Am I Still a Leafs Fan?

Categories: 2016, Hockey, Personal, and Sports.

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 in my lifetime. The Leafs were the most important sports team for me from my late teens (I’d say around 1998, when I was 17) till only a few years ago (2013), when The raptors completely took over my sports fandom. (I was also a Read More

The Boxing Girls of Kabul (2012, Ariel Nasr)

Categories: 2012, Movies, and Sports.

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 train, and these men train them. And though these women are not good enough to compete internationally, they do anyway. And their perseverance is a model for us all. And we also get a portrait of the attitudes of those that believe women shouldn’t box, Read More

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

Categories: 2014, Movies, and Sports.

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 of these people – I could never do anything like this, I’d merely be able to complete 1 loop walking and then I’d be done like dinner. But the other part is the sheer kooky traditions of the race – the conch shell that gives Read More

Initial Reactions to the Raptos’ 2016 Draft

Categories: 2016, Basketball, and Sports.

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 reaction of serious Raptors fans, I don’t understand it. Ujiri has been the GM for three years. He has shown both here and in Denver that he has a way with trades – he can get the better of many an opposing GM, as he Read More

Your 2015-2016 Toronto Raptors

Categories: 2015, 2016, Basketball, and Sports.

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 by those two wins against Cleveland, but this team, despite its flaws, arguably played above its talent level, exceeded expectations, and acted as the best example ever set by this franchise. NBA players might actually want to play here now. But now the challenge is Read More

50 Years of Misawarding the Conn Smythe

Categories: Hall of Fame, Hockey, and Sports.

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. I decided to wait until this year’s award was announced to run through the history. So let’s look at the past half century and see when they got it right, when they got it wrong, and when they just threw up their hands and picked Read More

Senna (2010, Asif Kapadia)

Categories: 2010, Movies, and Sports.

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 sport in addition to within the sport and manages to make a lot of the Formula “drama” more interesting than I normally find it. (I am just getting into the sport and I enjoy the racing, not the bickering.) It also does a pretty good Read More

The Crash Reel (2013, Lucy Walker)

Categories: 2013, Movies, and Sports.

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 have never seen a full length feature to cover this topic this well. Though this is the story of Kevin Pearce, it is really the story of any athlete whose successful career is derailed by a traumatic head injury and has to learn to accept Read More

Top 33 Maple Leafs Draft Picks of All Time

Categories: Hockey and Sports.

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 second most talented player to be drafted by the Maple Leafs. (One can hope!) I have no idea whether or not these talent assessments are true – and don’t necessarily believe it can be verified – but it got me wondering, who is the best Read More

2015-16 NHL Awards

Categories: 2015, 2016, and Sports.

For the second time in as many years, I watched barely any hockey. But that won’t stop me from deciding who was good! I can’t decide whether I am doing this as some kind of self-parody, or just because, really, I want to know who was good, so that I can do better on Sporcle quizzes. (Though I must note that I have been doing rather well with that addiction lately. I played a few games on Sunday for the first time in months. Months!!!) Read More

Triple Doubles

Categories: 2016, Basketball, and Sports.

Draymond Green is two blocks away from being the first player in NBA history to record 1000 points, 500 rebounds, 500 assists, 100 steals and 100 blocks in a single season, since steals and blocks were recorded. That’s big news. But I’m fascinated by how close he’s been this year to a triple double: 13.8PPG, 9.7RPG, 7.5APG. I mean, that’s just bonkers. Provided he keeps it up, only Wilt, Oscar, Bird, Grant Hill, Magic, Havlicek and Fat Lever have ever done that before. (Green is, unsurprisingly, the lowest scoring of all of those guys.) Famously, Oscar Robertson is the only Read More

Does Brenden Morrow Belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

Categories: 2016, Hockey, and Sports.

The answer is ‘no,’ obviously, but I like to spend a little time celebrating players I either liked or had a few stellar moments in their careers, even if their careers were not great.   Career 265G, 310A for 575P, +107 in 991 games Drafted 25th overall in 1997; 5th in Goals and Points, 7th in Assists, 4th in Plus/Minus, 8th in Games Played in his class 82-game average: 22G, 25A for 48P, +9 Possession*: 48.9 CF%, -2.4 CF%Rel, 48.6 FF%, -2.6 FF%Rel Playoffs: 19G, 27A for 46P, 0 in 118 games Playoffs Possession*: 47 CF%, -3.5 CF%Rel, 48.3 FF%, Read More

Bow Down Before Alexander the Gr8

Categories: 2015, Hall of Fame, Hockey, and Sports.

