Here is my latest update on how I have been surviving my football withdrawal symptoms so far. This weekend was a little better because NASCAR has come to the rescue! Yes, the auto racing season is on for real now, with Daytona happening this weekend.
Quite honestly, though, the two races on the weekend were wreck-fests. The Xfinity race on Saturday went into overtime because of a wreck in the late going, but it didn’t end there.
Because of some new NASCAR rule that allows unlimited overtime restarts, we ended up with five overtimes due to five different yellows, one of which was from a big 18-car pileup in the first overtime. In the end, Tyler Reddick nosed out Elliott Sadler by a hair for the win.
Then came the Daytona 500 the next day, which also saw its share of wrecks.
Danica Patrick ended her NASCAR career in absolutely typical Danica fashion, with her GoDaddy car getting collected due to an incident that wasn’t her doing. Again.
That wasn’t even “The Big One”. This was:
Finally, in overtime, the leader of the race Aric Almirola hits the wall and hands the 500 to Austin Dillon.
See, this sort of mayhem is the reason why NASCAR is my preferred entertainment on Saturdays and Sundays now, at least until baseball season begins. Try as I might, I just can’t seem to concentrate on upper-crust sports like PGA golf, even though I did catch some of that Genesis Open at Pacific Palisades, California won by Bubba Watson.
As an aside, it was a big weekend for sports in Southern California. It was NBA All-Star Weekend in LA. For some reason, though, everyone is talking about Fergie and her absolutely wretched version of the national anthem before the game. It was so wretched, in fact, that nobody remembers what happened in the game. Hint: LeBron’s team won.
Anyway, bottom line is this die-hard football fan is surviving the offseason just fine. Baseball spring training games are happening soon, and it is only another three months until CFL training camps are under way here in Canada!
So, anyway, I guess the latest controversy today in the Upset States of America is that President Donald Trump is going after NFL players who don’t stand for the national anthem, calling for them to be fired, and that he also disinvited the Golden State Warriors from coming to the White House the day after Steph Curry said in the press he’d vote against attending the White House.
So now every single one of these NBA and NFL athletes are at war with President Trump. Moreover, Trump’s “base” of supporters, who are already mad at these players for being so disrespectful during the anthems, are now threatening boycotts of both these leagues.
My suggestion to Trump supporters: follow NASCAR instead, because you know for darned sure those folks will stand up for the anthem! Honestly, folks: what a country. There is no escape from politics down there.
Update (Sunday): here is the latest reaction on Twitter as of Sunday morning.
And the view from up here in Canada:
Another update (Monday): Oh, great. Trump is now dragging NASCAR into this whole political fracus:
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s response:
The NBA on TNT will never be the same. Craig Sager, RIP.
So, with MLB out of the way I am making a point of tuning in more NBA games lately, and that will be my plan for tonight, tomorrow and Wednesday. Thursday, it’s US Thanksgiving back to NFL football. Friday, college football. Sunday in Canada, it is the Grey Cup.
Come to think of it, I guess I could watch the NFL tonight, too — the Mexico City game between the Houston Texans and the Oakland Raiders. Okay, I guess I’ll flip between that and whatever NBA games I might be able to find. All in all, it’s a great time of year to be a sports fan.
The reason why I tune in the NBA so often is mainly to get my mind off of winter — something I am always reminded of whenever I tune into a freakin’ NHL game. Somehow, I don’t associate the NBA with winter quite so much — maybe it’s because they have franchises in places like LA, Phoenix, Miami and other sunny places.
On to other more enlightening topics, shall we? Such as NBA free agency.
The news keeps on happening for NBA fans. The latest big news this week is that Dwyane Wade has bolted the Miami Heat for the Chicago Bulls. Two years, $47.5 million. This has to be a shock to Miami fans because of how long he has been with the Heat, but it sounds like negotiations went straight downhill earlier this week. To be honest, this move isn’t the travesty of Durant’s move, because Wade had a good career in Miami, and he won a lot of titles with the Heat, and so on.
Anyway, I don’t feel the least bit sorry for the Miami Heat organization — what goes around comes around, I say. (As for Chris Bosh, I say he’s welcome to return to Toronto any time.)
