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  • ESPN kowtows to NFL: What’s the big surprise?

    League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis' panel discussion (Getty Images)League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis' panel discussion (Getty Images)

    There's been quite a bit of fuss south of the border regarding the way the National Football League pressured ESPN to pull out of a documentary on concussions.

    Some have called the network's decision to divorce itself from a partnership with PBS on a documentary exploring the league's sad history of concussions proof positive that broadcasters are in bed with the leagues they profess to cover and further evidence that ESPN is not the "worldwide leader" in sports journalism.

    [NFL, players reach whopping $765M settlement in concussion case]

    Well, with all respect to some of the excellent reporting done on this issue, I have to wonder what great revelation comes next. That athletes take steroids? That some people gamble on sports?

    Not to defend ESPN or any of the other broadcasters who present sports as some kind of Disneyfied fantasyland, but this simply is the way that business is done. Broadcasters pay millions - in some cases, billions - for the right to earn millions (or billions) off

    Read More »from ESPN kowtows to NFL: What’s the big surprise?
  • The FIBA Americas Championship represents a big opportunity for Canada. (The Canadian Press)The 2013 FIBA Americas Championships represents a significant first step towards the future for Canada’s senior men’s basketball team.

    There’s been plenty of excitement surrounding this program for the last year, beginning in May of 2012 when Steve Nash was named as the team’s general manager, and now comes the first real chance to prove that the ‘golden age’ for Canada Basketball has arrived.

    There are however, two different schools of thought when it comes to the importance of Canada finding success at the upcoming tournament in Venezuela – they’ll need to finish in the top four of a 10-team field to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Spain.

    On the one hand the tournament holds a substantial amount of importance in terms of building a foundation within the program based on success, giving the roster as much opportunity to gel on the court together and keeping fans interested. There’s a buzz around this team right now – fans packed into the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto for a

    Read More »from Canadian men’s basketball team’s road to the 2014 World Cup begins in Venezuela
  • The Yankees have dominated the Blue Jays this season but what's the reason why? (Reuters)TORONTO – On Wednesday night, Todd Redmond accomplished a feat equaled by just R.A. Dickey among Blue Jays starting pitchers - notch a win against the New York Yankees this season.

    Question the significance and value of the pitcher win all you want (which I do often) but it's not an encouraging sign when it takes until late August for the rotation to pick up its first two wins facing a division rival.

    Redmond became the 8th Jays pitcher to start against the Yankees this season and pitched a solid but unspectacular 5 2/3 innings giving up two earned runs, three hits, four walks, and striking out seven as Toronto won 7-2 to take the series.

    "[We won] two out of three, baby. Matter of fact two out of three from the Red Sox, two out of three from the Yankees our last two home series - don't be afraid to write that," cracked manager John Gibbons post-game.

    The win improves the Blue Jays to 3-12 in the season series against the Yankees. Remove the head-to-head results from both teams' records and New York goes from 70-63 to 58-60 while Toronto goes from 60-74 to 57-62 - a 10 win disparity dropped down to one.

    Read More »from Role reversal: Blue Jays 7-2 win over Yankees outlier in this year’s season series
  • Alex Anthopoulos has confirmed that John Gibbons will be back with the Blue Jays in 2014. (The Canadian Press)TORONTO – When Alex Anthopoulos was crowned champion of paper baseball for his royal upgrading of the Blue Jays roster in the off-season, he surely expected the conversation around the late August series at home against the New York Yankees to be about the Jays' five game lead in the A.L. East and whether Detroit or Texas would be a tougher match-up for Toronto in the postseason. At the very least he would have expected that the series would be contested between two contending teams.

    He certainly couldn't have envisioned being called to address the media about growing concerns around his manager's ability to lead the team to success as they sputtered towards the end of a tumultuous and fruitless season.

    Prior to Tuesday night's 7-1 loss to the Yankees, when asked whether or not he had even considered firing John Gibbons at the end of the season, Anthopoulos gave a very direct answer.

    "There has never been any thought on that respect at all. John is our manager, and we expect him to be," said Anthopoulos. "But I understand what the response is. When you're not playing well as a team, these are the things that happen. You talk about the GM, the manager, you talk about the players - people want a reason, and changes usually come when players aren't playing well and teams aren't performing. I think that comes with the territory."

    Read More »from Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos confirms John Gibbons will be back in 2014, stresses process over results before 7-1 loss to Yankees
  • Talk of John Gibbons' firing has begun as the Blue Jays sputter towards the end of a disappointing season. (The Canadian Press)TORONTO – Monday night's game at home against the New York Yankees was really no different than every game this season for Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, with the notable exception of an event that hasn't be so common for Toronto in 2013. Just like every other game, Gibbons put on his uniform, set his lineup, talked to the media, and just before first pitch, settled into his spot on the bench to watch the action.

    The one distinction is that on this particular Monday night, he sat comfortably in the Blue Jays' dugout and watched R.A. Dickey throw 6 and 1/3rd innings, giving up two runs, only one of them earned, and striking out six in a 5-2 win over the Yankees.

    "He was really good. He gave us just what we needed," said Gibbons. "He was brought here to win games, that's all that matters."

    "It's always nice to perform well in this stadium, in particular against a team as good as New York," said Dickey.

    If that had been the case more often this season, demands for Gibbons' dismissal

    Read More »from Firing John Gibbons would be short-sighted decision by Blue Jays, as they beat Yankees 5-2
  • Rathan-Mayes was considered one of the top 30 college basketball recruits

    Canada's growing pipeline of basketball talent has been big news this summer, but it has some leaks.

