Yesterday, I had the priviledge of being part of the radio broadcast coverage of the Subaru Ironman Canada triathlon on EZ Rock AM 800 in Penticton, B.C.
It was the seventh Ironman Canada that I've been part of, and every year it gives me immense inspiration.
These athletes are amazing. Unbeliveable. Phenomenal. And just a little crazy.
You have to be just a little off your rocker to do a 3.8 km swim, followed by a 180 km bike, and then cap it off by pounding the pavement for 40.2 km...all within 17 hours. But 2,381 athletes did just that.
Being as close as I was to the transition area (where the athletes transition from swim to bike, and bike to run), I got a great appreciation for all the different types of athletes that participate in this race.
Sure, you have the uber-fit professional triathletes who have zero percent body fat and who finish the race in 8:25:13 like men's winner Justin Rapp of New York or 9:11:20 like women's winner Tereza Macel of Toronto.
But you also have the 'age groupers' who come in all shapes and sizes...tall, short, skinny, um, 'large.'
Seeing the age groupers involved in the race makes an average athlete, like myself, consider the possibility of training for and entering the Ironman. (Although after giving my head a shake, I'll start with training for a 5k run and go from there.)
And speaking of inspirations, how about Sister Madonna Buder of Spokane, Washington, who completed the race in 16:54:30.
Oh ya, she's 79 years young!
It was another unforgettable and inspirational day in Penticton. I highly reccommend that you take the time to check out an Ironman race if one is ever in your area. You'll be blown away by what the human body is capable of.
I'll leave you with some (cheesy) inspirational music from Billy Ocean for all those training for the 2010 Subaru Ironman Canada.
Stephen Walkom is leaving his post as the NHL's director of officiating to go back to the job that he truly loves...being an NHL referee.
Walkom was one of the NHL's best referees when he accepted the job offer to become the official's "Big Bossman."
What makes this move so interesting is that Walkom is giving up a stable, high-paying gig that, for the most part, kept him in one city and close to his family for a life in which NHL stands for "no home life."
It's not uncommon for NHL officials to do be in three, four, or five different cities during the week. And unlike in baseball where umpires work as a 'crew' during the season and move from city to city together (not to mention work two to four games in each city before moving on,) NHL officials fly all over the place as individuals.
For years I worked as a hockey official so I've always paid a little more attention to the "zebras" than most, so I thought I'd give you BrockTalk's alltime fave NHL officials:
5. Mike Cvik - More than 1300 games under his belt, and as far as I know, he's the largest linesman in NHL history...6'8 if I'm not mistaken. It's always fun to watch Cvik break up a fight and he's one of the only ones that can look down at Derek Boogaard.
4. Brad Lazarowich - Game 7. Stanley Cup Finals. Winner takes all. You'll likely see Lazarowich working the lines.
3. Dan Marouelli - Just a great presence on the ice and he's never afraid to trash talk the players. CLICK HERE to see and hear Danny give a little advice to Kelly Chase.
2. Kerry Fraser - Still a crowd favourite...just a little harder to recognize now that he has to wear a helmet over that wonderfully coiffed hair. Plus, he's the author of one of the most controversial calls (or, non-calls) in NHL history. It screwed the Leafs! CLICK HERE to see it, and hear Leafs TV whine about it.
1. Ray Scapinello - Scampy! The little guy was recently and rightfully inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. There has never been an official that made the return of a puck from one end of the ice to the other, so entertaining. Ray was the best!
Do you have your faves? Maybe you have a favourite official from another sport? Leave a comment and let me know!
Welcome back to the ice Stephen Walkom and please remember that the next time YOU are on the playing surface, the officials are the law, and the law always wins!
Hello dedicated BTC readers. I'm currently on the move...from Edmonton to the beautiful Okanagan (yes...where I moved from 1 year ago!)...so BrockTalk will be without updates for a little bit. Other things have me occupied...just simple things like finding a house, finding a job, finding empties that I can return for cash! Jokes aside, the move and job prospects look good...so I'll be back blogging regularly soon! Brock
Sprinting has had some tremendous atheletes over the years...Carl Lewis, Florence Griffith-Joyner, and Donovan Bailey come to mind...but the sport has NEVER seen a guy like Usain Bolt.
Not only is he an out-of-this-world sprinter, but he's an over the top personality. When he's not obiltterating world records, he's signing autographs, taking pictures with kids, hamming it up with mascots, and busting out his famous post-race pose. Bolt's personable, funny, and a gift to the sporting world.
The governing body of track and field couldn't be happier.
