Rainbows, Jobs and Image
A quartet of items for a Wednesday morning:
--Forget the notion of a boycott. The Sochi Olympics have become a gift-wrapped two weeks for those of us who support basic fairness for the gay and lesbian community, athletes or otherwise.
Russia, and Russians, can love their nasty little laws all they want. The rest of us can see it for what it is - dangerous hatred directed at an identifiable group - and use these Olympics to promote understanding and peace.
And isn't that supposed to be a major part of the Olympic mission?
These, from now on, should be the Rainbow Olympics. Imagine everywhere you turn next February seeing rainbow art, badges, pins and every imaginable representation of the international image for the gay/lesbian community.
Not a word would have to be spoken and the message will ring loud and clear. Nobody can stop you from wearing rainbow art.
The opening ceremonies will be a perfect place to start. Rainbow images everywhere.
Russia has invited this upon itself. The rest of the world should take advantage.
--You can dislike everything and anything about Alex Rodriguez and still feel some discomfort about the way in which his case has been prosecuted by Major League Baseball.
Getting A-Rod is one thing. Getting him fair and square is another.
The absurd five-game suspension to pitcher Ryan Dempster on Tuesday for quite obviously trying to hit Rodriguez is another in a series of small, incremental pieces of evidence that suggest MLB authorities will do anything to get their man, or in this case, allow anything to happen to him.
Vigilantism isn't justice. To be fair, Dempster's suspension isn't out of line with what pitchers often get in these situations, an inequity in the system given that at most Dempster will miss a start while a similar ban would knock a position player out for more actual games.
But baseball needed to at least try to give the impression it was being a little extra harsh on Dempster to battle against the impression that it will do almost anything to get A-Rod out of the game.
--John Herdman seems like a nice fellow and he's done some excellent work with the national women's soccer program.
But he's not perfect.
On Tuesday, Herdman did anything but kill speculation that English football authorities are looking at him to take over from the fired Hope Powell with that country's national women's team and he's awfully interested in the job.
"I'm going to keep doing what I do and if the English FA ring me up, it's my homeland, and if they say 'we need your help' I'm going to consider that," said Herdman in a TV interview.
That's what is being reported now in the U.K., that Herdman is open to an approach from the Football Association about Powell's job.
Starts to sound a little like John Farrell, doesn't it?
If this was just any normal time for Canadian women's soccer, that would be one thing. But there's a women's World Cup coming along in less than two years in Canada with games in six cities.
Now is not the time for Herdman to be flirting with other jobs and Canada's rivals.
He needs to say that loud and clear.
--It's fair to say the conversation around Phil Kessel changed somewhat with his performance during last spring's memorable playoff clash with Boston, and with Kessel apparently in improved physical shape this summer heading into a contract year, there's every chance he may finally become the consistently explosive player the Leafs (and Brian Burke) believed they were getting in 2009.
If that happens, or even if it doesn't, an eight-year deal in the $70 million range is in the offing, and all indications are that Kessel wants to stay in Toronto and that the Leafs are determined to keep him and pay him the huge money.
If that's the case, the Leafs need get this matter wrapped up before Christmas, rather than have it linger into next winter and close to the trade deadline.
Beyond that, Kessel's image in the city will be intriguing to watch, particularly with teammates like Joffrey Lupul and newly arrived David Clarkson focussed on making significant impacts on the local community.
To be as big as he can be, Kessel will ultimately need to step out beyond his shy personality and find something that allows him to make a mark beyond the arena.
Next week, for the third year, he's quietly hosting the Phil Kessel Golf Classic up at Turnberry Golf Club in Brampton with proceeds going to Right To Play, the widely respected international organization dedicated to advancing youth sports around the world.
The are foursomes still available (416-456-1064) and based on the reports out out of this year's Canadian Open, Kessel can really hit the little white ball and may be worth the price of admission on his own.
If he's going to stay in Toronto and be more than the guy who scores goals, and for those gigantic dollars he will have to be, last spring against the Bruins was the beginning. What happens this season, and what he's able to grow into outside the rink, will come next.