Tomorrow night is the big UFC 200 event in Las Vegas, and of course it got thrown for a loop when Jon Jones flunked his drug test, scrapping his big title fight with Daniel Cormier. As it turns out Anderson Silva has stepped in at the last minute to fight Cormier and save the card. But man, as a UFC fan this is totally disappointing. I think this is probably the end of Jon Jones in UFC, this guy is just a train wreck on a personal level. Dana White is royally ticked off.
And on Sunday Portugal takes on France in Euro2016, and maybe I’ll get a chance to watch the game — something I haven’t been able to do much of all tournament.
That is all for now.
Well, the NBA is rigged all right — but not by the officials or the league office. Instead, it’s (a) players, and (b) player agents, who are the ones deciding who is winning and losing. And I am sick of it.
Today, NBA all-star Kevin Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder to sign in free agency with the Golden State Warriors. The amount of money is insane: two years, $54 million. Player option for year two.
Thunder fans are obviously devastated, but really, every team in this league that isn’t the Warriors ought to be mad — the Cavaliers, the Raptors, everyone.
This Warriors team went 73-9 last season, which set an NBA regular season wins record, and they almost won the NBA title. This team truly didn’t need any more big-time all-star help. Now, with Durant in the lineup, this team will surely go… 79-3.
(Don’t ask me which three losses. Maybe Durant gets injured or something and they have to rest his foot.)
This reminds me of what happened in Miami a few years ago when LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade and crew to make a super team out of the Heat. That was another title engineered by players and agents. So much for building a team from the ground up! Seeing big players switch teams, with all this big money being thrown around, is exactly what is turning ordinary people off of the NBA.
Is there any point to watching any of the upcoming NBA season when you absolutely know who the champions are going to be? Seriously. I repeat — seriously.
Oh, and a happy 4th of July to you, too.
And for LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, this is not only redemption, it’s absolution, it’s vindication. By toppling the Golden State Warriors 93-89 last night, Cleveland completed a stunning 3-1 series comeback and ruined the Warriors’ bid for the winningest NBA season of all time. It also ends one of the all-time most notorious sports curses in North American history — a curse that afflicted not simply one team like the Red Sox or the Cubs, but an entire city!
The Cavs victory sends Cleveland’s long tenure as a “Losertown” into the dustbin of history. The last championship celebrated in Cleveland was the Browns’ NFL title in 1964 — so long ago that the Super Bowl had not been invented yet! Since then, it’s been a litany of epic Cleveland sports failures and debacles: Red Right 88. The Drive (Elway). The Fumble (Byner). The Shot (Jordan). The Move (Modell). And who could forget The Decision (LeBron)?
In what was a reversal of years of bad karma, this game last night had true “the” moments of its own. The Block (by LeBron). The Three (by Kyrie Irving). And above all else, The Comeback (erasing a 3-1 deficit to win the final series for the first time in NBA history).
Cleveland now finally gets to call themselves “The Champions”. You can’t help but feel good for these suffering fans.
(And speaking of golf curses: congrats to US Open winner Dustin Johnson.)
Well, the Golden Stare Warriors have come back and finished off Oklahoma City tonight in the NBA, which means it will be the Warriors versus the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA finals.
I wonder if anyone in Canada will even bother with the NBA Finals now, in spite of another good matchup between Steph Curry and LeBron James. Usually, I find that Canadian interest in the NBA, and even Major League Baseball for that matter, drops off massively once the Canadian entry is knocked out of the playoffs. It will be interesting to see what the ratings are for the finals.
In other sports news, the Saskatchewan Rush could clinch the National Lacrosse League title this coming Saturday at home at SaskTel Centre against the Buffalo Bandits — yet no one is really noticing because the provincial media is obsessed with Saskatchewan Roughriders training camp coverage, also in Saskatoon.
Who could think it? After getting it handed to them in Cleveland, the Toronto Raptors somehow found a way to get two home wins over the Cavaliers to tie the conference finals at two games apiece. That prompted ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith to issue an apology to all of Canada for thinking the Raptors couldn’t win.
Quite honestly, I think there is no need for Stephen A. to apologize, because I don’t think even Raptors fans thought these Raptors had a chance after the way they stunk out the joint in the first two games. By all rights, this team should be done by now. But Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and crew have found a way to get it together in the crunch, again, just as they have done all playoffs. The tenacity of this team has been unbelievable – this is a totally different Raptors performance from what we have seen in the playoffs in recent years.
