Reed On Sports

jeffhead

July 30, 2018

As much as the Blue Jays will miss J.A. Happ on the mound, they’ll miss him more as a mentor to young pitchers. He was great in the clubhouse, great on the mound and now he’s a New York Yankee … Forget the fact Russell Martin hit an absolute smash line drive 406 feet against Chicago White Sox on Saturday. He’s gone after this year. He’s a second-tier, 35-year-old catcher … Vladimir Guerrero is a born hitter, but he’s a liability in the infield … Why is Aaron Sanchez MIA? The Jays said his latest finger injury would not be long-term. More than a month has passed since then, and the former ace starter remains in Dunedin. Are the Jays going to move him? Just what happened when he apparently hit his finger before his start last month? Enquiring minds want to know, most importantly Jays fans who are suffering a horrific season … Can’t help but think that Yankees’ slugger Aaron Judge’s fractured wrist will hamper his production the rest of his career … Great night for London Majors DH Cleveland Brownlee at Toronto on Sunday. He collected four hits, three home runs and eight RBI in London’s 13-4 win over the Maple Leafs … There is much parity in the Intercounty Baseball League this year, which means the third-place Majors have as good of a chance as any to finally win the league title, for the first time since 1975 … If there was a storyline above all others at the RBC Canadian Open, it was the cemented love affair between Canada and World No. 1 Dustin Johnson. The formula relies on par Gretzky factor, part proven winner with hall of fame credentials, part mammoth hitter, part RBC sponsorship … No other young gun on the PGA Tour exemplifies the new breed of stars more than Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ontario. He speaks the truth, and fears no one. When he said he wasn’t at Glen Abbey “to finish 30th” as he headed into Sunday T13, he meant it. Gone are the days when young PGA Tour competitors feel they have to pay their dues … Host club Highland Country Club, in partnership with tournament partner and ticket sponsor Classic Rock 98.1 FM, are now making available complimentary tickets to this year’s Freedom 55 Financial Championship. The Mackenzie Tour PGA TOUR Canada’s championship tournament will again be held at Highland Country Club from September 10-16, 2018. Don’t miss out: yet your tickets for free. Watch the PGA TOUR stars of tomorrow compete for five Web.com TOUR cards. Here is where you can now pick up your complimentary tickets: Highland Country Club, 1922 Highland Heights – club office; Bob Martin’s Golf Range, 3341 Wonderland Road South; Tin Cup Driving Range & Mini Putt, 1324 Adelaide Street North; Dale Downie Nissan, 1111 Oxford Street East; Thames Valley Golf Club, 850 Sunninghill Avenue; Fanshawe Golf Club, 2835 Sunningdale Road East; River Road Golf Club, 2115 River Road. More pickup venues will be added soon. For tournament information, visit https://freedom55financialchampionship.com … Is it just me, or does The Golf Channel view the RBC Canadian Open as a second-tier tournament? This is our national open, for God’s sake, yet commentary was not up to Golf Channel standards. The change to an earlier date in 2019 won’t do any good in this department. Sure, there’s the Open Championship hangover factor, plus the fact the LPGA Tour and Champions Tour were both in Scotland this week. But the game’s greatest media ambassador treats it like a glorified Web.com Tour stop … He didn’t play last season, but Jarome Iginla, 41, officially announces his retirement today as one of the NHL’s top power forwards. From 1996-2017 he amassed 625 goals, 675 assists over 1,554 regular-season games – 525 goals and 1,095 points with the Calgary Flames. He also suited up for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings. Like so many superstars, Iginla never drank from Lord Stanley’s Cup. “All my dreams came true, more than I ever could’ve imagined, except that one dream. It just wasn’t in the cards for me,” he said … When U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk said, “We’ll handle him like everyone else,” when speaking of Tiger Woods’s chances of making the 2018 squad, let’s hope he was blowing smoke up our noses. Woods is arguably the best to ever play the game, deserves much more respect than Furyk gave him with that quip, and is playing world-class golf again. He should be an automatic pick. Forget that he is an assistant captain for the matches Sept. 28-30 in Paris. With Woods in the field, the entire U.S. team would get a major boost. You don’t think Patrick Reed would be pumped to play with Woods when battling team Europe on the final day of the matches? … Don’t get me wrong: hosting the Ontario Summer Games is good for London. But Tourism London’s sports office is acting as if they’ve scored the Olympic Games. Then again, maybe they’re just doing the job the pencil pushers have told them to do. It’s typical London, though: score a minor victory, put it on a pedestal … Soccer hooligans in Canada? Say it ain’t so! Toronto FC’s Inebriatti supporters’ group have taken responsibility for the fires that followed flares and smoke bombs in the Ottawa stands during the Canadian Championship semifinal … It goes without saying that long gone are the days the Ontario Hockey League was all about local talent. But I’m with Don Cherry: signing foreign talent, as the Knights just did with 17-year-old centre Matvey Guskov of Russia, does not help us grow the game here in Canada. That said, Guskov is one hell of a signing. The Knights think so. They have him pegged as a first rounder in the 2019 NHL draft … Make it 25-0 for the London Jr. Mustangs football squad, winners of their second-straight shutout in the Ontario Provincial Football League varsity final Saturday in Windsor. London beat the Durham Dolphins, and have not lost a game in two seasons … And finally, happy 71st birthday to Arnold Schwarzenegger, a bodybuilding pioneer who chased and caught the American Dream before becoming yet another tragic hero. But you can bet he’ll be back (sorry, couldn’t resist) in one form or another. Until next time, hasta la vista, baby.

Ed. Note: We’re taking a summer break and will return with Reed On Sports on Monday, September 10. Enjoy the rest of the summer!

