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I Would Like Some Pro-Toronto Bias Please – Pension Plan Puppets

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When the Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey Club & Sadness Factory plays another team, sometimes there will be a goal that is subject to the plague of video review. Video review, if you are new to the league, is a process by which a goal is looked at from nine angles, none of which are clear, and is either overturned because a player was offside three games earlier or sustained because the goalie interference rule is just a copy of that Salvador Dali painting with the melting clocks. And if said call happens to go in favour of the Leafs, some fan of the team injured by this decision will inevitably remark bitterly: “We’re never going to get a fair call out of Toronto. They have the league offices there.”

It is no use to point out that the Leafs were the only team to lose every single coach’s challenge last year, or that currently the Leafs are 28th in the NHL in power play opportunities despite being one of the league’s fastest teams. It does not do any good to observe that in the last three seasons only one player has been suspended one game for an offence against a Leaf player while the Leafs have taken four suspensions for doing things to other people. It doesn’t even help to suggest that if the league were shaving the dice in favour of Toronto that maybe the Leafs wouldn’t have spent the last fifty years suffering every imaginable misfortune except relocation, and even then at least relocation would have saved us from the fucking Bruins. The league offices are in Toronto, you see.

Now, there actually is a bias in the media in favour of the Leafs, which is that a lot of people are (foolishly, if you ask me) fans of this woebegone franchise and so they get talked about more than teams that do not have as many fans. I don’t know why it’s a huge shock that private media companies like Sportsnet (which shares ownership with the Leafs, for Christ’s sake) or TSN would report more on things that more people would like to hear about, but apparently it is, to judge by the angry “too many Leaf stories!” comments that one balding guy with Oakley shades puts in under every article. I also don’t know that it’s all that enviable to be talked about more when you realize the substance of this unending Leaf content mill is

  • Is it time to trade Nylander?
  • Is it time get an awful third-pair defenceman your uncle likes by trading Nylander?
  • Is Auston Matthews’ mustache a mistake that’s hurting the team?*
  • You know who the Leafs should trade? Nylander

*The answer is actually yes to this one.

But that aside, the league has shown a distinct unwillingness to benefit its largest franchise. Hell, even things like the salary cap, revenue sharing and so on clearly benefit other teams to the detriment of Toronto.

So I would like to say: it’s time for the league to start tipping the scales a little.

Let’s be honest, everyone will be mad at the Leafs anyway. Nobody likes rich kids and those fans, ugh, amirite? So let’s lean in a bit. Start tilting the calls here and there. Give the Leafs an extra powerplay once in a while. Actually give a suspension when Kyle Okposo tries to shatter Travis Dermott’s spinal column with a hit from behind. Call goalie interference anytime an opposing player breathes on Frederik Andersen (you don’t have to do this for Michael Hutchinson, we recognize there are limits and it’s not like that’s gonna save him.) You’ll help an enormous market get some key playoff games—but there’s an important benefit for the rest of the league.

Now that every movie in existence is a superhero movie, it’s worth noting what differentiates the good ones from the bad ones, besides the fact that all the ones with Superman in them suck. You know what made Black Panther cool? It had a really good villain. You know why Tom Hiddleston is in eighteen Marvel movies despite dying at the end of like nine of them? Because he’s a really good villain. It’s no fun if the heroes just triumph over some nameless goon.

Beating the Toronto Maple Leafs hasn’t even been that hard lately. Boston makes a big show of it and then inevitably crucifies them in Game 7. The rest of the time the Leafs tend to miss the playoffs. If the Big Bad Franchise is just a stooge tripping over his skate laces, where’s the fun in that? The story is David and Goliath, not David and Mr. Bean.

So the league should give the Leafs a leg up. Make them a real villain, with all sorts of unfair advantages. It would give fans a better reason to hate them than the fact they’re from a big city and boo, big cities bad. When a team upsets the Leafs despite having played three-quarters of a series short handed, isn’t that a way better achievement than winning just because the Leafs are playing Cody fucking Ceci twenty minutes a night? Of course, this process might also end in Toronto winning a few Cups here and there, which frankly I think is fine too. They don’t engrave asterisks on the trophy.

