Scattershooting on a Sunday night while knowing the hockey world will answer the call to help out a family . . .

Scattershooting2

F Kyrell Sopotyk of the Kamloops Blazers suffered what The Sports Corporation, the agency that represents him, described in a Sunday tweet as “an injury . . . that will be life-changing” in a snowboarding accident. . . . Sopotyk, 19, is from Aberdeen, Sask., which is located 42 km northeast of Saskatoon. He was injured on Friday and is in a Saskatoon hospital. . . . He played two seasons (2018-20) with the Blazers, totalling 22 goals and 23 assists in 107 regular-season games. . . . As a 15-year-old, Sopotyk played for the Prince Albert Mintos and led the Saskatchewan U18 AAA league in goals, with 42 in 42 games. . . . The Blazers selected him in the fifth round of the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. . . . The Sports Corporation, which is based in Edmonton, is headed up by by Gerry Johannson, its president and CEO. . . .

Kathleen Zary, the mother of Blazers F Connor Zary, who is from Saskatoon, started a GoFundMe page on behalf of the Sopotyk family on Sunday afternoon. Kathleen wrote that Sopotyk has been “paralyzed,” adding: “We’re raising this money to help support any possible renovations, healthcare costs, and any additional supports they may require.” . . . Shortly after it opened, the fund blew past its initial goal of $10,000. That resulted in the goal being changed to $50,000; as of Sunday night, the fund had surpassed $60,000. . . . If you wish to donate, click right here.


If you were watching Sunday’s NFL conference finals, you will have noticed fans in the stands. . . . There were about 9,000 present as the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers dumped the Green Bay Packers, 31-26, and about 17,000 fans in Kanas City as the Chiefs dropped the Buffalo Bills, 38-24.

Gee, you’re wondering, what’s going on?

Well . . . let’s look at some numbers, all as of Sunday . . .

According to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Wisconsin has had 580,003 confirmed cases and 6,184 deaths, with Missouri at 459,748 confirmed cases and 6,774 deaths. . . . The U.S. has had 25,124,064 confirmed cases and 419,204 deaths.

Now how about some Canadian comparisons, with numbers from government sites as of Sunday morning . . .

Saskatchewan has had 22,177 cases and 253 deaths. In Ontario, those numbers were 255,002 and 5,803, and in Quebec they were 253,633 and 9,478. . . . Canada has had 747,000 cases and 19,094 deaths.

BTW, some populations — Wisconsin, 5,8 million; Missouri, 6.15 million; Saskatchewan, 1.18 million; Ontario, 14.7 million; Quebec, 8.57 million. . . . The U.S. population is 331 million; Canada’s is 37.7 million.


Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, with a Hank Aaron story — Among Aaron’s chilling memories: When he played for the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro Leagues in ’51, his team had breakfast at a restaurant near the ballpark in Washington D.C. As the players were finishing, they heard the kitchen staff shattering the dishes the players had eaten off. “What a horrible sound,” Aaron recalled years later.

——

“Yogi Berra, the late New York Yankees legend, is about to get his own commemorative postage stamp,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “New U.S. Postal Service motto: It ain’t delivered til it’s delivered.”


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, isn’t a fan of documentaries, so doesn’t plan on watching HBO’s two-parter about the life and times of Tiger Woods. But the curmudgeonly one did notice HBO plugging the shows with the tagline: “The raw truth about Tiger Woods is about to be revealed.” . . . That got the curmudgeonly one to write: “The reason there might even be ‘raw truth’ to reveal about Tiger Woods is because he has had nothing but fawning coverage — bordering on idolatry — for about 20 years. A major component of the existence of such ‘raw truth’ is the complicity of the toadies who covered golf and Tiger Woods.”

——

Earlier this week, Finarelli began his daily post with what he referred to as a “personal note.” It went like this . . .