July 23, 2018

Italy’s first major champion, Francesco Molinari, went the entire week without a bogey at Carnoustie to with the Open Championship. Given the course’s dangers, that is nothing short of miraculous. And he didn’t let Tiger’s gallery interfere with his golf – another amazing feat. From tee to green, the Italian has been one of the game’s best over the past few months, and it showed on Sunday … As for Tiger, I am so sick of hearing talking heads say he is “close” or that he “can’t close the deal.” Fact is, Tiger is playing more than well enough to win just about every tournament he enters. The difference between him not winning and his salad days is, the field is that much better today. And Tiger is to blame. He inspired these young athletes to join the PGA Tour. He made golf a sport, not just a pastime. Modern equipment has also played a big part in leveling the playing field. If Tiger stays healthy, he will win soon, but it won’t be easy. As we saw yesterday at Carnoustie, two bad shots is all it takes to be the bridesmaid … Some believe Blue Jays hurler Marcus Stroman is the ultimate teammate, a cheerleader when he’s not on the bump, a breath of fresh air in the dugout. But the truth is, he’s clubhouse poison, and his chip-on-my-shoulder act has expired. He’s the epitome of the all-about-me generation – but it’s time for him to grow up. His tirade at the All-Star break when he said his team is “f—ing terrible” was a sign of things to come. Eventually, he will snap and the Jays will have no choice but to trade him. And you can bet many of his teammates will do a happy dance once he empties his locker … Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Josh Hader has been ordered by MLB to undergo sensitivity training after his racist and homophobic tweets made when he was a teenager resurfaced. Everyone makes mistakes, but the Internet does not erase them … Original plans to spend more than $100,000 on repairs to 18-year-old Don Wright track at TD Stadium have been changed, now that water damage has forced maintenance to fast-track a patch job on the track just in time for the Ontario Summer Games Aug. 2-5. But elite runners, including London-Western Track and Field club runner Caroline Ehrhardt say the new surface has flaws, in particular in Lane 4. Stakeholders Western U., the City and community users are talking in order to forge a fundraising campaign. They’ll have to act fast, though, according to Ehrhardt, who said in a few years, the track won’t even be good enough for high school meets … On the topic of aging facilities, LondonOntarioSports.com has received more than one email from readers saying conditions at Labatt Park, resting on the world’s oldest continuous site of baseball games, have worsened dramatically in recent years. The park’s last major overhaul came prior to the 2001 Canada Summer Games … With the Intercounty Baseball League practically begging for media coverage during its 100th season, why doesn’t its media relations office forward its players of the week release to scribes and talking heads – even as part of a nightly game recap? They used to, but now just post them on the league website … After 12 CFL seasons, former Western Mustangs star receiver Andy Fantuz is hanging ‘em up. The 34-year-old Chatham native played 148 games with Saskatchewan and Hamilton, making 637 catches for 8,363 yards and 44 TDs. He won a Grey Cup with the Roughriders in 2007, and finished fourth all-time among Canadians in receptions, and 18th overall in CFL history … Brittany Lincicome’s appearance at the PGA Tour’s Barbasol Championship was not good for golf, but it was good for her game, on and off the links. Sure, the eight-time LPGA Tour winner broke par with a round of 1-under 71 on Saturday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Kentucky. We all know she is a big hitter with great skills from tee to green when her game is on – I’ve seen it first-hand. But just what were tournament organizers trying to prove, especially when she had no chance of winning and took a spot away from another touring pro who could have substantially boosted his ranking and earnings with a solid performance? We know just how good the LPGA Tour is, but we don’t need publicity stunts like these. They mock the game. That’s not to take anything away from Lincicome, though. She’s a world-class player who took advantage of the opportunity, and impressed all that watched her compete against the men. Still, why? … From the rumour mill: the Freedom 55 Financial Championship will leave Highland Country Club after its contract expires following the 2019 tournament, and move to Windsor where the inaugural Windsor Championship July 5-8 was a huge success in all areas, including attendance, community support and financial support from sponsors and the City. Freedom 55 Financial is on board as title sponsor through 2020 … Rory McIlroy said he saw a list of drivers the R&A tested prior to Thursday tee times at the Open Championship, and that most of them were manufactured by TaylorMade. That’s no surprise: TaylorMade dominates the driver count on Tour … In 2017, in order to combat spiralling enrollment of junior girls, the Junior Tyson Tour introduced a single – and hopefully stronger – division for all Tyson Tour female competitors. While 10 girls are registered this season, participation at the first four events has been dismal, with five or less girls competing in each of the events. The annual two-day Les Thomas Memorial Tournament at Thames Valley Golf Club July 23 and Fanshawe Golf Club July 24 will have a field of four, including last year’s girls champion Jillian Friyia of Highland Country Club. Read the full story hereAnd finally, on this day in 1967 the Detroit Riots, some of the worst in U.S. history, launched mayhem that would eventually see 43 deaths, 342 injured and about 1,400 buildings burned. The next year, the Detroit Tigers would win the World Series, helping to unite a city in need of healing. Of course, and sadly, racism still exists, but that ’68 Series helped ease the pain, if only for a short time.

Reed On Sports is published each Monday. Send your bricks and bouquets to jeff@londonontariosports.com.

July 9, 2018

Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin brought the Stanley Cup to the World Cup’s Russia-Croatia quarterfinal. The Russian National Guard provided security. No word if U.S. President Donald Trump fixed the match, which Croatia won 4-3 on penalty kicks after a 2-2 draw in regulation … We often forget that our best athletes bruise and bleed, just like the rest of us. Case in point: three-time Olympic medallist Andre De Grasse finished third in the 100-metre final at the Canadian track and field championships Friday in Ottawa. De Grasse pulled up after sustaining a hamstring injury. Aaron Brown won that race and the 200-metre final … The Toronto Argonauts won their first game of the season Saturday, 20-17 over the visiting Edmonton Eskimos. Announced attendance at BMO Field: 12,196. Tough times for the CFL in the Big Smoke …

Simona Halep

For the first time in history, none of the top five women’s seeds have reached the round of 16 at Wimbledon. Romania’s Simona Halep lost a stunner to Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-Wei … Sad story out of St. Thomas Raceway Park in Sparta this weekend. Bradley Schaafsma, 32, of St. Thomas was killed in a single-vehicle crash after crossing the finish line. Police say he lost control of his motorcycle immediately after completing the race … Blue Jays’ centre fielder Kevin Pillar is a one-man highlight reel. But like all great outfielders, he times some of his catches to look more spectacular then they ought to be. However, it is show business as much as baseball. And those diving and wall-climbing catches don’t hurt his rep nor his endorsement deals, either …

Robinson Cano

When will athletes stop using the “I was being supervised by a doctor, but at the same time, I understand that everything that goes into my body, I’m responsible for that” excuse. The latest claiming innocence after being busted for PEDs is Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano, who will sit out 80 games after testing positive for Furosemide, a diuretic that can be used to mask PEDs. Cano said he could not discuss details of the testing process – another cop out used regularly by cheaters – but did say he was using a substance prescribed to him in the Dominican Republic for treatment of a medical issue … Who’s your pick for Maple Leafs captain: Austin Matthews or John Tavares? I say it goes to Tavares … What are the odds that two sisters with dual citizenship, living in Allen, Texas but with London ties, would both win the Ontario Women’s Amateur golf championship over a three-year span? That’s exactly what the Szeryk sisters – Maddie, 21, and Ellie, 16 – have done. Maddie captured the title in 2015, while Ellie won this past weekend. Click here to read their story at our sister publication, LondonOntarioGolf.com … The Ontario Men’s Amateur goes this week at St. Thomas G&CC …

Sei Young Kim

Kevin Na picked up his second PGA Tour win yesterday, shooting a final-round 64 for a five-stroke victory at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier. His only other win came in 2011 in Las Vegas … Sei Young Kim shattered the LPGA Tour scoring record this weekend, becoming the first player in Tour history to go lower than 30 under par. She won the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic at 31-under 257, breaking her own record which had tied Annika Sorenstam’s mark of 27-under – Sorenstam at the 2001 Standard Register Ping where she shot a 59, and Kim at the 2016 Founders Cup … Finally played a round of golf with now-retired long-time Highland Country Club head golf superintendent Graham Shouldice. You won’t find a nice guy on or off the course. Shouldice retired in 2007 after holding the Highland post for 34 years. His wife, Linda, also worked on the grounds crew at the private club … Hats off to the entire committee at the Windsor Championship, the new kid on the block for the Mackenzie Tour PGA TOUR Canada. Their inaugural event this past week was a success by every measure, including the best social media use of any event on the Tour … RIP Mike Kilkenny. The hero of the London Majors’ last Intercounty Baseball League championship in 1975 has died at age 73. Read my story here … And finally, on this day in 1968 the first indoor MLB All-Star contest took place at the Houston Astrodome. Countless knee surgeries later, artificial surfaces are still shortening – and sometimes ending – careers. Give me PNC Park anytime. I’m sure the players would agree.

Ed. Note: Reed On Sports returns Monday, July 23.
Reed On Sports is published each Monday. Send your bricks and bouquets to jeff@londonontariosports.com.

