Saturday, October 06, 2007

Long Road to Ruin

So it's Saturday night, which for this Canadian-bred dude means watching Hockey Night in Canada. Leafs vs. Montreal. Doesn't get much better than that. I'm enjoying a close, well-played affair, tied 3-3 going into overtime. And suddenly...the NHL Center Ice feed cuts to the default DirecTV screen. WTF? I've had Center Ice for four or five years now, so I'm used to them cutting away immediately after a game ends. But obviously somebody at Center Ice got a little quick with the trigger finger tonight. After swearing a blue streak and checking to see if the game was moved to a different channel, I went to listen to the Leafs radio broadcast via NHL.com and fortunately was able to hear Tomas Kaberle score the OT winner on the power play. I pay a decent chunk of change to be able to watch stuff like that, so you can be sure I will fire off an angry email to Center Ice. I'm sure it was just human error, but dayamn! To put it in perspective for my Red Sox-lovin' friends, imagine if they cut away from the Sox-Angels game last night just before Manny Ramirez stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the ninth and hit the game-winning bomb. Exactly.

The win was the Leafs first of the season after dropping their first two to Ottawa, both by a goal. They've looked okay, not great, but not bad, either. The game winner was the Leafs' first of the season after going something like 0-20. New goalie Vesa Toskala has been excellent in his two starts, making huge saves in both games to keep the Leafs in it. Free agent signing Jason Blake, who scored 40 goals last year, hasn't had one yet, but he's looked good, bringing some much needed speed and grit up front. He started the first teams playing on the top line with Mats Sundin, but coach Paul Maurice reunited Sundin with fellow giants Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky in the second period tonight and they responded with two goals to tie the game. The Leafs are still taking a lot of needless penalties and they have problems with quick teams like Ottawa and Montreal, but overall, I'm pleased with the effort so far. Now if only the broadcasts don't cut out on me for the rest of the season.

Speaking of the Sox game last night, I tried valiantly to stay up to watch it all, but I was fading fast in the top of the ninth. The game started at 8:30 and I gave up around 12:15, I think. I was just exhausted from the week. Of course, if it was later in the playoffs or the Jays or Leafs playing, I would have made myself stay up.

I did get to see the end of the Yankees-Indians game earlier in the evening, when Travis Hafner singled in the 11th to give Cleveland a shocking 2-0 lead going back to the Bronx. An interesting sidenote of the game was the swarming gnats that were all over the players; Yankees phenom Joba Chamberlain was so rattled by them that he threw a wild pitch in the eighth that led to the tying run scoring. The game reminded me of a similar situation I witnessed up in Toronto at the Skydome back in 1990. Like Cleveland's stadium, the Skydome (now known as the Rogers Centre) is located next to a lake. At this particular game against the Milwaukee Brewers, who back then were still in the AL East, the retractable roof was open and there was a similar invasion of gnats that pestered the players, especially the pitchers. They didn't bother those of us up in the nosebleed seats (this was back when the Jays were good and sold out every game), but they sure were driving the players nuts. Finally, the umps conferred and got the stadium officials to close the dome, which took about 20 minutes and constituted the first and only bug delay I've ever seen or heard about. After that, the game was able to continue with seemingly little impact made by the gnats.

So I'm just a week away from the Baystate Marathon in lovely Lowell, Mass. The weather this week has been unseasonably warm, reaching the 80s the last three days. The forecast is calling for things to cool down by the end of next week. I sure hope that's the case. I feel ready, although I had to skip my 10-miler today because my right calf was pretty sore this morning. I iced it and worked it over with The Stick (hey, that thing works!) and it feels better now, so I'll head out early tomorrow. Then I just have a couple more runs next week. I'm skipping hockey, too, just to be on the safe side.

And oh yeah, it's a long weekend. I'm taking Monday off as a floating holiday; it's Columbus Day down here (and Thanksgiving for my Canuckian friends). It'll be nice to hang out with the girls, although it may be rainy around here.

And furthermore...
  • The New England Patriots continue to kick arse and people still are taking shots at Bill Belichick, especially nitwits who like to file nuisance lawsuits. Of course, I think that lawsuit has more merit than the one filed by this crybaby Jets fan, who wants $184 million because he claims Belichick and the Pats deceived Jets fans in week one. Good luck, pal.
  • An interesting recent development is the resurgence of the Canadian dollar, which for the last few weeks has actually surpassed the value of the American dollar. This is the highest level of the Canadian dollar since 1976. As recently as the late '90s, the Canadian dollar was worth something like 60 cents U.S., which was great for those of us who liked to go up there and buy hockey jerseys and stuff cheap. I never thought I'd see the Loonie on equal footing with the U.S. dollar again.

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