Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if this is the week when summer arrives . . .

Scattershooting2

The Vancouver Canucks had hoped to re-open team facilities on Sunday, but the Canucksvirus apparently wasn’t consulted before those plans were made.

Now, if all goes well, those facilities may re-open today.

On Sunday, the Canucks removed F Adam Gaudette from the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list, but F Jay Beagle was added to it. Beagle had been on injured reserve. Adding Beagle to the list left 19 Vancouver players on it.

The NHL announced Sunday afternoon that “although the Player has not been around the team during the relevant time period (since March 31), the League’s, NHLPA’s and Club’s medical groups determined that the prudent decision was to keep the facilities closed for an additional day.”

Gaudette was the first of the Canucks to test positive. He was removed from a practice session on March 30 after the Canucks received his test result. D Travis Hamonic went on the list on March 31. The Canucks also have had three coaches, one member of the support staff and three players from the taxi squad test positive. There also are an undisclosed number of family members who have tested positive.

The Canucks, who last played a game on March 24, still are scheduled to return to game action on Friday against the visiting Edmonton Oilers with the Toronto Maple Leafs to visit on Saturday.

The NHL is expecting the Canucks to begin with six games in nine nights. Their first nine games are to be played in 14 nights. Yikes!


Vaccine


There aren’t words in any language to describe how much I despise the MLB extra-inning rule under which a team starts with a runner on second base. It’s a gimmick, nothing more and nothing less, and MLB should be embarrassed by stooping so low as to use it.


Old friend Neate Sager, who doesn’t mind the MLB gimmickry, is writing at neatefreatsports these days, and it’s worth it for you to pay a visit, especially if you like your current events mixed with humour and just a dash of snark.

Here he is leading into a bit on the Vancouver Canucks’ recent travails:

“You might end up on injured reserve with strained credulity if you believe the Vancouver Canucks, who have only four players who are ‘not on the National Hockey League’s COVID-19 protocol list,’ are going to complete their schedule.

“Deadspin, which can say it since it has no client relationship with the NHL like those of the telcos in Canada, pointed out the timeline makes it impossible. The league’s best-case scenario is for Vancouver to return to play around April 16, but that seems too optimistic by half, and half again.”

I highly recommend that you check him out right here.


Hey, ESPN, I tried to watch your telecast — the Philadelphia Phillies were playing the Braves in Atlanta on Sunday night. I really did. In the end, I did watch it, but with no sound. You’re drowning a game that needs to breathe in order to be enjoyed. And the numbers . . . so many numbers as to give a baseball fan vertigo.


So . . . I mentioned this Expos-Padres discrepancy to Dorothy on Friday night. “Yeah,” she replied, “but the Padres lasted longer than the Expos, so there you go!”



Information that you need to know. . . . According to Forbes magazine, Terry Pegula, who owns among other things the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, has improved his net worth from US$5 billion to $5.4 billion over the past year. The rich people, of course, keep score by dollar bills. On Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires, $5.4 billion puts you in 520th place. . . . Who’s No. 1? Jeff Bezos, Mr. Amazon, tops the list for the fourth straight year, this time at $177 billion. . . . Forbes’ numbers show the world contains 2,775 billionaires, up 660 from a year ago.


On the subject of dollars, here’s a note from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “A baseball bat — a 34-inch, 36-ounce Bill Dickey model Louisville Slugger used by Lou Gehrig in 1938, his final full MLB season — drew 26 bids at SCP Auctions and sold this month for $715,120. Or 23 times the $31,000 the Yankees paid Gehrig to play that year.”

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“A fan in Anaheim threw an inflatable trash can onto the field during an Astros-Angels game,” reports Perry. “Three players on the Houston bench immediately yelled, ‘Pitch-out!’ ”



With MLB having yanked its All-Star Game out of Atlanta because of Georgia’s new restrictive voting legislation, there were mutterings that the Masters should follow suit and move. To which Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union-Tribune wrote: “If you’re waiting in line for golfers to boycott, bring some bottled water.”



Ferguson Jenkins is 78 now, but it’s never too late for a statue. Yes, the Chicago Cubs are going to honour Jenkins with a statue outside Wrigley Field. . . . Here’s Steve Simmons, in the Toronto Sun: “Of course, times have changed and the way in which starting pitchers are utilized has changed but in his day, and for 19 seasons, Jenkins stood alone among Canadian ballplayers and Canadian athletes — and sometimes we seem to forget all that.” . . . As Simmons points out, Jenkins once had six straight seasons with at least 20 victories. He once started 42 games in a season. He threw more than 300 innings in four different seasons. He threw 30 complete games in 1971 when he won the Cy Young Award. In one seven-season stretch, Jenkins threw 272 complete games. . . . And, no, his arm never fell off.


Here’s a memo from Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe: “Dear Media. It’s called ‘The Masters.’ Not ‘The Masters Without Tiger Woods.’ Thank you.”


Castle


There were four games in the WHL on Sunday. Some highlights and tidbits . . .

The Seattle Thunderbirds scored the game’s last two goals to beat the host Tri-SeattleCity Americans, 3-2. . . . The Americans (5-6-0) held a 2-1 lead after getting two late first-period goals from F Sasha Mutala (4), at 18:04, and D Mitchell Brown (2), at 18:54. . . . F Henri Rybinski’s second goal of the season, on a PP, tied it at 4:21 of the second period. . . . F Jordan Gustafson (4) scored the game’s final goal, on another PP, at 5:33. . . . Seattle (6-5-0) was 3-for-9 on the PP; Tri-City was 1-for-4. . . . The Thunderbirds won’t have F Conner Roulette again this WHL season. He now joins Canada’s U18 team for the IIHF World championship that opens in Texas on April 26. . . .

The Prince Albert Raiders scored three times in the third period to beat the RaidersSwift Current Broncos, 4-2, in Regina. . . . F Cole Nagy (3) scored on a PP at 6:58 of the third period to get the Broncos into a 1-1 tie. . . . D Landon Kosior (2), on a PP, put the Raiders back out front and F Evan Herman (5) stretched the lead at 12:03. . . . F Mathew Ward (4) got the Broncos back to within a goal at 14:11, but F Eric Pearce (6) put it away with the empty-netter. . . . G Max Paddock stopped 35 shots for the Raiders, including a second-period penalty shot attempt by F Michael Farren. . . . The Broncos got 33 saves from G Reid Dyck, including a second-period penalty shot attempt by Herman. . . . The Raiders (5-8-3) had lost their previous three games (0-2-1). . . . The Broncos (3-12-1) have lost five straight. . . . Raiders D Nolan Allan played his final WHL game of this season. He is going into isolation and then will join Canada’s U18 team for the IIHF World championship in Frisco and Plano, Texas. It opens on April 26. . . .

G Nolan Maier turned aside 42 shots to lead the Saskatoon Blades to a 3-2 Bladesvictory over the Brandon Wheat Kings in Regina. . . . The victory lifted the Blades (12-2-2) into first place in the Regina hub, two points ahead of the Wheat Kings (12-3-2). The Wheat Kings had points in each of their previous nine games (8-0-1). . . . Saskatoon now has points in four straight (3-0-1). . . . The Blades took a 2-0 lead on PP goals from F Chase Wouters (6) at 18:56 of the first period and F Kyle Crnkovic (7) at 4:50 of the second. . . . F Ben McCartney (8) pulled Brandon to within a goal on a PP at 10:16. . . . Saskatoon F Brandon Lisowsky (6) stretched the lead to two at 16:44 of the third. . . . Brandon got back to within a goal when F Ridly Greig (6) counted at 19:54. . . . Saskatoon was 2-for-5 on the PP; Brandon was 1-for-6. . . . G Ethan Kruger stopped 19 shots for Brandon. . . .

The Kamloops Blazers unleashed a 60-shot attack and got four assists from F KamloopsConnor Zary in beating the Victoria Royals, 4-3, in Kelowna. . . . At one point in the third period, the Royals led 3-2 as they were being outshot, 51-12. . . . The Royals erased a 2-1 deficit on goals from F Alex Bolshakov (3), his second of the game, at 6:33 of the third period and F Ty Yoder (2), at 9:16. . . . F Josh Pillar (3) pulled Kamloops into a tie at 13:16 and D Inaki Baragano (1) got the winner at 16:04. . . . Zary has 14 points, including 11 assists, in seven games. . . . Victoria G Adam Evanoff finished with 56 saves, 40 more than Dylan Garand of the Blazers. . . . The Blazers now are 6-1-0. . . . The Royals are 1-6-1 and have lost three in a row. . . . Victoria was without F Keanu Derungs, F Tarun Fizer, F Riley Gannon, F Matthew Hodson and D Noah Lamb, and was able to dress only 10 forwards. . . . The Royals are adding F Ryan Spizawka, a seventh-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft, to their roster. His twin brother, Jason, the 19th overall pick in 2019, already is on the roster. They are from Victoria. . . . The WHL season is over for Kamloops F Logan Stankoven, who will play for Canada at the IIHF U18 World championship in Texas later this month. He put up 10 points, including seven goals, in six games this season.


