I alluded to this in episode 83 of my podcast, but it's time to come clean in print. I really don't care for football anymore.
As a younger man, I watched a lot of NFL. The Bills were my team and I rooted for them the way I root for the Jays or Raptors. Periodically, when we had the Rocket or Doug Flutie, I'd watch the Argos, too.
I can pinpoint the moment I started to care less about the NFL. It was when Rob Johnson got the start over Flutie in the Music City Miracle game. Since then, I've watched less and less NFL football every year. Last season, I caught three games (including the Super Bowl) and all three included Manning and his Broncos.
For a while, I thought it was just the NFL that was turning me off, and I turned to the CFL. Now I know it's the sport. I just don't like football.
I've been watching tennis grand slam events forever. As a young man, you'd have thought I was German the way I cheered on Boris Becker and Steffi Graf. After all, Canadians were never a threat.
Here's something I wrote in July of 2009 about Canada's male singles tennis failure. We had produced a few decent female players, and at least a couple of excellent doubles players, but not one male player who could even upset their way into a semifinal match. The highest ranking Canadian male in singles play was Andrew Sznajder who somehow got ranked #46 in September 1989.
Today, Canada's Eugenie Bouchard defeated Simona Halep in the Wimbledon semifinal and will play Petra Kvitova for the title. That's amazing. A Canadian might win a Wimbledon singles event.
Meanwhile, Milos Raonic has reached the semifinal and will play Roger Federer tomorrow. Before I had a true rooting interest, Federer was my guy.
With Bouchard and Raonic, tennis has become a whole lot more fun for this canuck.
The NBA Draft is tonight. Several Canadians, mostly from the GTA, are likely to be drafted.
That would make this by far the best NBA draft for Canadian talent. The previous high for Canadians drafted was three, set in 1983 and 2012. This year, three Canadians may go in the first round alone.
Here are 8 Canadians with a shot at being drafted tonight. Note that seven of them are from the GTA.
- Andrew Wiggins of Thornhill, Ontario
- Nik Stauskas of Mississauga, Ontario
- Tyler Ennis of Brampton, Ontario
- Melvin Ejim of Toronto, Ontario
- Jordan Bachynski of Toronto, Ontario
- Dwight Powell of Toronto, Ontario
- Sim Bhullar of Toronto, Ontario
- Khem Birch of Montreal, Quebec
Toronto has become a basketball factory. Go figure...
I've never watched the FIFA World Cup with a true rooting interest. Canada hasn't qualified since 1986 and I have no memory of that tournament. I don't think 12-year old Mike appreciated soccer.
In 1986, 28-years ago if you haven't done the math, Mexico was the host and Canada was a serious underdog. Still, we held our own against a powerful French squad before bowing out to Hungary and the Soviets. We racked up a grand total of zero goals.
With Canada currently ranked 110th in the world, I have one simple question for the hivemind. Will any of us live to see Canada score a goal in the World Cup?
Last night, when the Anaheim Ducks were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs, Teemu Selanne's NHL career came to an end.
The 43-year-old finishes his NHL career with 684 goals and 1,457 points in the regular season and 44 goals and 88 points in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He also won a Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007 and is one of the most decorated and productive players in the history of international hockey. Oh yeah, and he's a class act who was impossible to dislike.
Here he is mic'd during the handshakes last night.
Well done, Teemu.
I grew up a Leafs fan. I remain a Leafs fan. It's been tough.
We've never made the Stanley Cup final in my lifetime, and we've only made the playoffs once in the past decade, when we lost in the first round. There's not much hope for next season, either. But as tough as it is being a Leafs fan, being a Penguins fan is tougher. Allow me to explain...
Since the Penguins drafted Sidney Crosby first overall in 2005, I've rooted for them once my Leafs were eliminated. I just love how he plays the game, so I adopt the Pens as my team throughout the playoffs.
Don't get me wrong, the Penguins don't replace my Leafs, I just enjoy having a rooting interest. I believe Crosby is the greatest player today and I truly admire his work ethic and focus.
