Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Cooperstown 2014

They gathered in great numbers last weekend to pay homage to three great baseball players. They were being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, the venerable institution situated in the middle of Cooperstown, New York. The town is within striking distance of New York City, but just a few hours from those of us close to the border. I strongly recommend a trip to every baseball fan. There are also countless craft shops and stores, so you can take the ladies there without getting into too much trouble.



Most players who enter the Hall of Fame decide what cap to wear. The cap is used on the plaque that is attached to the wall of the members of the hall. There is an exception to that rule this year, as Greg Maddux decided to go into the hall without any affiliation. “I figured that I was in Atlanta for 11 years, and I was in Chicago for 11 years, if you count the Minor Leagues. It was kind of 50-50. Obviously, I did a lot better in Atlanta than I did in Chicago. I never felt like I had to pick. When it was suggested that I go in this way, it sounded right to me.”



Frank Thomas spent parts of two seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays; however, most of his career was in a Chicago White Sox uniform. Some baseball purists disagree with his selection to the Hall. He played a majority of his games as a designated hitter. That position does not exist in the National League, and those that lean in that direction as fans are miffed at the selection. Tough beans, Senior League proponents. It is now part of the game.



Needless to say, this is a big moment in the life of the big guy. It goes without saying that some pitchers cringed when Thomas dig up at the plate. At six feet, six inches, and almost 300 pounds, he could be intimidating. “I’m looking forward to it. For me, it’s still a dream. I don’t think it will hit me until I get up there. It’s pretty serious at this point. I’ve put a lot of thought into it, getting my family prepared and my speech prepared. I want to have a great celebration being inducted into the Hall of Fame.”



Tom Glavine spent most of his career with the Atlanta Braves, but recorded his 300th victory with the Mets. As a player, he was chosen by the Baseball Writers of America. Another committee, the Expansion Era Committee, selects baseball figures outside the playing category. This year’s group of three: Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox, and Joe Torre. They rank third, fourth, and fifth, respectively, in managerial victories in Major League history. The first two are Connie Mack with 3 731 wins, and John McGraw with 2 763.



Maddux and Glavine were elected on the first ballot. This is the second time in the history of the Hall that first-ballot pitchers were elected. The last time that this occurred was in 1936, when Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson entered. Pretty select company.



Greg Zaun is a baseball analyst for the Blue Jays, and a good one. He got on his soap box the other day to spout off about the Hall of Fame. He has decided that Hall of Fame members, and not the media, should elect members to the Hall. He then continued his rant by adding that cheaters should be chosen. He thinks all players who dabbled in the drug pool should be eligible. And then he added Pete Rose to the pot. Not by this scribe! Never. Keep it clean, or, at least as clean as possible.



Stick to the present stuff, Mr. Zaun. That is your comfort zone.



James Hurst

July 29, 2014. 







Thursday, July 24, 2014


Patrick Cote Now Serving 30 Months in Prison

The story below is taken from various sources in the Quebec area. It is obvious that Cote has lived on the edge for many years. He was not a bad hockey player, having scored 20 goals one season in the Quebec League. There are plenty of players at that level who would love to score 20 goals.

There are many players who would like to say they played more than 100 games in the NHL. But I am sure that none of them would like to be in Cote’s shoes at this moment. Just sad.


“Patrick Cote, who played 105 games in the NHL, has been sent to prison for 30 months after he confessed to two bank robberies according to CJAD 800 AM in Montreal. The 39-year-old former enforcer spent time with the Dallas Stars, Nashville Predators and Edmonton Oilers over parts of six NHL seasons.

Cote caught the eye of police in May when the car he was driving broke down in Candiac. When the patrol officers realized the car had been reported stolen in Ontario, they took Cote to the station for questioning.

That's when he admitted to investigators that he'd robbed a CIBC branch in Brossard in May and a Laurentian Bank in Saint Constant a few days later.

Cote does have a criminal history.

In 2002, he was arrested in Malone, N.Y., after police found 30 pounds of marijuana in his car. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge, but had twice violated his parole. He turned himself into U.S. authorities in 2011 for one such violation.

CJAD also reported Cote has armed assault on his record.

Cote was drafted 37th overall by the Dallas Stars in 1995. He scored just one goal in his career and also had two assists. All three points came in 1998-99 when he appeared in 70 games with the Predators, his only full season in the league. That year he racked up 242 of his 377 career penalty minutes.

The La Salle, Quebec, native's post-NHL career included seven seasons in what is now known as the LNAH, a circuit known primarily for its fighting.

