MLB just isn’t what it used to be . . . Sea Dogs lay out season-ticket, seating plans . . . No fans for Derby

In his Friday posting, Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, dropped the curmudgeonly gavel on MLB, and I can’t disagree with him. Here is part of what he wrote:

“I have not been overly impressed with MLB games on TV this season. To be clear, I am not talking about the absence of fans in the seats or the cardboard cutouts of fans; the games are not compelling. Most teams have played about 25 games so far; for 2020, that is 40 per cent of the season.  Here are some stats:

“Five teams – 20 per cent of the teams in MLB – are hitting below .220 as a team. . . . Four teams have an OBP below .300. . . . Twenty teams — 67 per cent of the teams in MLB — have more strikeouts than hits. . . . Twenty-nine of the thirty MLB teams have struck out at least  100 times more than they have walked. . . . Two teams are averaging 10 strikeouts per game.”

His entire post is right here.



And while we’re on the subject of MLB, hey, it’s about that extra-inning rule that puts a runner on second base to start each half inning.

Baseball once was a slave to statistics — there always had been a certain symmetry to it — and that is one of the things that so many fans loved about it. It isn’t anymore, unless it eventually will just erase all the numbers from this bastardization of a season. . . . I mean, we now get lead-off two-run home runs. . . . In a game between the Dodgers and Angels, the ghost runner stole third base and scored on a sacrifice fly by the leadoff hitter. Yes, a leadoff SF. . . . Jayson Stark of The Athletic pointed out that there has even been a two-up, three-down inning that included the ghost runner getting doubled up. . . . 

And here’s one that hasn’t happened yet, but is likely to at some point. As former MLP pitcher Ryan Dempster explained to Stark: “What about: You come in with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning and you get the guy out. So you’re the hero. Then you go back out and pitch the 10th, and you get a punchout and a groundout, and then they take you out. And now the other guy comes in and gives up a single, and you get the loss. If that doesn’t sum up 2020, I don’t know what would.”

If you’re a baseball fan, you don’t want to miss Stark’s columns from The Useless Info Dept.


What do you know about your kidneys:


Earlier this week, the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs released season-ticket information for the approaching season. . . . Their home arena, the TD Station, seats 6,307. Last season, the Sea Dogs’ average attendance was 3,345. This season, the Sea Dogs are expecting to be allowed to use about 25 per cent of the seats, so that means attendance will be capped at about 1,500 per game. . . . One of the results of that is an increase in season-ticket prices, from $499 to $575, even though there will be four fewer games (60) this season. . . . There are other changes, too. From a Sea Dogs news release: “Some of the bigger changes include very limited capacity (around 25% of seats), social bubbles, and masks once you get inside TD Station. Also, because of all the changes to the seating plan, you shouldn’t expect to sit in your same seat, and possibly not in your same section as last season.” . . . Jamie Tozer of Station Nation has more right here.



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The NHL’s Arizona Coyotes laid off and furloughed an unspecified number of employees on Friday, citing financial issues caused by the pandemic. . . . The Coyotes, who furloughed half their business staff in April, were eliminated from the NHL playoffs on Wednesday when they lost to the Colorado Avalanche in Edmonton. . . . Earlier in the week, the Washington Post reported that Monumental Sports & Entertainment, owner of the Washington Capitals, Washington Mystics and Washington Wizards, was about to furlough 232 employees. . . .

In recent times, I have on occasion mentioned the apparent link between COVID-19 and myocarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart. . . . Amanda Christovich of frontofficesports.com has a whole lot more on this issue right here. . . .

The MLS’s Chicago Fire has had a player test positive. The unidentified player didn’t travel with the team for a Thursday game against host FC Cincinnati on Thursday. The Fire lost, 3-0. . . . The Fire said the team is asymptomatic and self-isolating. . . . 

The U of Iowa has decided to drop men’s gymnastics, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and men’s tennis when the 2020-21 academic year ends. . . . In a statement, the school said it “projects lost revenue of approximately $100 million and an overall deficit between $60-$75 million this fiscal year. . . .