This has been the year in which the NBA playoffs have made mincemeat of conventional wisdom. Heck, look at how Oklahoma City is up on Golden State 2-1 in their series. Seriously, we are at the point now in the playoffs in which any one of these teams can literally win the NBA title.
So it is official — the greatest season in Toronto Raptors history is this season. They have beaten Miami to make the NBA Eastern Conference finals for the first time in club history against the Cleveland Cavaliers, ruining the LeBron James vs. Dwyane Wade matchup that everyone wanted to see. Too bad, USA.
I have to say about yesterday’s Game Seven: unlike the other games in this series there was absolutely no drama at all — no “miracle shots” to tie the game (unlike Game One), no OTs (unlike three other games this series). No equivalents to the Jose Bautista “bat-flip”, as far as I could tell. For whatever reason, I was far more excited last year when the Blue Jays made the AL championship series than I was for this Raptors win, and it was probably due to how Game 7 unfolded. This was just a thorough beat down by Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and crew. I guess if and when the Raptors make the NBA Finals, that’s the time when I’ll be really getting excited, along with the rest of Canada.
As for the next series, everyone seems to believe LeBron James and the Cavs are just going to crush the Raptors. That is probably what mutes my enthusiasm the most, knowing who the Raptors are up against next. Still, keep in mind no one expected Oklahoma City to beat San Antonio either, and look what happened. And in these playoffs, injuries have been a big factor for a lot of teams. If LeBron goes down with a knee injury or something, look out. These truly are the playoffs where the last team standing wins, literally.
Game One of Raptors-Cavs goes in Cleveland tomorrow. Let’s hope for the best.
Happy Mother’s Day Mom! Welcome to Sports News from Nowhere for a Sunday in which I have spent most of my day tuned to sports on TV and my iPad — mainly so I could get away from the Fort McMurray depressing news coverage going on everywhere else.
So far I am succeeding in keeping my mind off of that news — but not totally. I have been tuning in the Wells Fargo golf championship, and this is that tournament in which shaggy-looking golfer Graham DeLaet has pledged to donate $500 for every birdie he makes to Fort McMurray relief. So you can’t escape the bad news no matter how hard you try.
Actually, the main reason I am tuning in the Wells Fargo golf is because the NASCAR race was last night in Kansas (won by Kyle Busch). Otherwise I would be tuning in to NASCAR right now. Anyway, on to news from the world of sports:
Nyquist won the Kentucky Derby yesterday and you will be happy to know I was able to watch the race. Unfortunately, I must be one of the few people in Saskatchewan who realized the race was on.
Horse racing has really gone downhill in popularity, not just where I live but right across North America. I cannot pinpoint why this is, because it is still a riveting sport. I notice Northlands Park in Edmonton is the latest race track on its last legs, as this is its last season. But there is no doubt public tastes have moved on to other sports, and particularly to other forms of gambling. My guess is it’s really the casinos that are mainly responsible for driving horse racing into the ground: they’re far classier establishments and their odds are far better, anyway.
I am also sad to report that I must be among the minority of people in Saskatchewan who cares about the NBA playoffs. People here insist on not being excited, which is too bad, because the games in Round 2 have been great. The Toronto Raptors have gone to overtime twice against the Miami Heat and game three in Miami was also competitive, with the Raptors winning 95-91. I will say this about the Raptors: they insist on doing things the hard way. Their series with Indiana went the absolute limit, and this one is shaping up as similar, with game one going to OT thanks to a miracle Kyle Lowry shot from way out that somehow went in the basket and tied the game. Of course, the Raptors then lost in overtime. It figures.
Worse, they are getting banged up. The latest problem is that Jonas Valanciunas was injured in their win Saturday. He will miss the rest of this series. Ouch.
And the National Lacrosse League first round has just concluded and both first-round games went to overtime, with New England beating Georgia on Friday 14-13 and then Calgary upsetting Colorado last night 11-10.
