Hey now, don’t go around blaming a blown call. Don’t blame the temperature and don’t blame history. Don’t stress over Reimer’s injury (although I’m glad the Leafs were able to wrap things up in Montreal in only 1:23 of overtime because I just don’t trust Gustavsson yet.)
These things are not the real factors that separate the wins from the losses. These things are not heart, soul, strength, focus, skill, preparation, genetic make-up. Rather they are peripheral details in the ongoing stories of sports. They are parenthetical afterthoughts. Maybe like an asterix. Speaking of parenthetical afterthoughts, I’ve collected mine here to share with you during this week’s highlights.
1. There is a higher power. The St Louis Cardinals swung for fences in game 3 of the World Series. More specifically, they swung for just beyond the fences. Powered by the incomparable Albert Pujols (who hit a potential game-winning home run in game 2, although it wasn’t quite a home run and was caught right at the wall) they made it a mission not to leave the long balls inside the park. Consequently, Pujols homered a record-setting 3 times as the Cards counted 16 runs. In game 4 last night, the Rangers blanked the Cardinals. (So, really, incomparable or not, let Pujols not be mistaken for anything other than the humble vessel of God’s will.)
2. Six of one… Leafs lose in Boston, win in Montreal. On paper this looks pretty good (as do the Leafs in certain ways). We lost to the defending champs but we scored a win over a team we might (God willing, Mr. Pujols) be fighting with for a playoff spot. That works out. (But despite 5 wins, the Leafs are only +1 in terms of goal differential. This is a number that seems to warrant some continued observation. Tonight against Philadelphia could be a good test.)
3. 250,000 of the other. Get back, are you betting on the Cardinals? I advise doing so, especially if you’re still stuck back in mid September. Many of us here in late October would have loved, as this guy did, to have put $250 down on the (then) longshot St Louis Cardinals. He is unnamed. But the pay-off is about a thousand to one. (The prospect of a $250,000 payday really makes this seem like $250 well spent, doesn’t it? Go get what you’ve got in your iPhone 4s fund and invest now in the Leafs winning the Stanely Cup in 2012. Odds are good.)
4. Pitching it to baseball. A considerable perk of the NBA lockout is that NBA champion Dirk Nowitzki has had time on his hands to work on his opening-pitch-throwing skills. He has gotten much better, but the same can also be said of perennial opening-pitch-thrower in Texas, George W. Bush. I’ve gone to the video evidence on this one, but they truely have very different pitching styles. (Meanwhile Bill Simmons eulogizes the 2011-12 NBA season, which is in very real danger of total cancellation.)
5. Pitching it to soccer. Despite a convincing win over FC Dallas, the Toronto FC have to call it a season. However, there is statistical evidence to suggest that the TFC are worse now than when the team was first formed. (Dallas shouldn’t have lost to us like they did. Maybe Dallas superstar Dirk Nowitzki should be helping out with soccer during his time off instead of hanging around the baseball diamond. A pro-wrestling style run-in to save a goal or knock in a penalty kick would seem appropriate.)
Kyle Buckley is the Toronto Standard Sports Critic.