MUSINGS, MAY 11, 2019

DUBAS/BABCOCK SAGA

According to Leafs GM Kyle Dubas, he and coach Mike Babcock have buried the hatchet and they’re both, to quote Dubas, “all in” for next season. A reasonable guess would be that Brendan Shanahan put them in a room and told them to work things out. Which causes me to wonder in whose back the hatchet ended up being buried.

DROLL COUNTRY MUSIC

I usually deal with country music song titles under this heading, but this week I feel compelled to write about the content of one. While listening to Willie’s Road House on Sirius XM a few days ago I heard David Frizzell’s 1982 hit song  I’m Gonna Hire A Wino To Decorate Our Home, and was reminded of just how droll its lyrics are.

Songwriter DeWayne Blackwell (who also wrote Garth Brooks’ breakout hit Friends In Low Places) wrote this song from the point of view of a frustrated wife whose husband, on his way home every payday, always spent far too much money at his favourite bar.

The lyrics are so fiendishly clever that even if you’re not a country music fan they’re worth a YouTube visit.

JAMES HOLZHAUER

If you don’t recognize this name you’re clearly not a Jeopardy fan. James Holzhauer is a thirty-five-year-old professional sports gambler from Las Vegas who is the latest Jeopardy superstar. He has won twenty-two consecutive games, during which he’s amassed a total of $1,691,008. Both of these regular-episode achievements are second only to Ken Jennings’ 74-game winning streak and winnings of $2,522,700. in 2004. But, Holzhauer has more than doubled Jennings’ daily average winnings ($76,864 to $34,090). 

Jeopardy has never experienced such daily domination. During his twenty-two wins Holzhauer has set an astonishing ten daily records. His daily average is only $136 short of the old daily record of $77,000 set by Roger Craig almost a decade ago. Not only that, during his twenty-two wins he has been catchable only twice going into final Jeopardy.

Holzhauer’s main strategy is to quickly build up his winnings by choosing the most expensive squares available and then betting startling amounts on the daily doubles and final Jeopardy. His seemingly uncanny ability to pick the daily doubles has been characterized as either luck or some mysterious mental algorithm. I don’t think it’s either. The odds are that he’ll hit the most daily doubles simply because he comes up with the most right answers, which gives him the most opportunities to do so. He also has nerves of steel, is very smart, and has admitted to spending about a year boning up on trivia in preparation for his appearance on the show.

For all this, Holzhauer still has a way to go to catch Jeopardy’s all-time champion, Brad Rutter, who has never lost a regular or tournament game. There’s no way of knowing what kind of streak Rutter might have fashioned because when he played the regular game there was a rule prohibiting a player from winning more than five times. Rutter has defeated Ken Jennings in every champions tournament and has total winnings of about $3,600,000.

Because of the popular annual teachers’ tournament, Holzhauer was off this week and won’t appear again until May 20th.

A VERY BAD DECISION 

In 2006 the Toronto Maple Leafs owned the rights to two of the NHL’s best young goaltending prospects. In June of that year GM John Ferguson Jr. decided to trade one of them to the Boston Bruins for established journeyman netminder Andrew Raycroft. The goalie he kept was Justin Pogge, who eventually played a grand total of 372 minutes in the NHL and now plays in Sweden. Starting with Raycroft, the Leafs have since employed a couple of dozen different goalies.

The goalie Ferguson traded, Tuukka Rask, has played a total of 508 games in the NHL and right now is a strong contender for the Conn Smythe Trophy, which is awarded to the playoff MVP. 

Ferguson has been working in the Bruins organization for the last five years.

’BYE FOR NOW

As usual, the Muses are taking the summer off. They’ll be back sometime in the fall.

My Thought For The Day feature will continue.

MUSINGS, MAY 4, 2019