There is a benefit to being an old fart; yesterday afternoon, my number came up and I received my first dose of the Moderna Vaccine. The selection process is the mirror image of ageism; rather than experiencing an adverse action as a result of my advanced age, I received a benefit based on nothing more than my date of birth.

And . . . regarding any worries I might have that I was just ‘microchipped’ such that the chip can be interrogated to locate me and track me, I have two simple responses:

  1. Why would anyone give a damn — hat tip to Rhett Butler — regarding my whereabouts?
  2. My cell phone already does that.”


Jon Rosen spent four seasons (2007-11) as the play-by-play voice of the WHL’s Everett Silvertips. So when he writes about what it was like riding a bus through the WHL, he knows of what he remembers. . . . He has written about it of late, and it’s entertaining, and it’s right here. . . . Somehow Rosen managed to write this piece without gloating about his Los Angeles Dodgers and for that he is to be commended!


You may recall that Urban Meyer, the new head coach of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, walked away from NCAA head-coaching jobs with Florida and Ohio State for health reasons. As blogger Chad Picasner points out: “Of course, the best treatment for that is money. . . . I’m sure he feels better already.”


If you’re a fan of the Baltimore Orioles or Washington Nationals, you may be interested in knowing that MASN, the TV station shared by the two teams, has made some cuts. Gone are Gary Thorne, the play-by-play voice of the Orioles, along with the likes of Mike Bordick, Tom Davis, Rick Dempsey, Jim Hunter and Dave Johnson. . . . Also gone are pre- and post-game shows. . . . There are reports that MASN is having cash-flow issues.


A tweet from Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt following the retirement of Indy Colts QB Philip Rivers: “I’ll never forget lining up for a play and Phil pointing to one of our linebackers and telling him he was lined up wrong based off the blitz we were about to run and being 100% correct about it haha.”


Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel writes about the legacy of former RHP Don Sutton, who died on Monday at 75: “Just a friendly reminder to all of the baseball pitchers of today who skip starts because they might have a strained cuticle on their pinkie and for all the NBA players who sit out games because of load management, Sutton was never on the injured list and never missed a turn in the rotation in 756 big-league starts over 23 seasons.”


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Ryan Struyk, CNN, Sunday, 7:38 a.m. PT — The US death toll will reach 569,000 by May 1, according to new coronavirus projections from a University of Washington model.

The New York Times — Mexico’s president, a coronavirus skeptic, is the latest world leader to become infected. Hospitals are overrun as the country’s death toll nears 150,000.

The U of Michigan has suspended all athletics for at least two weeks after cases of the B.1.1.7. variant of COVID-19 were found within the department. There have been five confirmed cases, with another 15 presumed positive cases in the athletic department. . . . The men’s basketball teams is 13-1 and ranked No. 7, with the women’s team (10-1) ranked No. 11.

It is expected that the accesso ShoWare Center in Kent, Wash., the home of the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds, will be used as a vaccination site. The city and King County expect to have all the paperwork done within days. The plan is to have the site open six days a week and to provide 500 vaccinations per day.

The NHL’s San Jose Sharks opened the NHL regular-season with an eight-game road trip. Under normal circumstances, they play in Santa Clara County, which has a ban in place on contact sports. That means the Sharks are going to play home games at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz., the home of the Arizona Coyotes. The Sharks’ ‘home’ schedule opens with games against the Vegas Golden Knights on Feb. 1 and 3.


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.


QMJHL taking seven teams into bubble . . . BCHL cancels some games . . . MJHL shuts down three more teams



While you may be aware that this was a week for hard-hitting journalism, you may not be aware as to precisely how hard-hitting it was. . . . For example, on the evening of the U.S. election, Jordan Armstrong, an anchor and reporter with Global TV in Vancouver, was decrying an apparent shortage of Hawkins Cheezies in his part of the world. . . . Someone suggested via Twitter, of course, that there was a pandemic-related shortage. . . . It remained for Steve Ewen of Postmedia to do the grunt work. On Wednesday morning, Ewen contacted the good people at Hawkins via email and received this response: “Due to the covid virus we were behind in production in the spring, but have ramped up production and are making and shipping record amounts.” . . . Ewen ended his tweet with: “Glad to bring good news.” . . . Jason Pires of CTV Vancouver followed with: “Excellent, important journalism.” . . . I’m just thrilled to know Cheezies will be available for my Christmas stocking. I was beginning to get worried.



