Sports


715*

mlbBarry Bonds hit his seventh home run of the season yesterday. It was also the 715th of his career, bumping him ahead of the Babe into second place all-time.

Majoring in history at the University of Toronto, one of my favourite classes was American Pop Culture. This class was amazing. I actually got a credit for studying the origin of jazz music, the influence of the Beatles and hippy culture. I had to write two major essays for that class, and as a big sports fan, I chose to write about the two most influential American atheletes of the century. I wrote about Muhammad Ali and George Herman "Babe" Ruth.

In 1920, Babe Ruth hit 54 home runs, smashing his own single season record of 29. How much better was Babe Ruth than every other player in the league at that time? He out-homered all but one team in baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies who managed to hit 64. How did he follow up that historic 1920 season? In 1921 he had what remains the greatest statistical season in the history of the game. Borrowing from his Wikipedia page, in 152 games, Ruth batted .378, had 204 hits, 44 doubles, 16 triples, 59 home runs (8th all-time), scored 177 runs (2nd all-time), had 171 RBIs (7th all-time), 144 bases on balls, with 119 extra base hits (1st all-time), an .846 slugging average (3rd all-time), and amassed 457 total bases (1st all-time).

Entering the 2000 season, Bonds was already a hall of fame player who ranked amongst the greatest all-time. I've always admired the man's talents and considered he and Roger Clemens as the two greatest players of this generation. If you believe the two reporters from the San Francisco Chronicle who wrote "Game of Shadows", Bonds began using steroids in 1998 after becoming jealous of the attention given to Mark McGwire. This got Bonds to approach Greg Anderson who developed a steroid regimen which in turn helped Bonds hit 73 homers in 2001.

Although he denies ever knowingly taking steroids, Bonds has admitted to taking "the clear" and "the cream". We know "the clear" and "the cream" helped transform Bonds from an amazing hall of famer to the second all-time home run king behind Hank Aaron. That ain't right. Babe Ruth is now #3, but Barry Bonds will be stuck with a hugh * for all of eternity.

Let's hope Aaron stays at #1.

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America Still Doesn't Like Hockey

hockeyA couple of years ago I wrote an entry entitled "America Doesn't Like Hockey". I thought it best that we all just accept this fact and move on without taking America's disinterest as a slight against our game. The game may be more exciting now than it was then, but Americans still don't care for it.

More people in the United States watched the 13 WNBA broadcasts on ESPN2 last year than the NHL on OLN this year. NBC's poker series, which preceded the network's NHL playoff coverage two weeks ago, easily outdrew the hockey by more than 200,000 viewers. When you're getting beat by the WNBA and poker it's time to accept the fact you're no longer one of the four major sports. This is reality and it's okay. League attendance was up by 2.4% this season and that's after a lockout. The hardcore fans have come back and the disinterested have stayed away.

They can keep their WNBA south of the 49th parallel and we'll continue to love and enjoy the greatest game in the world. That sounds like a fair trade to me.

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That's It For Dougie

nflDeciding to completely ignore my plea, Doug Flutie has called it a career. They list him at 5-foot-10, but there's no way he's that tall. 5-feet-8 would probably be closer to the truth. What he lacked in stature he more than made up for in heart. The highlights break nicely into three categories.

The Magic Flutie
In 1984, at the Orange Bowl, his Hail Mary pass to Gerry Phelan won it for Boston College. He won the Heisman that year, and was already a legend.

O Canada!
Here in Canada, Flutie became an honourary Canuck when he played eight years for the BC Lions, Calgary Stampeders and Toronto Argonauts. It was only eight years, but he made the most of it, winning the league's outstanding player award six times and capturing three Grey Cup rings. He didn't just win three Grey Cups, he won three Grey Cup MVP awards.

The Bill
In 1998, Flutie signed with my favourite NFL team, the Buffalo Bills. During that first season, he went 8-3 as a starter and followed that up by going 10-5 in 1999. All Flutie did was win, but Wade Phillips made the call that took my love for NFL football and all but destroyed it. He started Rob Johnson ahead of Flutie for the opening round playoff game against the Tennessee Titans. I've written in the past about how this Johnson over Flutie decision affected me. Rob Johnson looked the part but Doug Flutie was the part. Anyone who chooses to cut Flutie and go with Johnson as their starter has absolutley no soul, brains or a snowball's chance in hell of winning anything. History has proven me right.