It's always unfortunate to see a pro athlete fall from grace, but it seems like this has been a path Cote has been on for a while. Still, copping to robbing banks is a way long way away from the NHL.”


From the Bleacher Report.




Hockey From Over 'ome!!

Hockey From Over ‘ome!




On these hot, steamy, summer days, I Like to think about hockey. During the championships in Wellington for the Dudley Hewitt Cup, an avid hockey fan, Ben Houston, slipped me an article about hockey. Following a bit of research, I am pleased to share a tidbit or two about the great game, as it is played in the British Isles.


Those of us who know Ben can easily assume that he would not be a strong supporter of the Sheffield Steel, nor of the Nottingham Panthers. Ben’s team, of course, is the Belfast Giants. The Giants won the league title last year in fine form, finishing the season with 48 wins and six losses.


Former Wellington Duke Dan Lacosta played for the Cardiff Devils last year, posting a 2.71 goals against average. Dan had quite a circuitous route to the Elite League. After he left the Dukes, he played in the Ontario Hockey League. He spent several seasons in the minors, and also played four games with Columbus in the National Hockey League.


There are quotas in the league for the number of imports a team can use, eleven per side; however, there is plenty of home-grown talent taking the ice every game. The Devils dressed seven players who were born in Wales.


There are ten teams in the Elite League, and there are several thousand fans who attend each home game. These fans have been weaned on soccer, and they quickly adapt to hockey. They like the game as it is played North American style. When the players drop the gloves, and show a little animosity, the fans do not head to the canteens. They are accustomed to the rules of soccer, where a bit of fisticuffs leads to an immediate dismissal, and probable suspension. Off to the sin bin for five minutes, then back out for your next shift!!


Other teams in the League? From Scotland: Glasgow-Braehead Clan, Fife Flyers, Dundee Stars, Edinburgh Capitals. From England: Hull Stingrays, Nottingham Panthers, Sheffield Steelers, and Coventry Blaze.


Belleville’s Randy Uens also spent a season in the British Isles. He split his time between the Trafford Metros and the Sunderland Chiefs. He enjoyed his year there, as do most Canadians. It gives you a chance to see a bit of the world, some pocket change, a vehicle, and a place to hang your hat at night. The dressing room is full of other hockey pals from home, so there is always that bit of Canadian camaraderie as well.



The article that Ben gave me focused on the Belfast Giants. Fortunately, politics is left at the door of the Odyssey Arena. Team owner, Todd Kelman, is a Calgary native who played for the club and is now its manager. Kelman is quoted in the January issue of the Globe and Mail: “We’re a really good thing for Northern Ireland and Belfast, because we’ve made a conscious decision not to get involved in all that.”


One of the players on the Giants phrased it succinctly: “You go around town and speak with a North American accent and they know right away that you are not on either side and you have nothing to do with the conflict.”


The best players in the league can make $ 50 000 per season, not exactly chump change where I come from. The level of play is very good, at the level of the East Coast League. Next time Ben heads to his old home, I’ll get him to pick up a program for me.


James Hurst

July 22, 2014  




Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Are you Ready for some REDBLACKS Football

Are you Ready for some REDBLACKS Football?


There will be excitement in Ottawa this coming Friday night. For the first time in several years, there will be professional football in our capitol city. The Ottawa REDBLACKS will take the field at 7:00pm, Eastern Standard Time, to play the Toronto Argonauts. It is actually the team’s fifth game of the season, the third in the regular season.



There is a long and storied history of football in Ottawa. The first professional team suited up in 1876. Until the collapse in 1996, the franchise won an impressive nine Grey Cups. Many great football players passed through the doors of Landsdowne Park. The team will play in the same location, but you would not recognize the area if you haven’t cast a glance there in the last ten years.



The owner of the Ottawa 67’s, Jeff Hunt, has really been the mastermind of the rebirth of the REDBLACKS. He has combined all sorts of his personal interests into one jumbo package, similar to the Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment world. He is a local boy, and he knows the markets, for all of his ventures. Hopefully, the Ottawa folk will avoid the horrible mistakes suffered under the leadership of the Gliebermans and a man named Chen.



The REDBLACKS will play a 18 game schedule, finishing against Toronto on November 7th. That is a rivalry that goes back many decades. The other main rival of the REDBLACKS is the Montreal Alouettes. Follow the route of the Voyageurs down the Ottawa River, and you will end up near McGill Stadium, where the Alouettes will test your mettle.