June 25, 2018

Football is a violent game by nature. It also generates billions as an industry, so it will never be banned. But when Toronto Argonauts QB Ricky Ray lay motionless on the field at BMO Field Saturday night, after being tackled by two Calgary Stampeders linemen, all we thought about was his life, and his family. Thankfully, Ray did have feeling in his extremities and no concussion symptoms while in hospital Sunday in Toronto. The tackles were clean. But it goes to show you how violent the gridiron can be, and how quickly life can change. Money talks. Football is here to stay … That said, more and more studies pointing to irreversible brain damage amongst kids playing football seem to surface every week … Tonight’s pitching matchup is a beauty: Blue Jays’ LHP Jay Happ 9-3, 3.56 ERA with a pathetic batting lineup backing him versus Astros’ RHP Justin Verlander 9-2, 1.60 ERA. Get the peanuts and Cracker Jack ready for the show … Major League Baseball proved why it is leading professional sports in being proactive with off-field issues by suspending Toronto Blue Jays reliever Roberto Osuna for 75 games, as the pitcher is ready to plead not guilty to a charge of an alleged assault on a woman. The suspension without pay dates back to May 8, one day after Osuna was placed on administrative leave after Toronto police charged him. That leave was extended five times. Osuna made his first court appearance last week, but MLB decided to take matters into its own hands as the Jays’ No. 1 reliever waits for his next court date July 9. This suspension is the third longest handed out by MLB since it put its domestic violence policy in place in 2015. MLB all but said it had negotiated with Osuna before announcing his punishment. We are all innocent unless proven guilty, but you must believe that where there’s smoke, there’s fire in this case. And if Osuna is guilty as charged, then you should show compassion as he works through his demons and learns from his mistakes. Kudos to MLB for its decision. There is no excuse for assaulting anyone at any time … Last week I wrote about concerns over Blue Jays prospect Vladimir Guerrero’s weight. Now the Jays admit there are issues with the slugger’s fitness level, and concurrently pressure put on his knees from his frame which, depending on whom you speak to, weighs anywhere from 200 to 250 pounds. Bet on 250. Not good when you are 19 years old. Not good when you’re a professional athlete and not in the NFL. And not good for anyone 6 feet tall … The London Majors Alumni Association celebrates its heritage June 30 and July 1 with a tip of the cap to its top players, and the 1969 Intercounty Baseball League champion London Pontiacs. Forest City National Golf Club hosts the alumni dinner, where the Top 100 IBL Players of All-Time will be recognized. In addition, the Majors will recognize the Top 32 Majors of all time. You can read my story naming the top Majors of all time here. In addition, the alumni group will honour the ’69 IBL champs. There’s a meet and greet from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. The public is welcome to attend the dinner, too. Tickets are $60. Call Barry Boughner 519-777-1337 for details. On Saturday, July 1 the current Majors squad hosts the defending champion Barrie Baycats. Game time at Labatt Park is 6:05 p.m. Again, the Top 32 will be recognized, and presented with golden bats. Also, the ’69 Pontiacs will be introduced at home plate. There are fireworks following the game … Speaking of fireworks, tough game for the Guelph Royals yesterday, losing 20-1 to the Baycats. Thinks Barrie wasn’t pissed off about losing at home to London on Saturday, 9-2, ending their six-game win streak? … The man on the street says pitching in the IBL this year is the best he has ever seen … Western Fair Sports Centre hosts the Canadian Tire Para Hockey Cup Dec. 1-8, 2018. Hockey Canada made the announcement last week when in town for the Hockey Canada Foundation Gala & Golf celebration. The tournament was formerly known as the World Sledge Hockey Challenge – an international para hockey event that brings together Canada’s National Para Hockey Team and three top para hockey nations for a week-long tournament … For a number of years, local junior golf has been dominated by girls – Haley Barclay and Taylor Kehoe of Strathroy, Isabella Portokalis of London, Ellie Szeryk of London and Allen, Texas – but a new male star has emerged in Cameron Kellett of London’s Highland and Union’s St. Thomas golf clubs. The 18-year-old golfer just captured the Ontario Men’s Match Play title, after some close finishes in Golf Canada’s Future Links tourneys in Ontario and Quebec. Kellett almost captured the Golf Association of Ontario’s Junior Boys Spring Classic, too. Next up: the Ontario Junior Boys’ tourney, and Ontario Amateur at St. Thomas G&CC … My former London Majors teammate Branden Steele (1B/DH) has been named head coach of the Tusculum Pioneers baseball program in Greeneville, Tennessee. Steele had been a long-time assistant coach and scouting coordinator for the college. He played for the Majors from 1997-2003 … It’s business as usual for FC London women’s soccer side Jade Kovacevic. The 24-year-old scoring machine, passed on by the national squad due to soccer’s ridiculous politics, has 13 goals in seven goals to lead League1 Ontario scorers … London Knights captain Evan Bouchard of Oakville was picked 10th overall by the Edmonton Oilers Friday at the NHL draft in Dallas, Texas. The 18-year-old defenceman finished the 2017-18 season with 25 goals and 87 points, best amongst all defencemen in the Canadian Hockey League. In addition, Bouchard became the first point-man to ever finish first in team scoring in Knights history. He scored a team-best seven game-winning goals … Looks like it’s the end of the road for Mike Weir’s wine operations. His Beamsville, Ontario winery centre has been shut down, and there are only limited quantities of his vino available online and at LCBA stores. Read the story here … And finally, on this day in 1968, San Francisco Giants slugger and oft-traded star Bobby Bonds hit a grand slam in his first game with the club – the first to do so in MLB. And unlike his son, Barry, he did it on a Babe Ruth diet of hot dogs and beer.

Happy Canada Day! Reed On Sports returns Monday, July 9.

Reed On Sports is published each Monday. Send your bricks and bouquets to jeff@londonontariosports.com.

June 18, 2018

There was only one storyline that could save the disastrous 2018 U.S. Open, and we got it in Brooks Koepka’s repeat at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. We also received a bonus mulligan in Tommy Fleetwood’s Sunday 63 – only the fifth 63 in U.S. Open history, and only the second in a U.S. Open final round. The USGA set up was for the most part a complete joke as many holes were tricked up, lacking only windmills and clown mouths. And one of the game’s greatest ever, Phil Mickelson, failed to DQ himself or to be DQ’d after hitting a moving ball on the 13th green on Saturday. What’s worse is that he lied about his reason for taking the two-stroke penalty, and tarnished both the game – in a major tournament – as well as his reputation.

Brooks Koepka

Both the course setup and Mickelson’s blunder overshadowed the championship. But the Englishman’s 63 (he was disappointed he didn’t set the tournament record with a 62) was a breath of fresh air. And in Koepka, we have the only other golfer who can challenge World No. 1 Dustin Johnson shot-for-shot. They are both the epitome of the modern player – fearless, quietly confident and skilled from tee to green with Superman power … More than 20 London and area football players plus many more former Western Mustangs are on CFL rosters … Without a doubt, 32-year-old Josh Donaldson’s stock has dipped dramatically, thanks to injuries that seem to be adding up for the Bringer of Rain. The 2015 AL MVP has been on the shelf most of this season, thanks to a dead arm and now strained right calf muscle. So let’s see: he couldn’t throw, now he can’t run. Says here he’s an old 32, and will not make it rain with Benjamins when his Blue Jays contract runs out at the end of this season … Oft-injured Jays SS Troy Tulowitzki is an old 33, well past his prime and will never be a catalyst for an improved Toronto team. For the most part, he has been a bust ever since joining the ballclub … It’s one thing to get excited about a prospect like Jays farmhand Vlad Guerrero Jr. It’s another to anoint him the messiah. Injuries happen, and can leave scar tissue – both physically and mentally. Guerrero’s strained patella tendon in his left knee, especially with his build, shouldn’t be taken lightly. And it is ridiculous, Jays fans, to put all your eggs in one basket when praising this kid …

