Sports 13 results

Muhammad Ali: The Greatest, in All Ways, Always

Tribute: Muhammad Ali No one can quantify the extent of outrage and villification that spewed down on Ali when he turned his back on everything American. Yet, with everything to lose, Ali stood up for his rights as a black man, loudly and unabashedly. By Rod Mickleburgh A tough week for us sports fans of another generation. Losing two great heroes of our youth: Muhammad Ali, and now, Gordie Howe (he never changed his name to Gordon..). This is about the champ.It’s been said many, many times, but it remains true. Never again will we see the likes of Muhammad Ali. “For all you kids out there”, it’s difficult to convey just how dominant a figure he was during those first 20 years he reigned as by far the most beloved and admired athlete in the world. Evidence of his unsurpassed skill and courage in the rink are easily found on YouTube. And most accounts written after Ali’s death relate in great detail his bold, in-your-face defiance of white America. He stuck it to ...

Close encounters on the third base line

Sports: Jays' Spring Training in Dunedin Whether you're sponging up the baseball, sponging off the spilled beer, or buying a sponge in a seaside tourist shop, catching Blue Jays spring training in Dunedin is a ball fan's beery version of Valhalla By Jay Stone DUNEDIN, Fla. — On my first day in Dunedin this year, I went to a spring training baseball game and saw a pitcher named Pat Venditte, who can throw with either arm. He has a special six-finger glove with a thumb at each end, and he can put it on whichever hand he wants and throw with the other arm.Venditte, who is in the Toronto Blue Jays camp, has been in the league for a while — he was with the Yankees two years ago and Oakland last year — and there’s even a rule named after him. It says that he has to declare which arm he’s going to throw with against a switch-hitter. This keeps baseball, which is kind of a leisurely sport anyway, from becoming an endless game of chicken, with Venditte moving his glove from ...

András Schiff conquers gridiron goliaths

Rod Mickleburgh: The Super Bowl vs. Classical Piano Recital How a 62-year-old pianist in a knee-length tunic made one lifelong sports fan forget about the Super Bowl, and feel the magic of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert By Rod Mickleburgh The treasured Leila Getz, described in the program as “Head Honcho” of the Vancouver Recital Society, welcomed us with her usual enthusiasm. “Thank you for choosing András Schiff over the Super Bowl. The magic begins.” And indeed, it did.Moments later, the stately, 62-year old master pianist, wearing a knee-length black tunic, walked out from the wings, acknowledged our applause, sat down on the cushioned bench, rested his hands on the top of the piano for 20 seconds of contemplation, and began to play.While gazillions tuned into the greatest annual event in the history of the world, aka the Super Bowl, which surpasses even the Eurovision Song Contest in global importance, I sat entranced, with hundreds of others at the packed ...

Dan Halldorson: Unsung star of Canadian golf

Tribute In the modern era of professional showmanship, Dan Halldorson defined low-profile sportsmanship By Rod Mickleburgh You probably didn’t notice, but one of my favourite golfers recently shuffled off this mortal coil. In fact, most of you probably don’t even have a favourite golfer. But never mind.Apart from that, the reason you may not have noticed his demise, is that Dan Halldorson, tragically done in by a stroke at 63, defined the phrase “low profile.” Not only was he a Canadian professional golfer before Mike Weir, he had the on-course charisma of a dozing accountant. Not many noticed him during his golfing career, and after he retired, he was soon unjustly forgotten. Me, I loved the guy.There was something so unassuming about Dan Halldorson, so unlike any other golfer on the PGA tour. Shunning the flashy polyester slacks and other riotous garb of the time, Dan preferred loose, almost baggy, dark pants. When the weather fell below 80 degrees, he often ...

A fan’s lament

R.I.P Blue Jays Season The boys in blue took Canadians on a roller coaster ride through the post-season, turning even the hesitant and risk-averse into Bautista worshippers, but even with a pumped up Pompey and a ride from Revere, the Royals won the division crown By Rod Mickleburgh And so it ends, as it almost does in baseball when you embrace a team, with heartache and a taste of bitterness. After a magical, three-month run that delivered such delirious thrills and joy to me and millions of others across the country, the Toronto Blue Jays are gone, leaving players and fans to agonize over what might have been.It happens every year. Teams get so close to the final hurdle, only to falter at the finish line. If they didn’t, it wouldn’t be sports, and everyone’s team would win every year. In baseball, only one team out of 30 wins the World Series. How often is it the team you root for? The Cubs haven’t won since 1908, the Red Sox went 90 years without winning, Seattle ...