Please don’t forget that Dorothy, who had a kidney transplant more than seven years ago, is preparing to take part in her eighth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk. Unfortunately, it will be a virtual walk for a second straight year, but that won’t keep her from fund-raising on behalf of the Kidney Foundation. If you would like to help her out, you are able to make a donation right here.

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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.


Random

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while watching ChiSox and Angels in a good one . . .

Scattershooting2


The Vancouver Canucks have 22 players on their active roster. As of Sunday afternoon, 16 of them were on Canucksthe NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. . . . When we went to bed on Saturday, that number was 14. On Sunday, D Jalen Chatfield and F Marc Michaelis were added to the list. . . .

To date, four Vancouver games have been postponed. The Canucks are scheduled to play the Flames in Calgary on Thursday and Saturday nights, but you have to think it’s a reach to expect that game to take place. . . .

Later Sunday night, Darren Dreger of TSN tweeted: “One more Canucks player tested positive today.” . . . That would take the number on the protocol list to 17.

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Emily Kaplan of ESPN reported on Sunday:

“One Canucks player told ESPN he hadn’t heard from a team representative about any players going to the hospital, but he had heard of teammates receiving IV treatments for severe dehydration, presumably at their homes. A source told ESPN that at least three Canucks coaches have tested positive for the virus as well. In addition, many family members of players have tested positive and are experiencing symptoms, according to sources.”

She quoted an agent of a Canucks player as saying: “Fatigue, dehydration, the symptoms are intense. It’s knocked a lot of guys out. Some can’t even get out of bed.”

Kaplan’s piece is right here.

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Hockey leagues and teams hate transparency the way a snowman despises warm weather. Throw in privacy issues related to healthcare and you can bet that information on what is going on with the Canucks’ coaches, players and families will be hard to come by.

That’s how we came to have Darren Dreger of TSN and Postmedia’s Ben Kuzma entertaining the Twitterverse with a brief exchange on Sunday.

Dreger had tweeted this at 9:19 a.m. PT: “Number of positive cases climbing within the Vancouver Canucks. More than 20 players/coaches combined have tested positive. Variant symptoms include vomiting, cramping and dehydration. Family members are getting it. Scary situation. Next 5-7 days will determine scheduling.”

Kuzma came back with this at 10:16 a.m.: “Been told reported number of positive COVID-19 cases with Canucks isn’t entirely accurate. The number is under 20. There haven’t been severe symptoms. Most experiencing mild headaches, fever, fatigue and lethargy. No reports of vomiting, few with worse symptoms better.”

Dreger responded at 10:50 a.m.: “18 players and 3 coaches is what a source said this morning.  As for the symptoms . . . provided by the same source and confirmed by an NHL source.”


Rick Bowness, the head coach of the Dallas Stars, left their Sunday night game after the second period and didn’t return. You guessed it . . . COVID-19 protocols. Bowness has been fully vaccinated, however, and the team is convinced that it’s a false positive. . . . The Stars, you may recall, had a nightmarish run-in with the virus just before this season got started. Here’s hoping they aren’t in for a repeat.


Dinner


“So who ratted them out? An opposing line coach? Some largemouth?” wondered Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Auburn University’s bass-fishing team — originally suspended for the rest of the year for repeatedly violating school COVID-19 travel policies — has been reinstated upon appeal and can resume angling on April 22. Great — just in time for preseason two-a-days.”


The AJHL, with four teams already shut down for 14 days due to positive tests, announced Sunday that it had postponed that night’s game between the Camrose Kodiak and Olds Grizzlys “to allow for the analysis of a COVID-19 test as per the AJHL return-to-play protocols.” . . . The Drayton Valley Thunder, Grande Prairie Storm, Okotoks Oilers and Whitecourt Wolverines were put on hold during the week.


This is what loser points have done to statistics. . . . The Dallas Stars have played 36 games; they have 36 points. So the Stars are playing .500 hockey, or so some people claim. Not so fast, grasshopper. The Stars have won only 13 of those games. Yes, they actually have 23 losses, 10 of them in OT. . . . So please allow me ask: If you win 13 of 36 games are you really at .500?



The Washington Nationals, who are having issues with the virus, had their opening home series with the New York Mets scrubbed. And now their Monday game against the visiting Atlanta Braves has been dumped. . . . Later Sunday, MLB announced that the Nationals have been cleared to open in Atlanta on Tuesday. . . . As of Sunday, the Nationals had had four players test positive, and seven other players and two coaches who were deemed close contacts. All told, 13 people were in quarantine.


RedSea


In the WHL on Sunday . . .

The Brandon Wheat Kings scored the last three goals to run their winning streak to six games with a 3-1 victory over the Saskatoon Blades in Regina. . . . F Caiden Daley (5) gave the Blades (9-2-1) a 1-0 lead at 8:20 of the first period. . . . F Lynden McCallum (10) tied it for the Wheat Kings (9-2-1) at 9:08 of the second. . . . F Ben McCartney (7) broke the tie at 3:20 of the third and F Reid Perepeluk (3) got the empty-netter. . . . Saskatoon has lost two straight after going 10 games without a regulation loss. . . .

F Conner Roulette’s fifth goal, at 4:47 of OT, gave the Seattle Thunderbirds a 5-4 victory over the host Spokane Chiefs. . . . The Chiefs (0-4-3) took a 3-2 lead into the third period. . . . Seattle (5-3-0) moved out front on goals by D Tyrel Bauer (1) and F Jared Davidson (2). . . . F Adam Beckman (3) pulled the Chiefs even, on a PP, at 10:40. . . . F Henri Rybinski had three assists and was plus-4 for the winners. . . . F Erik Atchison (2) had a goal and two assists for Spokane, which was 3-for-5 on the PP. . . . The Chiefs and Victoria Royals (0-3-1) are the only WHL teams without at least one regulation victory. . . . The Chiefs are without D Mac Gross and D Graham Sward, both week-to-week with undisclosed injuries. . . . Seattle F Matt Rempe left in the first period with an undisclosed injury. He didn’t return. . . .

F Tristen Nielsen scored the game’s only goal, in the shootout, as the Vancouver Giants beat the Prince George Cougars, 1-0, in Kamloops. . . . G Trent Miner of the Giants (3-1-0) stopped 14 shots to record his second straight shutout. Miner, who has six career shutouts, had beaten the Kelowna Rockets, 6-0, a week earlier. . . . The Cougars (1-2-1), who were outshot 43-14, got 43 saves from Tyler Brennan, who recorded his first career shutout.



In the top of the first inning of a Sunday night game, Shohei Ohtani, the Los Angeles Angels’ starting pitcher, threw one pitch at 101 mph. In the bottom half of the inning, hitting second, he hammered a fastball 451 feet into the right-field bleachers. . . . He is the first starting pitcher to homer in an American League game since the DH came into play in 1973. He also became the first pitcher since 1903 to hit in the No. 2 spot. . . . Before the game, Greg Beacham of The Associated Press reported: “Ohtani is just the third pitcher over the last 45 seasons to hit for himself in a game with the designated hitter available. He’s also the first pitcher to bat second for a team since Jack Dunleavy did it for the St. Louis Cardinals on Sept. 7, 1903.” . . . One more for you: The last AL pitcher to homer from one of the top seven spots in the batting order was Babe Ruth in a 1933 game from the three hole.

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Yermin Mercedes of the Chicago White Sox had five hits in the first start of his MLB career on Friday. No big deal, right? Until I heard Tim Kurkjian of ESPN say that neither Lou Gehrig, Mel Ott nor Edgar Martinez — each of them a pretty good hitter — ever had a five-hit game. . . . Ahh, you have to love baseball.



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.


Eggs

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while remembering Frank Orr and a cold, cold night . . .

Scattershooting2

Back in his day, Frank Orr was as large in his field as Bobby Orr was in his. No, they weren’t related.

Frank Orr, who died Saturday at 84, was a hockey writer with the Toronto Star when I met him. It was at the 1991 IIHF World Junior Championship that was held in Saskatchewan. I was the Regina Leader-Post’s sports editor, and spent most of the tournament in Saskatoon.