Kelly Gruber

Speaking of Blue Jays third basemen, I feel for former Jays hot corner man Kelly Gruber. In April, he was arrested in Austin, Texas for drunk driving. On Friday, he was asked to leave a Pitch Talks panel in Toronto, part of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame festivities, after acting in an “unacceptable and inappropriate” manner, according to panel organizers … Ball Hall inductee Pedro Martinez was a no show this past weekend in St. Marys. The former Montreal Expos and Boston Red Sox pitching great cited a “medical condition” for his no-fly orders … Great news, Canada, the U.S. and Mexico to co-host the 2026 World Cup of Soccer. The game has grown exponentially over the past decade. This will only strengthen minor soccer in this country … New Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse is called a creative, outside-the-box thinker who “sees where the NBA is going” while solving problems “in a very non-traditional way,” says Houston Rockets Executive VP of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas. That’s a fancy way of saying, the 50-year-old Nurse is in tune with the modern player … The London Knights open their 2018-19 campaign at home versus rivals Windsor Spitfires September 21 at The Bud. That’s three months from now, kids. Time flies … London’s Maddie Szeryk continues her amazing amateur career, this time with a runner-up finish at the Porter Cup in Niagara. She was also recently named to the Third Team All-America squad by Golfweek Magazine … St. Thomas Golf and Country Club’s Mary Ann Hayward captured her eighth Empire Life Eastern Provinces Championship at Cataraqui Golf & Country Club in Kingston on June 11 with a 4&3 victory over Gail Pimm of the Whitevale Golf Club. Hayward, 58, a member of the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame, won the match play title in 1983, 1993-94, 1996-97, 2002 and 2016 …

ONERUN

Congrats to ONERUN, the Theresa Carriere-led fundraiser bringing money to cancer patient care programs offered through Wellspring London, London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph’s Health Care. The annual fundraiser (est. 2010) has reached its $1 million milestone … With the grand opening of its wave pool, East Park continues its legacy of offering unsurpassed family fun to Londoners since 1963 … About 200 rowers will visit London’s high performance rowing centre at Fanshawe Lake this week for the National Speed Orders. It’s an especially important staging of compulsory small boat trials, as London remains in the running to retain its status a Rowing Canada’s training headquarters. This, after Rowing Canada announced it would virtually shut down operations at Fanshawe Lake as we know it – story here. The results this week will assist in deciding Canada’s World Cup, World U23, World University and U21 Trans Tasman squads. Our Senior Worlds squad will be decided upon following races at Rowing Canada’s Victoria, B.C. headquarters in early August. Earlier, ROWONTARIO announced the London Rowing Society as the host for the 2018-2020 Provincial Rowing Championships regatta on Fanshawe Lake. The 2018 ROWONTARIO Championships will be held on Saturday, July 28 and Sunday, July 29 … And finally, on this day in 1953 at Fenway Park, the Boston Red Sox scored 17 runs in the 7th inning versus the Detroit Tigers. Final score: Sox 23, Tigers 3. Only 3,108 fans were in attendance. By contrast, the London Majors drew 4,785 fans to Labatt Park yesterday during Pack The Park Day. The Red Sox – Brantford Red Sox – beat London, 4-1.

Reed On Sports is published each Monday. Send your bricks and bouquets to jeff@londonontariosports.com.

May 28, 2018

Former Toronto Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin said Auston Matthews may not be the best person to wear the ‘C’ for the Buds. “It would be easy to say Auston, he should be the captain. Saying that, it has to be a player and a person that wants to carry that responsibility and actually play better wearing that ‘C.’” Sundin should know: he’s the last Maple Leafs captain to hold that title for more than a decade … The Vegas Golden Knights may win the Stanley Cup during their charter season. Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs have gone half a century without hoisting Lord Stanley’s cup … Equally as sad, it has been 25 years since a Canadian team has won the Cup. But even sadder is the fact the legendary Montreal Canadiens, winners of the 1993 NHL title, haven’t won one since ’93. We expect the Leafs front office to mess things up, but not the Habs … Was it really a contest? Fans have voted the 2005 Memorial Cup-winning London Knights the Canadian Hockey League Team of the Century …

Josh Donaldson

Blue Jays third basemen Josh Donaldson chose his words well when commenting on reliever Roberto Osuna and his arrest for allegedly assaulting a woman on May 8, and his subsequent suspension: “I care about Osuna a lot. I hope it gets worked out and done in the right way whether it’s for or against our team. I want the process to be taken care of the right way” … So Jays SS Troy Tulowitzki will take BP and ground balls this week. I must admit, I had all but forgotten about Tu-Lo. When he returns to the lineup, can we please do without the annoying Tu-Lo chant at Rogers Centre, egged on by the electronic scoreboard? … In this day and age, Jays hurler J.A. Happ’s seven victories thus far this season is a minor miracle – especially with a team that is playing sub-.500 ball at 25-28 … My money is on Marcus Stroman never returning to his old self, once he returns from the DL. He’s a modern-day Mark “The Bird” Fidrych. Look it up, kids … Seeing Jose Bautista in a Mets uni is just about as odd as seeing Darryl Sittler wearing a Flyers sweater … You gotta’ love Japanese rookie Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels, just as skilled with a bat as he is on the mound. Looks like the Angels are opting to use him more as a DH, and why not? He’s hitting .321 and recorded 17 RBIs in his first 24 games. It will be a juggling act, getting him and his 3.35 ERA on the mound. But if it helps the club – and it is – then the dual role will continue, as long as the coaching staff plays their cards right …

Will Power

Will Power, Indianapolis 500 winner, and Ricky Bobby: separated at birth? Shake and bake … No one is playing better golf right now than Justin Rose. Armed with a bag full of TaylorMade Golf gear, the Englishman is firing on all cylinders. He captured the Colonial this weekend with a 20-under-par score at Hogan’s Alley, three strokes better than Brooks Koepka … Will Finch has returned to Western as the Mustangs’ QB coach. He filled that role with the Laurier Golden Hawks last season. Western QB coach Jamie Bone has returned to the U.S. Finch was Western’s pivot 2012-16, setting numerous records and suffering several concussions which prevented him from playing professional football … Brian Decker has left his post as media relations director with the Mackenzie Tour PGA TOUR Canada, and has settled into a PR job with Osprey Valley Golf. Decker was one of the best, and will be missed. His replacement is Brendan Stasiewich … And on this day in 2006, Barry Bonds passed Babe Ruth with HR number 715. The Babe did it on hot dogs and beer. Bonds? You be the judge.

Ed. Note: Reed On Sports returns Monday, June 18.

Reed On Sports is published each Monday. Send your bricks and bouquets to jeff@londonontariosports.com.

May 7, 2018

No one should be surprised that the London Lightning and Halifax Hurricanes are, for a third straight season, fighting it out for the NBL of Canada championship title. They’re the cream of the crop, both on the hardcourt and in their corporate offices, and playing within a league that is often minor-league in its on- and off-court dealings. And don’t think that Lightning owner Vito Frijia doesn’t lose sleep over the fact his product – and he is the guiding light of this outstanding b-ball loop – needs to shore up its image … Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James is the most talented NBA player of all-time. Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson (take your pick) are all a very close second … Bill Torrey, the bow-tie wearing GM of the four-time Stanley Cup champion New York Islanders of the 1980s, has died at age 83. In recent years, the Hall of Famer filled the role of advisor with the Florida Panthers. He was one of the most respected men in hockey … Kentucky Derby winner Justify looked just as elegant running in the mud at Churchill Downs as he does in ideal conditions. He’s a true stud, and the favourite at the Preakness on May 19 in Baltimore. Justify’s trainer, Bob Baffert, already has six Preakness victories. He’s seeking to tie the record at seven … The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox will play two games at London’s Olympic Stadium on June 29-30, 2019. Boston will be the home team during MLB’s first regular season games contested for on European soil. No word if the Bronx or Beantown will fly fans disguised as soccer hooligans to England … Never has the city of Toronto felt more like a big-league town than it does now, with the success of the Raptors, Toronto FC, Argos, home-run hitting Blue Jays and playoff-playing Maple Leafs. The Buds and Blue Jays have a long way to go before their win their respective championships, but they are part of a new Toronto sports frenzy … The International Ice Hockey Federation has issued multi-game suspensions to five players and three coaches of team Sweden, following the tossing of silver medals into the stands after losing 3-1 to Canada for World Junior gold … Say what you want about his spring training injury: Blue Jays hurler Marcus Stroman no longer fools big-league hitters – not with his delay pitch, and certainly not with his best stuff. Hitters are waiting on him and making him look like a Class AA hurler … The Mackenzie Tour PGA TOUR Canada announced its newly-created Osprey Valley Open, the first Greater Toronto Area-based tournament in Mackenzie Tour history, will be played July 19-22 at Osprey Valley Golf Course in Caledon, Ontario. In conjunction with the addition of this tournament to the 2018 schedule, the Mackenzie Investments Open presented by Jaguar Laval is moving to a previously open date on the schedule, September 6-9, at Elm Ridge Country Club in L’Île-Bizard, Quebec, one week before the Freedom 55 Financial Championship at Highland Country Club …

