The Bookshelf: Part 1 of 3

Bookshelf

For the past number of years, I have posted thumbnails of some of the books I have read over the previous 12 months. So here were are again. Perhaps this will help with yourChristmas shopping or your Christmas list. . . .

What books are on my Christmas list?. . . The Grim Reaper, by Stu Grimson . . . Rob Vanstone’s 100 Things Roughriders Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die. (No, I’m not a Roughriders’ fan, but I spent 17 years at the Regina Leader-Post, so I have some interest there.) . . . The Irishman, by Charles Brandt. It first was published as I Heard You Paint Houses. (Watching The Irishman on Netflix is on this week’s list of things to do.) . . . Blowout, by Rachel Maddow . . . Where The Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens . . .

Anyway . . . here’s the first of three parts of this year’s Bookshelf . . .

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Basketball: A Love Story — This book is the offspring of a 20-hour,10-part TV series produced by ESPN. There were many hours of interviews that didn’t make the cut, so it remained for authors Jackie MacMullan, Rafe Bartholomew and Dan Klores to put together a wonderful oral history of basketball. It is amazing to hear so many stories told by the women and men to whom the game has meant so much. I really, really enjoyed this book.

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Before the Lights Go Out: A Season Inside a Game on the Brink — What, if anything, is wrong with the state of hockey in Canada? If there is a problem, is it due to falling registration numbers that can be blamed on the high cost of getting children involved in the game? Why aren’t more new Canadians becoming involved at a young age? Why was there such a backlash when Hockey Canada decreed that young players were going to have to play cross-ice? Author Sean Fitz-Gerald tries to get to the root of the situation in this book. Unfortunately, this is more like two books in one. He spent the 2017-18 campaign with the Peterborough Petes, and the time he spent with the OHL club as it struggled through an abysmal season takes up a lot of the book. That doesn’t leave nearly enough space for everything else, a lot of which is focussed in the Peterborough area. Still, this is an interesting read in that it does examine some issues facing Hockey Canada.

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Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times — If you enjoy it when someone pokes the bear, you will absolutely love this book. Author Mark Leibovich is a huge fan of the New England Patriots, but that doesn’t stop him from having fun at the expense of the NFL, its commissioner, the owners and THE SHIELD. This is good stuff! . . . If you don’t believe me, The New York Times called it “a gossipy, insightful and wickedly entertaining journey through the N.F.L. sausage factory.” It is all that, and more.

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The Blue — Who knew that a book about porcelain could be so engrossing. Author Nancy Bilyeau impeccably researched novel involving spying, murder, kidnapping and, yes, love in the 18th century is gripping. England and France are at war and porcelain is a commodity that is much in demand. Genevieve Planché is the main character — she was born in England but is of Huguenot descent — and she often finds herself torn as the story twists and winds its way from England to France. I quite enjoyed this work of historical fiction.

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The Border — This is the best fiction book I read in 2019; in fact, this is the best read I have had in a long, long time. It is the final book in author Don Winslow’s trilogy about the American government and its war on drugs. The trilogy began with The Power of the Dog. Then came The Cartel. . . . Both books were excellent. The Border, though, is better than that. There are times when you wonder if what you are reading really is fiction, because a lot of it certainly seems factual. Winslow spent more than 20 years researching and writing; he knows his subject and it shows.

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Bower: A Legendary Life — I read this one early in 2019 — yes, it was a Christmas gift — and I guaranteed at the time that it would be on my top 10 list for the year. It didn’t turn me into a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but it introduced me to Johnny Bower, one of the NHL’s greatest goaltenders who, more importantly, was a kind and gentle person, a true family man and a lover of life. Author Dan Robson does a wonderful job of telling Bower’s story. You can only shake your head in disbelief at the conditions and wages that were part of the lives of Bower and so many other players who were involved in the NHL pre-1967, or, worse, were stuck in the minor leagues. . . . One note about Bower: The Toronto-area community in which he and his wife Nancy ended up living in named a park after him. Bower would visit it daily . . . and pick up any litter that was left laying around.

