Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Ticats Endangered in Hamilton by Stupidity

Ever had one of those days where you think to yourself, “Wow, I’m terrible at my job”?  Well never fear, you can make yourself feel better in the most human of all ways – by pointing and laughing at someone who’s even worse at their job than you are at yours.

I’m talking, of course, about Hamilton Ontario City Councillors.  And the Mayor.

Here’s the scenario:  The 2015 Pan Am Games are awarded to the Greater Toronto Area.  As part of the deal, the corporate entity hosting the games (“HostCo”) negotiates a deal with the federal and provincial governments, securing funding assistance for the building of certain venues.  Among these venues is a multipurpose stadium suitable for soccer events.    There’s one important proviso: money will be available from the feds and province for a soccer stadium provided the planned new stadium has a “legacy tenant”, somebody to use the fucking place after the 2 week Pan Am games are over. Hamilton gets targeted for, among other things, some of the soccer events.

The timing of all of this is like a gift from heaven for the City and its professional football franchise, the Hamilton Tiger Cats, because the Ticats currently play in an aging and decrepit facility that is difficult if not impossible to retrofit, and because it was unlikely the City and football team would be able to swing the construction of a new facility on their own.  Everything is falling into place: other governments are willing to help build an already needed stadium, provided things can be worked out to get the team that needs the new stadium to play in the planned new stadium.  Shouldn’t be hard, right?  All that remains is for the City of Hamilton to choose its proposed stadium site.

Cue the lunacy.  Ten sites are identified as possible Hamilton locations for the new stadium.  One of them – the West Harbour location – is identified as most beneficial to the City in terms of assisting with downtown redevelopment, but absolutely the worst for the Ticats.  The Ticats commission several studies, all of which tell them that they will struggle financially – or more accurately continue to struggle financially – if they go to the West Harbour location.  The Ticats express the importance of choosing  some other location to the City.  They express a preference for a location at Confederation Park.  The City resists.  A facilitator is appointed to mediate the dispute.  The facilitator agrees with the Ticats that the West Harbour site is not feasible for them, and recommends an alternative compromise site, something called the “East Mountain” site.

The Ticats are not thrilled, but indicate they are prepared to make it work.  The owner of the team even indicates he’s prepared to put $15 million on the table to assist with the funding, and to arrange for $59 million in additional funding to sweeten the pot for the City.

The City still wants its West Harbour site.

The owner of the team says in no uncertain terms that the Ticats will not play at the West Harbour site.

City Council votes and chooses – you guessed it – the West Harbour site.

So Council has recommended the one site that does not meet with the basic funding requirements, because it cannot boast an anchor or legacy tenant. No legacy tenant means there is a very real chance that no funding for the stadium will be forthcoming.  No funding means no stadium.  No stadium means no Pan Am games events and no economic development of any kind.  Aside from the profound embarrassment for the City that would result from a failure of this nature, such an outcome would represent a failure to move forward that is unlikely to be overcome in a generation.  City Council has made the one decision that results in the opportunity of a generation leaving town, likely to York University.

City Council has also thoroughly pissed off the Hamilton Tiger Cats and their owner.  As someone who’s been involved in a lot of community fundraising over the years, I can tell you this is horribly unjust as the Ticats, under the stewardship of Bob Young, have been tremendous corporate citizens and very responsible and caring contributors to the community.  The Ticats have a year and a half left on their lease at the charming, but inevitably obsolete Ivor Wynne Stadium.  The hope they had of moving to a new, more economically feasible, modern stadium in this City has been extinguished by the ridiculously short-sighted vote of City Council.  There is now a realistic chance that a team with 141  years of history in this city will be pushed out for no good reason.

“But wait, we can get a soccer team!  They’ll play at the new stadium!”  So sayeth the West Harbour types.  Not going to happen.  Bob Young, the owner of the Ticats, owns the rights to NASL soccer in this town.  The City better not be holding its breath for Bob to come riding in on a stallion to save their sorry behinds.

“But this is a victory for democracy! It’s about city-building, not a site for a football team!” So sayeth the West Harbour types.  Terrific and full of lofty principle, but it ignores the fundamental truth that there isn’t going to be a West Harbour stadium.  No stadium, no city building.  How is an embarrassing failure to achieve any of the objectives on the table a victory for democracy?