Maddie Szeryk

Texas A&M senior Maddie Szeryk of London, Ont. and Allen, Tx. earned All-SEC First Team honors for the fourth consecutive season. Szeryk becomes just the third Texas A&M golfer with four all-conference selections. She ranks 12th nationally with a 71.29 stroke average, and has finished in the top 10 in 10 of the 12 tournaments this season, earning individual tournament victories at the Bruzzy Challenge and the Dale McNamara Invitational. Szeryk holds the NCAA career record with 87 rounds of par-or-better in her career, and holds the Texas A&M career records for stroke average (71.62), birdies (473) and eagles (9). Her 31 Top 10 tournament finishes are an SEC record, and the fourth-most by a player in NCAA history. Szeryk and the Aggies at competing today at the NCAA Austin, Tx. regional … Don’t put away your tennis racquet just yet. Wimbledon has boosted its prizes – both singles winners will get $3 million, part of a total tourney purse of $46.5 million Canadian … Congratulations to Lindsey Edmunds, winner of the 8th Annual LondonOntarioGolf.com Heart Award, and Danielle Austin, winner of the 3rd Annual Jeffrey Reed Courage Award. Read about Edmunds here. Austin is running 63 km from Grand Bend to London on June 2, raising money for and awareness of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. Read about the run, and support the cause, hereCompeting with borrowed poles, London’s Alysha Newman finished seventh in women’s pole vault at the Diamond League athletics meet in Doha, Quarter. All 10 of Newman’s poles arrived broken and unfit for competition after an Air Canada flight. She cleared 4.54 metres at QatarSportsClub, but missed all three attempts at 4.64 metres to finish seventh amongst nine competitors. At April’s Commonwealth Games in Australia, Newman set a Games record when she cleared 4.75 metres. After blasting Air Canada via social media, Newman followed with news that the airline is investigating the incident, and replacing the broken poles … The Canadian Football League added a few more Mustangs as six members of the current Western roster were selected in the 2018 CFL Canadian Draft. David Mackie, Jean-Gabriel Poulin, Jordan Beaulieu, David Brown, Alex Taylor, and Harry McMaster all heard their names called as they brought the number of Western players selected in the CFL Draft to 33 over the past 10 years … The Mustangs have made Martin Painter Head Coach, Varsity Soccer. With the newly-created post, he’ll oversee both the men’s and women’s teams at Western … The reigning Vanier Cup champions will be well represented at the 2018 U SPORTS Valero East-West Bowl with six Western Mustangs players set to compete in the annual prospects showcase, while head coach Greg Marshall will lead Team West. The 16th annual contest brings together the top U SPORTS players heading into their Canadian Football League draft year. This year’s game will be hosted at TELUS-U.L. Stadium on Saturday, May 12, at 12:30 p.m., with livestreaming details to be confirmed at a later date. Mustangs quarterback Chris Merchant will suit up for Team East, while Gregoire Bouchard, Philippe Dion, Jimmy Hawley, Cedric Joseph, and Fraser Sopik will all play for Team West under coach Marshall. Rounding out the Mustangs contingent in the game is Western offensive coordinator Steve Snyder who will serve as Team West quarterbacks coach alongside McMaster’s Kyle Quinlan … And on this day in 1977, rookie Janet Guthrie set the fastest time on opening day of practice for the Indianapolis 500. Her time was 185:607. Guthrie was the first woman to qualify for the race.

Ed. Note: Reed On Sports returns Monday, May 28.

Reed On Sports is published each Monday. Send your bricks and bouquets to jeff@londonontariosports.com.

April 16, 2018

Here we go again, Leafs fans. Sure, this is a much different team full of hope from youth ignorant to Toronto’s slump since they last won the Stanley Cup in 1967. But a fact’s a fact: the current edition of the Leafs still is not good enough to go deep into the playoffs. I won’t ask Leafs fans to be patient; they have been, for more than half a century … With all the hoopla surrounding Patrick Reed after his Masters Tournament win, you have to wonder if his new-found celebrity status will penetrate his steely-eyed assassin mentality on the golf course. Just like his hero, Tiger Woods, Reed let’s no one into his world other than his family and support team. He’s not a touchy-feely guy. But now the entire sports world wants a piece of him, and I’m betting this will affect his game in a negative way. There’s only one Tiger, after all … On that note, unless Tiger goes back to his old assassin self, he won’t win again on the PGA Tour. He has the physical and mental skills, but he’s now allowing the fans into his head on the golf course. That’s not Tiger … Major League Baseball: what the hell were you thinking, scheduling all of these games in the cold northeast to launch the season? Dollars and cents, my friends. Dollars and cents … Think the Jays aren’t missing Jose Bautista now? His replacement in right field, Randal Grichuk is hitting only .071 (3-for-42), worst in MLB … On that note, Devon Travis is hitting only .086. Jays skipper John Gibbons says both will erase their slumps very quickly. Of course he’s going to say that: it’s only April. A fact’s a fact: this Blue Jays team, despite some solid pitching, will not make the playoffs … Had hoped to catch some of the Boston Marathon and Boston Red Sox game versus Baltimore from Fenway Park, all part of Patriots Day in Bean Town. But weather has cancelled the ballgame. They will, of course, run today – it’s the 122nd Boston Marathon …

Ken Hitchcock

Ken Hitchcock, who coached the Dallas Stars to their only Stanley Cup win, has retired after 22 years behind the bench. He leaves as the third-winningest bench boss in NHL history, with 823 wins. Only Scotty Bowman (1,244) and Joel Quennville (884) have more … There’s no other way to put it: London’s Damian Warner choked at the Commonwealth Games. With a big move to Calgary to train with Les Gramantik and an abandonment of his local coaching team, there was much promise surrounding Warner’s performances on the biggest stages. He led the decathlon after seven events. Then, he failed to clear a height in the pole vault. Even Gramantik said “anxiety” could have been at fault. It will be interesting to see how Warner rebounds … The host committee for the Ontario Summer Games held another news conference, this time announcing that London will also host the 2010 Games. LondonOntarioSports.com did not receive an invite to this event, nor to its media event announcing the 2018 Games. That’s bad PR. We will, of course, continue to announce all news stemming from the events. But it makes you wonder who’s pulling the strings at the municipally-funded tourism office. FYI their Tweet from the news conference last week only drew 11 likes. Tells you something … Canadian Robert Pitcairn, 79, was the oldest Commonwealth Games competitor in history. He finished eighth in the Queen’s Prize pairs shooting finals with teammate Nicole Rossignol – a mere youngster at age 48 … League1 Ontario has released the 2018 schedules for FC London Soccer Club’s men’s and women’s squads. The men kick off their schedule on Sunday, April 29 at Toronto FC III, while the women host Toronto Azzurri Blizzard on Saturday, May 5 … The London Beefeaters have released their 2018 training camp schedule. Spring mini camp is slated for May 27, while main training camp begins July 31 …

