Recent Comments by docgonzo

To buy out or not buy out

I'm glad/relieved that my boys have finally told Patrice Breeze-by not to let the door hit his ass on the way out (to Paris.) Not only was he only kept around to remind the good-ol'-francophone fanbase of the (completely improbable) last Cup run, he was the highest paid player on the team. Ye Gods. I hope they keep Koivu but trade him after they sign a franchise player. God knows there is gonna be one or four big names going wanting for teams -- it's time to admit Koivu is just not robust enough to carry the team.

posted by docgonzo at 11:34 PM on July 26

As Nats Fans Get Jitters,

There's nothing worse than a former Montrealer: Despite no knowledge of the facts at hand they still feel the right to lecture the city about what they should and should not be doing.

posted by docgonzo at 08:24 AM on March 31

As Nats Fans Get Jitters,

Fuck 'em. I hope they go oh-fer-162.

posted by docgonzo at 08:16 PM on March 30

New league, or will NHL replacements work?

I look forward to seeing Bettman trying to ice replacement players... and having the Canucks and hockey's greatest team playing their homegames in the U.S..

posted by docgonzo at 07:46 PM on March 17

$3.5 Billion Offer For Entire NHL?

That's a terrible PSA, IMHO. To me, the message is far from clear. I assume the PSA is trying to say that hockey has been ruined by money; but that's muddled by the loonie-at-centre-ice imagery, which evokes Gretzky and the 2002 gold medal victory. Still, great idea.

posted by docgonzo at 01:34 PM on March 03

Who was your favorite player growing up?

The Hawk. Every time I went to the Big O I looked for the special red seat in the nose-bleeds where Dawson socked one in the 80s... Andre for the Hall!

posted by docgonzo at 10:46 AM on February 24

Armstrong to go for a 7th consecutive Tour in 2005.

He's no dope.

posted by docgonzo at 12:29 PM on February 20

I'm ready for the long run

One of the very, very few bright spots of the last years of being an Expos fan was Frank. I agree that his managerial chops might be questionable, but it meant so much to the fans and the club to have someone with his dignity and integrity sitting on the bench... 'specially after that toad Loria fired Felipe, probably the living Montreal sports figure closest to sainthood 'lo these many years.

posted by docgonzo at 12:08 PM on February 20

Closure. Err... I guess not.

What wfrazerjr said. Oh, and the idea that "progress" for the NHL meant becoming a pan-North American league with more teams and a big US telly contract. Gretzky was supposed to be the standard bearer of the campaign into the sunshine states. It is no surprise that Bettman's "group of eight" -- the owners who are allegedly keeping a hard line, scuttling the last-minute talks and yesterday's post-last-minute talks -- are small-market owners from the south.

posted by docgonzo at 12:03 PM on February 20

Closure. Err... I guess not.

"Saint Gretzky"? Puh-leeze. He was the jackass that got this whole fiasco started...

posted by docgonzo at 07:45 PM on February 19

What should be the top sports story of 2004?

Lance Armstrong, both for the record and the doping. Uh, did I miss something?

posted by docgonzo at 01:08 PM on December 30

What should be the top sports story of 2004?

On the field/pitch/course/court/rink: Lance. Six tours in a row is an awesome feat, made even more amazing by his recovery of cancer and the fact he comes from a country where cycling rates somewhere below bowling in national consciousness. Off the field/pitch/course/court/rink: The BALCO scandal. I think the true scope of the scandal is just becoming known but will eventually destrory the integrity of baseball stats for the last decade.

posted by docgonzo at 02:32 PM on December 29

MakeADealYouD***s.com

(Censored to protect those working in a less-than-permissive environment....) Hockey fans: Are you at the end of your rope? Are the league and the players more interested in posturing than problem-solving? What will it take to get the season back on track?

posted by docgonzo at 12:19 PM on December 20

Get your Nationals gear now

What Hal said. As a 25+-year fan of the Expos, I discovered this week that schadenfreude really is a dish best served cold.

