Sunday, September 28, 2008

Gaels ride Mustangs at Homecoming

Unfortunately, the Journal is space-deprived this week, and my super-awesome long-ass football article couldn't make the paper. Fortunately, it means that I don't have to write a new article for the blog about the football game (at the permission of boss-man). Enjoy!

Twelve Mustang turnovers, fourteen Queen’s points in 24 seconds, and a gaggle of engineers, this year’s Homecoming football game was one to be remembered. The Queen’s Gaels, wearing antler decals on the back of their helmets in memory of Hal ‘Moose’ McCarney, defeated the Western Mustangs 43-16 on Saturday, to the delight of the sellout crowd at Richardson Stadium.

The game got off to a slow start, as both teams were trying to adjust to the challenge of playing on a rain-soaked field. Neither offense could get anything going, most passes were off-target or dropped, and neither running back could make any headway against the strong defensive corps.

Then came the first mistake of the game, as Mustangs long-snapper Conor Elliott snapped the ball over the head of punter Daryl Wheeler, causing a safety and putting Queen’s in the lead. With just under five minutes remaining in the first quarter, Elliot missed another snap, causing a scramble and an eventual fumble, which Queen’s recovered on the Western 10 yard line. This led to Queen’s running back Mike Giffin’s first touchdown of the game, a one yard hop over the Western defensive line.

Turnovers continued to be the story of the game in the second quarter, as Western’s offense was knocking on the door, and looking to bring the 9-1 scoreline closer, but Queen’s Alex DePrato intercepted Western quarterback Michael Faulds’ pass at the Queen’s goal line and returned it for 95 yards, giving Queen’s gorgeous field position for their second touchdown, courtesy of Giffin on a 3 yard run, giving the Gaels a 16-1 lead. Another Western fumble, created by Osie Ukwuoma and recovered by T.J. Leeper, gave Queen’s offense the ball on the Western four yard line. This led to Queen’s third touchdown of the game, scored on a 6 yard pass from quarterback Danny Brannagan to tight-end Chris Ionnides, sending the teams off at halftime with the Gaels in the lead 23-1.

Western’s offense finally started to click in the second half, as a 10 play, 104 yard drive was capped off by a John Leckie two yard run, but the Mustangs failed to complete their two-point conversion, bringing the score to 23-07.

In the fourth quarter, after Leckie had scored his second touchdown of the game to bring the game to 23-14, Western’s offense was continuing to pressure the Gael’ defense, but on third and inches they couldn’t convert for a first down, giving Queen’s the ball on the Tricolour 33. The offense went on a 77 yard drive to score another touchdown, with Brannagan completing an 11 yard pass to slot back Scott Stinson.

Immediately after that touchdown, a Western fumble off the kickoff gave the Gaels’ offense the ball back in the Western half, and they made no mistakes as Dan Village cleared a field goal, then less than a minute later converted another to give Queen’s a commanding 36-14 lead.

Finally, in the last minute of play, Gaels’ Peter Boshyk intercepted another pass from Faulds, and after a 41 yard return, the offense took over with Giffin scored a 29 yard run, capping off a three touchdown game which was also his first regular season game of under 100 rushing yards since 2005.

Queen’s football head coach Pat Sheahan acknowledged the achievements of the defense in helping his team beat the Mustangs.

“Unbelievable defense today,” he said. “[The Mustangs] have a prolific offense and their kids caught the ball today, they were completing some passes. Our kids knew they weren’t going to shut them down, they caught the ball and moved the ball with ease.”

As for the turnovers, Sheahan said that felt they caused the momentum shift in the game, and gifted the Gaels points.

“The DePrato interception there where it’s 9-1, in my mind, that’s the TSN turning point,” he said. “All of those turnovers we had today had a major impact. Almost every one had ramifications and consequences to it. It was interesting how many of our tallies came off their turnovers.”

DePrato said that his interception was a result of luck, but changed the flow of the game.

“Everyone got pretty amped up afterwards,” he said. “Right place at the right time, but yeah, definite momentum changer.”

Jimmy Allin, who ended the game with one interception, 22 rushing yards and 50 return yards said that the offense gave Queen’s the advantage early in the game while the offense was sorting itself out.

