TSN – The Stoopid Network

Posted in Sports, What? on April 11th 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: I remain a sports fan to this day, although my passion for following my favorite sports, baseball and hockey, began waning in the 80s. One of my daily rituals is taping SportsCentre overnight on TSN, and watching the highlights in the morning before going to work. TSN, Canada’s equivalent to (and owned by) ESPN, also functions as the Toronto Sports Network – during hockey season, a SportsCentre broadcast cannot go by without some reference to the Toronto Maple Leafs. If the Leafs aren’t playing that day, TSN will offer a preview of the preview of the preview of their next game, or ask coach Pat Quinn what he had for supper. Despite the bias, usually I can expect good reports and coverage as well as an entertaining broadcast.

However, over time, the SportsCentre anchors and writers have worked hard to invent new nicknames for some of the teams they cover, as well as phrases to describe things like time left in the period (1:28 remaining to be played is termed “a buck twenty-eight”), a home run (“he goes yard” or “a 2-run jack”), two home runs in a row (“back to back jacks”), and the result of a goal increasing the team’s lead in the game (“up a bill”).

Some of the incredibly annoying team nicknames heard on SportsCentre lately include:

  • the Yotes – Phoenix Coyotes
  • the Nucks – Vancouver Canucks
  • the Team in Red – Detroit Red Wings
  • Josey – San Jose Sharks
  • the Bolts – Tampa Bay Lightning
  • the Buds – Toronto Maple Leafs

“The Nucks”? It’s a pure form of dumbing down the viewer, or perhaps playing to the lowest common denominator, some version of the beer-swilling, brain-dead, cheese-eating frat boy, who needs booster cables to get out of bed in the morning. I hear the broadcaster say, “the Nucks”, and wonder: 1) is it too much of an expense of energy to say “the CAnucks”?, or 2) is TSN trying to save time on its broadcast?, or 3) has TSN completed market research which suggests that their viewers will think it’s really cool to hear phrases like that?

With this in mind, what a pleasure it is to discover this British web site, Plain English Campaign. It is a simple, stripped down site, supporting “an independent pressure group fighting for public information to be written in plain English.” My favorite section in the Examples page. It includes the complete archive of Golden Bull award winners, Plain-English translations (“before” and “after” examples), and The gobbledygook generator: “You really can’t fail with facilitating administrative mobility.”

Meanwhile, in hockey, The Team in Red is playing the Preds, my Habs face Beantown, the ‘Nucks face off against the Matchsticks, The Buds and The Sens continue their playoff series, Josey and Bluesy continue their battle…you get the imagery – er – graphic representation – er – picture. As for TSN, bring back Jennifer Hedger on the late night editions, PLEASE!

So I’m curious. To those who watch ESPN in the States: Is the same thing happening on that network? Duh.

Snow and Rumours of Snow

Posted in Sports on November 19th 2003 by Randy Reichardt

:: Snow. Lots of it, everywhere. On the roads, on the grass, on the sidewalk, on your driveway. It snowed here all day, by 5:00 pm the roads were so bad that it took me 65 minutes to drive home (usually a 15 minute drive on a good day.) Thankfully it stopped around 8:00 pm, and it’s now clear and cold.

It’s a good thing the snow stopped now, because on Saturday, there will be two outdoor hockey games in Edmonton involving the Montreal Canadiens and the Edmonton Oilers. One is an old-timers game featuring the likes of Wayne Gretzky and Guy Lafleur, followed by a regular-season game in the evening, the first outdoor NHL game in league history. The game, designated The Heritage Classic, is a sell-out, and will break the previous NHL attendance record by over 25,000 – expected attendance is 56,159, all of whom will need to dress warmly, as the high that day is predicted to be -7C, and it will be much cooler than that by the evening. A specially designed rink is being prepared for the game. The game coincides with the NHL’s 86th anniversary of its founding, and the 25th year of the Oilers in the league. The game is being broadcast in HDTV.

