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Tuesday, July 7, 2015


Happy birthday to me! Well, belated happy birthday to me as I marked my 43rd birthday in Detroit on Sunday thanks to a wonderful birthday gift from the most understanding wife on earth.  There I was 30 rows from home plate in Comerica Park rooting on the Blue Jays who were trying to salvage a game from the Tigers.  I will even ignore the slightly ulterior motive of my beautiful wife Larissa as she has been a huge Tigers fan for many, many years.  This has led to what I call the October ritual of becoming a temporary Tigers fan/band wagon jumper come playoff time as inevitably the Tigers qualify for the post season and just as inevitably the Blue Jays are mathematically eliminated by Labour Day.   This process, by the way, repeats itself around April with the Red Wings and the Maple Leafs.   The game itself was largely forgettable as the Blue Jays built a large lead and lurched their way towards a 10-5 W.  Maybe it was largely forgettable as at the precise time the Jays were laying waste to Justin Verlander with 6 runs in the 5th, I was trying mightily to digest a Coney Island Hot Dog and usher my four old onto the in-stadium merry go round.  All in good fun.

Detroit is clearly on the bounce back from a city that declared bankruptcy.  Comerica Park/ Ford Field , the casino and the Fox Theatre all create a vibrancy in the downtown area highlighted by Chris Chelios popular bar Chelli's which is across the street and has a huge patio party at ground level and on the rooftop.  That said , beneath all of the revitalization around the downtown core lies not a seedy underbelly, but more of an unfortunate bi-product of a city getting back on its feet. Not 10 seconds out of our cab we got approached by a guy claiming to be from the Shriner's, but really was a dude in a wheelchair looking for money, and then by some teenagers looking for a signature for something and also a small donation of some sort.  That sort of scrounging for dollars can be found in most major U.S. cities, but it was a little unnerving having that happen as we were trying to navigate our four year old towards Chelli's for a pre-game pop or two! That said, I'd go back again for sure, maybe leaving behind my daughter and enjoying a little of the Detroit nightlife, which at my age means a sports bar until 11:00pm!

The Halifax Rainmen of the now flailing NBL have declared bankruptcy and are looking for new owners.  The Rainmen have been stalwart members of the league and were the leagues best drawing card at one point.   Attendance and brand credibility have dwindled thanks to the Game 7 that never was versus Windsor as the team from Halifax refused to play in the championship deciding game citing safety concerns after a pregame shoot around dust up . The slew of fines and bans have not helped the cause.  Does Halifax keep its team?  Is there another Nova Scotia city capable of handling a team?  Time will tell. Right now the league has teams in Windsor, London, Niagara and Brampton and Halifax (for now) , PEI, Moncton and Saint John.  That is one unique geographical configuration.  Throw in the fact the Mississauaga Power are no more, ceding their spot in the league and welcoming Raptors905 and the NBA D-League into the Hershey Centre.  Butch Carter's CBL is expected to tip off in the late fall with teams in Waterloo, Hamilton, Scarborough and Ottawa.  If you are keeping score, in Southern Ontario/GTA you have options in the CBL, NBL, NBA D-League as well as the OUA, OCAA.  That is five different basketball options potentially, which is either good news or a disaster waiting to happen as these leagues fight for fans and a foothold in the market.   

Very excited to see an all sports network come to Hamilton.  Can the Steel City support all sports?   You've got a population of over 700 000 to draw from up and down the Golden Horseshoe which is where this station will be looking as it would be a wise move to distance itself from the GTA sports talk audience.   Who knows, maybe there will be a spot for me, depending on what sports they plan on covering.  They've got McMaster U, the Tiger Cats, the Bulldogs (though the rights holders are 900 CHML) and a potential pro basketball team in  Hamilton (see above).  That's a lot of sports, but also a lot of time to fill. Good luck to them. With the TSN brand behind them and a vast city of sports and personalities to cover, there should be no shortage of good content!

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