By that time, Orr was a legendary hockey writer; I was a scribbler from Lynn Lake, Man., who was 20 years into his career. Within an hour of meeting Orr, it was like we were best buddies and had been for a long time.

That is how personable he was. He was a master of the one-liner and had travelled extensively — so what if most of it was on expense account — so had tasted the food in many tremendous eateries. Now here he was in Saskatoon, where the weather was miserably cold, and he was loving every minute of it. Well, almost every minute of it . . .

On Dec. 30, Orr and three others drove to Regina to watch Canada play Sweden, choosing to return to Saskatoon after the game. About 30 minutes outside Saskatoon, a red light lit up the dash of their rental car. They limped into the city, finding out later that the PCV valve had frozen open and the car’s oil had blown out all over the engine compartment.

Later, Orr admitted that he had broken out in a cold sweat at the thought of meeting his maker on the frozen prairie.

“I always thought it would end with someone’s husband chasing me down a street,” he said with a laugh.

Sleep well, old friend.

Mark Zwolinski of The Star has more on Frank Orr right here.


ICYMI, the Edmonton Football Team has a shortlist of seven possibles for its new nickname — Elk, Evergreens, Evergolds, Eclipse, Elkhounds, Eagles and Elements all are in the chase. . . . We are left to wonder what happened to Editors, Elaters, Elephants, Ernies, Eroughriders, Eskers. . . . Having lived in the north where there are eskers, I would be inclined to lean that way. . . . Edmonton Eskers. Yes!


Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “If the Lord’s Prayer can be inscribed on the head of a pin, engravers can certainly fit the full name of Tampa Bay Bucs run-stuffer Vita Vea — Tevita Tuli’aki’ono Tuipulotu Mosese Va’hae Fehoko Faletau Vea — onto a Super Bowl ring, right?”

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Perry, again: “Players for the Western Hockey League’s Red Deer Rebels will live at the team’s rink in Alberta this season to reduce the COVID-19 risk. ‘Fine with us,’ said every stay-at-home defenceman.”


Congrats to Gilles Courteau, the commissioner of the QMJHL, who celebrated his 35th anniversary in office on Saturday. Stephane Leroux of RDS points out that Courteau spent 15 years as president and now has been commissioner for 20 years. Leroux also points out that Courteau was hired on an interim basis in 1986.



Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle:

“The NFL patted itself on the back with a spot bragging that the league is donating $250 million ‘to combat systemic racism.’ And that doesn’t even count the millions it paid to Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid for keeping them unemployed.

“If you don’t think it’s racism that’s keeping Kaepernick out of The League, tell me what you think would have happened to (Tom) Brady had he taken a knee in protest.

“Kaepernick and Reid sat out this season, but Tyreek Hill and Antonio Brown suited up and were covered in glory in the National Football League of Second Chances.

“And the 49ers announced they have re-signed Josh Rosen, whose resume now includes this: 1,000th washed-up quarterback to sign an NFL contract since Kaepernick ‘retired’.”



Here’s Ostler, again: “It’s sad to see Pebble Beach get squeezed out of golf relevance by Saudi Arabia and Los Angeles. Pebble’s famed annual AT&T National Pro-Am got snubbed by the world’s top golfers, partly because they want a rest between last week’s big-payoff Saudi International and next week’s Genesis Invitational in L.A. The AT&T has become the great little family diner you speed past on your way from IHOP to McDonald’s.”

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A digital subscription to the San Francisco Chronicle is well worth it to read the likes of Ostler, Ann Killion, Eric Branch, Bruce Jenkins et al. . . . And with pitchers and catchers about to report, you may want to subscribe to the Washington Post just for the musings of Thomas Boswell.


When Major League Baseball revealed the details of the shakeup heard ’round the minor leagues, the Pacific Coast League was nowhere to be found. The league that sent so many players to the big leagues — like Joe DiMaggio and Willie McCovey — now is Triple-A West. . . . The California League is gone, too. It’s Low-A West. . . . Here’s hoping saner heads will prevail and that when it does there aren’t corporate names involved. . . . With MLB’s reorganization now complete, there are 120 minor-league teams left. Forty others are nowhere to be seen.



With all that we’ve been through over the past year, who had ‘Earthquake strikes near Banff’ on their 2020-21 Bingo card?

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Someone figured out that starter Trevor Bauer’s deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers will pay him somewhere around $10,000 per pitch. Keep in mind, too, that he only performs every fifth day. Can you imagine being a carpenter and getting paid $10,000 for every nail you hammered or every screw you turned? No, neither can I.


It could be that the best feud in hockey features Brian Burke, the new president of hockey operations with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and columnist Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun. . . . This goes back a few years and is far from being over. . . . In his book that came out last fall, Burke sniped at Simmons a time or three. . . . On Sunday, in his weekly notes column, Simmons wondered about Burke’s recent hockey accomplishments, or lack of same:

“Which makes the hiring of Burke in Pittsburgh as president of hockey operations more than a little surprising, although you won’t hear anything like that from all his media pals who laugh along with every word he speaks. It is the hiring of yesterday’s man, who won in Anaheim more than a decade ago, who made the Sedin deals (his signature NHL moves) 22 years ago. What has Burke done lately in hockey, except write a best-selling book and become valued entertainment in between periods? Truth is, it’s a lot of sound and fury, in reality, signifying nothing.”

The puck now is in Burke’s end of the ice.


JUST NOTES: You watch the Daytona 500 and you just know the last lap is going to turn into a demolition derby. . . . Had to chuckle at the WHL fan on social media last week who was debating with a guy named Brent Parker about the role of tutors with teams. Don’t think the fan realized that Parker is a former general manager of the Regina Pats. . . . If you’re wondering how we’re doing over here, well, there aren’t any bodies buried in the back yard so I guess that means we’re still getting along. . . . The St. Louis Blues and Arizona Coyotes will meet today for a seventh straight time. Tell me again how this NHL season won’t warrant an asterisk when it’s all over. . . . On the subject of this NHL season, if you watch enough games it really becomes apparent just how much emotion and passion fans bring to the games. Yes, the players are trying hard, but it just isn’t the same, is it?

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering how long we can keep treading water . . .

Scattershooting2

If you’re a regular in these parts, you will have noticed that I took a couple of days away from here earlier this week. It wasn’t anything serious, but I had to recharge my batteries so that I could continue treading water.

After all, isn’t that what we’re doing as we pretend to be battling the virus that seems to be everywhere. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we don’t seem to be winning this war. At least not at this point, not with the virus now sending its variant friends into battle.

Here in B.C., our premier, John Horgan, suggested that we all “dig down a little deeper,” never mind that some of us have been digging for more than 10 months now.

On Monday, Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, urged us to “do more.” Sorry, Dr. Henry, but some of us don’t know what more we can do. Haven’t eaten in a restaurant since March 11. Ordering groceries online. Haven’t travelled from Kamloops since Sept. 20. I could go on and on but you get the point.

Once upon a time, I spent 17 years at the Regina Leader-Post. In the first few years (aka before Conrad Black bought the joint and started milking it dry), employees were able to take part in various seminars. One of them dealt with the medium of mixed messages.

And we certainly are seeing a whole lot of those these days.

Remember when 300 positives tests in a day was cause for near panic? Now we’re seeing 400 or 500 a day and nothing changes. Ten or 12 people die every day and nothing changes. Did deeper, we’re told. Do more.

Last week, from Tuesday through Friday, the four western provinces reported 4,812 new cases and 140 deaths. (B.C. was 1,952 and 35; Alberta, 1,829 and 47; Saskatchewan, 953 and 38; and Manitoba, 478 and 20.)

Guess which province lifted some restrictions about 10 days ago and then watched as shoppers flocked to big box outlets as though it was Boxing Day? Hey, Manitoba, I’m looking at you.

And guess which province announced Friday that it will be easing up on restrictions early in February? Hey, Alberta, you realize that Friday (543 and 14) wasn’t a good day. Right?

No matter. The numbers come out — more than 20,000 Canadians now have died of this scourge. Ontario lost 1,658 citizens in January, which was the province’s deadliest month of the pandemic. So far.

The politicians offer condolences to the families of the dead. Others shrug. And life goes on.

A friend who works in our local hospital — which has experienced 79 positives among staff and patients over the past few days — posted this on social media on Friday night: “As I’ve said before, burnt out is what we felt MONTHS ago. We’re well beyond that now, I don’t even know what it’s called now.”

And no matter how you look at it . . . the end isn’t in sight.