The alternative, of course, would be to note that NHL officiating isn’t intentionally biased any one way but that it favours even-out makeup calls regardless of what happens on the ice; that the league’s Department of Player Safety is run by a former brawler who literally has a clothing brand with “violent” in the name; that the NHL has added more and more review without making anyone happier about the actual goal calls; that dangerous hits are thrown constantly and that the league responds unevenly because it won’t accept that major changes to the game would be what was required to actually get rid of them.

And honestly dealing with all that stuff sounds super hard. So if we’re going to have a messy, trainwreck system, I vote we at least skew it in a fun way.

Start some pro-Leafs bias.

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Canadian athletes support protest at Olympics 'in certain situations' – CBC.ca

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Canadian athletes took the middle ground in their statement on the International Olympic Committee’s anti-protest rule on Monday.

The Canadian Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission (COC AC), with support from the national committee, put forward seven suggestions to Rule 50 that states “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”

The Canadian athletes suggested the addition of neutral protected spaces at the Games for peaceful demonstrations that don’t interfere with the competition.

They also suggested clear guidelines be established for what constitutes demonstration, protest and propaganda, as well as provisions for what are considered acceptable actions.

Oluseyi Smith, two-time Olympian and COC AC chair, said the consensus showed a desire for protests not to interfere with competition on the field of play. There was little agreement, however, about demonstrations on the podium or at the opening and closing ceremonies.

“Athletes agree that the games have to remain for sport while at the same time giving an opportunity for athletes who have earned their right to speak — to champion things which are important to them while the world’s watching,” Smith said.

The rule was made stricter in January when the IOC reduced the number of spaces at which it would allow the athletes to protest.

WATCH | CBC Sports panel on Rule 50 recommendations:

The COC Athletes’ Commission has presented 7 recommendations in regards to Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter. 17:20

Those changes came under fire following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May that prompted worldwide protests against racial injustice, including among professional athletes.

Smith and fellow Canadian athletes like sprinter Aaron Brown, wrestler Jasmine Mian and decathlete Damian Warner all made reference to the NBA’s efforts to promote racial justice in the wake of the deaths of Floyd and Breonna Taylor, as well as the shooting of Jacob Blake.

“This is really just a discussion of, ‘Is this place for sport, or is this a place to champion what we hold dear?’ And I really believe we can have our cake and eat it, too. I think we can go out there and be the best athletes we can [be],” said Smith. “But also bring attention to topics that are important to us as individuals but also to us a nation just like the NBA has done around Black Lives Matter.”

Recommendations weaker than U.S. statement

The Canadians’ recommendations were weaker than the U.S. statement on the matter, which called for the abolition of the rule entirely and was backed by pioneers John Carlos and Tommie Smith, renowned for raising their fists on the podium at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games in protest of racial inequality.

Mian, 30, competed at the 2016 Olympics and graduated from the school of public policy in Calgary. In July, Mian wrote for CBC News that abolishing Rule 50 could do more harm than good.

She suggested that threatening a boycott would be more effective than simple acts at the Games.

WATCH | Sprinter Aaron Brown says recommendations don’t go far enough:

CBC’s Scott Russell spoke with Canadian Olympic sprinter Aaron Brown about Rule 50, that bars protesting at the Olympic Games. 5:14

“I think it would be incredibly powerful if we came together as a collective and said, ‘Look, we’re not going to go do Tokyo next year until and unless the government is willing to make progress on certain policy issues that we have at home or that exist internationally,'” said Mian. 

“I think waiting to talk about this on the Olympic podium actually misses our opportunity to do true activism.”

Once the Games begin, Mian said athletes lose their negotiating power and protests becomes less effective.

