Friday, 9 December 2011

Nothing and Nowhere

Out of nothing and nowhere comes everything.

Or at least that's what the Winnipeg Jets would have you believe. The Jets defeated the Boston Bruins 2-1 the other day, in regulation too. Boston hadn't lost in regulation time in 15 straight games.

As amazing as it sounds, it gets a bit better for Jets fans. The team won the game without Nik Antropov, Tobias Enstrom, Ron Hainsey, Randy Jones, and Derek Meech. Oh yea, Eric Fehr too. Thats a lot of hockey sticks left in the dressing room, good ones too.

But then again, the Jets have amazed since they've arrived. Check that, they've amazed even before they arrived. Street parties on portage and main, a ginormous celebration at The Forks, and a packed house to watch the 2011 entry draft was as much a spectacle as the team arriving itself – perhaps more so.

Now, opposing teams media scribes write stories about how the tiniest building in the NHL, could also be the loudest – and to think, having a team at all seemed impossible less than eight months ago.

Out of nothing and nowhere comes everything.  

Friday, 25 November 2011

Blue Bombers, Grey Cup and Victory.

Hey Everyone,

I'm excited. The Grey Cup is about to be played, and if you haven't heard yet, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are going to be there. Not watching from afar, not taking in the late night parties, and not scouting for next year. No, the 2011 Blue Bombers will be playing in the Grey Cup.

I'm fairly certain that there's going to be a big party on Portage and Main. I'm also fairly certain that for that to happen the Bombers will need to win, and if we want to win, this is what they're going to have to do:

First and foremost,

Stop the BC Lions (this is the team the Bombers will be playing by the way, you know, in case you didn't know) run game. If the Bombers can make the Leo's one dimensional they have a good chance of winning. Last time the big Blue played the Lions they did just that, and Travis Lulay had a hissy fit on the sidelines and threw his helmet after getting benched, its true

Second, and secondmost,

Contain Travis Lulay. This is much like first and foremost, and just as obvious, if the Bombers are planning on stopping the run, they need to stop Travis Lulay from running with the ball. Should be easy right? Last week, when the Lions hosted the Eskies, Lulay ran the ball 3 times for 63 yards. This cannot happen. Pierre Luc-Labbe, the Bombers non-import middle linebacker needs to spy Lulay or the defensive ends need to play safe, probably a mixture of both is most appropriate. Either way, Winnipeg D-coordinator Tim Burke has his hands full on this front.

Third and you guessed it, thirdmost,

The Bomber offence needs to play half-decent. Yes, half-decent. They need to be able to run the ball with Chris Garrett. Here's the problem, Garrett is not exactly flying under the radar. His 29 carries for 190 yard performance in last week East Final has him squarely in the crosshairs of BC's game plan. So, what has to happen is the Bombers need to come out passing, and they need to pass the ball effectively and early on. If they manage to do this, then Chris Garrett will have room to run. Essentially, the Bombers need to play an inverse NFL game, set up the rush game, by being effective at passing the ball. This wont be easy, as it's something that the Bombers have struggled with all year. In fact, the biggest weakness of the 2011 Blue Bombers has probably been its passing game. If we are to party on Portage and Main this Sunday, then Buck's gotta make the throws, and the receivers must be effective.

Fourth and ....arg, just fourth on the list,

Grab bag. None of these things are necessarily make or break like the first three points we just talked about but they would go along way to helping out the Blue and Gold. First, Buck needs to run the ball like a crazed lunatic, whenever the play breaks down, and it will from time to time, he needs to scramble for positive yardage – without getting his head scrambled.. Next, unfortunately for the Bombers this game is essentially an “away” game instead of a neutral championship. Its in BC, and its going to be loud. The Bomber offensive line cant be offensive. They need to take as few illegal procedure calls as possible, say under 3; The Bomber offence just isn't good enough to overcome first and fifteen on a semi regular basis. Lastly, and I say lastly, not because they're aren’t more things that could be said, simply that the list needs to end at some point, we need to cash in on special teams returns. Call it a hunch, but the Bombers are going to break a kick or a punt for a touchdown in the 99th Grey Cup on Sunday, I just know it.