“Our defense was out there a lot for the first half, but our offense is just way too good to be held down all day.”

Western head coach Greg Marshall said that the turnovers were what cost his team the game.

“That pick was big,” he said. “It could’ve been 9-8, all of a sudden it was 23-1. … There was a direct relationship [between the number of turnovers and the final score]. We put our defense in bad situations. Give Queen’s credit, they forced those turnovers.”

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Wuck Festern indeed

More details on the Homecoming game will be thrown down tomorrow, as I am about to go drinking.

Happy Homecoming to all, and to all a drunk night.

At any rate, I'll be writing a blog post on today's game tomorrow at some point, so be jacked for that.

Andrew over at Sporting Madness will be blogging about it today (probably), and Neate at Out of Left Field did a liveblog on the game (I should've told you folks about that earlier), and I'd assume they'll have more details on the game later.

Cha Gheill!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Quittin' Time

I find 2 things in sports more appaling than all else: players quitting on their team and players choosing not to play to their potential.

I put these into 2 categories because they are different, as slight as that difference may be. Players that quit once tried hard and succeeded, but no longer see the point of it. A perfect example would be Randy Moss, who quit on his team while he played in Oakland, and has started to show signs of a lax effort with Matt Cassel and the New England Patriots. His reasoning is simple: I'm not going over the middle if there is a good chance the QB cannot hit me in the numbers. Sort of like in "The Wire." Jimmy McNulty is at his best at solving crimes when he is doing the most harm to his body, but he is at his healthiest when he is just walking a beat and is less angry (Really just a great show. Anyone who knows me knows I push this show whenever possible. Honestly, it's one of the greats).

Vince Carter is another example. He tanked it with Toronto, allegedly tipping a play to the Oklahoma City Thunder (low-blow on my part, I admit). After the Nets "traded" for him, he willfully acknowledged that at times he gave less than 100%. He also had the gaul to congratulate Chris Bosh for bringing the Raptors back...after Vince left them in a deep hole. This was done on the court right after Carter's Nets had eliminated the Raptors from the playoffs. Plus the time he got Morris Peterson ejected. And the time he openly laughed and shook his head in disbelief when the Raps fans started chanting "M-V-P" for Bosh. But I digress...

Jaromir Jagr is another player accused of not trying his hardest all the time, partly because he knew that as long as he kept on playing, he would be in line for another $8MM contract.

I'm hesitant to throw Manny Ramirez on this list, just because the Red Sox treated him unfairly so he treated them unfairly.

The other category is of players who never tried their hardest. This includes Vladimir Malakhov and JD Drew. Think of these guys as the anti-Kevin Garnett. The best representation I can think of comes from the movie "Good Will Hunting" (another amazing pop culture reference, if I must say so myself. Coincidentally, one of my top 5 favorite movies) where Ben Affleck's character gets angry with Matt Damon for not living up to his potential: "You've got the winning lottery ticket in your hand, but you're too much of a pussy to cash it in." We see flashes of their brilliance, but they just lack the motivation to give it their all.

I'd much rather cheer for the guys who work their asses off all-game, every game. We (Jays fans) are truly lucky to be able to witness and cheer for Roy Halladay. He really is one of a kind. And other players have commented that his notorious work habits are infectious. AJ Burnett credits Doc quite a bit for becoming the person he has become.

The quitters and the bad Will Huntings are appalling because they are obviously not using all of their talents that they so obviously have. These players could be better than pretty well anyone, but they lack the drive to show how good they can be.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Imperfect, but no longer inhuman

Every Queen's men's rugby game I've covered this year has been a tale of destruction. West Point, U of T, Ulster, all crushing victories for the Tricolour.

I travelled to Western with the men's rugby team this weekend, and it was a hell of a show.

The game started hard, both teams dug in and didn't give an inch either way, it was back and forth. Both teams managed to sustain pressure during the first half, but neither team managed to score. If anything, Western was granted the initiative with the opportunity to convert a couple of penalties, but the three points eluded them because, apparently, their fly-half has two left feet. And by that, I mean he couldn't kick for shit.

As the first half was wrapping up, Queen's managed to smash a try through the Western defensive lines courtesy Pat Richardson... powerful as hell, scrappier than that.

