Archive for April, 2012
Friday, April 27th, 2012
After round one of the NHL playoffs, the teams with home-ice advantage are playing .500 hockey. They’re 4-4. That’s because unlike most other sports, hockey is the one where home ice is pretty much irrelevant, and it’s also unique among the major sports in that every team that makes the playoffs has a very real chance to win the Stanley Cup.
There is a very real reason for that – playoff hockey is different from regular season hockey. It’s tighter, rougher, and relies much more heavily on goalies. And the reason for that is that referees call the playoffs much differently than they call regular season games. They stop calling penalties by the letter of the law, and blow the whistle only for egregious fouls. This would be fine with me if they did the same in the regular season. But they don’t. And it creates a situation where a team can be a playoff style team while just squeaking in over 80 regular season games.
Then teams get to game 7. And the rules change again. Now the refs pretty much put their whistles away entirely. Which is not necessarily a problem – both teams have to deal with the same new rules – but it DOES create a whole new game, yet again. And any penalty call that might happen is bound to inflame fans because after the stuff they’ve let go, anything now seems like a chintzy call.
Not that I’m making any excuses for the Senators, or getting bitter over the Game 7 loss. It was a sensational game, and Lundqvist alone won it for New York. But these changes in reffing bother me. They create parity where there should BE no parity, because refs in hockey have more of an effect on the outcome of the game than they do in any other sport.
You almost never see an upset in the NBA the way you do in the NHL. The #8 team never beats the #1 team. As it should be. And yes, the NFL and MLB have the last-placed playoff team win the title now and then (like this past year in both), but they don’t let everyone into the playoffs like basketball and hockey. The St. Louis Cardinals were the 8th-best team in baseball. Which means there were 22 teams who were worse. The NY Giants were the 8th-best team in the NFL, better than 24 other teams.
Only in hockey can the 16th-best team in the entire league actually have a real shot at the Cup. The #8 seed in both conferences makes the playoffs, even though they are closer to the bottom of the 30-team league than they are from the top.
Imagine they changed the rules like this in baseball. Only the home plate umpire has the same level of influence as refs in hockey. So they want lower-scoring defensive battles? Alright, for the playoffs the strike zone will now be from the ankles to the eyeballs. And if we get to a game 7? Well then the strike zone will be bigger – any pitch the umpire thinks a batter might have been able to contact will be called a strike. How would that play, you think?
The point is, the best teams are (usually) the best teams for a reason. And the changes in refereeing do nothing but even the playing field unnecessarily. And even unfairly. I love playoff hockey, but every year I feel like the Cup champion was the luckiest team, and not necessarily the best team.
Wednesday, April 25th, 2012
#5 – Bucket listers
Yeah, I know that Iron Maiden was at a recent Bluesfest. And that Alice Cooper has played Ottawa nine times in the last six years. And that John Mellencamp has been here recently also. But not everyone can go to every show they want to see, and there are still a ton of people in Ottawa who would very much like to check out one or all three of those acts. And the beauty of Bluesfest is this – Alice Cooper and Iron Maiden are on the same night – and it’s a Saturday! (Also playing between their sets is blues singer Marcia Ball, who’s been here before also but is still on MY bucket list.)
#4 – Hip-hop hooray!
One of my fondest memories of Bluesfest is watching Ice Cube play an afternoon show in front of people who didn’t really know who he was, or what they were in for. This year, we get everyone from Snoop Dogg (who will just be a bonkers show) to hip-hop supergroup Deltron 3030 (starring Del The Funky Homosapien, also known for the group Gorillaz).
The one I’m looking forward to the most is former Jurassic 5 rapper Chali 2na. I was heading over to see him play last year when the stage blew over and the Bluesfest organizers rushed the crowd inside the war museum. I saw him walking through the crowd there, talking to people, shaking hands, and towering over everyone else. Now, I finally get to see him perform!
#3 – Allman connection
Two of the real great blues acts at the festival are Trucks and Tedeschi – Guitar wunderkind Derek Trucks, who started out with the Allman Brothers band, and his wife Susan Tedeschi, one of the great blues singers in the world. Also playing this year is The Royal Southern Brotherhood, a band fronted by Gregg Allman’s son Devon.
#2 – Cult classics
The very first day of the festival includes two of my all-time favourite cult music acts, Fishbone and The Melvins. Both sort of defy categorization…which is what makes them cult acts, I suppose. The Melvins are likely a little more familiar to people, as one of the big inspirations for Nirvana and the rest of the grunge scene. Also cult-tastic…Billy Bragg, Mastodon, David Gray and Charles Bradley.