Jim Kelly

Prayers go out to former Buffalo Bills QB Jim Kelly, who doctors say is progressing well less than three weeks after surgery to remove cancer from his jaw. Cancer recurred five years after the Hall of Fame pivot was initially diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma. The 58-year-old had been cancer-free since September 2014 … Brett Favre estimates he may have suffered “thousands” of concussions during his NFL career 1992-2010. The 48-year-old former QB says he is experiencing short-term memory issues. By nature, the NFL is a violent sport. As long as football is played, there will be concussions. Some call for a ban of the sport, similar to the call to end boxing. But neither will happen. See my comments about re: MLB and the scheduling of early-April games … The NBA announced a fourth-straight year of attendance records – more than 22.1 million butts in the seats this season. Average attendance: 17,987 … Tickets are still available for the LondonOntarioSports.com awards luncheon April 30 at Highland CC in London. Info here … And finally, on this day in 1940, Bob Feller – Rapid Robert – threw a perfect game on Opening Day for the Cleveland Indians. I had the opportunity to conduct a lengthy interview with Feller before his death in 2010. He was one of the most engaging, uninhibited, proud athletes I’ve ever spoken with during my career. And he had the best nicknames, too, including, Bullet Bob, and The Heater from Van Meter (Iowa).

Ed. Note: We’re taking a break for our annual awards banquet, and will return on Monday, 7.

Reed On Sports is published each Monday. Send your bricks and bouquets to jeff@londonontariosports.com.

April 9, 2018

The tragic story involving the Humboldt Broncos and the outpouring of love from Canadians coast to coast reminds us of what makes this country tick: hockey, and more importantly, caring for each other … It should be no surprise that Patrick Reed is the 2018 Masters Tournament champion. The 27-year-old Texan is arguably the strongest in the game between the ears. His entire game is strong – there is no Achilles heel. And he came into the tournament ranked World No. 11. As we’ve seen over the past decade, with the young crop of stars on Tour, anyone can win on any given week. This was Reed’s week … Hats off to Rickie Fowler for his amazing week at Augusta National. But is there a more stoic player on Tour than the social media-embracing pitchman? I’d rather watch paint dry than listen to his pre- and post-game interviews. He may wear contemporary orange swag, but his analyses are always a drab grey … The story of the tournament was Jordan Spieth’s charge on Sunday, and Rory McIlroy’s epic collapse. Spieth, the 2015 Masters champ, teed off Sunday nine strokes behind Reed and finished with a 64, two shots behind at -13. Meanwhile, McIlroy hit a wayward drive off No. 1 and never recovered. His Achilles heel, in addition to poor driving (not what we expected), is his putting. You have to wonder if the talented golfer from Northern Ireland will ever don a green jacket … For the first time, this scribe has decided that we have moved on from the Tiger Woods era. Yes, it is amazing that he is even able to golf again after multiple back surgeries. Yes, he can still move the needle. And yes, I think he’ll get win No. 80 on the PGA Tour within a year. But it’s not going to be easy with Tiger version 2.0 inside the ropes. The game has never been in a better place, with today’s young guns in charge. And frankly, watching Sunday’s round, I even forgot that Tiger was in the field. It’s a new day for the PGA Tour … Jr. B hockey’s Sutherland Cup promises to be another epic fight, with the London Nationals and Listowel Cyclones, for a second straight year, battling again in a semifinal. London won in five games in 2017. Game 1 goes Wednesday night at Western Fair Sports Centre at 7:30 p.m. … Congratulations to Parkhill, Ontario’s Danielle Austin, winner of this year’s 3rd Annual Jeffrey Reed Courage Award – read the official news release and a feature story here. She’ll be honoured, along with LondonOntarioGolf.com Heart Award winner Lindsey Edmunds, at the LondonOntarioSports.com awards banquet April 30 at Highland Country Club in London – details here … Follow London decathletes Damian Warner and Taylor Stewart, London pole vaulter Alysha Newman and (F38) shot put para-athletic competitor Kevin Strybosch at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia April 4-15. Click here to follow the action … The Fanshawe Falcons have named badminton star Riley Hogan the college’s female athlete of the year, and volleyball standout Cole Jordan the top male athlete … The 2017-18 varsity season was the strongest ever for the Falcons. The campaign saw Fanshawe set a new college record for most medals in a season with 20. The medal haul breaks the previous record of 17 set in 2009-10, 2015-16 and 2016-17 for the most Provincial and National medals in one season. The Falcons also led the OCAA in National medals this season and set a Fanshawe record with six, which surpassed last year’s record of five … The Western Mustangs have named soccer player Jenna White, football player Alex Taylor and men’s swimmer Gamal Assaad as their top athletes in 2017-18. White is the female athlete of the year, while Taylor and Assaad tied for top male athlete … Another local soccer player will represent Canada on the international pitch. Kaila Novak, 16, of St. Thomas has been picked to play at the 2018 CONCACAF women’s under-17 championship in Nicaragua in late April. Novak plays with FC London’s OWSL U21 team, in addition to the club’s League1 Ontario squad. She has represented Canada before, in 2017 at the Four Nations tournament in China. In recent times, she follows London’s Jessie Fleming and Shelina Zadorsky on the international stage … And finally, when will winter end and the local golf season really begin? It’s great to see many of the courses open for business over the past few weeks, and I’m sure it’s all about the bottom line. But really?

Reed On Sports is published each Monday. Send your bricks and bouquets to jeff@londonontariosports.com.

April 2, 2018

Someone needs to bring Detroit Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire up to speed on video replay protocol. Flashback to March 30. It’s bottom of the 10th inning at Comerica Park, and Nicholas Castellanos slides across home plate – and according to the home plate umpire, avoided the tag of Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli to give Detroit an 11-10 win. But after Bucs manager Clint Hurdle called for the eyes in the sky in New York to review video, Castellanos was called out. Gardenshire came out of the Tigers dugout to argue the reversed call and was ejected. Not only do the rules state that you cannot argue the judgement of a video reply, but also Gardenhire took his frustrations out on the umpire who called the runner safe. Not exactly a good debut for the new Detroit skipper … Say what you want about the past temper tantrums of defending Masters Tournament champion Sergio Garcia. Sure, he relished the me-against-the-world role. But he always was true to himself. So when he said winning the green jacket for his first win at a major did not change him “because I loved my life the way it was before,” you know he has always had inner peace, unlike, say, Tiger Woods. Garcia will continue to wear his heart on his sleeve. In the often dry world of professional golf, we need more Sergios. But don’t think for a minute that the Masters will define him as a person, nor as a golfer.
Weir Enjoying Golf Again
As Mike Weir tees off April 5 to open the 82nd Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club, you’ll have to excuse him if he stops to smell the roses – that is, the azaleas. This is, After all, Augusta National. If heaven has a golf course, then this is it. Weir, who turns 48 on May 12, is, of course, the 2003 Masters champion. The eight-time PGA Tour winner from Bright’s Grove, Ontario has relied on two things in order to excel in his overachiever role: a deft short game; and uncompromised focus between the ropes.

Photo: Mike Weir/Stephen Dunn, Getty Images.