Many former Rough Rider players came from Ottawa, and stayed there following their football careers. Such is not the case today. There are rules limiting the number of American imports one can dress for each game. Once the season ends, they head south to the warmer climes. They are not stupid.



Moe Racine played more games (201) for the Rough Riders than anyone else. Second on the list is Gerry Organ, followed by Bob Simpson, Ron Stewart, and Russ Jackson. For those of us who grew up on CFL football in Canada, that should stir some memories. Organ scored more points than any other Rider (1462). In 1959, Dave Thelan scored 24 points in one game, as did Ron Stewart against the Alouettes.




Names appearing on the list of most touchdowns for the team include Tony Gabriel, Jackson, Stewart, Simpson, and Whit Tucker. Jackson passed the ball for more than 24 000 yards during his career. Damon Allen recorded 4 275 yards, but added a considerable number to the total when he was with the Argos.



On the other side of the ball, Rider fans will not forget Joe Poirier and Jerry “Soupy” Campbell. They led the team in career interceptions. Many other great characters also wore the Rider uniform, including Tom “The Emperor” Jones.



Belleville’s Terry Wellesley played his high school football at Quinte Secondary School. Following that stint, he had an impressive career in Ottawa. Another Bellevillian, Gary Schreider spent his college days at Queen’s, then worked the backfield with Stewart. George Brancato stayed in the country, coaching aqnd managing for many years.



Ah, the “Glory Days”. The REDBLACKS have dropped their first two games, sputtering in the second half. They are tied with Hamilton for third place, also called the basement. There will be growing pains, but a playoff spot is not out of reach.



TSN brings it to you Friday night. The game is sold out; howver, there are plenty of tickets for upcoming games. Be there.


James Hurst

July 15, 2014   




Tuesday, July 08, 2014


World Cup of Soccer 2014



On Sunday, the World Cup of Soccer final game will take place in Brazil, at 3:00pm. The “Third Place Game”, as it is called, takes place on Saturday, at 4:00pm. At the time of writing, four countries remain in the hunt for supremacy in the soccer world: Brazil, the Netherlands, Argentina, and Germany. They have survived from a group of all of the countries in the world that tried to play in the tournament in Brazil. Canada did not make the cut. The Americans got there, but were knocked out before the list was whittled down to the final four.



In this neck of the woods, most supporters are in the Dutch camp. I have heard the whispers, “If you’re not Dutch, you’re not much”. Heading into the Semi-final game on Wednesday, the Dutch know they will have their hands full against the Argentineans. Historically, South American teams have owned the Cup when it is played on their continent. The same applies when they play for the marbles in Europe. And, just in case you may not have been paying attention over the years, no North American country has ever worn gold medals.



For your information, soccer games are 90 minutes long, two 45 minute halves. If teams are tied after the 90 minutes, they play a 30 minute overtime period. After that period, the winner is determined in shootout; however, the soccer people refer to that situation as “penalties”, not penalty kicks, mind you, just penalties.



Without boring you with a complete rant about soccer, I will touch on a few concepts that drive North Americans crazy, particularly the hockey folk.


  1. Fakers

I know some European descendents who cover their faces in shame when they see the antics of professional soccer players. It is as if snipers in the crowd have targeted certain players. With little or no contact, they hit the turf, and appear to be in mortal danger. If the referee pulls out a yellow card, some of the pain subsides immediately. If a red card comes out, almost instant recovery. Some of this behaviour has carried over into hockey, shamefully. Those who act in this way will find comeuppance, sooner or later.


  1. Officiating

The field is too large, the game is too fast, to have one referee to handle all of the work. I recommend three referees for the game. A lot of the nasty behind-the-play activity has been eliminated in hockey with the two referee system. More “diving” has been called, with that extra pair of eyes on the ice. As well, they have to come up with a better system to call offside. It is far too nebulous. They need a “blueline”, of sorts.


   3. The Language

As long as they are playing the game on our turf, it shall be called soccer. Football is entirely different. People who play football wear helmets. The game will be played on a field, not on a pitch. If you can’t put the ball on the net, you will get a zero, not a “nil”. That is just the start. I said I would not rant.



  1. Substitutions

There is whole pile of nonsense that goes on when a team wants to change players. Signs are raised, plenty of hugging, high fiving, all that stuff. I recommend that they change “on the fly”, that is, pull someone off and put someone else on whenever necessary, without a stoppage in play. It would add an ounce or two of excitement to the game.



I am going to consult my “Party Brazil Phrasebook” now for further suggestions.


It is, after all, “The Beautiful Game”. In desperate need of improvement.


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