About the Henrik Stenson-Phil Mickelson epic…flag football…tennis hot takes… and other things on my mind

I cannot survive in a 140-character world, so here are more tweets that grew up to be too big for Twitter…

Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson.
Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson.

My goodness, what a glorious finish to the Open Championship at Troon, Scotland.

It was mano-a-mano, Henrik Stenson vs. Phil Mickelson for the honor of being introduced by some stiff British upper lip as “golf champion of the year.” Mickelson played bogey free, shooting 65. When you’re in the final pairing on a Sunday at a golf major and you take just 65 swings, you expect to be holding a trophy and a winner’s cheque on the 18th green.

Not this time, though. Mickelson’s 65 wasn’t good enough. Not by two strokes!

Stenson, whose closing, record-equaling 63 made him the first Swede to win the Claret Jug, and Mickelson delivered an epic. It was as riveting a final round of golf as you’re apt to see.

The Tom Watson-Jack Nicklaus duel of 1977 was classic. This was Classic-plus.

I don’t know about you, but I was root, root, rooting for Stenson to claim the Claret Jug, in part because he’d never won one of golf’s majors and I have a soft spot for Swedish people. But there’s also something about Phil Mickelson that I find grating. Perhaps it’s Lefty’s goody-two-shoes persona. Maybe it’s his prissy fist pump and his dainty putting grip. I know, I know…that’s dumb. But I can’t help it. He’s too squeaky clean for me.

So, Rory McIlroy smashes his 3-wood in a momentary hissy fit at the Open Championship and the club head snaps off. The Irishman’s little temper tantrum was met with ho-hum indifference by most, while the boys in the booth shared a few giggles about it on Sunday. Now, had that been Tiger Woods, what do you suppose the reaction would have been? He’d have been crucified.

A typical scene at a CFL game.
A typical scene at a CFL game.

So, I’m watching a Canadian Football League game and (penalty flag) Kevin Fogg is hauled down after a 15-yard punt return (penalty flag), and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (coach’s challenge) are told to move half the distance (coach’s challenge) toward their goal line before they can scrimmage the football (penalty flag). After (TV timeout) play resumes, quarterback Drew Willy (penalty flag) flings the football in the direction of Darvin Adams (coach’s challenge) and there’s jostling on the sidelines (penalty flag), where order is restored before (three-minute warning/timeout) one of the Bombers (coach’s challenge) does something stupid (injury/TV timeout).

Total time playing football: 15 seconds.
Total time for penalties, coach’s challenges, injury/TV/three-minute warning delays/timeouts: 25 minutes.

Just wondering: Is Chris Jones still a genius, or is he only a genius when Mike O’Reilly is his quarterback? Jones, of course, went to Edmonton and turned water into Molson Canadian when his Eskimos went from Sad Sacks to Grey Cup champions. Now he’s trying to work similar hocus-pocus in Saskatchewan, but it isn’t going so well for the Roughriders head coach and grand poobah of everything football related. Gang Green, at 0-3, are all that’s keeping the Bombers our of the basement.

Department of irony: Bobby Orr wants to slow down the game of hockey. What’s next? Don Cherry calling for a ban on fisticuffs and high collars? It’s true, though. No. 4 Bobby Orr, the revolutionary rearguard who made all others appear to be standing still while he went about the business of winning two National Hockey League scoring titles, wants to open up the game by slowing it down. “We’re losing too many players, too many injuries,” he tells TSN’s Gino Reda. Thus, he advocates bringing the centre-ice line back into play. I don’t know about you, but when Bobby Orr speaks I think we ought to listen.

Serena Williams is not the greatest athlete.
Serena Williams is not the greatest athlete.

ESPN tennis gab guy Patrick McEnroe is not unlike many TV commentators who tend to get caught up in the moment and spew inflated superlatives that defy logic and stand in conflict with reality. McEnroe stared into the camera last weekend and declared Serena Williams to be “the greatest athlete of all time.” Oh, shut the front door, Little Mac. I doubt very much that Williams is a superior athlete to any man who’s ever won the world/Olympic decathlon or any women who’s won the world/Olympic heptathlon. Williams, who claimed her 22nd Grand Slam singles title at Wimbledon, is not even the best tennis player of all time. She would be hard pressed to win a game, let alone a set, off either of the two chaps who contested the gentlemen’s final, Andy Murray and Milos Raonic. If you want to rate Williams as history’s finest female tennis player, fine. But let’s not get carried away.

Based on her scribblings, Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star is not fond of the Murrays, Andy and his bride Kim. According to rambling Rosie, Wimbledon champion Andy is “utterly humourless” and Kim is “prissy—except when mouthing obscenities.” I don’t know about you, but I can’t say that I know a whole lot of “prissy” potty-mouth girls.

Yo! Don Cherry! I think most hosers agree that Remigio Peirera struck a sour note when he turned the Tenors’ version of O Canada into a political statement at the Major League Baseball all-star game. But to suggest the rogue tenor’s solo act makes all the “left-wing weirdos happy” is a bit much. I mean, you can call me a left-wing pinko, but don’t ever call me weird.