So by all means . . . let’s ease up on restrictions and let’s not worry about these troublesome variants until some point down the road. Let’s not concern ourselves with showing the healthcare workers — the doctors, nurses, aides, cleaning crews et al — the respect they are due; after all, they’ve only been working in this mess for going on a year now. The teachers? What about them? Retail workers? Restaurant workers? Who?

Let’s just keep on keeping on, doing the same dance we’ve been doing for most of a year. But, that being the case, let’s stop thinking there will be a different outcome. After almost a year, you would think our dancing feet would be sore enough that we would want to try something else. But . . . no.

BTW, did you know that Perth and southwest Australia are into a full five-day lockdown after discovering the area’s first case in almost 10 months? Contact tracing has started and they’re ramping up their testing. When the music stops, they change the dance.

Doesn’t seem to be any mixed messages Down Under.

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There . . . I feel better.


F Brandon Sutter enjoyed the first three-goal game of his NHL career on Monday night as the host Vancouver Canucks dismantled the Ottawa Senators, 7-1. . . . Some notes from Jesse Campigotto of CBC Sports’ The Buzzer:

“Brandon Sutter can look forward to the next family get-together now. It took him close to 800 regular-season and playoff games, but the Vancouver forward became the sixth member of his clan to score an NHL hat trick. Brandon joined his dad, Brent, who had six hat tricks, and uncles Brian (7), Darryl (3), Rich (1) and Duane (1). Brandon also could be moving up the family goals rankings soon. With 147 career regular-season goals, he’s just two behind Rich for fifth place. Brent leads with 363, followed by Brian (303), Ron (205, but no hat tricks) and Darryl (161).”



Looking for a good read to kill a few hours in these pandemic times? You can’t go wrong with Broken, from Don Winslow, who also brought us The Power of the Dog, The Cartel and The Border, among other books. While those three novels were epic tales centred on the Mexican drug trade, Broken is six short stories that are oh, so much fun. Give it a try and thank me later.


No doubt you are aware that those who vote on entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame came up with a zero this time around, meaning the likes of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens won’t be walking into the hallowed hall.

Here’s Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports:

“The HOF can bury its head in the sand and try to pretend the steroid era didn’t exist, but Bonds is in the record books as baseball’s home run leader and he’s indisputably one of the best to ever play the game. He was well on his way to a Cooperstown-worthy career before the steroids — I mean, he was intentionally walked with the bases loaded in 1998 (a year before it’s believed he started juicing) and that should be an automatic induction.

“Instead of completely shunning these obviously legendary talents that were tied to a league-wide steroid problem, why not just start a steroid wing of the HOF and let them have a semi-tainted induction that matches their semi-tainted careers?”



A year ago, Robert Saleh was on the coaching staff of the San Francisco 49ers, who would lose, 31-20, to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl. Here’s what he told Pro Football Talk Live about trying to shut down QB Patrick Mahomes: “You’ve got to be relentless. He has ridiculous arm talent. But any time you’re a pass rusher, just understand that he might do his little old man jog in between plays where it looks like his feet hurt. Don’t kid yourself.” . . . Saleh is the New York Jets’ new head coach.


Paperless


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, with a message for the NFL:

“Just letting you know, we are on to your little trick of using replay challenges to ram extra commercials down our baby-bird-like throats.

“One recent game, there was a challenge of a catch at the sideline. The first replay shown on TV provided crystal clear proof that it was a legal catch. Case closed in five seconds, right?

“Wrong. As with every challenge, TV cut away to a commercial. And then another. And another. SIX commercials later, we were allowed back to the football game, although by then I had forgotten who was playing.

“Don’t insult what’s left of our intelligence after the hammering of our skulls by the events of the past year.”

——

“San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich announced on his 72nd birthday that he’d gotten a COVID-19 vaccine, telling AP: ‘Sciencewise, it’s a no-brainer,’ ” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “In other words, good shot selection.” . . .

——

Hockey Winnipeg announced Saturday that it has cancelled the remainder of its 2020-21 season. From its website: “Effective Jan. 30, 2021, the board of directors and executive members of Hockey Winnipeg have made the difficult decision to cancel the remainder of the 2020-21 regular hockey season and playoffs. . . . This decision is not closing the door on hockey this year, just Hockey Winnipeg regular-season and playoff games. This will allow for area associations within Hockey Winnipeg to provide local programming for the balance of the season as public health restrictions may allow.” . . . Hockey Winnipeg said that it “and our area associations will be working to provide fair refunds to our members over the next few months.” . . .  

The Chicago Blackhawks cancelled a Saturday practice “out of an abundance of caution due to potential exposure of COVID-19.” . . . The Blackhawks, who dropped a 2-1 decision to visiting Columbus on Friday night, are scheduled to play the Blue Jackets again tonight. . . . Chicago has three players on the COVID-19 protocol list — D Adam Boqvist, F Alex DeBrincat and F Lucas Wallmark. . . .

A Saturday night AHL exhibition game between the Henderson Silver Knights and visiting San Jose Barracuda was halted after the second period due to COVID-19 protocol. . . . The Silver Knights later announced the suspension of play wasn’t due to a positive test from their players or staff. . . . On Sunday, the Barracuda revealed that one of its players had tested positive with the result having arrived during the game. . . . The Silver Knights were leading 1-0 on a goal by former Kamloops Blazers F Jermaine Loewen. . . .

F Marco Rossi, 19, captained the Austrian team at the 2021 World Junior Championship after having tested positive for COVID-19 in November. After the tournament, he joined the Minnesota Wild, which had selected him ninth overall in the 2020 NHL draft. He had yet to play for the Wild, thanks to what was speculated to be an upper-body injury. On Saturday, the Wild announced that Rossi has gone home to Austria to recover from complications due to COVID-19. There isn’t a timetable for his return. . . .

The Montreal Canadiens pulled F Josh Anderson from Saturday’s game with the Calgary Flames with what head coach Claude Julien said was flu-like symptoms. Anderson tested negative for COVID-19, but will be tested again on Sunday. . . .

F Kyle Palmieri of the New Jersey Devils didn’t play in Sunday’s 4-3 victory over the host Buffalo Sabres. The Devils said it was a “COVID-related absence.” . . .

D Andrej Sekera of the Dallas Stars didn’t play in Sunday’s 4-3 shootout loss to the host Carolina Hurricanes. Sekera had played in Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Hurricanes. The team said Sunday’s absence was “in accordance with the league’s COVID protocols.”


Mustard


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.


Late

Scattershooting for the last time in 2020 while waiting for fireworks to start . . .

Scattershooting

Peanuts


Some questions and some thoughts as we jump into 2021:

1. When did so many people develop such a lack of respect for healthcare workers?

2. When it starts to snow, why does it never seem to know when to stop?

3. Taking Note doesn’t salute a team of the year, but if it did the 2020 award would go to the junior B 100 Mile House Wranglers. In announcing in September that the Wranglers would sit out the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League season, team president Greg Aiken told Kelly Sinoski of the 100 Mile Free Press: “We’re concerned for the health of our community, just bringing 35 foreign bodies to our town is a risk. To me, that just doesn’t make sense with this pandemic going on. Who knows what is going to happen with the kids going back to school . . . I can guarantee there’s going to be a spike in cases. It’s not getting better.”

4. If you were wondering, the 2021 World Junior Championship really gets started in the Edmonton bubble on Saturday with quarter-final games.

5. The NBA season is off to something of a ragged start with blowouts and some horrid shooting — New York Knicks’ starters were 0-for-23 shooting threes on Thursday night. You wonder if that’s a precursor for an NHL season that will start about two weeks after training camps opened and without the benefit of exhibition games.

6. A “random thought” from Janice Hough, who is at leftcoastsportsbabe.com: “The NBA season is very young. But there appear to be some very bad teams. Wonder if the Washington Wizards could beat the Washington Generals?”

7. We are almost a year into this pandemic, so how is it that some people still can’t follow the one-way arrows on the floors of malls and stores?

8. So . . . that domestic terrorist who blew up part of Nashville the other day apparently was a believer in the lizard people conspiracy. Somehow, I wasn’t aware of the lizard people until The Sports Curmudgeon clued me in on Thursday. That conspiracy really does explain 2020, so I know that I will sleep better tonight.

9. I really do hope that you got to watch Kelli O’Hara sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir over the festive season.

10. “Rumour has it two members of the Red Deer Rebels believe in Santa,” writes RJ Currie over at sportsdeke.com. “The rest are Rebels without a Claus.”


I don’t know how your 2020 ended, but it couldn’t have been any better than Ray Ferraro’s . . . You can bet they’ll be playing street hockey at the intersection of Ferraro Drive and Allison Way, too. . . . 


