The Calgary Stampede offers more entertainment than most people can handle… or fit into their schedule.
Check out these pics of The Cadillac Three going wild on the Nashville North stage, and some of the awesome motocross action from the Bell Adrenaline Ranch!
On Saturday, June 17th I had the pleasure of attending 34th running of the North America Cup at Mohawk Racetrack. It wasn’t the horses and drivers that brought me there but the live entertainment.
Woodbine Entertainment put on an amazing event with prizes including the best seats in the house, a $1000 prize, fun NA Cup swag, great food and drinks, and more. With a $1,000,000 prize up for grabs in the big race, we had the cream of the crop of horses and drivers. Topping this off, a sweet country music show starring JoJo Mason and Kira Isabella.
What started out as a bit of a crap shoot weather-wise, turned into an amazing time complete with warm temperatures and no rain. There were lots of people in attendance and they were ready for exciting races and the great entertainment and they got both!
Kira Isabella took to the stage just after 5:00 pm and she very quickly let us know she’d dressed for rain and maybe, just maybe, a black jumpsuit wasn’t the best choice for the 30-degree temperatures. She looked awesome and she sang and danced enthusiastically throughout her set. Kira played through her hits, including Quarterback, I’m So Getting Over You, and Shake It If Ya Got It. She did a great cover medley which included Hotline Bling, Shape of You and Jackson and then she played us a brand new song, I Don’t Wanna Know. It’s a great ballad and I’m hoping you get to hear it on the radio soon.
She won over the crowd and finished up her set by introducing her band and while her guitar player sang, she disappeared off stage and came back waving a Canadian Flag. Who doesn’t love a little Canadian pride? The set ended and the substantial crowd slowly wandered back to watch Kira sing the American and Canadian anthems before the racing began.
JoJo Mason was up at 7:00 pm and while we waited for him to get started, Kira wandered back over to the merch tent hang out and chat with fans. She chatted, took photos with fans and even signed an Unfollow Delete I’m Done tank top for a fan.
JoJo Mason had the tough job of getting the crowd to leave the track and come listen to him sing. He arrived on stage with his signature JoJo smile and as he sung, the crowd started towards the stage. With his smooth voice and amazing audience engagement, he played a handful of songs and then let the crowd know he’d be back in a bit. JoJo sang throughout the evening, doing a couple of songs and then letting the racegoers head back to place their bets and watch their horses and drivers race past the finish line.
I’m not sure how he did it, but JoJo kept his cool, in spite of the very warm evening. The crowd got to hear Made for You, Good Kind of Love, Red Dress and his brand new single Something to Wrap My Heart Around. He threw in some covers including Wagon Wheel and he may have dropped in a little of Bob Marley’s One Love into one of his songs.
It’s always about the fans with JoJo and he made sure to take the time to talk to everyone who wanted to talk and take photos with everyone who wanted them including these two sweet girls who were thrilled.
This was the first outdoor show of the season for both of these performers and they’re both happy to be back out, playing for the people of Canada. Kira’s currently got a duet with the Chris Buck Band, That’s When You Know, out on radio and JoJo released a brand new, full-length album on May 24th. It’s entitled Both Sides of the Bar and you can read our review right here! MORE PHOTOS OF KIRA ISABELLA
Every year basketball enthusiasts sit in their favourite chairs or in their most comfortable spot on the couch to enjoy hours and hours and hours of college basketball. It’s amazing, it’s enjoyable, it’s all of the best moments that you could hope for in 3 weeks of action.
But, if you aren’t that person, you might be a March Madness Widow. You might feel like you are alone, bored, and left without the hangout partner that you normally have.
If you are struggling with March Madness Widow Syndrome, we have 5 things that you can do from March 14 to April 3, 2017 – give ‘em a shot!
Just like the mixtapes we made from our favourite cassettes and the radio, a good playlist still holds all kinds of value!
If you’re looking for simple starting points – we recommend using Spotify or YouTube to start curating your list of songs and mixing and matching until you get the perfect selection to suit your mood. Give yourself something to dance to, something to relax to, or something that just plays as loud as possible while you sing along!
Music is best enjoyed as a shared experience. Yes, sometimes it’s great to be lost in a song, but sharing music with your friends is the best.
Here’s a challenge: Every day of March Madness post a link to a song on a friend’s Facebook or Twitter and invite them to send you one back. There are 12 games days over 21 days – that means you have a chance to really share the music you love, and hopefully get some back, with and from your music loving friends!
