SPORTS TALK: Congrats, Washington Nationals … now do something in Montreal

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On y va les Nationales!

So the Washington Nationals are your 2019 World Series champions. Amazing little series where the road team won every game but Game 7 was always one Washington was going to win because Max Scherzer was on the mound and he was always going to shut the Astros down.

It was a series which had it all: a dude protecting the beer rather than himself, although considering it was Bud Light, I feel sorry for the ball which hit him; two women flashing their … ahem … merchandise for all to see and getting stadium bans from Major League Baseball because of it, although they claimed it was for a good cause and who am I to doubt them; egotistical umpires; Dave Martinez nearly having a coronary after an umpire made an interference call (which was the correct call, by the way).

Stephen Strasburg was a big reason the Washington Nationals won the World Series as he became the first pitcher in Major League Baseball history to win five games in the post-season.

But we were having a conversation around the newsroom on the day of Game 7 and this is what we talked about: remember how this could have been the Montreal Expos that could have won it all? I apologize profusely to those Expos fans who are still bitter at Major League Baseball and Jeffrey Loria (count me in). However, this is the case. We could have seen some sort of riod in Montreal last night had the Expos won Game 7.

In that vein and in honour of such Expos greats as Dennis Martinez, Larry Walker, Tim Wallach, Gary Carter, Moises Alou, Tim Raines, Andre Dawson, Rusty Staub and Youppi, the classy thing for the Nationals to do would be to visit Montreal with the trophy. Sure, it might not be like the real thing but this franchise would not exist in Washington had it not been for the Expos before them. And, yes, we still curse the strike in 1994 because Les Expos would have won then as well.

The loss of a giant

If you knew hockey, you knew about Jim Gregory. I had read about him and knew he was one of the best scouts going today, so good in fact that he ran the National Hockey League’s Central Scouting Bureau for many years.

You would never be able to find anyone who would or could have a bad word to say about Gregory because he gave you no reason to do so. He was as honest as they came and, according to anyone who’s spoken about him, kept his word to the end.

 

Gregory died on Oct. 30 after losing a battle with cancer. He was 83. The entire hockey world has had something to say about him and it’s all been positive, hence the no bad words. He once said he had his dream job when he was hired by the Toronto Maple Leafs as a scout but he eventually became the team’s general manager in 1969, a role he would hold for a decade. Considering who he had as a boss – Harold Ballard – it’s amazing he lasted that long.

Gregory built up a team that had a farm system nearly depleted and turned what was a really bad team at the beginning of the expansion era into one of the best. He was responsible for drafting such players as Darryl Sittler, Lanny McDonald, Errol Thompson, Randy Carlyle, Ian Turnbull and Mike Palmateer. The Leafs were a contender back then, if you can believe it, and had it not been for the Montreal Canadiens and the Philadelphia Flyers, they may have actually won a Stanley Cup.

He took over the scouting bureau after being fired by Ballard (there’s a funny story about how he was told he had been canned) and made it his own for 40 years until he stopped coming to the NHL office in Toronto in August. That’s when people started to realize his time was running out.

You will never get unanimous agreement on much but you will in Jim Gregory. He was everyone’s favourite.

And finally …

Good Idea: Finalizing the draw for the World Masters darts tournament.
Bad Idea: Finalizing the draw for the World Masters darts tournament with fake names.

There’s a reason why the British Darts Organization is looked upon as a joke by some these days and its latest stunt didn’t do anything to repair the reputation.

The BDO has hosted the World Masters tournament since 1974 and it’s the oldest major tournament still in operation. This year’s edition was held in Purfleet, England featuring players from around the world that qualified to be there. Including those who didn’t even exist.

It all began with all qualified players being forced to pay an entry fee to play. What tournament on the planet forces its participants to pay an entry fee for what they’ve qualified for? Ridiculous. Some of the international players didn’t pay the fee (because they weren’t told they had to) and weren’t in the original draw. Because of that, Des Jacklin, the BDO’s chairman, announced there would be a redraw of the players.

Jacklin took the blame. Alright, fine. Mistakes are going to happen but then the fake name business came in. The apparent reason why is because they could be replaced with real players if too many showed up. Anyway, the redraw occurred, which caused more confusion because no one knew what board they were playing on and there were no scorers at each board either, causing more confusion.

And imagine Keith Way of Yellowknife had the chance to play in this dosh but turned it down. He went to Romania instead for the World Cup, where at least organizers there had a clue.

It finally got sorted out and the tournament actually happened with a real winner in the end – John O’Shea of Ireland – but the BDO has been mercilessly mocked and harangued because of this. Can’t wait to see what its version of the world championship will look like. The Professional Darts Corporation, where anyone who has any sort of skill plays, will be dishing out more than $4 million in December. Who knows what the BDO will be handing out?

Until next time, folks …

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