Things Are Awesome Until You Discover Money

moneyThings were better before I figured out they were businesses. Specifically, I'm thinking of sports and radio.

I remember a time when I knew every player on the Blue Jays roster and I didn't have a clue what any of them made. It didn't make a difference what the terms were for Dave Collins vs. George Bell. I knew Collins had lightning speed and Bell had power, and that was enough. Baseball, and sports in general, is best before you realize it's a business.

Radio is the same. As a kid, I'd surf the dial on my transistor radio and tune in stations from as far away as Cleveland. I loved radio, but at some point I figured out it too was a business. That's when radio lost a great deal of its charm.

This last realization ties in nicely with some of the sentiment expressed in the comments of my Martin Streek Out At Edge 102 / CFNY entry. Stations, like sports teams, are out to make a buck. The value of "winning", "integrity", "loyalty" and such is only existent when tied to economic metrics. Edge 102 doesn't care that there are 20 or so of us hankering for a return to the good 'ol days. Edge 102 wants as many ears in their targeted demo listening as possible so they can extract more money from advertisers. That's their bottom line.

Sports and radio were better before I figured that out.

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Buzzer Beater: Who Do You Want With The Ball?

BasketballWith a second left on the clock and down by two, who do you want to take that buzzer beating shot? If I had a time machine, I'd want Michael Jordan with the ball. If no time machine is available, give me Lebron James.

Last night, Lebron James got the ball with a second left and his Cavs down by 2 in crucial semi-final playoff game against the Magic in Cleveland.

Click below to see what Lebron did.

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Jim Balsillie and the Phoenix Coyotes

NHLJim Balsillie has lots of money, wants to own an NHL team and wants to move it to southern Ontario. That same Jim Balsillie confirmed Tuesday that he has offered to pay $212.5 million US to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes on the condition that the bankrupt team relocate to southern Ontario. That's deserving of another entry alongside this one about his team in Cambridge and this one about his team in Hamilton.

I was listening to The Fan 590 when Bob McCown broke the news, and that prompted this tweet. The Coyotes moving to southern Ontario makes so much sense I can't see it happening. Maybe it's the natural once bitten (in this case, twice bitten), twice shy reaction.

Balsillie's not naming specific city names, so I'm going to guess he's looking at Vaughn, the city above Toronto. Can this happen?

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Jesus Price, What a Series!

PuckWhen your hockey team doesn't play past the first week of April, you find joy in rooting against your arch rivals. Last year at this time, happiness was a sweep of the Sens in the first round.

This year, I felt great joy in watching the Montreal Canadiens go down in four straight to the Bruins. Tonight's game was a beaut, with Montreal Canadien cast-off Michael Ryder leading the way with a 3 point night and Habs fans mockingly cheering Carey Price after he made an easy stop. Price responded by taunting his own fans, a move that brought a huge smile to this Leaf fan's face.

Jesus Price, what a series! Au revoir les Habitant.


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Tom Cochrane and the Gretzky Trade

RewindShuffling my tunes, I just heard "Big League" by Tom Cochrane. I loved that song. Hearing it now, it made me think of Wayne Gretzky.

I was heavy into Tom Cochrane's Victory Day back in 1988. When the heart breaking news of the Gretzky Trade came down the wire that summer, the song "Big League" somehow became my theme song of sorts for the Oilers ~ Kings deal. From August 9, 1988 to the present day, "Big League" brought me back to that moment.

As if you need a refresher, the trade saw Oilers owner Peter Pocklington send Gretzky, Marty McSorley and Mike Krushelnyski to the Kings for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, three first-round draft picks and $15 million. As a 14-year old hockey and Gretzky freak, I saw it as something more significant. I saw it as the selling of The Great One, not to another team, but to another nation.

It's still a great song. Here's "Big League" from 1988.

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The NBA Hall of Fame Slam Dunk

b-ballMichael Jordan is in the basketball Hall of Fame. He was elected to the class of 2009 today along with David Robinson, John Stockton, Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan and Rutgers women's coach C. Vivian Stringer.

Michael Jordan was the best basketball player I ever saw play the game. It's not even close. I've never seen a player elevate his game to such an elite level come crunch time, so consistently. In the days before we had an NBA franchise the Bulls were the team to watch. A Bulls game on television was must-see TV, and it was all because of Michael.