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The Browns Blues: Two Decades of Utter Frustration: Why Everything Kept Going Wrong for the Cleveland Browns — How bad have the Cleveland Browns been? So bad that author Terry Pluto’s book needed two subtitles. Pluto, a long-time columnist with the Cleveland Plain Dealer who has a number of books to his credit, explains why fans of the NFL team have suffered such pain and anguish since 1999. Why 1999? Because that’s when the NFL returned to Cleveland after the original Browns had departed for Baltimore following the 1995 season. Get into Pluto’s book and you’ll find yourself doing a lot of head-shaking because he doesn’t hold back when it comes to pointing fingers.

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Cemetery Road — Greg Iles has done it again. The author of the southern U.S.-based Natchez Burning trilogy is back in Mississippi and, again, he has produced a gem. Since leaving his hometown of Bienville, Miss., Marshall McEwan has become an all-powerful journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winner based in Washington, D.C. Now, with his father dying, he’s back in Bienville to run the family newspaper. It doesn’t take long before he’s embroiled in, well, just about everything you could imagine — from love to hate, from politics to murder — and is faced with making one decision after another.

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The Cold Dish — I have watched numerous episodes of Longmire, the TV series based on books written by Craig Johnson. This is the first of the Longmire books and it ended up being one of the series’ episodes. I quite enjoy the TV series, but I have to tell you that I liked this book a lot more, if only because Deputy Sheriff Victoria (Vic) Moretti is a whole lot saltier and sassier on the written page than on a TV screen.

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A Dedicated Man — Author Peter Robinson has written more than two dozen crime novels featuring Inspector Alan Banks, who left the police force in London for a quieter life in the Yorkshire Dales in the north of England. The first of these books — Gallows View — was published in 1987, and the latest — Many Rivers to Cross — in 2019. . . . A Dedicated Man came out in 1988 and is the second book in the series. . . . Somehow these books had escaped me until earlier this year. I quite enjoyed my initiation and certainly will be back for more.

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Tomorrow: Part 2 of 3.

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while contemplating the Blue Bombers’ victory and the end of the Legend of Shorts Guy . . .

Scattershooting

A Manitoban by birth, I quite enjoyed watching the Winnipeg Blue Bombers win the Grey Cup on Sunday, beating the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, 33-12, in Calgary. . . . I was most thrilled for Richie Hall, the Bombers’ defensive co-ordinator. There was a time during the season when you might have thought his first name was Much-Maligned. You won’t find a nicer person in all of football, indeed, in all of the sporting world. Yes, this victory looks good on him.

There might be a lesson for a whole lot of sporting fans in the following two tweets . . .


You know it’s the Grey Cup when a guy who hasn’t worn pants, only shorts, for 18 years becomes a big story. It was a story during the week, and it was a bigger story after the game when, yes, he put on a pair of pants.


In light of Don Cherry’s firing by Rogers Sportsnet, you may have been wondering whether the 17 Canadian WHL teams will continue with the third annual promotion that goes by the name RE/MAX Presents: WHL Suits Up with Don Cherry to Promote Organ Donation. . . . Chris Young of The Canadian Press asked the WHL about it on Thursday. He got this email response: “At this time, we continue to review this matter with the stakeholders involved (sponsor, charity, member clubs). We will provide a further update when we are able.” . . . To date, it’s been crickets from the Kidney Foundation of Canada and RE/MAX.

It is hard to comprehend how the WHL will be able to maintain the status quo considering why Cherry was fired and that the league has this statement on its website:

“The WHL is committed to remaining a world leader in the development of players, coaches and officials for the NHL, U Sports and Hockey Canada while continuing to offer the finest player experience and academic opportunities. The WHL also continues to be recognized for a high standard of competition, fair play and integrity while playing an active role in communities, minor hockey programs and local charitable initiatives throughout the region.”

In the first two years of the promotion, the Kidney Foundation has benefitted by more than $460,000. However, the foundation and RE/MAX also should have acted a whole lot quicker than this to sever ties with Cherry.

