1) It’s funny how things work out. Last Saturday I nestled into my favourite chair to watch the Blue Jays’ spring training game. But the image that appeared on the TV screen was one of black clouds, a wet camera lens, and a tarp on the infield; the game was rained out. I hit the “Guide” button and saw that the St. Francis Xavier X-Men were playing the University of Saskatchewan Huskies in a CIS men’s hockey semi-final. I clicked “Select” and for the rest of the afternoon watched one of the best hockey games I’ve ever seen. The X-Men won 2-1 with a goal at the 17:35 mark of triple overtime. Most extended overtime games become tentative and sluggish, but not this one. It was wide-open, end-to-end, clean, hard-hitting hockey the whole way. The goalies, X-Men’s Drew Owsley and Jordan Cooke for the Huskies, each played what had to be the game of his life. Owsley stopped 55 shots and Cooke 61 for save percentages of .982 and .968, respectively, with many of the saves being of the highlight-reel variety. There was even a disallowed goal when the X-Men had one called back early in the third overtime period. Though there’s no video review in University hockey, television replays clearly showed the officials made the right call. It was also fitting that Michael Clarke’s game-winning goal was a beauty. This was a game that both teams deserved to win and neither team deserved to lose.
2) Probably everything that could be said about former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, after his death last Tuesday, has been said. His former chief of staff, Mark Towhey, in an article for Macleans magazine, likely summed it up most accurately when he wrote that Ford was both the best and worst mayor that Toronto ever had. Another way of putting it is that he was, at the same time, both the most famous and infamous mayor Toronto has ever had. He was unquestionably the most unforgettable.
3) As was the case with Rob Ford’s death, just about everything that could be said about Tuesday’s federal budget has been said, so I‘m only going to make one comment. It looks like it was prepared by Norman Vincent Peale and L. Frank Baum.
4) Joe Garagiola also died this week. He was ninety. Garagiola was a major league catcher for nine seasons and turned to broadcasting when he retired in the mid-50s. His baseball broadcasting career was split between radio and television and spanned about thirty-five years. Probably his best-known baseball broadcasts were when he and Tony Kubek did NBC’s weekly national games. After leaving sports broadcasting in the late 80s he became a regular on The Today Show for almost a decade. He even filled in for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, most famously on a night when John Lennon and Paul McCartney were guests. He then hosted a number of game shows and was also the host of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show for eight years. Garagiola grew up in St. Louis on the same street as Yankee Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra, which led to one of his best lines (and he had lots of them). “Imagine,” Joe said, “spending nine years in the big leagues and not even be the best catcher on your block.” But he was one of the best and most versatile broadcasters ever, which is all the more impressive because he went straight from playing to broadcasting without any radio or TV experience whatsoever.
5) The Jian Ghomeshi verdict of not guilty on all counts shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone who followed the trial closely. The three complainants’ credibility was completely shredded during cross examination by Ghomeshi’s lawyer, Marie Henein. Justice William Horkins recognized this in his verdict and virtually called two of them liars, probably stopping short in order to avoid the consideration of perjury charges. (Speaking of Ms. Henien, I wonder if she ever smiles.) Ghomeshi isn’t out of the woods yet; he has another sexual assault trial coming up in June. It should also be remembered, as the Judge pointed out, the not guilty verdict simply means the allegations weren’t proven beyond a reasonable doubt; which is not the same as proving that the assaults never happened.