--Back in the 90's, the Toronto Blue Jays officially became one of baseball's best. I think if we are old enough to remember it, we can all remember Sean McDonough saying the iconic line "For the first time ever, the World Series flag will fly north of the border." Could we hear it again from Mike Breen or Matt Devlin now that the Raptors are in the NBA Final. More on that in a moment.
The early 90's did wonders for baseball in this country. More and more kids took interest in the game because of what the Blue Jays had done and what the Montreal Expos were doing. As a result, you see a lot of Canadians playing in the majors and the minor league system. They became interested because of the Carters, the Alomars, the Grissoms and the Martinez's.
It's not the same sport, but Saturday night in Toronto was huge for basketball in this country. I will be the first one to tell you I am not a fan of the Raptors, but I am a fan of basketball--although admittedly moreso Canadian university and NCAA basketball. How many kids watched Vince Carter and wanted to be like him. Hello Jamal Murray, hello Andrew Wiggins. How many more saw that Steve Nash was the first Canadian to be MVP and wanted to be like him. More and more Canadians are playing the game and making us a player on the world stage because of that.
How many kids watched the Raptors win the Eastern Conference on a Saturday night no less and say that might be a game they want to play so they can be the next Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam or whoever. Maybe as they watch the finals, they'll want to be the next Steph Curry or Draymond Green and there is nothing wrong with that either.
Drake or no Drake, the Toronto Raptors are doing for basketball in this country what the Jays did years ago. There are nothing but positives that will come out of that.
If you want to localize it, tell me the Saskatchewan Rush hasn't grown the game in this province.
--As for whether or not the Raptors can get beat the high-flying Golden State Warriors, one would probably say no, but now that we're at this point, I wouldn't count them out
--Being in Minot for the weekend, I had the chance to watch the TNT broadcast from Toronto, I have nothing against Matt Devlin or the crew he works alongside, but it was good to watch a game with balance from Marv Albert, Reggie Miller and Chris Webber. Praise when it belonged and criticism as well. No endless shots of Jurassic Park, no endless shots of Drake. The game was what mattered and that was the focus.
Why can't Canada's sports networks do this instead of openly waving the pom-poms? It was the same for Game 6 of Boston-Toronto in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The broadcast was far superior on NBC because there was no flag-waving. If you like that, good for you. It's not my thing. When I watch ESPN Sportscenter, it is not devoted to one team, it is devoted to the sport. That's the way it should be.
Here's hoping we get the ABC/ESPN version of the finals instead of the Canadian version. If there is a choice, I know what one I will watch.
--Did Zach Collaros stink up the joint at the Riders scrimmage on Saturday. His numbers were not what you would be hoping for. A scrimmage is a scrimmage and a lot of stock should not be put on what he or others did, but I would understand if there is some concern and angst amongst the fan-base. It begs the question how long do you play him Friday night in Calgary?
--As mentioned, I was in Minot on the weekend. I know a lot of you make that trip every now and then. Is it just me or do those in the hospitality industry give you a completely different attitude there than they do here? At the places I was at this weekend, the people working seemed to care about their job and are hustling to serve their customers. I don't find that at all the places I frequent here.
Many of you will also know this. I had to stop at a grocery store because the friends I was with wanted to get some stuff you can only get in the US. The selection shoppers have there is soooooo much more than we have. Why?
Someone also needs to tell me why Minot is such a destination. The last time I was there my youngest daughter counted 41 cars with licence plates from different states or provinces. While she wasn't with me on this trip, my travelling group did the same thing just to see how many we could find and we were close to 40. I could understand if we were in a big city, but what are people from Washington State and California and Missouri and so on and so on stopping in Minot for? Good on them for getting the tourists that they do, but again its not a big city so what is the allure?
--The Quebec champs coached by Mario Pouliot and led by Noah Dobson win the Memorial Cup by beating the host team in the final. I saw that act last year. I didn't hate it as much this year as I did last. SIGHHHH!!!
--Are we ready for the Stanley Cup Final? Its been a while since we saw some playoff hockey. Why didn't everything start Saturday? Team Saskatchewan aka St. Louis against Boston. The Blues have been in three Stanley Cups and have been swept in each appearance. I don't think that happens this time, but I also don't think the Cup is presented to them either. I just think Boston is too deep and if Tuukka Rask continues on the roll he has been, Boston will be tough to beat.
--With the Raptors in the NBA Final, how many of you care about the Stanley Cup final. I put up a Twitter poll asking what one are you most interested in and at the time of this writing, just under 65 percent said they were more interested in the NBA Final. That surprises me being from Saskatchewan.
--If I don't understand Gloria for the St. Louis Blues song, I certainly don't understand the Finnish national team singing "Country Roads" after winning gold at the World Hockey Championship. I saw the clip of that and well let's just say I'm confused.
--The Hunter Brothers were back at Rogers Centre this weekend performing before a game. The boys from Shaunavon did O'Canada on Opening Day at the Jays game if you remember. They should do that again July 1 for the Riders home opener. Just sayin! Those five are just getting bigger and bigger and I love it. They are authentic Saskatchewan dudes and they did a big favour for me earlier this year which was greatly appreciated. Whatever success comes their way is more than deserved.
--I liked Craig Biggio growing up. He was the type of scrappy ball player that I love. If his kid Cavan is anything like Craig, the Blue Jays have themselves another player they can build around like Vladimir Guerrero Junior.
--I thought the Minnesota Twins were going to be good this year, but I didn't think two months into the season that they would have the best record in the majors. Is Target Field a destination for a game this summer? It might be! That is if my can pay off my VISA after a weekend in Minot.
--Many many years ago when I called the Peace Country of northwestern Alberta home, I made many a trip from Peace River further north to High Level. The town wasn't as big as what it is now and I made some good friends in that community. The town's golf course was one of the nicest I had seen for a small-town and it was something they were proud off. There were many good people I had the chance to spend time during my 4 1/2 years in that part of the country. Obviously, my thoughts are with those who have had to leave due to forest fires not knowing what they'll come home to.
--That's all I got. Have a great week. We're less than a week from Rider football albeit exhibition. We made it gang!