Reed On Sports

 

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Reed On Sports April 23, 2019

Big night for Toronto sports tonight. It’s Leafs-Bruins in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff. Kevin Pillar and the San Francisco Giants visit Rogers Centre. And the Raptors can win their conference quarter-final against Orlando tonight at Scotiabank Arena. Leafs will win. Pillar will make a great grab in the outfield. And the Raptors will advance. You’re welcome … Steve Yzerman was born to be GM of the Detroit Red Wings. He’s a Hall of Famer and his No. 19 hangs in the rafters alongside greats including Gordie Howe. He led the team to three Stanley Cup championships, along the way breathing new life into a franchise that had not hoisted Lord Stanley’s cup for 42 years. He did one hell of a good job with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Now he has returned home. Don’t bet against him … If there is any major golf tournament Tiger Woods can still win, it’s the Masters Tournament. He knows the place better than anyone – he played it like a chess master this year. The Open Championship will provide his second best opportunity to inch closer to Jack Nicklaus’s 18 majors. Tiger can play chess at this event too, because of his iron play and creativity. But the U.S. Open and PGA Championship will be the toughest of the four tourneys for Tiger. That said, he is Tiger Woods. If his stays healthy, then who knows? … Nike may have gotten out of the golf equipment game, but the brand almost crashed Golf Town Canada’s website following Tiger’s win at the Masters Tournament. You knew it would happen: everyone wanted a red Nike mock turtleneck golf shirt, which retails for $100. I can’t help but think of the old guy dressed in orange like Rickie Fowler (“Hey Rickie!”) when I think of Tiger’s mocks.: tight necks and potbellies will be rampant on the golf course this spring … Not a big fan of the PGA Tour Championship changes. The top seed heading into East Lake will start the tourney at -10, with a two-shot advantage. What? The No. 2 seed will start at -8, with the next bunch at -7, -6 and -5. The next five players start at -4, all the way down until No. 26 through No. 30 begin at even par. Confused yet? I understand the scoring, but I strongly disagree with it. Let’s stick to traditions, please …

Jade Kovacevic

Fanshawe Falcons star soccer player Jade Kovacevic was named OCAA female athlete of the year. She led the Falcons to an undefeated OCAA season and ultimately a Provincial Championship title. Kovacevic had a nation-best 30 goals this year, 15 ahead of her nearest competitor. The fourth-year striker was named the OCAA Player of the Year, OCAA Championship MVP and set new OCAA records for most goals in a season and most goals in a single game with nine (Sept. 8 vs. Lambton) … Last Monday’s 123rd Boston Marathon was one for the ages, with Kenyan Lawrence Cherono winning with a time of 2:07:59, just one second behind Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa at 2:08. Desisa was going for a three-peat. Third-place finisher Kenneth Kipkemoi of Kenya finished 2:08:06. In the women’s race, Worknesh Degefa of Ethiopia won with a time of 2:23:30. American Daniel Romanchuk and Manuela Schar of Switzerland won the men’s and women’s wheelchair races … With tons of pressure from the politically correct sector, the Edmonton Eskimos said they will stick with their moniker after much talk with the Inuit community … Epic collapse by the London Knights, up 3-0 in their best-of-seven OHL Western Conference semifinal versus the Guelph Storm, only to lose 4-3. Plenty of scoring power, but sub-par defence. London is the 12th OHL team in 32 years to blow a 3-0 series lead …

Blake Snell

Tampa Bay Rays ace LH Blake Snell is one the IL after breaking a toe while attempting to move a, 80-lb piece of granite with his foot after getting out of the shower. He’ll miss at least 10 days … No surprise here: the Alliance of American Football has folded like a cheap suitcase, burying an eight-team league after just eight games of its charter season and filing for bankruptcy … 45-year-old firefighter and 14-year CFL official Dave Hawkshaw is one of six new officials hired by the NFL. Expect more of this win-win in the future … Just doesn’t seem right having Sidney Crosby on the links instead of the ice this time of year … The Freedom 55 Financial Championship has a new name: Canada Life Championship. Read more here … The U.S. National Golf Foundation reports golf growth remains stable, the same as it is in Canada: stagnant growth. Read more here … Smoke ‘em if you’ve got ‘em: Pine Knot GC in Dorchester has opened its doors to cannabis cravers. Read more here … On this day 1954 Hank Aaron, with the Milwaukee Braves, hit his first MLB home run … And finally, tickets are still available for the May 10 LondonOntarioSports.com awards banquet. Click here for details.

Ed. Note: We’re taking a break. Reed On Sports returns Monday, May 6.
Send your bricks and bouquets to jeff@londonontariosports.com.

Reed On Sports April 15, 2019

Twenty-four hours after Tiger Woods teed off to start his round at the Masters Tournament, the smoke has not cleared, but it’s easier to put Woods’ fifth Masters win into perspective. It was certainly the greatest golf moment I’ve ever witnessed, and the game’s greatest story of all-time. The golf world – yours truly included – continues to be in shock today. It was surreal afternoon at Augusta National. And it was Woods’ journey from crippling injuries and devastating personal struggles to world dominance on the links that made the moment what it is. Now he has five green jackets, 15 major tournament wins and 81 PGA Tour wins. This from a man with fused back, rebuilt personal life and a man who faces competition from scores of young guns whom he inspired decades ago when he revolutionized the game. Without a doubt, Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer who ever lived. Even Jack Nicklaus believes so – he told Tom Watson just that. If Woods continues to stay healthy and picks his spots, he can continue to win at the highest level. If he retired right now, he would do so as the game’s greatest star … The sports world lost a pioneer last week when Marilynn Smith, one of the 13 founders of the LPGA Tour, died at age 89. Smith won 21 times, including two majors, and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame … Trivia: Listowel’s Corey Conners and Canadian Golf Hall of Fame member Moe Norman are the only two Canadians to play the Masters Tournament as amateurs and professionals. Conners finished T46. His triple bogeyed No. 12 yesterday, but no one noticed given that the leader heading into round four, Italian Francesco Molinari, double bogeyed the signature hole and blew the tournament wide open. Ian Poulter, Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau also dropped into Rae’s Creek. Tiger, always the tactition, hit the middle of the green and made par. Game over … It’s time for the Maple Leafs to let go of Nazem Kadri. The Londoner and former London Knight has not yet grown up, despite what he says. His bonehead cross-check of Boston Bruins bad boy Jake DeBrusk will draw a suspension today from NHL head office. DeBrusk displayed goon-like tactics in Game 2 of their opening-round playoff series. Drop the gloves and fight. Don’t use your stick. Kadri will never learn … He was known as “Touchdown Timmy” for his on-field antics – one of the few local sports fans allowed to mingle with players and fans. Tim Bell, a regular at all of London’s major sports home games, died April 5 at age 58. Bell dealt with challenges in his life, but his love of local sports, including the Majors, Mustangs, Beefeaters, CCH football and Nationals (for whom he was flag bearer) was unparalleled. As a Majors coach, I would hit imaginary fly balls to right field so Bell could play Walter Mitty and jump against the outfield wall to make a game-saving catch … It’s official: London Knights head coach Dale Hunter will be bench boss for Team Canada at world junior tourney in 2020. Brother Mark Hunter is overseeing preparation for the tournament headed for the Czech Republic … Canadian sprinter Andrea De Grasse has one thing in mind while he’s in comeback form: an Olympic gold medal. De Grasse, 24, of Markham, Ont. has been on the shelf for most of the past two years with injuries. This past weekend, he finished second in the 200 m race at the Grenada Invitational, posting a time of 20.20 seconds, just behind Britain’s Miguel Francis (20.16) and ahead of Kyle Greaux of Trinidad and Tobago (20.51) … More public consultations are slated in Halifax where a multi-use sports and entertainment facility is pending as home for the proposed Atlantic Schooners CFL franchise … The snake-bitten New York Yankees now have 12 key players on the injured list (IL). If George Steinbrenner were still alive, he’d fire the entire Yankees’ medical support staff … This million-dollar lawsuit may be credible, despite what the Houston Astros are saying. A Texas woman is suing the MLB club after claiming that a T-shirt fired from a cannon commonly used by sports teams struck her left index finger and shattered it, resulting in two surgeries and $15,000 in medical bills. The Astros claim innocence. If you’ve ever seen these cannons fire from close range, then you know that a bunched-up T-shirt could definitely do damage … Want more proof the NBA is the hottest ticket in town? The league says it sold out a record 760 games this season, with total attendance about 22 million, fourth highest in history despite being down slightly from the season prior – reason being new or renovated arenas resulted in more than 141,000 fewer available seats … In the Guelph Storm-London Knights clash last Friday, Londoner Nick Suzuki took half of the game’s 66 faceoffs for the Storm. He scored twice in Guelph’s 3-1 win … Soccer superstar Jade Kovacevic and volleyball standout David Gundrum are the Fanshawe Falcons’ athletes of the year. Read more here on the Falcons’ top athletes of 2018-19 … And finally, on this day in 1947 Jackie Robinson played his first MLB regular-season game for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He changed baseball, sports and society forever. All three still need work when it comes to equality, but we’ve come a long, long way, thanks in part to Robinson.