#1 – Decisions decisions
It’s one of the greatest things about Bluesfest. Do I watch Alice Cooper to the end, then check out the Bright Light Social Hour before Maiden? Or do I leave a little early, see Marcia Ball, then duck back in time for Maiden’s second song? John Mellencamp or the Sheepdogs, who play at the exact same time? Do I go see dubstep superstar Skrillex, easy-listening 70s icons 10cc, or the heavy sludge metal stylings of Mastodon? I don’t know – I have to pick just one! Or two at the most! However will I decide?
Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
It has all come down to this – three more days of name call-outs, four more events. Tomorrow, Cosmo will be at Kichesippi from 2-7 (be there before 6:45 for your ballot). On Thursday, Doc will be at Star Motors from 3-7 (be there before 6:45), and on Friday I get to go back to Kanata Honda in the Palladium automall for the second year in a row, from 2:00-6:00 (be there before 5:45). Then it’s the CHEO cottage all day Monday for your very last chance!
I love these events. They’re some of the best things I get to do every year, where I go hang out and talk to everyone who wants to win a key for Toys For Boys. I stay for four hours, I do only eight minutes of real, actual work, and the atmosphere is nothing if not festive. Only when I dribbled some cedar sauna aroma on Jenna’s shirt at Chinook Hot Tubs & Saunas last Friday did things turn even the least bit sour.
Know why I love this? THIS is the prize package – not the whole Toys For Boys package, but JUST what we’re getting from Kanata Honda this year. A motorcycle, a snowblower, a lawnmower and a generator. I guess they felt like the motorcycle they gave us last year was a weak prize. After all, it was just a $5,000 machine. So they’ve spruced it up! And now we have all this machinery to give away, all of which will be showcased Friday, between 2-6. I’ll see you there!
Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
Snow came back yesterday. After winter basically skipped all of Canada, it finally remembered that it was supposed to deliver snow, so there I was yesterday building a snowman on April 23rd. Meanwhile, record-high temperatures in the West had people in Winnipeg and Calgary sunbathing and wearing sandals, just as we did in Ottawa six weeks ago.
This is, of course, not normal. We know it isn’t normal. We know also that the reason we had almost no winter was that a jet stream kept the cold weather further north, and created the coldest most bitter winter on record throughout Europe and Russia. While we were breaking out the tank tops and flip flops, 150 people were dying from the cold in Italy and the Ukraine.
The reaction I see from all of this has been a shrug and a joke – oh yeah man, bring on the global warming, I’m loving this! I golfed in January in Edmonton, yo! Wait…really? Is the world really ignoring global warming entirely again? Actually – yeah. It kind of is.
The climate change deniers have, for lack of a better word, WON this war. This battle of fact versus rhetoric, of science versus anger. The loudest and the dumbest have shouted down anyone who dares suggest that climate change is real, and that people might have something to do with it. They have framed the debate as my-opinion-versus-your-opinion, which frames this environmental catastrophe as a theory, an opinion, and an ideology rather than as fact.
Climate change is, of course, no more a “theory” than is the “theory” of gravity, or the “theory” of evolution. Imagine debating someone about gravity the way they debate you about climate change. They would point to the fact that Isaac Newton got really rich thanks to his “theory” – he was warden of the mint, you know, and even a member of British parliament! Also, he was secretive about some of his religious views, and therefore could not be trusted.
This has been essentially, the reasoning of climate change deniers. David Suzuki and Al Gore are rich. Therefore they are either inventing global warming to become rich, or they are hypocrites. Which is solid reasoning. after all, imagine how many more people they would reach if they were poor, and lived in a mud hut and ate nothing but berries and didn’t have TV shows and movies. And imagine how much LESS credible they would be if they were super-rich. Like, I don’t know…oil barons?
Also, every discussion you have with a denier will almost certainly have some mention of the enormous scandal that was Climategate! You know, those hacked emails from scientists that rocked the environmental movement and gave Fox News and Sun TV weeks worth of fodder. You can explain to your denier friend that six – SIX different independant review agencies pored over those emails and the entire scandal, and found that nothing untoward had taken place at all. That, in fact, “climategate” was nothing at all. But you will have a hard time convincing your friend of this, because the exoneration of the climate scientists was not broadcast on FOX. So it probably never happened.
Here’s the thing. The depressing thing. It’s not that the climate change deniers have won the debate. They can’t win the debate because they are not working with facts. But they have won the battle by silencing a huge number of environmental advocates. It has just become too difficult, too stressful and too annoying to continue to talk about it. You mention global warming or climate change and some simpleton is invariably there to shout you down, his anger drowning out your facts. And you throw up your hands and stop trying. And you lose. And he wins, through volume alone.