Rooting for the Penguins these past few years is tougher than rooting for the Leafs. Our Leafs have never had the best team, and certainly never had the best player. We've never been expected to win it all, so when we fall short, it stings, but it's not a big surprise. We typically finish exactly where we should finish.
The Penguins, on the other hand, are loaded. They don't just have Sidney Crosby, the greatest player on the planet, but they have Malkin, sometimes the second best player in the league, and Kunitz, Letang, Niskanen and Neal. That firepower makes them perennial favourites.
Despite that fact, they've done nothing but thoroughly disappoint since winning it all in 2009. Why they haven't upgraded Marc-Andre Fleury is beyond me. He waffles between being okay and junk, and dragging him out there every spring is a complete waste of Crosby's prime.
As a Leafs fan, I find solace in the fact we're just not very good. Penguins fans don't have that luxury, and that's a tough pill to swallow.
When I was a kid, I was obsessed with baseball statistics. I had a book called The 500 Club that chronicled every Major League batter to record 500 or more career home runs. It was a pretty short and tidy list.
At the time, there were only two members of the 700 Club (Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth) and one member of the 600 Club (Willie Mays), then there were these esteemed members of the exclusive 500 Club.
- Frank Robinson
- Harmon Killebrew
- Reggie Jackson
- Mickey Mantle
- Jimmie Foxx
- Willie McCovey
- Ted Williams
- Ernie Banks
- Eddie Mathews
- Mel Ott
That was it. 10 guys were in the 500 Club. Throw in the three who had over 600 and there was a grand total of 13. Yesterday, when Albert Pujols his his 500th career home run, he became the 26th player to hit 500.
It's still an exclusive club, it's just a little more crowded than when I was a kid.
Elliotte Friedman regularly blogs his 30 thoughts and I'm always impressed with the quantity of observations and insight. I don't have 30 thoughts this morning, but I have a few...
John Fucking Salmons
The Raptors game last night was insanely entertaining. I only tuned in for the fourth quarter and overtimes but was mesmerized by a see-saw battle as the Raptors came within a whisker of upsetting the Oklahoma City Thunder. In fact, that game is ours if not for John Salmons who turned over an inbound pass and missed two free throws in the last minute of play. And then Kevin Durant happened...
I literally woke up pissed at John Salmons.
The NCAA has this "First Four" thing they do before the opening round, and they've decided to call these two games the first round. That means what we know as the first round is now the second round. It's confusing and dumb. The NCAA call tell us the third round starts today, but I'm still calling it the second round.
Leafs vs. Habs
My son has a playoff game today, then it's off to the ACC to catch the Leafs and Habs from the sweet Ford Canada seats. I can't wait.
The NCAA men’s tournament tips off tomorrow, and there are plenty of Canadians taking part, many with key roles.
It's not just Andrew Wiggins, it's also Tyler Ennis, Melvin Ejim, Kevin Pangos and my son's friend's cousin, Nik Stauskas. Here's who you should cheer for over the next two weeks of madness.
- Arizona State: Jordan Bachynski
- Baylor: Brady Heslip, Kenny Chery
- Creighton: Jahenns Manigat
- Dayton: Dyshawn Pierre
- Eastern Kentucky: Jaylen Babb-Harrison
- Gonzaga: Kevin Pangos, Dustin Triano
- Harvard: Laurent Rivard, Agunwa Okolie, Patrick Steeves
- Iowa State: Melvin Ejim, Naz Long
- Kansas: Andrew Wiggins
- Michigan: Nik Stauskas
- New Mexico State: Daniel Mullings, Sim Bhullar, Tanveer Bhullar, Renaldo Dixon
- Oregon: Jason Calliste, Richard Amardi
- Saint Louis: Grandy Glaze
- Syracuse: Tyler Ennis
- Stanford: Dwight Powell, Stefan Nastic
- Villanova: Dylan Ennis
- Wichita State: Nick Wiggins, Chadrak Lufile
Back in 2005, the Simpsons predicted this Super Bowl between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks. They have it as a 19-14 win for the Broncos.
I'm going to disagree with the Simpsons and call it a 20-16 win for the Broncos. Make your prediction in the comments and we'll see if anyone nails it.
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