SecurityCamera


If you have some time on your hands for some entertaining reading, click right here and you’ll find Dave Barry’s 2020 in review.



Politics


The first three paragraphs of an editorial written by The Editorial Board of The New York Times:

“Look no further than the storied Rose Bowl game to understand the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s disingenuous and perilous posturing about the sanctity of its athletics programs while the coronavirus has ravaged the country and college campuses.

“Ignoring health officials who have deemed the annual playoff matchup too dangerous to be held on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, Calif., amid a massive spike in Covid-19 cases, the N.C.A.A. simply allowed it to move to Texas, where local officials are willing to let some 16,000 fans attend. It’s the worst kind of forum shopping.

“The N.C.A.A. likes to tell itself that it is in the business of educating students about the virtues of competition and sportsmanship. What it is showing them now by example is that some sports — the moneymaking kind — are more important than public health.”

And the last paragraph . . .

“Delaying the basketball season is the right choice. After a folly-filled football season, university and college administrators and the N.C.A.A. can show real leadership by putting the safety of their players and their communities first.”

The complete editorial is right here.



Amazon


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.


Giraffe


G’night and Happy New Year. See you in 2021.

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if we’ll get to watch the WJC . . .

Scattershooting


An early Christmas present . . . Here is for KING & COUNTRY with their version of Little Drummer Boy . . .


Sweden has lost a second player off its national junior team to a positive test. F SwedenKarl Henriksson, who was selected by the New York Rangers in the second round of the NHL’s 2019 draft, won’t play in the World Junior Championship that opens Dec. 25 in an Edmonton bubble. Henriksson likely would have been the Swede’s first- or second-line centre. . . . On Saturday, it was revealed that Swedish F William Eklund, one of the top prospects for the NHL’s 2021 draft, had tested positive.


Three players from Boston U — G Drew Commesso, F Robert Mastrosimone and D Alex Vlasic — won’t be attending USA Hockey’s national junior team USAhockeyselection camp. Jeff Cox of the New England Hockey Journal broke the news on Sunday, saying that the decision involves COVID-19 protocols. BU had a positive test last week so shut down activities involving the men’s hockey team and postponed its season-opener that was to have been played on Saturday against UConn. . . . Cox also reported that Boston U won’t be playing another game until Jan. 8. . . . Team USA replaced those three on the camp roster with G Logan Stein of Ferris State, D Tyler Kleven of the U of North Dakota and D Hunter Skinner of the OHL’s London Knights. . . . Commesso was a second-round pick by the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL’s 2020 draft; Chicago took Vlasic in the second round in 2019. . . . The Detroit Red Wings picked Mastrosimone in the second round in 2019. . . . Neither Stein nor Skinner has played this season because there teams haven’t been able to get started. Kleven, a second-round pick by the Ottawa Senators in 2020, was playing for UND at a bubble in Omaha. . . . Skinner was a fourth-round pick by the New York Rangers in 2019. . . . Team USA’s camp opened Sunday in Ann Arbor, Mich. The roster includes 29 players and the plan is to trim two defencemen and two forwards on Dec. 13.


Steve Simmons, in the Toronto Sun: “If I was a parent of a junior hockey player or even an agent, I’m not sure I’d want my kid locked in an Alberta hotel room for two weeks, all in the name of quarantine and the apparent upcoming world junior tournament.”



Headline at fark.com: Washington is finally giving Texas a Wall.


Jeff Marek of Sportsnet tweeted early Sunday that the ECHL is expected to echlannounce the loss of three more teams for the upcoming season — the Cincinnati Cyclones, Idaho Steelheads and Kalamazoo Wings. That means 11 of the league’s 26 teams have opted out, the others being Adirondack Thunder, Atlanta Gladiators, Brampton Beast, Maine Mariners, Newfoundland Growlers, Norfolk Admirals, Reading Royals and Worcester Railers. . . . Marek also wrote that he has been “told the Toledo Walleye and Fort Wayne Komets are still undecided.” . . . The ECHL is planning on having some teams being play on Friday.


Insurance


“Heisman Trophy QB Johnny Manziel said on rapper Mike Stud’s YNK Podcast that he received impermissible benefits — i.e., cash — during his playing days at Texas A&M,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, the shock dripping from his keyboard. “Or as Manziel is now known in booster circles, Johnny Windfall.”

——

Perry, again: “Star guard James Harden, who reportedly wants out of Houston, didn’t appear for the Rockets’ individual workouts Thursday as the opening of training camp looms. Harden apologists, fittingly enough, believe he was traveling.”


Bill Littlejohn, who writes from South Lake Tahoe, Calif., suggests that fans of the Cleveland Browns — hello there, Jeff DeDekker — are getting a bit ahead of themselves with their glee over their favourite team going into this weekend with a gaudy 8-3 record. Here’s Littlejohn: “Fans of the Cleveland Browns getting giddy over their team’s being 8-3, of which seven wins came against foes with losing records, should recall the case of Heavyweight contender Duane Bobick. Duane built up a record of 38-0 against a succession of stiffs and tomato cans before being demolished in 57 seconds by Ken Norton, Sr.” . . . The Browns now are 9-3 after beating the host Tennessee Titans, 41-35, on Sunday. Yes, that’s even gaudier than 8-3. Next up? The visiting Baltimore Ravens on MNF on Dec. 14.


“The Houston Texans had two players test positive,” notes Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, “and it was just for PEDs. Seems so quaint.”


Mom


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times has taken a long look at sports in these pandemic days and that piece is right here. It carries the headline: Sports rolls on in the U.S. while the pandemic rages: Is it worth the risk? . . . It’s a good read.

——

CBC News: Manitoba is reporting 383 new cases of COVID-19 and 14 additional deaths related to the virus. 1 of the deaths is a man in his 20s. The province’s 5-day test positivity rate is 13.6%. 2,231 tests were completed Saturday.

CBC News: Saskatchewan is reporting 415 new cases of COVID-19 and 4 new deaths. Today’s case count reflects a backlog from Saturday for the Saskatoon region. There are 4,550 known active cases province-wide. 135 people are in hospital, including 26 in intensive care.

Mo Cranker, Medicine Hat News: 1,836 new cases of COVID-19 were identified in the last 24 hours by the province. . . . There are also 19 new deaths being reported. . . . Medicine Hat stayed at 94 active cases. The province reported six new cases in the Hat, as well as six new recoveries.

CBC News: Alberta now has 19,484 known active cases, including more than 7,200 in Calgary and over 8,900 in Edmonton. 601 people are in hospital, including 100 in ICU. Alberta’s test positivity rate is 7.8%.

B.C. on weekends: Crickets! . . . Watch for big, big numbers on Monday afternoon.

CBC News: Ontario reports new record high of 1,924 COVID-19 cases. There are 568 new cases in Toronto, 477 in Peel and 249 in York Region.

CBC News: Quebec is reporting 1,691 new cases of COVID-19. The province added 24 deaths to its total, 10 of which occurred in the last 24 hours. 778 people are in hospital, including 102 in intensive care.

CBC News: Nova Scotia is reporting 4 new cases of COVID-19, all in the Central Zone. 3 cases are under investigation; the remaining case is travel-related. There are 88 known active cases in the province. No one is currently in hospital. . . . Nova Scotia is amending today’s COVID-19 case count to add 1 more. Health officials say the latest patient is a student at an elementary school in Dartmouth. That school will now be closed until Dec. 10. The new diagnosis brings the number of new cases in the province today to 5.

CBC News: New Brunswick is reporting 4 new cases of COVID-19. 2 are in the Saint John region, 1 is in the Moncton region and 1 is in the Edmundston region. There are 82 known active cases in the province. 2 people are in hospital, including 1 in intensive care.

CBC News: P.E.I. is reporting 4 new cases of COVID-19. All are contacts of cases in the cluster reported Saturday. Dr. Heather Morrison says the source of the current outbreak is unknown, and more positive cases are expected. There are now 11 known active cases in the province. . . . P.E.I. is bringing in ‘circuit breaker’ measures for the next 2 weeks. Some of the regulations: In-restaurant dining, gyms and casinos must close. Retail stores can operate at 50% capacity. Organized gatherings like weddings and church services can have a maximum of 10 people.

CBC News: 4 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Newfoundland and Labrador. 3 of the cases are travel-related, and the other is a close contact of a previous known case. There are 30 known active cases in the province. No one is in hospital.

CBC News: Nunavut is reporting 2 new cases of COVID-19 in Arviat, after 8 new cases were reported there Saturday. There are 51 known active cases in the territory, all in the communities of Arviat and Whale Cove.