Lemme know if you agree or not in comments, or if I missed something more important! See you at Portage and Main. Swag.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Be a Fan

How to be a fan:

One of the best things about living in Canada is the Canadian Football League. The CFL is a lot like Canada itself: historic, modest, and friendly. I grew up “on” the CFL. When I was young, I'd watch football games, in non-high definition believe it or not, with my family cheering on our local team: the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Just as the older players mentor younger players, die-hard fans teach people new to the sport how to properly support a football team.

The first thing you need to do to support a team is to choose one. Yes, it seems obvious, but it's the first requirement. Generally your best bet is to pick a team from your hometown. Otherwise, it can be an expensive investment, (more on that later.) If your city does not have a team, a city close by will do. Choose wisely though, because once you pick a team, there is no going back, ever.

After you have picked a team you next have to research it's players. This is very important. You do not want to be one of those fans who go to games and yell the wrong players' name, or even worse, make up a name. One year, while I was attending Blue Bomber games, a “new” fan moved into my vicinity. She would yell at the top of her lungs things like “Javan you suck!”, or “Come on, Javan, get it together!”. This was wrong on several levels. First of all, the Bombers did not have a Javan on the team at the time, and second of all, she was heckling her own team publicly: another fan faux pas. A few fans confronted her on her annunciations and after that day, I never saw her again. So, grab a team roster, which can be found on the team's website, and thoroughly memorize the players names, and numbers for easier identification.

In order to avoid ending up like the lady mentioned above, you must observe this next rule: treat the players on your team like family. It is okay for you to curse out the players on your team, (actually I encourage it), but it's to be done in private only. You would not yell at your sister in the middle of the mall, for instance, but you might in the privacy of your own home. Also, always, always, always stand up for the players on your team. They could be the slowest, lamest, worst group of players to ever play football but if they are on your team you will stand up for them. Anyone who mocks, berates, or doubts said players should receive a scowling look and a stern tongue lashing.

Becoming a true fan will require some start up funds. There are some necessary purchases: first and foremost, season tickets. A true fan goes to every home game. You must attend games over all else. A short list of exceptions apply: a death in the immediate family, a sibling's wedding, or a milestone birthday of someone very important. That's it, no other excuse will be accepted for missing, and if you gain the reputation of being a die-hard fan, siblings and parents would never dare schedule things on game day anyway. Next, a jersey must be purchased, preferably both home and away colours, but a home jersey as a bare minimum. It is imperative that you wear the colours of the team on game day, as well as after a big win or big loss. Lastly, a car flag with your team's logo on it. Yes, they may be tacky, but they also solidify your fan status wherever you go.

The most important and final part of being a die-hard fan is faith. Faith that your team can and will win, almost to the point of cockiness, but not quite. Your team could be down 50 to 0, with five minutes left to play, and some part of you should be thinking “if we could just get the ball back, and on-side kick, and score, and on-side kick and score......we could win.”

So, pick a team, learn about its players, attend the games, and have faith. Do it long enough and you will be a fan. It's a rewarding experience; just see for yourself.  

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

How I would reinvent the newspaper for today

Ok. Hi again. I want to take a little bit of time elaborating on my recent blog post, regarding the newspaper. I wasn't very kind to the daily dead tree times, suggesting it was an outdated, boring medium, and well, it is – sort of.

Here's how my daily encounter with the newspaper generally works: I get up, ten minutes later than I probably should, I shower, throw some organic over-priced hair product in my hair, (I'm told its better for the environment, or better for me, or somehow better for something), brush my teeth, rush to make coffee and throw together a lunch. As the coffee is dripping, I go outside to fetch the paper myself, because I don't have a dog. I timidly look at the front page, and nine times out of ten it's about something stupid, by stupid I mean something I don't particularly care about. I'm a pretty happy guy, and mornings can be hard enough; they don't need to be made harder by the front page of the paper proclaiming there has been another fatal car accident five blocks from my house, or another suspected arson of a local church goer's house. These may be the upmost concerns for some folks, but not for me.