    Last year, CBC's The Fifth Estate aired a scathing report chronicling how Toronto-area coach Ro Russell misled several highly touted Canadian players about about enrolling at Christian Faith Center Academy, a North Carolina prep school (a euphemism for "scholarship factory"). The newest fallout from the rather sordid saga is that Xavier Rathan-Mayes, a highly touted guard, cannot practise or play this season at Florida State. So that's one fewer all-Canadian guard matchup this season in the Atlantic Coast Conference, which already boasts Boston College sophomore Olivier Hanlan and Syracuse frosh Tyler Ennis.

    From Jeff Borzello:

    Sources tell CBSSports.com that the NCAA did not accept a full year of credits he took at a high school in North Carolina. Rathan-Mayes previously attended Christian Faith Center Academy (N.C.). Florida State is continuing to work with the NCAA to get the issue resolved. (CBS Sports)

    Read More »from The fallout from Ro Russell: Canadian guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes must sit out season at Florida State
  • Cory Joseph is expected to be the starting point guard for Canada in Venezuela. (The Canadian Press)It turns out the final cutdown was the easiest exercise of the summer for head coach Jay Triano and the rest of his Canada Basketball coaching staff.

    Veteran forward Carl English returned to Canada before the pre-tournament competition in Puerto Rico for personal reasons, leaving the staff to whittle down the roster from 14 players to 12 for the FIBA Americas Championship. Triano had previously mentioned that internal discussions took place throughout camp about the fundamental construction of the team and that style of play would dictate who would make the final roster. Those decisions were ultimately made for them.

    “Kyle [Landry]'s injury is another tough loss for our program this summer and we wish him a speedy recovery. At this time we will not have to make any more cuts as Kris Joseph made the difficult decision to leave the team as he has a unique opportunity to play in China. We expect both of these players to be important pieces of our program as we move forward," said Triano

    Read More »from Injuries, opportunities shape final roster for Canada’s men’s basketball team ahead of FIBA Americas Championship
  • 16-year-old Lydia Ko defended her Canadian Women's Open title on Sunday in Edmonton, Alberta. (Getty)So that was quite the story playing out at Edmonton's Royal Mayfair Golf Club on Sunday.

    A 16-year-old girl, who should have been cruising back-to-school sales for matching backpack and sneakers instead of playing golf with professionals, won the CN Canadian Women's Open -- for the second year in a row. Lydia Ko of New Zealand shot an amazing final-round six-under 64 to finish 15 under par, five strokes ahead of the runner-up (an adult name Karine Icher). In doing so, Ko became the first golfer to defend her title at the national women's championship since Pat Bradley did it in 1985 and 1986.

    She is also the first amateur in LPGA history to win more than one tournament.

    Yet the reaction to this amazing feat was startlingly muted. I caught sportscasts on a Toronto all-sports radio station and two news stations while returning from my own golf adventure and neither even mentioned the event. There was plenty about Olympic hockey hopefuls gathering to talk seemingly about nothing. There

    Read More »from Lydia Ko gets Canadian women’s open trophy — though not the cheque or the notice
  • Caroline Hedwall tied the course record on Saturday and pushed her way atop the leaderboard. (Getty)Any resemblance between the leader board after Day 2 at the CN Canadian Women's Open and what will be on display when the final round begins Sunday morning is purely coincidental.

    Most of those who were looking down on the field before teeing off on Saturday are now looking up and many who were struggling and now dreaming of a championship cheque.

    The biggest jump was made by Sweden's Caroline Hedwall, who vaulted into first place by tying the course record at Edmonton's Royal Mayfair Golf Club in Saturday's third round, carding a 6-under 64. She's sits at 10 under par for the tournament, one stroke ahead of Norwegian Suzann Pettersen, who just missed tying the record with a 65, and 16-year-old New Zealand phenom Lydia Ko, who looks determined to prove that last year's win was no fluke. Ko shot a 67 on Saturday.

    Nowhere to be found among the contenders are the pair who were leading heading into Saturday's round. World No. 1 Inbee Park of South Korea had an awful day, killing her

    Read More »from Sweden’s Hedwall makes biggest move at Canadian Women’s Open
  • Camilo and the Vancouver Whitecaps are pushing towards a playoff berth. (USA Today)Just like in the Wild West, existential justice is settled with honour, a quick draw, and an unspoken respect in Major League Soccer's Western Conference.

    As the defending MLS Cup champion Los Angeles Galaxy ride into town for a Saturday night showdown, the Vancouver Whitecaps are in the 5th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 36 points.

    That's the same spot where the Whitecaps finished last season, which isn't a fair representation of the progress they've made since then. That's because the Western Conference standings are tighter and more volatile than a coiled-up rattlesnake. The gap between 2nd and 8th is just six points; two games, that go one way or the other, the only difference between being among the league's best or in second-last place.

    Led by Camilo's league-leading 14 goals, the Whitecaps have already scored more goals this season than they did in the entire 2012 campaign. They have a deeper squad and are routinely playing in front of a sold-out BC Place crowd where they have a 8-3-1 record, yet one bad result over the next two months could wreck all aspirations of a post-season repeat.

    It's a fine line between what's deemed a success or a failure but the frontier has a way of being like that.

    Read More »from Every game matters for Vancouver Whitecaps as season enters stretch run in wild Western Conference

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