Patti Dawn Swansson has been writing about Winnipeg sports for 45 years, longer than any living being. Do not, however, assume that to mean she harbors a wealth of sports knowledge or that she’s a jock journalist of award-winning loft. It simply means she is old and comfortable at a keyboard (although arthritic fingers sometimes make typing a bit of a chore) and she apparently doesn’t know when to quit. Or she can’t quit.
She is most proud of her Q Award, presented in 2012 for her scribblings about the LGBT community in Victoria, B.C., and her induction into the Manitoba Sportswriters & Sportscasters Association Media Roll of Honour in 2015.


Winnipeg Sports Media: This Gary Lawless column isn’t that bad…unless it really is

Many years ago, I was instructed by one of my first newspaper gurus that a headline should sell, tell and fit. That is, it should sell the story, tell the story and fit the layout.

It was with this in mind that I read a head/drop head in the Winnipeg Free Press sports section on Monday:

Jets better than they look
At least…well…unless they really aren’t

Huh? Say what? What are they telling us here? That the 1-4 Winnipeg Jets really don’t suck unless the 1-4 Winnipeg Jets really do suck? What a dumb headline, right? Nope. Kudos to the editor who wrote it, because it matched the criteria—it fit the layout, it sold me on the article because I now absolutely had to read it, and it surely summed up the accompanying piece which, in this case, was most unfortunate.

We’re talking about a Gary (La La) Lawless essay, an 846-word lump of nothing from a scribe who, as the Freep’s main sports columnist, is expected to deliver opinion. Insightful opinion. Knowledgeable opinion. Opinion with a biting edge. Opinion with wit. Opinion with humor. Opinion that will stir discourse in the pub. So, with the Jets in full free-fall to start the National Hockey League season and the rabble looking for answers, what did our intrepid, all-seeing, all-knowing word-pusher deliver?


“The Jets aren’t this bad. Unless they really are.”

I see. In other news, the sky is blue. Unless it isn’t. Brad Pitt is a babe. Unless he isn’t. A pint of Blue is cold. Unless it isn’t. Tiger Woods likes blonde women. Unless he doesn’t. Kevin (The Possum) Cheveldayoff is a hockey genius. Unless he isn’t.

Well, now that we have all that sorted out…

Actually, I think I know what Lawless is up to here. If he rides the fence, there’ll be no need to later perform his customary flip-flop on the issue. You know, like how he flip-flopped on the matter of roster adjustments for the Jets. In June, he used his 800-word allotment to crusade for a major trade. This month, he insisted status quo must be maintained. In June, he wrote, “It doesn’t smell like crap in Bomberland anymore,” and more recently he wrote about “the stink of failure” still filling the air in Bomberland.

I’ve noticed that La La often writes about bad odors. I suppose that’s understandable, though, because his main subject matter is either a bottom-feeding hockey team or a bottom-feeding football team.

Unfortunately, he has chosen to write down to their level and that really does stink…unless it doesn’t.

fish wrap

Ranting Rosie

I’m uncertain who piddled in Rosie DiManno’s Corn Flakes, but the Toronto Star columnist, who makes cameo appearances on the sports pages, went off her nut recently.

It seems Rosie takes a dim view of patrons who hurl hockey sweaters on to the ice in an expression of displeasure for what they have been witnessing. There have been two such incidents at Toronto Maple Leafs matches this season, the first of which inspired DiManno to launch into a tantrum of epic loft.

She begins by evoking the memory of former Leafs head coach Pat Burns, for whom Rosie harbors an affection that flies dangerously close to the idol worship orbit. She mentions how the first commandment in the Gospel According to Burns was “Thy sweater shalt not touch the ground. Never. Ever. Or else.” Thus, when a customer at the Air Canada Centre lobbed his Leafs linen to the ice during a loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, Rosie stomped her feet and did the diva thing.

She labeled the guy a “moron who pulled a little hissy-fit.” He was a “drama queen” who “got ‘look-at-me!’ theatrical.” He was an “exhibitionist idiot.” And others like him were “stinky scuz in the stands.”

She wondered, “Whatever happened to just booing?”

Yo, Rosie! Someone surely had a hissy-fit, but it wasn’t the guy who tossed the sweater. So boooooo to you.

George Strombol-oops-olous

This doesn’t belong in the Fish Wrap file, but I couldn’t pass it up.

During the second intermission of City’s telecast of the Jets-Calgary Flames joust on Sunday night, host George Stromboloupoulouplouplouploupos made reference to our girl Jennifer Jones, the Olympic curling champion, telling viewers that she plays out of the “Vittle” curling club in Winnipeg.

No, Strombo.

A “vittle” is something Granny Clamplett used to serve Jed and Jethro for supper. It’s the St. Vital Curling Club. That would be Vital as in Va-tell.

rooftop riting biz card back sidePatti Dawn Swansson has been writing about Winnipeg hockey and the Jets for more than 40 years, longer than any living being. Do not, however, assume that to mean she harbors a wealth of hockey knowledge or that she’s a jock journalist of award-winning loft. It simply means she is old, comfortable at a keyboard (although arthritic fingers sometimes make typing a bit of a chore) and she doesn’t know when to quit.
She is most proud of her Q Award, presented to her in 2012 for literary contributions to the LGBT community in Victoria, B.C.