Reed On Sports is published every Monday. Bricks and bouquets welcome at jeff@londonontariosports.com.

Reed On Sports April 8, 2019

First, the recreational use of cannabis is legalized. Now, the Ontario government is legalizing tailgating. I’m sure our American friends are enjoying this. I can’t help but think back to a time when you couldn’t enjoy a beer inside Exhibition Stadium during a Blue Jays game. The new tailgating amendment comes down Thursday. Fans can now bring their own alcohol and BBQ food to parked-vehicle parties. Also, permit holders can sell their own alcohol on the premises … Bridget Carleton, 21, of Chatham will be a high pick at the April 10 WNBA draft. The six-foot-one shooting guard was named to the Associated Press All-America second team after winning Big 12 player of the year honours. Carleton is the Iowa State Cyclones’ second-leading scorer with 2,142 points … With the Canadian Women’s Hockey League disbanding, the U.S.-based National Women’s Hockey League plans to expand to Toronto and Montreal for the 2019-20 season … The Alliance of American Football has ended its charter season even before the schedule finished, just eight weeks into the season. One of the toughest things to do in professional sports is to establish a rival league that thrives. The best thing that ever happened to the World Hockey Association was the NHL’s adopting of its key franchises …

Marcus Stroman

Interesting that when Marcus Stroman was moaning about the Jays trading his pal Kevin Pillar, his Twitter page displayed photos of his Team USA involvement and not his current big league team. In fact he didn’t even include any text about being a Blue Jays pitcher. The Stro Show will be over in Toronto, but not soon enough. Forget the fact he has six pitches in his arsenal. He’s a distraction to forming team chemistry. The club will be much better off without him … What a kickoff of the 2019 golf season for London’s Ellie Szeryk. The 17 year old living in Allen, TX was named Golf Ontario’s female player of the year, as well as its top Junior Girls and Juvenile Girls player. She’s the defending Ontario Women’s Amateur champ and will defend her title July 8-11 at Black Bear Ridge GC in Belleville … Meanwhile, older sister Maddie has a professional win and runner-up finish, and a strong finish on the Symetra Tour. Read that story here … London’s Cam Kellett, 19, who captured the Ontario Men’s Match Play title in 2018, is leaving NCAA Division II Young Harris College in Georgia to attend Division I Nevada Wolf Pack in 2019-20 … The award for most mundane TV interviews goes to the majority of the roster of LPGA Tour players. In a sport where PR is imperative, they’re not doing their job. Szeryk gets it, though. She’s a class act, accessible and a good quote – more so now that she’s no longer playing college golf with the Texas A&M Aggies. She’s had some good media training from Golf Canada. Same can be said about Brooke Henderson …

Corey Conners

What Listowel’s Corey Conners did at the Valero Texas Open will be talked about for a century. First, the Canadian qualified on a Monday. Then he made three birdies on the final five holes, shooting 6-under-par 66 and 20-under for the tourney, good for a two-shot victory. He returns to the Masters Tournament for the first time since 2014 when he competed at Augusta National following his U.S. Amateur runner-up finish … The Western Mustangs have added six members to their football Wall of Champions: the entire 1981 roster, plus Paul Gleason, Chris Hessel, Art Froese, Doug Cook and Jim Budge. Read more here … Gleason has a new book, The Mustang Legend, which outlines the illustrious history of the Mustangs football program from 1908-2018, along with a collection of fascinating anecdotes, historical photographs, and a look into the evolution of the program. Click here for purchase information …

Maggie MacNeil

Londoner Maggie MacNeil is now a member of Team Canada who will compete at the world championships July 12-28 at Gwangju, South Korea. With a time of 54.51 seconds, the University of Michigan Wolverines freshman out of the London Aquatic Club swam to a fourth-place finish in the 100 m freestyle final at last Thursday’s national swim trials at Pan-Am pool in Toronto. The 4×100 m free relay team is rounded out by Taylor Ruck, Kayla Sanchez and Olympic star Penny Oleksiak. This season, MacNeil earned Big 10 freshman of the year honours while grabbing a silver medal at the NCAA meet. At the Toronto trials, she also won the 50 m butterfly … And finally, can it be that Tiger Woods won his last Masters Tournament 14 years ago? Who would have guessed? My pick is Rory McIlroy, who will join an elite group in winning the career Grand Slam. No one strikes the ball better. And he has been putting extremely well. For the record, I picked Patrick Reed to win in 2018. Sometimes, you get lucky.

Reed On Sports is published every Monday. Bricks and bouquets welcome at jeff@londonontariosports.com.

Reed On Sports March 25, 2019

They say that no matter what your talent on the field, you can be replaced. But in the case of New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, I disagree. You can’t replace a player with his size, strength, speed and toughness. And he is a proven winner.

Rob Gronkowski

Gronk has announced his retirement after nine NFL seasons, his most recent injury-plagued. He’s an aged 30-year-old, given his injury string including multiple concussions. Gronk has three Super Bowl rings and will go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as perhaps the most dominant player at his position … With long-time Tourism London boss John Winston announcing he’ll leave his post in July, we can’t let him go without serving up what was one of the best quotes of 2018. When commenting on sad attendance at the Freedom 55 Financial Championship at Highland Country Club, Winston told our sister publication LondonOntarioGolf.com, ““The (golfers) are billeted, so we don’t get visitations. Attendance has not been great (Sunday gallery estimated at 1,000 in 2017). I think everyone has to look at this thing with a reality check to see if we want to continue running it in London. All I know is, (Tourism London) invests money in events we know we’re going to see a major return from, like the JUNO Awards in 2019 which will bring an economic impact of $10 million to $12 million to London.