Australia has withdrawn its teams from the IIHF’s 2021 U20 World Championship Division III and U18 Women’s World Championship Division II Group A, citing travel restrictions in place due to the pandemic. . . . The U20 event is scheduled for Mexico City from Jan. 10-17, 2021. . . . The U18 women’s tournament is to be played in Dumfries, Great Britain, Jan. 19-22, 2021. . . . 

Athletics Canada has cancelled the 2020 Canadian cross-country championships that were to have been held in Abbotsford, B.C., on Nov 28. The event would have drawn about 800 competitors. . . . 

The Kentucky Derby, originally scheduled for May 2, will run before empty grandstands on Sept. 5. The pooh-bahs at Churchill Downs had said they would limit attendance to 23,000. That changed because of the way the virus is spreading in Kentucky, which had 2,300 new cases this week. . . . 



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Or, for more information, visit right here.


Taras McEwen has taken over as the head coach of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues. He already was the general manager. . . . McEwen has coaching experience with Fort Knox of the junior B Prairie Junior Hockey League and with the SJHL’s Notre Dame Hounds. . . . The Blues also have named Zach Heisinger as an assistant coach. Last season, he was an assistant coach with the Vincent Massey team in the Winnipeg High School Hockey League. He also spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League’s Fort Garry Twins. . . . The Blues are owned by 50 Below Sports + Entertainment, which also owns the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice. . . . McEwen was the Ice’s manager of scouting. His father, Brad, is Hockey Canada’s head scout. . . . Heisinger’s father, Craig, is the assistant GM and director of hockey operations with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, while a brother, Jake, is the Ice’s assistant GM and vice-president of hockey operations.


Three WHL coaches get Hockey Canada posts. . . . Rockets sign d-man from U of Denver. . . . McEwen now Blues’ GM, too

MacBeth

D Mark Louis (Brandon, Red Deer, 2003-08) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Cardiff Devils (Wales, UK Elite). This season, he had three goals and 10 assists in 60 games.


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Three WHL head coaches are among coaches named to Hockey Canada’s national junior Canadateam and its U-18 side. . . . Dale Hunter of the OHL’s London Knights has been named head coach of the national junior team. His assistants will be Mitch Love, who just completed his first season as head coach of the Saskatoon Blades, and Andre Tourigny, the head coach of the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s. . . . The 2020 World Junior Championship is scheduled for Ostrava and Trinec, Czech Republic, from Dec. 26, 2019, through Jan. 5, 2020. . . .

Dan Lambert, the head coach of the Spokane Chiefs, will be head coach of the U-18 team that will play in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Czech Republic and Slovakia in August. . . . Lambert’s assistants will be Dennis Williams, the head coach of the Everett Silvertips, and Mario Duhamel, who is an assistant coach with the 67’s.

Hockey Canada’s news release is right here.


Taras McEwen, the Winnipeg Ice’s manager of scouting and hockey operations, now also is the general manager of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues. . . . According to 50 Below Sports and Entertainment, which purchased the Blues at about the same time it was moving the Ice to Winnipeg from Cranbrook, B.C., McEwen will continue in both roles. . . . As the Blues’ GM, McEwen takes over from Billy Keane, who has been the Blues’ head coach since 2016 and had been the GM since 2017. . . . The Blues haven’t yet announced if Keane will return as head coach. . . . McEwen, 28, is from Whitewood, Sask. He joined the Ice as the manager of scouting in 2016, and took over as manager of hockey operations a year later. His father, Brad, is a familiar face on the scouting circuit and presently is Hockey Canada’s head scout.


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The Kelowna Rockets have signed D Sean Comrie, 19, who played this season for the U of KelownaRocketsDenver Pioneers. . . . Comrie, from Edmonton, was a second-round pick by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft. He chose to go the NCAA route, and had one assist in 18 games with the Pioneers as a freshman this season. . . . On May 2, prior to the 2019 bantam draft, the Rockets acquired Comrie and the 10th-overall selection from Brandon for the fifth-overall selection. . . . Last season, he had seven goals and 27 assists in 54 games with the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints. . . . Comrie is eligible for the NHL’s 2019 draft. . . . The Rockets, the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup, are attempting to rebuild their roster in a hurry after not qualifying for the playoffs this season.


