Reed On Sports

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Reed On Sports October 15, 2018

Ho, hum, another record for Tom Brady, who last night in the New England Patriots’ come-from-behind win over previously-undefeated Kansas City became the first QB to reach 200 regular-season wins in the NFL. The Pats edged the Chiefs in a 43-40 shootout at Gillette Stadium. The 43 points are a season-high for New England. They won at the final gun with a 28-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal. Brady, 41, completed 24-of-35 passes for 340 yards and a touchdown.

Jessie Fleming

Whenever you have a chance to watch him, do it. He’s the best to ever play the game. Period … London’s Jessie Fleming was named Player of the Match in yesterday’s Team Canada 7-0 win over Panama at CONCACAF, putting the Canadians into next summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019. Canada now plays Team USA in the CONCACAF final. They beat Jamaica, 6-0 … Can we just allow the Western Mustangs football squad to play in the Vanier Cup right now? Following their national championship season in 2017, the Stangs seem unstoppable. They’ve allowed only 76 points in seven games during their 7-0 run, and have scored 338 points. Both totals are miles above anyone else in the supposedly-strong OUA. Next up for Western: the last regular-season game this Saturday versus 4-3 Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawks. It’s Western University’s Homecoming. Good luck to Laurier. This one will be a blowout … It’s going to be an exciting season for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams at Fanshawe College. The women expect to challenge for a national title – read that story here. And the men expect to challenge the OCAA’s best for a provincial title, with a national title just over the horizon – read that story here

Retief Goosen

No offense to Retief Goosen, but the World Golf Hall of Fame just may be the weakest class amongst any sports hall. The South African qualified for selection according to the golf hall’s criteria, but his credentials are weak. He has just seven victories on the PGA Tour, including the 2001 and ’04 U.S. Opens. Sure, he has collected 33 wins around the world, but how does he rank as an all-time great? Other members of the Class of 2019 are three-time major winner Jan Stephenson; retired Augusta National chair Billy Payne; LPGA charter member Peggy Kirk; and disabled golfer Dennis Walters … Say what you want about the video of Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka engaged in friendly banter as the latter was congratulated for his PGA Tour Player of the Year award. Fact is, they almost came to blows in the Team Europe team room following the Ryder Cup. Golf insider Tim Rosaforte says so. So does long-time golf writer James Corrigan. Credibility is everything to my two fellow golf writers. I believe them – no matter how much Koepka denies it … How ‘bout those London Nationals? They’re 8-1 to begin their season. A big reason for the great start is netminder Zachary Springer. In seven games he has allowed only eight goals with a 1.14 GAA and two shutouts … What a shame that FC London’s season was decided by inadequate officiating. Then again, this is soccer where anything can happen on the pitch. In their playoff opener versus FC Darby in Whitby, the referee stopped play for an FC London substitution. A fourth official struggled to put up his board to show which number was leaving the game. When the London squad looked at the board, the head referee waved play on, allowing Darby to throw in the ball and head it into an empty net. London’s season ended Friday with a 3-2 loss to Vaughan Azzurri …

Oakridge Oaks golf squad

The biggest challenge in covering high school sports is getting past lousy media relations which often even makes obtaining a final score as difficult as root canal. Thankfully, the OFSAA boy’s golf host committee were on the ball with results. That was a breath of fresh air. The Oakridge Oaks finished 10th out of 20 teams, and were the first team in OFSAA history to field two female golfers in the tourney: Isabella Portokalis and Jillian Friyia … Speaking of media relations, the London Majors could use a boost in that department. As soon as their final pitch is thrown, they hibernate until the following spring. That’s not how you secure sponsors, engage fans and win new followers … Yours truly received his copy of the Intercounty Baseball League history book, and found it odd that, despite being listed as a freelancer who has covered the team, my more than 30 years of team involvement – media relations official, photographer, TV and radio play-by-play, scoreboard operator, pitcher and third base coach, and playing as a disabled athlete, just to name a few roles – received no mention when others were noted for their lesser roles. No sour grapes. No one is bigger than the team. Just making an observation …

Usain Bolt

So, eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt scored twice in his first start for the Central Coast Mariners soccer club in an A-League trial match. I’d rather watch Michael Jordan make a fool of himself hitting .202 in Class AA baseball … And finally, I recall when my beloved Pittsburgh Pirates won Game 7 of the 1979 World Series on a cold, damp night in Baltimore. It was October 17, and I wondered, even than as a naïve 17-year-old Bucs fan, why MLB would extend the season so long into the fall when teams in the northeast would face weather made for anything but a ballgame? And now, here we are on October 15 and we’re early into the pennant championships. God bless the almighty dollar.