“There are aspects of the Olympic movement and aspects of neutrality that are worth preserving, and I think that we have to have a more nuanced conversation about what is the middle ground between having complete autonomy to say whatever you want and being able to say nothing at all,” Mian said.

Brown, 28, also competed in Rio. The sprinter said Rule 50 goes against the values of the Olympic movement, quoting the charter as saying to play “sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind.”

“When you have a rule in place that prevents you from doing that and restricts you in certain elements, I just think that it goes against the spirit of what it’s supposed to stand for,” said Brown.

The Toronto native said Olympic athletes should use the attention of the Games to their advantage.

“If they’re going to be leaders on the field or in the court of play, why not be leaders off of it? They can exact change and shine light on injustices that are happening around the world,” said Brown.

Warner, a 30-year-old London, Ont., native, agreed that athletes should use the Olympic platform.

“In certain situations where your voice is more powerful than your legs or your throwing arm, I think you should be able to speak your mind or talk about the things that have plagued you and your communities,” Warner said.

WATCH | Damian Warner slams IOC protest rule:

Canadian decathlete Damian Warner had strong words for the IOC, calling their stance on athletes protesting ‘unfortunate’ and said they are on the ‘wrong side of history.’ 0:50

Consequences for breaking new rule

One other issue considered by the Canadian athletes was that of consequences for breaking their proposed new rule. Mian said governments interfering with individual athletes’ right to protest is a potential negative outcome from the complete abolition of Rule 50.

“Even if we gave athletes from all around the world the same rights to protest on the podium, the consequences for them in their home country are going to be very different, and I think that that’s a real concern,” she said.

To that end, the COC AC recommended establishing clear consequences and “degrees of violation” for athletes who break the rule.

Rule 50 also includes language banning the commercialization of the Olympics through athlete advertising, which the Canadian athletes recommended be separated from protest guidelines.

The athletes’ commission said it only made recommendations that were supported by a clear majority of its members, following a process including public seminars, one-on-ones with individual athletes and an open Q&A.

Below are the COC AC’s full recommendations to amend Rule 50:

  • Establish two separate rules when expressing views: one regarding expressions through commercial matters such as emblems, advertising and commercial installations and the other, regarding demonstrations, protests and propaganda.
  • Clearly define the terms used within Rule 50 including what constitutes a demonstration or protest or propaganda.
  • Establish provisions for what is viewed as an acceptable demonstration based on the values and principles of Olympism.
  • Establish clear parameters for an acceptable demonstration that is peaceful and respectful of other athletes and countries.
  • Maintain and/or establish neutral or protected spaces that allow for a peaceful demonstration that do not interfere with competition.
  • Clearly define and outline the consequences and the “degrees of violation” around demonstration, protest and propaganda.
  • Explore other opportunities to meaningfully celebrate unity and inclusion by taking a stand against racism and discrimination.

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Cam takes blame for failed SNF final play: 'Just thinking too much' – theScore

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Cam Newton looked like his old MVP self for most of the New England Patriots‘ Sunday night shootout with the Seattle Seahawks, but the quarterback came up short during the game’s biggest play.

After running for his second 1-yard touchdown of the contest to bring New England within one score with 2:16 remaining, Newton again advanced his new team to the goal line, this time with three seconds left.

But Seattle was ready for Newton’s run. The defense swarmed to stuff the quarterback and seal the 35-30 victory.

“I just didn’t make everybody right and that’s the only thing I regret,” Newton said after the game, according to USA Today’s Mark Daniels. “In that type of situation, it’s humbling to be able to have the respect of a team to have the ball in my hands. I just have to deliver. I saw a clip of it; I could’ve made it right by just bouncing it (outside). I was just trying to be patient. Just thinking too much, man. Or even just diving over the top. There’s so many things that flashed over me.

“Playing a fast defense like that, as soon as you guess, you’re wrong. I’ll definitely learn from this. The play was there. The play was there all game.”

Newton couldn’t finish the job, but the 31-year-old arguably produced one of his best career performances.