John Winston

(Mackenzie Tour) golfers are no names. They don’t create any buzz.” Winston has always been good for a great quip. We’ll miss him … Think the RBC Canadian Open is a little giddy after Rory McIlroy committed to this year’s field at Hamilton G&CC June 3-9? That’s as closest as you can get to having Tiger Woods at the event … Great move, the Canadian Open adding country music to its lineup. Florida Georgia Line, along with Canadian group The Glorious Sons will appear after the second and third rounds at Hamilton Golf and Country Club. The F55F Championship at Highland tried teeing up a concert a few years ago, and it flopped. If they brought a big-name band in, it would be a different story. But that’s not going to happen with a limited budget … Work to transform London’s Sunningdale G&CC from 36 to 18 holes is full steam ahead. Read about updates here … Great news that Canada’s high-performance athletes now have standards for concussions. New guidelines for concussions have been developed by chief medical experts with the Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee, Own the Podium and high-performance sport groups across Canada. Let’s hope those standards now filter down to all Canadians …

Marcus Stroman

The Triple-A Yankees chirped Marcus Stroman as he left the mound during a Spring Training contest in Dunedin. “Go on, get outta here,” they said to the thin-skinned hurler. “Shut the f – – k up bro,” Stroman replied. Later, he said, “It’s sports, man.” The countdown to Stroman having a complete meltdown in Toronto is on. The team will falter when he’s on the mound this year, and the club has a much different chemistry in years past. His act won’t be tolerated for long … That said, the Stro Show will open the Jays’ season versus Detroit Tigers on Thursday, followed by Matt Shoemaker, Aaron Sanchez and Clayton Richard … As if the Jays need any more problems, relievers Ryan Tepera and John Axford are both experiencing elbow pain … Think the 12-year, $432-million contract to Mike Trout by the Los Angeles Angels is insane? I don’t. Ask and he shall receive. If the owners offer a massive deal, then more power to the players. You can argue that no one should receive that kind of money for playing a game. But let’s not confuse sandlot baseball with professional entertainment with a global reach … The Chicago White Sox are expected to hand outfield prospect Eloy Jimenez a six-year, $43-million contract. Now THAT is insane. Let him prove himself first …

Danica Patrick

First, Danica Patrick broke new ground by not only racing in a male-dominated sport, but also by winning. Now, she’s sure to be a winner in the broadcast booth as the retired auto racer joins the NBC crew at the Indianapolis 500 … FIFA announced it will only allow natural grass pitches at the 2023 Women’s World Cup. The 2015 event in Canada used artificial turf, resulting in the launch of a gender discrimination case. The 2019 Women’s World Cup in France will be played at nine natural-grass venues … The Ontario government is pumping $10 million per year into horse racing programs, and that’s good news for Western Fair District who lose out to a planned southwest London casino via Gateway Casinos and Entertainment. The current lease at the District generates more than $6 million per year … Congrats to the Fanshawe Falcons, who hauled in a record number of medals at national championships this year. Read more here … And finally, on this day in 1982, Wayne Gretzky became the first NHLer to reach 200 points in a single season. In fact, he’s the only player to have done so – four times. Mario Lemieux came close with 199 points in 1988-89. The Great One holds 9 of the top 11 points seasons. Among the top 50 seasons, Gretzky was the top point getter 13 times.

Ed. Note: Reed On Sports returns Monday, April 8.

Reed On Sports is published every Monday.
Bricks and bouquets welcome jeff@londonontariosports.com.

Reed On Sports March 18, 2019

I’m not sure what sickens me more: the fact that Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis is hurt – again – or that new skipper Charlie Montoyo is again offering syrupy-sweet comments about the talent on his ballclub. Travis’s latest injury: a locked-up left knee while getting out of his car. Last Wednesday, he had surgery to repair a torn meniscus. The 28-year-old infielder has played a grand total of 316 of a possible 648 games since joining the Jays in November 2014.

Devon Travis

His right knee and left shoulder have been the main culprits. While Travis rehabs, new bench boss Montoyo says, “Believe me, (Travis’s latest injury) bothers me because I was counting on him, because I’ve seen him do really good before. A couple of years ago he was really good. So that’s the guy I’m hoping for again.” Truth is, Montoyo is living in the past. He continually throws similar praise upon Jays who have seen better days – for example, his opening-day starter, Marcus Stroman, and Aaron Sanchez. He’s hoping for miracles, while kissing the behinds of his new players. That honeymoon will soon be over, though, when the Jays fight to keep out of the basement of the AL East … The Jays will sell cheap beer within their new Dugout Deals program at Rogers Centre. No longer will suds start at $12-$14 for a 12-oz. brew. Dugout Deals items, priced at $5 or less, will include hot dogs and pretzels … MLB has implemented a number of rules changes to start the 2019 season. They include the shortening of inning breaks by five seconds for local games and 25 seconds for national games; and one fewer mound visit per game. Truth is, baseball is the only major sport not played to a clock. Its very nature dictates lengthy games. It’s why baseball is called the National Pastime. Some would argue that a 4.5-hour game of golf is even worse, but that sport, too, puts players on the clock. Some things cannot be changed. But I must say, it is refreshing watching a Marco Estrada and Roberto Osuno on the mound, or a Billy Horschel or Rickie Fowler between the ropes …

Fanshawe Falcons women’s basketball coach Bill Carriere holds court. Photo: Fanshawe Falcons.

The Fanshawe Falcons women’s basketball T5 finish at the CCAA Championships is a huge disappointment for head coach Bill Carriere, who said at season’s beginning that his team would contend for a national title in 2019. True, it’s the highest placing for the Falcons in 24 years. But this team was 10 deep, with no Achilles heel. They won’t get any better than they were this year. Kudos to them for a fantastic year … The soccer hooligan saga continues. This time, a Birmingham fan (and I use that term loosely) has been handed a 14-week jail sentence for punching Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish on the pitch during the League Championship match. The family of assailant Paul Mitchell had to leave their home because the feared “serious harm or even death,” said Mitchell’s legal eagle … Top curlers are kibitzing with Curling Canada to shorten the gap between men’s and women’s earnings at the Tim Hortons Brier and Scotties Tournament of Hearts. The Brier hands out $70,000 to the winning rink, while the Scotties awards $32,000 … When Rory McIlroy is putting well, no one can beat him – not with the confidence he has with the big dog in his hands.

Rory McIlroy. Photo: PGA Tour Twitter.

He proved that at the Players Championship, making two late birdies to take the lead and fearlessly flirting with the 18th fairway drink en route to his first victory of the year. In his last six starts, McIlroy has finished T6-2-4-5-4-win. A lot can happen between now and Augusta, but McIlroy is definitely the odds-on favourite to slip on a green jacket … Want proof there’s a kinder, gentler Tiger v. 2.0 on the PGA Tour? Watch this video of Woods imitating the putting move by partner Kevin Na at the Players Championship. Tiger v. 1.0 would never have done this during competition, even if well back of the leaders with no chance to win … It’s only fitting that Steve Bennett, the Jack Nicklaus of the Greater London Mini Tour, oversees the Junior Tyson Tour, in its 52nd season this year. Bennett, for a 10th season in charge of the City of London municipal golf system, is the local mini tour’s GOAT (greatest of all time), having captured the overall title 15 times between 1985 and 2003. His most prized junior student, Mike Weir, had a pretty good year in 2003, too, winning the Masters. Read more here … Better late than never: the feds have launched an investigative unit plus a 1-888-83SPORT (77678) helpline for victims and witnesses of harassment, abuse or discrimination in sports. Read more here … Saturday at Saginaw, the London Knights beat the Spirit, 5-2, to clinch the OHL’s Western Conference and set up a first-round playoff series with nemesis Windsor Spitfires. The series opens Friday at Budweiser Gardens at 7:30 p.m. … Kristen Bujnowski’s bobsleigh career is in its infancy, yet already her story is the stuff of legend. Read about the 27-year-old brakewoman from Mount Brydges here

Tessa Virtue Barbie doll

London’s Tessa Virtue now has her own Barbie doll – literally. Toy maker Mattel, as part of its 60th anniversary, and in celebrating International Women’s Day, has honoured 20 role models – including Virtue – from 18 countries. There’s no truth to the rumour that the next doll series will honour 20 NHL enforcers. Flash back 20 years, though, and they could have, along with their own series of bubblegum cards … 29-year-old Finn Valtteri Bottas, who captured Formula One’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix, said a few drinking sessions over the winter break helped him finish first … And finally, on this day in 1892, Frederick Arthur, Lord Stanley of Preston, announced that he had purchased a trophy to be presented to the hockey champion of Canada. Lord Stanley never imagined that his new trophy would one day end up at the bottom of the Rideau Canal. What’s much tougher to imagine is that the Maple Leafs’ last hoisting of Lord Stanley’s Cup came during Canada’s Centennial year. And there’s no end in sight.