It has now been two years since the massive BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, an unprecedented environmental catastrophe that was SURE to affect offshore drilling policy the world over. Since that time, no real technology has been invented that could prevent it from ever happening again. And yet our government is all about more drilling, with less regulation. And the American presidential race is currently seeing Obama and Romney battling it out over which of the two is MORE pro-drilling!
This is, of course, insane. And it’s happening because people are shutting up. And I’m to blame in this as well. I have grown more and more silent the more I am confronted with the entrenched angry rhetoric of people who are powerfully and noisily wrong. But no more. This is a scarier time for the environment than it has ever been, and we have to stop shutting up about it.
Wednesday, April 18th, 2012
Everyone has noticed the trend in this year’s NHL playoffs. There are more head-shots, more players carted off, more serious injuries than in any playoff season I can remember. There are also more fights. A LOT more fights. There was a time when Zenon Konopka would never have stepped out of the press box for the Senators during the entire playoffs.
But then, game 2 of the Ottawa-Rangers series and there he is, skating around menacingly and glowering at people while Matt Carkner beats the crap out of Brian Boyle, making the most of his 40 seconds of ice time before leaving the game and being suspended. But Carkner was just standing up for little Erik Karlsson, right? Who got punched a couple of times by Boyle in the previous game? And that’s what hockey is about, right?
Well, let’s look at that premise for a second. Karlsson is roughed up, but not injured. Boyle takes a penalty, Karlsson stays in the game and runs the power play. A full 48 hours later, Carkner is going to send a message – you don’t rough up our stars! Boyle takes his pounding. Stays in the game. Then joins the Rangers on their 5-minute power play while Carkner leaves for good. But Boyle will know better than to go after those Senators players now, won’t he?
Strange, it almost seems like the 6-foot-7 Boyle didn’t get that message. He hit every Ottawa player in sight on Monday night. Oh, and scored a goal. The only goal. While Carkner served his suspension in the press box.
But the REST of the Rangers were intimidated after Ottawa came out fighting, right? Well, except for Carl Hagelin, I guess. I suppose he wasn’t too worried about Carkner, cause he was out of the game. And maybe he knew, after his elbow to Alfie’s head, that he would be ejected and therefore wouldn’t have to worry about Konopka either. Now he’s gone three games, but if Alfie’s gone three games also, it seems like a pretty good trade for New York.
It seems to me that it’s time to retire this old, tired, cranky-old-man adage that fighting prevents cheap shots. It doesn’t. Not even a little bit. We have seen more fighting AND more cheap shots than ever before in these playoffs, and the fighting comes solely as a result of the cheap shots and does nothing to prevent more of them.
Witness last night’s brutal headhunting hit on Marian Hossa of the Blues by Rafi Torres of the Blackhawks. No question about the intenet to injure. In the immediate aftermath of the hit, Brandon Bollig goes after Torres. You know, to fight him. Problem solved, right? Two messages have been sent – one, there are consequences. And two, you can’t intimidate us!
OK sure. But now, the Hawks are killing back-to-back penalties, while their star player Hossa is being taken out of the rink in an ambulance on a stretcher. And what will actually prevent Torres from doing something like this again? Only the suspension that comes along with the hit. And what will prevent another Blues player from taking a run at another star? Nothing.
I’m not saying take fighting out of the game. I AM a fan of hockey fights, and I think there’s a place for them in the game. What I’m saying is, shut up about this nonsense that fighting prevents cheap shots and dirty play, which NO true fan likes. It does nothing of the sort.
It’s the same mentality that looks back to the Broad Street Bullies and Boston Bruins of the 70s and says “those guys played the game right – tough, but not dirty”. Which is revisionist history at best, and completely insane bulls**t at worst. What was Bobby Clarke most famous for? Some goal, or his slash that broke the ankle of Valeri Kharlamov? He was the star, AND one of the dirtiest players of all time. Does your memory of the Bobby Orr Bruin glory days completely forget Wayne Cashman? And the myriad of injuries inflicted by both of those teams on opponents all over the league?
So keep fighting around. The crowds love it, the players want it, and it can serve a useful purpose – giving a team that emotional boost that comes from watching their guy land more punches than the other guy, or just getting out some frustration (which leads to the funny fights, like Crosby-Giroux the other day). Just stop pretending it’s anything more than it is, or that it prevents the really bad stuff. The days of Semenko creating a bubble around Gretzky are long gone.
Tuesday, April 17th, 2012
Maybe this will help you with the Doc and Woody show’s contest for playoff tickets for Wednesday’s game…we’re asking for people to call in with their motivational speeches. I suggested all of these this morning as examples we could play on the air. Since then, I have been completely ignored. So I thought I’d put them up here, to help out somehow…here goes.
