Free Agent IN/OF/P: Dave Sawchuk

Dave Sawchuk

**Reliable IN/OF/P on the #YEG Slo-Pitch Free Agent Market**

Scouting Report

Dave Sawchuk is a strong defender with a good arm and high “Baseball IQ.”  In addition to being able to play every defensive position at a high level, he can also be counted on in a pinch to throw a few innings.  Don’t expect much on the hill though; just strikes and plenty of good-natured banter.

His real strength is consistency.  “Sawchuk is the kind of ball player that shows up every week with a 6-pack”, says former teammate Len Wangen.  “He’s just slow.  Really slow.  I mean, how is a guy that tall so slow?” added Wangen, unprompted.  While Sawchuk has never been clocked in the 40 yard dash, many top scouts think he’d be average with a tail wind.

His consistency isn’t limited to just showing up with libations.  Dave is a singles hitter from the right…

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Northlands: October 6, 1990

My favourite Northlands moment came on Saturday October 6, 1990.  It was my first Oiler game.  The home-building company my father worked for had season tickets.  He must have had a good month, because that Saturday night was the home opener.

The Oilers had just won their 5th Stanley Cup, and during the pre-game ceremony team officials rolled the trophy in question onto the ice.  Even from high in the stands, The Cup looked massive and sparkled like a ten-foot diamond on a Christmas tree.

The home team was announced and Mark Messier was given the loudest ovation.  There was a smoke-machine (!) and what would now pass as the appropriate lighting production for a 6 year old’s birthday party. Hey, it was 1990!

Then it happened.  Just as the visiting Winnipeg Jets were announced, something I had never witnessed in person before began to happen.

Grown men started boo’ing.  Children began jeering.  Women were cussing.  It was the most unruly thing I had ever seen or heard as an 11 year-old!  Confused, and perhaps caught in the moment, I began to boo too!  “Boooooooooooo!”, I hollered.  I managed only one “mini-boo” before my Mother let me know that it was not polite and I was to stop immediately!  I’m guessing she was thinking, “Phil Housley, Thomas Steen and Ed Olczyk seem to be decent guys.  My child should not be calling them down at work.”

I don’t remember a single goal in the 3-3 tie (but I do remember going to Boston Pizza for dinner, delicious).  Thanks for the memory and the lesson in sportsmanship, Mom!



The Romance in Arguing with an Official.

Arguing with the officials is as much a part of sport as athletic supporters.  In baseball, players spit near the feet of umpires while managers kick dirt on homeplate.  Football coaches race down sidelines blue in the face with rage screaming bloody murder.  And who could forget this classy gem by NHL head coach Joel Quenneville in the playoffs last year:

That's what Coach thought of the call.

That’s what Coach thought of the call.

Soccer is different.  Arguing with the official is almost romantic.  Players plead their case like jilted lovers.  Their eyes pour with extreme disbelief like the wrongest of wrongs has been done unto them immediately after they kick another man in the shin (from behind).  How could the referee punish me for this?!  They hold their hands as if to pray, begging the referee to see their side, as if the fate of humanity depended on it.  With arms extended out, as if crucified, they beg for a higher power (the guy with the whistle) to see things their way!

I was at my first Edmonton FM match on the weekend.  We tide the match at 1 in extra time off a free kick.  It was a thrilling finish to an afternoon filled with the most romantic sports arguing I have ever seen.  I am now a soccer fan.

Straight Outta Compton’s Pre-Parody: CB4

A Parody, by definition, is a satirical imitation of a serious piece of literature. You’ve seen them before at the movies.  But have you ever seen a parody in advance of the original film’s success?  Sounds like the sort of exercise that requires a time machine.  But not in this case.  Follow me here…

In 1996, “Scream” was a slasher box office sensation.  In 2000, Hollywood parodied it with “Scary Movie”.  “Spaceballs” did the same for the original Star Wars trilogy 4 years after the fact.  Even Porn is into the act.  “Shaving Ryan’s Privates” is an entire film based on Porn’s parody successes (a friend told me).

