August 08, 2007


It's finally, mercifully, over. Barry Bonds went yard for the 756th time Tuesday night, surpassing the great Hank Aaron and ending an awkward chase to one of pro sports' greatest records.

I want to pinch myself. I can't believe it's over. I'm so sick of seeing Bonds' bulbous head on my television screen. There's only so much Barry Bonds I can take, and I'm probably the happiest dude out there now that he's broken the record.

Seven hundred and fifty six home runs. When you write it out like that, it's even more impressive. That's a lot of home runs. I'll give credit where it's due, because I know that Bonds hit the majority of his home runs before he started juicing. He was a legitimate hall of famer before the steroids. At the end of the day, he got to 756 home runs in approximately 3000 fewer at bats than Hank Aaron. That simply blows my mind.

Three thousand at bats! At the same time, Bonds has walked more than any other baseball player as well. Everyone tries to pitch around him, but he still hits home runs. He's a marvel. A freak of nature. What he's been able to accomplish at his age is stunning, and goes against all conventional wisdom. You don't get better with age. Not in any sport. Especially baseball. The body breaks down and the timing is the first to go. Hitting a 90 mile-per-hour fastball is one of the most difficult things to do, but Bonds does it with ease as a 43 year old. He is special. But there's no doubt in my mind he took steroids, and knew that he was taking steroids.

The home run. It's the ultimate play in baseball, and maybe even in all of pro sports. The home run revived baseball in America, after the lockout in 1994 cost MLB its World Series, and put the game on life support.

I was a huge baseball fan in the early 90's, but baseball lost its appeal during the strike of 94. I fell for the game of hockey, and it remains my true passion today. Baseball still holds a dear place in my heart, and I'll never forget the summer of 1998 when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa rewrote the history books. That's when I went back to baseball. McGwire's 70 home runs were pure drama. I watched his every at bat when he was chasing Roger Maris' record of 61. I watched him hit number 62, and 65, and ultimately, number 70. It was magical. It was only revealed after the fact that McGwire too, was on the juice.

Bonds' chase for 756 was different. To see him get booed in every stadium but San Francisco is amazing. Only in one city is he embraced. The steroid cloud follows Bonds where ever he goes, and while baseball celebrated the exploits of McGwire and Sosa, no one except for the fans of San Francisco knew how to react to Bonds' pursuit of the all-time home run record.

I watched Bonds smack number 756 into the bleachers live. It was history in the making, yet I sat there emotionless. It didn't effect me. I don't like Barry Bonds. I never really have. Maybe it's because he's been in the National League his whole career and I've never really gotten to see him play. Or maybe it's because he's known to be one of the rudest and most ungrateful athletes on the planet.

In my heart, I know Bonds cheated. I know McGwire did too, but for some reason I see Bonds in a different light, and I'm not sure why. I'm still trying to figure it out.

I've heard the argument on behalf of Barry Bonds - that the majority of ball players take steroids and cheat. I fear we'll never know the truth about how many players really were, and still are, on the juice. Many players have been suspended thanks to baseball's new drug-testing policy. What I do know is that some guys have to take steroids in order to stay in the big leagues. To get that extra two miles on their fastball, or to let that shoulder heal just a little bit quicker, in order to keep their job.

Barry Bonds didn't need to take steroids to keep his job, or to earn his paycheck. He was already one of the greatest ball players of our generation. A five-tool player who could do it all. A man who could hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases. But 40 home runs in a season wasn't enough for Bonds. He wanted more. He took the juice for all the wrong reasons, and that's why I can't forgive him.

Asterisk or no asterisk, Barry Bonds has hit number 756. There will be no celebration on this end. Just an acknowledgement. I'm just glad it's over...

August 06, 2007

Props Out To Thurmo

Thurman Thomas - "The Thurmonator" - was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. As a Buffalo Bills fan that endured four straight Super Bowl losses in the early 90's with Thurmo in the backfield, I've got to show him some love.

