I Was Wrong, Maybe

            Now that Bautista is back in the fold, it appears I was wrong when I wrote that Mark Shapiro wanted a draft pick more than he wanted Jose back; but maybe I wasn’t. Perhaps teams interested in Bautista also thought keeping their draft picks was better than signing him, and Shapiro, realizing he wasn’t going to get a draft pick, decided to re-sign a still-useful player to a deal that is eminently reasonable for both sides.

             The contract’s mutual options for the second year mean that if Bautista has a bad year the Jays can opt out. If Bautista has a great year, he can opt out. If he has a so-so year, either side can opt out.

             I’d love to be the proverbial fly-on-the-wall when Jose walks into the Jays’ club house at Dunedin next month. No matter how anyone spins it, Bautista has been thoroughly humiliated. He’s gone from arrogantly demanding a take-it-or-leave-it, guaranteed, five-year, 150-million-dollar deal to accepting one that guarantees just one year at 18 million, a situation that probably enlarged the chip on his shoulder, which was already too big to fit through most doors. That the deal could conceivably work out well for him is not apt to make Bautista any easier to take.

 If I Hadn’t Been There...

            If I hadn’t been there I wouldn’t believe the three improbable aspects of an otherwise ordinary occurrence last Thursday.

             I was having lunch with friends when two people approached our table. One was Connie Mandala, a friend I hadn’t seen since last spring; the other was Tom Kalyn, a guy I worked with at TransCanadaPipeLines in Saskatchewan back in 1958.

             The three improbable aspects: First, Tom was walking past the restaurant when he happened to glance through the window and recognized me; second, although I hadn’t seen him for over 58 years, I immediately recognized Tom when he appeared at our table; and, third, though they both arrived at our table at the same time, Connie and Tom had never seen each other before.

 Which Leads To More Improbables

            Most people reading this will know that Anne Murray was a client of mine for almost 25 years. Well, Tom Kalyn was Red Skelton’s Canadian manager for many years. What are the odds that two teenagers working in a construction office in Saskatchewan in 1958 would spend decades associated with two international entertainment superstars? But, there’s more.

             A third teenager working on that project was Doug Mitchell, who went on to head the Calgary Olympic Committee, be commissioner of the Canadian Football League, and for whom university football’s Mitchell Cup is named. And, still more.

             Doug’s son, Scott, and my son, Matthew, played high school hockey together at Toronto’s Upper Canada College. And, finally.

             It turns out that Tom and I have been regulars at that restaurant for over ten years, yet Thursday was the first time we ran into each other.

 Jeopardy Poignancy

            I’m an inveterate Jeopardy watcher.

            Because we record the shows and watch them when it’s convenient, we’re often well behind their air dates. So, by the time we watched Cindy Stowell’s appearances this past fall, the news was already out that when the shows were taped she was suffering from terminal colon cancer and had died shortly before they aired.

             Knowing that I was watching a woman who knew she was going to die soon, and by the time I was seeing the shows was already dead, added considerable poignancy, and, I admit, some discomfort. There was Ms. Stowell’s sheer bravery; other than a wavering voice, she gave no indication that anything was wrong. Then there was the question of how many segments she would win; which turned out to be six (she donated her winnings of $103,801 to cancer research). Finally, although I’m not a fan of Alex Trebek, I admired the professionalism with which he handled the situation and the appropriateness of his comments after her final show.

 More About Jeopardy

            Jeopardy fans are familiar with Ken Jennings, who won an astounding 74 consecutive games between June and November 2004, collecting $2,522,700 during his 75 appearances. Since then he’s added another $673,600 in tournament play for a total of $3,196,300. But he’s not Jeopardy’s biggest money winner; that title belongs to Brad Rutter.

             When Rutter won $55,102 during five consecutive wins in October 2000, the rules still stipulated that a player had to retire after five consecutive wins. But Rutter has cleaned Jennings’ clock in tournament play, winning $4,300,000 for a total of $4,355,102. Who knows what Rutter’s total would be had he been allowed to continue back in 2000.

            The biggest single-day win is Roger Craig’s $77,000 on September 14, 2010.