When last we left the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs, an Ontario judge had unsealed documents that were connected to the team’s having committed recruiting violations. . . . Today comes word that city council in St. Catharines, Ont., the home of the IceDogs, has voted to change the name of a street — IceDogs Way — near the team’s home arena, the Meridian Centre. . . . According to Karena Walter of The St. Catharines Standard: “The move was in response to the 2017 decision by the Niagara IceDogs’ owners not to go forward with a $1 million donation for naming rights after problems hammering out a deal with the city.” . . . Walter’s story is right here.


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Blazers closing in on new head coach? . . . Vandervlis in medically induced coma, critical condition . . . Blades add associate coach


MacBeth

F Lauris Dārziņš (Kelowna, 2004-06) signed a one-year contract extension with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). In 24 games, he had five goals and 13 assists, while averaging 18:42 TOI per game. He missed the first 31 games of the season due to an injury.


ThisThat

The Kamloops Blazers may be closing in on a new head coach. Serge Lajoie, the head coach of the U of Alberta Golden Bears for the past three seasons, was in Kamloops on Monday for a face-to-face session with general manager Matt Bardsley.

The Blazers are looking for a replacement for Don Hay, the winningest regular-season Kamloops1and playoff coach in WHL history, who now is in an advisory role.

Bardsley was named the general manager on June 1, replacing Stu MacGregor, who now is on the scouting staff of the NHL’s Dallas Stars. Tom Gaglardi, the majority owner of the Blazers, owns the Stars. Bardsley had been with the Portland Winterhawks since 1999, the past five seasons as assistant general manager.

Gaglardi is believed to have met with Lajoie before hiring Bardsley as general manager.

Lajoie, now 49, is from Bonnyville, Alta. He played for five seasons with the Golden Bears, then spent four seasons playing in Germany. He returned to the U of Alberta and was an assistant coach for five seasons (2005-10). Lajoie was the head coach at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) for five seasons before stepping in as the Golden Bears’ head coach for the 2015-16 season.

Lajoie took over the Golden Bears after Ian Herbers, who had been the head coach, joined the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers as an assistant coach. Herbers, who was on a three-year sabbatical, returned to the Golden Bears after last season.

Lajoie has a tie to the Blazers through Don Moores, the WHL franchise’s president and COO. Moores’ brother, Billy, was on the U of Alberta coaching staff for 17 seasons (1976-85, 1986-94) before going on to work with the NHL’s New York Rangers and the Oilers.

Billy Moores was the head coach of the Golden Bears in 1992 when they won the Canadian university championship. Herbers and Lajoie were defencemen on that team.

Last season, the Golden Bears won another Canadian university title, this one with Lajoie as the head coach.

Lajoie also is a former Blazers player. He had two assists in seven games with Kamloops in 1986-87. Ken Hitchcock was the head coach of that team, with Hay and Don Moores on staff as assistant coaches.


The family of F Ryan Vandervlis of the Lethbridge Hurricanes confirmed on Monday that he is in critical condition in a medically induced coma following an accident involving a bonfire in Bearspaw, which is located just northwest of Calgary.

“Our son and brother, Ryan Vandervlis, was injured at a bonfire this past weekend,” the Lethbridgestatement reads. “We want to be clear that alcohol was not a factor in this accident.

“Ryan is in a medically induced coma as he suffered severe burns to his body. He is receiving exceptional medical care in an intensive-care unit in Calgary where he remains in critical condition.”

The statement was signed by Barb, Rene, Cara, Sean and Rachel Vandervlis.

Vandervlis, 20, teammate Jordy Bellerive, 19, and former Hurricanes forward Matt Alfaro were injured late Friday night after something, according to RCMP, was placed on the bonfire which was at a home in Bearspaw.

A news release from the Hurricanes on Monday indicated that Alfaro and Bellerive “are currently in stable condition.”

