How I Spent My Christmas Vacation

HockeyI watched a lot of hockey. I cheered a great deal and was always pleased with the end result. Here's the details...

Tonight it's Canada vs. Finland in semi-final action. Going for 11 in a row...

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Random Sports Shorts

TennisHere are a few sports thoughts for a warm Christmas eve.

  • Vince Carter scored 51 last night for the Nets. That matches his career high, scored as a Raptor during a game I attended. I was really hoping the jerk would never hit 50 again.
  • It appears as if the Jays have acquired Troy Glaus in a trade with Arizona. The price is Miguel Batista and Gold Glove second baseman Orlando Hudson. Although this will give us some more pop in the line up, I really didn't want to part with Hudson. The best second baseman this side of Robbie Alomar is undervalued by J.P. Ricciardi, in my humble opinion.
  • Prior to losing a close one in San Antonio last night, the Raptors had one three straight road games. The Raptors are road warriors with a respectable 5-9 record. Now if they could only win a second game at home...
  • A couple of days ago, I noticed a spike in terms of new visitors to this site. I checked the referral logs to see where all the new traffic was coming from and I quickly realized it was because Tony Dungy's son had been found dead. During this month I wrote about Tony Dungy when I hoped he'd go for an undefeated Colts season. I'm always writing about my son James, which was also the name of Dungy's son, and I started the month writing about the wicked CDLX tracks I was streaming via Myspace. The combination of the terms "Tony Dungy", "James" and "Myspace" had me highly ranked on a number of popular Google searches when word of this tragedy hit the news. It was not the kind of traffic I was looking for. This was news that really struck a nerve with me. My thoughts and prayers are with the Dungy's. It's every parents worst nightmare.
  • I forgot to put in my NFL picks this week, meaning I have all the home teams by default. Go home teams go!

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Why He's The Great One

HockeyIn his illustrious NHL career, The Great Wayne Gretzky scored 894 goals and added 1963 assists for a total of 2857 points. There is nobody like him. He's the greatest player ever to play the sport.

I've loved him for as long as I can remember. I shared some of my appreciation for Wayne in an earlier entry. In addition to dominating the NHL record book, he's built two championship teams for this country including the gold medal winning squad in Salt Lake City. He's been a tremendous ambassador for the sport and a true professional in every aspect of his life. Even with his personal life, The Great One always does the right thing.

He has taken an indefinite leave as coach of the Phoenix Coyotes and has joined his sister Kim, and brothers Brent, Glen and Keith in his hometown of Brantford, Ontario. His beloved mother, Phyllis, has lung cancer. He has his Coyotes at 16-14-2 and as executive director of Team Canada he was expected to announce our Olympic roster on Wednesday, but none of that matters. His mother is seriously ill and he knows where he belongs.

Even when it comes to priorities, there's no one better than my hero, The Great Wayne Gretzky.

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Go For It

NFLThe Indianapolis Colts are 13-0. They've also secured home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. They now face a decision that's the water cooler talk across this continent this morning. Do they rest their stars in preparation for the playoffs or do they play to match the 1972 Miami Dolphins who are the only undefeated, untied championship team in NFL history.

I've given this a lot of thought and I've decided the Colts should do whatever it takes to go 19-0 this year. I didn't immediately arrive at this conclusion and the route I took to get there is sort of interesting. At first, I adamantly believed they should rest their stars because with home field clinched throughout the playoffs the next game that matters is three games away. Winning the Super Bowl is the primary goal and the only goal that matters. Why risk injuries or having tired first stringers for the opening round?

Without a strong emotional tie to the Colts, it's easy to think this way. Then, I thought about the passionate Colts fan. What if I had fire in my belly for the Colts the way I do for the Leafs or Jays? I'd want them to go for 19-0. I'd want them to match the '72 Dolphins and reach that rare, immortal plateau. Opportunities like this come so rarely in the NFL it would be a damn shame to sit Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison et al. Even if the Colts win the Super Bowl having finished the regular season 15-1 because they didn't put their A team out there people will wonder forever "what if?".