Usain, on your way to setting even more records, keep that pee clean and never stop running down a dream!
When Scott Gomez, Mike Cammalleri and Brian Gionta signed with the Montreal Canadiens during the off-season, they signed on with one of, if not the, most storied franchise in the NHL.
With one stroke of the pen, they also signed on to go up against the angriest, most short-tempered, hardened group of people on the planet...the Montreal press.
For a player in Montreal, the only thing that makes them more nervous than having the Boston Bruins "house on skates" Milan Lucic coming at them in the corner like a runaway train, is having 83 year old Montreal Gazette columnist Red Fisher storming up to them after the game.
Lets face it, some players flourish playing hockey in a place like Phoenix, because you might get one reporter asking you questions after a game. Whereas in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver...anywhere in Canada...you get almost as many reporters in your locker room, as there are fans in the building in Phoenix.
What about the other sports? Which places have the most ruthless media? What cities have scribes and mugs that put so much pressure on a player, that they can break that player down?
MLB - New York. Hands down. Sure the Mets get lots of coverage but if you end up with the New York Yankees, you better be ready to perform at an elite level from day one of spring training or the press will bury you. Numerous players have had their slumps magnified by the New York press so much, that they just can't recover. Ask Chuck Knoblauch.
NBA - As of today, Cleveland. The Cavaliers have all-world Lebron James. They've just added Shaquille O'Neal. They are SUPPOSED to be the team that can win it all...but continue to let the fans (and media) down. Anything less than a championship will be considered a colossal failure...and the Cleveland press will let everyone know it.
NFL - Since I've already mentioned New York (actually, the New York press could be mentioned for ALL the sports)...lets say Buffalo (ya I know they're in New York too.) What else do the Buffalo press have to cover? The Sabres? The Bills are the lifeblood of Buffalo and the four straight Super Bowl losses have turned the Buffalo media into a wild pack of dogs that are out for blood. It's a perfect fit for Terrell Owens!
I won't even get into international soccer because that takes things to a completely different level. But the common understanding is that if you play soccer internationally for Italy, you better have a good psychiatrist because the Italian media will drive you bonkers.
What are your thoughts? Which cities have the most ruthless media? Where are the players under the most pressure?
So there I am the other day, minding my own business, flipping through the channels, when I come across a rain delay in the Rogers Cup tennis tourney in Toronto.
Normally, a rain delay in tennis is about as exciting as watching fingernails grow, but something caught my eye. No it wasn't legendary TSN broadcaster Vic Rauter singing "Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head."
Actually, Vic Rauter deserves his own BrockTalk article...who else has the mad skills to cover curling, soccer, ice fishing and sheep shearing? I'll get that one written...one day. But until then...
Back to tennis, the maintenance crew was working hard to dry up the courts so they could get the matches back underway.
Gripping, I know.
Now normally, they'd be using squeegees and towels to prep the courts, but on this particular day, they were all using a very unique yellow fabric. I was intrigued...so I watched on.
Yes, I was THAT bored.
As the camera zoomed in, it was revealed that the object of choice used to dry the courts were...ShamWows!
Hilarious! Who knew people actually bought these things? Let alone a national tennis championship was using dozens of them to dry the courts??
Maybe it's time for Vince to add "...this is for the house, the car, THE TENNIS COURT..." to his sales pitch?
Apparently, Stephen Strasburg, is Nolan Ryan, Cy Young, Walter Johnson and Roger Clemens (minus the 'roids) all rolled into one.
At least, that is what the hype machine is telling us.
In case you are unaware, pitcher Stephen Strasburg was the number one pick of the Washington Nationals in the last MLB amateur draft.
He has been called a phenom. An ace in waiting. A can't miss super-star. And he's a young man who yesterday signed the richest contract ever for an amateur player, more than $15 million for four years.
In the end, Strasburg may end up being absolutely lights out and a phenomenal pitcher (the Nats and their fans, me included, and banking on it). But really, who knows?
All it takes is one awkward twist of the arm while delivering a 100 mph fastball and it could be "So Long Strasburg!" Careers for pitchers can be like fine china, delicate.
How could I NOT do a little BrockTalking about the victory yesterday by little known Y.E. Yang, over, let's call him relatively well known, Tiger Woods at the 91st PGA Championship?
What a story!
Y.E. Yang, the guy ranked 110th in the world, the guy who didn't start playing golf until he was 19, the guy who once did a tour of duty with the South Korea military, is now the man who beat the dude who is money in the bank (or credit union) with the lead.