Making a funny version of something super-nova-successful in order to resell it to a rabid fan base is not a new concept.  Keep in mind: Spaceballs and Scary Movie wouldn’t have made a dime if audiences didn’t already have a frame of reference on the content.  Dark Helmet is only comedy genius because we know who Darth Vader is.  This is where it gets interesting.

In 1993, comedian Chris Rock starred in CB4.  A parody, in large part, about the story of NWA.  Yes.  Straight Outta Compton, the #1 movie in North America during the month of August in 2015, had it’s successful parody released 22 years in advance.  Rock plays MC Gusto (a spin off of Eazy-E) and Allan Payne is “Dead Mike” (an Ice Cube riff).

Even the music was so well done Weird Al would have been impressed.  Straight Outta Locash is as good a goof on Straight Outta Compton as anything you’ll find.

The 22 year difference speaks volumes.  Here was a story so powerful and culturally significant that the parody came first: perhaps because North American audiences weren’t ready for the real thing in 1993.


Letting a band “Go”

Getting old is incredibly inconvenient.  Physically, your back hurts for no reason.  Mentally, you find yourself responsible for your parents (not the other way around: what a trip!), and eventually you need to decide if you’re going to age with your favourite bands or if you’re going to “let them go.”

Aging with a band requires the discipline of a Drill Sargent,   You continue to go to the shows, buy the albums and follow on social media.  Your worship of them never waivers.  You live in the musical past (for the most part) because the future is too complex.  Too uncertain.  Too hard.  This group gets busy with the challenges of life and eventually squeezes new music out of it.  As we age, we gradually find new ways to see ourselves in the world.  We no longer need new music to see our reflection.  We have children, careers and emerging interests to do it instead.

Embracing the ideology of “letting a band go” means being prepared to stop liking them.  Being prepared to stop defending them: and not holding it against them.  Songwriters age (like the rest of us) and inevitably change their writing style, content and performance tactics as a result of a morphing world-view.   Unless you’re changing on the same trajectory (or one close to it), it can be hard to truly identify with your favourite band as a 21-year-old, on the same level, in your mid-30’s.  This is no ones fault.

I have to let the Foo Fighters “go”.  They’re officially a “Dad Rock” band to me.  The evidence was all over the sold out concert in Edmonton last night.  The lead singer pulled a mega-dad move and played the show in a leg cast (my dad would  never miss a day of work either).  The band pulled John Doe out of the crowd to join them on stage to sing a cover song.  That cover song was by the ultimate “dad rock” band: Rush.  I understand there were local children on stage at some point for some reason or another.  These are all incredibly gracious acts by the Foo Fighters.   A band know as much for their genuineness as their record sales.

Some music lovers age with all their favourite bands.  Some “let go” of them all and integrate a new roster every few years.  Maybe you’re on one end of the spectrum or somewhere in the middle.  There is no right answer.

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When Rappers rap about…Hockey?

Hockey and Rap Music would be an odd couple.  Imagine those two out to dinner: Hockey with the mullet in all denim; Rap in Gucci with gold chains.  Makes zero sense.  That said; here are 3 rappers who have seamlessly worked hockey refrences into their music

I’m in it to win it like Yzerman. – Kid Rock (Wasting Time)

Kid Rock is from Detroit so this adds up.  Yzerman is a hockey legend in Michigan so it makes sense that Rock would compare himself to the three time Stanley Cup champion.

I’m still walking through the crowds like I cant be touched.  Top back all black Gretzky puck. – Rick Ross (Tears of Joy)

Geography can’t explain this one.  Rozay is from Mississippi and went to university in Florida.   Gretzky was a West Coast guy (with the Kings).  Maybe Ross just loves the idea of comparing himself to the Great One?