Reed On Sports is published every Monday.
Bricks and bouquets welcome jeff@londonontariosports.com.

Reed On Sports February 25, 2019

The jokes haven’t stopped since news broke that New England Patriots’ billionaire owner Robert Kraft faces charges of soliciting a prostitute after he was allegedly twice videotaped engaging in a sexual act at a Florida massage parlour. While it’s sad, it’s not a laughing matter. Kraft, 77, was among 25 men mentioned in a sting in Jupiter, Fla. Maybe this event will once and for all end the Patriots’ dynasty. That’s not the saddest part of this story, of course, but you’ve gotta’ wonder …

Manny Machado

As Manny Machado’s ship comes in, in the form of a 13-year, $325-million contract with the San Diego Padres, we learn once again that not-so-nice guys can finish first. Machado is one of the most hated, self-centred players in MLB. He also produces at the plate, though, and at times can shine in the infield. Don’t try to make sense of the volume of the contract – these things rarely pan out in full. Machado can opt out after five years and become a free agent. It would be interesting to see what unannounced clause favours the Padres if they wish to unload one of baseball’s bad boys. He’s 26 years old and a great athlete who should be able to produce for another decade. Do his stats warrant this deal? He’s a four-time all-star and two-time Gold Glove winner who hit .297 BA, 37 HR, 107 RBIs last season. He has a .282 career BA, 175 HR and 513 RBIs over seven seasons. Pretty good numbers. But what would a Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Roberto Clemente, Hank Aaron – the list goes on – make today? As Hall of Fame pitcher and WWII veteran Bob Feller once told me, “Let the ballplayers get as much money as they can get. That’s what we fought the wars for!” …

Don Newcombe

Baseball has lost one of its biggest legends. Don Newcombe, a four-time all-star who won 20 games three times and helped the Brooklyn Dodgers win the World Series over the New York Yankees in 1955, has died at age 92. A rookie of the year winner who won the Cy Young Award and National League MVP after a 27-7 season in 1956, Newcombe was signed by Branch Rickey from the Negro Leagues. He was a monster on the mound at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds. Along with the great Jackie Robinson, and teammate Roy Campanella, Newcombe helped break baseball’s colour barrier. He was one of the greats … Who’s most responsible for the Vlad Guerrero Jr. hype: fans, Jays or media? It’s a combination of all three, but, sorry Jays fans, most of you are naïve enough to put all your eggs in one basket. One player cannot change a team’s fortune. And Guerrero will never live up to the hype … The pitch clock used during 2018 minor league games only reduced game times by eight minutes on average. Let’s face it, folks: watching a baseball game can be like watching paint dry. Love the game, hate the pace … Long-time Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim accidently struck and killed a man along an interstate highway last week when he attempted to avoid the man’s broken down vehicle … What’s going on in women’s curling? First Jennifer Jones is upset in dramatic fashion by PEI’s Suzanne Birt. Then Chelsea Carey of Alberta takes down Rachel Homan in the final after Homan missed two golden chances to win with last-draw rocks in the 10th and 11th end, only to come up short …

Jordan Spieth

Hate to say I told you so, but Jordan Spieth’s slump on the links was predictable. Listen, he has already compiled a near hall-of-fame career at age 25, with 14 world-wide victories, including four major titles. His 2015 season, with wins at the Masters Tournament, U.S. Open and PGA Championship, has etched his name in the record books forever. But he runs hot – not as hot as bunker-bashing Sergio Garcia is on the surface, but inside just as hot. His success came at a too-much, too-soon level. Only fellows like Jack, Tiger and Phil are able to sustain that level of golf. Spieth’s last win came at the 2017 Open Championship. That’s not an eternity ago, but Spieth has been pressing more and more each tournament and is rarely in contention. He’ll never return to his glory days, even though he is only 25. He’ll win again. But his best days are behind him … The worst kept secret in golf is no longer a secret: Steve Stricker will captain Team USA at the 2020 Ryder Cup. Whistling Straits is a home club for the Milwaukee native, and so the appointment was a no-brainer … Remember when Tony Finau jumped out of his Nike shoe and dislocated his ankle after making a hole-in-one during last year’s Par 3 contest at the Masters Tournament? That was a funny moment. But not this time for Nike. Accidents happen, but when Duke’s Zion Williamson – all 280 pounds of him – sprained his knee after his Nike shoes ripped during an NCAA game versus North Carolina last week, Internet trolls took to ripping the shoe brand big-time. Nike stock fell about one per cet to $83.87 during midday trading. That’s unfortunate. When an athlete of Williamson’s size and ability falls out of a shoe, we shouldn’t be surprised. This time, it happened in front of a national TV audience. Nike will be fine, thank you very much …

Rob Schremp

What’s the big deal over recently-retired NHLer Rob Schremp calling out his former London Knights teammate John Tavares as “the ultimate ‘I did my job’ kind of teammate?’” Schremp said Tavares “collects HIS point and HIS awards.” Schremp is entitled to his opinion. But the story has already grown legs, and that’s what it’s all about, folks … Canadian auto racer Robert Wickens recently rose out of his wheelchair with help from his fiancé Karli Woods and took a few dance steps. Wickens, 29, suffered numerous injuries including spinal cord injuries in a horrific accident last August during an IndyCar race. Here’s sending him good vibes … Despite his scoring slump, Maple Leafs’ Mitch Marner continues to draw praise for his two-way game, creating scoring opportunities for teammates and killing penalties … And finally, a sign the end is near: organizers of the 2024 Summer Games in Paris have put forward a proposal to add four sports, including breakdancing, to its lineup.

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

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

Reed On Sports February 19, 2019

Some things just can’t be explained in sports. Case in point: with a 6-3 win over the London Knights last weekend, the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds have now beat London in 11 straight games … Will the real London Lightning please stand up? After their embarrassing 121-88 loss to the Windsor Express on Feb. 6, they have won five straight, including a 132-109 win versus Windsor last weekend. Such is the NBL of Canada … Chelsea’s 6-0 loss to Manchester City last weekend was their biggest defeat in 28 years …

Len Obokata with Brooke Henderson. Photo: Claus Andersen.

London has lost two champions of the game of golf. Sunningdale G&CC GM and former long-time West Haven G&CC GM Sal Bruni has died at age 67. He was one of the most beloved members of the local golf community and a big supporter of the industry and its charity element. And long-time volunteer Len Obokata, whom many remember as a starter at the Freedom 55 Financial Championship, has died at age 71. Obokata was a provincial court Justice of the Peace for more than 40 years … The Canadian Press reports that Mike Weir Wine Inc. has been put into receivership, and that it owes more than $6 million. Just how does a former Masters Tournament champ with superstar status from coast to coast lose a winery? It’s easy folks. The wine biz is as competitive as a PGA Tour playoff. A combination of poor business strategy and cutthroat competition sealed the winery’s fate. And after Weir severely cut his hands-on approach, the winery went south. Too bad. Weir’s wine was a good label, and I was a big fan of his premium vintages … Congratulations to Western Mustangs women’s softball captain Claire Linton, winner of the 4th annual Jeffrey Reed Courage Award. Details here … Golf course architect Rene Muylaert will be posthumously awarded with the London Ontario Golf Heart Award this May. Details here

Claire Linton

World Cup-winning goalie Gordon Banks has died at age 81. At the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, the keep for England blocked a header from Pele – many consider it the greatest save in soccer history … You’ve got to hand it to the NFL. No other league could market its combine with such success. The March 1-4 workouts will televised by NFL Network and will air on ABC and ESPN … Great story, Burlington’s Michael Gligic winning the Web.com Tour’s Panama Championship. One more Top 10 finish and he’s on the PGA Tour next season. Gligic, 29, was crowned Canadian Player of the Year at the 2018 Mackenzie Tour PGA Tour Canada’s Freedom 55 Financial Championship at Highland Country Club … Childcan is again the F55F Championship’s official charity in 2019. This year’s tournament is scheduled for Sept. 9-15 at Highland CC. The 2018 tournament raised $40,000 for Childcan, which raises funds to provide responsive and compassionate support services to families facing the journey through childhood cancer – from diagnosis, through treatment, to recovery or bereavement. Part of that fundraising effort involved the 1st annual BDO Million Dollar Shootout, which returns in the same format this year, according to tourney committee chair Justin Wismer …

John Gibbons. Photo: Toronto Blue Jays.

Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Ray Bourque and former Blue Jays manager John Gibbons have been added to the head table of the April 1 Start.ca London Sports Celebrity Dinner. Tickets are available at ldnsportsdinner.com … With the Fanshawe Falcons women’s and men’s curling teams winning OCAA titles on Sunday, the school has a new record for most provincial championships in a single season with eight. The previous record of six was set in 1978-79, 1987-88 and 2017-18. The Falcons have also captured 20 overall medals this season, tying the 2017-18 school record for most medals in a season … Falcons guard Falcons guard Chris Parker of Toledo, Ohio has joined the OCAA 1,000 points club in only three seasons … He’s still in the honeymoon stage – we’ll give him that – but when will Jays’ new skipper Charlie Montoyo stop blowing sunshine up our noses? Last week he said Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez “could become Cy Young candidates if they come back to where they used to be.” The Stroman claim is ridiculous. Big-league hitters have figured him out. And besides, he’s the Kim Kardashian of MLB @mstrooo6. Sanchez has Cy Young stuff, but he is snake bitten with injuries. It’s going to be a long season, Blue Jays fans …

Roberto Osuna. Photo: Houston Astros.

Houston Astros skipper A.J. Hinch has handed the closing role to Roberto Osuna, and rightfully so. He’s the best man for the job, by far, in the Astros’ bullpen, and is one of the game’s best closers … Bobsledder Kristen Bujnowski of Mt. Brydges and pilot Christine de Bruin captured silver at the World Cup two-woman race in Lake Placid, N.Y. last Friday. Bujnowski, a Western U. grad, now lives and trains in Calgary … On Coach’s Corner Saturday night, Don Cherry said this feat will never be seen again. “He gets the shutout and he gets the winning goal,” Cherry said of St. Thomas Stars goalie Anthony Hurtubise. Friday night at Joe Thornton Community Centre in St. Thomas, the Stars beat the Komoka Kings in double overtime, 1-0. Hurtubise, 20, of Sarnia shut out the Kings in regulation time, turning away 27 shots. With 1:12 left in the second OT frame, he made a save then fired the puck the length of the ice into an empty net for the victory. Watch the video here … … And finally, on this day in 1965 the NFL ruled it would begin using six officials during its games. They still can’t get all of their calls right, but they’re way ahead of any umpiring crew I’ve seen.

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

Reed On Sports January 21, 2019

It wasn’t his best comeback win, but it was amazing just the same and vintage Tom Brady Sunday night as the New England Patriots punched yet another ticket to the Super Bowl with a 37-31 overtime win against the favoured Kansas City Chiefs. Brady finished 30-for-46 with 348 yards, one TD and two interceptions. The Patriots’ defense, coupled with the TD drive with just over two minutes to play in regulation, and then in OT a Rob Gronkowski catch and Rex Burkhead rush put New England into the Super Bowl for the ninth time in two decades. Brady’s passing was a thing of beauty and what we’ve come to expect from the 41-year-old all-time great pivot. Watching him at this stage of his career is like watching Gretzky before he retired, but better. Brady is still at the top of his game. Don’t ever miss an opportunity to watch him play. We won’t see another like him, ever … South Lions standout QB Ethan Martin will play football for Steve Snyder’s Queen Gaels. The three-peat Bob Gooder Award winner as the city’s top high schooler joins the Mustangs former offensive coordinator in Kingston. Snyder, of course, went undefeated in two seasons, minus Laval’s Vanier Cup win in 2018, as offensive coordinator with the Western Mustangs … Four Russian bobsledders, including Alexander Zubkov, who carried the Russian flag at the 2014 Olympics, have been banned from the sport until December 2020 for doping at the Sochi Games. It speaks volumes about your sports culture when your flag bearer is caught with PEDs in his system … How much does Tiger Woods move the pro golf needle? News of his 2019 debut at this week’s PGA Farmers Insurance Open at his old haunt, Torrey Pines, overshadowed every other element of the sport. Woods has won this tourney seven – yes, seven – times … If you’re trying to find a chink in Matt Kuchar’s armour, don’t waste your time. His happy-go-lucky demeanour is the real deal. Inside, though, he is as competitive as Tiger. He has a simple swing, is solid six inches between the ears and is a young 40. Expect him to be a top-20 finisher for another five years. It is difficult, though, to imagine that before his two recent wins, including a Sony Open victory, he had gone 115 starts without a victory on tour … London’s Maddie Szeryk has been named to Golf Canada’s Team Canada Young Pro squad for 2019. A recent grad from the Texas A&M Aggies program, Szeryk won during her professional debut (following Symetra Tour Q-School) January 9 at the Cactus Tour’s Wildfire Golf Club tournament in Scottsdale, AZ … In an age when pro tennis barely moves the needle, it’s sad to see a star like Andy Murray hang ‘em up. Just 31 years old, Murray lost in the opening round of the Australian Open last week. The real story, other than his probable retirement, is that he played on a surgically repaired right hip that left the star struggling to pull on his socks. He’ll decide soon whether or not to undergo another hip surgery … Yankees great Mel Stottlemyre, who died Jan. 13 at age 77, was baseball royalty. Even when his son, Todd, pitched for the Blue Jays, you could sense that this family was special. Mel was a five-time all-star and three-time 20-game winner who filled the role of pitching coach for a decade in the Bronx under manager Joe Torre. Mel Jr. is the Marlins’ pitching coach … Can’t wait to see the new movie about Terry Sawchuck’s life. The Winnipeg native was one of the best goalies in the 1950s and ‘60s, with 103 shutouts. He had more stiches in his face, though – 400 to be exact – and died in 1970 at age 40. He shared a house with and got into a fight with Rangers teammate Ron Stewart, was rushed to a hospital and had his gallbladder was removed, but internal injuries led to death from a pulmonary embolism. The biopic will open March 1 in Toronto and Vancouver …

IBL Commissioner John Kastner

Intercounty Baseball League commissioner John Kastner was proud of the IBL’s release of its 100th season anniversary book in 2018. Now, the league boss has inked his own book about an off-diamond star. Kastner is general manager of the Stratford Perth Museum, which houses a Justin Bieber exhibit. The Biebs is a Stratford native, whose exhibit has drawn thousands of visitors from across the globe. The new book, Justin Bieber: Steps to Stardom, features 100 photos of the artist’s memorabilia. Pre-orders at stratfordperthmuseum.ca, chapter.indigo.ca and bluemoonpublishers.com/Justin-Bieber are now accepted in advance of the book’s release to bricks and mortar retailers this spring … Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry collected his 5,000th career assist Friday night versus Brooklyn Nets. Only nine other active players have reached that milestone: Chris Paul; LeBron James; Tony Parker; Rajon Rondo; Russell Westbrook; Dwayne Wade; John Wall; Jose Calderon; and Raymond Felton … For a fifth year from Sept. 12-15, Highland CC will host the Mackenzie Tour PGA Tour Canada’s season-ending championship. The event is a huge success by every measure except attendance. Barring a miracle, that won’t change. After all, this is London we’re talking about. Not the Knights? Forget about attendance …

Photo: Facebook.

