Chelsea's Belgium midfielder Eden Hazard (R) is sent off by referee Chris Foy after an incident involving a ballboy during the English League Cup semi-final second leg football match between Swansea City and Chelsea at The Liberty stadium in Cardiff, south Wales on January 23, 2013.
Photograph by: ANDREW YATES, AFP/Getty Images
Items that may grow up to be columns, Vol. XV, Chapter 1:
Pop quiz: If you were Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and your team was trying to win a League Cup match and time was running out and you were prevented from putting the ball back into play by a ball boy from the opposing club who lay on it and refused to give it up, would you:
(a) Toe-poke the ball out from under the kid’s substantial belly,
(b) Pretend to kick the ball but instead deliver a sharp boot to the ribs,
(c) Step on his head with your cleats, or
(d) Say, “Excuse me, lad, I know you are the useless 17-year-old son of Swansea City’s multi-millionaire principal owner and this is probably as close to a job as you have ever had, and that you bragged on your Twitter account before the match that you were the ‘king of all ball boys’ and were ‘needed for time wasting’ ... and I know it’s terribly rude of me to suggest it, but would you mind ever so much getting off that ball so that I may shove it over to my goalkeeper to kick it down the pitch?”
Apparently, (d) is the correct answer. I’d have chosen (c). Hazard opted for (a), with a minimum of force. Even so, when the ball boy, one Charlie Morgan, rolled and writhed on the ground as if he’d been gut-shot with a bazooka -- well, it was soccer, after all -- Hazard was red-carded and there was actually talk of criminal charges being laid by the teenager and his family. Happily, the Morgans took a step back and a deep breath, realized their son had been an idiot, and elected not to press charges. But not before Hazard apologized.
What a world.
GET YOURS TODAY! -- This (via Harrison Mooney of Yahoo’s Puck Daddy blog) may well top the list of the most tone-deaf, brainless ideas in the history of firearms: the West Fargo (N.D.) hockey association is raffling off 200 assorted guns in order to raise $90,000 for its programs.
Not a car, or a boat, or a trip to the Frozen Four or the Stanley Cup final. Nope. Shotguns, handguns, semi-automatic rifles of all kinds.
In the six weeks or so since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre of 20 children and six adult staff members in Newtown, Conn., the number of people killed by guns in the U.S. is approaching 1,500, but a gentleman named Cal Helgeson of the West Fargo hockey association cites “the shortage of guns” as the reason he expects big demand for raffle tickets.
Funny, that gun shortage wasn’t on the news.
LACK OF LACK -- Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis released a statement saying the club’s top goalie prospect Eddie Lack would miss six months after undergoing successful surgery on his hip and is expected to make a full recovery after “successful rehabilitation.”
Still waiting for that first sports team that announces a player had unsuccessful surgery?
“Eddie Lack’s hip was accidentally fused to the 10th (vertebrochondral) rib and he is expected to lean significantly to the right from now on and won’t be able to raise his glove hand above his waist.”
No, probably not.
SIMON-IZED -- No sooner does Geroy Simon leap from the B.C. Lions to the Saskatchewan Roughriders than Regina city council votes 10-1 to approve the concept and financing of a $278-million replacement for ancient Taylor Field/Mosaic Stadium. The dough will come from the city and province and the football club, with groundbreaking set for next year and completion in time for the 2017 CFL season.
Pretty impressive era this is for the CFL, with Winnipeg’s new park set to open at the U of Manitoba, construction underway in Ottawa for the new Lansdowne Park and demolition almost complete on Hamilton’s Ivor Wynne in preparation for a 2015 Pan-Am Games Stadium. Not to mention the gaudy renovation at B.C. Place Stadium.
BILL PAYING 101 -- Now, if only Toronto could figure out a stadium plan that would allow the Argos to escape Rogers Centre and leave the big building to the Blue Jays and the Buffalo Bills, who have just re-upped for five more years of their annual NFL regular-season game in Hogtown. To describe the city’s enthusiasm for the Bills’ visits as “tepid” would be charitable.
A-FRAUD, REDUX -- Hands up, all those who are shocked that Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez’s name is among those found by the weekly Miami New Times in the notebooks of an operator of a “wellness” clinic that allegedly dispensed performance-enhancing drugs to a number of major league ballplayers. No one? The records appear to show A-Rod’s use of PEDs was not just a crazy fling back when he was a dumb kid (and before baseball punished for them), as he claimed in that now-famous 2009 spring training mea culpa, but has continued into his Yankees years and the era of MLB’s toughened drug policy.
A-Rod is not the only big name in jeopardy of suspension. So are Blue Jays’ Melky Cabrera, Texas slugger Nelson Cruz and pitcher Bartolo Colon, among others, if commissioner Bud Selig chooses to act on the allegations.
SOUR GRAPES -- Bobby Orr never slid 100 feet down the ice on his knees to celebrate a goal, so therefore, Don Cherry doesn’t think Nail Yakupov, the Edmonton Oilers’ No. 1 overall draft pick, should either. Only it’s not 1967 any more.
And given the circumstances of Yakupov’s waist-high, baseball-swing tying goal in the dying seconds against the Stanley Cup champions -- after an earlier goal was disallowed -- give the kid a break, Grapes. There was a lot of pent-up emotion in his soccer-like celebration. He wasn’t showing anybody up, not on purpose anyway, but even if the L.A. Kings take it that way, so be it. He’s 19, exciting, and excitable. He’ll figure it out.
In the meantime, it was great fun to watch for the people paying the freight. In the NHL, considering what happened to the first half of the season, that should still count for something, don’t you think?
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