Sports Curmudgeon: Baseball, you’ve got a problem! . . . SJHL prexy: Losses are in excess of $1m . . . Turkey time: 2021 WJC opens Dec. 25

The World Series is upon us — the Los Angeles Dodgers drubbed the Tampa Bay Rays, 8-3, on Tuesday night in Game 1 — and Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, has a few words about baseball.

WorldSeriesThe curmudgeonly one has watched a lot of baseball over the last while, as have I. And he has concerns — I happen to agree with him, for whatever that’s worth — about what we have been seeing.

“Think about it,” he writes in his daily post. “In an inning where we have batters ‘working the count’ and there is a walk plus three strikeouts, there might be 25-30 pitches where the ball is never in play. That would be fine if it happened once a week; it happens far more frequently than that. Even in an inning where you mix in a home run, the ‘excitement factor’ tends to focus on the style of the bat flip and/or the pace of the ‘home run trot’ after the ball lands in the seats.

“One thing that detracts from ‘action’ in baseball games is The Shift. It does precisely what it is designed to do; it keeps pull hitters off the bases to a greater extent than in the days before The Shift. The fact that players and managers are so blockheaded as to allow The Shift to be as efficient as it is makes me wonder why baseball analytics only seems to apply to the defensive aspects of the game. Forget the lost art of bunting; just look at the defenders deployed in The Shift and apply the wisdom of Wee Willie Keeler from more than a century ago and . . . ‘Hit ’em where they ain’t.’ ”

His full piece is right here.


The SJHL will open exhibition play on Thursday night with its teams limited by SJHLhealth officials to an arena capacity of 150 fans. However, Bill Chow, the SJHL president, is hoping that is short-lived. . . . If it doesn’t change, Chow told Claire Hanna of CTV Regina, “I’ll make no bones about it but that will be a catastrophe.” . . . Chow said that the SJHL and its teams have lost “probably in excess of $1 million collectively” with last season being halted in the playoffs and the pandemic-related issues that have followed. . . . Hanna’s story is right here.



Boston University shut down all athletic activities on Tuesday. From a statement by the Department of Athletics: “In consideration of the current situation showing a slight uptick in COVID cases on campus, we have temporarily paused all in-person team activities, including practices and training sessions. We will re-examine our return to activity early next week following further consultation with campus officials.” . . . College Hockey News has more right here. . . .

The ECHL’s Norfolk Admirals announced Tuesday that they are opting out of the 2020-21 season. The ECHL is planning to open its regular season on Dec. 11. . . . From an Admirals news release: “The safety of the Admirals players, staff and the community, combined with the state’s COVID-19 restrictions on limiting Norfolk Scope to a 1,000-person capacity limit, has led to the decision.” . . . The Admirals say they will return for the 2021-22 season. . . .

Officials in the California government gave pro teams the OK to have limited attendance at upcoming days. However, Santa Clara County health officials stepped in and told the San Francisco 49ers that they still aren’t allowed to sell tickets to home games. . . . In a statement, county officials said that sporting events with fans in attendance “will not be allowed any time soon in Santa Clara county.” . . .

The New Orleans Saints will have 3,000 season-ticket holders at their game on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. That total will increase to 6,000 for Nov. 15 and Nov. 22 home games. . . .

An outbreak of 34 positives in Vermont “can be traced to games played at a hockey rink earlier this month,” according to a report by CNN’s Nakia McNabb and Brian Ries. . . . A news release from the Vermont Department of Health states that the cases have been traced to a broomball league, as well as youth and adult hockey leagues. . . . There’s more right here. . . .

New Hampshire shut down all hockey activities in the state on Thursday, a move that is expected to last until at least Oct. 30. The move impacted at least 26 hockey leagues. . . . Beth Germano of CBS Boston reported that “more than 150 cases have now been linked to hockey in several outbreaks that state officials say have spread into communities.” . . . Germano added: “It’s unclear why the sudden spike in cases, but some are questioning if it’s out-of-state travel by some teams to tournaments and bringing the virus back.” . . . According to Gov. Chris Sununu, six outbreaks and 158 cases have been tied directly to hockey in the state over the past two months.

The State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) cancelled its winter sports season on Monday. That impacts men’s and women’s basketball, men’s ice hockey, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and men’s and women’s track and field. . . . SUNYAC features 10 full members and one affiliate in NCAA Division III sports.

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JUST NOTES: The Morden Blackhawks, a senior hockey team that plays in the South Eastern Manitoba Hockey League, said in August that it would be changing its nickname. That new nickname will be Bombers. That nickname has some history in the area, as the Morden Bombers played two seasons (1983-85) in the Central Amateur Senior Hockey League. . . . If you missed it on Monday, the IIHF released the scheduled for the 2021 World Junior Championship, which will be played in a bubble without spectators in Edmonton. The tournament will open on Dec. 25 with Switzerland meeting Slovakia at 11 a.m. PT (2 p.m. ET). It’s Germany and Finland at 3 p.m. PT (6 p.m. ET), and the day’s big one, Russia vs. U.S., at 6:30 p.m. PT (9:30 p.m. ET). I’m sure you will be able to schedule the carving of the turkey for the appropriate time. Canada opens play on Dec. 26 against Germany, 3 p.m. PT (6 p.m. ET). TSN’s complete telecast schedule, including 10 exhibition games, is right here.