posted by docgonzo at 09:02 PM on December 16

$345,000,000 over six years

Hello! Average Canuck here! Habs fan to boot! There is a tremendous amount of blame to go around. I have little sympathy for the players, who make more in one shift than 99% of us shmoes. But what really sticks in my gut -- well, besides the fact that Patrice Breeze-by is still (still!) the highest paid player on the bleu-blanc-rouge -- was summed up in the following quote from the leaked memo NHL exec-VP Bill Daly wrote to the owners: "While the immediate 'rollback' of 24 percent offered by the union would materially improve league economics for the 2004-05 season, there is virtually nothing in the union's proposal that would prevent the dollars 'saved' from being redirected right back into the player compensation system, such that the league's overall financial losses would approach current levels in only a matter of a couple of years." (Emphasis mine.) What's a translation of that bit? How about: "The players have not given us a fool proof way to make us stop writing ridiculous cheques to Joe Journeyman and Todd Thirdliner." The reason the owners are in this jackpot is because of the tragedy of the commons: There will always be another owner willing to shell out loadsadough. Uggh. But anyway: You really wanna hear the opinion of the average Canuck? Well, I don't know about that, but I do know that all of the hockey fans I've talked to -- y'know, the really crazy ones; the ones who watch games in October; the ones who cheer for the Leafs -- increasingly, they don't care. They have come to realise that the game does not live in the high-priced arenas/corporate tax write-offs nor even in the Stanley Cup playoffs but in the CHL arenas and the peewee games. It may sound maudlin, but this lockout has hammered one thing home: Hockey is not just the NHL. And this layoff has given them a chance to realise just how shitty NHL hockey is. The problems the NHL will have whenever it chooses to go back to work will make the MLB in 1995 look like chocolate and kittens.

posted by docgonzo at 10:09 PM on December 13

Hero to Zero

Am I correct in assuming that there is still no direct test for blood doping; instead, the levels of various components in the blood sera are tested and if they are found to be abnormal, a positive test is determined? Obviously, given this protocol, the issue will turn on what is abnormal; this is how scientists can differ on whether Hamilton doped or not. Also, if the component levels are markedly different between samples taken at the same time, I think Hamilton has a point: Why have the samples not been compared through DNA analysis? Is the WADA protecting a corrupted protocol?