Ringette Canada says enrollment in the sport is at an all-time high of almost 31,200 participants. Ringette Ontario lists more than 75 local associations and more than 9,500 registered players, 2,600 coaches, 600 referees and countless volunteers. The London Lynx ringette program is one of the province’s strongest. There are seven Londoners on this year’s Western Mustangs squad, yet the team lives in almost anonymity on and off campus. Read my story here about the Mustangs ringette program … London has lost one of its community staples: the high performance rowing centre at Fanshawe Lake – at least as it relates to our national rowing team. Rowing Canada has selected North Cowichan, B.C. as the home of its national training centre. Read the release here … And finally, this is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Dave Zirin, in his 2010 Sports Illustrated story, wrote that Dr. King “understood with remarkable acuity the political and symbolic power of sports. He understood that the athletic field – and athletes – could be a powerful megaphone for civil rights and racial justice.” How right they both were.

Ed. Note: Reed On Sports returns Feb. 19 as LondonOntarioSports.com and our sister publication, LondonOntarioGolf.com, prepare to announce our two major awards. Watch for the announcement of the 2019 London Ontario Golf Heart Award on Tuesday, Feb. 5, and the Jeffrey Reed Courage Award on Tuesday, Feb. 12.

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

Reed On Sports January 14, 2019

We’re back after a long Christmas holiday season. Miss us? Here we go … Once again, Peter Inch is proving he is no hack when it comes to promoting curling and concurrently growing the game in London and area.

Peter Inch. Photo: Curling Canada.

Fresh from his fall 2018 induction into the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame, Inch is once again leading the local curling community in its bid to host the 2020 World Financial Group Continental Cup. Curling’s version of golf’s Ryder Cup pits Team North America against Team World.

This week, all of the reigning World and Olympic curling champions are competing in the WFG Continental Cup from January 17-20 in Las Vegas.  In mid-February 2017, Curling Canada announced London as the 2018 Continental Cup host. Curling Canada communications director, Al Cameron, said there is “no firm date” set to announce the 2020 host. Read my story here …Sad to know former London Knights great Rick Nash has retired after 15 years in the NHL because of concussion symptoms. He was the Hunter brothers’ first pick in 2000 when Mark and Dale purchased the junior club. He went first overall in the NHL draft after his time in London 2000-02. And despite a long pro career, he’s only 34 years old with his whole life ahead of him. We wish him well. Concussions always have been and always will be a part of sports. But it’s sad all around when concussions claim another athlete … No disrespect to the Hunter brothers ownership group, but it’s about time a Knights hall of fame has been established. Retired unis in the rafters were a no-brainer. So was the formation of the Don Brankley London Knights Hall of Fame, carrying the name of their late, beloved long-time trainer … Walt McKechnie (1965-1967), Dennis Maruk (1972-1975), Dave Lowry (1982-1985), Tim Taylor (1986-1989), Chris Taylor (1988-1992), and Rob Schremp (2003-2006) represented the Class of 2019 – the inaugural class – inducted into the Knights hall …

Kevin Hancock. Photo: Twitter.

As was expected, the Knights picked up some firepower before another run at the Memorial Cup. This time it’s overage scorer Kevin Hancock. The former Owen Sound Attack centre, 20, came to London with 31 goals, 62 points in 37 games – third in the OHL. In just five games with the Knights, he has three goals, five assists … Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson said his arrest in 2018 stems from him falling off the wagon after almost two years of sobriety. The former London Knight said he began drinking again when feeling the effects of anxiety, depression and alcoholism, demons he has dealt with since age 18. The league suspended him for 18 games after his June 16 arrest … Has anyone seen the Western Mustangs media relations office? It has gone MIA – it’s only a shadow of what it used to be. The Mustangs deserve a hell of lot more than that … What on earth is New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman smoking? When assessing the signing of former Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki – a five-time all-star who has not suited up since July 2017 because of injuries – Cashman said, “It doesn’t mean we’re going to get vintage Troy Tulowitzki from the Colorado Rockies years when he was there, but it’s exciting to dream on what he might be capable of when his health is there on a consistent basis because he was quite the player for quite a long time.” Keep dreaming, Cash … Yanks pitcher CC Sabathia, 38, had a blockage in one artery to his heart, and on Dec. 11 had a stent inserted to clear it. He’s been given the green light to resume workouts … The Tampa Bay Rays will reduce seating at Tropicana Field to between 25,000 and 26,000 this season – about 5,000 less than 2018. What’s more surprising is that the Miami Marlins finished dead last in MLB attendance last season with an average of 10,013. Tampa Bay averaged 14,258. Maybe there is hope for an Expos revival …

Russell Martin. Photo: Twitter.

I was a big fan of Russell Martin’s leadership, but not a fan of his on-field performance. The Jays have traded the Montreal native to the LA Dodgers for two promising prospects, 19-year-old shortstop Ronny Brito and RHP Andrew Sopko. Smart move. Martin hit only .194 over 90 games last season, so you knew the end was near. He turns 36 in February – old as dirt for a big-league catcher. Yes, he can play many positions, but below MLB average in the skills department. It’s on the bench and in the clubhouse where Martin shines. Expect him to be a big-league manager one day … Former London Majors hurler and Detroit Tigers farmhand Mike Lumley of the highly-successful London Badgers baseball program has been named to London Mayor Ed Holder’s Mayor’s New Year’s Honour List … Speaking of the Majors, the Intercounty Baseball League team can do a much better job with social media, especially during the off season when they should keep the club visible to current and prospective fans and sponsors … Congratulations to the 2019 Best of London Golf Awards winners, as presented by our sister publication, LondonOntarioGolf.com. Click here for the official news release … Still confused about the newly-updated rules of golf? Click here for a rundown of some of the key rules changes … Congrats to former Canadian amateur champ and Champions Tour winner Rod Spittle, and long-time college golf coach Herb Page, both headed to the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame … Choosing Ireland’s Padraig Harrington as captain of the 2020 Team Europe Ryder Cup team was a no-brainer. He’s a proven winner, with three major championships on his resume. He’s a proven winner in team formats, beginning with junior golf. He has Ryder Cup vice-captain experience. And he’s beloved by the Euros. Harrington, 47, has competed in six Ryder Cups. He’s currently nursing a broken bone in his wrist and is eyeing a February return to the links. The Wilson Golf ambassador has plenty of game left to compete against the young guns on the PGA Tour and European Tour … Lindsey Vonn, already the World Cup record holder, needs five victories to break the record of 86, set by Swede Ingemar Stenmark … No surprise that the Montreal Alouettes signed Laval Rouge et Or QB Hugo Richard. The 6’2” pivot led Laval to a 34-20 win over the Western Mustangs in November – it was the 24-year-old’s second U Sports title …

George Bell. Photo: Twitter.

The 41st annual St. Thomas Sports Spectacular goes Jan. 24 at St. Anne’s Centre. Former Blue Jays great George Bell, former Maple Leafs netminder Mike Palmateer and Canadian tennis legend Daniel Nestor are among the head table guests. Founded in 1978 by Father Pat Costello, the annual event has raised over $500,000 for St. Thomas Special Olympics, and the Elgin Association for Community Living. Ticket are available at stthomassportsspectacular.com … And finally, on this day in 1951 the first NFL Pro Bowl was played in L.A. As far as all-star games go, this is one of the most entertaining. Players still make contact, unlike the NHL all-star game. This year’s game goes Jan. 27 at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium.

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

Reed On Sports December 10, 2018

For the basement bargain price of $650 million, Seattle now has an NHL franchise, to play during the 2021-22 season. That’s a steal as far as big-league franchising rights go. And how about the Seattle Americans, to provide fodder for a hoped-for rivalry with the Vancouver Canucks? … What the hell is wrong with the London Lightning, and London Nationals? Both seemed invincible, especially at home. The Bolts lost their second-straight home game Sunday at Budweiser Gardens, this time falling to the K-W Titans, 123-97. K-W scored 41 points in the fourth quarter. As for the Western Jr. B hockey Nats, after starting the season 7-0 and then 10-1, they’ve dropped four straight games and have fallen to 19-8 thanks to a 6-2 loss to Chatham on Sunday …

Colin Kaepernick. Photo: Facebook.