By chance I see her in the lobby of the Ritz.  When her man, the one that swings a hockey stick. – Action Bronson (Easy Rider)

Bronson is a strange dude.  A former chef turned rapper.  Is this lyric about Action bumping into a hockey-player-dating-ex of his?  It’s possible.

Rock reps the 'Wings

the smalls will play SONiC BOOM 2014


My dad renovated our family’s basement when I was a teenager.  This meant my older brother and I got our own bathroom.  We felt like royalty.  Every young man should have his own space to shower and apply liberal amounts of Calvin Klein “Obsession”.  Our new “puberty chamber” was also another space my engineering brother could engineer in some music.

Upstairs, my parents controlled the CD player and Radio tuner.  (CD players; remember those?)  My Mom loved Patsy Cline and Stevie Nicks.  My Dad was into Jethro Tull and ZZ Top, and we got one radio station.  Let me be clear:  I consider myself fortunate to have had parents who were into good music during my young years.  But it still wasn’t “our” music.  Before an abundance of radio stations, mp3’s and on-demand music a kid had to WORK to hear his or her own music.  Thankfully my resourceful brother found a way to rig some small external speakers via his stereo onto the bathroom shelves  by dropping them through the ceiling tiles.  This was some next level stuff as far as I was concerned.

We listened to a lot of different music getting ready for school.  Pearl Jam’s “Ten” was a favourite as was Collective Soul’s “Hints Allegations and Things Left Unsaid.”  Then it happened.  At some point, my brother dropped in the smalls self titled debut.  The tape (Tapes; remember those?) was probably a dub, of a dub, of a dub.  Neither my brother or I were old enough to get into a bar to see the smalls and actually buy a tape.  I was impressed.  I was even more impressed when somebody told me that the smalls were a band from Edmonton.  WHAT?  You can DO that?!  I assumed that only bands with actual recordings were all rich rock stars who lived in Hollywood.

I can remember, like it was yesterday, those little speakers blasting out Dan-Diddle-A-Na.  I’d be pulling on a t-shirt, snugging on my Atlanta Braves ball-cap, and adding an extra dash of Obsession while my brother honked from his Honda CRX in the driveway.  I had to respect his timeline, he was my ride and he owned a leather jacked.

I can safely say that it was the smalls, not the Clash, The Ramones or The Sex Pistols that introduced me to “punk”.  It was Edmonton’s own the smalls.  Now for the first time in over a decade, the band is back together to play SONiC BOOM 2014.  I hope to see you at the show, and if you can’t find me, follow the strong scent of citrus notes with a musky undertone.

Free Agent IN/OF/P: Dave Sawchuk

**Reliable IN/OF/P on the #YEG Slo-Pitch Free Agent Market**

Scouting Report

Dave Sawchuk is a strong defender with a good arm and high “Baseball IQ.”  In addition to being able to play every defensive position at a high level, he can also be counted on in a pinch to throw a few innings.  Don’t expect much on the hill though; just strikes and plenty of good-natured banter.

His real strength is consistency.  “Sawchuk is the kind of ball player that shows up every week with a 6-pack”, says former teammate Len Wangen.  “He’s just slow.  Really slow.  I mean, how is a guy that tall so slow?” added Wangen, unprompted.  While Sawchuk has never been clocked in the 40 yard dash, many top scouts think he’d be average with a tail wind.

His consistency isn’t limited to just showing up with libations.  Dave is a singles hitter from the right side with the ability to hit .500.  That is not a typo.  “He hits to all fields, albeit with the power of a 14 year-old”, says one former manager with ties to the free agent.  Think Wade Boggs, not Mike Trout.

Why you should sign him: he won’t throw behind the runner; but knows to hit behind one.  His “Good Times IQ” is also a strong point.  Dave Sawchuk isn’t a “Gary Go-Hard” or a “Sammy Serious” on the diamond or in the club house.

