Category: Sports

2013, 2018, Hockey, Personal, Sports

The Day My Leafs Fandom Died

As you know, the Toronto Maple Leafs have signed John Tavares and have the strongest group of young forwards they’ve had in a very long time. If you put aside age, it’s probably safe to say it’s been 25 years or so since the last time the Leafs had this much talent in their Top …

Hall of Fame, Hockey, Sports

50 Years of Misawarding the Conn Smythe

The awarding of the Conn Smythe in 2015 to Duncan Keith felt like a dose of sanity, he was well deserving of it. Unfortunately, since the award’s introduction in the mid ’60s, it hasn’t always been so obvious and oftentimes the writers responsible for voting for the award have picked odd, sometimes even terrible winners. …

2018, Hockey, Philosophy, Society, Sports

The Nihilist Hockey League

I have been a fan of the hockey comedian/commentator Down Goes Brown for some time. I don’t remember when I became aware of him, but it was before he started writing for Grantland. I have appreciated both his comedic takes on what is a very silly league and also his perspective, which often seems to …

2017, 2018, Basketball, Sports

Your 2017-2018 Toronto Raptors: Blow it all up?

Every year at this time of year I usually write a recap of the Raptors season. (Before I switched allegiances, it was a Leafs’ recap.) I’m sorry to say I don’t really do this for other people. I know there are actual basketball writers in the world who have actual things to say about Toronto …

Hockey, Sports

Memorial May Madness

My fellow Canadians regularly ask me why I watch March Madness. Usually, I tell them, “It’s the greatest sports tournament in the world” and then I spend a while qualifying that by telling them what I think of the NCAA. (I regret to say, by watching this year’s March Madness on cable, I am indirectly …

2018, Personal, Sports, Travel

Riley Goes to Panorama Mountain Resort, February 3-February 9, 2018

For the past week, I was in the Kootenays, skiing at Panorama Mountain Resort, a place I have wanted to ski at for a very, very long time. (That is true of many ski resorts in North America, however.) I cannot say enough positive things about the resort and I would strongly encourage you to …

2016, Basketball, Books, Non-Fiction, Sports

Boys Among Men (2016) by Jonathan Abrams

This is a pretty excellent narrative history of the one and only generation of NBA stars to come directly from high school. Though I have one minor quibble, I got over it and, for the most part, it’s probably the definitive book about this topic.

2017, Hockey, Movies, Sports

The NHL: 100 Years (2017)

This, the official documentary history of the NHL, is an adequate history of the NHL if you don’t watch hockey and didn’t grow up watching hockey OR you like having the old hockey myths repeated to you by different people than the people who usually told you these myths. As an actual history of the …

2016, 2017, Basketball, Sports

Your 2016-2017 Toronto Raptors

At this time of year I usually write a summary of everyone on the Toronto Raptors, their contributions and their shot-comings, and what the team should do going forward. Today, on the occasion of The Raptors getting swept by The Cleveland Cavaliers, I think it’s probably time to blow it all up:

2011, Baseball, Books, Fiction, Sports

The Art of Fielding (2011) by Chad Harbach

This is an excellent debut novel, featuring a richly constructed world and (mostly) believable characters. It works as both a baseball novel and a college novel. It has been a long time since I cared about characters this much.

2016, Hockey, Personal, Sports

Am I Still a Leafs Fan?

As I find myself wrapped up in the success of The Blue Jays so far this playoff, and eagerly awaiting the NBA season, I wonder to myself if I still care about the Maple Leafs, this at a time when there is more legitimate optimism around the team than perhaps there ever has been before …

2012, Movies, Sports

The Boxing Girls of Kabul (2012, Ariel Nasr)

This TV episode-length documentary concerns a group of girls in Afghanistan who are boxing, and competing internationally. Like any film that focuses on people doing something their community thinks they shouldn’t, this is illuminating. Afghanistan, as a society, obviously doesn’t approve of women boxing (and, at one point, sports in general) and yet these women …

2014, Movies, Sports

The Barkley Marathons: The Race that Eats its Young (2014, Annika Iltis, Timothy James Kane)

This is a very conventional documentary about one of the craziest races you’ll ever hear about. Not only is it insane (somewhere between 100 and 130 miles in 60 hours, over hills and through the woods) but is run in such a kooky way. Part of the appeal of this film is the sheer accomplishment …

2016, Basketball, Sports

Initial Reactions to the Raptos’ 2016 Draft

I saw a CBC story that claimed Raptors fans (on twitter) were not happy with Toronto’s #9 pick. Some twitter users were unfamiliar with Poeltl because they apparently do not follow college basketball or NBA mock drafts or…maybe they aren’t even actually Raptors fans (but just play them on twitter)? Frankly, if this is the …

2015, 2016, Basketball, Sports

Your 2015-2016 Toronto Raptors

Putting aside any disappointments we may feel about those last two games, it must be acknowledged that, by nearly any standard, this was the Greatest Team in Franchise History; the most regular season wins, the most home wins, the most road wins, the most playoff wins… I may have had my expectations raised too high …

2010, Movies, Sports

Senna (2010, Asif Kapadia)

This is a captivating and engrossing film about Ayrton Senna, the Brazilian Formula One driver who some believe was the greatest driver the sport has ever seen, but who died young, before he might have broken some records. The film does a good job of making us understand why Senna had appeal outside of his …

2013, Movies, Sports

The Crash Reel (2013, Lucy Walker)

If you have a child (a teenager) who doing or is interested in playing or participating in a sport that involves serious risk of head injury, you should make your child watch this movie. There are lots of moving and penetrating accounts out there of what life is like after a head injury however I …

Hockey, Sports

Top 33 Maple Leafs Draft Picks of All Time

More than a little while ago now (this past summer), Scott Wheeler (of PPP, etc.) claimed that Mitch Marner might be the most talented hockey player ever drafted by the Maple Leafs. And now that the Leafs have the #1 overall pick for the first time in over 30 years, Marner might be only the …

2014, Baseball, Movies

The Battered Bastards of Baseball (2014, Chapman Way, Maclain Way)

This is a sub-30 for 30 quality sports documentary (or low end 30 for 30) that makes up for its lack of film quality with the incredible story of the Portland Mavericks, possibly the most popular single A team of all time and the only independent baseball team of its era.

Hall of Fame, Hockey, Sports

The Annual Hockey Hall of Fame Complaint for 2015

First of all, congratulations to the deserving inductees. The problem is, as always, that the Hall of Fame inducted players who both deserve to be in it, and players who do not (or, in this case, not yet). So congratulations to Nicklas Lidstrom, a player who, I have argued elsewhere, might be the 2nd best …

Hockey, Sports

The Phil Kessel Trade

I never believed the Leafs would get the return for Kessel that the Bruins got for him from the Maple Leafs. But I hoped it would be something. When the Leafs traded for Kessel, I was upset. I was upset for the following reasons. On the side of what the Leafs gave up: It was …

Basketball, Playoffs, Sports

2015 NBA Finals MVP Bull Shit

In hockey, there is a rare but time-tested tradition of awarding the playoff* MVP to the best player on the team that loses the finals if he excels so much that the Professional Hockey Writers Association thinks he deserves it, i.e. he drags a team to the finals. (*In the NHL, the award is for …