I know it’s not that easy, not with thousands of Don Cherry/Ron MacLean bobbleheads sitting in a warehouse somewhere and all of those jerseys being produced for the teams to sell at auction. But you can’t continue to talk about inclusivity and diversity and be involved in something like this.

It pains me to write this because of the volunteer work we do in the Kamloops kidney community, but the time has come for all involved to go in a different direction.



A report from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “In the latest MLB cheating update, now there’s reports that Houston players wore realistic-looking electronic bandages that buzzed in real time to relay signs stolen from the opposing catcher. Astros GM Maxwell Smart declined comment.”


The Edmonton Oilers had more than a few fans in Vegas on Saturday night where they dumped the Golden Knights, 4-2. By the look of things, some of those fans went home with some money in their jeans.


Here’s Larry Brooks in the New York Post: “Through Friday, 17 of the NHL’s 31 teams had won nine, 10 or 11 games. While 26 — 26! — teams somehow could claim records of .500 or better. That’s parity, folks, only it is spelled P-A-R-O-D-Y.” . . . There’s more, including Brooks’s thoughts on the Mike Babcock firing, right here.

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What’s that? You’re wondering about the WHL? Well, including Sunday’s games, nine of the 22 teams had won 11, 12 or 13 games. At the same time, 15 teams somehow could claim records of .500 or better.


There has been a lot of chatter the last while as to just how inclusive hockey is (or isn’t). In the middle of all this, the Saskatchewan Hockey Association has told the midget AA and midget AAA programs at Beardy’s and Okemasis Cree Nation that they are done after this season. . . . Alex MacPherson of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix writes right here about the decision, and there is more right here.


Why do we like Patti Dawn Swansson’s musings in these parts? Well, it might have something to do with the River City Renegade’s snark. And, well, she definitely took the snark pills before penning, er, tossing darts in her latest piece, which is right here. If you haven’t already, try it; you’ll like it.



JUST NOTES: You’re wondering: What happened to Mike Babcock with the Toronto Maple Leafs? In short, someone hired an old school head coach then chose to bring in a new school general manager. In the end, the new guy won the battle and in the world of pro sports that isn’t a surprise. Just don’t expect Babcock to surface in Seattle, the expansion franchise having made a huge commitment to the world of analytics. . . . Would someone please get a charger for that woman on the bus. Thank you. . . . F Hendrix Lapierre of the QMJHL’s Chicoutimi Sagueneens suffered his second concussion of this season — and his third in eight months — on Thursday when he absorbed an open-ice hit. Lapierre, who had two goals and 15 assists in 19 games when he was injured, has been projected as a first-round selection in the NHL’s 2020 draft.


Scattershooting on a Tuesday evening while wondering what happened to summer . . .

Scattershooting


A note from old friend Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon: “High school football is a very big deal in the State of Texas. The Prosper, Texas, school district is about 40 miles north of Dallas. Prosper HS sold the naming rights for its new football stadium to Children’s Health — a pediatric health care provider in Dallas. The deal runs for 10 years and the school district will collect $250K per year, making the total value here $2.5M. Children’s Health also will provide medical personnel on the sidelines for the games. The Prosper HS district built the stadium for a total cost of $53M; the stadium has a capacity of 12,000 seats.”


Bigfoot


After my note here the other day about the Victoria HarbourCats leading baseball’s West Coast League in attendance, a reader sent along a note pointing out that the Okotoks Dawgs of the Western Major Baseball League drew “102,368 fans to 26 games for an average of 3,937.” . . . That’s impressive and it’s worth noting that Okotoks, which is 18 km south of Calgary, had a population of 29,002 according to the 2018 census.


Headline at Fark.com: Detroit Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire says he understands if he’s Gardenfired.


ParallelParking


I have never been able to understand why the CFL game that had the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Regina to play the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sunday is referred to as the Labour Day Classic when it no longer is played on Labour Day. Just sayin’ . . .


