A quote, and a little rant to start off, riffing off Wednesday's postgame in Cleveland:
"All in all, we played well. I look at it as a positive thing. We're growing as a team; we're getting better. Three weeks ago, we couldn't have come here and played that well."
And a week before this night and its four-point defeat, the Raptors were eight points better than the same Cavs - so what's up with that, coach? But I'm not picking on Sam here. He's just spinning, like all coaches do. It's more about this North American sportswriting addiction to the locker-room quote, these bromides and warmed-over cliches that we hustle down to get, wait around for, chicken-scratch into our notebooks or transcribe dutifully off the recorder. I did it for years.
Thanks to TV and now the Internet, though, pretty much everyone who cares knows what happened last night. Listening to some player or coach distill it into these little bits of nothing adds - nothing. More interesting is why it happened and how, but rarely is that explored in any depth. Even though it can be a bit pretentious, overall, I'll take the quoteless, British style of match reporting. Will Leitch said it best: access is overrated. And along these lines, here's one for you - via Kottke, former major league pitcher Don Carman's list of stock locker-room answers, favourites (and a few I've written down and banged into the keyboard) including:
7 If we stay healthy we should be right there
12 This team seems ready to gel
14 That All-Star voting is a joke
20 We've got to have fun
26 That's why they pay him _ million dollars
One last appeal. A little while back there was some fun here with the 50 Worst Things to Happen to Sports countdown. Now it's time to put together the answer list: The _ Best Things to Happen to Pro Sports. Any and all submissions appreciated. I've got nearly 20 on my own, but need more.
One last e-mailed Christmas carol. Nice work by Glenn from Arizona on this one:
On the twelfth day of Christmas,
my true Leafs sent to me
Twelve wingers in need of a drumming,
Eleven players and a Glenn Healy piping,
Ten forwards a-diving
Nine wankin' penalties
Eight goals a-milking,
Seven games a floundering,
Six players a-standing
A fiiiiiivvve game losing streak
Four yapping call ups
Three strung out forwards
Two blind defensemen,
And a broken hockey stick from an ash tree!
One last vidgame "think piece". Newsflash: video games like Madden NFL have enhanced kids' understanding of sports. And here we thought all it did was make them fat (Related: Toronto hosts Canada's NFL Madden finals, Jan. 20 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre).
One - make that two - last BCS bits. Usually I avoid US college football, but these are too good to pass up: Slate's Chris Suellentrop on Who's #2? and blog fave Neate Sager has his Top 5 Pointless Bowl Matchups, including the Whatchamacallit Bowl here in Toronto sometime in January, I forget when, I'll let Neate tell you:
5. INTERNATIONAL BOWL: WESTERN MICHIGAN vs. CINCINNATI, Jan. 6, Toronto There's nothing wrong with playing a bowl game in Toronto. It's just that a game that ranks below the Meineke Car Care Bowl in the NCAA pecking order should not be held just two days before the national championship game. If this game was held on Boxing Day where it belongs, no problem.
Alanah: You strike me as a player that enjoys playing to the fans and this bad luck might be getting to you in a personal way.
Alex Burrows: Yeah, a little bit for sure. I haven’t scored a goal in 28 games, but you’ve just got to keep working. Like I said, the bounces aren’t going our way right now.
Alanah, go back to Don Carman's list right now! I believe this one is No. 13. Or maybe 17.
Sports around town. Woodbine's closing day goes Sunday out at the Rexdale plant, with a first post of 12:40 p.m. And here's your Sovereign Award finalists.
Watching. Arsenal at Chelsea, 11 a.m., Sunday, Fox Sports. They're both through to the Champions League knockout round - nice try there, Gooners - but it's the postgame press conference, Wenger vs Mourinho, that might be the better matchup.
Pooch punts. Jinks the Vizsla is back. Went 3-2 last week, and the tail is wagging but good this time around. Actually, it's always wagging when it's kibble or cookie time:
DETROIT (-1 1/2) over Minnesota
NY JETS (-4) over Buffalo
WASHINGTON (+1 1/2) over Philadelphia
New England (-3 1/2) over MIAMI
Denver (+7 1/2) over SAN DIEGO