Farewell, Dougie.

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One More Year, Dougie

nflI own the jerseys of two Dougies. One is a #93 home Toronto Maple Leafs jersey with Gilmour on the back and the other is a #7 Bills jersey for Flutie. At the age of 43, Flutie is considering retirement. I hope he plays one more year.

In March of 2005, I feared Flutie was done after he was released by the San Diego Chargers. I wrote at the time, "There were so many reasons to root for the diminutive quarterback. There's the hail mary pass while at Boston College. There's the years of MVP service in the CFL and the two Grey Cups he brought to Toronto. There's the glorious NFL comeback with the Bills when he guided them to back-to-back playoff berths. We all loved #7."

There's one trophy Doug Flutie hasn't won, and that's the Super Bowl. As Tom Brady's backup, that's always a possibility, but he has to give it one more year. I hope he does and that he goes out on top. He wasn't the biggest guy on the field, but there's little doubt he has heart to spare.

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Clippers Win! Clippers Win!

BasketballIs the apocalypse upon us? Are my eyes deceiving me? Did the Clippers really win a playoff round last night?

I can't think of a team in professional sports that better symbolizes mediocrity to me. The Clippers have been pretty damn awful throughout most of my life. They hadn't won a playoff series since 1976, when the team was playing in Buffalo as the Braves and beat the Philadelphia 76ers in the opening round before losing to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals. We complain about 39 years without a championship while these guys went 30 years without advancing into the second round of the playoffs a single time. Ouch.

Of course, it's probable the Clippers will win it all before we get another sip from that awesome mug.

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Steve Nash Country

CanadaWow x 2.

Victoria, British Columbia native Steve Nash will be named the Most Valuable Player of the National Basketball Association for the second year in a row. You may recall he won it last year, and I suggested he run for Prime Minister.

He is only the 10th player to repeat as MVP of the NBA. Magic Johnson is the only other point guard to win it twice and he's the only other point guard to win it in the past 40 years. And my favourite stat of all, Steve Nash is now the only non-American to win it twice.

Welcome to Canada. This is Nash country.

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The Masters

The MastersThis weekend is The Masters golf tournament from Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. Once again, I've entered a Masters pool.

I had to select three golfers and the objective is to have the lowest combined score. Every member of the threesome chosen have to make the cut or you're disqualified. Only one member of "the big five" is permitted. I selected Phil Mickelson, Luke Donald and David Toms. The Luke Donald pick was for my bro who seems to have an unhealthy obsession with the guy.

Visit The Masters Leader Board to follow the action beginning Thursday.

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The Soul of the Patriots

BasketballOn Saturday, the final four teams left standing in the NCAA tournament will play and we'll be left with two. One of the final four teams is George Mason, an 11th seed that came out of the Colonial Athletic Association. George Mason is Cinderella on steroids. They've beaten 6th seed Michigan State, 3rd seed North Carolina, 7th seed Witchita State and 1st seed Connecticut.

There are some big time schools on that list who all recruited the best high school ballers in the country. George Mason is the underest of dogs and only has two more Goliaths to slay. It's a top knotch grade A feel good story.

If you're not rooting for the George Mason Patriots, you have no soul. The only exception to that rule are those with children playing for one of the other three teams or members of the other three teams. Scratch that, there are no exceptions. Everyone should be rooting for the Patriots this weekend.

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This Is How We Do It

BaseballYesterday I wondered how Canada would fare against American at the 2006 World Baseball Classic. Today I got my answer. We beat the USA 8-6 in a most excellent upset victory for the red and white.

Adam Stern went 3 for 4 with 4 RBIs to lead the charge. We're 2-0 and face Mexico tomorrow night. It's safe to say this win over America is the most significant victory we've ever had in International baseball competition.

Wicked!

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2006 World Baseball Classic

BaseballI'm not sure what to think about the 2006 World Baseball Classic. At first I thought it was a pretty cool idea, but now that it's here and Canada plays South Africa tonight at 21:00 EST, I've downgraded my vibe on the whole deal to "kinda neat".

I love baseball and I love the idea of an International tournament that matters, but I don't get the feeling this is it. A number of big names aren't participating and with Spring Training underway most thoughts are with MLB. Having said all that, I am interested in how Canada fares against the United States and I would love to see Ernie Whitt coach us to an upset win. Here are some 2006 World Baseball Classic links of interest:

Go Canada Go!

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