Whether you’re into the festival scene or single concert events, there are all kinds of options available for you in the summer. And the worst thing you can do is wait until the last minute to make your plans.
Most festivals have tiered pricing, so the earlier you buy – the better. And unless you love sitting in the back row or on the lawn, you should be buying tickets and setting reminders for the concerts that have you most excited when the weather warms up!
Trust me, I know that not everyone is into documentaries, but there are some awesome films on Netflix that you should really check out if you love music.
If you’re looking for recommendations… here you go
☞ Neil Young Journeys ☞ History Of The Eagles ☞ Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Runnin’ Down A Dream
I watched and really dug all three of those – and if you take a look I’m sure you’ll find a few more that you can get into!
If your partner or best friend or family members are in love with the tournament, give it a shot with them. It really can be a whole lot of fun.
Fill out a bracket, pick a favourite team, let yourself get drawn into the drama and excitement that the tournament provides. From buzzer beaters to Cinderellas, you might just find that you like the NCAA action more than you thought you would.
Please remember though, your partner may truly be invested in their team’s performance, so if they do lose on the way to the national championship, try not to rub their face in it too much.
And if you need more ideas, have a look back at the first 7 years of the March Madness Widow Survival Guide
The March Madness Widow Survival Guide – March 18, 2010
The March Madness Widow Survival Guide 2.0 – March 10, 2011
The March Madness Widow Survival Guide 3.0 – March 8, 2012
The March Madness Widow Survival Guide 4.0 – March 17, 2013
The March Madness Widow Survival Guide 5.0 – March 16, 2014
The March Madness Widow Survival Guide 6.0 – March 16, 2015
The March Madness Widow Survival Guide 7.0 – March 12, 2016
We’re heading into Super Bowl LI with an eye on Lady Gaga. Yeah, it’s a big game but we’re not here to predict the game, we’re here to talk about the half-time show!
Last year Gaga stepped up to sing the National Anthem and landed herself in the top 10 all-time performances. This year she’s taking the stage at half-time and the rumours are flying! Will she be joined by Beyoncé or maybe Tony Bennett? Will she turn her performance into a political message? Will she start her performance on the roof of the stadium? Will she announce a tour in support of her fifth studio album, Joanne, after the Super Bowl? We’ll find out all the answers later today.
My thoughts? Guest artist or not Gaga is going to kill this performance. The multi-Grammy winning artist has a great catalogue to draw from and we’re hoping that she plays some of our favourites. My best guess, she will include Million Reasons, are we placing bets on this stuff? I’m also finding hard to believe she won’t say something political, come on guys, it’s Gaga! Now onto the roof, there’s rain in the forecast so I’m going to say no to this one. Will she make a tour announcement, 100% yes!
So what can we expect from the 12 minute Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl LI Halftime Show? Straight from Gaga’s lips, we can anticipate a tremendously athletic performance.
Just in time for this huge performance Lady Gaga has released some new merch, this is a perfect marketing opportunity and the new merch is awesome!
You can get ready for tonight’s performance with The Essentials Playlist.
I’m excited and I can hardly wait! Bring it, Gaga. We’re counting on a spectacle!
While you’re waiting for the game to get started, enter our contest. We’re giving away a Boots and Hearts prize for Luke Bryan’s National Anthem over/under 2:15. RT with your pick. One correct bet will win!
EDIT – We’ve got the full version of the Half-Time Performance!
March Madness is back baby, and I couldn’t be more excited. UNC has put themselves in good position for the tournament, we’re sure to see some awesome ball with some amazing finishes… and before this tournament is over we’re sure to learn the names of some new players who have primetime performances and make HUGE shots.
But if you’re not an NCAA basketball lover this post is for you. If you know that your partner is going to be glued to the TV or tablet or laptop for major parts of the next few weeks (March 15 to April 4) you should probably start looking for some things to do to entertain yourself… trust me.
In the 7th year of putting this post together we want nothing more than to help people who don’t care about the Final Four. So here are 5 things you can do while your significant other is praying for a buzzer beater.
Think back to when you were 13, or 22, or 31… what albums were perfect to you? What records did you play from front to back without skipping a song?
Put those on and take a trip down memory lane. Embrace the feelings that they bring to you, think back to the friends and family and times in your life that they represent to you now. We all those artists and songs and records that mean the world to us, even if nobody else understands. Embrace yours!