Ridiculous.  Embarrassing.  Ludicrous.  Hamilton politics all the way.

So go ahead, dear reader: walk in to your job tomorrow, drop your trousers and hop up on the photocopier glass.  Make a few thousand Xeroxes of your hairy ass and distribute them to your superiors.  Answer your phone by barking into it.  Answer each and every customer inquiry with the phrase “Robots.  Killer robots from the future did it.”  Remove your pants entirely.  Do the Stanky Legg every third step you take.  Insult a passenger, steal a beer and depart via the inflatable chute at the rear of the aircraft.   You can do all these things secure in the knowledge that, as bad as you are at your job, Hamilton’s Mayor and City Councillors are even worse at theirs.

Jesse Goes West.

The family jersey jinx is now complete:  yesterday, Jesse Lumsden’s days as a Ticat officially came to an end (he signed with the Edmonton Eskimos as a free agent).    Two summers ago, Spouse and I made a commitment to the team and ordered two official jerseys;  I ordered myself up one of Lumsden’s 28s. 

Spouse could not decide between Richie Williams’ number (she’s a sucker for the unsung hero)  and that of Dwight Anderson, the scrappy cornerback (she liked his flamboyant moxie).  We received our jerseys late one week and wore them proudly to a game against Saskatchewan the very next day.  Anderson lasted all of three quarters;  he punched a guy at midfield, got thrown out of the game and was promptly sent home for the rest of the season and told to enroll in anger management.  He never played another game for the Cats. 

I don’t wish Jesse ill, but I have to admit I kind of hope that he doesn’t have a breakout dominant season – the one all Cats fans fear he should have had for the Black and Gold, but which he never managed as a result of injury.  He seems like a good guy, but the Ticats have had such rotten luck over the past couple of years, I just couldn’t stand it if Lumsden finally shook off the injury bug and ruled the world with a broad two-handed sword;  my tolerance for “number of indignities suffered by struggling sports franchise I follow” may just be reaching my maximum operating limits given the last few years of Maple Leaf hockey.

On a positive note, I was encouraged to see that the Cats’ schedule includes fewer midweek games this year;  hopefully, Spouse and I will be able to make it down to more games as a result (the midweek games made it difficult for us to work, go home, feed the dog, turn around, drive back downtown, cheer the Cats to a massive defeat and then return disheartened to Juniorvania).

Now THAT’S a Minibus

Spouse and I went for some lunch to a little burger and sub shop in St. George yesterday.    I took a picture of the sign out front (depicted in the photograph below):


I’m not sure what utility there is in a mass transit vehicle that is twelve inches in length;  but you really can’t beat the price.

The work continues here in Juniorvania;  we have completed our work on the eastern front, and have begun focussing our efforts to the north (the front of the house).  My entire body aches, and as soon as I am done at the keyboard, I am going to go put a bottle of Motrin in a bowl, pour some milk over the pile of tablets, and eat them like Rice Krispies.  I spent the better part of today’s work session cutting out the numerous stumps from various trees and shrubs in the eastern portion of the front garden (most, if not all, of which were cut down long before we got here).  As a result of these labours, I am now prepared to swear an affidavit to the effect that the reciprocating saw is, without a shadow of a doubt, the greatest of man’s inventions.  The wheel, though sporty and sure to attract a lot of buzz, runs a distant second to the blessed miracle of the reciprocating saw.

On an unrelated note, I must again marvel at Mike‘s diligence and industry:  though he is on vacation and travelling afield, he has nonetheless managed to continue to post daily.  I think I will excuse myself now and go make myself a dunce cap and sit in the corner for a while;  he makes me look very, very bad by comparison.