Sign.jpg

I took this photo near our home east of Kamloops. A note to the land owner: Its not correct and I hope your not paying for it.


An item from a recent post by Patti Dawn Swansson, the River City Renegade:

“Speaking of indifference, can anyone at Sportsnet explain why they basically ignore the CFL? I realize that Rouge Football is a TSN property, but sports news is sports news is sports news. Call up the CFL on the Sportsnet website and you’ll find three videos: One from July, one from February and one from December 2018. That’s disgraceful.”

She has a point, and the complete post is right here.



Flipped on the TV on Tuesday morning and found the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox playing on five Sportsnet channels. Didn’t recall seeing a day game on the schedule when I checked the previous night. Turned out it was Monday night’s game being replayed. On five channels. Seriously! Is this what happens when the seasons for darts and poker have ended?



Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times reports that “former NHL forward Darren McCarty says marijuana ‘saved his life.’ Which probably just clinched him the first Lady Bong Trophy.”



A report released in B.C. the other day pointed out that we’re being gouged to the tune of 13 cents a litre when we gas up. In Burnaby, gas stations will drop the price in the evening, then raise it the following day. I filled up on Saturday evening for $1.36.9; by Sunday morning, the price was $1.54.9. . . . Now I’m wondering if the 13-cent gouge is based on evening or day-time prices?


Outfielder Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers had his season come to an end on Tuesday, thanks to a fractured right kneecap. He was injured when he fouled a ball of the knee. . . . With the playoffs less than a month away and the Brewers charging hard for a wild-card spot, that’s crushing news for the Brewers and awful news for any baseball fan. . . . Jayson Stark of The Athletic pointed out that Yelich, in the past calendar year, had 91 extra-base hits, 52 of them home runs, with 120 RBI and 121 runs, to go with a slash line of .338/.445/.700/1.145. Amazing!


 

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while thinking about buying a Game 5 ticket or two . . .

Scattershooting


Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times wonders: “If the Toronto Raptors win the Larry O’Brien Trophy, will Canada hold it hostage to get the Stanley Cup back?”



You may have heard that New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell has claimed that two girlfriends — yes, two girlfriends — stole $500,000 worth of jewelry from him. Of course, as Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com points out: “Although being a Jet, it’s pretty certain there were no rings missing.”


Found out Sunday evening that the LGIW and I could go to Game 5 of the NBA championship series and tickets would only cost us $120,000. That’s a deal because it’s in Canadian funds. Of course, this being 2019, the tickets cost 100 grand with 20 grand in service fees. . . . Really, that’s 120,000 reasons to watch from the comfort of the recliner.



I just finished reading Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times, by Mark Leibovich, and I can’t recommend it enough. Leibovich is a big fan of the New England Patriots, but that doesn’t stop him from trying to pierce The Shield.


OrganDonation


The 2019 Kamloops Kidney Walk is a little more than three months away, but it’s never too soon for Dorothy to start asking folks to join her team. While the rest of B.C. walked on June 2, we in Kamloops chose to keep our walk in September. Thus, we will be walking on Sept. 22, at which time Dorothy will be one day shy of the sixth anniversary of her transplant. This also will be her sixth straight Kidney Walk. . . . If you would like to provide her with some support and be part of Team Dorothy, you are able to do so right here.


This definitely was a weekend highlight . . .


I don’t think this is going to be the Seattle Mariners’ season. I watched a game the other night during which, with a runner on third base, the Seattle shortstop fielded a ground ball and threw home, except the catcher had left to cover first base. . . . In another game, with a runner on first, the second baseman fielded a grounder and flipped to the shortstop covering second for what should have been a routine double play. Except that the shortstop stumbled and fell before completing the throw to first base. . . . Sorry, Seattle fans, but there’s always next year.


Despite Buck Martinez continuing to yell at baseballs, I don’t think this is going to be a season to remember for the Toronto Blue Jays, either.