So you know what that means, folks: it is Calgary versus Saskatchewan for the NLL West title, and that series is going to be a war. I can’t believe there isn’t more coverage of this around here, because the one thing Saskatchewan fans love to do is hate on Calgary, regardless of the sport. Also, the Rush ought to have a captive audience now that the Melfort Mustangs are out of the Western Canada Cup.
Now a final rant. You had all these sports going on with Canadian teams active in them, and you had Canadian teams playing in Major League Baseball and in MLS soccer yesterday. Yet when I tuned in the sportscasts of these Alberta and Saskatchewan radio stations yesterday, what did we get as the top story?
That’s right, folks, the hockey scores — even though none of the NHL teams playing in the playoffs are from Canada. I’m sorry, but I really don’t give a damn anymore about what St. Louis or San Jose are doing, or any of these other American teams. And Canadians don’t care either, based on the TV ratings. I guess I’m mad because I tuned in to one of these radio stations, trying to find out who won the bleeping Raptors playoff game because I had missed the end of the game, and I had to listen to all this NHL junk instead. And then the sportscast didn’t even bother to mention the final score in the NBA game! I mean, if you want to put up the NHL scores, fine, but at least mention the other sports — particularly the ones with teams in Canada! All the other sports in Canada are getting shortchanged by our country’s media, folks. That is all I have to say.
That’s all for the moment: now, I’m going to switch the channel to tune in the end of this Tampa Bay-Islanders playoff game. (Tampa Bay Lightning: top sports story in Canada today, even though the place is closer to Cuba.)
You know, it was bad enough Canada’s NHL teams all missed the playoffs — an absence now being sorely noticed this week by Canadian sports fans watching all these hockey shows on Canadian TV, with these anchors all trying in vain to drum up people’s interest in these all-American Stanley Cup playoffs.
But it’s even worse than that for Canadian fans. The Toronto Blue Jays are adding to this misery with a 5-7 start, having lost two in a row to Boston. And now today, in the NBA playoffs, the Toronto Raptors have yet again reminded Canadians that they are the Raptors. They dropped Game One to Indiana, 100-90.
So it looks like they may soon be gone, too, as usual, just like all the NHL teams. And if that happens — boy, will folks at TSN ever be ticked off, because they were counting on the Raptors for ratings.
It almost makes you want to resign as a Canadian sports fan! But look on the bright side. If the Raptors do go down in the playoffs again, it will free up everyone’s time this spring to go to the movies. “I’m cheering for Superman!” “Batman all the way!”
Definitely more exciting than Canadian sports at the moment.
Tonight marks the start of the NHL playoffs, which normally for Canadians is as anticipated a moment as Christmas Day. Unfortunately for Canada, all the teams are American, which is bound to mean much less interest north of the U.S. border.
The good news is that all is not lost — if the NHL bores you to death, don’t worry, life is more interesting in the NBA anyway.
Tonight as the regular season ends, Kobe Bryant says farewell with his last NBA game. Also, tonight is the night the Golden State Warriors try to beat the Chicago Bulls record for wins in a season, as they go up against Memphis for win #73.
Heck, if you Canadians are going to watch American teams play it might as well be the NBA, since Americans care more about that league anyway.
May I add the Toronto Raptors made the playoffs. That’s one more Canadian team in the entire NBA playoffs than there is in the entire NHL playoffs.
Welcome again to Sports News from Nowhere — so named because I am located nowhere near any of these sports going on. Such as Belmont Park, New York, where American Pharoah had his date with destiny on Saturday afternoon and ended 37 years of misery for the race fans there.
They showed scenes of the stands after Pharoah crossed the finish line first, and it was just jubilation there after he won the Triple Crown. The fans were way happier than the horse seemed to be.
This begs the obvious question “will this boost interest in horse racing,” given all the gloom and doom about the state of the sport’s popularity in North America. Honestly, I don’t know, it will take plenty of work to reverse the years of decline. I will say this — American Pharoah surely did more for horse racing this weekend than Mayweather and Pacquiao did for boxing with their ridiculous fight. If American Pharoah can’t boost horse racing’s popularity with the mainstream public after this epic performance, nothing can.