It's true. I'm a Buffalo Bills fan. I know, "Bills" stands for "Boy I Love Losing Super Bowl's." I've heard it before. Get it out of your system.

Finished? Great.

There hasn't been a lot of football commentary at, so before I get to Thurmon Thomas, I'll share with you the story of how I became a Buffalo Bills fan.

I followed a couple of friends. They were Bills fans. That's it. I was young, I didn't need a good reason. It seemed like a logical choice at the time.

As I grew older, I justified aligning my football allegiance with the hideous city of Buffalo because it was the closest NFL city, geographically, to Toronto.

Thurman Thomas was my favourite running back growing up. I loved those Bills teams and every time they made the Super Bowl (from 1991 to 1994), I truly believed they would win them. All of them. By 1994, even just one of them. It was heartbreaking. Absolutely devastating. To make it to the ultimate game four seasons in a row, and lose each one? Wow. It still hurts. If there is such thing as a "loser complex", the city of Buffalo owns it. They've copyrighted it.

Thurmo, a five-time Pro Bowler, was dominating in the backfield in the early 90's. Along with Jim Kelly, they dominated the AFC. It was fun to watch.

Thomas, the leading rusher in Buffalo Bills' franchise history, finished with 16,532 yards from scrimmage, which ranks 8th all-time in the NFL. His 12,074 rushing yards rank 12th all-time in the league's books. Thurmo is also the only player to ever lead the league in total yards from scrimmage for four consecutive seasons.

There's more. He's also the only man to ever score a touchdown in four consecutive Super Bowl's. Trust me, the guy was good.

What makes Thomas' story even more special is the fact that he wasn't supposed to have such an illustrious career. He wasn't a "can't miss prospect" out of college. He was a projected first-round draft pick, but a knee injury caused him to slip to the second round, where the Bills were more than happy to draft him. But Thomas worked hard and set out to prove his doubters wrong, because that's how he rolled.

Legendary coach and Hall of Famer Marv Levy praised Thurmo at his induction ceremony. "On a team with many stars, never did I hear a complaint from (Thomas) about 'Not getting the ball enough,'" said Levy, who called Thomas, "One of the most unselfish players I have ever known."

Thurmo's induction brought back a lot of memories of those great Bills teams. Jim Kelly at the helm, Thurmo in the backfield, Andre Reed at wide receiver, Steve Tasker on special teams, and Canadian Steve Christie kicking field goals. Who can forget Bruce Smith and Cornelius Bennett? Rudey's, all of them.

The 1991 season was the finest hour of Thurmo's career, and he was named the league's MVP. In the 1991 Super Bowl against the New York Giants, Thomas rushed for 135 yards and one touchdown, along with 55 yards on five receptions. It was the game of his dreams. But it turned into a nightmare.

Super Bowl XXV. 1991. January 27th. Tampa Stadium. Two words:

Wide Right.

Scott Norwood shanked the winning field goal, the Bills lost 20-19, and it was the closest - two points - they would ever come to touching the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

I wonder what Scott Norwood is doing with his life. I wonder if he dreams about that field goal. I wonder how often he thinks about it. I wonder if he's gone completely nuts like Ray Finkle in Ace Ventura Pet Detective. Laces out man, laces out.

Thurman Thomas is now immortalized forever in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and rightly so. He and the rest of his Buffalo teammates weren't able to get their hands on a Super Bowl ring, but Thomas is now the proud new owner of a Hall of Fame ring, one I'm sure he will wear with immense pride.

Although I hate everything about the city of Buffalo, their football team remains a part of my youth. I'll never forget those trips to the Super Bowl and the losses to the Giants, Redskins, and those damn Dallas Cowboys. Those losses, however, can't cover up all the good the Bills, and Thurmon Thomas, accomplished. Most important of all, though - I'll never forget #34 Thurmon Thomas.

