Jock Talk – Happy Birthday Canada! I’m forever grateful Mom chose Canada over other options coming from Jamaica. S/O Tommy Douglas especially, free health care is the backbone of this country in my opinion.
Man oh man! Got a text in traffic with the words John Tavares in caps. Right away, I knew my boy was referring to us (the Leafs) signing the former Oshawa General from Mississauga. Amazing! The young vet is only 27-years-old and arguably in the prime of his career. I’ve been following JT since he gained an exceptional player status to join the OHL at the age of 14. He’s won two gold medals at the World Juniors and one Winter Olympic gold in Russia 2014. I must note, I rate that he’s been very generous with his time for the Special Olympics. Real solid! As an Islander, Tavares lived up to his billing. Becoming a continuous all-star and easily one of the best players in the game. One can tell he truly loves hockey. For example, he and Mark Streit went and played hockey in Switzerland during the 2012-13 NHL lockout. That’s not for the money kids. And for sure he’s worth the Leafs contract of $77M over seven-years. He and Auston Matthews make a dynamic one-two punch. It’s been too long, 1967 to be exact. I’d love to see the city win a cup. On with the journey.
What another week in the life of World Cup football in Russia! The group stage pulled off some upsets and some last minute gasps. For the first time in history, defending champions and #1 ranked Germany were sent home after a dismal display in group play. Some say overconfidence, poor selection or even lack of conviction from defence to attack. Whatever the case, this was only the beginning for many soccer giants!
Uruguay shockingly knocked off Portugal with their star striker Edinson Cavani putting on a finishing clinic any forward would be proud of. His grace sent one of the tournaments best – Cristiano Ronaldo – home for the summer.
In another match, Messi and the gunners from Argentina had theirs ups and downs as they simply could not keep up with the French contingent. Too much sauce for the South American pre-tourney faves.
Russia pipped another favourite in knocking off Spain. The host team march into the quarterfinals after a nervy penalty shootout got them there. Overall these men play very aggressive on both sides of the ball. It’s gonna take a tactical team built on patience to take them out.
A similar fate showed Denmark the door as Croatia managed to make it through on penalties 3-2. A special mention of Danish keeper (and son of Peter Schmiecal) Casper Schmiecal, who made glorious penalty saves in and out of the regulation time.
Brasil made quick work of Mexico with a dominating second half. The Mexican goalkeeper Ochoa put on a solid display, but was ultimately undone by the magician Neymar and his merry men. Theatrics aside, Mexico were playing a little dirty throughout the match. Salute to Brazil’s Willian, the man’s Like human L2 turbo button. Magnificent he is when making plays.
Perhaps the most impressive comeback in recent years is owned by a team with an embarrassment of attacking riches. Belgium came back from a 2-0 second half deficit to surge past Japan on a great run for a winner in the last second of the game. Counter-attacking in style led by Kevin Debruyne, dummied by Romelu Lukaku and culminated with Nacer Chadli slipping in the winner. Ending Japans hopes of progressing to the later stages for the first time in their history.
Two matches left, will it be England or Colombia? The Swiss or the Swedes? This is World Cup football and anything can happen!
LeBron James is officially Holly as in Hollywood. Sheesh! Pretty dope move to end off his career where he wants to blossom after his time is up on the court. His legacy is one of an everyday topic. Personally, I would’ve liked to see him hold down Cleveland until the end, but behind the scenes the talk was he didn’t wanna re-up with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert. Free world man, live it! S/O Magic Johnson for getting Bron to even commit to becoming a Laker. The Lake Show is back! Aside from the $154M over four-years given to LBJ, the Lakers also added Rajon Rondo and the villain himself Lance Stephenson, while letting Julius Randle walk to the Pelicans. Time will tell though if they can land the Spurs Kawhi Leonard, who desperately wants to go back home to Cali. Lakers got the pieces and I think Magic would trade Lonzo Ball if the Spurs wanted him in a package deal. The thought of not dealing with LaVar Ball and his suspect dad antics maybe the motivation in getting Zo included in the deal. But then again, does Coach Pop really want that potential headache either? Who knows. What I do know is the NBA is scrambling to make sure Lakers games are scheduled for lots of nationally televised games for this upcoming season.