BobBeer


Sorry, hockey fans in Cranbrook, but you aren’t going to get a junior A or junior B team in time for the 2019-20 season. The leagues in question all are well into the scheduling process for next season, so Western Financial Place, once home to the WHL’s Kootenay Ice, won’t have a main tenant for the upcoming season.


The NHL season will come to an end on Wednesday night in Boston as the Bruins and St. Louis Blues meet in Game 7 of the NHL final. . . . The CFL regular season will open one night later with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Hamilton to meet the Tiger-Cats. . . . Is the NHL season too long, or does the CFL season start too soon?


If you missed it, the Montreal Alouettes fired head coach Mike Sherman over the weekend. He didn’t leave much of a legacy, but . . .

Scattershooting on a Monday after paying 1.55.9 for gas in Burnaby and feeling like I’d won a lottery . . .

Scattershooting

I don’t know how you spent you Memorial Day weekend, but here’s Bob Tory, the general manager of the Tri-City Americans, heading out on another scouting junket. . . .


Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference is ‘involuntarily’ removing Division III powerhouse St. Thomas’ football program because of its ‘competitive’ advantages. Translation: It wins too much. . . . ‘You can do that?’ asked 31 NBA teams in unison.”



Rob Vanstone, in the Regina Leader-Post, prior to St. Louis taking out San Jose a week ago: “The 2019 NBA playoffs are so much more interesting and entertaining than the NHL post-season. Honestly, is there any reason to care unless you happen to be a fan of the Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues or San Jose Sharks? The entire post-season process is a grind. The officiating is awful and the calibre of play isn’t much better.”

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Vanstone continues: “And the NHL’s video-review system? A complete mess. The offside challenges simply have to go. Give the linesmen the final say and leave it there. Please. Enough.”

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One more from Vanstone, who was on a roll earlier this week: “Drake, who seems to think that he is playing for or coaching the Toronto Raptors, has singlehandedly turned me into a Milwaukee Bucks fan.”


Phone


Hey, NHL, I tried. I really tried. I tried to watch Game 1 of your final, but, well, this thing about letting the players decide things really shouldn’t be a thing. A cross-check is a cross-check and a slash is a slash, except when you pretend it isn’t. So, sorry, but I’m outta here. I’m off to watch the NBA final. Here’s hoping I am able to find a national U.S.-based telecast.

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So . . . I don’t enjoy play-by-play voices and analysts who constantly seem to be yelling, which is why I rarely watch the Toronto Raptors on Canadian TV. But I tuned in to Game 5 of their series with the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night. I gotta say the only thing missing was Buck Martinez.



If you have ever wondered about the popularity and power of the NFL, consider this . . .


“Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay forked over $718,750 to buy John Lennon’s famed piano,” reports the aforementioned Dwight Perry. “Hey, Jim, when the player-personnel people said they wanted Peppers, they meant Julius, not Sgt.”



We got home late Monday afternoon after spending some time on the highways and byways of beautiful B.C. I am pleased to report that we saw a lot of Alberta licence plates along the way, meaning those nice folks continue to visit and spent their hard-earned dollars on our expensive gasoline.


Scattershooting on a Wednesday, after watching lightning hit Tampa Bay’s outhouse. . . .

Scattershooting

“Arizona beat the Dodgers on March 29 in the longest regular-season game in Dodger Stadium history — 6 hours, 5 minutes and 13 innings,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “L.A. fans were so confused that, after leaving early in the seventh inning as usual, they came back twice more so they could leave again in the 10th and 12th.”



The defending NHL champion Washington Capitals and their captain Alex Ovechkin visited the White House,” reports RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com. “Afterwards, President Trump denied any involvement with the Russian.”


A couple of Robservations from Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post . . .

Pet peeve: References to someone setting a “new record.” The “new” is unnecessary.

Another pet peeve: Media types who make a statement and then expect an interviewee to answer. Some of the worst offenders are veteran reporters. How difficult is it to ask a question?



ICYMI, Earvin Johnson has resigned as the president of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, or, as Vancouver comedian Torben Rolfsen noted, “Magic lived up to his name — by disappearing.”