Tiger had NEVER lost a major championship when leading after 56 holes before yesterday.
The funny thing is, that Tiger played some great golf. For the most part he hit the ball long and straight, but fell victim to a problem that every golfer can attest to...a lousy flat stick.
Watch the highlights, it's all you'll see. Tiger missing putt after putt after putt.
Sure, Yang had an amazing hybrid shot to within 10 feet of the pin on 18 to all but clinch the tourney, but the saying "drive for show, put for dough" never rang as true as it did on Sunday.
In the end, Tiger's fans (including CBS) can continue to fly Eldrick's flag saying "well, he's only lost a major when leading after 56 once!"
So today, let Y.E. Yang have his moment in the sun. He deserves it.
On another note, maybe Tiger just needs to pick up a few tips from Chevy Chase:
Back in 1976-77, when the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers were in the midst of their putrid 26 game losing streak (all 14 games in '76, and the first 12 games of '77), when asked by a reporter about his team's execution, coach John McKay replied:
"I'm all for it."
McKay was legendary when it came to one liners regarding his team's awful play.
While they are not suffering through the same run of futility, the Toronto Argonauts are definitely having some significant problems with their own execution.
Last night, the Argos were leading the BC Lions 25-14 heading into the 4th quarter. They were having a great night from their new quarterback Cody Pickett. Their kicker was on his way to tying a team record, by kicking 7 field goals in one game.
But, it all unravelled and the Boatmen ended up losing 36-28.
That loss...is their 9th STRAIGHT at home. A new team record. That, is dreadful.
In the CFL, each team gets 9 home games. So right now, the Arrrrrgoooooooooos have basically gone an entire season at Rogers Centre without a win.
It's somewhat understandable if a team can't get things done on the road. You're in a hostile environemnt, living in hotels, time change etc. But losing 9 in a row at home is just pathetic and completely unacceptable.
Being a western Canadian, as much as it pains me to say it, Toronto is a very valuable franchise in the CFL. They play in the biggest market, with the most corporate money, and with the most media exposure. For the long term success of the league, the good ship Argo better get it together, and fast.
In the mean time, the Argos and their fans are singing this song today:
Heading into the 2009/2010 season, the Washington Capitals have a very talented, but very raw, Semyon Varlamov as their number one goaltending prospect.
Varlamov showed flashes of brilliance in the 2009 playoffs:
...but he's obviously still a work in progress who needs to be coached and nurtured properly to bring out his full potential.
So, to help with the growth and development of their number one prospect, the Caps have opened up the wallet and brought in a man who has racked up 218 wins, posted 33 shutouts and given multiple heart-attacks to coaches, GM's and fans a like with his stickhandling, um, "skills."
The Washington Capitals new goaltending coach is, Arturs "Archie" Irbe.
Arturs Irbe??? Was Jim "The Net Detective" Carey not available? Certainly Mike Liut could step down as an agent for a few seasons! Did the Caps even try to get in touch with Pat Riggin?
Okay, Archie did have his moments in the sun and had a career GAA of 2.83, but if you asked any hockey fan which goalie they would want to have mentor a young goaltending prospect...the name "Arturs Irbe" likely wouldn't be the first, or 500th, out of their mouth.
August 11 was shaping up to be just another long, summer night on the baseball schedule. But then the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox decided to liven things up with their attempt at base-brawlin'.
Now, I'm not a violent person, but I do love a good ole brawl. Whether it's hockey, baseball, basketball (snicker) or some other sport, just the sight of all that mayhem is mezmerizing to me.
When the Throwdown in Beantown got going, it sure looked like it was going to be a Grade A brawl.
It all started in the top of the first inning, when Sox pitcher Junichi Tazawa hit Tiger Miguel Cabrera. Then, in the bottom half of the inning, Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello threw inside to Victor Martinez, then hit Kevin Youkilis prompting Youk to charge the mound.
In a rare occurence, Youkilis ACTUALLY got to the pitcher. But like many baseball brawls, there was a whole lot of hugging and glares and "why I oughtta"s...but not much actual fighting. Before you knew it, the whole thing was over.
When covering sports, several terms and words are used to express the play or performance of the athletes...that truly...aren't accurate.
"It was a heroic play by Flutie..." - not really. Heroic is running into a burning building and saving a child.
"Howard gave everything he had to catch that ball..." - giving everything one has, is what those in the military do.
"It was a selfless act for Crosby to pass that puck to Malkin for the goal..." - is it REALLY selfless when you're pulling in $10 million per season?
"Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully is a living legend..." - in this case, the statement is 100% accurate.
Back in 1950 (1950!!) Vin Scully started his broadcasting career with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Sixty years later...he's STILL the voice of the (Los Angeles) Dodgers...the longest tenure of one broadcaster with a single club in professional sports history.
Recently, Scully announced that next season would likely be his last...and the broadcasting world will lose it's crowning jewel (he'll be 82 so I GUESS he's entitled to retire!)
He works all 162 Dodgers games. He calls the games almost flawlessly. He does every game WITHOUT a colour commentator. He is a master of the English language. He is truly, a living legend.
Scully has called some of the most memorable moments in MLB history including Don Larsen's 1956 perfect game, Hank Aaron's 715th career home run, and the 1986 World Series (sorry Red Sox fans).
He also called the 1988 World Series...which featured one of the most memorable and dramatic home runs in MLB history:
Click here for a short piece on Kirk Gibson's home run, featuring Vin Scully's scintillating call of the dinger (at 3:52 of the piece).
So next time you're diamond surfing and can catch an LA Dodgers game, take a little time to listen to Vin Scully and the magic he brings to baseball...before it's too late.
It seemed like just another Sunday. There was darkness overhead without a hint of a breeze. Then all of a sudden the heavens opened up to reveal glorious sunshine and create a wonderful pleasing light wind. It was like someone upstairs was thinking of the followers below and the need to be set free from the dreary prison in which they were being held captive.
Of course, I speak of the roof opening at Rogers Centre during the Blue Jays game yesterday.
I'm not the biggest Rogers Centre (er, Skydome) fan, but it is something pretty amazing when that massive roof opens up and lets in all the sunshine.
So it got me thinking about my favourite stadiums in sports. Of course, I haven't been to ALL the stadiums, so I'm going to base my reviews on how they come across on tv. When I'm flipping the channels, if I see a game being played in one of these stadiums, they instantly capture my interest:
MLB Fenway Park, Boston. The green monster, the short porch in right, the proximity of the fans to the field. Originally opened in 1912, that place has stood the test of time (with some renovations of course)
NBA Staples Centre, LA. Jack Nicholson, Justin Timberlake, Denzel Washington...they're all courtside for the Lake Show (not so much when the Clippers play there.) The star power alone makes the Staples Centre a "must stop" when channel surfing. Plus the way they've lit the building/floor makes it even more Hollywood.
NFL Lambeau Field, Green Bay. Not so much in the fall, but in the winter, how can you NOT stop and check out the "frozen tundra" of Lambeau. Not to mention how cool it looks to have this massive stadium right in the middle of neighbourhood!
CFL Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field, Regina. It's always a fun stadium to see on tv due to the wacko Rider Nation. It's like a train wreck watching the knuckleheads in the stands wearing watermelons on their heads and pounding their 12th Pilsner of the 1st half cheer on their Riders.
NHL Madison Square Garden, New York. A tough call, since so many rinks look like one another. But considering all the history in the builidng, watching a game from MSG in En-y-ce is special. Plus, when announcers say "the buzzer sounds to end the 1st period"...it's actually a buzzer! Gotta love the World's Most Famous Arena.
Which stadiums are your favourite? I'd love to know!
Tonight at BC Place, one of the most popular BC Lions in recent memory makes his return to Vancity.
Jason Clermont, the good Canadian kid who played seven years with the Leos and is currently the sixth leading reciever in team history, returns wearing the green and white of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Clermont was always popular with Lions fans for the way he fearlessly went across the middle to catch a pass, game after game after game.
The guy is tough as nails and Lions fans loved him for it.
But it got me thinking about other "return engagements." You know the situation: a long time player and fan favourite, gets traded or signs as a free agent with another team, eventually returns wearing the visitors jersey.
The returns don't always go well, but sometimes, the returns DO live up to the hype:
When Wayne Gretzky made his first return to Edmonton wearing an LA Kings jersey, Oiler fans gave him a tremendous ovation. Then he kicked off the night by scoring on his first shift.
When Michael Jordan returned to Chicago as a member of the Washington Wizards, MJ got a 2:10 standing ovation. Then the Wizards crushed the Bulls 107-82 leaving Bulls fans sarcastically saying "gee, thanks Mike."
And recently, when Mats Sundin returned to Toronto as a member of the Vancouver Canucks, it was a memorable night indeed (not to mention Sundin scoring the shootout winning goal)
So if you are in The Dome tonight, put down your $9.50 beer, stop hassling Riders fans for a second, rise to your feet and please give Jason Clermont a well-deserved standing O.