CNN: More than 30,000 new Covid-19 cases were reported in California Sunday, the highest number of new daily cases ever recorded in the state. Hospitalizations there are also at an all time high.

——

The Gonzaga Bulldogs, the No. 1 men’s basketball team in the NCAA, has postponed all games through Dec. 14. It was to have played the No. 2 Baylor Bears on Saturday but the game was postponed 90 minutes prior to tipoff after the Bulldogs had a pair of positive tests. . . . Gonzaga U is based in Spokane, Wash. . . .

The U of Texas has shut down all football activities after three players and two staff members tested positive on Sunday. All five are said to have tested negative on Friday, before visiting Texas whupped Kansas State, 69-31, on Saturday and then tested positive on Sunday. . . . Texas is scheduled to play at Kansas, at Lawrence, on Saturday.


——

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: The Heritage Junior Hockey League, a 14-team junior B league in Alberta, has shut down at least until January. A release from the league states that it “will meet in January to discuss the best way to move forward.” . . . The Vancouver Canucks didn’t have any choice but to rid the organization of that dunderheaded anthem singer. . . . “The Vancouver Canucks have kicked anthem singer Mark Donnelly to the curb because he’s an anti-masker,” writes Patti Dawn Swansson, The River City Renegade. “Guess that rules out an appearance on The Masked Singer.” . . . If you sat down in front of a TV set on a Saturday morning and watched football through Sunday night, how much wine would you drink if you took a sip every time you saw a coach improperly wearing a facemask?


Phone

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if the Christmas lights will work or if I’ll need more extension cords . . .

Scattershooting

If you haven’t already seen this, take a few minutes out of your day to give it a listen/watch. This one will make you think about what not to do if you ever end up with a stinky, rotting whale on your beach. . . .


How did I spend my Sunday? Thanks for asking. The two rather large trees in our front yard got their haircuts on Friday, So on Sunday most of the outdoor Christmas lights and decorations are up and ready to shine. Another hour, hopefully on Monday, and it’ll be all done for another year. . . . Temperature on Sunday afternoon reached 11 C, so it was quite enjoyable out there. . . . Oh yes, we also had our first taste of this festive season’s fruitcake. Merry Christmas!


After the Boston Red Sox brought back Alex Cora as manager, Greg Cote of the Miami Herald wrote: “Adjusted bromide: ‘Cheaters Almost Never Prosper.’ ” . . . Cora served a one-year suspension after being manager of the Houston Astros during their cheating scandal.


Closed


Headline at TheOnion.com: Cora gets another kick at the can in Boston.


The USHL has been having its issues with COVID-19, and has had to postpone/reschedule a number of games. The Waterloo Black Hawks and Tri-City Storm both played on Saturday night and were supposed to face each other on Sunday. But the game, according to the league, “has been declared a No Contest. Per league safety protocols, minimum standards were not met to play (Sunday’s) game.”


A news flash from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: Dateline Washington, D.C.: Donald Trump finally concedes he lost — to the Baltimore Stars in the 1985 USFL playoffs.

——

Perry’s Tweet of the Week came from @Southampton FC, which, upon finding itself atop the Premier League standings for the the first time tweeted: “Stop the count.”


Come April 6, it will be three years since 16 people were killed in a crash HumboldtBroncosinvolving the bus belonging to the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. Michelle Straschnitzki and her husband, Tom, are two Broncos parents who aren’t prepared to give up on wanting to have seatbelts declared mandatory on medium and large highway buses and school buses. Bill Graveland of The Canadian Press reports that these parents “are angry at what they see as inaction from the federal and provincial governments on measures that could prevent another tragedy.” . . . Michelle told Graveland: “It’s just disgusting that nothing has changed. It should be legislated as of yesterday. It should be across the board, across Canada. It makes me nuts. This is not OK. We should not be fighting for this 2 1/2 years after the bus crash. It’s not right.” . . . Graveland’s story is right here.


ICYMI, St. Mary’s, Remsen beat Montezuma, 108-94, in an Iowa eight-man football state semifinal the other day. Interestingly, St. Mary’s had only 144 yards through the air, while Montezuma QB Eddie Burgess threw for 744 yards and nine TDs, then told the Cedar Rapids Gazette: “Credit to them. They kept us contained for some of the game.” . . . Blaine Harpeneau, the winning QB, was named player of the game after running for 354 yards on 40 carries. He scored four TDs and threw for four more. The teams combined for 1,497 yards of offence.



RJ Currie at sportsdeke.com: “Vasek Pospisil’s three-set loss in the Sofia Open final made Canadians 0-6 in ATP finals in 2020. You might call it Mission Im-Pospisil.”


A few years ago — actually more years ago than I care to remember — I took a whllook at the first 25 years of the WHL in four lengthy stories. The other day, someone who stops by this space on a regular basis wondered if I might post those pieces again. . . . So I have dug them up and they will appear here over the next while. Keep in mind that they were written more than 20 years ago, and I will post them as they were written. Also please keep in mind that they don’t pretend to be all-inclusive; they include some highlights and some lowlights and hopefully will help keep the past alive.


This is an all-time favourite hockey photo. Never mind the great stuff on the ice, take a look at the faces in the crowd . . .


Burger


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC North: 10 new cases of COVID-19 found in Nunavut, with signs of community spread in Arviat.

Ana Cabrera, CNN: US surpasses 11 million coronavirus cases. It took just 6 days to go from 10 million to 11 million.

Seattle Times: Gov. Inslee orders sweeping restrictions on indoor gatherings, restaurants, bars, gyms as COVID-19 cases surge in Washington state.

CBC News: 2 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Newfoundland and Labrador. Both are travel-related. The province has 10 known active cases, including 1 person who is in hospital.

CBC News: New Brunswick is reporting 3 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 22 known active cases in the province. The new cases are in the Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton regions. 1 is travel-related and the other 2 are being investigated. All 3 new cases are self-isolating.

CBC News: Quebec is reporting 1,211 new cases of COVID-19. The province also added 15 deaths to its total, 2 of which occurred in the past 24 hours. The province has seen a total of 123,854 cases, including 6,626 deaths and 104,848 recoveries, since the pandemic began.

CBC News: Ontario is reporting 1,248 new cases of COVID-19, including 364 in Toronto, 308 in Peel and 125 in York Region. Provincial Health Minister Christine Elliott says an additional 1,062 cases have been resolved and more than 42,200 tests were completed.

Global News: Person in 20s dies from COVID-19 as Saskatchewan reports 2 deaths, 181 new cases.

CBC News: Calgary’s emergency management chief says Alberta needs a 28-day lockdown to battle COVID-19 — now.

CTV Edmonton: With 991 new cases, there are more than 9,600 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta.

Global News: 10 more COVID-19 deaths in Manitoba Sunday, 494 new cases. There are 220 people in hospital with 41 in intensive care, and the number of deaths due to COVID-19 is 162.

——

The eight-team South Coast Women’s Hockey League has cancelled its 2020-21 season. The league, which features teams from Kamloops to Vancouver Island, had hoped to open in January, but ended up cancelling. . . .

The U of Vermont has delayed the start of its men’s and women’s basketball and hockey seasons until Dec. 18. “Our state is obviously seeing a significant increase in COVID-19 cases and it’s important that our programs are operating in a manner that is consistent with guidance from state officials,” Jeff Schulman, the director of athletics, said in a statement. . . . If you are wondering what former NHL head coach Mike Babcock is doing these days, he’s a volunteer advisor to the coaching staff with Vermont’s men’s hockey team. The Catamounts play in Hockey East, which is scheduled to start up next weekend. . . .

Jim Boeheim, the longtime men’s basketball coach at Syracuse, has tested positive. Boeheim, 75, is asymptomatic and is self-isolating at home. One other person in the program also tested positive, although it’s not known if it’s a player, coach or somebody else. The school also has stopped all basketball-related activities. . . .

The University of Massachusetts-Lowell paused men’s basketball activities last week after two positive tests. Practices are expected to resume on Wednesday.



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.



Remote

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if we need more bananas . . .

Scattershooting

Let me tell you a little about where we’re at in our household right now, and I have a feeling there are others in the same boat.

If you’re not aware, Dorothy and I are both considered at risk these days; she has a compromised immune system from a kidney transplant; I have heart disease.

So we are trying hard to limit exposure to other people, which is why we ordered groceries online for the first time a few days ago. She had the list; I was at the keyboard. Bananas were on her list.

I found them on the store menu. Hmm, how many did we want? The first option was 1. Well, I thought, when you’re in the store you see some singles, some pairs, three together, even four in a bunch. Yeah, four bananas will do for a while, I thought. So I clicked on 4.

