Asians Continue to Get the Short End of the Stick on Racism

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While there has been tremendous outrage towards Houston Texans owner Bob McNair, there was hardly any against Yuli Guriell. The Houston Astros first baseman made a gesture towards Los Angeles Dodgers starter Yu Darvish, a Japanese-born pitcher, after hitting a big home run off Darvish in Game 3 of the World series. Yes, Guriell got suspended for 5 games by Major League Baseball. But his punishment will begin at the start of next season as oppose to during the playoffs. I would prefer to force Guriell to play at least one game in front of what should be a hostile crowd at Chavez Ravine during this year’s World Series and appear in all 3 games next August when the Astros play the Dodgers in Los Angeles in the 2018 regular season. Let the paying public be able to tell Guriell what they think of his gesture. McNair’s comments about inmates running the prison was damning but I would argue it was towards all players regardless of the colour of their skin. But the fact there has been more outrage towards McNair and not much towards Guriell is a damn shame.

I won’t go into a diatribe about how there is a double standard when it comes to how people perceive racism. But it is no secret that those of Asian decent have been getting a raw deal when it comes to racial slurs or gestures hurled towards them. In an earlier post, I mentioned an encounter I had with a black woman at a store years ago. She wasn’t afraid to hurl such a slur towards me and many in the store didn’t bother to challenge her. My guess is that because she was black, any condemnation towards her would be perceived as racist. Therefore, she had a free ride to say hateful things towards me. I suppose until a Chinese or Japanese person gets shot by a white police officer, we will continue to get the short end of the stick.

There will be those who will dismiss this as a racist piece but last I checked, Orientals (or Asians as an associate of mine prefers to be called) are a “visible minority”. Most, like me, have no ill will or any disrespect towards blacks. But you are kidding yourself if I’m going to bow down to anyone who considers they race to be superior than mine, no matter what colour their skin is, what language they speak, or what religion they belong to.

There have been protests in the past when there is a movie out that portrays Chinese, Japanese, or Koreans in a negative or disrespectful way. But I hazard to guess that was not enough to get the people running Hollywood (i.e. Harvey Weinstein) to change their attitudes or at least to be on the same level as the black community, or gay and lesbian community. It appears having Asians as victims (real or perceived) is not as lucrative as other racial or gender groups. Just ask those behind Black Lives Matter.

Despite this act of racism by Guriell, Asians will continue to be a part of a sport that is the fabric of the United States of America and here in Canada. Darvish, to his credit, took the high road. No raising of fists or kneeling during the national anthem. If there is one thing Japanese people do well is rise above the racial intolerance. They have done it in the past and will continue to do so.

Also see:

Racism Knows No Bounds
Political Correctness has No Place in Sport
Sports is Not a Platform for Activism

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Canada Lost Its Biggest Sports Fan

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A part of Canada died on October 17, 2017. Gord Downie passed away after battling brain cancer at the age of 53. For those outside Canada, Downie was the lead singer of the Canadian rock band the Tragically Hip. The band’s songs are often rooted in Canada whether it is about a late Toronto Maple Leaf player or a small Ontario town. I wrote a piece about Canadian athletes and whether you need international success to be considered great. It is often said that if you are a musician from Canada, you need to be big in the United States in order to have a successful career in music. The Tragically Hip (or the Hip for short) proved that you can achieve that without leaving your home soil.

From Mike Luck (@LuckyMikeLuck)

Downie was a big sports fan. He would often reference the sport of hockey in his lyrics like Fifty Mission Cap, Fireworks, and Heaven is a Better Place. In the last couple of years, he has appeared at a number of sporting events most recently Game 4 of the 2017 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinal between the Toronto Raptors and the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Air Canada Centre. Not many people knew that longtime Boston Bruins executive Harry Sinden was Downie’s Godfather. Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Orr and former Bruins head coach and current broadcaster Don Cherry were good friends of Downie and the band.

Canadian athletes have drawn inspiration from Downie. Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin used the song Courage whenever he came up to bat during the 2016 season. The Hip’s final concert (in their hometown of Kingston, Ontario) was aired live on the CBC. At the time, the 2016 Summer Olympics were on and the CBC were the main broadcaster of the games in Canada. But they took two hours from their schedule to air that live performance. Canadian athletes who were taking part in the Rio games were huddled around large television sets watching the performance from the Olympic village. That is how much Downie meant to Canadians and sports.