“I’m so old,” writes Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, “I remember when the Clippers were Los Angeles’s dysfunctional NBA franchise.”


Headline at The Onion: Engineers Unveil New Driverless Car Capable Of Committing Hit-And-Run.

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Headline at Fark.com: Hapless Mariners can’t even get a rebuilding year right.

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Headline at SportsPickle.com: Will Trent Richardson and Johnny Manziel have to wait 5 years to be inducted into the AAF Hall of Fame?


It was Thursday afternoon in Kamloops when two stories broke.

First came this one, with the lead from Kamloops This Week:

“Stormy Daniels is coming to Kamloops.

“The award-winning porn actress who wrote a tell-all book about her encounter with U.S. President Donald Trump — and the ensuing $130,000 payment he made to her — will be at The Duchess, 377 Tranquille Rd., on June 2 for a meet-and-greet event, according to her website.”

That was followed by this from the local WHL team: “The Kamloops Blazers have announced that the hockey club and head coach Serge Lajoie have mutually parted ways.”

Which one do you think created more buzz in the city that used to be known as Little Montreal?

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James Miller, in the Kelowna Daily Courier: “Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran needs to immediately impose economic sanctions on the City of Kamloops. First, Kamloops ends the Kelowna Rockets’ season in a single-game showdown for the final berth in the Western Hockey League playoffs. Next, they secured the biggest book tour of 2019 — Stormy Daniels. How are these things possible?”


Dorothy and I spent Monday on the road. We went from Kamloops to Salmon Arm, then over to Vernon, down to Kelowna, and back to Kamloops. A couple of observations: There are no speed limits on the highways we travelled. Those signs with numbers on them on the sides of those highways? They aren’t even guidelines. . . . There seem to be a lot of drivers who make a right or left turn onto a highway assuming that oncoming track will see them and slow down. How many times does one of those drivers do this before finding themselves in a wreck?



“Just think,” notes comedian Argus Hamilton, “if they send Lori Loughlin up the river, her daughter can row her there.”


The WHL, which has requested that a number of its team’s landlords install new glass, boards and scoreclocks at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars, may want to think about requesting indoor fishing pools stocked with bass, too. After all, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic on the Tennessee River drew 153,809 fans over three days in March.


“Last time LeBron missed the playoffs was in 2005,” notes Bleacher Report. “That year . . . Netflix was delivering DVDs. . . . Apple didn’t have an iPhone. . . . YouTube was founded. . . . Aubrey Graham wasn’t Drake yet; he was Jimmy Brooks on Degrassi.”


From the Twitter account of Brad Dickson (@brad_dickson): “You complain about the Nebraska football team going 4-8 last season? If the Nebraska Legislature were a football team its record would be 1-11 yet you re-elect almost all the same people to it every time.”

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One more from Dickson: “The Dept of Homeland Security Chief just ‘retired.’ I won’t speculate on how she plans to fund her retirement but somebody just put 9 million pairs of confiscated nail clippers up for sale on eBay.”


I really liked Patti Dawn Swansson’s take on Tiger Woods, The Masters, and what a lot of folks were calling the greatest comeback in the history of the universe. Here’s Swansson . . .

You want to talk about comebacks? Okay.

  • Try golfer Ben Hogan, who lost an argument with a Greyhound bus in 1949 and suffered a double fracture to his pelvis, a fractured collar bone, a fractured left ankle, a chipped rib, near-fatal blood clots, lifelong circulation problems, and required blood transfusions. He won the U.S. Open the following year, and another five Grand Slam tournaments after that.
  • Try Muhammad Ali, banned from boxing for 3½ years due to the political climate of the day, then returning to win the heavyweight title.
  • Try Monica Seles, stabbed in the back with a nine-inch knife by a crazed Steffi Graf fan during a tennis match, disappearing for more than two years due to depression and the fear of another attack by a man who never spent a day in jail, then returning to win the Australian Open.
  • Try Mario Lemieux, who won a battle with cancer and returned to the NHL to win multiple scoring titles.
  • Try driver Niki Lauda, hauled out of a fire-engulfed car and his head and face burnt to a crisp, then returning to win the Formula 1 driving title one year later and again five years after his first retirement.