Yogi Berra: More than Mr. Malaprop

The late legend was a perennial MVP and one of few good reasons to root for the New York Yankees Sure, Mantle might hit a homer, but he might just as easily strike out. Berra, notorious for swinging at balls so far out of the strike zone they might have been in Poughkeepsie, almost never fanned – just 414 times in 19 seasons, writes Rod Mickleburgh By Rod Mickleburgh A few words on the late, great Lawrence Peter Berra, known to one and all, except Yankee manager Casey Stengel, as  Yogi. The Old Perfessor always referred to him as “my man” or “Mr. Berra.” It was his show of respect for the team’s catcher and long-time clean-up hitter. While others might mock and deride Berra’s squat stature, homely mug and lack of verbal sophistication, wise Casey knew just how key Berra was to the success of the Yankees in those long-ago years when they seemed to win the World Series every year. From behind the plate, he guided the team’s often far from brilliant pitching staff ...

Orbiting ball lore with the Spaceman

Southpaw pitcher Bill Lee climbs back on a mound of memories created during the Montreal Expos' brief run at greatness from 1979 to 1981, when the storied team fell just one inning short of a trip to the World Series By Rod Mickleburgh Suddenly, baseball is fun again, at least if you’re a fan of the Toronto Blue Jays. Although the Montreal Expos remain closest to my heart, I still root for the Jays. Those World Series years of 1992-93 were wonderful. (Devon White!) Of course, it’s been mighty lean pickings, since then. Now, finally, as they tussle with the hated Yankees for first place, Canada is back on the Jays’ bandwagon. With this renewed whiff of baseball in the air, I offer a special Mickle treat for Canadian ball fans, especially those who remember the Expos from 1979, when they first drove for the pennant, and 1981, when they fell an inning short of the World Series, done in by Rick Monday’s cruel home run off Steve Rogers, a starting pitcher ...

Art star and X-Games pro Tyler Shields makes directing debut

Tyler Shields started skating professionally at the age of 12 and made it to the top of the extreme athlete podium before he turned his talents to art photography and high-end shoots, but he says directing his debut feature was the biggest risk yet, if only because he'd promised his Robin Williams he'd make it the right way.   By Katherine Monk LOS ANGELES – Robin Williams made him promise to be true to his creative soul, and while it hasn’t been easy, Tyler Shields has managed to resist the temptation of quick hits and lowest common denominator success to pursue a unique vision in the richly saturated shadows. An art star in the world of fine art photography and a former professional in-line skater, Shields has certainly felt the warm glow of popular success in the past, but when he decided to follow his childhood dream of becoming a filmmaker, he knew things would be different. And they were. Shields directed the B.C.-shot thriller Final Girl ...
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Movie review: Southpaw packs a familiar punch

Jake Gyllenhaal shows real acting power in an otherwise familiar story about a boxer who has to be redeemed in the ring

Rod Mickleburgh pens an ode to Jay messiah

Surprise slugfest shatters expectations of a humdrum night of baseball, inspiring a veteran scribe to take an original trip around the horn of Ernest Lawrence Thayer's classic, published June 3, 1888 By Rod Mickleburgh Earlier this week, on a beautiful night for baseball, I was at the Skydome for what hardly promised to be a classic ball game, between the struggling Blue Jays and woeful White Sox. But my friend Peter McNelly, having spent part of his boyhood in Chicago, remains a diehard Sox fan, and me, well, I love baseball at any level, so off we went. Of course, since baseball ever produces the unexpected, what transpired on the field, against all expectation, was as exciting a game as I can remember (and I remember Mazeroski’s homer!).It was an old-fashioned slugfest, with more twists and turns than the Monte Carlo Grand Prix. It was a pitchers’ duel all right, as in who would get to the showers first: the Jays’ R.A. Dickey, whose knuckleball danced about as much ...