NHL free agent frenzy has certainly arrived. Congrats to Whitby’s own, James Neal, who signed on with the Flames. Big move! Good guy off the ice as well… Speaking of James, James Van Riemsdyk returns to the team that drafted him, Philly Flyers. Thanks for the big-time goals during your six years as a Leaf. And the same sediment goes out to Tyler Bozak, who the Leafs let go as he signed on with the Blues. When I hear his name I still think of EPMD, you know that track, Get The Bozack! Big chune back in the dizzay. Blues also came up aces in acquiring Ryan O’Reilly from the Sabres via trade… Kings locked up Drew Doughty with a big deal after adding Ilya Kovalchuk to their lineup. GM Rob Blake knows what it takes to construct a winner… Elsewhere Rick Nash may take a year off of hockey… Cam Ward is headed to the Blackhawks after a long tenure with the Hurricanes… Paul Stastny took off on the Jets in joining the Golden Knights… Joe Thorton agreed to re-up with the Sharks to celebrate his 39th birthday… A few other players not mentioned have signed deals with many more to make their mark. Lots of money going around. Players are getting paid.
NBA free agency has been just as entertaining if not better than the NHL. With Paul George electing to remain with the Thunder after his announcement at a Russell Westbrook party… KD decided to stay put with the Warriors, then bam! Golden State added DeMarcus Cousins to their already stacked roster. Wow! Now that’s how you replace JaVale McGee, who latched on with Lakers. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope re-upped with the purple and gold as well… Chris Paul took the largest haul thus far, $160M over four-years to remain with the Rockets… DeAndre Jordan gets a second chance to keep his word with the Mavericks… Nuggets locked up young stars in Nikola Jokic and Will Barton… Magic did the same with their high-flyer, Aaron Gordon… Raptors did the smart thing in bringing back Fred VanVleet for two-years. Yay! Masai Ujiri finally got something right. Now let’s see what he does for the duration of this free agency. A few other signings went down and many more pieces to fall.
Quick Hits: Seahawks safety Ken Chancellor has called it a day in the NFL via a lengthy Twitter post. For those who seen the Will Smith movie, Concussion, the respect for head injuries is far more appreciated than ever before… Congrats to Francesco Molinari for winning the Quicken Loans National on the PGA Tour… And yea, Nationals young phenom Juan Soto is a straight stud. Give him a few years, he’s only 19… Meanwhile the St. Louis Cardinals continue to struggle in June. Their bats have been ice cold. Maybe they outta take tips from the Cincinnati Reds pitchers who’ve been going yard recently… Blue Jays are officially sellers come trade deadline time. It ain’t hard to tell they just showcasing now. Josh and Tulo both continue to be out of the lineup with injuries. I smell tank city with a side of rebuilding coming… Wimbledon is here and all the top seeds from both men’s and women’s secured opening round victories. Let’s go Serena!
Jock Talk with JD: Track of the Week
My track of the week goes out to a young man whose dreams were tragically cut short when killed by gunfire in Toronto this past long weekend. Smoke Dawg was his name. My condolences to his family and close friends. Over the last couple of years his music was making rounds in the city. Then I watched him do his thing linking up with Drake on his European tour, Boy Meets World in 2017. At 21-years of age, this saddens me. We need to be much better as a whole. Our communities need way more love and far less hate. We should never take life for granted and most certainly never take the life of another. Not to sound preachy, but it is what it is. We need more people denouncing these senseless killings. Hopefully more influences will follow suit and start making meaningful change and contributions throughout the city. This track here, Smoke Dawg’s last video, “Fountain Freestyle.” Rest easy king.
Another week in the books.
The sports world is always shaking and baking, let’s see whats in store. Peace y’all!