Cpl. Troy Savinkoff of the Cochrane RCMP told CBC News that “there was some form of celebration at a residence in the Bearspaw subdivision. They had some issues lighting a fire. In their attempt to light this fire, there was an accident and three males were burned and were taken to hospital with various injuries and burns.”

According to David Bell of CBC News, Savinkoff also indicated that while alcohol was consumed, it wasn’t consumed in excess nor was it a contributing factor.

(Bell’s story is right here.)

Savinkoff also indicated that an investigation continues but that there isn’t any evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

The Hurricanes also issued a news release on Monday, stating, in part, that the incident didn’t occur during a bachelor party.

“It has been reported that the campfire occurred during a bachelor party. These reports are inaccurate,” the new release reads. “The campfire occurred at the family home of (former Hurricanes captain) Tyler Wong the evening prior to a planned day of golf.”

The Wong family also released a statement on Monday. It reads, in part:

“On Friday evening, nine of Tyler’s friends came to our house to stay the night as they were planning to go golfing and camping on Saturday. It was not a stag or bachelor party, as has been inaccurately reported. In starting a campfire, the accident occurred. Mr. and Mrs. Wong were present and acted quickly to transport those injured to a Calgary hospital.”

Calgary EMS responded to a call late Friday night and intercepted a vehicle near Calgary. Alfaro, who now plays for the U of Calgary Dinos, Bellerive and Vandervlis were moved to the ambulance and taken to the Foothills Medical Centre.

Peter Anholt, the Hurricanes’ general manager, is expected to hold a news conference today (Tuesday) in Lethbridge.



Ryan Marsh has signed on with the Saskatoon Blades as associate coach. Marsh, 43, joins Saskatoonhead coach Mitch Love, who is preparing for his first season with the Blades, and assistant coaches Ryan Keller and Jerome Engele, and goaltender coach Tim Cheveldae. . . . Marsh spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oil Kings. He also has coaching experience with the U of Alberta Golden Bears and in the AJHL. . . . The Oil Kings fired Marsh on May 28, the same day that they fired head coach Steve Hamilton. . . . Marsh, a defenceman, played in the WHL with the Tri-City Americans (1992-95), then later played four seasons with the Golden Bears. . . . Marsh is from Quesnel, B.C., which also is Love’s hometown. They two men worked together as assistant coaches with Team Canada Red at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge in 2016. . . . Marsh fills the vacancy created when the Blades dismissed Bryce Thoma, who had been with them for two seasons.


The Kootenay Ice has extended the contract of Jake Heisinger, its director, scouting and Kootenaynewhockey operations, for five years. He just completed his first season with the Ice and led the scouting staff at the 2018 WHL bantam draft. According to an Ice news release, “Heisinger oversees the scouting team and the evaluation of players for the WHL bantam draft. He also works closely with the prospects in the system regarding player development.” He also is involved in player evaluations and transactions. . . . At the same time, the Ice extended Taras McEwen, its manager, scouting and hockey operations, for three years. He also joined the Ice in 2017. . . . The Ice also announced that it has added Tyler MacDonald to its scouting staff. He had been a Manitoba regional scout for the Ice from 2009-14. Interestingly, MacDonald is the only scout listed on the Ice’s website.


The Kelowna Rockets have acquired F Mark Liwiski, who is to turn 17 on Aug. 8, from the KelownaRocketsEverett Silvertips for a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. . . . Liwiski, who is from Dauphin, Man., was a third-round selection by Everett in the 2016 bantam draft. . . . He started last season with the Silvertips but was suspended and sent home in November after being “found to be in clear violation of team policy.” . . . Liwiski was pointless in 10 games with Everett. He finished the season with the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard, putting up 14 goals and 11 assists in 36 games.


Gaelan Patterson has joined the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves as an assistant coach. Patterson, 27, played four seasons (2006-10) with the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades before going on to a pro career that included stops in the AHL, ECHL and in Europe. Last season, he played with the EIHL’s Coventry Blaze. . . . Patterson, who is from Saskatoon, will work under head coach Evan Vossen, replacing Darren Martens, who left after last season.


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