Here’s the official statement from the Downie family:Here’s a sample of what people in the sports world are saying about Downie’s passing:

50 Mission Cap.

A post shared by Toronto Maple Leafs (@mapleleafs) on

RIP Gord (1964-2017).

Also see:

Do You Need International Success to be a Great Canadian Athlete?
Canada has the Best Athletes. Period.
Late Night’s Ultimate Sports Fan

 

Matthews Made Price Look Mortal

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Photo: Globe and Mail

Let me get this out of the way first. Carey Price is arguably the best goaltender in the NHL right now. He has faced the likes of Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, and Steven Stamkos and has made outstanding saves against them. Price often stands on his head when the team is struggling to score goals. He is the reason the Montréal Canadiens have been winning in recent years. Price also helped lead Canada to a gold medal in men’s ice hockey at the last Winter Olympic games. So he is no slouch when he is in net. But last Saturday night, a 20-year-old phenom made the veteran goaltender look average, dare I say mortal.

Montréal was hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Canadiens had won 14 consecutive head-to-head match ups prior to Saturday’s game. Their last loss to the Buds was on January 19, 2014. That streak ended on Saturday and it was largely due to the play of Auston Matthews.

The Maple Leafs forward scored two of Toronto’s four goals in the game and he made Montréal’s number one goaltender look like a number two. Price stood there as if he was a deer crossing the road and a speeding pick up truck with its headlights on was heading right towards him. It is something hockey fans, not just those in Montréal, were not used to seeing.

Here’s Matthews’ first goal of the game (from @Goal_Leafs_Goal):

Matthews’ second goal came in overtime:

Price’s performance on Saturday reminded me of another Habs goaltender from back in the day, André (Red Light) Racicot. Racicot was the back up to Patrick Roy in the 1992-1993 season and was known to let in some goals that would normally be stopped.

If you are a fan of Team Canada, it is perhaps a good thing that there won’t be any NHLers playing at the Winter Olympics next year in PyeongChang. Matthews would likely make Swiss cheese out of Price if Canada and the US were to face off in a game.

There is a hashtag out for this Habs season, #Drivefor25. It is to symbolize the 24 Stanley Cup championships the Canadiens have won in the history of the franchise and their aim to get their 25th. But at this pace, they will be lucky to get to that number in wins this season.

The Habs have struggled out of the gate this season winning only once in their first five games (that one by the way was a shootout win over Ottawa in their first game of the season). I would bet that their fans will be willing to live with a lost season if their team can win all four head-to-head match ups with the Maple Leafs. That, however, changed on Saturday. Thanks in part to a boy from Arizona.

Also see:

Things are Going Good for the Leafs
Price is Right for Canada
The Maple Leafs Need Their Own Bringer of Rain

Golden Knights Not Your Typical Expansion Team

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The Vegas Golden Knights are 3 & 0 to start not only the 2017-2018 NHL season but also their maiden voyage in the National Hockey League. Mind you, my Maple Leafs are also 3 & 0 so the haters will say: it’s early.

The difference between starts from the Leafs and the Knights is a) the level of talent, and b) the schedule. There is no Auston Matthews or a Mitch Marner on the Knights and the Maple Leafs won two of their 3 games against a playoff team with a former Vezina winner (New York Rangers), and a recent Stanley Cup champ (Chicago). Two of Vegas’ three wins were against the lowly Arizona Coyotes, a team that some would say plays like an expansion team.

But having said all that, the Golden Knights are making a lot of noise early on in the season. Part of it is because of the caliber of talent that was made available to General Manager George McPhee. What other first-year team can acquire a Marc-Andre Fleury or a James Neal in the expansion draft? I can’t think of any. Fleury looks like the goaltender that once led the Pittsburgh Penguins to a Stanley Cup championship in 2009 and Neal is lighting the lamp at a record pace.

Add to it, the backdrop of the horrific massacre two weekends ago where 58 people were killed during a shooting at an outdoor music festival. The emotions coming from that and the team providing an avenue to escape is allowing the Knights to quickly develop a large fan base. Vegas’ home opener on Tuesday was something to be said. The ceremony was slightly subdued which led the team’s performance on the ice to provide enough pomp and circumstance to make it a celebratory occasion.

Time will only tell whether the Golden Knights can keep this up and become a playoff contender in the first year of existence. The next two games will provide a true test for the Knights: Detroit on Friday and Boston on Sunday. But it is a storybook start for the team and the Knights’ management are the authors of it.

Also see:

Get the Right Player First, then Spend the Money
The Raptors are Playing with House Money
Surprised by the Blue Jays’ Success? You Shouldn’t Be