Dummy


Headline at TheOnion.com: Antonio Brown agrees to one-year plea deal with Tampa Bay Buccaneers.


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Dodgers players and employees allowed or encouraged virus-positive Justin Turner to join the on-field World Series celebration, in defiance of MLB security. Fines, penalties, suspensions? Zero. I’m starting to wonder what you have to do to get Rob Manfred ticked off.”


Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “MLB announced its won’t discipline Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner for returning to the field to celebrate his team’s World Series championship after testing positive mid-game for COVID-19. Hey, it was either that or suspend him for 10 spring-training games.”


You may have heard that Jon Gruden, the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, was fined $150,000 for repeated violations of the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols. As Dan Daly of ProFootballDaly.com put it: “Maybe it would help if somebody explained to Gruden that COVID gets up even earlier in the morning than he does.”


Here’s Chad Picasner, who blogs at chadpicasner.blogspot.com, describing Major League Baseball today: “You used to judge a pitcher by things like: How good is his curveball? Or how hard does he throw? Now you need to know spin rates, arm angles and BABIP, which is Batting Average of Balls In Play. Hitting coaches have to know bat speed, time in the zone and launch angles. Base-running coaches need to know . . . a different career, since the new metrics frown on stealing bases.”


Airport


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .


The QMJHL announced Sunday that it is going to move seven of its Quebec-qmjhlnewbased team into a bubble in Quebec City, from Nov. 17-27. . . . Interestingly, one of those teams — the Chicoutimi Sagueneens — had a member of its organization test positive and suspended all activities on Saturday. . . . According to the QMJHL, its plan has gotten the all-clear from the province’s Assembly of Members and public health officials. . . . The seven teams, each of which is located in a provincially designated red zone so recently was shut down, are Chicoutimi, the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, Drummondville Voltigeurs, Gatineau Olympiques, Quebec Remparts, Shawinigan Cataractes and Victoriaville Tigres. . . . Each team is to play six regular-season games at the Videotron Centre in Quebec City. . . . Earlier, the Armada had to shut things down after experiencing 18 positive tests. All told, it’s believed that QMJHL teams have had about 30 positive tests. . . . On Oct. 15, the Quebec government said it would give the QMJHL $12 million in funding to help the Quebec-based teams through the pandemic. . . . Roby St-Gelais of Le Journal de Quebec reported that each organization will be allowed to have 34 people in the bubble, with a maximum of 25 being players. On-ice officials also will be isolated in the bubble. Unless something changes, media and scouts won’t be permitted to attend. . . . St-Gelais also reported that the QMJHL still is working on the process for testing those in the bubble. As he pointed out, a “COVID-19 test costs an average of $200” in the private sector.

CBC News: Quebec is reporting 1,397 new cases of COVID-19. This is Quebec’s highest single-day increase according to Public Health Canada’s historical data. The province also added 9 deaths, for a total of 6,440 deaths since the pandemic began.

——

The BCHL has cancelled seven exhibition games involving its four Lower BCHLMainland teams — the Chilliwack Chiefs, Coquitlam Express, Langley Rivermen and Surrey Eagles — in light of restrictions announced Saturday by the province’s health officer. . . . Those games were to have been played from Nov. 13-21. . . . Under the restrictions, all indoor sports incapable of physical distancing have been suspended in two health regions — Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal — until Nov. 23. . . . Powell River is within Vancouver Coastal, but the BCHL is awaiting clarification on the status of the Kings. Powell River is in a two-team cohort, along with the Cowichan Valley Capitals. They were to have played on Sunday in Duncan, but the game was cancelled because of travel restrictions that also were implemented. . . . The four Lower Mainland teams were playing in a cohort among themselves. . . . The BCHL has said that it wants to open its regular season in “early December.”