Tuesday, April 17th, 2012
Due to a scheduling conflict with current tour dates, Eliades Ochoa’s April 27th show has been postponed to a later show in the fall. Date and time of the fall show is yet to be announced, I will keep you posted on all the details.
For all of thsoe who have purchased entries in the CHEZ Nation draw, your points will be refunded.
If you’re still looking for something to do Friday the 27th, though, I can recommend coming to see me at Kanata Honda from 2-6…fill out a ballot and get a really great shot at one of TWO keys for Toys For Boys! I’ll also be at Chinook Hot Tubs this Friday from 3-7.
Friday, April 13th, 2012
It took me a while to notice. Other things going on, and all that. But I discovered yesterday that the Blue Jays have given a roster spot to the seemingly-ageless Omar Vizquel this season. I mentioned it in passing yesterday, and my wife looked at me blankly. Who the hell is Omar Vizquel?
I threw out a bunch of names, she knew them all. Derek Jeter? Oh yeah, he’s the Yankees guy. Alex Rodriguez, he dated Madonna. Ozzie Smith – he was on the Simpsons. Cal Ripken – he’s the guy who played all those games. Tony Fernandez – Blue Jays! But Omar Vizquel? Total blank.
I can’t blame her. To be honest, I had sort of forgotten about Omar Vizquel myself, and had to do a little refresher to see if he was the same one I remembered – the sensational defensive shortstop who had been an offensive liability for the Cleveland Indians throughout the ’90s. So I did a very small amount of digging, and discovered that this man, who I had believed to be an “offensive liability”…is closing in on 3,000 hits! Like, 159 hits away!
The thing is, upon further examination of his stats, he was a solid hitter at best. One year with 180 hits. One year with a .300 average. A .272 lifetime hitter. One 70-RBI season. One 10-HR season. Four seasons of 30 stolen bases, and two of 100 runs. Not exactly Hall of Fame offensive numbers.
But then, baseball is a sport that celebrates longevity as much as it does brilliance. And the 3,000 hits club has, historically, meant automatic entry into the Hall. While Vizquel has not provided any real offensive excellence along the way, he has endured. He is 17th all time in at-bats – one of only three players with 10,000 at-bats who do NOT have 3,000 hits. (The others are Hall of Famers Frank Robinson and Rabbit Maranville.)
But of course it was his defense that made Vizquel special. The best defensive shortstop since Ozzie Smith, he won eleven gold gloves (including eight in a row) while making only three All-Star games. He never had the flashiness that made Smith so popular, and never became a household name, or even one that would be known outside baseball fanatics. But it IS enough to justify a spot in the Hall of Fame. Provided he gets to 3,000 hits. Which, if he gets regular playing time, he might do by next year. And who knows how long he can go? Julio Franco hung on until he was almost 50!
Final note here though – although I absolutely love Jamie Moyer, and think that his wins-in-four-decades achievement (when he finally gets it) is incredible – Moyers is NOT a Hall of Famer. While Vizquel was superior in only one area – fielding – Moyer has never been anything more than a solid pitcher, albeit one with incredible longevity. While 3,000 is plausible for Vizquel if he hangs on long enough, Moyer will never get to the pitchers’ equivalent – 300 wins. Moyer is currently at 267, and would have to play seven more years to get there. At which point he will be 56. Not gonna happen.
Tuesday, April 10th, 2012
Just a reminder – music legend Eliades Ochoa comes to Ottawa April 27th, at the museum of Civilization to play among the totem poles. And I get to go! And so do you, if you like – enter the promo code “corporate” to get $10 when you buy tickets here. And another reminder why the Buena Vista Social Club veteran is awesome:
Monday, April 9th, 2012
On Thursday, the 6:40 tough question was “on average, women change THIS three times in their lives.” The correct answer was “hair colour”.
On the online version of the tough question, however, I need to put a second option – but since it was a long weekend, I thought I would make it easy. The other choice was “the device she uses to throw wombats”. Which was, of course, a ridiculous answer that no one would ever pick. Which, of course, was actually picked by TEN people. I can go into the bowels of our system and pull their names out to post them on this blog and call them out. Or I can stay classy.
Anyway, I’m writing this post because I got a fantastic email that made me laugh a lot – with the subject line “contributing to a hostile wombat environment”:
Just more proof the Koala’s run the media.
Throwing wombats? Really I take that personally. Wonder what would happen if we started flinging Interns?
OK this full lawsuit can go away with just one key for toys 4 boys .
Thanks for the laugh Trevor. Now, I cannot help you with a key for Toys For Boys. Colon D or no Colon D. However, perhaps I can begin to make amends. Here is, for the SECOND time on my blog, a picture of Yo-Yo Ma and a wombat in a bathroom.