Monday, December 17, 2012

No gluten for Juice Newton Hooten(and other Monday morning musings)

There were several statement wins on Week 15 in the NFL, but none more emphatic than Atlanta's 34-0 win over the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants. The one-sided whipping all but clinched a number one playoff seeding for the Falcons, whose season-long invincibility at home makes them the theoretical - if not the practical - favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. The Giants, meanwhile, played like they've already booked their January vacations, slipping into a three way tie for the lead in a weak division they could have clinched weeks ago with any kind of consistency...Whether or not Minnesota makes the playoffs, the NFL MVP race turned into a no-brainer yesterday. Adrian Peterson's season-best 212 rushing yards in the Vikings' win over the Rams put Peterson within striking distance of Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record and Minnesota in the thick of the NFC wild card race. All of that on a team otherwise devoid of offence, allowing opposing defences to load up for Peterson, who shreds them anyway...So, it's not that Toronto isn't a CFL town - it's not a football town, period. Fourteen thousand empty seats for the Bills and Seahawks in a market of 5.5 million should tell the NFL everything it needs to know about Canada's largest city as a potential expansion market...Kudos to ESPN for recognizing there are limits to an ethnic group's license to mock its own. Suspending columnist Rob Parker for saying Robert Griffin III doesn't embrace his blackness enough sends a strong and appropriate message about racism and the acceptable boundaries of journalistic debate...If pop singer Juice Newton married retired baseball pitcher Burt Hooten, played trumpet in a college football band, inherited a billion dollars and developed a wheat allergy, she'd be rootin' tootin' high-falootin' Juice Newton Hooten, sans gluten. No need to thank me; it's all a public service.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Halls of Fame all the same

I'm not an expert on the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame, but I do know that it's a lot like the baseball and hockey Halls of Fame in that it makes borderline induction choices while snubbing candidates who truly belong.
Just like there's a Cammie Granato for every Brendan Shanahan or a Bill Mazeroski for every Lee Smith, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opens its doors to the likes of Donna Summer and Public Enemy, who neither rock nor roll, at the exclusion of bands like Deep Purple and Yes, who remain classic rock radio staples 40-plus years after breaking into the business. Summer and Public Enemy are successful in their own right, but for rock and roll purists, the disco and hip hop genres are the designated hitter and overtime shootout of the music world.
In the better late than never category, Rush being named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a good ten years after they'd earned it was an honor akin to Paul Henderson getting a long overdue call from the Hockey Hall or Cooperstown finally deigning to embrace Tim Raines.
One area that the sports halls pay lip service to but the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame doesn't concern itself with is the so-called character clause, which dictates that members at least give the appearance of being morally and ethically upstanding. As heavy a toll as strict enforcement of that clause would take on the pantheons of sport, if you weeded all the drunks, drug abusers, cheaters, gamblers and other assorted miscreants out of rock and roll, you'd be left with the Osmonds and...well, you'd be left with the Osmonds.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Costas is bang-on

Whether or not you agree with his take, Bob Costas was the right person in the right place at the right time to talk about gun control when he tackled the issue head-on during NBC's Sunday night football telecast.
There's been criticism from the usual trigger-happy suspects that Costas was outside his areas of jurisdiction and expertise, but if there's one thing America loves more than guns, it's football, so what better place and time for addressing a murder-suicide committed by a gun-toting NFL player than a prime time football broadcast on network television the day after the crime? And spare me the claptrap about Costas being a one-dimensional jock sniffer who's not qualified to comment on broader social issues. He's an intelligent, articulate, measured voice of reason in any debate within or outside the sporting arena, and he's got the resume to prove it. Even if Costas wasn't one of the most informed, well-rounded broadcasters on television, his detractors conveniently overlook that along with their cherished right to bear arms, the US constitution guarantees free speech and freedom of the press. By acknowleding a divisive issue at a sensitive time, Bob Costas wasn't only within his rights, he was relevant, appropriate and professionally responsible.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Chiefs' win changes nothing(and other Monday morning musings)

There needs to be an audible on the hyperbole in the aftermath of the murder-suicide committed by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Javon Belcher. The Chiefs' win over Carolina yesterday was neither inspired nor uplifting. It was a dauntless performance under devastating circumstances, but there's nothing inspirational about orphaning your infant daughter by brutally murdering her mother before taking your own life. It's a cowardly, despicable act, and winning a football game does nothing to diminish the tragedy...If nothing else, the latest wrinkle in the NHL lockout talks - an expanded players/owners meeting - suggests the two sides are committed to exploring alternative avenues to break the impasse. At this point, there appear to be three possibilities for a successful conclusion: 1. mutual compromise, which is the least likely scenario, 2. the players accept that even under the unsatisfactory terms they're being offered, they'll still enjoy financial security well beyond what most of the rest of us can even begin to comprehend, or 3. the owners recognize that they've already won and stop piling on...NBA Commissioner David Stern took the first step down a slippery slope when he fined the San Antonio Spurs 250 thousand dollars for not dressing four starters in a game against Miami - the Spurs' fourth game in five nights on a six game, nine day road trip. Maybe Stern should get his scheduling act together before second-guessing a championship coach who's trying to do what's best for his team while simultaneously making a legitimate point about an unreasonable workload...So this is what it's come to: on a December day when Canadian sports television should have been awash in highlights from a full Saturday night slate in the National Hockey League, the featured Sunday morning fare yesterday included the Premier League soccer rundown, NCAA basketball scores and the Top 10 Amazing Curling Moments. I'll grant you that there's at least marginal interest among Canadians in English soccer and American college b-ball, but there's no way there have been 10 amazing moments in the history of curling.