Wrapping up a busy week with a Friday feast of odds and ends . . .


D Riley Guenther (Tri-City, Prince Albert, 2010-13) has signed a one-year contract with Angers (France, Ligue Magnus). Last season, he had one goal and two assists in 28 games with the U of British Columbia (USports, Canada West). . . .

F Dávid Šoltés (Prince George, 2013-15) has signed a one-year contract extension with Banská Bystrica (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, he had three goals and four assists in 10 games. . . . He started the season with Košice (Slovakia, Extraliga), putting up seven goals and eight assists in 31 games. He was traded to Banská Bystrica on Jan. 25. . . .

F Nathan Burns (Vancouver, Saskatoon, Swift Current, 2009-14) has signed a one-year contract with the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). Last season, with Saale Bulls Halle (Germany, Oberliga Nord), he had 27 goals and 49 assists in 40 games. He led the team in goals, and was second in assists and points. . . .

D Dylan Wruck (Edmonton, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract with Heilbronner Falken (Germany, DEL2). Last season, with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL), he had one goal and nine assists in 38 games. He is a dual German-Canadian citizen.



Now that F Matt Savoie has signed with the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice, you are free to wonder where he’ll play next season. I would suggest that he will end up at the Winnipeg-based Rink Hockey Academy — Ice co-owner Greg Fettes owns a piece of the action there — or, if Hockey Canada should decide to give him exceptional status, he’ll play for the Ice. . . . Savoie will be one of a few Ice prospects to play at RHA, which before long will have other WHL owners exploring how to hook their wagons to nearby academies.


Don’t forget that 50 Below Sports + Entertainment, which owns the Ice, also owns the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues. So you can look for an Ice prospect or three to play there, too. . . . Maybe that also will bring on a rush of other WHL franchises looking to purchase their own junior A teams.


Having Savoie playing at RHA will allow the Ice to take advantage of the WHL rule that covers 15-year-old players and emergency recalls. By playing with a short roster and declaring an emergency situation at various points during the season, the Ice will be able to get Savoie into its lineup for far more than five games.


There are rumours out there that claim the WHL has changed its 15-year-old rule in order to allow Savoie to play more than 30 games with the Ice in 2019-20. We know that isn’t true because the WHL surely would have informed its fans were that the case. Right?


On Friday, the Ice acquired the WHL rights to F Dylan Holloway from the Everett Silvertips. Holloway, a Calgarian who is to turn 18 on Sept. 23, had 40 goals and 48 assists in 53 regular-season games with the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers last season. He was honoured as the AJHL’s MVP and the CJHL’s player of the year. However, he has committed to play for the U of Wisconsin Badgers in the fall. . . . The Silvertips got a fifth-round pick in the 2021 bantam draft in the exchange, along with a conditional first-rounder in 2021 and a conditional second-rounder in 2022.

The WHL held its annual general meeting in Kelowna on Tuesday and Wednesday. When it was over, the league posted a news release on its website that contained nothing in the way of breaking news.

Included in that news release, under the headline Over $10 Million Invested in Capital Improvements to WHL Arena Facilities, was this:

“All WHL Arena Facilities across Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest United States will undergo over $10 million in capital improvements prior to the start of the 2019-20 season, including the installation of new NHL-licensed acrylic rinkboard systems, improved video scoreboards, and ugraded lighting standards. The improvements are designed to address player safety and improve the fan experience.”

The WHL forgot to thank taxpayers in various communities for their help in funding these projects. An oversight, surely.

The best part of the Toronto Raptors’ championship-winning victory on Thursday night in Oakland? Drake chose to stay in Toronto so his TV time, at least on the ABC telecast, was, well, it wasn’t.


Look, the Raptors’ victory on Thursday night was a terrific accomplishment. But please don’t try telling me it was the greatest moment in Canadian sporting history. Because of the political situation at the time, nothing will ever top 1972 and the eight-game series between Canada and the Soviet Union that was won by Paul Henderson’s goal. . . . Put the Raptors’ championship right there with the Blue Jays’ first World Series victory, one step below Team Canada’s victory over the big, bad Russian bear.

The CFL’s regular-season opener was three plays old on Thursday night and the Saskatchewan Roughriders already had lost their No. 1 quarterback — Zach Collaros — to a headshot. This really wasn’t the start that the league or the Roughriders had wanted. Collaros has a history of concussions, so this was horrible news for the Roughriders. . . . The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were penalized 25 yards on the play, but Simoni Lawrence, who delivered the cheapshot, wasn’t ejected. . . . A four-game suspension would be about right if the CFL wants to deliver a message about such plays. That won’t happen, though. Instead, it’s likely to be one game and a stern warning.