So I toss the front three sections on the ground, all of which have similar headlines, and start reading the sports page. I love sports. The only reason I open the newspaper is to read the local sports news. After reading/skimming the sports section, I'm then left with a souvenir newspaper, that I'm told isn't likely to appreciate in value.

If you're like me, then you're always trying to make difficult situations easier, and if you're really like me, you'll understand just how difficult everything is. Fortunately improving the newspaper is a bit like the Winnipeg Jets making a trade: theres nowhere to go but up.

First of all, stop sending me paper. Visa doesn't send me paper bills anymore, neither does the phone company, or the bank. At my request, they e-mail me statements, offers, or anything else deemed worthy of my attention. This is awesome. Why doesn't the newspaper give me the same option? I'm willing to pay the same for the paper. Just stop sending me the paper. No, that's not a trick. In the e-mailed version of the paper, I would have a choice as to what kind of news I want delivered. Do NOT send me: the front page, certain editorials, movie reviews, or information on the latest improvements to some duck pond. I'm not a duck, and even if I was, I probably wouldn't care.

The e-mailed paper would have embedded videos of Paul LaPolice and Claude Noel. Why would I want to read about a post game press conference when I could just watch it? Ditto for the game synopsis. Write a short article about it, and show me the highlights. Have the email linked up to my facebook account, so that I can see what my friends comments are. This would be relevant, as likely if you are on my facebook I've spoken to you more than once.

Now comes the best part: if a sports story breaks halfway through the day, write about it, and email it to me. You don't have to wait until the next morning to tell me. I really would be more awake during the day, anyway.

I would even make a separate ring tone alert for the newspaper e-mails. Now we're talking. You're nothing if you don't have your very own ring tone these days, anyway.

Cut down on paper costs. Give me the news that I want. Give it to me quickly, and don't make me read if a video would do. And would it kill you to start off the news email with “good morning Mike”? Everything else is personalized these days. Why can't my news “paper” be.  

Friday, 14 October 2011

Prepare for lift off?

The Winnipeg Jets are back. Yay for us. I'm a big hockey fan, so needless to say I am very excited about their return. I'm not however, so excited about their start. O'fer 2. Thats zero, zilch, notta, nothing.

In the season opener against Montreal, we didn't seem to have a lot of goal scoring gusto. We never really looked dangerous, didn't record many scoring chances, and when we did have them, we failed to capitalize. Unlike the Capitials, who unfortunately for us, are also in our division, seem to have no problem with that. Anyways, by the third period of that game, we looked totally outmatched.

In Thursday's game I noticed a bit of an improvement but I think its time to get a little worried, especially if your one of those people hoping for some playoff action this spring. The trouble is, the Jets lack a goal scorer, they lack a superstar, someone who is going to deliver at the pivotal moment. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers faced that problem last year, ahem, Steven Jyles, and their record was a sad 4 and 14. 

Lets get real, the Jets scored 3 goals in Chicago, two on deflections from the point in the first five minutes when the Blackhawks were sleeping. After that? They managed one goal, on route to a four three loss. Despite having a ton of chances, we couldn't climb back into the game. During the season opener one could rationalize that we were playing one of the league's best goalies, Carey Price. On Thursday? Not so much, as Ray Emery doesn't exactly strike fear into most goal scorer's eyes.

Upfront we are out-gunned. We had Mark Scheifele lining up against Marion Hossa Thursday night. It doesn't take a Don Cherry to realize that's a losing proposition. On Defence, we seem to be getting beat far too often by opposing forwards when they take the puck wide with speed around our defencemen. I guess thats good for Ondrej Pavelec's development, at the very least.

That said, our team plays with passion, which apparently we are fuelled by. Hopefully this Saturday in Phoenix we can be fuelled by goals, because we are certainly going to need them. Now that the Jets are back, it's time to be concerned with winning, because sooner or later, thats how the Jets are going to be defined, might as well start now.  