Tomorrow night, we are off to see the Ticats/Stampeders game at Ivor Wynne.  It’s the Cats’ last home game of another lost season.  I am getting used to a lot of losing – Spouse and I (courtesy of Joe) were down to the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Tuesday night to see the Leafs defeated (in a shootout) by the Anaheim (don’t call us Mighty) Ducks.  It was an interesting enough game;  the Leafs were awful in the first period, so awful that we witnessed one of hockey’s greatest rarities:  George Parros scored on a breakaway.  No, that’s not a typo.  The notably mustachioed habitual pugilist was the benefactor of a communication breakdown between Leaf defencemen Tomas Kaberle and (rookie) Luke Schenn.  Still, getting the breakaway is one thing, but actually putting the biscuit in the bucket is quite another.  I don’t think George’s mom has ever seen him score on a breakaway, even in road hockey.  Anyway, I suspect some choice profanities were uttered by Ron Wilson in the Maple Leaf locker room during the first intermission, as the team was wholly different in the second and third stanzas.  Antropov tucked a rebound home in the second to draw the Leafs to within one, and they pressed throughout the third for the tying marker, failing to click on a 38-second 5-on-3 advantage.  When the Ducks iced the puck with about a minute to go, though, I turned to Spouse and said I felt the Leafs were going to tie the game.  Not fifteen seconds later, they did.   Overtime solved nothing, so the game went to a shootout, unfortunately for the Leafs (they’ve been terrible at this aspect of the new NHL since its inception).  Curiously, Wilson chose to pull Toskala (who’s 0-2 in shootouts already this year) and insert Curtis Joseph.  Tough assignment for Cujo;  he had to have had more than a little trouble getting ready to face the first shooter, having sat on the bench and opened the door for his mates for the previous two and a half hours.  The first Anaheim shooter?  Teemu Selanne (gulp).  CuJo whiffed on Teemu’s quick wrist shot and got beaten by a Corey Perry deke, while both Leaf shooters missed the net;  game over.

On the Ticat front, as mentioned above, it’s been another lost season.  The Ticats were only recently officially eliminated from the (highly egalitarian and scrupulously inclusive) CFL playoffs, but in reality it’s  been a foregone conclusion since around the August long weekend.  Cat fans are focussing on the new QB in town, Quinton Porter.  He’s shown some poise and a great arm while standing in for an injured Casey Printers.   Porter seems to have developed some chemistry with his wideouts, something Printers has seemed unable to do.  Suddenly, Prechae Rodriguez seems all-World at times and Scott Mitchell has also managed to make some great catches with Porter on the field.  The young QB has played well enough to set up a bona fide QB controversy brewing by the time training camp starts next summer.   I am hoping to take my camera, and my 800 mm lens to the game tomorrow night.  I’d like to try to get some good close-up shots of the players, and try my hand at sports action photography.   As for the outcome of the game, I anticipate watching a lot of Stampeder touchdowns tomorrow – as well as Porter has gotten the offence going at times, the Cat defence, especially the secondary, seems prone to coughing up huge passing plays.  I am sure that Calgary QB Henry Burris is grinning like a Cheshire cat in anticipation this evening, and has found that he just can’t stop rubbing his hands together.

Zombies and Dimwits.

Another great post from Theory of Ice. Describing Sunday’s Habs/Bruins game, e says that she has been told that Sunday’s game is what playoff hockey is all about. In particular, she says the game was:

…[f]ast but claustrophobic, conservative but chaotic, tidy at the core and sloppy around the edges. Imagine a ballroom dance competition being attacked by a legion of zombies; everyone frantically trying to fend of the ravenous undead with folding chairs and feather boas while simultaneously struggling not to miss a step in their foxtrot routine. This game was a lot like that, only weirder.

Bullseye! I’d like to see that as the new marketing slogan for the NHL – “a ballroom dance competition being attacked by a legion of zombies”.

Seems to me that maybe e ought to be working in the marketing department of a certain team from our Nation’s Capital instead of the lunatic who dreamed up the little bit o’ pantomime that preceded last night’s Pens/Sens game, a laughable addition to the already putrid recent on-ice operations of the Bytown gang.