When we got home after picking up the groceries a few days later, we discovered that 4 meant 4 bunches with about 10 bananas in each bunch.

So . . . Dorothy quickly drove over to a friend’s home and left half of the bananas outside her door. (Yes, she phoned first.)

I got up the next morning and looked out a window that overlooks our driveway. Hmm, I didn’t park our Tucson that way. I had backed in; now it was parked looking at me. What happened? I had a brief thought that someone had stolen it and brought it back. Hey, c’mon, these are bizarre times.

Finally, it struck me that Dorothy had driven it after I did. And heaven forbid that she would park the same way that I did. Right?

A couple of days later I was lolling in my recliner late in the afternoon when Dorothy asked: “Are you going to shower today after you didn’t yesterday?”

Upon further reflection, I couldn’t remember whether I had showered the previous day. Eventually, I gave up trying to remember. But I can say that I absolutely cannot remember the last time I went one day without showering.

And then when I awoke Saturday morning, I thought it was Friday. But not knowing what day it is . . . well, that is happening with more and more regularity.

Hey, welcome to our new normal and I don’t mean Normal, Ill.


Clown


Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “The Tokyo Olympics have been rescheduled for 2021 but will still be known as the 2020 Games, organizers say. ‘We couldn’t agree more,’ said 12 of the Big Ten’s 14 athletic directors.”

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Perry, again: “Triple-double … Double-double … Solo-double? Former standout soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo announced she is pregnant with twins.”


ICYMI, Agent Orange met with sports leaders on Saturday and told them that he would like to see games being played in August and September. (Agent Orange? Saw that in a column by Ed Willes of Postmedia on Saturday.)

The conference call included folks from the NBA, NFL, MLB, MLS, WNBA, LPGA, PGA, IndyCar, Breeders’ Cup and yes, WWE and UFC. For whatever reason, there was no one included from, among others, the NCAA, NASCAR or the WHL.

It wasn’t long after word got out about the orange one wanting games in August and September that Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, said: “I’m not anticipating that happening in this state.”

And that should take care of that.

Thank you, Governor.

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There has been talk about the NBA perhaps taking teams into Las Vegas and playing some kind of neutral-site games.

Yeah, I’m sure NBA players are going to want to leave their families to go into self-isolation in Las Vegas and be tested and tested and tested just to play a few games. What if one of them tested positive? What then? And how on earth would the NBA be able to keep players in self-isolation without even one of them going rogue?

So let’s scratch that idea.

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BTW, the logistics of pulling off even one NFL game under the circumstances in which we now live — and in which we still could be living in August and September — are mind-boggling.

It’s a big enough production under normal circumstances. Now throw in all that goes into testing more than 50,000 people, in one way or another, and it becomes all but impossible.

And what of the support staff? To give you some idea of how many people work a pro game, there are more than 1,300 workers at a New York Mets’ home game just to deal with food service.

And it only would take one person in the facility to test positive and, well, it would be: HERE WE GO AGAIN!

So let’s scratch that idea, too.


Crayons


No one knows when this is going to end, or what it’s going to look like at the other end.

But I would be curious to know how many schedules the WHL is going to prepare.

Under normal circumstances, the WHL’s 2020-21 regular season, with each team scheduled to play 68 games, would begin on or around Sept. 25. But if teams aren’t able to open training camps in late August, a bit more than four months away, and they start pushing things back, does the WHL also prepare a schedule that would open in late October and would have teams playing, say, 54 or 56 games? And on and on it would go . . . Keep in mind that the WHL has teams in two states and four provinces, each of which operates independently in these bizarre times.



Headline at TheOnion.com: Kawhi Leonard misses second consecutive family game night, citing load management.


Bruce Jenkins, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “MLB has canceled its scheduled games in Mexico City, Puerto Rico and London, but hopes remain for the Aug. 13 game between the Yankees and White Sox in Dyersville, Iowa, where ‘Field of Dreams’ was filmed. The site adjoins a cornfield and has long been a tourist attraction; an 8,000-seat stadium was built for this and future MLB visits.”



The 12-team Western Canada Baseball League announced Sunday that it has “established a timeline that will guide our decisions this spring.” . . . For starters, the league will decide by May 2 if it will be able to get in a complete 2020 season. . . . “There are also provisions for shortened seasons that would start either on or about Father’s Day or on or about Canada Day,” a news release stated. “Similar dates exist for three or four weeks prior for these shortened seasons for logistics to be put in place.” . . . The league also announced that “governors have agreed that if by early June 2020 health and travel restrictions are still such that the league cannon confirm a start date that the season would be cancelled.” . . . The WCBL has teams in Brooks, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Melville, Moose Jaw, Okotoks, Regina, Swift Current, Weyburn and Yorkton. . . .

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The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the PGA Championship will be held at that city’s Harding Park course from Aug. 6-9. It had been scheduled to run from May 14-17 at Harding Park. . . . Of course, keep in mind that California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Saturday that he doesn’t anticipate seeing pro football in his state in August or September. . . .

Former NFL kicker Tom Dempsey died late Saturday in a New Orleans care home. His daughter, Ashley, said he had tested positive for the coronavirus a week previous. . . . He was 73. Dempsey was born without toes on his kicking foot and held the NFL record for longest field goal (63 yards) for 43 years. . . . He had been in assisted living for a number of years as he dealt with dementia. . . .

Aleksandar Prijovic, a Serbian soccer player, was given three months of home detention for violating a curfew that is in place because of COVID-19. He an 19 others were arrested in a hotel lobby bar in Belgrade on Friday. . . . Meanwhile, Kyle Walker, a defender with Manchester City, is in trouble after breaking lockdown conditions in England. He has apologized after holding a party involving two sex workers at this home.


Dinosaur


Here’s the Thought for the Day, from Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, via Will Rogers: “If stupidity got us in this mess, how come it can’t get us out?”


A few thoughts from Patti Dawn Swansson: “Most of us follow our personal doctors’ advice. I mean, if told to take two aspirin and call ol’ sawbones in the morning, I take two aspirin and make that call. Yet when the finest medical minds in our country advise us what to do (stay the frig home) during the COVID-19 crisis, they are ignored by many among the rabble. I find that to be a most curious bit of business. Even more curious: Why would it take a celebrity athlete, singer or movie star doing a PSA to convince some that the safest place to be right now is behind our own closed doors? Seriously, you’ll listen to, say, Connor McDavid instead of Dr. Theresa Tam? The mind boggles.”

For more, click right here.


Scattershooting on a Saturday night as WHL players head for home . . .

Scattershooting

SOME DOTS AND THOUGHTS AS WE WAIT THIS THING OUT . . .

A couple of hours after the above tweet was posted, the Kamloops Blazers announced that they “have released their players to return home immediately.”

“We will have all players return to Kamloops at an undetermined time,” the statement read.

It wasn’t long after that until the Prince George Cougars and Everett Silvertips said they, too, were allowing players to return to their homes.

The Cougars said they “have decided to send players home to their families until further notice as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Silvertips, according to a tweet from Josh Horton of the Everett Herald, are sending players home Sunday morning. As well, there were indications on social media that the Spokane Chiefs and Winnipeg Ice are doing the same.

However, there was nothing official from the WHL as of late Saturday night.

Look, the way things are shaping up “undetermined time” and “until further notice” may well turn out to be late August, just in time for training camp prior to the 2020-21 season.

Hey, if you are being honest and assuming you have been paying attention to the spread of the COVID-19 virus and all the numbers associated with that, you might be starting to realize that this mess isn’t anywhere near close to a conclusion. . . .

——

The WHL’s board of governors apparently is scheduled to chat on Tuesday. If that’s the case, it is time for them to cancel their season and do all they can to get players back to their families. Hey, billet families are wonderful, they really are, but this league is full of teenagers, some of them as young as 16, who should be with their real families until all of this blows over. . . . So scrub the season and start hoping that things will be better in time to open training camps in August. . . . On second thought, do it today. . . .


On Saturday, the ECHL announced that it has ended its season. “This decision allows our players the opportunity to return to their homes and removes the uncertainty that currently exists,” the ECHL said in a statement. . . . The ECHL is the first North American professional league to cancel its season. . . .


The world mixed and world senior curling championships have been cancelled. They were to have been held in Kelowna, April 18-25. . . . The Memorial Cup is scheduled for Kelowna, May 21-31. . . .

ICYMI, the world men’s curling championship also has been cancelled. It was to have been held in Glasgow, from March 28 through April 5. . . .



Janice Hough, who can be found at LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “Now March Madness is cancelled. No, let me rephrase that: The NCAA basketball tournaments are cancelled. We’re LIVING in March Madness.” . . .


