hopes of landing a spot with a pro team. . . . Dwyer took over as head coach on Feb. 9, then went 6-6-0 before the league shut down because of the pandemic. . . . At the time, Dwyer took over from the fired Daniel Renaud, who had been the head coach since 2017. He was 23-28-0 last season. . . . The Cataractes will unveil their new coaching staff on Friday.


The Morden Redskins, a men’s team that plays in the South Eastern Manitoba Hockey League, has said that it will be changing its nickname and logo, which was fashioned after that belonging to the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. . . . Last month, Brandon Burley, the mayor of Morden, asked the team to make a change.


JUST NOTES: I haven’t watched a whole lot of the NHL since it resumed playing, but I’ve seen enough to realize that, despite what you might read in the rules book, cross-checking continues to be legal. . . . I need to find someone in Alberta to cut me in on the Edmonton Oilers’ 50-50 draw. If you aren’t aware, the winner of Monday’s draw put $1,629,722.50 into his/her bank account. On Saturday night, Danielle McGale won $381,275. Yes, she has a whole lot of new friends. . . . I was watching the MLB game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and host Minnesota Twins on Tuesday afternoon and there was a drone delay. Seriously.


Scattershooting on a Sunday night while hoping NBA and NHL bubbles don’t burst . . .

Scattershooting

Things are getting interesting in the world of U.S. college football. As Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote on Sunday: “A group of Pac-12 football players under the banner #WeAreUnited has issued a list of demands as a condition of the players’ participation in the 2020 season. These are not SEC players, not Big Ten players, not Ivy League players. They are Pac-12 players.” . . . In a piece posted at The Players Tribune, the players, among other things, demanded that they be allowed the option “not to play during the pandemic without losing eligibility or spot on our team’s roster” and the liability waivers be prohibited or voided. . . . There’s a whole lot more right here. . . . There also are reports that at least one school, Washington State, has dropped players from the football team’s roster because of their involvement with the #WeAreUnited movement.

Earlier, the Pac-12 announced that its football teams will play a 10-game, conference-only schedule if there is to be a 2020 season. The first games now are scheduled for Sept. 26. . . . Training camps are allowed to open on Aug. 17, but for at least four teams, those based in California, tackling won’t be allowed based on pandemic-related regulations. . . . Meanwhile, Cal has cancelled its 2020 season tickets. There is a public health order in place that restricts large gatherings, to the school is uncertain how many fans will be allowed to attend games once the schedule starts. It all means single-game tickets will be sold.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Doug Pederson, the head coach of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, has tested positive. Pederson, 52, is asymptomatic after receiving two positive tests. He is in self-quarantine. . . . Pederson is the second NFL head coach to test positive after it happened to Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints in March.

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1B Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds was placed on the injured list on Sunday. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Votto self-reported COVID-19 symptoms on Sunday morning despite not having tested positive. . . . Votto, 36 is from Toronto. . .

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The St. Louis Cardinals had three weekend games postponed — they were to have played the host Milwaukee Brewers — and now there are reports that they are expecting more positive tests. Apparently, they had six positives, including three from players, on the weekend, with more expected from Sunday tests. The Cardinals are scheduled to play four games in Detroit from Tuesday through Thursday, but those would seem to be in jeopardy.

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OF Yoenis Cespedes didn’t show up for the New York Mets’ game with the host Atlanta Braves on Sunday. He wasn’t in his hotel room, which had been emptied of luggage. Later, he confirmed that he has opted out of the remainder of the MLB season. . . .

Two MLB players chose to opt out of the season on Saturday. The Milwaukee Brewers lost OF Lorenzo Cain, while 2B Isan Diaz left the Miami Marlins. . . .

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Australian Nick Krygios said Sunday that he won’t play in the U.S. Open later this month. He cited health and safety concerns in making his announcement via Instagram. . . . Earlier, Ash Barty, the world’s No. 1 women’s player, also opted out. She, too, is from Australia. . . . The tournament is scheduled for Aug. 31 through Sept. 13. . . .

The German Football League has cancelled its 2020 season. In July, the league lost 10 of its 16 teams. The six remaining teams — the Berlin Rebels, Dresden Monarchs, Marburg Mercenaries, Munich Cowboys, Potsdam Royals and Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns — had suggested playing a shortened season, but five of those teams have since decided not to play. . . . A story at americanfootballinternational.com referred to the GFL as “arguably the best American football league outside of North America, Japan and Mexico.” . . .

TE Matt LaCosse of the New England Patriots has opted out of the 2020 NFL season. He is the eighth New England player to choose that route. . . . The NFL now has had at least 40 players opt out. There is a list right here. . . .

The Jacksonville Jaguars have placed five players, including QB Gardner Minshew, on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The Detroit Lions have done the same with QB Matthew Stafford. . . . From cbssports.com: “The league’s recently-implemented reserve/COVID-19 list includes players who either tested positive for the virus or who have been quarantined after having been in close contact with an infected person or persons. If a player falls into either category, their team is required to immediately place the player on the list. Teams are not permitted, per the agreed-upon NFL-NFLPA policy, to comment on player’s medical status other than referring to roster cuts. Furthermore, teams may not disclose whether a player is in quarantine or is positive for COVID-19.”


“Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson and pop-star wife Ciara named their new baby boy Win,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Somewhere, Al Davis is smiling.”

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Perry also is wondering: “If the Blue Jays win the World Series, will they be treated to a championship parade through the vacated streets of Buffalo?”


Here’s Bob Molinaro of the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot: “Sarcasm ahead — I don’t know how baseball people were able to judge the greatness of Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays without knowing the launch angle and exit velocity of their home runs.”


Fireworks