The second half was an interesting one, and it started badly for the Gaels. Fullback Colin Alexander absolutely ruined what I assume was their wing while he was in midair. I'm talking YouTube quality hit, horribly illegal, but absolutely brutal, and awesome to watch from the other side of the field. Mustang going for a ball in the air, Alexander dropped his shoulder and went midair, flipping the poor bugger and lying him out. Probably a red card offense, he was sin-binned.

Western took the initiative from there, and after a fair amount of pressure, they managed to score their first try of the game. But, like I said before, their fly-half is balls and he missed the conversion, leaving the score at 7-5.

Alexander returned, but we took another yellow card from there, a pretty iffy call from the ref, something about illegal movement in the scrum. Either way, we were a man down for another 10 minutes, and Western managed to convert again. This time they went damn near right through the pipes, and their fly-half would have been hard-pressed to miss this one. 12-7 going into the end of the game.

So we enter extra time, Queen's is at full-strength, and pushing harder than all hell. Their efforts were finally rewarded as Richardson punched through his second try of the game, tying up the score. The passion was running incredibly high, and I couldn't contain my own cheering as they pushed the try home. I know, I know, impartial reporter, blah blah blah, there's only so much emotion one can ignore before reverting to the fan that they truly are. The conversion was missed by mere inches though, and that wound up being the last kick of the game, as the game was tied 12-12.

The post-game interviews took a very different tone than they had in any of those previous games I'd covered... they were actually emotional. There was something other than "w00t we won!", it was human. There was a palatable sense of accomplishment, but also one of loss.

The post-game was also mind-blowing. For me, the game always ended at the final whistle, a couple of interviews and I'm on my way. But, when you're a 5 hour drive away from home, it's not easy to pull that off. I was introduced to the tradition of the home team hosting the away team to dinner. Hearty, hot food was served up by the Western team, and the teams sat together and talked. Even after the game, during the seconds match, there was a fair amount of socializing between the players who had, only moments ago, been out for eachother's blood. Everyone seemed to know eachother and, beyond that, seemed to be friends with one another. At the dinner, the captains chose the opposing team's players of the game, and then everyone went their own way.

The social, the human aspect to the game I'd never experienced before was impressive as it was surprising.

I would also encourage Gaels fans to start going out to men's rugby home games. The team is amazing, their play is exceptional, they're easily one of the better teams in the OUA, if not the CIS, and, like all varsity teams, could do with some more fans.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Alone on the Wagon

I am an unabashed Jays fan, always have been and (probably) always will be. Why do I call myself a true fan? Not because I remember the glory years of 1992 and 1993, but because I remember the gory years of the late-90s. I cringe when someone mentions 1987 because of the stunning collapse of the Jays down the stretch: the Jays were in first, 3.5 games ahead of the Tigers, then proceeded to lose their final 7 games, and finished 2.0 games behind the Tigers. I can remember when Roger Clemens was dominating, but I also remember when Mike Sirotka did not pitch a single inning after being proclaimed the new ace pitcher. I appreciate the fact that Dave Stieb has the only no-hitter in organizational history even more because I know that he came within 3 outs or less on 8(!) different occasions previous to that (a MLB record, dontcha know), including back-to-back starts in his final 2 starts of the 1988 season.

This season, I have given up hope that the Jays can make the playoffs, but I will continue to follow the team day in and day out. I know I am not special because I follow a perennially disappointing team, I am a Leafs fan after all (Heyo!).

But why do we (true fans of any team) do this to ourselves? Why do we continue to watch unimportant games?

I do it because there is the chance to see something special. I vividly remember Roy “Doc” Halladay’s coming-out party in 1998, when he came within 2 batters of throwing a no-hitter in his 2nd career start in what was an otherwise unimportant game near the end of the season (it was the 2nd last game of the year, if I remember correctly). I remember feeling the pain when Bobby Higginson hit the pinch-hit home run off of him to break up the no-no and the shutout. I also remember thinking that this Halladay guy might have a future in this league. I remember him having plenty of trouble in 2000, posting the worst ERA ever, among qualified pitchers (that is, he pitched enough innings to qualify to win (or lose) statistical categories). Now, he is only the best pitcher in the American League and is showing no signs of slowing down. I continue to watch him because he could throw a no-hitter in any one of his starts.