What was the thinking with that little bit of theatre? I am no fan of trash-talking goofball players, but it’s infinitely more acceptable for dimwit players to flap their gums than it is for the flying saucersuits to ramp up the chutzpah for them. That’s what was so weird about Ottawa’s waiter-by-day, tortured-artiste-actor by (occasional) night standing bare-chested (what, Sens army is too cheap to pony up for even a fake breastplate?) at centre ice, gripping somebody’s little brother’s flying saucer and waving a cocktail sword; none of the actual Ottawa players were participating in that little demonstration of hubris, it was all actor-guy barking out empty threats that (had we been able to hear them – nice job, Ottawa tech department!) were probably drafted by a committee. Why can’t the corporate marketing types who are pulling the levers behind the curtain on the Amazing Entertainment Machine of sports get it through their thick freaking heads that no team – NO TEAM – should be pounding their chests and boasting when everybody and their little sister knows you stink like nobody’s business.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were guilty of spewing this kind of hot air last year – yes, the very same Ticats who went 3 and 15. The same Ticats who were eliminated from playoff contention – in a league where six of the eight teams qualify, mind you – during the singing of the national anthem at their first game. The Cats had this genius promotional idea that they would play a crappy video on the giant screen in the west end zone at all their home games; according to the video, it was “Hammer Time.” What exactly the enigmatic and arrogant video meant to convey through these claims remained unclear throughout the season; it certainly had nothing to do with punishing defence, powerful offence or successful football of any kind being demonstrated by the Cats. While the video was playing on the screen, at some arsehole’s seriously misguided direction, the Tiger Cats players would run on to the field and gather at midfield around a ceremonial sledgehammer (no, I’m NOT kidding) in embarrassment, neither looking the fans nor their opposition as everybody had a good laugh at the hilarious idea that any other team might be intimidated by this phony and farcical display of so-called Tiger-Cat power. I felt sorry for the players, having to participate in that charade.

In what world did the Senators have any business sending that sad-sack excuse for a thespian out there to trumpet the will and determination of “Sens Army”? Was it the fact that the Army was so massively dedicated that they weren’t even buying all the tickets to the game? Is it the team’s historical propensity for crapping the bed in the playoffs? Perhaps, you might say, the Sens were entitled to make a little noise owing to the vigour of their late-season play, which was so astonishingly good that they would have missed the playoffs entirely if Carolina could have managed two freaking points against Florida on the final weekend of the season? Or maybe it was the Senators’ failure to mount any kind of a credible effort whatsoever during the two initial games of the series in Pittsburgh?

As an aside, why was Marvin the Martian doing that ridiculous speech with some sort of vaguely British accent? Did every Roman centurion in Ye Olde Days of Roman Hockey sound like Michael Caine with a mouthful of marbles?

In the end, what a perfect metaphor it was for the Senators’ entire season: a man in a skirt failing miserably to make a statement at centre ice, in the middle of the team’s biggest moment.

WTF, Roughies?

TSN is reporting tonight that the Saskatchewan Roughriders have traded last year’s Most Outstanding Player in the CFL, quarterback Kerry Joseph, to the Toronto Argonauts.

That trade is a little weird from a couple of perspectives. Who trades the reigning Most Outstanding Player? Secondly, the Boatmen just finished resolving a quarterback controversy last year, when Michael Bishop (apparently permanently) inherited the reins of the Argonaut offence from All-Time-All-World-All-Star Damon Allen, who seemed to finally succumb to the laws of the universe and began showing his age. Result? Seems to me that the Boatmen have a logjam in the pivot position again.

Meanwhile, the new Tiger Cats GM Bob O’Billovich has been quietly making a number of signings and trades – receivers, receivers, defensive backs and a running back. So far, I am impressed – but a little disappointed that defensive back Dwight Anderson has been released – Spouse and I bought Ticats jerseys late last year, and Spouse couldn’t decide between Richie Williams’ number and Anderson’s 28. I made the executive decision that it was poor form to purchase the third string quarterback’s jersey, so the order went in for an Anderson. I am convinced the Cats are going to be a better team this year. Whether or not they make the playoffs, I think, has more to do with how improved Montreal is over last year. The improvement in Montreal is probably most highly dependent on Anthony Calvillo’s situation – he left the team late last year because his wife was seriously ill.

The first time Spouse wore it to a game, he promptly got involved in an on-field donnybrook with some Saskatchewan Roughriders, got thrown out of the game and following a confrontation with the Head Coach Charlie Taafe, was let go.

Update:  Spouse points out to me that I’m an idiot – Anderson wore number 20 – Lumsden is #28.  Good thing she’s around to identify my idiocy.