As for sports that are popular among the fans, Cleveland and Golden State continue to do battle in the NBA finals, and despite Kyrie Irving being out for the series with his bust knee, the Cavaliers managed to win game two in OT thanks to another epic performance by LeBron James, a triple-double. After game one I was all ready to write off Cleveland, but if there is one thing that is the Warriors’ Achilles heel so far in this series it has been their inability to stop LeBron. 44 points in game one and 39 last night. If this keeps up, the hapless city of Cleveland might actually celebrate a championship after all.
Finally, the Women’s World Cup of Soccer is well under way here in Canada and it’s great to see what are usually CFL stadiums actually filled with fans, for a change. I saw the scene at that first game between Canada-China in Edmonton, and the stadium and the city looked great on TV. Totally world-class.
But the locale didn’t please everyone. The big controversy prior to game one was that ridiculous article in the Globe and Mail by Cathal Kelly complaining about how the opening game of the Cup should have been in Toronto, because Toronto’s the most important city in Canada and so on. Well, the folks in Edmonton and the rest of Canada were insulted, and they should be, because there is far more to Canada than Toronto.
But face it, folks, the real reason you’re getting this Toronto-centric column from Kelly is because Toronto is beside themselves that they aren’t hosting any games at all! Because Toronto is hosting the Pan Am Games, they have to skip out on the Cup. This must drive Torontonians crazy. Every summer when a World Cup is held, people in Toronto absolutely get into it and go to their favourite watering holes to cheer on their favourite countries. The locals there practically consider it their tournament. So to finally have a FIFA World Cup event in Canada, with Toronto on the outside with no games at all, is surely a jolt to the system. Fans there must be reeling.
Then again, we don’t have any World Cup games in Saskatchewan, either. But our reaction is different. It’s more an indignant “I don’t care and it’s FIFA’s loss, and when is CFL season starting again?”
The answer to that last question is: tonight! Pre-season game is on between Hamilton and Ottawa! Woo hoo! And that is it for now.
LeBron James made his decision today. He decided to go to the World Cup. Oh, and he also decided to repent. “Forgive me Cleveland for I have sinned!”
And Cleveland is forgiving him with open arms. How else can you explain all the craziness around LeBron’s house, with all those fans out there parked on the street waiting for the news? (And I thought Saskatchewan fans were crazy.)
For the Miami Heat fans, I hope they enjoyed being in the NBA Finals the last four years with their bunch of mercenaries, because they are not going to be there again for a while — not even with Chris Bosh coming back.
As for me, I guess this means I like LeBron again now? Sort of. At least until he meets Kyle Lowry and the Raptors, at which time I will cheer against him, as usual.
LeBron revealed his latest decision in this essay in SI. As for the reporters out there, Chris Sheridan gets all the props for breaking the story Wednesday on his website, way before it was officially confirmed today. And the story turned out to be exactly right.
Also, here is a story from Grantland about all this craziness. I gotta say, NBA free agency this year has been hugely entertaining. I only wish the Canadian TV networks would be as interested, because this year in particular, NBA free agency has the NHL all beat.
It has been a crazy night in NBA free agency. The Twitterati have been waiting in suspense for LeBron James to announce where he is going after his meeting with Pat Riley of the Miami Heat. A lot of rumors were out there about him returning to Cleveland. But then came the word that he wouldn’t make a decision tonight.
All I have to say is this is getting to be ridiculous. He may be the best player in the NBA but as a decision-maker he’s really not that good.
Come on, LeBron, make up your mind already, once and for all. Put us out of our agony!
I have no intention of watching the NBA Finals game 2 tonight. I don’t want to raise my blood pressure watching the Miami Heat, even if the Spurs do happen to beat them. (Go, Spurs!)
Instead, I am going to lower my blood pressure by watching Miss USA contestants face the usual hot-button wedge issue types of questions we have come to expect, later tonight from Baton Rouge on NBC.
Yes, indeed, it is Miss USA pageant night tonight again. Oh, and oddly enough, it’s being held in Baton Rouge tonight. Donald Trump had actually planned to hold it in Doral outside of Miami, believe it or not, but I guess the mayor voted against it and so Trump moved it.
Just a reminder to myself there is something else on TV tonight other than the NBA — although I guess I could tune in the Simpsons, or Family Guy.
Heck, you can watch them anytime — Miss USA only happens once a year.
Like I said before — painful, especially the Raptors having a chance to win with 6.2 seconds left. 104-103 the final score.
