Question: Are we supposed to care that Winnipeg Sun news snoops have been confined to quarters by the penny-pinching suits at Postmedia?
Except it’s not right. In fact, it stinks like a wet dog.
Good Ol’ Hometown is the only true two-newspaper town west of the Manitoba-Ontario boundary, so it should feature fierce competition at all times, most notably when the local shinny side is involved in a Stanley Cup to-and-fro.
Alas, the Sun boys were MIA for the opening gambit of the Winnipeg Jets-Vegas Golden Knights series last week in Glitter Gulch, an absence that required them to do some fast and fancy footwork and poach their breathless quotes long distance via Zoom. Unless there’s a shifting of the minds among Postmedia puppeteers, they’ll also be MIA when the two sides return to Sin City for Game 5 of the best-of-seven throwdown.
It isn’t a good optic, not when their main competition, the Drab Slab, and various other media mooks from Good Ol’ Hometown—The Athletic, CJOB, TSN, Sportsnet—are on site for actual face time with players and coaches.
How are Paul Friesen, Ted Wyman and Scott Billeck supposed to compete when they’re 2,700 kilometres removed from the fray, not to mention all those one-armed bandits in Vegas?
The simple truth is they can’t. Not really. Oh, sure, they fight the good fight, but they can’t capture the vibe in the rink and around town. They can’t catch a quick, subtle aside from a player or coach. You know, a one-off quote that sets an article apart from what others deliver. They can’t cozy up to team medics to get the skinny on a player’s owie, even if the info is off the record. Basically, they’re trying to eat soup with chop sticks.
But, again, should any of us give a damn that they don’t have boots on the ground?
Well, I spent three decades in the rag trade, so I remember what it was like before hedge fund managers and bean counters made the final call on editorial deployment. When the puck was dropped for the World Hockey Association or National Hockey League playoffs, we were there with the Jets. Ditto when the Winnipeg Blue Bombers were grabbing post-season grass. The Winnipeg Tribune/Winnipeg Sun were on site (as was the Drab Slab), usually with two news snoops—a beat reporter and a columnist. Hell, we had three people in Glitter Gulch the night Donny Lalonde went dukes up and lights out in his tiff with Sugar Ray Leonard.
Ya, I know, that was a different century. A different world. Today the new-world way of jock journalism is to do it on the cheap.
It’s no secret that the rag trade is dying, with closures and layoffs in abundance, and some broadcasters in the five major men’s pro leagues are keeping their talking heads close to home rather than dispatching them to and fro to deliver in-person accounts.
None of this should be surprising. Covid-19 changed the way we do things and the way we dispense our nickels and dimes, and even hedge fund managers and bean counters can relate to price shock. (I’m sure they’ve all been in the checkout line at the grocery store. So why wouldn’t they cut back, just like the rest of us?)
That doesn’t make it right, though, and I’m totally PO’d that Postmedia has turned the Winnipeg Sun into the ugly stepchild in its chain of newspapers. Friesen, Wyman and Billeck deserve better. Readers (if there are any left) deserve better. And it all makes me wonder how long it will be before they put a padlock on the door.
In related news, the WNBA’s new media access policy makes changing rooms off limits to news snoops post-game. That’s an odd bit of business. I mean, women’s professional sports needs all the friends is can get, and yet the hoopsters are telling jock journos to keep their distance. Go figure.
“Open locker rooms are where reporters foster the relationships that allow them to do stories beyond game coverage,” Nancy Armour of USA Today writes on Twitter. “Players see you game in, game out, and by exchanging small talk and having conversations about families, outside interests, you learn who they are as people. That leads to better, more in-depth coverage. It’s also where stories about the issues and causes players care about come from.”
I agree with Nancy. To a point. But I actually believe locker room access is overrated. News snoops aren’t allowed in golf or tennis changing rooms, yet is there anything we don’t know about Tiger Woods or Serena Williams? No doubt there are things we can learn about Iga Swiatek or Jon Rahm, but it won’t be found in a changing room. I spent 30 years in the rag trade and recall just three occasions when I was invited into a curling boudoir for a natter. It was always post-match scrums and one-on-ones. Yet I managed to get the job done without locker room small talk. We all did, because Pebble People made certain we got what we needed.
Extreme athlete Beatriz Flamini crawled out of a 230-feet, southern Spanish underground cave on April 14, and it was the first time she’d seen daylight since Nov. 21, 2021. The woman, who was 48 years old when she descended below ground and 50 by the time she came up for air, spent 500 days in the dark and killed time by writing, knitting, drawing, exercising and reading 60 books. Spanish media were quick to trumpet Beatriz’ achievement as a world record, but a spokesperson with Guinness World Records rejected the claim, saying, “Not so fast! The Toronto Maple Leafs have been in the dark since 1967.”
I don’t care what anyone says. What Flamini did was impressive. I mean, Jesus only lasted three days in a cave.
Those of us who live in the colonies (and likely anyone with a postal code east of the Ontario-Quebec boundary) have known since the first highlights package on TSN that the ‘T’ stands for Toronto. And the deep thinkers in the Republic of Tranna aren’t shy about reminding us that all things ROT trump all things anywhere else. A case in point would be SportsCentre in the small hours of Friday/Sunday, not long after NHL playoff skirmishes featuring the Maple Leafs vs. Tampa Bay Lightning and Winnipeg Jets vs. Vegas Golden Knights.
