Don Cherry. Gregg Zaun. Separated at Birth?

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Cherry Zaun
Here’s something fun as we celebrate Canada’s 147th birthday.

I often joked that Toronto Blue Jays analyst Gregg Zaun is borrowing suits from Hockey Night in Canada’s Don Cherry. But now I’m starting to believe the two are related. I mean, just look at them. Not only do they dress alike but they also take a similar approach to their respective sport.

Ponder on that while munching on your burgers and hot dogs and washing it down with beer. Happy Canada Day!

(UPDATED July 1)

Here’s more evidence below:

SPORTSNET - O Canada! Don Cherry joins Gregg Zaun

Photo credit: CNW Group/Sportsnet

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Everyone has World Cup Fever… Except Me

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World Cup Trophy
While millions around the world are tuned in to see which country is the best in soccer, you won’t see me joining the crowd. It not just the World Cup tournament, I’m just not into soccer (or football to my European friends) at all.

I played soccer when I was in school. I wasn’t a great player but it was to fun to play with my friends. I usually played goalkeeper mostly because that position utilized my skills in baseball, basketball, and (North American) football. But as much as it is a beautiful game to play, I can’t push myself to watch it on TV. Same with basketball and golf: I’m good at playing both sports but it is tough for me to watch. On the other hand, hockey is a great game to watch but I couldn’t shoot a puck, deke out an opposing player, or deliver a crushing open ice body check if my life depended on it.

One of the reasons I can’t watch soccer is the slow pace of the game. I’ve seen rush hour traffic in Toronto go much faster. There is also hardly any contact, at least legal contact, one that won’t get you a red card. Another is penalty kicks, whether it is to serve as punishment on the offending team or to decide a game after regulation. That part of the game is too easy in my mind. Those are just three reasons and I haven’t even touched on the diving that often occurs.

You kind of wonder what is it that attracts people to the game of soccer? Allegiance to one’s team or country maybe one reason. Perhaps if Canada had a team in the World Cup it would have been worthy of my attention. I haven’t gone to a Toronto FC game since they joined Major League Soccer. None of the hype during the off-season, though, has made me reach for that red scarf.

Soccer maybe a beautiful game but, for me, an ugly hockey game with more players in the penalty box than on the bench is a sight for sore eyes.

Sports is the Only Reason to Keep the CBC

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The Los Angeles Kings hoisted their second Stanley Cup in 3 years on Friday night. Their victory over the New York Rangers in the finals not only marked the end of the 2013-2014 NHL season, but also marked the end of Hockey Night in Canada. At least, as how we know it.

There’s been a lot of talk about the future of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (or as some would call it the Communist Broadcasting Corporation) after the loss of national NHL broadcast rights earlier this year. The CBC will continue to air hockey games on Saturday nights but the new deal will see them relinquishing their rights to content and advertising revenue to Rogers Communications.

Much as been made about the amount of tax dollars being poured into the CBC over the years. Critics have rightly pointed out its left-leaning content and journalistic approach. But one area I do feel the CBC has a purpose is in sports programming. Forget about Dragon’s Den, Rick Mercer or George Stroumboulopoulos. Sports, particularly hockey, is the only reason the CBC exists today.

The CBC’s approach to sports programming is impeccable. No one other broadcaster, public or private, has been able to capture the moment and present it to the viewer better than the CBC. I mean, what other program can get hundreds of thousands of people to gather at homes, bars, and even shopping malls like the Stanley Cup finals or the Olympic Men’s hockey gold medal game? I don’t think David Suzuki can attract even a fraction of that number.

Outside of sports, the CBC is dull. It has become nothing more than a pet project for people with liberal or socialist ideas. I’ve heard some say the loss of the CBC would kill a piece of Canada, whatever that really means. But it’s kind of ironic that the most popular personalities on the CBC are Kevin O’Leary, Rex Murphy, and Don Cherry, three men who are capable of turning Bill O’Reilly into Keith Olbermann.

So if the CBC wants to stay in business, the executives at the public broadcaster better find a way to strengthen its sports assets. Because right now, it’s the only area that’s pulling its weight.

Enjoy the Moment While It Lasts

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93 Blue Jays World Series

The recent success of the Toronto Blue Jays have people thinking of the playoffs. I remember when the Blue Jays won their second consecutive World Series title in 1993. Everyone, including me, thought this was the start of a baseball dynasty. Then the strike hit the following year and baseball in Toronto hasn’t been the same.

It has been 21 years since Joe Carter’s World-Series-winning walk-off home run and the Blue Jays have never gotten even close to the playoffs. I don’t have to tell you how long it has been since the Maple Leafs last won the Stanley Cup. This is not just happening in Toronto. While Red Sox fans in Boston are now spoiled after going through an 86-year World Series drought, that has been replaced by New England Patriots fans wondering if their team will ever win another Super Bowl. After winning 4 World Series championships in the 90s, the New York Yankees have won only once since 2001. The New York Rangers won the Cup in 1994 to snap a 54-year drought. They had to wait 20 years before getting a chance to win another. And then there are the Montreal Canadiens whose fans still brag about winning the Stanley Cup in 1993.

I recall hearing someone say enjoy the moment now because you’ll never know when you’ll experience it again. That is one advice that seems to hold true through generations. Fans these days don’t savour the moment. Rather, they would bank on another championship in two or three years. This is perhaps why fans get frustrated year after year when their team fails to win it all. While they should be confident about their team’s chances next season, they should not take these moments for granted. Take the time to smell the roses.

Surprised by the Blue Jays’ Success? You Shouldn’t Be

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I get a kick out of all the experts claiming to be surprised by the play of the 2014 Toronto Blue Jays. If you’ve been following this blog, this doesn’t come as a surprise. This team is almost the same as the 2013 version. As of June 2, Toronto has a 3 1/2 game lead in the American League East. This time last year, the Blue Jays were in last place, 10 1/2 behind Boston. Same team, different result. Why is that?

I’ve said if the team stays healthy for the whole year, they can go far. Time spent on the disabled list this season has been kept to a minimum. There are a few players on the DL with long-term injuries: pitchers Brandon Morrow and Sergio Santos, outfielder Colby Rasmus, and infielder Maicer Izturis. But Morrow and Rasmus are the only key players that are missing from the roster. For the most part, the regulars have been able to stay healthy and contribute. Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are hitting home runs at a record pace, Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera are getting on base, Brett Lawrie and Adam Lind are getting big hits at the right time.

Pitching has been excellent too. Mark Buehrle is acting like the ace he was when he was with the White Sox, Drew Hutchison has been a pleasant surprise to the rotation, and the bullpen is doing its job with Casey Janssen leading the way as closer. The Blue Jays are also getting contributions from their role players like Anthony Gose, Josh Thole, and Juan Francisco. No longer is John Gibbons writing out a number of different line ups each and every night. But more importantly, there seems to be a bond developing with the players on the roster. Everyone seems to have fun playing together and they are helping pick each other up whenever chips are down.

As I mentioned, we are only in the month of June. The other teams in the division are struggling, especially the Boston Red Sox who, like the Blue Jays, are fielding the same team as the one that won the World Series. But it won’t be long until they finally get their house in order. They will have a say as to who gets to fly the AL East flag on September 28. I have no doubt that the Blue Jays will respond and come out on top.