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

An Inch

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are an evil organization. I wasn't totally sure before, but I'm 100% convinced now. They have been created to destroy me, one game at a time. Now, I'll admit I'm not exactly the most level-headed of Blue Bomber supporters. I go from lottery winning euphoria to uncontrollable rage to fetal position sadness in the blink of an eye. The blink of an eye. Alex Brink of an eye, Alex Brink of an eye in the end zone. OH WHY didn't Alex Brink get in the end zone. He was on the brink of scoring, the brink of greatness....Oh, Alex Brink you were in the end zone weren't you!

The referees didn't think he was in the end zone, and apparently thats all that really matters. Look, I get it, sometimes people fall short. Ask Hugh Mcfayden, Barry Shenkarow, or Blockbuster, they'll tell you, its not always easy – but ask those people why, and they'll spew out a list of excuses so fast it will make your head spin. It was fear-mongering, it was the mayor at the time, it was that damned internet!

The Bombers may have fell short, but they certainly aren't ones to make excuses. They had every reason to do so, entering the game without their starting quarterback, running back, or defensive lineman. They played the game with a punter who forgot how to kick, and a referee who didn't know what pass interference was, seriously. They were also playing the two time defending league champions who employ hall of fame quarterback Anthony Calvillo.

Losing by what amounts to less than a yard is never good. Losing under those conditions, to that team, is a bit more understandable though; Or at least thats what I keep telling myself. I think i'm on the – brink – of a breakdown.  

Thursday, 29 September 2011

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's 2011

Illegal procedure. Winnipeg Sports Scene, five yard penalty, repeat first down.

(Sorry in advance for the off-topic blog)

I checked out the documentary Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times the other day. It's a movie about the New York Times and the decline of print media. It was showing itself at the Cinematheque for some reason, probably because it was too trendy for the regular movie theatres. Regardless of the reason, I bought some Junior Mints before the movie started, which turned out to be a good choice, unlike milk on a hot afternoon.

Now, being 2011, I was hoping it would be in 3D, or 4D or some kind of D. It ended up being in “normal” D which I have to say, was rather 2006.

Speaking of 2006, reading paper newspapers is fairly 2006, or 1956, or something else equally old, insert your own metaphor here. I suppose paper news might have been effective at one time. For instance, a guy named Pheidippides once ran from Marathon to Athens, Greece without stopping in order to deliver the news. Yes, that really happened. Now, had a newspaper existed at the time, the people of Athens could have simply read about it, and no one would have had to run; that coulda' saved poor Pheidippides. You know what else could have saved Pheidippides? An Ipad. Jus' sayin'.

Look, In all seriousness no one is saying that newspapers are kind of lame. Some people enjoy reading yesterday's news today. Also, it should be pointed out that feeling like you can predict the news is kinda cool. For example, in tomorrow's newspaper there is going to be an article about Buck Pierce missing this friday's Bomber game. Go ahead, check, see if i'm wrong. I guess this is how Nostradamus felt. What a gift I have. Thanks Blackberry.

Honestly though, I know what you're thinking. You're all, YA MIKE Whatever! There's something to be said about actually holding the paper, or a know feeling the pages between your fingers. Its more intimate, MORE personal somehow. Of course, I have to agree with you. I love the idea of getting black ink on my fingers as I read the “freep” while eating my breakfast. Even better is transferring the ink from your hand to your food, or clothes. Bonus points if you come to work with a black smudge on your nose; what a far better experience than the silky smooth to the touch piano black finish of Apple's Ipad.

The universe is a changin', New York Times. Page One is from whatever genre I have favourite-ed in my news app. My 2011 devices remember what kind of news I like and puts that on my own Page One, no boring round table discussions required. The Free Press on the other hand, just stares at my blankly. How awkward.

OOOH. And I almost forgot. When I wake up in the morning, my smart devices are so smart, they are already in my house. The paper, by contrast is all the way on out on my front step. Nuts to that.   