In addition to the two short touchdown scampers, Newton finished with 397 passing yards – his highest total since 2011 – and one passing touchdown against one interception. He also added a team-high 47 yards on the ground.

Russell Wilson ultimately outgunned Newton, pushing himself to the front of the early MVP race with a five-touchdown outing.

While New England sent a clear message to the rest of the league that it can contend without Tom Brady and a host of key defenders who departed this offseason, Newton isn’t satisfied with a moral victory.

“It’s many ways you can win in this game. We don’t want to become one-dimensional,” Newton said. “We had our opportunities. Just moving forward, we have a lot of things about being optimistic about but yet, we still have to get better.

“The reason why you play this game is for (one) stat and one stat only. We didn’t get that statistic today and that’s the win. For us, this is a disgusting taste in my mouth. I’ve just got to grow and get better in this offense and hopefully have a better result next week.”

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Wolff comes up short in first U.S. Open – pgatour.com

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MAMARONECK, N.Y. – The kid will live to fight another day.

Matthew Wolff, the 54-hole leader by two, just didn’t have it for the final round of the 120th U.S. Open at Winged Foot on Sunday. He shot a final-round 75 to finish even par and in solo second, six behind Bryson DeChambeau (67), who shot the low round of the day by three.

“I played really tough all week,” Wolff said. “I battled hard. Things just didn’t go my way. But first U.S. Open, second place is something to be proud of and hold your head up high for.”

Wolff blinked first when he hit a wild hook and bogeyed the third hole. DeChambeau caught him with a birdie at the fourth hole, and took a lead he would never relinquish with a par at the fifth. Both eagled the par-5 ninth to remain separated by just one shot, but it was no contest from there as DeChambeau kept the pedal down while Wolff shot a 39 coming in.

“My advice?” said Zach Johnson (74, T8) “Leave this parking lot with the positives because, my guess, there’s a slew of them. Whatever he’s doing right now is not ineffective.

“… He’s going to slice and dice today,” Johnson added, “and he needs to really focus in on some of the things that he did the previous three days, I think more so than today.”

The two main combatants have a history of butting heads. When Wolff won the 3M Open last year, DeChambeau tied for second. When DeChambeau won the Rocket Mortgage Classic in July, Wolff was second. Both tied for fourth at the PGA Championship last month.

DeChambeau said he expects to run into Wolff again in the future, and it seems likely. Wolff is too good to just go away, and he’s also irrepressible, approaching golf as a game, not science. While DeChambeau had ear buds in prior to the final round, Wolff was on the phone cracking up laughing. Although he said he would play his usual “rip dog” game, he was just a little off.

“I really didn’t feel that nervous out there,” he said. “Maybe at the start I did, but at the start I played pretty well. I don’t think it was nerves that were holding me back. I just think it wasn’t meant to be.” A few breaks here and there, he said, and he might have made it closer.

The final pairing further accelerated a youth movement that was already in gear. Wolff (21) and DeChambeau (27) combined to make up the second youngest final pairing in the last 50 majors, behind only Jordan Spieth (22) and Smylie Kaufman (24) at the 2016 Masters Tournament. 

Wolff’s youthful exuberance will almost certainly come away from Winged Foot unscathed.

“He’s just a kid,” said fellow Oklahoma State product Rickie Fowler (79, 17 over). “Some of the things he’ll say, you sometimes forget that you’re around someone who’s – you look at him as one of our peers, someone you play against and compete against, but he’ll say something and you’re like, yeah, he’s still a kid. He’s 10 years behind us.

“There’s really no course that doesn’t suit him,” Fowler added, “just because he’s able to work the ball both ways easily. He’s a great ball-striker. His extra length, with the way the rough is, it helps on a lot of holes out here because you’re going to miss fairways, and to potentially have between two and four clubs less out of the rough, that makes a big difference.”

That’s the case on any course, and Wolff will almost certainly be a force on many of them.

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