Yet the Mike Weir who will play on the Web.com Tour this year, in hopes of finishing in the Top 25 and gaining full status on the PGA Tour in 2019, is a different Mike Weir than the golfer who won the Masters Tournament 15 years ago. He’ll join the Champions Tour in 2020, in order to fuel his continued competitive drive. And he still wants to win on the big tour – he believes he can and had never stopped believing. But even the steely-eyed Weir said Mike Weir version 2.0 is a much different version of the golfer who stole the hearts of Canadians from coast to coast with his historic win in 2003. “I am stopping to smell the roses a little bit more now,” said Weir as he prepared his short game for Augusta’s slick greens. “I’m just as competitive. I love to compete. But I’m enjoying golf now in a different way.” Read our interview with Mike Weir here .
Sorry, Blue Jays Fans

I feel for Blue Jays SS Troy Tulowitzki, whose latest setback is surgery to remove bone spurs on both heels. I have a bone spur on my right heel, and I’d rather have root canal surgery … There’s no doubt the Blue Jays have some star power. We saw it yesterday in Justin Smoak’s two HR including a grand slam in the 8th inning. We saw it in Kevin Pillar’s three stolen bases in one inning for a franchise record. And there are some great arms on the pitching staff. But there are too many role players or B players on this roster to seriously contend for playoff berth this season. The best they can hope for is a wild card spot, and even that is doubtful.
More Rants

Montreal’s Olympic Stadium

Why do the majority of media in this town strictly rely on news stemming from the muni golf system when reporting on golf course openings and conditions? Because they don’t understand the industry, and it’s very convenient to keep contacting the same source … The Las Vegas Stadium Authority has signed final documents to build the future home of the Raiders. Price tag for lease and development of the 65,000-seat facility: $1.8 billion … Hell will freeze over before the Montreal Expos see new life. After five years of hosting pre-season Blue Jays contests, the Big O (or the Big Owe, as Quebec taxpayers call it), has lost much of its lustre. There’s almost no buzz about the games, and no talk about MLB granting another franchise in La Belle Province. In 2016, the Jays-Red Sox mini series drew 106,000 fans. This year’s series versus the St. Louis Cardinals drew 50,000. Expect next year to be the last pre-season series in Montreal … Tomorrow, LondonOntarioSports.com announces the winner of the Jeffrey Reed Courage Award. Humbled to be able to share the stories of local athletes who inspire us all. Read about past winners here … And finally, on this day in 1985, the NCAA Rules Committee adopted the 45-second shot clock for men’s basketball to begin the 1986 season … Tonight’s winner? Villanova.
Reed On Sports is published each Monday. Send your bricks and bouquets to jeff@londonontariosports.com.

February 20, 2018

In the early-1980s, Blue Jays play-by-play announcer Tom Cheek invited me into the broadcast booth for a game during my early days in sports radio. Alongside Cheek was a new colour broadcaster named Jerry Howarth. After 36 years and citing stamina and voice issues, the 71-year-old Howarth has stepped away from the mic. To say that he will be missed is an understatement. He was the voice of the Blue Jays, a consummate professional and an even nicer person. They don’t mike them like Howarth anymore. Today’s broadcasters are a generic bunch and changed like diapers, to borrow a phrase from former football coach Bum Phillips. Godspeed, Jerry … Most insiders say the Jays can compete for a wild card spot at best this season. I concur. And with a declining roster, don’t for a minute think this isn’t in the mind of Josh Donaldson, holder of a one-year deal with the Jays … RIP, Leo the Lip. Leo Cahill, one of the most colourful personalities the CFL has ever seen, died Feb. 16. He was 89. Born in Utica, Ill., Cahill played football for the U. of Illinois and appeared in the 1947 Rose Bowl. He served in Korea with the U.S. Army, entered the U.S. college football ranks as a coach after an honourable discharge, and then began a CFL coaching career in 1960 with the Montreal Alouettes. He saw numerous stints as the Toronto Argonauts’ head coach and GM up until 1988. Although he never won as Grey Cup, he was always ready with a quip, and made headlines when signing Notre Dame QB Joe Theismann in 1970. He also signed Tampa tailback Leon McQuay, whose fumble cost the Argos the 1971 Grey Cup … Spent some time chatting with Ted Potter Jr. on the practice green at Hamilton G&CC during the 2012 Canadian Open. You won’t find a nicer guy on the PGA Tour. He’s a close friend of former big-league pitcher and London Majors hurler Mike Kilkenny – they met at Black Diamond Golf Club in Ocala, Florida where Kilkenny has had a winter home for many years. Killer took Potter Jr. under his wings when the two-time PGA Tour star was 15 years old. At the 2014 Canadian Open at Royal Montreal, Potter Jr. stepped off a curb and broke his ankle. The winner of the 2012 Greenbrier Classic had to fight his way back on Tour. Last weekend he stared down World No. 1 Dustin Johnson to win the AT&T Pebble Beach National. And now, he’s headed back to the Masters Tournament … London’s Damian Warner and Alysha Newman have been selected to the 14-member Canadian team competing at the 2018 IAAF World Indoor Championships March 1-4 at Birmingham, England. Warner, the 2016 Olympic Games decathlon bronze medalist, will compete in the heptathlon. Newman is the Canadian pole vault record holder … You can’t make this stuff up: Chicago TV station WLS, an ABC affiliate, used “P.F. Chang” in a graphic instead of Pyeongchang. It was created for satirical purposes, to encourage viewers to invent their own Olympic sports, but was mistakenly aired as part of a regular news spot … How dry are these Winter Games? A Kim Jon Un impersonator stole the show when he shook hands with a fake Donald Trump, and also appeared at a women’s hockey game where he greeted North Korean cheerleaders … Ice dance darlings Tessa Virtue of London and Scott Moir of Ilderton capped off their incredible comeback with a gold medal yesterday. They’ll go down in history as two of the best athletes Canada has ever produced. Read our in-depth interview with the duo here

(L-R) Justin Kripps and Alex Kopacz

Lost in the shuffle yesterday was the fact London bobsledder Alex Kopacz, a former Mother Teresa Catholic High School and Western University student, won gold yesterday in two-man bobsleigh  with teammate Justin Kripps of Summerland, B.C. The duo tied for gold with a German pair, and ended a 12-year drought for Canada in men’s competition. Kopacz, 28, took up the sport less than five years ago. He now goes for gold in four-man bobsled with Kripps, Oluseyi Smith of Ottawa and Jesse Lumsden of Burlington … Tickets are now on sale for the LondonOntarioSports.com awards banquet April 30 at Highland Country Club. Details are here … And finally, whatever happened to former 1290 CJBK sports personality Brian Decker, London’s original shock jock?

Ed. Note: We’re taking a break and will re-launch this spring. Watch for Reed On Sports on Monday, April 2!

Reed On Sports is published each Monday. Send your bricks and bouquets to jeff@londonontariosports.com.

February 5, 2018

The Eagles and Patriots entered Super Bowl LII evenly matched in every category except rings for the fingers. Now Philadelphia has its first Super Bowl victory, thanks to an offense-filled 41-33 win for the Nick Foles-quarterbacked Eagles. Foles nearly gave up the game before this season, but settled for backup QB behind injured starter Carson Wentz. Once Foles settled in, the Eagles soared.

Nick Foles

Foles was yesterday’s MVP, 28-43 for 373 yards and three TDs. His razzle dazzle catch for a TD put him one up on Tom Brady, who failed to haul in a pass on a similar play. NFL MVP Brady threw for 505 yards, and was 28-48. Until the final two series, he picked apart the Eagles’ defense. Sure, there were two controversial TDs for Philadelphia – I think both should have been called back – but the Eagles never quit, had just as many weapons as the defending champs, and in the end wrote a Cinderella story … You know that somewhere, Vince Papale is smiling … For the record, I called Eagles by 10 points. We all get lucky sometimes … The rest of the world was surprised when Smiths Falls, Ontario’s Brooke Henderson started winning on the LPGA Tour, but not Canadians, of course. Yet even faithful Canucks are surprised at how the 20-year-old seems to contend at each tourney. It’s hard to imagine that the best is yet to come for this talented young golfer, but it’s going to be fun watching her bloom amongst the world’s best. She’s no flash in the pan …