The Washington Redskins, without a quarterback, turned down the idea of bringing in blacklisted pivot Colin Kaepernick. Both Skins QBs, starter Alex Smith and backup Colt McCoy, broke their legs. Colt had surgery last Tuesday after fracturing his right fibula in a 28-13 loss to Philadelphia last Monday night.  Smith broke his leg in November. The club said turning down Kaepernick was strictly a football decision, given the time of year. But no one is buying it. Smells like collusion to me … How ‘bout those Cowboys? Dallas is trending in the right direction with a huge 29-23 OT win last night over the Eagles. Dak Prescott threw a third TD pass to Amari Cooper on the first OT possession. They’re 8-5, Philadelphia and Washington 6-7 … Orlando Steinauer is the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ 26th head coach, taking over for June Jones who will remain as the team’s associate coach and offensive co-ordinator. The Tabbies said they made the move because Steinauer was a much sought-after coach. This move makes sense, and it is typical of a CFL club that follows its own unique path. It’s part of what makes the CFL so great and so Canadian … On the heels of this announcement, long-time coach Jerry Glanville, on the job as Tabbies’ defensive coordinator this past season, says he won’t return for a sophomore season due to personal reasons. Steinhauer wanted him on board, but Glanville declined the offer …  Jack Wallace had two goals and an assist, Josh Sweeney added two helpers as the U.S. edged Canada 5-4 Saturday at Western Fair Sports Centre to win gold at the 2018 Canadian Tire Para Hockey Cup. It’s the fifth gold medal in a row for the Americans, who have topped the podium at seven of the 12 editions of the tournament dating back to 2007. Can you say dynasty? … Retired Canadian weightlifter Christine Girard received her 2012 Olympic Gold and 2008 Olympic Bronze medals at an Ottawa ceremony last week, both upgrades following the stripping of medals from Maiya Maneza of Kazakhstan and Svetlana Tsarukaeva of Russia for use of banned substances. If this keeps up, we’ll have to establish a separate Olympic medal ceremony every year when disgraced athletes are forced to give up their medals …

Evan Bouchard. Photo: London Knights.

No surprise that London Knights defenceman Evan Bouchard, and forwards Alex Formenton and Liam Foudy were chosen to attend Team Canada’s World Junior camp. This is a trio of thoroughbreds. Final roster is expected to be named Dec. 14. Canada will play three exhibition games before opening the tourney against Denmark on Boxing Day in Vancouver … Canada’s men’s basketball team has clinched its first spot in the FIBA World Cup in almost a decade. China hosts the tournament next Aug. 31-Sept. 15 … Sad to see Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer stepping down. Headaches caused by an arachnoid cyst in his brain have worsened, and the program has been riddled with personal issues, all wearing on him. Meyer has an 82-9 record at the school … There are big-time plays in curling, and then there is the runback double from skip Jennifer Jones yesterday at Estevan, Sask. Which gave here team a bye into the 2021 Road to the Roar Pre-Trials, and qualified them for a World Curling Federation World Cup event in 2019-20. Jones’ ninth-end runback double scored three and gave her a record fourth Canada Cup curling victory with an 8-5 win over Kerri Einarson in Sunday’s final … Social curlers have always been hopped up on hops, but a new bonspiel at the Wiarton and District Curling Club will take that fun to another level. A sold-out January 26 Bongspiel, the first of its kind in Canada, will combine curling and cannabis. Organizers Ted Ratcliffe of Wiarton and Grant Nicholson of Owen Sound will provide music and munchies for the 16 four-curler teams. Alas, curlers won’t toke on the sheets, since smoking is banned indoors. Outdoor toking only, please. No word yet if Sean Penn, in character of course, will throw the first rock …

Brooke Henderson. Photo: Jeffrey Reed/LondonOntarioGolf.com.

The LPGA Tour still represents as fringe sport as far as the American TV viewing audience is concerned, but the 2019 version of the loop will include 33 official events – including four new stops – plus the biennial Solheim Cup, will visit 15 states and 12 countries and will offer a record $70.55 million US in official prize money. Australia, the Republic of Korea, Florida and Michigan will host new tourneys … You can’t drive on Highway 401 without seeing a billboard ad for a local golf course, but those days are in jeopardy now that the Tourism-Oriented Directional Signing (TODS) program fees have risen from $300 a year to $750. Canadian TODS Ltd. manages the program under supervision of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sport and the Ministry of Transportation. One golf course teed off at the cost jump is Dutton Meadows GC in Dutton. They’re opting out. Expect more to leave … On this day 1972 the American League adopted the designated hitter rule in a three-year experiment. We all know how that turned out. Personally, I am a baseball traditionalist who believes in pitchers taking their turns at bat. But it disgusts me to see pitchers go to the plate with less enthusiasm than the Grinch at Christmas. Fergie Jenkins was never cheated at the plate, and he is a Hall of Famer … And finally, may you and yours have a very Merry Christmas, and a happy, healthy, prosperous New Year. Thanks for all of your support this year. Reed On Sports returns on Monday, January 14.

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

Reed On Sports December 3, 2018

They call it the Sweet Science, but a call for a ban of boxing which has gained momentum in recent years has gathered more fodder with the latest tragedy in the ring. Canadian boxer Adonis Stevenson, 41, has been upgraded from critical to stable condition although he remained in an induced coma after being knocked out on Saturday in a light heavyweight bout in Quebec City. Ukranian Oleksandr Gvozdyk ended the fight with an 11th-round knockout to take his WBC title … Why are we surprised when hearing of yet another case of hazing and bullying? Two-time Stanley Cup winner Daniel Carcillo took to Twitter to call out the Sarnia Sting for allowing hazing during his junior hockey career. Carcillo said he was beaten with the sawed off paddle of a goalie stick, forced to sit on the shower floor while veterans urinated and spit tobacco on him, forced to bob for apples in a cooler filled with pizza, urine and spit, and stuffed into a bus washroom en route to play the London Knights. Some of Carcillo’s former Sting teammates have also come forward to speak about how the hazing affected their lives. Sports and hazing have always been linked. There’s no room for it, period – not now in our politically-correct society, and not ever …

Photo: Knights Twitter.

The Knights’ winning streak has hit 14 games after a 6-3 win over Sarnia Sting Sunday at the annual Teddy Bear Toss game. What I want to know is, who counted the 8,763 teddy bears? … Lost in the Knights’ streak is the fact the Ottawa 67’s lead the Eastern Conference East division with a 22-3-3 record. The Knights are first in the Western Conference Midwest at 20-4-2 … Do you think Leafs Nation eagerly awaits the return of forward Michael Nylander? He’ll rejoin his teammates Thursday versus Detroit Red Wings, after signing a six-year deal on Saturday … The pain lingers after the Mustangs’ Vanier Cup loss, but the OUA has not wasted any time releasing its 2019 football sked. Western opens at Laurier Aug. 25, then opens at home Sept. 2 versus Queen’s … Congrats to the CCH Crusaders senior boys football squad on another stellar season. After a 10-1 year and No. 2 national ranking, they lost to No. 1 Hamilton St. Thomas More, 26-9, at OFSAA on Nov. 26 at Ottawa … So, the Atlanta Braves give Josh Donaldson a one-year, $23-million deal. A drop in the bucket for the club, but a make-or-break season for the former Jays third baseman who is an old 33-year-old, thanks to a series of injuries that limited him to 52 games, .246 BA, 8 HR, 23 RBI in 2018 … The Para Hockey Cup continues at Western Fair Sports Centre through Saturday’s gold medal game at 4 p.m. Canada captured gold seven years ago. Team U.S.A. has won the last four tourneys … Southern Ontario will be the backdrop in February for a three-game cross-border hockey series between Canada’s National Women’s Team and the U.S. Women’s National Team. The series kicks off Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. at Budweiser Gardens. This is a rivalry as strong as there is in sports. Expect some fireworks at The Bud … How good is Jon Rahm? The Spaniard, 24, wraps up his sophomore season on the PGA Tour with three more wins worldwide for six career over two years. Yesterday, tourney host Tiger Woods handed him the trophy and winner’s cheque at the Hero World Challenge … Wonder if Woods will hang around as long as ex-beau Lindsey Vonn? The American has announced she’ll extend her farewell tour into next season. Let’s hope she doesn’t enter one race too many. It’s much different crashing and burning on a slope than it is on an undulating green … Good NFC East Monday nighter: 6-5 Washington at 5-6 Philadelphia. The Cowboys lead the division at 7-5, with the Giants in the basement at 4-8 … Tom Brady passed for 311 yards and a TD, while Bill Belichick picked up win No. 250 (including playoffs) as the New England Patriots topped the Minnesota Vikings 24-10 on Sunday. Brady now has 579 TD passes (including playoffs), tying him with Payton Manning for most all-time. Brady also has 508 regular-season TD passes, tying him with Brett Favre on the all-time list. Manning is first with 539, and Drew Brees second 518 … The Patriots are now 9-3 after starting the season 1-2 … And finally, on this day 1968 Major League Baseball lowered the pitcher’s mound from 15 to 10 inches after the Year of the Pitcher. The strike zone was also reduced to span from the top of the knees to the armpits. Fast forward to 2019, and MLB umpires still can’t make correct calls on balls and strikes.