Teams interested can email

A Lesson On The Eve Of Canadian Olympic Hockey

In Canada, we talk about hockey all the time.  Those who can’t at least debate Gretzky vs. Lemieux or  traditional icing vs. no-touch icing are black-bagged and sent to Siberia.  In an Olympic year, we somehow over-turn the laws of physics and talk about it even more than a 24 hour day allows.  There are no shortage of story-lines to follow as Team Canada prepares to defend Gold in Sochi.  This is one story we can all learn from.  The story of team Canada forward Chris Kunitz.

Team Canada is a team of NHL All-Stars littered with a few NHL Super-Stars: players drafted first overall into the NHL.   John Tavares, Rick Nash and Sidney Crosby were all picked first after accomplished and acclaimed junior careers.   In addition, there are eight men on the roster drafted in the top 10.  These are guys who were born and raised to play hockey.  Then there is Chris Kunitz.

Kunitz was not drafted.  Not one single NHL team thought he had the goods to play in the NHL.  Not.  One.  Did he quit?  No.  After a decent college career, he signed a contract to play in the American Hockey League in 2003.  He skated well enough for the Cincinnati Ducks to be called up to the Anaheim Ducks of the NHL.  He played in just 21 games recording six points.  What was his reward for decent play?  He was released.  Did he quit?  No.  He was signed by the Atlanta Thrashers, where he played 2 games and was -guess what?- Yep, released again.  “Your services are no longer needed, Mr. Kunitz.  We wish you all the best in your future endeavors…”  Did he quit?  No.

Anaheim gave him another chance in 2005-2006 and that year he won a Stanley Cup when the Ducks beat the Senators.  Eventually, he was traded to Pittsburgh where he currently plays along Sidney Crosby.  There is little doubt that it was Sidney who recommended Chris to be on Team Canada.  When the best player in the world asks for somebody on his wing: you listen.  That speaks volumes about Chris’ ability and work ethic.

I can only imagine how many times Chris wondered if all the hard work would be worth it.  If all the hours in the gym would pay off.  If all the long bus rides, sacrifices and bruises would get him anywhere at the profession he chose.  He’s gotten to the point where every NHL team would love to have him; just eleven years after they all passed him up.  And he’s been given the personal stamp of approval by Hockey Royalty.

Explaining the RHCP Super Bowl Fake

The Red Hot Chili Peppers admitted to not performing live Sunday at the Super Bowl in New Jersey.  Anthony Kiedis WAS singing (to a backing track of his own voice) but the band admitted to miming along to a track they had recorded specifically for the big half time show.  People are outraged.  Fans of the band are blaming the Super Bowl brass for “stripping” the band of their artistic right to perform live.  Others are using this as an opportunity to attack the band on the grounds that they couldn’t have performed well enough to entertain the masses in the stadium and at home live anyway.  Everybody is pointing a finger at everybody else like some sort of perverse Mexican Standoff.  All the while -in the shadows- the entity responsible for the controversy goes unnoticed, unchecked and unchallenged: The Media.

The Media have trained the average music consumer into accepting a performance myth.  The myth that a live performance should/can sound as sharp, pitch-perfect and as spot-on as the recorded performance they hear on the radio.  Consumers have been told to demand their cake (recorded songs that are well written and performed) and eat it too (be able to enjoy them in an unreasonable live setting; like at a Super Bowl).

If the band were actually allowed to plug-in and play live, the performance you would have seen and heard on the couch in your living room Sunday would have very different; and it certainly wouldn’t have been the same spectacle.  How much of Flea’s bass would have been drowned out by the sound of fireworks, explosions and general thrashing around?  And how entertaining would have it been -really- to watch Kiedis tone it down a little in order to focus on hitting as many of the notes in “Give it Away” as possible?  I say: not very.

The Media have done a masterful job over the last four or five decades training consumers to believe the unbelievable, and now that the curtain can no longer stay closed (thanks Internet!) John and Jane Doe don’t want to believe the truth.