Leaves are falling (no, not the Maple Leafs- it isn’t spring yet), the weather is getting colder and fall is upon us. Is there a reason for people to be happy? If you like sports there is! For a sports fan, it is the most wonderful time of the year.
Don’t worry I won’t break into song (but, this is a newspaper so even if I did you wouldn’t hear me.) With the NHL season finally starting again, Major League Baseball playoffs underway, the NFL season getting into crunch time, the CFL playoffs just around the corner and NBA teams preparing to start their season, it is the only time all five major sports leagues are underway and with Concordia’s hockey and basketball teams hitting the ice and court and all the sports already started there is a plethora of things to watch for.
Obviously, to name just one storyline, going into this NHL season is going to be so hard, mainly because this season is so unpredictable. If you asked 100 people for their predictions for the NHL season, you would get 100 different answers. Obviously, stories to watch are that every Canadian team is realistically hopeful to make a run for the Stanley Cup, Sidney Crosby showing up in Pittsburgh arguably saving the franchise, the new salary cap, the new rules, the list goes on… I think the new look NHL is reason enough to watch and take a peek, even if you never have before. The league has a positive buzz that hasn’t been felt in a long time- maybe even never.
Yes, the highly fabricated “Curse of the Bambino” (a whole different story altogether) is over and done with because the Boston Red Sox won the World Series last year for the first time since 1918, but there is still a curse that has a possibility to end this year. The White Sox last won the World Series in 1917 a heck of a long time ago and the fact they haven’t won since is simply the “Curse of the Black Sox”. No, I’m not making this up, so allow me to explain. The White Sox were the heavy favourites to win the 1919 World Series against Cincinnati who were called a “Miracle team” just for making it to the Series, but what happened next was something that tainted the game of baseball for a long time. Gamblers approached eight White Sox players, who were vastly underpaid, to fix and lose the World Series. Details about what happened before, during or after the fix are sketchy, but the White Sox did end up losing the World Series due to the actions of several players, eight whom were later banned from baseball forever and the White Sox never won another World Series. This year they have a good chance to at least make it to the World Series in an unpredictable American League. It is a story to watch, and God knows FOX will follow it if they make it far enough.
In the NFL, storylines change every week and it is great to watch. This week for example, the big story was how Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was willing to play through a sports hernia injury instead of having surgery, then watched his team fall behind early this week against Kansas City only to score 31 unanswered points and lead his team to victory. Another thing to watch is the possibility of the demise of the New England Patriots. Injuries in the secondary have showed weaknesses that the San Diego Chargers exploited in a big way in their win on Sunday.
The CFL has several key storylines. The previously 11-0 British Columbia Lions have lost two straight games, while the previously down-and-out Montreal Alouettes and Saskatchewan Roughriders appear to be turning around and peaking at the right time. The Edmonton Eskimos beat the Lions and then lost to the 2-10 Hamilton Tiger Cats. The Toronto Argonauts, who seemed to be running away with the CFL Eastern Division, appear to be falling back to the Alouettes and are holding a slim one game lead. Who knows what is going to happen in the CFL, easily the most unpredictable professional sports league in North America.
The NBA is probably the calmest of all the leagues at this point of the season, with all of the preseason buzz going to the NHL. A key storyline from a Canadian perspective is Steve Nash defending his MVP Award and Rob Babcock, general manager of the Toronto Raptors, publicly saying that he feels that this year’s team is worse than last year’s. Someone better teach him some marketing, especially considering that they were the seventh worst team in the NBA last season.
The defending Quebec champion women’s hockey Stingers take to the ice this week for their first regular season game, the men’s basketball team play their first games at home since their spirited play in Halifax at the National Championships and the men’s hockey and women’s basketball teams are looking to take the next step. The men’s and women’s soccer and rugby teams are striving for a playoff spot and hopefully more, and the baseball team is going for a birth in the National Championships. The football team has a huge conference game Oct. 15 against the University of Montreal and Concordia sports are starting to get just as exciting as professional sports.
Come out and support your Stingers in their runs to the playoffs and follow the ever exciting storylines in the “big five” professional sports.