Thursday, 22 September 2011

5623 Days

Impossible (im-pos-uh-buh) - not possible; unable to be, exist, happen, etc.

They said it couldn't be done. It would never happen. They said it was too big, too expensive. They said we might as well give up. They was impossible.

I never was one of “them”.

I remember running down a back alley as a boy. My legs pumped as fast as I could make them move. The school bell had just rung and I knew my mom was home making me lunch. I wasn't running home to eat though - for as good a cook as my mom was - my little stomach had no appetite for food. I tore through the back lane, turned the corner and ran down the street. There was a small wooded area with a winding, narrow trail that I cut through. It was perfectly safe and it shaved about a minute off my full-out sprint so I took it. My mind raced. Across a street, and crosswalk – which my Mother had lobbied the city for – and over a small hill. I was home. I threw the door open, out of breath, and looked at my Mom who was expectantly waiting in the living room. I looked at her with nervous anticipation with childlike, eternal enthusiasm radiating from my eyes.

No word yet,” she said. “The decision was delayed.”

We didn't lose the Jets that day, though they did end up leaving at the end of that season. I think I cried, although I can't remember for certain, but I do recall being heartbroken. Barely a year had passed since my dad took me to the game that Teemu Selanne broke the rookie scoring record against the Quebec Nordiques. He scored a hat trick that game - in the old arena – when he beat the goalie on a breakaway. White streamers fell from the ceiling, Selanne threw up his glove at centre ice and shot it down with his stick. Today it's on all the highlight reels. You've probably seen it, or if you were lucky enough to actually be there, you'll never forget it. At any rate, the loss of the Jets was devastating.

Over time, the loss became less noticeable. I never fully embraced another hockey team again, ever. I cheered for the other Canadian teams (minus the Nordiques). They folded too, completely erasing the legacy of Selanne's memorable goal. The Canucks, Oilers, Flames, Sens, all had their run at the cup and I hopped on the bandwagon, only to be disappointed each time. The NHL had not been kind to us in Winnipeg.

Knowing this, you can imagine my excitement when the Jets announced they were coming back - for good. The only hockey team that I had ever really loved was back. I had to grow up without them, but I felt relieved that I wouldn’t be forced to grow old missing them too. A deep sense of wrong in my life was corrected.

Sitting there on Tuesday, a lot had changed. I have facial hair now, for one. I'm quite a bit taller than I was when I ran down the back alley years ago, and probably a little bit smarter too. Much however, hasn't changed. My dad still took me to the game, ending a 5623 day gap between father-son Jets games. My mom still made dinner in the kitchen and is still as good a cook as ever. My favourite hockey team was still the Winnipeg Jets, my only true hockey love. Oh yeah, and in case your wondering, I think I may have cried a little as I watched the 2011 Winnipeg Jets skate out on to the ice for the first time. I wish I could remember it but vindication overwhelmed me. After all, I was watching the “impossible” with my own two eyes.


Friday, 16 September 2011

Chillin' with celebs on Twitter.

Offside. My blog. Its a five yard penalty, repeat first down.

Twitter is terrific.

I have been on Twitter for about two weeks now. Not only is it a great social networking site that can be used to get advice, stay in touch, and learn, it is also a Twitter-ific place to have a laugh.

I never would have known about the latest creepy burger pitchman. Thanks Jay Onrait.
(ps. you can find his face here:

Or I never would have known Snooki spray-tans. Ok, maybe I would have deduced that, but its still reassuring to know for sure.

How about the fact that Phoskitos seem delicious, or that Phoskitos even exist at all? That tidbit is curitosy of Conan O'Brien. (check it out here:

Of course, I have never met Jay Onrait. Snookie, or even Mr. O'Brien (shocker I know). I have however followed them on Twitter for a couple of weeks. That has enabled me, in a small way anyway, to be able to be part of their lives. Interact with them, feel like were know...we hang, on twitter.

Who do you chill with on Twitter? Ten points if its the Phoskitos PR team.