posted by docgonzo at 10:52 AM on December 03

Washington Senators version 3.0

yo chico: I agree, things are not all wine and roses when it comes to the Habs. Hockey has changed; I think the best part about Gillette's recent stewardship of the team is that he seems to get it. The glory days are over and now the Habs must, just like every other team, cultivate and manage a fan base, scout good players wherever they are and field a team not based on mother tongue. (Why, oh why, is Patrice "Breeze-by" Brisebois our highest-paid player? Why do we have to pay millions in arena tax, higher than anyone else in the league?) Sure, there are things to worry about: the rising ticket costs -- which surely won't come down after the lock-out/apocalypse -- which lock the working man out of the rink; the loss of Habs broadcasts on over-the-air, "free" television; Montreal's cultural shift from a bissected french/english to a more multi-ethnic and multi-cultural metropolis. But then I remember the feeling in the air, in the bars, in the cafes, when the team was winning -- when Theo was carrying us past the hated Bruins a season or two ago in that thrililng playoff run -- and I think: Can our love for these guys ever really die? Oh, but back to the thread at hand: I don't doubt that low attendance was the proximate cause of the Expos' demise. I have no doubt that if they had kept on drawing 20 - 30k a game -- as they did from the move to the Big Uh-Oh in '77 to the '94 season -- then some local buyer would have stepped in before Loria had a chance to ruin us. But the ultimate cause of the attendance decline is a bit more complicated: - starting in the early '90s recession and accelerating after the '94 referendum (v.2.0), all levels of government poured hundreds of millions (billions?) of dollars into making Montreal one of the premiere tourist destinations in north America. The hotels are now top notch. Our galleries and cultural institutions world-class. The dining and nightlife is, well, legendary. The problem for the Expos is now that from early June until late August, there is a major arts and culture festival downtown every week: Francofolies (the biggest french music fest in the world); Just for Laughs; Montreal International Jazz Fest (the biggest and best in the world); Montreal International Film Festival; DiversCite; Fantasia; the F-1 weekend; the Fringe... - it's been said before, but the stadium really didn't do the team any favours. It's not downtown, it's not attractive, it's not a baseball stadium (in the current, "retro" style). It's not a bad place to see a game when it's full -- it really cooks when there is 30k+ in there -- but it's rarely full. (I still say it's far superior to, uggh, SkyDome.) - the team failed at marketing. There was no english television or radio deal of any real significance for the last couple of years. You never saw an ad for an Expos homestand; never saw an Expos player out kissing babies, doing charity work, etc. - in some ways, yesterday's death was the final result of the mortal wounds suffered from the '94 strike. Remember that baseball took years to recover in many markets; but only in Montreal was there a widespread and justified feeling that the labour troubles stole our world series. Montreal loves sports and loves a winner. The Expos never recovered after that. - for some reason, the current generation of players never caught the francopohone imagination the way Carter, Dawson, Staub and "Rock!" Raines did. Maybe they weren't winners; maybe, like Vlad, they just weren't good at playing that role. Whatever the case, they had zero cultural profile in Quebec's crucially-important "vedette" (star) system. In the end, it came down to the very simple calculations every Quebecker -- and every north american -- does to spend their entertainment bucks: Do I spend more and more of it on a team out in the middle of nowhere, that's burned me before, that's prolly leaving town anyway, with players I don't know or care for, when I can go and drink cocktails on a terasse at the Jazz Fest and listen to (insert name of major/minor act here) for free? (Sorry for the length. I've been mourning nos amours for days, and I needed a chance to vent.)

posted by docgonzo at 08:59 AM on September 30

Washington Senators version 3.0

"Montreal's not the greatest sports town in the world" I take it you've never heard of the Montreal Canadiens, one of the legendary sports franchises in the world?

posted by docgonzo at 04:19 PM on September 29

Armstrong punishes a personal enemy

Given the increasingly pathetic denials of a whole sorry crew of American and international athletes -- Hello, Marion Jones -- that their success has not come from the bottom of a pill bottle, I think it's natural to suspect that Armstrong's monumental TdF record is the result of doping. Natural, but wrong. I'm a cyclist, have been for close on two decades. Greg LeMond was one of my boyhood heroes. From my knowledge of cycling and Armstrong, there are some things to remember:

