Tuesday, April 3, 2007

A Great Time to Be a Sports Fan

Yes, yes, yes I know, it's been awhile. But unfortunately until someone pays me to do this full-time (anyone interested?), the sports writing sometimes takes a backseat.

But now I'm back and ready to get back at it with a vengeance. And how could I not be back and excited with all that has happened and is going to happen. The last week or so and the upcoming weeks were and are one of the most exciting and most anticipated times of the year sports wise. It's like Arby's 5 for 5 deal and a Christmas in July furniture sale all rolled up in to one. So let's start at the start...


...Raptors win! Raptors win! Raptors win! Last Sunday the Toronto Raptors clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2001. It is really hard to believe it's been that long. In addition to being a nice achievement for the franchise, it is so nice to a young, good-natured, hard-working group of players being able to get to the playoffs. Plus they've continued winning despite losing Andrea Bargnani (hands down the Rookie of the Year and player I would most likely make a fool of myself in front of if I was to meet) to an appendectomy and Jorge Garbajosa (Garbo, as the kids call him) to a Theismann-esque broken leg/ankle. They are going to be a fun team to root for in the playoffs. I have them winning one series, they might make the second series close, but they're definitely winning one.

...Baseball been bery bery good to me. Yup, can't you just feel it in the air or something equally sappy like that. No matter what metaphor/analogy for baseball you use (spring/renewal/rebirth, father/son relationships) yesterday was opening day for Major League Baseball, and I won't lie to you, I'm excited. I realize that baseball and excitement aren't usually found in the same sentence unless it's something along the lines of, "Wow, I can't believe how little excitement there is in a baseball game," but what can I say, I enjoy the game. Yesterday the Toronto Blue Jays managed to beat the defending American League champion Detroit Tigers in extra innings. I'm interested to see if the Blue Jays can contend with the Yankees and the Red Sox in the AL East, especially since they really only have one proven and reliable pitcher. I will say this though, Frank Thomas is going to be the worst big man signing in Toronto since Hakeem Olajuwon. I don't think this is going to turn out well.

...The Final Two. NCAA March Madness came to an end last night with the Florida Gators repeating as national champions (this is pretty much unheard of now, as it hasn't happened in 15 years). The Gators defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes, in what could at best be described as a yawner of a game. About the only thing interesting about the game was watching Florida's transsexual forward Joakim Noah (no not realy, but come on, that's funny) play against OSU's man-child center Greg Oden (look at that picture and tell me with a straight face that he's 19 - I think he's pushing 40). One other interesting thing about the result was that Florida beat OSU in the BCS Championship (college football's championship game) only about 3 months ago.

...Curling. Yes, I'm going to write about curling. The women's World Championship recently ended and was won (dominated) by Kelly Scott of Canada. And as we speak (well as I type and you read) the men's World Championship is taking place in Edmonton and is being dominated by Canada's Glen Howard. Now normally I would have something clever/sarcastic to say about this...but I'm afraid I might get myself into trouble.

...Only interesting to people in the Regina area. The Regina Pats won their first playoff series since 1999 on Sunday night. It is almost impossible to believe that it has been 8 years since the Pats advanced past the first round... And that's really all I have to say about that. I probably should be more supportive than I am but I just can't get into junior hockey anymore. But still, good for them though.


...First of all, the NHL playoffs are only about a week or so away. I'm not going to say a lot about this now because once the playoffs start they are going to consume this space until about mid-July. The only thing I'll say about them now is that I hope the final Eastern Conference playoff spot comes down to Toronto vs. Montreal on the final Saturday of the season. I have no real vested interest in that game but if it meant the final playoff spot it could potentially be a game for the ages.

...The Masters. If I'm going to talk about curling, then golf should be a huge step up - especially The Masters. Even though I play golf I generally find watching it on TV to be slow and uninteresting. But The Masters tends to be a whole other story, it's just one of those things. The setting, the pressure, the tradition, the total lack of women admitted into the golf club - it all somehow makes you forget that you're watching other people play golf. So come this Sunday I'll be glued to the Masters. And just for the record, I think Augusta National's policy about the non-admittance of women is ridiculous, but what do you expect, the club is run by a guy named Hootie - he probably doesn't care much for black people either.

...The Riders. Sigh. Saskatchewan Roughrider training camp is only ___ days away. Who knows exactly, as the team's ever-informative website makes no mention of training camp or when it starts. I would guess towards the end of May. Have no fear though, the website was very informative regarding the cheer leading squad, which has apparently been selected and set already. Anyone else worried that the cheerleaders have started practicing long before the players will? I guess a 2 minute dance number takes longer to perfect than a hitch-screen that goes for half a yard (ah yes, Rider season, I remember now what this feels like - it's good to be back). Oh, just a quick FYI as well, it looks as though there are dudes on the cheer leading squad this year. If the Saskatchewan cheerleaders weren't the worst in the league before, this probably cements it. Hey, who knew my first Roughrider-related complaint would be about the cheerleaders - I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

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