Currently, the Jays have called up the diamond of their farm system: Travis Snider. Born February 2, 1988 (yes, he is 20), Snider is the youngest player in the American League this year by about 18 months and just 7 months older than me. He may struggle mightily (like Alex Rios did) or he may have great success (like Doc), but I will be watching, either way, with great interest.

With any sports team, there will be peaks and valleys. But being a true fan means that the valleys are that much deeper. I remember and reflect upon the failures of the Jays, the bad years (Gord Ash), the injuries (Kevin Mench smoking Doc on the shin in the midst of the Doc’s best season), the poor trades (David Wells for Mike Sirotka), the terrible games (Jason Giambi hitting the walk-off home run against BJ Ryan in Yankee Stadium), more than most other fans. But these valleys make the peaks seem even higher: Joe Carter’s homerun, Roger Clemens’ reign of terror, Doc winning the Cy Young, Delgado's 4 HR-game against the Rays.

I can hardly tolerate those who are fair-weather fans because they are not as emotionally invested as I am. Very few people understand how much I love this team and this sport, but it pains me to see people claiming to be Jays fans when they cannot remember the valleys. It is these valleys that truly make the fan experience, and the peaks make it all seem worthwhile. I look forward to the next peak with glee, but accept that there will also be valleys. To paraphrase the Facts of Life, you take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the true fan experience.

The tide rolls on

After the popularity of Milway's "Seventh Inning Stretch" articles, and my inability to post as much as I should be - especially as we're starting to get into a time when, you know, sports are happening, I've invited him to be a permanent author on this blog.

Which means he'll be writing about more than just baseball, and hopefully a whole new range of sports and ideas come to light on the blog.

Short of taking this opportunity to welcome him to a permanent home on There Is No Original Name For This Sports Blog, I'll just say that his ass needs to get to work!!

Ah, I keed, look out for Milway's articles as we continue though!

PS - Shout out to Neate Sager at Out Of Left Field for adding us to your blog roll, hooray for the apparent legitimacy of this blog!!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Now this is just cool

The stretch of the interwebs never fails to amaze me. Through an ed-board at The Journal I found out a scary German website which will scour the internet for anything with your name attached to it. Through that website, I found a link to an article I wrote for The Journal which was written in June, linked in a blog.

That is absolutely insane.

Also, a little scary.

That said, the pictures up there aren't of me. Nor are any of those addresses. Also, I do not play field hockey, though if it will get me free beers and/or laid, then sure, of course I was on the US National Field Hockey Team.

You're damn skippy.

What the hell is wrong with Spurs?

£100M spent since Juande Ramos took over, and spent well. The money went to getting Jonathan Woodgate, Chris Gunter, Gareth Bale, Alan Hutton, Gilberto, Cesar Chavez, Heurelho Gomes, David Bentley, Luca Modric, Giovani dos Santos, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Vedran Corluka. This is a team which, on paper, should strike fear into the hearts of all who play them.

And yet, that tends to be the story of Spurs, ever since the Premier League came into its current form, Spurs have been a team which, on paper, should be cracking the top four with relative ease. We look at the likes of players who've passed through White Hart Lane... and done piss all: Paul Gascoigne, Gary Linekar, Darren Anderton, Jurgen Klinsmann, Teddy Sheringham, Sol Campbell, David Ginola, Stephen Carr, Robbie Keane, Dimitar Berbatov.

What is wrong with Spurs?

This year I really thought we'd got it right. We have creative and dangerous midfielders with dos Santos, Bentley, Jenas, Lennon, Modric, Zokora, O'Hara and Huddlestone. We have an impressive, two-way defense in King, Woodgate, Bale, Hutton, Gunter and Dawson. Our keeper, Gomes, has been touted as one of the best keepers in the world. During the summer, as this was all coming together, with Keano and Berbatov up front, I thought we couldn't lose. Then they left... and therein lies the problem.

Pavlyuchenko's greatest asset is that he can play as a dropped-back striker, who can create space for himself and play a beautiful through-ball to whoever's up front. Darren Bent's greatest asset is that he can hack away at the ball during messes in the 18yd box, and somehow score a goal. Even his goal vs Villa today was off a Jenas rebound.

