Boise State, the Browns and Other Notes
Nice to see they can play playoff baseball in the rain, one supposes. But between the downpour Sunday night in Denver and the bugs earlier in the post-season, it sure seems like baseball has made it clear it will meet its TV obligations no matter what nature of plague or weather system comes around.
Not sure if that produces good baseball. But it does mean we all have to know who Yorvit Torrealba is, and that's good to be a good thing, right?
Other Monday morning notes:
-- It's not clear whether the long NHL suspensions being handed down these days by Colin Campbell are really acting as a deterrent. But this much is true; there may have been a sea change in the way in which teams responds when one of their own is sat down, and the way in which players across the league are viewing violent incidents.
After the idiocy of Jesse Boulerice last week, there wasn't a Philly Flyer who rose to his defence. The coaching staff took him to task, the GM accepted the 25-game ban and you couldn't find a hockey player in the league willing to say "it's part of the game" or "these things happen sometimes" or "it's just an isolated incident."
Remember all the excuse makers for Todd Bertuzzi when he ended Steve Moore's career? If that mentality is changing, that will indeed mark progress. Then again, it's easier when it's Boulerice as opposed to say, Chris Pronger, so we'll see the next time a bigger name gets in hot water.
-- Made a huge mistake Sunday night when I turned off the Boise State-Nevada game - which was played on a very weird looking blue field, by the way - as it was tied 41-41 late in the second half thinking there would be no more scoring.
Oops. The game ended up 69-67 for Boise St. after four overtimes. Throw in Kentucky's OT upset of No. 1 ranked LSU on Saturday and it was a wacky weekend - again - in U.S. college football.
-- I said I would report back on a weekend road trip to Cleveland and the Dawg Pound to see the Browns and Dolphins. Having never been to Cleveland, I wasn't sure what to expect. Well, the downtown core was surprisingly lively and interesting, particularly the warehouse district, and there's certainly a sense that the city has intelligently rebuilt itself over the past decade. Cleveland Browns Stadium is terrific - you've gotta love the non-corporate name - and the atmosphere wasn't hostile or filled with drunken morons. In fact, where I was sitting, you could easily take your kids without fear of it turning ugly.
It helped, of course, that it was a gorgeous day. But the tailgating around the stadium is fun, the Browns play on grass - always preferable - and in Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow they have two fabulous offensive weapons. Derek Anderson, meanwhile, might keep Brady Quinn on the bench for a while, although there are more Quinn No. 10 jerseys in that stadium on a game day than for all the NFL backup quarterbacks in history combined.
The Browns are a team steeped in history, good and bad, that is worth watching, and Cleveland is a place worth visiting to watch them.
-- Is there a better place to be a sports fan these days than Boston? The Patriots are fabulous, the Red Sox may be going to the World Series again and the Celtics, after acquiring Kevin Garnett, are the talk of the NBA.
The Bruins, meanwhile, aren't a showcase team for the NHL. But at 3-2 after a western road trip, even the B's are doing alright.
-- The next time somebody sings the praises of an NHL player by giving you their assist totals, remember last week and the phantom assist the official scorer at the ACC was initially determined to give Mats Sundin against the Islanders to break Darryl Sittler's team record for career points.
Sundin never touched the puck on the play but was given a second assist. The official scorer, Peter Smeaton, only took away the point after being quizzed and questioned by the media, which under normal circumstances wouldn't have been paying the slightest attention to the veracity of a second assist.
This is not to denigrate the work of Mr. Smeaton. But they give away second assists in the NHL like candy at Hallowe'en, and the fact such a play is worth exactly as much as a goal is a total joke. The sooner the NHL goes to one assist per scoring play, the better.
-- Laugh if you want. But the goaltending of the L.A. Kings is a nightmare, and Andrew Raycroft would be better than anything they have. In Scott Clemmensen, the Leafs have a suitable NHL backup at a much more affordable price playing with the Marlies. If the Leafs can trade Raycroft west and get something useful for him - more than they got for Mikael Tellqvist, that is - then it'll be a feather in JFJ's hat.
Remember when the Leafs thought they could get Bryan Berard for Felix Potvin and knowledgable hockey people scoffed at the notion? Well, that deal happened, and if the Kings get desperate, the Leafs might be able to swing a helpful deal.
-- Here's an interesting idea from a senior, influential hockey voice. Instead of sending two teams to Europe to start the NHL regular season, what about sending 12 teams to six different cities for a week and thus making a bigger splash? It would certainly be much fairer than asking two teams to bear the burden on their own. You can bet Anaheim and L.A. won't be volunteering to go again any time soon.
-- Its good for the Argos and the Grey Cup if they can actually catch Winnipeg for first in the East and host the Eastern Final. But it sure doesn't say much for the league.
And can the Tiger-Cats end their season immediately? Please?