Ovechkin is now the 5th fastest to score 500 goals in NHL history. Of the others, Gretzky did it in the ’80s, Bossy mostly did it in the ’80s (and the rest of his goals were scored in the nearly equally high-flying late ’70s) and Hull and Lemieux scored most of their first 500 goals in the late ’80s and early ’90s. The implication is that, all other things being equal (which they’re not!), Ovechkin probably would have scored 500 goals a lot faster has he played in the 1980s. Who knows how few games he would have taken to Read More

Does Hedo Turkoglu Belong in the Basketball Hall of Fame?

Categories: 2015, Basketball, Hall of Fame, and Sports.

Obviously the answer is ‘no,’ but as usual, I want to have a look at his career anyway. Career 15 seasons, 8? quality (by VORP) 11,022 points, 3,971 boards, 299 blocks, 2,832 assists, 750 steals in 26,695 minutes over 997 games 26.9 MPG Per 36: 14.9P, 5,4R, .4B, 3.8A, 1S .426 FG%, .384 3P%, .784FT% 14.3 PER, 17.3 Assist % (7th all-time among forwards and centres, minimum 900 games), 63.3 Win Shares, .114 WS/48, 21.4 VORP Playoffs: 1059 points, 415 boards, 32 blocks, 287 assists, 81 steals in 2985 minutes over in 109 games 27.4 MPG Per 36: 12.8P, 5R, Read More

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

Categories: 2014, Baseball, and Movies.

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. It’s obvious to me that these guys have never made a movie before. And some of the interviewees – particularly Kurt Russell, who clearly cannot be objective about his father – are a little too self-serving. But the story is just too damn good. Did you know Kurt Russell’s Read More

Does Simon Gagne Belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

Categories: 2015, Hall of Fame, Hockey, and Sports.

I missed that Gagne retired on the 15th. So here is my belated post. No, he doesn’t qualify for the Hall on points. Still writing this anyway.   Career: 14 seasons, 10 quality 291G, 310A for 601P, +129 in 822 games 82-game average: 29G, 31A for 60P, +13 3-year peak (’05-’08): 40G, 34A for 74P, +12 Possession (since ’07-’08): 50 CF%, -1 CF%Rel, 49.6 FF%, -1.7 FF%Rel Playoffs: 37G, 22A for 59P, +7 in 109 games Adjusted: 319G, 337A for 656P Adjusted: 32G, 34A for 65P Traded twice after his prime. Accomplishments: Scored 45 goals once, 40 goals twice, 30 Read More

The Armstrong Lie (2013, Alex Gibney)

Categories: 2013, Movies, and Sports.

This is a fascinating film. It began as a documentary about Lance Armstrong’s 2009 comeback attempt but, before it was finished, new allegations emerged about Armstrong’s use of performance-enhancing drugs and the film was eventually altered significantly to focus on the revelations that soon followed. So there are really two movies that have been combined into one. One which may have started out as a puff piece and a sequel, as it were, that tries to figure out how so many people could have believed Armstrong for so long. And it pretty much works. What we get is nuanced approach Read More

Does Jason Richardson Belong in the Basketball Hall of Fame?

Categories: Basketball, Hall of Fame, and Sports.

Career 13 seasons, 11 quality 14,644 points, 2.284 assists, 995 steals, 4,245 boards, 367 blocks in 29,241 minutes over 857 games 34.1 MPG Per 36 minutes: 18P, 2.8A, 1.2S, 5.2R, .5B .438 FG%, .370 3P% (14th all-time in attempts and 16th all-time in makes), .707 FT%, .528 TS% 16.3 PER, 59.1 WS, .097 WS/48, 24.4 VORP Playoffs: 633 points, 50 assists, 40 steals, 200 boards, 13 blocks in 1262 minutes over 37 games 34.1 MPG Per 36: 18.1P, 1.4A, 1.1S, 5.7R, .4B .465 FG%, .404 3P%, .724 FT%, .583 TS% 18.1 PER, 3.8 WS, .143 WS/48, 1.8 VORP Traded thrice Read More

Delaney (2015, Grant Curtis)

Categories: 2015, Movies, and Sports.

This is a poorly made short about an interesting story: a football star tried to save drowning kids even though he couldn’t swim. From the opening, you know things are bad, when the guy employs faux-static and other overused camera tricks. The whole thing is basically “Joe Delaney was the greatest.” Now you don’t even need to watch it any more. I just summed it up for you. 4/10 Read More

The Annual Hockey Hall of Fame Complaint for 2015

Categories: Hall of Fame, Hockey, and Sports.

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 defenseman in NHL history. So this was inevitable and it is well deserved. And congratulations to Sergei Fedorov, who deserves to be inducted, even if he might have deserved to be inducted, you know, in a few years, behind some other people. But it’s the Read More