——

Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reports that he MJHL has had to shut down three more teams as part of the decision by mjhlManitoba health officials to declare the Southern Health Region a red zone. The Portage Terriers, Steinbach Pistons and Winkler Flyers have joined the Selkirk Steelers, Winnipeg Blues and Winnipeg Freeze in a holding pattern. . . . The Pistons, Steelers, Blue and Freeze comprise the Southeast Division, while the Terriers and Flyers are in the Interior Division with the Virden Oil Capitals and Neepawa Natives. . . . The OCN Blizzard, one of four teams in the Northwest Division, were shut down last week after a player tested positive.

Brandon Sun: Three more people have died and 441 new cases of COVID-19 were identified in Manitoba on Sunday.

——

CBC News: Saskatchewan is reporting 159 new cases of COVID-19, a new single-day record, and 1 new death. The province has 1,122 active cases.32 people are in hospital, including 7 in intensive care.

CBC News: Alberta is reporting 727 new cases of COVID-19 and 6 new deaths for a total of 33,504 cases and 363 deaths since the pandemic began.

CBC News: Nunavut’s 2nd case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Sanikiluaq. The territory’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson says: “The individual is part of the same household as the first positive case, is asymptomatic, isolated and is doing well.”

The New York Times: The U.S. reported its 10 millionth coronavirus case on Sunday. The latest million was added in just the last 10 days, and the country now accounts for about one-fifth of all reported cases in the world.

The New York Times: The U.S. surpassed 10 million coronavirus cases on Sunday, and experts say the virus is spreading out of control. With winter ahead, the next 73 days before Inauguration Day could be critical for controlling the pandemic.

Minyvonne Burke of NBC News reported Sunday that the Los Angeles Dodgers have had nine positive tests within their organization. As well, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, one family member has tested positive. . . . It isn’t known if Dodgers 3B Justin Turner is included in the total. Turner was removed late in the team’s Game 6 World Series-clinching victory on Oct. 27, but returned to the field to take part in the post-game celebrations in Arlington, Texas.


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.


Mike Bianchi, in the Orlando Sentinel: “Why did the officials pick up the flag for pass interference on the Tampa Bay Bucs during the potential game-tying two-point conversion for the New York Giants on Monday Night Football? Because Daniel Jones threw the pass and not Tom Brady. No matter what the sport is, don’t ever forget this: The studs get the calls and duds don’t.”


Horses

Scattershooting on a Thursday night while watching Ovie shoot for 700 . . .

Scattershooting

A lot of what follows was to have been up here earlier in the week, but I got caught up in the Trevor Weisgerber story that you may have read here. If you haven’t seen it, just scroll down a bit and ready about the hockey coach who is fresh off a kidney transplant . . . Apologies, then, if some of what follows is a touch dated . . .


Followers of the WHL should be looking to the Pacific Northwest and thanking the Everett Silvertips and Seattle Thunderbirds for having breathed some life into the 2019-20 season.

Considering that their home arenas are located a few slapshots apart — of course, with SeattleSeattle-area traffic that can turn into a long drive in terms of time — we should expect this to be a healthy rivalry.

Now, however, I think it’s fair to say that this is the WHL’s top rivalry.

On Saturday night, the Silvertips hung a 5-2 beating on the host Thunderbirds, who actually play in Kent, Wash.

There was some nastiness, of course, a lot of it stemming from a second-period incident in which Everett F Justyn Gurney delivered an unpenalized shoulder to the head of Seattle D Cade McNelly. Less than 24 hours later, the WHL suspended Gurney for two games.

