Sunday, October 08, 2006


Why I Love October!

For all of us sports fans, there are a couple of weeks in mid-October when we can truly get our fill.

Across the country, and throughout the Northern States, junior hockey players are back in action at all levels. Players in the Canadian Hockey League have spent the summer preparing for the season. From coast to coast, teams in the Quebec League, the Ontario League and the Western League have set rosters in their quest for the grail of Junior Hockey---the Memorial Cup.

At the professional level, the National Hockey League season is under way. For most of us, it’s about time! We have spent the latter part of the summer analysing the trades, studying the drafts, learning the names of all of the new European prospects. For many reasons, it is almost impossible to predict who will win the Stanley Cup at the end of the season. Anything can, and will happen. Not many of us thought the Oilers and the Hurricanes would be battling for the Cup in the final last spring. Belleville Bulls’ fans will monitor the progress of Jon Cheechoo, following his spectacular season last year, when he won the Maurice Richard Trophy.

The Canadian Football League has passed the midway mark of its schedule. Every team has experienced the typical metamorphosis of the Canadian game. A few teams break from the gate at the beginning of the season and look as if they would be unstoppable. Then, all of a sudden, reality sets in. The playing fields become level. The Alouettes become human. The Argos and the Blue Bombers move to within striking distance of the league leaders as we enjoy our Canadian Thanksgiving. As usual, they are making preparations for a better season next year in Hamilton.

South of the border, the behemoths of the gridiron are well into their games. Last year’s Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers are struggling. Their fine young quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, had a terrible motorcycle accident in the summer, and he is still recovering. From L. A. to Miami, and points northward, the passion for the game is spreading across the American nation. Rookies Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush will be under the microscope for NFL fans.

The Yankee love for the College game has also spread to the Canadian fan. Many of us have our favourite Canadian university team, and the winner will be crowned at the Vanier Cup in Toronto. We have become aware of the traditional rivalries in the United States. There are Notre Dame fans, and Michigan State fans, and Buckeye fans all across Canada. Teams vie for national championships at the end of the year---Rose Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Orange Bowl---bowls of all descriptions. These games are closely monitored by us Canucks via the American television networks.

Capturing most of the headlines for the next two weeks will be news from the great game of baseball. There will be playoffs, followed by the World Series. It is such a definitive championship---the winner gets all of the spoils. You will not find Yankee pinstripes on the field for the Fall Classic this year. Those upstart Tigers from Detroit polished off the Bronx Bombers in short order to qualify for the American League Pennant. They will face the Oakland Athletics, who defeated the Twins from Minnesota.

New York Mets are now the toast of the town in Manhattan. Although they have lost two of their prime hurlers in Martinez and Hernandez to injury, they have a wonderful cast of fine young players. Two former Dodgers, Shawn Green and Paul LoDuca led the way as the Mets swept the L. A. crew. Most of our Canadian hearts were broken when Carlos Delgado left the Blue Jays. He now stirs the drink for the Mets. We will see whether or not he will do it in October.

Following their summer leagues, the men who play round ball are hard at work gearing up for the start of the National Basketball season. The Toronto Raptors have a distinctive European flavour, although they will be anchored by young super star Chris Bosh. They should have a strong season, and will make the playoffs.

Those of you who prefer excitement on a race track are gearing up for the conclusion of the NASCAR season, with all its chills and thrills.

And it’s almost time to put away the golf sticks as the PGA season winds down before the snow starts to fly.

There is lawn furniture to store away, flower beds to cover, lawns to preen, storm windows to install. Not just yet, Martha.

It is truly the season to be jolly with all of this activity. Pass the chip bowl, snap open a couple of cold ones, hand me the channel changer. I love October!

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