Leafs-Lightning: 14 minutes/16 minutes…30 minutes total.
Jets-Golden Knights: 7 minutes/9 minutes…16 minutes total.
I don’t know about you, but it strikes me as a peculiar bit of business when I hear two women on national TV bantering about male athletes getting whacked in the knackers. It’s kind of like listening to two men debating the merits of Tampax Pearl vs. Tampax Radiant. Like, what the hell do they know? But there were anchors Kara Wagland and Sarah Davis the other night on SportsCentre, discussing which is worse, getting kicked or punched in the balls. Well, unless Kara and Sarah are hiding something we don’t know about under their frocks, they don’t have the balls to make that call. Thus they brought in hockey analyst Mike Johnson for a verdict, and he informed the women that the correct answer is “neither.” I think it was supposed to be a comedy routine. I groaned.
Speaking of yuks, the legendary Dame Edna Everage has left the building, and the world isn’t as funny a place as it was two days ago. For those of you who haven’t been introduced, Dame Edna was among the alter egos of Australian giggles meister Barry Humphries, who died at age 89 on Friday due to complications from hip surgery. I can’t count the number of times I slapped a knee because of something the irreverent, sharp-tongued and saucy Dame Edna said or did. She was as outrageous as her wardrobe and living, breathing evidence that performing drag is never a drag.
Call it The Nightmare on the 1st Tee: It seems golf great Jack Nicklaus had a hangup about teeing off, and it kept him awake at nights. “I haven’t had it recently, but I used to have a dream all the time that it was my time to get to the first tee and I could never get there,” the Golden Bear told guests at a Legends Luncheon in Columbus, Ohio, last week. “No matter what I did, somebody ran into me and kept me from getting to the first tee. I never quite got there, and I always woke up before it was my tee shot. I’d know the courses, usually, and know how to get to the first tee, but I’d…have to go to the bathroom; I don’t have a ball; I couldn’t find my caddie—just so many different distractions. Not getting to the first tee is a nightmare.” Nicklaus won 73 PGA tournaments and 18 majors. Other golfers can only wish they had nightmares about peeing on their way to the first tee.
In a move meant to protect Champagne-makers in northeastern France, Belgian customs officials recently destroyed 2,352 cans of Miller High Life to keep the so-called “Champagne of Beers” off the market. Imagine that. Crushing 2,352 cans of good beer. That’s exactly 2,352 short of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s Monday Night Raw record.
Things that make me go hmmm, Vol. 2,149: Did you know that the fun bunch writing the rules at Augusta National requires its Masters champions to sign off on a must-not-do list when wearing the ugly, yet coveted, Green Jacket in public. For example, being photographed while swilling booze is a major no-no. Hmmm. That might explain why John Daly only once finished top-10 on the leaderboard.
I note the NFL has suspended five players for gambling. Geez, with sports wagering in our faces 24/7, who saw that coming? Only everybody who’s stared at a TV screen or jock website in the past year. Only question now is which major men’s league will be next, the NHL, NBA, MLB or MLS?
If you’re wondering, NFL gambling policy prohibits players from wagering on games, the draft or other activities. Participating in any form of gambling while at league or team facilites or while in transit with the team is a strict no-no.
Things that make me go hmmm, Vol. 2,150: I wonder if Mike Post has another cops ‘n’ robbers TV show in the hopper. You know, something like Law & Order: You Dirty Rats. I say that because Eric Adams, the mayor of all the people in New York City, has called in Kathleen Corradi to contain the rat population in Gotham. “Rats and the conditions that help them thrive will no longer be tolerated,” the Rat Czar said in a statement. Hmmm. Does that mean Brad Marchand is no longer allowed to play in Madison Square Garden?
Ticket to Ride: That Beatles’ tune is my way of introducing you to Dr. Joasia Zakrzewski, an ultra-marathon runner participating in the recent 80-kilometre GB Ultras Manchester-to-Liverpool race. Seems Joasia had had enough of all that running nonsense halfway through her jog, so she hitched a ride with a friend, traveling 4 km by car to the next checkpoint. Her intention was to withdraw from the race with a gimpy leg, except she didn’t, and actually accepted trinkets for finishing third. Once found out and tsk-tsked by race officials, she conceded it was a “massive error” and blamed her hanky-panky on jet lag. Hey, I can relate. I mean, any time I try to run 10 or more km I always have a vehicle at the ready halfway along the route. Most people call it an ambulance.
I came across an ad for hockey tickets to Winnipeg Warriors games in 1958. Prices at the Ol’ Barn On Maroons Road: $1.50 reds, $1.25 blues, $1 greys. Here’s the interesting part, though: Tickets were available around and about town—at Howard’s Men’s Shop, Esquire Billiards, Times Soda Bar, Grain Exchange Bar, McCullough Drugs, Manitoba Drugs, Silver Heights Pharmacy, Silver Heights Shopping Centre. How did we ever get to hockey games without Ticketmaster?
And, finally, maybe give a kind thought to old friend Peter Young, whose lymphoma has reared its ugly head after eight years in remission. The ol’ broadcaster is a battler who beat the bugger once before and can do it again.