He finished a 15-year career with the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards with 32,292 points, the third-highest total in league history, behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone. His final career average of 30.12 goes down as the best, just ahead of Wilt Chamberlain's 30.07. He also won six championships with the Bulls and another in college with North Carolina. He also won MVP honours five times. He was like no other player I had seen before and I haven't seen anything close since.

He was an NBA Hall of Fame slam dunk.

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The Last 300 Game Winner

BaseballAs an impressionable young baseball fan, someone game me a book entitled "The 500 Club". It had a page devoted to every player in Major League Baseball history who had hit 500 or more home runs in their career.

This was the early 80s when there was two members of the 700 club, one member of the 600 club and far fewer members of the 500 club than we have today. The 500 Club used to be a much bigger deal.

This was the start of my fascination with baseball statistics. I had to know who held the Blue Jays single season and career records for every offensive, defensive and pitching category. This was before the Interweb, so gathering this data wasn't easy, but it was worth it.

The great milestone for starting pitchers was 300 wins. That was the magic mark. Only 23 players have ever done it, but Randy Johnson is sitting on 295 career wins. Randy Johnson will join The 300 Club this season, and Randy Johnson will be the very last player to reach this mark. There will never again be a 300 game winner in Major League baseball.

Our greatest pitcher this past decade has been Roy Halladay, who I consider to be the 2nd greatest starter in Blue Jays history. Halladay is a throwback, finishing games and winning at about a .700 clip. Roy Halladay only has 131 wins to date and won't get close to 300 in his career.

There are relief specialists, five man rotations and pitch counts to blame, but the 300 game winner will go the way of the do-do bird. After former Expo Randy Johnson gets there, that is.

Randy Johnson

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Losing to Italy in Baseball?

BaseballI can understand Canada losing to Italy in soccer. In fact, I'd expect that. I'd also expect to lose to Italy in pizza dough throwing. As I type, however, Canada is losing to Italy in the World Baseball Classic at the ballpark formerly known as Skydome. That's unacceptable.

It's the bottom of the sixth, so there's still time. We have to come back and take this. We're not losing to Italy in baseball...

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Tony Fernandez Never Took Steroids

needleAlex Rodriguez has admitted to taking steroids. A-Rod was supposed to be the clean saviour who would wash the bad taste out of our mouths left by Barry Bonds. A-Rod is a jerk, but we hoped he was a jerk who didn't use performance enhancing drugs.

It turns out he's a jerk who did use performance enhancing drugs. Throw him in the pile with Bonds, Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens. Here's what I wrote last year in Erasing an Era.

A life long baseball fan, I've never seen a pitcher as good as Rocket Roger Clemens. When it comes to offensive prowess, I've never seen a hitter as good as Barry Bonds. As far as I'm concerned, you can take a big ol' eraser and scrub the marvellous careers of both men from the record book.

In a sense, an entire era has now been erased. I'm sure both Clemens and Bonds were stellar before they took performance enhancing drugs, but a little juice spill ruins the entire meal. The steroids era, as it will be called by future generations, has claimed the greatest the game has to offer.

Many will shrug their shoulders and look forward. I can't help but look back, at what was and what wasn't, and wonder how the hell I'll ever know the difference. Does it matter? Yes, and if you're asking that question, you're not a fan of baseball.

The Chop Stops Here

I have more questions than answers. Where does it end? When did it begin? Now what?

I never worried that George Bell might be on the juice. It never crossed my mind that Tony Fernandez could be drugging. Dave Stieb had a nasty slider, but he didn't cheat.

Life used to be simpler. Today, every player is a suspect, and nothing is as it seems. It's innocence indicted.

Thanks, A-Rod.

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Super Bowl XLIII

NFLPrior to today, I didn't watch a single minute of NFL football all season. I haven't been able to make such a claim since I was a snot-nosed kid in the early 80s.

I did watch most of today's Super Bowl, and it was a great game. The first half closed with an amazing play, the half-time show was good, Kurt Warner led his Cards back and Big Ben mastered a game winning drive in the final couple of minutes, capped by another fantastic play.

It's not enough to win me back, but it was thoroughly entertaining.

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