No Such Nonsense

A little of this, that and... what was I talking about again? It's TV, sports, pop culture and politics - all the stuff that really matters in life.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Nice Attitude, eh? Canada's Bad Sports

Earlier this week, the Toronto Blue Jays - struggling to stay in contention in the American League East - essentially released one of their top players. They designated him for assignment, which in baseball terms meant he would no longer be playing for the team - though he could be traded at a much reduced, firesale price.

Shea Hillenbrand is a plus .300 hitter with 12 homeruns so far this season. He was runner-up in Jays MVP voting just two years ago. It's been no secret that Hillenbrand wanted out of Toronto, unhappy with his role as designated hitter and unable to get on manager John Gibbons' good side. But things really came to a head this week, when Hillenbrand allegedly wrote "this is a sinking ship" and "play for yourselves" on a clubhouse blackboard. An incensed Gibbons called Hillenbrand out, may have challenged him to a fight, certainly said "it's you or me" and then kicked Hillenbrand out of the clubhouse and off the team. Since his release (and subsequent trade to the Giants), members of the Jays management team have labeled Hillenbrand a "cancer" and a bad influence on younger players. Harsh words to be sure, but it's clear that Hillenbrand is another over-entitled, whiney jock out for himself. Sadly, Canada has seen more than our share - from athletes to managers to owners. So, in honour of Hillenbrand's departure, here is my list of Canada's worst sports:

1. Harold Ballard
Rich, mean and clearly in love with power, he was the sole owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1971-1990. He created teams that made him lots of money, but that failed to contend (and often, failed to make the playoffs) - making his tenure the darkest period in Leafs history. He refuse to pay big-money salaries, which is not such a bad thing, but he also went out of his way to alienate some of the most beloved sports heroes in Toronto history, including Darryl Sittler (dismantling a competitive team, trading Sittler's best-friend and linemate, belittling Sittler's achievements in the press) and Dave Keon (blocking Keon from joining another NHL team and essentially ending a great NHL career - forcing him to the WHA). Ever charming even away from hockey, he once remarked of Barbara Frum (one Canada's most respected and accomplished journalists): "Women are best in one position -- on their backs."

2. Vince Carter
Selected in the first round of the 1998 NBA draft, Carter made an immediate impact, winning Rookie of the Year honours, dramatically winning the Slam Dunk contest at the All-Star Game, signing a rich contract with Nike and playing in the Summer Olympics. By 2001, the rapidly improving Raptors even made it to the Eastern Conference finals. The next year, it all started to fall apart. Carter hurt his knee and spent the next few seasons in and out of the line-up. His attitude soured, and fans and media began to whisper about his lack of intensity and his half-hearted play. Finally, he demanded a trade and admitted that he had, in fact, been dogging it Toronto for years. Way to earn your millions of dollars and be an inspiration to the youth of the world, Vince.

3. Emmanuel Sandhu
Sandhu came into a great figure skating tradition. He following in the skates of a series of Canadian world champions: Brian Orser, Kurt Browning and Elvis Stojko. And no one thought more highly of Sandhu's chances to join that elite group than Sandhu. He was proud, arrogant, flamboyant and dismissive of his competition. Too bad he never had the goods to back it up, consistently failing to make a mark in international competition and always coming up with an excuse. If you're gonna be a diva, baby, you better bring your game.

4. Todd Bertuzzi
I'm no big fan of Steve Moore. And I don't think that Bertuzzi meant to hurt him as badly as he did. But a star player has no business seeking revenge on a thug like Moore. And a sucker punch is never, ever okay, on the ice or off. Bertuzzi did a lot of damage that day, not just to Moore, but to himself, the Canucks and the sport of hockey.

5. George Bell
Bell was a member of the Toronto Blue Jays in the heady, growth-oriented 1980s. An all-star leftfielder and a serious homerun threat, he became the first Blue Jay to win the league MVP award. He also had an ego and attitude the size of a major league ball park. The highlight of his Toronto tenure came when he told the media that anyone who didn't like him could "kiss (his) purpe butt." Purple? Really?

While Canada may not have produced an attitude as toxic as Terrell Owens, or player as profoundly unlikable as Barry Bonds, we have had a few very special efforts.

5 Comments:

  • At 10:14 AM, Blogger Jef... said…

    Nice blog.. but in that list, you forgot Mr Jeffrey Loria !! Being from Montreal, the announced "savior" did exacly the contrary, he killed what was left of baseball !!

    Bud Sellig's puppet annoyed the Expos' fans so much that we just didn't care anymore.

    I was there for the last game in the Stadium.. I had goosebumps !

    But we did see great players in Montreal : Stubbs, Rodgers, Raines, Carter, Dawson, Martinez (El presidente, who recorded a perfect game), Walker, Martinez (Pedro) and King Vlad ! (Guerrero), Randy Jonhson was also a product of Montreal, traded at a young age to get a veterant pitcher to make the playoffs.. wich eventualy didn't happen !!

     
  • At 3:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'd add Stojko to that list, in place of Sandhu. Stojko is a fat, bald, ugly, arrogant sob.

     
  • At 2:01 AM, Blogger Bubba said…

    Sandhu couldn't get it done.Elvis won 3worlds and silver oly medals.I don't see where being bald (which Elvis isn't)or ugly has to do with skating.KurtB. is bald.Elvis cut his hair.

     
  • At 2:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It's not just the ugly haircut. Stojko isn't friendly to fans, especially little kids who idolize him. He's very rude. He hits on young girls. That's what I find ugly about him.

     
  • At 10:01 PM, Blogger Bubba said…

    Well he was friendly to me.there were 2 kids in front of me he was friendly to them.Have you met him?How do you know his preferance for men or women? You said you don't like that he curses.Elvisisugly you stated you never met him.How do you know he curses?Some of the words you have written about Elvis are just as bad as someone cussing.What are you teaching your children? The way you keep trashing Elvis.Is that how you want them to talk?

     

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