  • Lance has the best coach in cycling who has crafted a revolutionary way to train. Before, the philopsophy of training was simply: Eat lots of pasta and pedal as hard as you can as long as you can. Chris Carmichael's system delivers much higher results by focussing on cadence speed -- basically, how fast you can turn the cranks -- and aerobic capacity, Carmichael built Lance's post-cancer success.
  • Lance has the best team; maybe the best team ever. Day after day in this tour, the team sat in front of Lance, set a punishing pace, and the other teams and their leaders simply imploded. One of the many incredible facts of this tour is that Lance won -- and won five stages -- without ever attacking once. Lance has Olympic medallists as his domestiques; he has guys like Acevedo, Landis and Hincapie who would be team leaders on other teams.
  • Lance is, by every account, a complete genetic/physiological freak. His resting heartrate is 32, he has a heart 33% larger than the average, a VO2 max of 85, twice an average athlete (VO2 max measures how much oxygen can be delivered to the body.) In "The Lance Chronicles," a doc about his prep for this year's Tour, Lance comes back from a training ride and Carmichael gives him a jab with what looks like a blood-sugar monitor. It measures lactic acid in the blood -- the substance produced by anaerobic activity; it's the thing that makes your muscles burn and stop working -- and the monitor reads '4'; Lance says to the camera he's never seen it go above 6. Most people produce about 12 during exercise.
  • In other words, Lance has the best training, the best physical assets, the best team, the best gear, a legendary mental strength and committment -- knowing this, the question becomes not "Is he doping?" but "Why would he ever dope?" And remember that all of the people questioning him have strong ulterior motives. Journalists want to tear him down to make their names. His former masseuse is, by all accounts, bitter about being replaced on the US Postal team. LeMond -- who said Lance is a doper during the Tour this year -- has been eclipsed by Lance as the greatest American cyclist of all time, and still holds a huge grudge against Bernard Hinault, another five-team tour winner, who is a close friend of Lance's. And, of course, Lance has passed every drug test ever administered to him. I would also suggest that larger Franco-American political relations plays a role in the "Lance is a doper" campaign. Know that cycling has a place in French culture not unlike baseball does in the US or hockey in my native Canada. And the tour is not just another bike race, it is a national passion/ symbol/ festival in France. And know that French cycling is in complete breakdown. There has not been a great French champion since Hinault in the 80s. Indeed, a Frenchman has not worn the maillot jaune on the Champs Elysees since 1985 -- almost 20 years. The only time a French cyclist makes the news -- except for the exceptional ride of Voeckler in this year's tour -- is when he's revealed as a doper. And now, an American -- and a Texan at that! -- comes and just schools the peloton for six straight years. Imagine if the situation was reversed. Imagine if a French pitcher became the dominant player in the major leagues, easily striking out every Yank sluggers, winning 30 games in one year, becoming the dominant starter in a World Series winner team. Don't you think the usual suspects on FoxNews and talk radio would accuse him of doing everything up to and including barbecuing dead babies to win? No, I don't know for an absolute certainty that Lance is clean. (As a scientist, I don't know anything for an absolute certainty.) But the preponderance of evidence tells me Lance is not a doper. Sorry for the long post. But I feel very strongly about Lance, not only as someone who loves pedalling two wheels, but also as someone who believes sport should be something that inspires. What we are watching today on the Champs Elysees is maybe the greatest sporting achievement of our lives, up there with DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, Mark Spitz's five gold medals or Gretzky's 50 goals in 37 games. Quite simply, there are times when athletes come along who redefine their sport. And their are times when athletes come along who transcend their sport and teach us things about being human. Lance Armstrong is one of those athletes.

    posted by docgonzo at 10:40 AM on July 25

    So how do you say "feeding frenzy" in french?

    Ufez: Sorry, I don't know if I was clear: the HA stuff is in the first link, in the article posted on rds.ca. That's the one in French. That article refers to the front-page article in Le Journal -- le Journal puts few of its articles online -- which alleges Theo has friends who are Hells. There are very few details given, just that he had "liens socials" (social links) before 1998 and continued these links afterwards. Do they continue now? Who are they? That's not revealed. And I should have given some background: the Hells may be crusty old bikers in most parts of the world but they are the dominant criminal syndicate in Quebec, more powerful, it is said, even than the Italian, Russian and Irish mafias. (Which are declining, growing and declining, respectively.) They control the drug trade in Quebec, meaning they buy in large quantities from the producers and control the distribution network. They are also big into prostitution (which is big, big business in Montreal) and own beaucoup de strip clubs, etc. Their power and what to do about it has been one of the big issues in Quebec in the last decade. See this for an okay background. The so-called biker war (between the Hells and their rivals the Rock Machine (!)) has cost hundreds of lives, including many innocent bystanders who were killed by car bombs. They've tried to have lawyers, prosecutors and prison guards whacked; they even tried to kill the country's top crime reporter, who is also the guy who wrote the Theo story. So bringing together the Hells and the Habs is almost unthinkably huge news here.

    posted by docgonzo at 02:37 PM on June 20

    Wait a sec: Switzerland has an America's Cup team?

    posted by docgonzo at 02:15 PM on February 14