Platforms like Spotify and Apple Music are awesome for finding new music. Pick a playlist in the genre you love, or choose an artist you don’t know from a related music selection and see where it takes you.
I suggest taking notes as you go, because if you listen long enough (while you work or workout or just relax) you’re likely to lose track of some of those new songs and names.
Dancing is good for the soul… and the body, so turn up some uptempo tunes and get your sweat on!
Honestly, whether you want to play a game like Just Dance or you want to dance in your socks all over the kitchen floor, we don’t care… but dancing is good, and you should do it like nobody is watching.
And if solo dance parties aren’t your thing, round up some friends who are feeling widowed during March Madness and invite them to dance too!
Live music is one of my favourite things in the world, and I fully believe that everyone deserves to treat themselves to live shows whenever the chance presents itself.
Now, that doesn’t always mean you have to spend a ton of money on a big arena or stadium show. Check out the local listings and hit a club or a bar or a coffeehouse near you to see an acoustic show or an open mic night or an artist that everyone is going to be talking about a year from now!
Every year this makes the list, and every year it will. I love March Madness because I love basketball, but I also love the drama and the theatre and the unpredictability that comes with this crazy tournament.
So, pick a team (I wouldn’t recommend any 15 or 16 seeds) and start cheering. Hell, fill out a bracket and see if you can beat your MM loving partner.
With just a little googling you can find out the best players, the celebrity alumni, the mascot name and even the fight song to your new favourite college basketball team.
But if you do choose to play along, please please please remember to be nice when your S/O’s team loses, and they probably will. It can be a heartbreaking and disillusioning moment, and you don’t really want to see them cry, do you?
And have a look back at the first 6 years of the March Madness Widow Survival Guide
With the NHL All-Star Game coming up in Nashville on January 31, we decided to have a little fun with some hockey loving country music stars and hold a fantasy draft of our own.
There are 14 players on the board, 12 skaters and 2 goalies… all picked because of their experience on the ice and/or love of the game.
There are a couple rules… and then we’ll get to the draft!
How It Works…
1. Trish and I will take turns making our picks from the list of country artists below until we each have a team of 7 players.
2. Each team must consist of 1 goalie and 1 woman skater.
3. All other players are up for grabs in any order.
4. Jason & Tom Petric and Brad & Curtis Rempel may be picked individually or as a combo, but if drafted as a pair the next drafter’s turn will have 2 picks to even things up.
★ Alan Doyle (Juno Cup goalie) ★ Brett Kissel (Family Tournament goalie, 2015) ★ Carrie Underwood (wife of NHL player Mike Fisher, Predators fan) ★ Jess Moskaluke (Floor Hockey Experience on tour with Chad Brownlee) ★ Chad Brownlee (former Vancouver Canucks Draft Pick) ★ Theo Fleury(Former NHL player) ★ Cory Marquardt (Former Junior player) ★ Bobby Wills (floor hockey experience on tour with Chad Brownlee) ★ Tom Petric (High School player) ★ Jason Petric (High School player) ★ Brad Rempel (Juno Cup player) ★ Curtis Rempel (Juno Cup player) ★ Jim Cuddy (Juno Cup captain) ★ Dierks Bentley (Nashville Rec. League player)
Trish won a coin toss, so she’s got the 1st pick… here we go!
Trish: Chad Brownlee Not a big surprise to my readers that Chad was my first choice. I watched him work his magic at The Mod Club and I have faith. His NHL career was cut short by injury but I think. at 6’2” in this field, he’s my star defenceman.
Josh: Theo Fleury Theo Fleury spent a bunch years playing NHL hockey, played in 7 All-Star games, and won a gold medal with Team Canada in 2002… and he’s got a country album that he released in fall 2015. I’m happy with this pick!
Trish: Dierks Bentley Dierks’ spends his spare time playing with the Nashville IceHoles and from what I’ve heard, he can’t get enough hockey. He carries his hockey gear with him while on tour just in case he can get in some ice time. That’s the kind of dedication I want on my team!
Josh: Cory Marquardt The former junior player has a lot of high energy, and I’m betting his hands are just soft enough on the ice to make some plays.
Trish: Tom Petric I’ll be counting on Tom as a forward and I’m thinking I’ll put him on a line with his brother.
Josh: Brett Kissel Brett’s a big hockey fan who strapped on the pads last Christmas to play back home. We’re playing 3 on 3, so I’m not hoping for miracles here, just someone to stop some pucks.