Yanks versus Sox. It just has a certain ring to it, doesn't it?
Tonight one of the best, if not THEE best, rivalries in sports, heats up. The Boston Red Sox travel to the Bronx to take on the New York Yankees in a four (even better than three!) game series.
Ya, I know they play each other multiple times during the year, but, for the first time in several years, this series means something with the Yankees just 2.5 games ahead of the Sox in the AL East standings.
It should be fun to see how the series plays out over the weekend, and exactly how much influence it has on the standings at the end of the year.
Sure, there are other great rivalries in sports: Packers/Bears, Canadiens/Leafs, Lakers/Celtics...but to me, Yanks/Sox takes the cake.
The two teams have had many blowups over the years (the incident in which Pedro Martinez threw down 115 year old Don Zimmer after Zim charged out of the dugout at Pedro is legendary) but the following compilation remains one of my favourite Yanks/Sox throwndowns (made even more exciting because I was watching it all unfold live on the tube):
Case in point: David Tyree of the NFL's New York Giants.
You may recall back in 2008, little known 6th round draft pick David Tyree made the most incredible catch in New York Giants history, and possibly in Super Bowl history. He hauled in an Eli Manning desperation throw in Super Bowl XLII by pinning the ball to his head and somehow, miraculously, managing to hang onto it.
"The Catch" was made with just :59 left in the game and kept alive a drive that ended up winning the game and the Super Bowl for the Giants, over the heavily favoured and, at the time, undefeated New England Patriots.
Tyree became instantly famous.
Well, flash-forward to today, where it seems that David Tyree may be out of a job.
At best, he sits 6th on the depth chart for the G-Men...and that likely means relegation to special teams or an outright release.
Needless to say, it seems that David Tyree's 15 minutes are going to be up real soon.
But he won't be the first to make a splash before quickly falling off the sporting radar screen:
New York Yankees Bucky Dent. His home run sank the Red Sox in '78. He went on to be the World Series MVP but finished his career batting a pedestrian .247.
Washington Redskins Timmy Smith. He rushed for a Super Bowl record 204 yards in Super Bowl XXII. It was his only signifcant achievement as an NFL player.
James "Buster" Douglas. He did the unthinkable when he knocked out the undefeated and unstoppable Mike Tyson in 1990. He defended the title only once (losing in the 3rd round to Evander Holyfield) before retiring from boxing.
and of course...
Despite the legendary status of this goal, Paul Henderson had a very average NHL career and, despite pleas from some, he is not in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
So in the end, one play does not a career make...but at least your one play will live on forever.
So good old JR, Jeremy Roenick, is expected to announce his retirement from the NHL Thursday (and he'll certainly quickly move into some sort of broadcasting role).
While his career stats impress (1363 games, 513 goals, 703 assists, 1216 points, 1463 PIMs) what I remember JR for most, was the ability I (and many others had) to absolutely dominate a game of EA Sports NHL '94 with him.
Anyone who played that game "back in the day" knows what I am talking about.
In NHL '94 Roenick was a GOD. It wasn't unusual to have him skate miles around the opposing team and light the lamp multiple times per game. He was unstoppable.
And like many, I was heavily addicted to that game. I would spend hours upon hours upon hours at my friend TA's place playing it...and we would always aruge about:
A) who got Chicago (and Roenick) next or B) one of us using Chicago (and Roenick) too much
JR's utter domination of NHL '94 even made it into a LEGENDARY scene in the movie "Swingers" starring Vince Vaughn and John Favreau:
****CAUTION - this clip contains language not suitable for some viewers****
****DOUBLE CAUTION - this clip exposes exactly what 95% of guys were doing and saying back in '94****
Gotta give props for an impressive performance yesterday by the New York Yankees Melky Cabrera.
Melky hit for the cycle (single, double, triple, home run...all in one game) for just the 15th time in the storied history of the Bronx Bombers.
Top of the 2nd, Melky homers. Top of 4th, Melky doubles. Top of 5, Melky singles...
But what made his cycle just a little more impressive in my eyes is that when he stepped to the plate in the top of the 9th...he still needed a triple.
Most baseball fans would agree that that's the hardest one to get!
So the pressure is on, likely his last at bat for the game, the score is close, and everyone knows that he NEEDS that three bagger to make a little history.
So what does he do? Steps to the plate and launches a shot over the head of White Sox right fielder Jermaine Dye (who helped by not taking the right angle to the ball...but I digress) and he then chugs his way around the bases for the triple (his first of the season), and the cycle!