Oh, well, I guess there’s always the Blue Jays.
Tuning in to the reactions of frustrated Toronto Raptors fans on the live feed from “Jurassic Park” has proven unintentionally amusing, watching the stunned fans react to some of these stupid calls by the refs. Anyway, it looks like those fans may be going home unhappy — it’s a seven point Nets lead in Game Seven with just under two minutes left, and time is running out.
The story here. He also got fined $2.5 million.
Of course, folks in Toronto have nothing better to do right now, thanks to the Leafs. (I was also going to say Blue Jays, but they’re not out of the race yet.) Do you know, Canada, that there are as many teams from Canada in the NBA playoffs as there are in the NHL playoffs? Well, then, why aren’t the rest of you Canadians excited about the NBA playoffs, too?
Good question. There really ought to be more to life in Canada than just watching Don Cherry at playoff time in the spring.
Welcome to this weekend’s edition of Sports News from Nowhere, where I run down some of what has been happening in the world of sports. And a lot of happenings there is.
I guess the big story from the last few days has been the whole verdict in the Jerry Sandusky abuse case at Penn State. He was found guilty on 45 of 48 counts and it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving individual. I read that even his own lawyer didn’t think this guy would be acquitted. Hopefully Sandusky is sent off to jail for a long, long time.
In NBA news, the Miami Heat won the title Thursday and while some sportswriters who have been trashing LeBron James and bashing his talent all along have now recanted and say they like him now, I still don’t. This guy is still a Benedict Arnold for what he did to Cleveland. In other comments, I sure chose the right year to not be interested in the boring and predictable NBA. Game Five was a snoozefest.
The Queen’s Plate went today at Woodbine in Toronto and it was Strait of Dover that was the winner, but the whole race has been overshadowed by the controversy over the Dalton McGuinty government’s decision to end the OLG Slots program from all the racetracks, denying these racetracks some much-needed revenue. Already the racetracks are starting to close down, with Windsor and Fort Erie the first to go. Even Woodbine is now sounding the alarm and claiming they, and the Queen’s Plate, might not be around much longer unless the government reverses its decision. Obviously, I think this is a terrible move by the government and is going to really hurt the sport in Ontario, and for that matter Canada since Ontario is the bedrock of horse racing in the country.
And Friday proved to be an interesting night at the NHL Entry Draft in Pittsburgh. There was genuine drama in the number one selection, which eventually saw Nail Yakupov chosen by the Edmonton Oilers, but also some big trades enlivened the proceedings. The biggest deal announced was the trade of Jordan Staal from Pittsburgh to Carolina for the eighth pick and two players. This was perhaps inevitable after Staal rejected a 10-year deal with the Penguins earlier in the week.
Also last week, the NHL handed out its awards in that beautiful hockey hotbed, chilly Las Vegas. (Current temperature: 103 degrees F.)
I’ve tried to follow the Euro 2012 soccer this year, but it’s pretty hard to do it when you have to be working. But I did catch the Italy-England game that Italy won today in a shootout, so I’m sure these Italian fans in Toronto are happy. They have to cheer for something, given the lousy season Toronto FC is having.
UFC 147 was last night.
Fernando Alonso became the first driver to finally win two races in F1 this year, winning the Euro Grand Prix today in Spain.
And CFL season officially begins this week on Friday night.
That is all for the moment.
So it’s on to Game Five on Friday in New Jersey and I sure hope they wrap it up soon. Any more of this and I’m having a heart attack.
Noticed a good piece on the ESPN website profiling the ’93 Kings and their Stanley Cup run. Lots of good stories so here’s a link to that.
Oh, and boo to TSN for cutting away from the trophy presentation for the Oklahoma City Thunder at the end of the NBA game tonight. This is just ridiculous — these guys cut away to SportsCentre and showed highlights of the Stanley Cup game, which we already watched on the other channel!
It reminds me what they do during the NASCAR races, which is to show highlights of NHL games during the sports updates as well as commercials featuring Sidney Crosby!! But what do you expect — all the other sports networks in Canada do the same thing.
That’s what ticks me off about life in Canada — you are never allowed to be a fan of the other sports. No wonder NBA players hate playing here in Canada — it’s always back to the NHL.