Thanks Thurmo. You left me, and an entire generation of Buffalo Bills fans, with some great memories. Props out to Thurmon Thomas, one of the best running backs to suit up in the NFL.

August 02, 2007

Deep Thoughts

For my loyal readers - yes, all two of you - I'm pleased to report that The Poni Express has officially arrived. I got paid. $100 cool, crisp, easily-earned dollars. Well, I wouldn't say too easily. It came down to the wire. Thanks to my boy 40, for being a man of his word, and thanks to my main man Alexei Ponikarovsky for coming through with 21 goals. I believe in the Poni. He's gonna pot 30 this year.

Anyways, much has been going on in the sporting world recently - it's almost been overwhelming. It's time for SportsAndTheCity to weigh in with his two cents on the happenings in the sporting world.

I think Michael Vick is one of the dumbest men on the planet. The dog fighting scandal, which could potentially take away his freedom, will, if it hasn't already, become his legacy. Vick got himself into this situation, and is therefore an idiot. He deserves whatever the justice system throws at him, including jail time and a prolonged suspension from the NFL, if he is found guilty. I am by no means a fan of dogs, or pets for that matter, but even I wouldn't do what he supposedly did to the dogs mentioned his indictment. Idiot...

I think the Toronto Blue Jays season is officially over. The Jays won five in a row before embarking on a six-game road trip to the south side of Chicago and sunny Florida. Six games against the lowly White Sox and the ever-pathetic Devil Rays. This was prime time for the Jays to make their run. I'm talking Deion Sanders "Primetime" - you know, hopping into the end zone. But the Jays went two-and-four on the trip. Losing two of three to the White Sox I can understand, but dropping two of three to the Devil Rays is absolutely unacceptable, especially at this time of the season. The Jays scored eight runs in three games against Tampa Bay, whose pitchers own the worst E.R.A. in all of baseball. Pathetic. Bring out the salami and cheese Chuck Swirsky, this baseball season is over mama...

I think Josh Towers is the ultimate tool. This guy's got some nerve calling out his teammates and the coaching staff, which he did in Chicago last week. I don't care how competitive Towers is, a man that owns a 5-8 win-loss record and a horrific 5.17 E.R.A. has absolutely no right calling out anybody. Not even Royce freakin' Clayton. Take a look in the God damn mirror, Towers. I wish I could take a vaudevillian hook and just yank Towers off the Blue Jays' roster. If you don't know what a vaudevillian hook is, Google it...

I think, uh oh, the Boston Celtics are going to be mighty good this coming season. Celtic pride? Yeah, I'd say so. I'm not ready, however, to hand them the Atlantic Division title. Like Jerry told George when George wanted to be his Latex Salesman - "I don't think so." Not after my Toronto Raptors worked their asses off to claim the title last year. Regardless of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce (say it with the Boston accent with me - Powl Pieeeeaace) in Beantown, this is still the Raptors' division to lose. Allen and Pierce are historically injury prone, so one of them is bound to go down. And I don't know what everyone else is thinking, but there's only one ball to go around for those three all-stars. That could pose a problem. The Raptors have the deepest bench in the Eastern Conference and that is their strength. The Celtics, meanwhile, have no bench. They traded everyone away to land The Big Ticket - Kevin Garnett. Great nickname, by the way. Anyhow, the Raps' bench will step up and deliver Toronto its second-straight division title. You heard it here first, my friends...

I think I hate Barry Bonds. Actually check that, I know I hate him. It hasn't set in that Bonds - the "big-headed one" as Pete McGentegart of Sports Illustrated's the 10 Spot calls him - is only one home run away from Hark Aarons hallowed 755. Bonds has been a jerk to the media and the fans his entire career, is a full-fledged cheater, was already destined to go to the Hall of Fame before he started juicing, and is just a miserable individual to be around. He doesn't appreciate that he is a man playing a boy's game. He's ungrateful, and that's the worst trait a professional athlete can possess, in my humble opinion. I know it's terrible, but here's hoping Barry Bonds meets with an unfortunate accident before he hits number 756...