Brooke Henderson

It’s probably not a record he wanted, but Kamloops Blazers head coach Don Hay set a WHL record last week with his 743rd regular-season victory. Hay, 63, passed former NHLer Ken Hodge, who set the previous record of 742 in 1992-93 with career wins with the Edmonton Oil Kings and Portland Winterhawks. Hay also has three Memorial Cup titles as head coach, in 1994, ’95 and 2007 … A 20th Grand Slam win for Roger Federer at the Australian Open only solidifies the argument for him being the best tennis player on the planet, of all time … Amazing how Caroline Wozniacki’s game elevated when former fiancé Rory McIlroy broke off their engagement in 2014. The golf star almost left the recent Australian Open winner at the altar. Now she’s World No. 1. McIlroy has been hobbled by injuries, but the 28-year-old now has 13 wins both on the PGA Tour and the European Tour, and his game is in great form this season … How much larger and sophisticated is London than, say, 20 years ago? Most Londoners could have cared less about hosting curling’s Continental Cup, Memorial Cup or World Figure Skating Championships. The same will hold true when the Forest City holds the Juno Awards in 2019. We are a society sequestered within our own little worlds … That said, all of those types of events help the local coffers and plant seeds for future investment in our community … The real heroes of local sports are the countless teams that invade the Forest City during invitational tourneys. The London Aquatic Club hosted more than 1,100 swimmers at this past weekend’s Western Ontario Regional meet, while the 28th Annual  London Devilettes Hockey Tournament hosted 3,000 players … Pedro Martinez, Lloyd “Shaker’ Moseby and baseball historian William Humber are this year’s inductees into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame … RHP Mark Appel, the Houston Astros’ No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft, has decided to leave baseball without even having thrown a pitch in the big leagues. The 26-year-old hurler was released by the Phillies in November … RHP Steve Chilcott (Mets 1966) and Brien Taylor (Yankees 1991) also went 1st overall without ever pitching in the bigs … Taylor was the star attraction when the Class AA Eastern League Albany Yankees visited Labatt Park in the early-1990s … QB Ricky Ray, 38, returns to the Grey Cup-winning Toronto Argonauts with a one-year contract. Hey, if Tom Brady is still doing it at 40 … And finally, happy 84th birthday to the real all-time HR king, Hammerin’ Hank Aaron, born on this day in 1934.

Ed. Note: Reed On Sports returns Tuesday, February 20.

January 22, 2018

With the New England Patriots down 20-17 with 2:48 remaining in the fourth quarter yesterday, you just knew Tom Brady – bad hand and all – would come through for the defending Super Bowl champions. Of course, he did. Never mind his injured throwing hand. Never mind that his go-to guy, tight end Rob Gronkowski, had left the game with a concussion. Brady is the best QB to have ever played the game, and he proved why yesterday at Foxborough in the Patriots’ 24-20 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars … Before the season started, I called a Patriots-Eagles Super Bowl. And I’m calling for an Eagles victory in Super Bowl LII at Minnesota February 4. This Eagles team has too many weapons, even for the Pats. They dominated in their 38-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings. And as hungry as the Patriots are to continue their dynasty ways, the Eagles are hungrier. Eagles by 10 points – that is, if they can keep their emotions in check. You know the Patriots will … With the London Knights constantly rebuilding and again on a youth movement, the future looks bright with young guns like Lucas Rowe and Connor McMichael. The duo scored both of London’s goals last week in a 2-1 win over the Kitchener Rangers … Sorry, curling fans, but the World Financial Group Continental Cup, save stories by Morris Dalla Costa in The London Free Press, barely registered on the excitement meter. Just another example of how big London has become, and how more sophisticated and busy Londoners are today. A good chunk of the fans at Western Fair Sports Centre were out-of-towners. Curling is like golf: unless you are a diehard participant and fan, then it doesn’t matter to you. A Shania Twain concert at Budweiser Gardens creates a much bigger stir … It’s onto the Winter Olympics next month at Pyeongchang, South Korea for London’s Tessa Virtue and Ilderton’s Scott Moir. The duo, who won their eighth national figure skating title in Vancouver, will shoot for gold before retiring for good – or so they say. This time, I think it’s for good, minus skating exhibitions. You can’t take the ice away from these champions … How big of a deal is it for the pair to act as flag bearers at the upcoming Games? According to Moir, “We see this as probably the biggest honour of our career” … It’s easy to play Monday morning quarterback, but when you think of the added greatness Eric Lindros would have contributed to the game of hockey had he not sustained multiple concussions, it’s scary. His numbers – and his impact on the game – have already put him in the Hockey Hall of Fame: 13 seasons, 865 points in 760 games, 56 points over 50 playoff games plus a Hart Trophy. And now, rightfully, his number 88 has been retired by the Philadelphia Flyers … Was at a charity golf event with Lindros at Sunningdale Golf and Country Club, and was shocked at how big he is, even without skates. Like Mario Lemieux, Lindros had great hands for a big man … Pittsburgh Pirates fans, yours truly included, are still sobbing after the club traded their marquee player, Andrew McCutchen, to the San Francisco Giants, and their ace hurler, Gerrit Cole, to the Houston Astros. McCutchen meant an awful lot to the city of Pittsburgh, through philanthropy, good deeds and squeaky clean image. The Bucs will miss him. And if Cole stays healthy, the Astros may have punched another ticket to the World Series. Alas, a lot can happen between Spring Training and the Fall Classic … Lots of chatter recently when Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long donned a dog mask – embracing the underdog role – after the Eagles beat the Atlanta Falcons, 15-10, in the NFC divisional playoff contest. Even a London Free Press headline attached to a column from The Associated Press read, Eagles gladly go to the dogs. You know where I’m going with this, and it involves disgraced former QB Michael Vick. Too soon, too soon … I love the way Spaniard Jon Rahm plays golf. No fear. Wears his heart on his sleeve. Never wavers from his style of play. The 23-year-old has catapulted to World No. 2 with a playoff win yesterday in the CareerBuilder Challenge … No disrespect to Mike Weir. He is, after all, Canada’s greatest golfer. But you can’t help but to think his recent interview with The Canadian Press stunk of false optimism. A few years ago, instructor Hank Haney told me, “The game has passed (Weir) by.” I concur. But there is hope on the Champions Tour, if he can stay healthy. He’ll be one of the fittest competitors on that Tour, given his current fitness regime. In addition to sponsors’ exemptions on the PGA Tour, Weir will compete on the Web.com Tour this season … How cool would it be to land Weir for some sort of engagement at Highland CC during the September Freedom 55 Financial Championship? … Londoner Art Johnston, former chief operator at Bud Gardens, will work a Zamboni at the Pyeongchang Winter Games … This year’s London Celebrity Sports Dinner & Auction has a strong female theme, with the likes of wrestling legend Trish Stratus, soccer’s Christine Sinclair and Shelina Zadorsky, Olympic skating gold medalist Cindy Klassen, Sportsperson of the Year Karen Phibbs and emcee Christine Simpson. For ticket info visit ldnsportsdinner.com … Received an email from the Ontario Summer Games committee, asking LondonOntarioSports.com to share its database of local minor sports associations. Forgive me if I am wrong, but isn’t Sports Tourism London, the City-backed mouth for local sports, a big backer of the Games? Whatever happened to a little internal digging and research? Hope this does not reflect on the overall operation of this event this summer … And finally, whatever happened to the good old days when local radio sportscasters were personalities, and not just voices? Give me Chris Mayberry, Gary Alan Price and Brian Decker over anyone on the air today. It’s not their fault: that’s the nature of the business. But it doesn’t have to be.

Note: Reed On Sports returns Monday, February 5. Enjoy the Super Bowl.

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Reed On Sports is published each Monday. Send your bricks and bouquets to jeff@londonontariosports.com.

 

 

The Interview
Don’t miss our 6x/year Q&A, The Interview. Reed goes one-on-one with London and area’s most outspoken sports personalities. Read it here each month.