I hope Tony Dungy goes for it. How often does NFL immortality knock at your door? It's worth the gamble, and if Manning blows out his knee in the last game of the season going for 16-0, Colts fans will be forgiving. They know the risks...

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A Rooting Interest

SoccerThe World Cup draw took place today. I don't care about soccer, but the World Cup transcends the sport and even I pay attention. To make things interesting, however, I must have a rooting interest.

My go-to team, obviously, is Canada. Canada hasn't qualified for the World Cup in twenty years, so I'm used to going to my back-up, Ireland. This time Ireland isn't represented either, so I'm forced to go three deep and root for the Netherlands.

Canada is an obvious #1 and Ireland is an obvious #2, but where does the Netherlands come into play? I get numerous emails from the Dutch telling me how popular my name is there and asking me if I'm aware my name is Dutch. Boon, it seems, came to Ireland by way of Holland.

Joining Holland in Group C is Argentina, Ivory Coast and Serbia & Montenegro. I can hardly contain my enthusiasm.

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Crosby vs. Ovechkin

HockeySidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin face off tonight in their first head-to-head NHL game. They're one-two in rookie scoring and are clearly forces to be reckoned with for years and years to come.

The last time these two phenoms faced each other, I game blogged the event. It was Team Canada's 6-1 win over Russia in the gold medal game at the World Junior Hockey Championship. As you'll see from the real-time synopsis, it wasn't even close.

I'm hoping for a similar result tonight. Go Crosby go!

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The Radio Had Eyes

RadioDriving around last night, James and I turned the radio to the Raptors game. The newest Raptor provided some pretty awesome moments for my three year old passenger.

"James dribbles the ball up court", "James dishes off to Bosh" and "James with the jumper" were just some of the phrases we heard. I told James that the radio was talking about him and he focused on the commentary only to hear his name again and again. At one point James asked me if the radio was going to talk about me too and right on queue they spoke about James, using his full name, Mike James.

On this night, the radio had eyes.

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I Could Win The Pool

NFLIf Baltimore beats the spread tonight, I win this week's NFL football pool. The Steelers are favoured by 10.5 but I feel good about my pick. On Halloween one must never go against the team that was named after Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven".

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary...

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Say It Ain't So, Joe

BaseballAs a youngster I was always fascinated with the 1919 Black Sox scandal. Eight players from the Chicago White Sox were accused of throwing the series against the Cincinnati Reds, and this group included the great Shoeless Joe Jackson. Ever since he was banished for life from professional baseball there has been debate as to whether he actually tried to throw that World Series.

During the series, Jackson maintained excellent statistics. 12-for-32; .375 batting average; 5-for-12 with men in scoring position; 5 runs; 3 doubles; 1 home run and 6 RBIs. Those numbers suggest he was trying, although some suggest he intentionally hit poorly at points when he could have most helped his team. Of course, if this was the case, he would have to have hit incredibly in other situations to maintain that .375 average.

I like to believe that he agreed to participate in the fix but changed his mind. I choose to believe that he gave it his all against the Reds in 1919 and tried to return the $5000 he took at the onset. There's a reason the story of Shoeless Joe translated so well in print and on the screen. Adding to the mystique is the fact the White Sox haven't won the World Series since.

The Chicago White Sox have some demons to exorcise. They'll get their opportunity starting tonight. I'll be rooting for them.

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Larry Walker

MLBThe greatest position player this nation has ever produced may have played his last game. I'm speaking, of course, about Maple Ridge, BC native Larry Walker.

If he has indeed played his last game, and he hasn't made that fact official yet, here are his career statistics. 2,160 hits, a .313 average, 383 home runs, 7 Gold Gloves, 230 stolen bases and one MVP honour.

Our greatest player once made the following statement. "I don't mind saying hockey is the greatest game in the world." Thanks for a great career Larry. Thanks for leading the way with a maple leaf on your chest and a hockey stick in your hand.

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