Occasionally I will be writing about non-sports related things for academic purposes. Ya, I know, apparently those kinds of things exist. Sorry in advance!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

A Blue and Cold Sweat

Exercise number 1

Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Slowly. Actually do it. Close your eyes and count to five. Have your hands stopped shaking? If not, repeat exercise one, otherwise continue on.

Exercise number 2

Wiggle your toes. Hold your hand out at arms length, spread your fingers apart. Count them. Slap your cheek with an open palm. Can you feel your extremities? Are your faculties in check? If so your probably ready.

Say with me slowly: The Blue Bombers lost the Banjo Bowl 45 to 23. It's ooooh kay.

I am ready to internalize Sunday afternoon too. As a lifelong Bomber fan, I have developed a coping mechanism for disappointment. Block all thoughts of the game from your head. I remember driving to the game, I remember parking. The lady that scanned my ticket at the east side entrance said “go bombers go.” I walked to my seat and sat down. That's it, that's all I remember. My next memory is at home, laying in the fetal position on my bed, sweating, in my royal blue Bomber jersey. I know what you're thinking, and no, I hadn't been drinking, thank you very much. I was surviving.

Next I remind myself about past failures, then I internally measure up the most current failure with past gut-wrenching ineptitudes. I relive the 2001 Grey Cup, where Troy Westwood missed 63 field goals and the Bombers lost to Calgary by one point. That was bad. I play back the 2007 Eastern Final when Kevin Glenn inexplicably forgot how to preform a hand-off, on THREE separate occasions before the final flub caused his puny arm to snap, which caused my dream of finally witnessing the Bombers hoisting the Grey Cup to snap right along with it. Finally, rounding out my insta-pain trifecta I remember the 2008 Banjo Bowl, where the Bombers were outscored 376 to 10 and then head coach Mike Kelly smirked on from the sideline, relishing in his brilliance. If the current failure is not as bad as any of those three, well then I can be sure the sun will come up tomorrow.

It just so happens, that that's exactly where the current Banjo Bowl defeat fits in: near the bottom of a long line of disappointment. No one said being a Bomber fan was going to be easy, but if you follow the block out and then rationalize strategy detailed above you should manage to keep yourself sane.

Speaking of above, one thing that might keep you going is the knowledge that we are still first in the CFL. That's right, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are still Canada's best team. Record-wise anyway.

Buck Pierce is loved because he is tough and Winnipeg Blue Bomber fans can see themselves in him. We have been knocked down, embarrassed, injured, doubted, laughed at, and told to give up. We have been sneered at, looked down upon, crushed, and been labeled no good. But just like Buck Pierce, us Bomber fans have endured. We are stronger now than ever. We will get up off the canvas like we have done so many times before: we will prevail, not to prove the doubters wrong, but to prove us right.

SWAG ON Winnipeg.

PS - The Winnipeg Jets are still undefeated. Jus' sayin'.  

Friday, 9 September 2011

Have you ever driven to Regina dressed in Bomber gear, face painted blue with a flag out your sunroof?

What about start a GO JETS GO chant while walking through the mall.........three years ago?

Claimed the Goldeyes are the greatest team on earth despite the fact that they played Fargo for the tenth time in twelve days?

If so, the Winnipeg Sports Scene is for you.

I will provide a unique perspective of all things sports in Winnipeg. A totally biased, Winnipeg based perspective on our professional and amateur teams.

Ever wondered how the loud the crowd was? What they were chanting, or the funniest sign of the game? Check back here.

Need to get something off your chest? Say perhaps, the fact that you drove five hours to Regina taunting every “green-loving banjo picker” within about a 500 meter radius of you screaming how great the Bombers are this year...Only to lose 27-7 in disastrous fashion? Sound off in the comment section!

If your looking for balanced, traditional, fair sports reporting, unfortunately you wont find it here.

The Winnipeg Jets are currently undefeated, The Bombers are 7-2 and on top of the CFL world, The Goldeyes are coming off of a record breaking season, there is no better time to be a sports fan in Winnipeg!!