One of the dangers of listening to sports talk on non-sports radio stations is that you hear an awful lot of dumb things (even more than you hear on sports radio stations.)
Last week, for example, there was a discussion on one talk station about whether the Toronto Blue Jays were Canada's team. (The consensus was yes, if you care.)
The problem was that the question was fatally flawed. It should have been: ``Are the Blue Jays Canada's most popular team in a sport in which players don't wear skates and have full sets of teeth?"
The truth is that in Canada, hockey trumps all and the World Cup of Hockey has proven that once again.
The revamped preseason tournament took two of the top three spots in the ratings on the weekend and even managed to beat out the Blue Jays head-to-head.
Saturday's Canada-Czech Republic game averaged 1.55 million viewers on Sportsnet, almost 600,000 more than the Blue Jays did on fellow Rogers outlets Sportsnet One and Sportsnet 360. Admittedly, the latter two channels don't reach as many viewers as the main Sportsnet feed, but that would account for only a couple of hundred thousand viewers at most.
What's most amazing is that the hockey game was a blowout, which should have sent viewers looking for entertainment elsewhere shortly after the Jays game started. Making things even stranger was the fact that the Jays headed into that game looking like they might be ready to challenge for top spot in the AL East.
Equally amazing is that Canadians have apparently adopted the Team North America squad as their own, despite the presence of Americans (no Mexicans, though.) Sunday night's game against Finland also hit the million mark.
The tournament is hurting more than the Blue Jays. On a comparable weekend last year, the top NFL offering averaged 841,000 viewers on CTV. This year, the best the NFL could do was 753,000 (though one of those games was the dreadful Seattle-L.A. affair.)
Last year's top CFL game (Ottawa-Saskatchewan) averaged 740,000. This year, the best the CFL could do was the 613,000 the Edmonton-Saskatchewan game drew on Sunday.
While the 1.55 million Canada drew in its opener trailed last spring's Stanley Cup final average (2.08 million), things could change with Tuesday's game against the U.S. and any weekend semifinal game.
The tournament isn't getting the same traction with Americans, which is no surprise. Saturday's U.S.-Europe game averaged 360,000 on ESPN -- the equivalent of about 40,000 in Canada.
Here are the most-watched sports events on English-language television from the past weekend, according to Numeris overnight ratings:
1. World Cup of Hockey, Canada vs. Czech Rep., Saturday, Sportsnet: 1,550,000
2. MLB, Blue Jays at Angels, Friday, Sportsnet: 1,310,000
3. World Cup of Hockey, North America vs. Finland, Sunday, Sportsnet: 1,010,000
4. MLB, Blue Jays at Angels, Saturday, Sportsnet One/360: 979,000
5. MLB, Blue Jays at Angels, Sunday, Sportsnet One/360: 815,000
6. NFL, Colts-Broncos/Seahawks-Rams, Sunday, CTV: 753,000
7. CFL, Eskimos at Roughriders, Sunday, TSN: 613,000
8. World Cup of Hockey, U.S. vs. Europe, Saturday, Sportsnet: 586,000
9. NFL, Early games, Sunday, CTV: 537,000
10. CFL, Redblacks at Stampeders, Saturday, TSN: 512,000
11. NFL, Packers at Vikings, Sunday, TSN: 490,000 (NBC audience not measured)
12. World Cup of Hockey, Sweden vs. Russia, Sunday, Sportsnet: 487,000
13. CFL, Alouettes at Tiger-Cats, Friday, TSN: 442,000
14. CFL, Argonauts at Blue Bombers, Saturday, TSN: 403,000
15. NFL, Cowboys at Redskins, Sunday, TSN: 370,000 (Fox audience not measured)
16. World Cup of Hockey, Premiere party, Friday, Sportsnet: 243,000
17. Paralympics, Prime-time coverage, Saturday, CBC: 229,000
18. Paralympics, Prime-time coverage, Sunday, CBC: 224,000
19. Auto racing, F1 Singapore GP, Sunday, TSN: 221,000
20. Auto racing, NASCAR Sprint 400, Sunday, TSN: 191,000
21. Paralympics, Afternoon coverage, Sunday, CBC: 139,000
22. Paralympics, Afternoon coverage, Saturday, CBC: 128,000
23. Soccer, Sunderland at Tottenham, Sunday, Sportsnet: 124,000
24. MLB, Yankees at Red Sox, Friday, Sportsnet One: 111,000
25. Soccer, Arsenal at Hull, Saturday, Sportsnet: 102,000
THREE TO WATCH
World vision: This World Cup of Hockey has sort of looked like an Olympic rugby sevens tournament: fast and furious. A week after it all started, teams will face off in the semifinal round (combatants to be determined) Saturday at 7 p.m. EST and Sunday at 1 p.m. EST (both on Sportsnet.) Man, that was fast.
Western showdown: It's been some time since the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have been considered a Grey Cup contender, but with an 8-4 record that's what they are. They'll get an idea of how serious a contender they are when they take on the 10-1-1 Calgary Stampeders on Saturday (4 p.m. ET, TSN.)
Down to the crunch: With a good percentage of its fan base on the ledge looking down at the street below, the Toronto Blue Jays need to win this weekend's series against the New York Yankees to save a wild-card berth - and save the lives of their fans (Friday, 7 p.m. ET, Sportsnet.)