It may have been the greatest Canadiana convergence in history. The national team’s brawl at the World Baseball Classic found its way onto Hockey Night in Canada on the same night HNIC paid tribute to Stompin’ Tom Connors. Ann Murray’s tour bus crashing into a Tim Hortons drive-thru wouldn’t achieve the same critical mass of culture.
Saturday, Canada’s entry at the WBC beat Mexico 10-4 for its only win of the tourney. But the real story was Canadians being tossed from the game for their donnybrook with the Mexicans. The last punch was barely thrown before Canadian baseball legend Larry Walker (a coach with Team Canada) began plumping for some love on Coach’s Corner later that night.
“It’s Saturday night,” Walker told reporters. “It’s Hockey Night in Canada. Don Cherry can’t wait to get on the air.” (As if Don Cherry needs an excuse to watch a fight.)
No sooner said than done. Coach’s Corner instantly became Baseball Night in Canada with Cherry clucking approvingly over good old Canadian boys duking it out with them Mexicans. “Watch him, boom, the lefthander gets him down...” Cherry cackled over footage of the brawl.
Somehow Cherry avoided noting that the Canadians didn’t wear visors on their batting helmets. So we can be thankful for small mercies.
SATAN IN HIS EYES
Waker also scored better post-fight quotes than anything in hockey for 20 years. Talking about grabbing Mexico’s Alfredo Aceves, “I had a hold of him, and I think I saw Satan in his eyes. It was scary.”
Walker was also fired up for his country, “I look up there and see a sea of red with Canada written across it. Just wanted to fire the Canadian people up there a little bit... Nobody’s jerseys were tied down on the back. We could’ve gone into the stands. See what happens. Pull ‘em over their heads and throw some haymakers.”
The former Expos great knew his team was playing to type, “Nobody will be surprised that Team Canada was involved. Because that’s what they’ll say. All those damn hockey players. I don’t think this was necessarily started by us. We were invited into it, so we danced.”
While all this was going on, polls were saying Justin Trudeau will be the next prime minister of Canada. Discuss.
In the wake of the Canada/Mexico tiff, Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays says that it’s important to respect the “unwritten rules of the game”. As in, don’t run up a score even though the tournament rules say you need to run up a score in case of a tiebreaker.
That commandment joins other unwritten rules such as the phantom tag at second, corking your bat for power or taking PEDs so long as you don’t get caught.
Oh, and one other unwritten rule. If you play for Canada’s only major league team, put a sock in it when someone asks you to critique the one glimmer of good news Team Canada saw at the WBC.
NO CANADIAN DREAM
Nice Stompin Tom tribute on HNIC Saturday, but why were the Canadiens and Maple Leafs the only Canadian teams in the montage? Yes, the Habs and Leafs were the early teams on Saturday, but what about Calgary, the doubleheader team? The Flames were ignored along with the other four Canadian teams.
Stompin’ Tom would have insisted that the national game use the rest of the clubs, no? And he’d probably have gotten a hoot out of the Canadian cultural intelligentsia fawning over him in death when they wouldn’t have had him in their Rosedale condos in life.
OVER AND OUT
The Chicago Blackhawks consecutive-games-with-points streak is over. And so is ESPN’s long national nightmare of trying to find someone (anyone) on staff who knows what goes on in the NHL. Since dropping the NHL, ESPN has treated hockey like a red-headed stepchild.
So when Chicago pillaged the NHL, the World Wide Leader In (Other) Sports was compelled to have its announcers talking about the effect of tie games in the NHL (they’ve been gone since 2005) and posting clever polls such as “which would be the bigger blowout: Chicago over Miami in hockey or Miami over Chicago in basketball?”
Now that Chicago’s lost two straight, the folks in Bristol can go back to Barry Melrose and his extended audition for Kingpins Part Deux.
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