Tom Brady, at the age of 42, isn’t yet ready to stop playing football. Of course, as comedian Argus Hamilton pointed out via Twitter: “He’s 35 years too young to run for president.” . . .


One supposes that you have to be ready just in case they come for the toilet paper . . .


All those people standing in line to buy toilet paper . . . are those the same people who complain about being third in line at a cash register during normal times? . . .


Are you tired of doing jigsaw puzzles yet? Is there anything worse than putting out 1,000 pieces before getting started on putting it together? . . .


Headline at TheOnion.com: Orioles suggest that MLB maybe consider cancelling entire season just to be safe. . . .



Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “The saddest part about MLB prematurely shutting down spring training? Our gritty young Mariners, at 6-12, were still mathematically alive to win the Cactus League championship.” . . .

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One more from Perry: “One of the best ways to avoid catching the coronavirus, health officials say, is to avoid touching your own face. Lots of luck trying to break a third-base coach of that nasty habit.” . . .


Wash your hands and stay safe out there.

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while realizing Dave Ayres is getting more than 15 minutes . . .

Scattershooting

The sporting world was still abuzz on Sunday, the day after the night when goaltender Dave Ayres, 42, came on in relief in his NHL debut and helped the Carolina Hurricanes to a 6-3 victory over the host Toronto Maple Leafs.

What I find most interesting in Ayres’ post-game world is that so many writers have made a bigger deal about his being a Zamboni driver than the fact that he underwent a kidney transplant.

Time after time, you will read something like this: “Ayres, a 42-year-old Zamboni driver . . .” And, later, you’ll see this: “Ayres, who underwent a kidney transplant . . .”

This is why the renal community continues to work hard on educating people on things like this — yes, Ayres underwent a kidney transplant in 2004, but he still has kidney disease. There isn’t a cure for kidney disease. Once you’ve got it, there’s no divorce. Dialysis is a treatment. A transplant is a treatment.

Ayres, whose transplanted kidney came from his mother, will be on anti-rejection medications for the rest of his life.

In the meantime, I look forward to someone doing a story on how Ayres dealt with kidney disease, dialysis and the early days after his transplant.

Ayres flew into New York City on Sunday evening. On Monday, the Hurricanes have Ayres lined up for media hits with the likes of NBC’s Today Show, Golic & Wingo on ESPN Radio/ESPN 2, Fox & Friends, CBS Sports Radio, Dan Patrick Show, Dan Le Batard Show and CNN World Sport.

Later Monday, Ayres will head for Raleigh, N.C., where the Hurricanes are to meet the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night. Besides being saluted by the team and its fans, Ayres will serve as the pre-game Siren Sounder.

On top of that, Mary-Ann Baldwin, the mayor of Raleigh, as proclaimed Tuesday as David Ayres Day.

Immediately after the game, the Hurricanes announced that t-shirts with their logo on the front and Ayres’ name and number (90) on the back were for sale — at US$28 a pop. At one point on Sunday, sales went over 4,000. A portion of the proceeds are to go to a kidney foundation of his choosing.

——

Once a year, I join a few friends for an evening of sports trivia. As luck would have it, our 2020 gathering took place on Friday night.

One of the questions asked was this: “Who is the oldest rookie in NHL regular-season history?” . . . The answer was D Connie (Mad Dog) Madigan, who played his first NHL game with the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 6, 1973. He was 38 years and four months old when he played in a 3-3 tie with the Montreal Canadiens.

While that was the correct answer on Friday, it wouldn’t have been just 24 hours later. The answer now is G Dave Ayres, who made his NHL debut with the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night at the age of 42 years 194 days. Ayres underwent a kidney transplant in 2004.

BTW, the record-holder before Madigan came along was F Bob Barlow, who made his NHL debut with the Minnesota North Stars at the age of 34 on Oct. 12, 1969.

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If you are at all into hockey history, you will want to read this piece right here from puckstruck.com. It chronicles the NHL career of Morrie Roberts, who like Dave Ayres also served as an EBUG. However, that was in 1928.


Road


A couple of questions from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “With the spectre of opposing pitchers plunking Houston Astros hitters at a record rate over the team’s sign-stealing scandal, just have to ask: Will Houston’s promotional giveaways include Astros Replica Jersey Night, sponsored by Target? By season’s end, will Houston — not Boston — be laying claim to the title of ‘Bean Town’?”


Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “It is interesting that the same people who thought drug cheating in baseball was just the cost of doing business now seem to think that sign-stealing cheating is the crime of the century. At least we might have a possible new baseball novel come out of this whole mess: ‘Bang the Can Slowly’.”


Turkey


Greg Robinson, an offensive lineman who played last season with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, was arrested earlier in the week near the U.S.-Mexico border. Among other things, he had 157 pounds of week in his vehicle. As Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports noted: “(Police) also found 23 mason jars, a can sealing machine, an electronic scale and over $3,000 in cash. It would seem that either there was some entrepreneurship going on or Robinson was on his way to the greatest party ever.” . . . WR Quan Bray, last of the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes, was with Robinson at the time. Whoops! . . . As the afore-mentioned Perry put it about Bray: “So much for trying to shake his reputation as just a possession receiver.”


There had been reports that the QMJHL’s board of governors would vote during a Thursday meeting on whether to ban fighting. Stephane Leroux of RDS reported Thursday afternoon that the vote wouldn’t take place.

Michael Roy of Radio-Canada reported that “there was no vote, but a lot of discussion.” Roy also tweeted that “the file will be on the menu . . . at a meeting in August.”

A story carrying a Canadian Press byline included this quote from Gilles Courteau, the QMJHL’s commissioner: “My main goal is to implement new rules to improve player safety. That’s the focal point of this discussion. Whether it’s fighting, blind-side hits, head shots, we’re carefully looking at all of that.”

It also included this from Sherbrooke Phoenix general manager Ronald Thibault: “It may sound strange, but what we’re trying to do is keep our players safe. There are divergent opinions on how to protect players. That’s it.”

Of course, if they really were that concerned about player safety, you would ban fighting. So would the other two major junior leagues— the WHL and the OHL.

The complete CP story is right here.

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On the topic of fighting in major junior hockey, here is part of a blog entry by Ken Campbell of The Hockey News:

“Junior hockey does not believe the debate is at all nuanced when it comes to paying its players a living wage. All three major junior leagues are very clear on that one. But when it comes to their ‘student athletes’ giving and receiving bareknuckle punches to the head it suddenly becomes a vexing dilemma for them?

“Like any other league, the QMJHL could have easily increased the penalties for fighting. Actually, it’s a lot easier for one of Canada’s three junior leagues to do it because none of them has to deal with a players’ association or go through the approval of a rules committee. The omnipotent rule they hold over these young men is astounding, so perhaps it’s time they used it for something good.”

Campbell’s complete piece is right here.


Marriage


Have I mentioned how much I love The Sports Curmudgeon, aka Jack Finarelli? After the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers moved on from head coach John Beilein just 54 games into his stay, the curmudgeonly one pointed out that the Cavs have a 130-318 record (.290) in recent times without LeBron James. TSC then came up with three possible explanations as to why things are so rotten in Cleveland, which, you may recall, also is home to the NFL’s Browns: “Something in the Cleveland water supply causes coaches to fail . . . An ancient civilization hexed the land there for eternity. . . . Ownership for the two franchises is well short of competency.” . . . As he put it: “You make the call . . .”


The Oakland A’s won’t have any of their games available on a Bay Area radio station this season, as they become the first team in Major League Baseball to make such a move. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, team president Dave Kaval has said, among other things, “we’re excited” and “we’re trying to be innovative” and “we’re . . . trying to attract younger fans” and “I think this is the direction of the future.” . . . If you live in the San Francisco/Oakland area, games will be available via streaming and they will be on some radio stations outside the area. . . . “It’s a big win,” Kaval said. . . . “No,” wrote Chronicle columnist Bruce Jenkins. “Try two other words: colossal failure.”



JUST NOTES: Is there a better anthem singer anywhere in the sporting world than Lauren Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers? All she does is sing, without any of the extras. . . . Chris Speier, a flash from the past for followers of the Montreal Expos, is on manager Dusty Baker’s staff with the Houston Astros. Speier has signed on as a “quality control coach.” With the mess surrounding the Astros, Speier is likely to have lots on his plate. . . . The Toronto Blue Jays opened their spring training schedule with games on Saturday, against the New York Yankees, and Sunday (Minnesota Twins). Both games were on Sportsnet, which picked up the feeds from the Yankees and Twins rather than have their own crew in place. Interesting?