Ed. Note: Reed On Sports returns Monday, October 29.

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

Reed On Sports October 1, 2018

If you’re near a TV set today then you won’t want to miss the National League tiebreakers, with Milwaukee at Chicago to decide the Central, and Colorado at LA to decide the West. Losers meet in the NL Wild Card game Tuesday at the loser of the Brewers-Cubs tilt … Wednesday’s AL Wild Card game will be a dandy, with the 97-65 Oakland A’s at 100-62 New York Yankees. Think the Bronx will be a wild place Wednesday night? …

Russell Martin

Not a fan of Russell Martin managing the Jays yesterday to end the season. One question: why? John Gibson should have been skipper one last time. Instead, the club pulled a publicity stunt. As if that was going to smooth things over with fans after a terrible season on and off the field … Watched Roberto Osuna pitch against the Blue Jays during the Houston Astros’ visit and thought he never looked better on the mound … My World Series picks: Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs … Watch video of the 2016 U.S.-won Ryder Cup post-championship media conference with Team Europe, and you’ll see why this tournament means much more to the Euros than the Americans. Yesterday’s media conference with a trounced U.S. team said a lot about that squad, who appeared cocky, arrogant and without remorse in defeat. There’s no way that team would have shed the tears shed by the Euros yesterday if they had won. Win or lose, the Ryder Cup is an important unifying event in Europe. In the U.S., it’s a big golf tournament. That’s the difference … Am I the only one who thought Tiger Woods was going to fall asleep when interviewed after his rounds? He needs a break from golf after this tourney and after having collected the elusive win No. 80, and getting his ass kicked in Paris, 0-4 … Time to put Phil Mickelson on the shelf, too, after now boasting the worst record in Ryder Cup history. A lot of people forget, though, that like Woods, Mickelson has battled substantial health issues, namely psoriatic arthritis, which saw him take a tumour-blocking drug to alleviate his pain …

Oakridge Oaks golf squad

The Oakridge Oaks are off to the OFSAA boys’ golf championship next week with two girls on their squad: Isabella Portokalis, who recently captured her second-straight London high school boys’ championship, and Jillian Friyia, will be in the field Oct. 10-11 at The Royal Ashburn GC in Oshawa. The Oaks captured the WOSAA  and TVRA Central titles last week … As good as the Western Mustangs football squad was last year during their Vanier Cup winning season, they appear to be just as solid this season at 5-0 after beating the Queens’ Gaels on the weekend, 26-23 … Fanshawe Falcons women’s basketball head coach Bill Carriere has made a bold prediction: he says his squad has what it takes to go all the way this year and win the Canadian championship. Read that story here

Looks like two wet days to start the OCAA golf championships hosted by the Falcons today through Wednesday at FireRock GC. Fanshawe’s Alyssa Stoddart has won three of her four tourneys entered this year …

Alyssa Stoddart

U Sports, the governing body of Canadian university athletics, has introduced its transgender policy that allows athletes to compete on teams which correspond with their gender identity … Legendary play-by-play commentator Bob Cole will call 10 NHL games during his 50th and final season on Hockey Night In Canada. Think about this: the Maple Leafs have never won the Stanley Cup during his run. Really puts things in perspective … That said, the Leafs’ top three centres of John Tavares, Auston Matthews and Nazem Kadri rival any threesome in the league. The team won’t come close to winning the Stanley Cup, but they will be fun to watch this season. Still a lot of work to do in drafting and developing players … Speaking of long runs, former London Knights star and future hall-of-fame Anaheim Ducks right winger Corey Perry is expected to miss five months after injuring his right knee during a warmup. It’s Perry’s first lengthy stay on the disabled list since he broke into the NHL in 2005 … Good Monday nighter with AFC West rivals Kansas City (3-0) at Denver (2-1) … If anyone had questions about this year’s version of the Tom Brady-led New England Patriots, then they were answered yesterday with the Pats’ 38-7 win over the Miami Dolphins at Foxborough. Brady threw for 274 yards and three TDs while the Pats’ defence held the Dolphins to just 56 rushing yards …

Roberto Clemente

And finally, yesterday marked the 46th anniversary of Roberto Clemente’s 3,000th and last hit with the Pittsburgh Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium. And today marks the 57th anniversary of Roger Maris’s 61st home run at Yankee Stadium.

Ed. Note: Happy Thanksgiving! Reed On Sports returns Monday, October 15.