I think I don't understand what the rest of Toronto sees in Matt Stajan. There was an article in The Star saying that if Mike Peca stays with the Leafs, then Matt Stajan goes. Now that headline made me put on my dancing shoes, like R. Kelly. Everyday I log onto The Star's website hoping to learn that Stajan has finally been traded. It seems, however, that I'm in the minority when it comes to this dream. A recent poll in the Toronto Star showed that 69% of Torontonians would choose Matt Stajan over Mike Peca. The results of the poll are mind-boggling to me. All I can ask is - like Jerry Seinfeld asked the girl whom he was seeing when he found out she had gone out with Newman, with an exasperated look on his face - "why!?" And I don't want to hear "because he's younger." Stajan's age - he'll be 24 this December, while Peca is 33 - doesn't make him skate any faster, give him a harder slapshot, or make him a better hockey player. Someone please tell me what Stajan has to offer to next season's Leafs squad? Peca is a better all-around player who I have no doubt can score as many goals as Stajan did last year - 10. Peca is also a better face-off man, a better defensive player, a grittier player, and a better penalty killer. Forget about their respective ages, and there's no way anyone can tell me that Matt Stajan offers more to the Leafs than Mike Peca. 2079 people would rather have Stajan, compared to only 929 who want Peca, in The Star poll. Basically, 69% of Leafs fans are out of their minds. I hate Stajan...

I think it would be an absolute travesty if David Beckham doesn't play in this weekends match in Toronto, with the L.A. Galaxy in town to visit Toronto FC. Scalpers are selling tickets to the game for billions, and it just wouldn't be right for people to shell out so much coin and not see Beckham spend a minute on the pitch. I understand that he's injured, but without playing a single regular season game he is already the face of the league, and has a responsibility to his team, the league and it's fans. Eight out of the sixteen sellouts in Major League Soccer this year are courtesy of Toronto FC fans. I had a chance to visit BMO Field for Toronto's friendly with English club Aston Villa, and I must say the atmosphere is great. The sight lines in the stadium are all good, and it's clear to me why soccer is already a hit in this city. The MLS All-Star game is coming to Toronto next year, and rightfully so. Come one Beckham, make like a hockey player, suck it up, and get your ass in the lineup...

I think I love fantasy sports. We held our draft tonight for the keeper hockey league I'm in, and it was a blast. My brother is the commissioner of the fantasy league we all devote so much time to, and he's done a fabulous job, I must say. A lot of work goes into a keeper league, but it's great fun, and an even better time-waster. I finished second last year, and traded away most my draft picks for this coming season in the process. I gave up the farm, as they say. My newly drafted team stinks, but the rebuilding process won't be long, I hope. I'm blessed to have the wonder-boy Sidney Crosby, so hopefully my stay at the bottom of the league won't last long. It's unbelievable that fantasy sports are a $1 billion dollar industry today. Although it certainly isn't surprising. It's the closest I'll ever get to managing my own hockey team...

I think the Boston Red Sox are the team to beat in the American League. Their bullpen is off the heezy, with Hideki Okajima, the newly acquired Canadian Eric Gagne, and Jonathan Papelbon. Their staff E.R.A. is the best in the game, and now innings seven, eight and nine will be lights out 95% of the time. A great trade to land Gagne, I must say. The Red Sox and Yankees know no limits. Boston is the team to beat. I'm jealous. Sigh... I think it's extremely interesting that no one Jose Canseco accused of taking steriods/performance-enhancing drugs in his book last year has even tried to sue him. Cough! - I'm lookin at you Barry Bonds - Cough! Usually, when someone says an author or person has lied, they sue him or her for libel. Yet Canseco has no subpoena's to deal with, and is getting ready to publish his second book. I think that's bait... I think I'm tired, and it's time for bed...

Goodnight, Toronto.