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

Reed On Sports November 26, 2018

Just how good were the Laval Rouge et Or? And just how tough is it to win in their house? The Western Mustangs had not lost a game in two seasons, and steamrolled over their opponents this season en route to a second-straight Vanier Cup championship game.

Greg Marshall

But the Rouge et Or virtually shut down the mighty Mustangs from the opening kickoff, allowing a predictable rushing TD by Cedric Joseph to open the second quarter, and a TD pass from Chris Merchant midway through the fourth quarter. This one was never in doubt. Indeed, the Mustangs do bleed… Laval have won a record 10 Vanier Cup championships in 12 appearances over 24 years. The Mustangs have won six times in 14 appearances … Classy interview with Mustangs head coach Greg Marshall post-game. He really does care about his players as people first … Make it 12 straight wins for the London Knights. Ho hum, the Hunter brothers are continuing their dynasty. They’re the Mustangs of the Canadian Hockey League. People want to play in London, where a big-league template is used on a smaller scale … The Grey Cup curse is over for the Calgary Stampeders. Terry Williams’ record 97-yard punt-return touchdown on a slick Commonwealth Stadium turf led Calgary to a 27-16 win over the Ottawa Redblacks. This was Calgary’s third straight appearance in the championship game. They lost 39-33 in overtime to Ottawa in 2016, then 27-24 to the Toronto Argonauts in 2017. It’s the Stampeders’ eighth Grey Cup. QB and CFL MVP Bo Levi Mitchell was the game MVP with 2 TD passes … It’s time to rethink spending billions to host the Olympic Games. Calgary City council just voted not to support the city hosting the 2026 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games. Without $2.2 billion from the feds and the province, it was not possible to upgrade Calgary’s aging sports facilities. There comes a time when you have to ask yourself, is it worth it? What’s the return? More times than not, the Olympic Games do not bring a financial return …The pipeline between Toronto and Houston continues: the Blue Jays have dealt SS Aledmys Diaz, a former NL all-star, to the Astros for triple-A starter, RHP Trent Thornton. In 22 games with the Fresno Grizzlies, Thornton posted a 4.42 ERA with 112 Ks in 124.1 innings. The Jays need pitching, and must see something in Thornton. Obviously, Diaz and his .263 BA and 18 HR weren’t part of their future. Expect a lot of shuffling within the Jays camp. The roster is a mess and there’s no end in sight … Jays farmhand Griffin Conine has been suspended 50 games to begin the 2019 season for testing positive for the banned stimulant ritalinic acid. The outfielder is the son of former MLB outfielder Jeff Conine … Adrian Beltre carved out a hall-of-fame career, yet he’s a relatively unknown superstar.

Adrian Beltre. Photo: Facebook.

The Texas Rangers third basemen has hung up his cleats after 21 season, 477 home runs and 3,166 hits. His 2,759 games at the hot corner rank second only to Brooks Robinson. He’s the first Dominican to reach the magic 3,000 hits mark … It’s hard to think of David Price as the AL comeback player of the year. But the Red Sox hurler earned that honour with his 16-7, 3.58 ERA record over 30 starts. And, of course, he was a key part of the club’s World Series victory. In 2017 suffering with elbow inflammation, Price went 6-3 with a 3.38 ERA in 11 starts. Atlanta reliever Jonny Venters is NL comeback player …. Now, let me get this straight. The curling foursome of Jamie Koe, Ryan Fry, Chris Schille, and DJ Kidby was kicked out of the Red Deer Curling Classic for “unacceptable behaviour” that included being “extremely drunk.” They were thrown out from the World Curling Tour event and forced to forfeit their final match. Wouldn’t this type of behaviour eliminate just about every foursome competing at rinks from coast to coast in Canada? Fry says he’s taking time off from the game to focus on his “growth and self-improvement”  … Fanshawe Falcons midfielder Chelsea Zavitz aims to return to the national bronze-winning squad in 2019 if she can stay away from injuries. After suffering multiple concussions, she played this season after tearing her medial collateral ligament (MCL) and tibial collateral ligament (TCL) in her right knee, and her right hamstring, all during an indoor game last February. Read about Zavitz here … Kudos to hockey legend Ken Dryden for his crusade for concussion awareness. The former Habs and Team Canada 1972 netminder was spot on when stating there is “plenty of awareness. The problem is sports decision-makers who don’t take this awareness and act.” …

Chelsea Zavitz. Photo: Fanshawe Falcons.

Great move by the Canadian Premier League in adding Ontario Soccer’s League1 Ontario to its operations. The link strengthens the association between Ontario Soccer and the CPL, and provides stronger player development … As expected, FC London’s Mike Marcoccia is the League1 Ontario coach of the year. He guided both the men and women this season – read about his season here … London’s Ellie Szeryk, 17, who lives in Allen, TX returns for a second year to Golf Canada’s 2019 junior squad. Szeryk is the 2018 Ontario Women’s Amateur champion … Since 2013, the Mackenzie Tour PGA Tour Canada has given back to its event communities to the tune of $4.1 million. It surpassed $1 million this year, in part thanks to $40,000 raised by the Freedom 55 Financial Championship at Highland CC for Childcan … You can’t make this stuff up. The PGA Tour is heading to Japan for the Zozo Championship in 2019. The tourney is backed by Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and his fashion website Zozotown. Maezawa was announced this year as the first commercial passenger to attempt a flight around the moon … Sarnia, Ont.’s Tall Ship Celebration, slated for Aug. 9-11, 2019, will share dates with the city’s Artzscape by the Bay and Borderfest Music Festival events. More than 100,000 people visited Sarnia for its last Tall Ship festival. Smart move by the City to combine the three for more marketing punch … Nice to see Detroit Tigers legend Willie Horton speaking about the importance of community at a recent Windsor fundraising lunch for fighting poverty. Horton was a member of the 1968 Tigers who helped unite Detroit during a time of social unrest … The NFL just pulled its scheduled Chiefs-Rams game from Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium due to poor field conditions, but a week later announced the venue would host an NFL game in 2019. It will be the third contest of a contract signed in 2016 … Meanwhile, the CFL is close to signing an agreement to forge relationships with the eight-team semi-pro Liga de Futbol Americano. CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie says there are plans to bring the best players from Mexico to the CFL, and to send Canadian players to Mexico to develop skills up to par with the CFL. Says here it’s a waste of time.

Reed On Sports is published each Monday morning. 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.