So... here we are. Four games into the season... 3 losses against Boro, Sunderland and Villa to our name, with a draw against Chelsea (what!?!?!??!). I've always been one to say "wait and see, it's early in the season", but even I'm feeling the pessimism bite lately. This is clearly a team which can make all kinds of opportunities, but there's no striker who can make magic happen with one flick, no finisher who can single-handedly lift a team as we lost in Keane.

This is a team who is learning to play with one another. The list of ins and outs in 07/08 and 08/09 over the past season is staggering.

Here's hoping they get it together. I'll forever bleed Lilywhite, but it's been hard to keep the faith after 17 years of mediocrity.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Delayed but nevertheless

Who would've thunk it, I come back to school and I'm busier than I was all summer at work. Sorry for the dinstinct lack of posting, but I'm no longer spending 7.5 hours/day parked in front of the ordinateur*... doing nothing. Now the 7.5 hours/day I spend parked in front of the ordinateur are filled with... well, MSN, GoogleTalk, Facebook, FIFA 08, Weeds, Scrubs, and other fun-filled activities.

At any rate, some updates, then my post. Firstly, Milway isn't lazy, he has in fact written a new post. Unfortunately, it was written in MS Word, like all his other posts, but all of a sudden Blogger isn't letting me post it because of some HTML in the World file... even though I'm copying it into the blog word-entry thingamabob. I'm mighty confused, but I'm trying to get it up (that's what she said), because it's really good. The Seventh Inning Stretch is still alive and kicking though, not to worry baseball fans.

Now, for my posting of random thoughts:

1) ENGLAND FUCKING WON. In the event that you happen to live under a rock, England smacked Croatia about 4-1 in Zagreb, where the Croats (had) yet to lose. Boo. Fucking. Yeah. Theo Walcott had a hattrick, Rooney was setting up bloody everything and finally popped in his own goal. Of course, this was the game that I decided "fuck it what's the point", but from Phil's account, apparently England were playing beautiful flowing stuff, almost toying with the Croats, playing well, not Turkish, as they had against Andorra. They played with creativity, poise and ablity. I honestly could not be more pleased. Croatia may not seem like a strong adversary, but they're a damn good side and they'd never lost at home. England squeaked past Andorra.

2) The Premier League is becoming absolutely retarded. If Chelsea is Chelski, Man City is now Abu City, playing out of the Middle Eastlands.

3) Queen's men's rugby faces their first real test this weekend... in a friendly against the University of Ulster, who smacked Trent 64-3 on Tuesday. They also beat the balls out of Fleming College... we're playing for Canadian pride here, let's go Tricolour, come on you Gaels!!!

4) Why won't hockey fucking start. Goddamit. I plan on getting NHL 09 at some point in the very near future, be excited for a review of that game, or, better yet, a review of what the game does to Test subject A (myself), B (Mike), and C (whoever is unfortunate enough to be C).
* homage to the fact that I worked in Hull

Monday, September 1, 2008

Hey remember that time when Queen's beat up on the US Army?

No? Then clearly you weren't at Queen's v West Point men's rugby yesterday. 40-8 final score. Good dancing Jehovah.

It was interesting watching Army for a couple of reasons. For one - they're the motherfucking United States Army Academy's rugby firsts. But, moreso, because they reminded me a lot of RMC. Their game was a physical one, but there was little in the way of finesse, speed or real talent on the squad, they preferred to bash through than pass around.

Queen's had unbelievable ball support and speed, which were well-combined to create some kind of fearsome try-scoring machine... yup. It could at one second look like they had a man completely isolated up the pitch but within seconds he would have at least 2 passing options. West Point clearly had no idea what was going on.

I had the opportunity to talk to Army's coach (Rich Pohlidal) after the game, who said (among other things) "They play with great pace, you could really see the experience. They also play as a unit, it's amazing to see that level of unity and that level of cohesion at the collegiate level."

So there! Good things to come for this season? If they play the season with the same tenacity and ability they did today (without getting into all the penalty trouble they found themselves at the end of the game), I don't see why not.

More detailed story to come in The Journal later on this week, I'll link it when able.