It was after the game when things really heated up.

Dennis Williams, the Silvertips’ head coach, told Josh Horton of the Everett Herald: “I Everettdon’t know what (Seattle’s) mindset is. Do they not want to play hockey? The game of hockey is skilled. It’s making plays, it’s going up the ice. From the midway to the second on, we knew we had them beat.”

Williams also told Horton that he lifted No. 1 G Dustin Wolf in the third period because “I just don’t trust them.”

On Sunday afternoon, Thunderbirds general manager Bil La Forge responded, telling Andy Eide of ESPN radio in Seattle: “Their comments post-game got me riled up. We always are portrayed as the big bad Thunderbirds. We do play hard and I’m not apologizing for that nor will I ever. But I think them yelling down at us from their high horse has to stop.”

La Forge, who obviously had done some research, also told Eide: “I think the numbers speak for themselves. They’ve been suspended 52 games in the last three seasons, we’ve been suspended 40. Twenty-six of their (game) suspensions have been against us and only eight of our game suspensions have been against them. That tells me that we’re playing hard, I’m not going to deny that. But, we’re trying to play within the rules as much as possible.”

Meanwhile, Thom Beuning, the veteran play-by-play voice of the Thunderbirds, was tweeting:

The Silvertips and Thunderbirds are scheduled to face each other three more times this season, starting tonight (Friday) in Everett. Happy Valentine’s Day!

And the U.S. Division-leading Portland Winterhawks are sitting back, enjoying every second of this, and saying: “Have at ’er boys!”

(Eide’s complete story, with lots of great quotes from La Forge, who used to work for the Silvertips, is right here.)


A couple of days later, Tom Gaglardi, the majority owner of the Kamloops Blazers, did his best to stimulate the rivalry not only between his team and the Kelowna Rockets, but also Kamloops1between the cities. . . . Gaglardi didn’t just throw some fuel on the fire; he opened the gas bowser and left it running. . . . When Gaglardi chatted with Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week, the Blazers (32-16-4), who had lost five in a row (0-4-1), were leading the B.C. Division, with the Rockets (23-25-3) 19 points back in fourth spot. . . . In the fall of 2018, you may recall, the WHL’s board of governors heard bids from Kamloops, Kelowna and the Lethbridge Hurricanes, each of whom wanted to play host to the 2020 Memorial Cup. . . . In the end, the governors chose the Rockets whose big boss, Bruce Hamilton, is the chairman of that board of governors. . . . “I think you know how I feel,” Gaglardi told Hastings. “Yeah, it was our turn. It should have been ours. It was the wrong thing. The league did the wrong thing. . . . Yeah, I’m sour, for sure. I’m disappointed.” . . . Hastings’ complete story is right here. . . . The Hurricanes (33-12-7), meanwhile, are second in the Central Division, six points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings (35-8-9).


Annoying


There is ample speculation that quarterback Tom Brady won’t be returning to the New England Patriots. However, Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel doesn’t see him landing with the Buccaneers. Bianchi explained: “Not to be mean, but putting Tom Brady on the Bucs would be like putting the Mona Lisa in Room 217 of the Red Roof Inn.”


The San Francisco Giants have a manager (Gabe Kapler) and 13 coaches, none of whom chews tobacco. As Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle writes: “The new day in baseball has been coming for a long time now, and with the Giants, it’s here. In the old days, not that long ago, everybody chewed and dipped, and drank. Including the batboy.” . . . If you aren’t aware, using smokeless tobacco is against MLB’s rules, but it’s against the law like speeding and not using turn signals are against the law. . . . “The Giants, though, might have the first tabacky-free MLB coaching staff in history. That’s a guess,” Ostler adds.


A recent gem from the readerboard at the El Arroyo restaurant in Austin, Texas: “Did anyone catch the football game at the J-Lo and Shakira concert?”



