Thursday, November 22, 2007

On the border...

Gotta throw in a quick note about one of the fun sports/television traditions north of the border.

It's Grey Cup week in Canada, as the Canadian Football League stages its annual championship game. That means one big party, and it lasts for week. Our friends to the north do it up right.

For those of us with access to the CBC, which means in a border state, we get to see "Grey Cup Classics" if we stay up late enough. At about midnight, I think, the CBC each night in the week leading up to the game shows a game from the past.

It's charming, especially the old ones. One game earlier this week must have been from the early 1960's. There were no graphics, no replays. Numbers on uniforms were all over the place, unlike the modern system of standardizing numbers by position. One game the other night had the Ottawa Rough Riders and the Saskatchewan Roughriders -- that's right, two of the nine teams in the CFL had the same name, more or less.

It's kind of like watching ESPN Classic, but this is really classic stuff. I'd imagine it would be even better if I had heard of more than a couple of the players. You won't see NBC try something like this. Too bad; it would be fun to see a couple of those old AFL games from the 1960's in their entirety.

(Oh, and give yourself 10 points if you recognized the title from the Al Stewart song. I think he said it's the only top 20 hit about gun-running in Africa.)

Monday, November 19, 2007


The end is finally coming in the Barry Bonds case. Finally. We're all sick of hearing about it, but we can almost see the finish line.

The likely result is that Barry will do a good impression of Marion Jones, saying he made some mistakes concerning steroids and his testimony before the Federal grand jury, is sorry, and accepts responsibility. It would be nice if he would do this on the courthouse steps, just to keep up with the others in this boat.

The other option is that we go through a trial, which will have plenty of television coverage on its way to a breathless and probable conclusion. A Pittsburgh paper found that 99 percent of all Federal indictments result in convictions. In other words, these guys don't mess around, and they are pretty darn good.

And it was all so unnecessary. At the start, Bonds could have been happy being a multi-time baseball MVP and not worried about Hank Aaron's home run. His ticket to fame and fortune would have been assured. Nope, not enough.

Or, he could have simply told the truth before the grand jury. Jason Giambi did that. Sure, he took a hit in the court of public opinion, and he's headed down the slope right now, but he's not headed to jail like Bonds may be. Bonds opted to deny the charges.

Bonds made a bargain -- take his chances by cheating and then denying it (allegedly). He broke the biggest record in American sports, and made millions of extra dollars. Now he'll pay the price, which looks like a chance at jail time. Did he make a good deal, as Howie Mandel would ask? Tough call.

I don't know what took everyone so long in this case, but at least we seem to be headed toward some sort of closure.

About time.

Friday, November 16, 2007


My former high school classmate, Becky Harbison, had some comments about seeing excerpts on the Rob Ray book in The Buffalo News. And she even let me comment on the comments.

So I did.

Thank you, Becky. Head to And it was nice to see another Clarence Class of '72 member, Jim Donnelly, at today's book signing. Jim had a heck of an outside jumper in his day, even when he had a broken leg back then. He just swung the cast forward, leaning back, and stuck another jumper.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Don't look ahead...

When the National Football League season was announced last spring, there was much sadness among fans of the Buffalo Bills. Fans looked over the week-by-week lineup and said the Bills looked like a candidate to capture the first overall draft choice for the spring of 2008.

Then a funny thing happened. Teams started to play games.

Here we are at the midpoint of the season in Buffalo, and the Bills are 4-4. They aren't going to the Super Bowl, but they are on the fringes of playoff contention. So what happened?

People used the 2006 as a way of predicting what would happen in 2007. And that never works. Teams go up and down the ladder quickly these days, what with injuries, free agent movement, etc.

In the Bills' case, Buffalo has beaten the Jets twice. New York was a playoff team last year and looked too strong for the Bills in April. Now the Jets don't look too strong for anyone, except for maybe the Dolphins and Rams. The Bills also beat a weakened Ravens team, playing without its starting quarterback and some other key people, and a Bengals team that seems to have an arrest every few days (I exaggerate, but not much). That puts Buffalo at 4-4, and it hasn't even played the Dolphins yet.

I know football fans need something to do in the spring -- witness the popularity of the run-up to the NFL draft, even though one trade can change the entire mock draft order -- but let's keep the ups and downs of teams from year-to-year in mind before writing off a season.