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

Reed On Sports September 24, 2018

We’re back after a summer break. Without further adieu, here’s our take on the world of sports … Watching Tiger Woods win PGA Tour tourney No. 80 was witnessing history.  If you watched this kinder, gentler version of Tiger – Tiger version 2.0 – then you saw that he revered to putting the blinders on during the entire round. No hand slapping with the gallery. No chit chat with Rory McIlroy until he sealed the deal. Between the ropes, it was the old Tiger. This comeback ranks right up there with the all-time greats in sports … Another footnote from the Freedom 55 Financial Championship at Highland Country Club. LondonOntarioGolf.com was the only media publication on site offering complete, in-depth coverage of the event. Attendance was horrible, with just 300 attendees gathered around the 18th green on championship Sunday. Think back to the 2006 CN Canadian Women’s Open at London Hunt and Country Club, which drew 65,000, and fast forward to the 2014 CP Canadian Women’s Open, attracting only 16,500 to an LPGA Tour event. This is London, when it comes to sports: we love to play, but we hate to watch anything but the London Knights. Mustangs football homecoming, and London Lightning basketball (free tickets, great product) are the only exceptions. Big-time events like the Memorial Cup will always do well. But that’s it, folks. Maybe we aren’t a sports town after all … No sooner did English golfer Oliver Fisher fire the first 59 on the European Tour Sept. 21 did Toronto’s Drew Nesbitt shoot the magic number on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica – the first 59 on that loop. A 300-yard drive today is the norm. The golf ball is explosive off the face and great around the greens. And these guys are athletes first, golfers second. Seems 59 isn’t such a magic number anymore …

Angela Stanford

Great to see Angela Stanford win her first major at the Evian Championship. She is the epitome of class. Enjoyed speaking with her at the ’14 CP Women’s Open and at the Manulife LPGA Classic at Waterloo’s Grey Silo. She has plenty of game, on and off the links … Many questioned Damian Warner’s 2016 move to Calgary, but few questioned whether or not his two-year relationship with renowned track and field coach Les Gramantik would benefit the 28-year-old decathlete. Without a doubt, Gramantik offered better coaching than the London team, led by Gar Leyshon, can ever offer Warner. But in the end, there’s no place like home for the Londoner, who now chases titles at the 2019 World Championships and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, as well as a new world record along the way … The NBA will reset the shot clock to 14 seconds instead of 24 after offensive rebounds this season. Good move. Keeps the game moving … Max Domi’s minor, major and match penalties, plus suspension for remainder of pre-season after sucker punching Florida Panthers defenceman Aaron Ekblad is a complete joke. If the Montreal Canadiens forward had done that on the street, he’d be charged for assault and tried in court. Wait: isn’t that the NHL’s job? Apparently not. Hockey will always be a dangerous sport. Think Eric Lindros’s suggestion to ban checking in the NHL got more chuckles than considerations? You bet. Didn’t Max learn anything from his old man? … Seems every year as of late brings more optimism for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Tavares brings skills and leadership to a young squad in need of such talent. The Buds will be fun to watch this year, but they are still a long way from capturing Lord Stanley’s cup … Los Angeles Angels catcher Francisco Arcia started behind the dish for the Angels on Sept. 20 versus the Oakland Athletics, pitched two innings of relief and hit his sixth home run of the season in a 21-3 loss to the A’s. No other MLB player has that on his resume … Brent Poley has purchased Dorchester Golf Club from Andy and Kim Shaw. The executive-length 18-hole track has been renamed Dorchester Golf and Country Club (now that’s a stretch), and will play 12 holes in 2019 with three par-5s. A new clubhouse will house golf simulators. Will be interesting to see the transformation from a C-level golf course to a spiffed-up 12-hole layout with new amenities … Ryan Robinson has replaced Tony Von Richter as sports media liaison for the Western Mustangs …

Jade Kovacevic. Photo: Fanshawe Athletics.

Been on the links all summer long, and one thing is for certain: if you want to really get to know someone’s character, spend four hours with them playing a tough game under a hot sun …  Nominations are now open for the Jeffrey Reed Courage Award presented by LondonOntarioSports.com. Visit here for nomination details … What’s eating FC London women’s soccer star Jade Kovacevic? LondonOntarioSports.com has tried three times to connect with her for a feature interview. Each time she has returned our messages months later, never to follow up on a confirmed date. Trying to get Kovacevic for a sit-down interview has been tougher than trying to defend against her on the pitch. It’s not often a local standout athlete pulls the prima donna card … And finally, on this day 1934 Babe Ruth played his last game with the New York Yankees. Fourteen years later, he would die of throat cancer at age 53.

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.