Here’s Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times after an incident during a college basketball game: “Houston guard DeJon Jarreau bit Cincinnati’s Keith Williams on the calf during a loose-ball scrum, so he was ejected from the game. Or more precisely, extracted.”

——

One more from Perry: “Who says there’s too much time between the NFL’s conference-championship games and the Super Bowl? Pamela Anderson and Jon Peters managed to get married — and separated — in that two-week span this year.”


A tip of the fedora to the Spokane Chiefs for honouring the Spokane Jets, who won the 1970 Allan Cup, a trophy that once was among the most famous in all of hockey. . . . Dan Thompson wrote a terrific story about the Jets and some of the men who returned to Spokane for Sunday’s game, and it’s all right here, from the pages of the Spokesman-Review.


Baseball


After a Saturday hockey game in which the Calgary Flames physically abused F Elias Pettersson of the host Vancouver Canucks, Ken Campbell of The Hockey News points out that the NHL has allowed its best players to be subjected to this kind of treatment for years and years. Hey, remember when Bobby Hull complained of it? . . . Campbell has more right here. . . . Could it be that the NHL is starting to realize that cross-checking is a problem? Maybe if the NHL does something about that, the WHL will, too.


Former Swift Current Broncos F Sheldon Kennedy has been named to the Order of Hockey In Canada, as well he should have been. He, along with Ken Dryden and Dr. Charles Tator, will be saluted at the Hockey Canada Foundation annual affair in Niagara Falls in June. . . . The WHL posted a story on its website announcing the honour and pointing out that Kennedy roller-bladed “across Canada to raise awareness and funds for sexual assault victims. Kennedy devoted his post-hockey career to child-abuse prevention and education.” . . . Unfortunately, the WHL didn’t bother to explain why Kennedy headed down this career path after bringing an end to his professional hockey career. It was, of course, because he — along with a number of teammates — was sexually abused on hundreds of occasions by Graham James, who then was the Broncos’ general manager and head coach. . . . I have written it before and here it is again: It is long past time for the WHL to unveil an award in Kennedy’s honour, one that should go to anyone who has been involved with the WHL at any level and has gone on to do outstanding work outside the walls of the league.



According to Forbes Magazine, the New York Knicks, who are one of the NBA’s poorest-run operations, carry the highest valuation of the Association’s 30 teams, at $4.6 billion. . . . Here’s Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports reacting to that: “The Knicks should serve as a true inspiration to anyone who dares to dream of being super rich despite sucking at pretty much everything. That’s the real American Dream.”


JUST NOTES: Congrats to Brent Kisio, who became the winningest head coach in the history of the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Saturday night, when he put up victory No. 189. That put him one ahead of Bryan Maxwell. It’s believed that Kisio also has more friends among the zebras than Maxie did. . . . The Everett Silvertips have signed head coach Dennis Williams to a two-year contract extension. A tip of the fedora to Everett GM Garry Davidson for announcing the length of the extension — through the 2022-23 season. The 40-year-old Williams is in his third season with the Silvertips. His regular-season record is a rather solid 127-48-14, and he is 19-13 in the playoffs. . . . Earlier in the week, the Winnipeg Ice signed head coach James Patrick to a three-year extension. Patrick is in his third season with the Ice, which will make the playoffs this go-round for the first time on Patrick’s watch. . . .

Hey, Sportsnet, I think it’s time to suggest to your hockey analysts — hello there Garry Galley; hi Louie DeBrusk — that they stop talking when the play resumes. There’s a time for analysis/nattering and a time for play-by-play; when the puck is in the area of a goal, it’s play-by-play time. And we won’t even get into the fact that Galley talks far too much. . . . Nick Taylor, who calls Abbotsford, B.C., home, went wire-to-wire in winning the Pebble Beach Pro-Am on the weekend, even starting down Phil Mickelson in the final round on Sunday. Here’s hoping that Taylor’s accomplishment isn’t forgotten by all of the year-end award voters come the closing weeks of 2020. . . .