Woods battled back from self-inflicted public humiliation and numerous physical challenges that could have ended his career, but nothing life-threatening. His is a terrific story, to be sure. But the greatest comeback ever? Not even close.

The entire column is right here and, as usual, it goes down well with morning coffee.

Scattershooting on a Monday as we await the arrival of spring. . . . It is coming, isn’t it?

Scattershooting


“It’s doubtful Marie Antoinette, beheaded former queen of France, ever played hockey,” writes RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com. “If she had, history would note her as out indefinitely with an upper body injury.”


McMars


Hey, Sportsnet, if you’re going to make a to-do about a pregame fight you should know that it happened in the ECHL, as opposed to the East Coast Hockey League. If you’re wanting to be a nation’s hockey network, you should be aware of that. Once again . . . that pregame scrap took place in the ECHL. OK?



So . . . my wife, Dorothy, was in Brandon last week. While they were paying 97.9 for a litre of gasoline, the price in Kamloops was 1.27.9. Does anyone have a clear and reasonable and sensible explanation for that? And you can’t use the word ‘gouging’ in your explanation.


A couple of Robservations from Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post: 1. Why are hockey referees so oblivious to obvious cross-checks? On Friday, for example, Logan Nijhoff of the Regina Pats was cross-checked into the Brandt Centre boards by Dakota Krebs of the Calgary Hitmen. No call. The Hitmen proceeded to score a goal when they should have been killing a penalty. The laissez-faire officiating was also on display when Nijhoff gave Kaden Elder an extra shot after finishing a check. No call (repeat). Why employ two referees if they are going to ignore penalties? . . . 2. There isn’t any justification for fighting in hockey — not when player safety is supposedly an area of emphasis.


Santa


Here’s columnist Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times on the Dodgers’ attempts to sign Bryce Harper: “They flew to his Las Vegas home this week in what appeared to be a successful attempt to convince him of their charms. It seemed like Harper was all but begging to come to Los Angeles. Yet the Dodgers let him go to the one place he clearly didn’t want to go. . . . When it comes to bringing a star to Hollywood, the Dodgers are more about raising prices than raising hopes.”


Headline at SportsPickle.com: Report: Man agrees to live in Philadelphia for $330 million.



Headline at SportsPickle.com: Somehow this Bryce Harper deal will end with the Mets paying him $1 million every month through the year 2095.


Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, notes: “With Bryce Harper’s $300-million, 13-year contract,  there are kids not even born in Philly who will be booing him someday.”

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Hough, again: “Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper at the Oscars had more chemistry than we’ve seen live since Trump and Putin in Helsinki.”



“By now,” writes Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, “I’m sure you have seen photos of the exploded sneaker that led to Zion Williamson’s ‘Grade 1 knee sprain’. Photos of Janet Jackson’s ‘wardrobe malfunction’ didn’t get wider distribution than the exploded shoe has gotten.”


If you’re looking for a good read, get a copy of Bower: A Legendary Life. Written by Dan Robson, it chronicles the life and times of Johnny Bower, and what an amazing story it was. It helps, too, that Bower was a perfect gentleman. It should be mandatory reading, too, for every player who is making his living playing hockey today.


OnHold


Wondering what’s in the future for outfielder Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels? Here’s Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle: “It’s nice to envision Mike Trout wearing a Giants uniform when he becomes a free agent two years from now, but that’s a pipe dream. Trout is an East Coast guy (New Jersey). His buddies are tired of staying up past midnight to watch a dreadful Angels game on television. Only the Dodgers could keep him in California.”


Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times flagged this one . . . Rich de Give, via Twitter, on former Trump campaign director Paul Manafort’s sentencing memo taking up 800 pages: “Wait until you get to the end, when you find out not only did he remove a mattress tag, he used the descriptions and accounts of a game without the express written consent of Major League Baseball.”