1) Throughout this seemingly interminable federal election campaign we’ve seen more polls than politicians have talking points. Polls are usually accompanied by the qualification that they are accurate within three percentage points nineteen times out of twenty. Wouldn’t you love to see how inaccurate that other one must be?
2) A few years ago I wrote an article about the night I played rhythm guitar with the greatest blue grass banjo player of all time, the late Earl Scruggs. Through a mutual friend, an artist’s agent and former rock ‘n roll bass player by the name of D. J. MacLaughlin, I was invited to dinner at Earl’s place in Madison, a suburb of Nashville. After dinner, Earl’s wife Louise suggested we “have a tune.” We trooped into their music room and Louise sat down at the piano. Earl handed D.J. a six-string acoustic bass and then picked up a guitar. That’s when D.J. outed me saying, “No, Earl, you play banjo, Lyman can play rhythm.” With a lot of patience and understanding from the other three, I managed to get through a fairly lengthy jam session without major embarrassment. The reason I bring this up is because earlier this week I got a call from a chap by the name of Dave Russell, who’s writing a biography of Earl Scruggs. He wanted to interview me about that night. We spent about twenty minutes or so talking about it, so I got to relive one of my greatest thrills.
3) Last Sunday, Blue Jay manager John Gibbons received kudos for compassionately giving pitcher Mark Buehrle a start on one day’s rest. He did it in order to provide Buehrle with an opportunity to complete 200 innings for the fifteenth season in a row. Because of a combination of uncharacteristic Blue Jay fielding ineptness, which a tired Buehrle couldn’t overcome, it turned out to be disastrous. That’s not why I bring it up. The reason I do is that I’m wondering where Gibbons’ compassion was when, late in the game, he lifted Edwin Encarnacion while Edwin still had one more chance to hit his fortieth home run of the season. Also, if any journalist questioned Gibbons about this, I missed it.
4) Should the Blue Jays make the World Series, (which at the moment seems unlikely) Friday, October 30, could possibly be the busiest day in Toronto sports history. The Blue Jays, Maple Leafs, Raptors, and Argos would all be playing; though only the Argos would be playing at home. Other than it would be in the National League city, we don’t know where the Jays would be, but the Leafs will be in New York and the Raptors in Boston. If the Jays beat the odds and make it, there’ll be a lot of TV remote clicking and scoreboard watching that night.
5) Last Thursday’s Toronto Star’s front page had a picture of a niqab-clad woman with the quotation, “I have a right to be here – this is my country.” But how would we know for sure? Her face is so hidden that she’s unrecognizable.
6) Sixty-four years ago yesterday I saw my first NHL game. I was in Toronto on a trip with my father. (No, I wasn’t missing school. Back then, in rural PEI where I grew up, schools closed for a week or so in the fall for potato picking). I had two sisters and a brother living in Toronto at the time, and my brother obtained two tickets to the 1951 NHL all-star game at Maple Leaf Gardens. That year, the first-team all-stars, augmented by players from the American teams, played against the second-team all-stars, augmented by players from the Leafs and Canadiens. It was pretty thrilling for a kid goaltender from PEI to see Terry Sawchuk, Harry Lumley, Chuck Rayner and Gerry MacNeil, at the time the four best goalies in the league, all play in the same game. I saw Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Red Kelly, Rocket Richard, Milt Schmidt, Max and Doug Bentley, Doug Harvey, Ted Kennedy, Butch Bouchard and Tod Sloan. I saw many others whose names I’ve forgotten, but I assure you I knew all their names at the time. The referee was the legendary Bill Chadwick. I also remember being surprised that there were a few empty seats; I couldn’t understand why any hockey fan would miss this game. As I recall, our tickets cost about $1,50 each; and they were centre-ice Greens, which were very good seats. (Leaf owner Conn Smythe sat in the Greens.) As I was such a rabid hockey fan it’s ironic that this wasn’t my first time at the Gardens. A few days earlier I attended a circus there
7) It was interesting to see Kevin Pillar and R. A. Dickey singing along with the Canadian national anthem before yesterday’s ALDS game here in Toronto.