The best part of a Major League Baseball game is the strategy involved; it’s why you don’t have to be a fan of one of the two teams involved in a game to enjoy it. That’s why I absolutely despise the rule announced this week involving a relief pitcher having to face at least three batters if he doesn’t end an inning. It also could spell the end to the left-handed specialist. . . . And a big happy birthday to Brad Hornung, a friend who turned 51 on Thursday.


Scattershooting late on a Monday night with the shopping all done for another year . . .

Scattershooting


It’s a little-heard Christmas song these days, but there was a time when Honky the Christmas Goose was on the charts. It featured then-Toronto Maple Leafs G Johnny Bower, his son, and a few youngsters. . . . Dave Stubbs of nhl.com has a look back right here. . . . And if you haven’t read Dan Robson’s book on Bower — Bower: A Legendary Life — give it a read. You won’t be disappointed.



“Bed Bath & Beyond announced the departure of six members of its executive team,” notes Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe. “Is it safe to assume the company will at least give each of the six a 20 per cent store discount for life?”

——

Here’s Hough, again: “So as President Trump has authorized $2 billion for ‘Space Force’, did he consider asking Michael Jordan to head it?”



After a hectic past two weeks, the plan was to spend Sunday at home in the recliner watching some football. But when the time came TSN had the Detroit Lions and Denver Broncos on four channels. . . . We went out for coffee.


Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “Eat your heart out, Wonderboy. The bat Babe Ruth used to club his 500th career home run fetched $1 million on the auction block. Ruth — in his 21 MLB seasons combined — got paid $856,850.”

——

Perry, again: “The Houston Rockets’ James Harden joined an exclusive NBA club by totalling 100 points in back-to-back games. Leaving him just one game shy of tying Wilt Chamberlain, who once scored 100 in one consecutive game.”



The U of Florida has named its basketball floor in honour of former men’s coach Billy Donovan. That got Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel looking for other state coaches who might be similarly saluted. He tweeted:“Best so far: (1) Jimbo Fisher Christmas Tree Recycling Center. (2) Urban Meyer Detention Center.”


The QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympiques appear to be something of a mess. Alain Sear, a co-owner and the general manager, left the team the other day. The next day, Martin Lacasse stepped down as the chairman of the team’s board of directors. . . . On the ice, the Olympiques are 7-23-3 and only one point out of the 18-team league’s basement. . . . According to Alexandre Pratt of the newspaper La Presse, the Olympiques had fewer than 500 fans at a recent home game at the Robert-Guertin Centre. . . . The good news is that the Olympiques will be moving into a new $80-million, 4,000-seat facility in time for the 2021-22 season.



Former WHLer Carter Rigby has taken over as head coach of the junior B Osoyoos Coyotes of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. He played one season (2010-11) with the Coyotes. In the WHL, he skated with the Prince George Cougars, Kelowna Rockets and Swift Current Broncos. . . . Rigby, 25, takes over from Grant Williams, who had been the interim head coach since Dean Maynard and the team parted company last month. Maynard had taken over as interim coach in January, and was named GM and head coach in April.


The Jacksonville Jaguars, with Gardner Minshew at quarterback, beat the Raiders, 20-16, in what likely was Oakland’s final home game before it relocates to Las Vegas. “An awesome experience,” Minshew said of the Dec. 15 game. “I saw more middle fingers today than I have my whole life.”



You’re right . . . the NFL’s Detroit Lions haven’t been good in recent years. As Justin Rogers of the Detroit News pointed out on Twitter: “Two presidents have been impeached since the Lions last won the division.”


Once upon a time, Sara Rogers’ great-grandmother, eight years of age at the time, wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Sun. “Please tell me the truth,” she wrote, “is there a Santa Claus?” . . . The response, when it came, was one for the ages and it lives on today. . . . That story is right here. . . . Enjoy, have a Merry Christmas and please stay safe out there.