I’ve lived in Edmonton since 1978, but have always cheered for the Habs, and would love to attend the game, but no such luck. Tickets were awarded to names drawn from entries mailed in months ago, and I never made the time to enter. The outdoor game has already invoked a bit of nostalgia for me. As a kid, I played hockey for five years (not well, mind you!), and spent many a night on an outdoor rink, often helping to shovel snow from the ice surface so a game could happen. I played street hockey for years as well, with whichever kids were available at the time.

Baseball Blues, Part 2

Posted in Miscellaneous, Random Thoughts, Sports on October 18th 2003 by Randy Reichardt

:: Dave Barry brilliantly summarizes recent baseball events, including the Cubs’ loss to his beloved Marlins, the arrogance of the NYY, and the (potentionally boring) World Series, beginning tonight. Reluctantly, I’ll pull for the Marlins – the lesser of two (boring) evils. (Via Derryl.)

:: It is a gorgeous sunny, fall day in Calgary. After two visits to Tim McKay, the best chiropractor on Planet Earth, my shoulder area is less painful, and my lower back feels fine. This morning I spent time with my dear friend Carole and her mom, and met her new, 5-day old angel, Grace Elizabeth. Later this afternoon I’m off for coffee with another friend, then a visit with my brother, Chris, and then on to my high school class Mini Reunion in the evening. Tomorrow morning it will be dim sum with – wait for it – another friend (it’s nice to have a lot of friends in Calgary!), and then either a movie, or head back to Edmonton.

:: Bill Maher makes an interesting case for the hypocrisy surrounding Rush Limbaugh’s addiction to pain killer medication and the ongoing drug wars in the USA.

Baseball Blues and the Pain

Posted in Sports on October 17th 2003 by Randy Reichardt

:: In my youth, I was an avid Montreal Canadiens fan, I lived and died by their Cup wins and losses. I was also a huge baseball fan, the Minnesota Twins being my team of choice. I was thrilled when The Twins won the 1987 and 1991 WS, followed by the Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993.

In my later years, hockey has fallen considerably as a sports interest, although the Habs remain my team of choice. I’ve lived in Edmonton since 1978 but maintain no allegiance to the Oilers. Strikes, idiot owners and greedy players aside, I still love baseball.

The possibility of a Cubs/Red Sox World Series loomed large two days ago. Today it will be a Yankees/Marlins World Series. The Yankees have won 26 WS, 4 since 1996, the last in 2000. The Marlins have been in the league for 10 years, and won in 1997. The Cubs last won in 1908, the Red Sox in 1918. You tell me which series would have been more exciting.

I think, for the first time in years, I will pay little attention to the World Series next week. The Yankees, a team fueled by 180 million US in salaries, are becoming as predictable and boring as the Atlanta Braves. The Marlins?? Can you name one player on the team? Their fan support this year was pathetic, averaging under 17,000 per game. The word was that Fox Sports was hoping that at least one of the two sad sack teams made it to the WS, so as to assure a large TV audience for the games. Now with the NYY and Marlins, chances are the ratings will match last years’ WS, the lowest in decades. The Yankees? It’s like a broken record. You need a better position player? Well, buy the player. Combine deep pockets with great management and media revenue that does not get redistributed to poorer teams, and your team, in this case The Yankees, will be there every year.

It’s no surprise that fans have turned away from the WS in recent years. The small market teams can’t compete without the income. But more importantly, in the World Series, there are few, if any, surprises. Some of the players on the Yankees are entering their sixth WS in eight years. It would be cool to see players from other teams get their once. But the Yankees, as players, are not to be faulted – they won, they worked hard to get there, they deserve to be there. At the same time, don’t fault the fans who are losing interest in the World Series each year because there are few surprises left for them.

:: Last night around 3:00 am, I woke with pain in my upper right arm, near the shoulder. It hasn’t subsided. I’m heading to Calgary in 2 hours, and will stop for a chiropractic check on the way in. I hope the chiropractor can help. I don’t know what’s wrong. I may have been sleeping on it or something, but it sure hurts like hell.