Trish: Jason Petric (picked in combo with Tom) Jason may have spent a little time in the penalty box during his hockey career. I’m happy to have him as muscle on my team.
Josh: Jim Cuddy Cuddy’s a vet who knows what he’s doing on the ice. I need a captain, and his experience being the man in charge at the Juno Cup works for me!
Trish: Carrie Underwood Married to Mike Fisher, Carrie knows hockey. Can she shoot and skate? I hope she’s been practicing since the Oprah video in 2012. She brings a great energy and I’m glad to have her.
Josh: Jess Moskaluke Jess is a sweetheart, but we’ve seen her amp up the energy on stage, and she spent the When The Lights Go Down tour with a floor hockey stick in her hands. Sign her up!
Trish: Curtis Rempel Curtis grew up playing hockey and with a Juno Cup under his belt I’m sure he’ll be an asset to my team.
Josh: Brad Rempel I’ll take the other half of High Valley, if nothing else we should create a little healthy rivalry between the brothers Rempel!
Trish: Alan Doyle The most mature member of my team, and a lifetime lover of the game, Alan’s proven his worth in the net.
Josh: Bobby Wills Bobby is another When The Lights Go Down alumni, and I’ll take him to skate with Jess, there’s got to be some chemistry there!
Trish 1: Chad Brownlee, Tom Petric, Jason Petric 2: Dierks Bentley, Curtis Rempel, Carrie Underwood Goalie: Alan Doyle
Josh 1: Theo Fleury, Cory Marquardt, Brad Rempel 2: Jess Moskaluke, Bobby Wills, Jim Cuddy Goalie: Brett Kissel
Trish: I’m happy with my picks and can’t help but think how awesome their team photo would look. Now if only we could make this game happen!
Josh: Trish has a great team, but I’m pretty happy with my 7 players… and I’d be happy to send ‘em out on the ice for a Country Music All-Star Hockey game any day of the week!
Now tell us whose team you think would win by voting in the poll!
Hockey season is back and that means it’s time to make some ridiculous predictions for the 2015-16 NHL season.
Have a look at this list of 20 and add your predictions in the comment section.
Also, I tried to avoid the dreaded East Coast Bias – but ya, it’s probably there.
1. Phil Kessel score 50+ and wins the Rocket Richard Trophy
2 A) Steven Stamkos stumbles and score 33
2 B) Stamkos doe not sign a contract extension during the season
3. James van Riemsdyk is the Toronto Maple Leafs MVP
4. Carey Price wins 40 games for the Montreal Canadiens
5. Jaromir Jagr and his mullet play in the All-Star Game
6. An Eastern Conference team wins the Stanley Cup
7. Connor McDavid scored 34 goals, adds 48 assists for 82 total points
8 A) Raffi Torres doesn’t play a game in the NHL this season
8 B) If Raffi Torres plays a game this season the Sharks will win the Stanley Cup
9. The Lightning take a big step back
10. The Toronto Maple Leafs trade Nazim Kadri mid-season
11. 4 Canadian teams make the playoffs
12. The Buffalo Sabres will not make the playoffs
13. Sidney Crosby scores 101 points
14. Alexander Semin score 25 goals for the Montreal Canadiens
15. The New Jersey Devils will finish the season with the worst overall record
16. The Anaheim Ducks lose in the Western Conference Final
17. Bobby Ryan scores 17 goals on the season
18. The Dallas Stars score the most goals in the NHL
19. Don Cherry swears on TV and the CBC has to bleep him
20. Patrick Sharp scores a hat trick against the Blackhawks
The NHL season starts this week with Montreal in Toronto, Vancouver in Calgary, New York in Chicago, and San Jose in Los Angeles… and to get us all ready for hockey we recruited 10 of our own Canadian Country Music All-Stars to give us their preview!
We asked each artist 3 questions (Favourite Team, Why/How Long Have You Loved Them, What Do You Expect This Season) and got some awesome answers.
HUGE thanks are going out to Chad Brownlee, Brett Kissel, Bobby Wills, Lindsay Broughton, Tim Chaisson, David Roberts, Cory Marquardt, Tim Hicks, Petric, and Yoan for playing along with our brand new idea this season. We love that there is so much love for puck in the country music community.
So, have a look and see which singer shares the same NHL team love affair as you – and leave a comment to tell us your favourite team, the story of you loving them, and what you expect from them this season!
What is your favourite NHL team? Vancouver Canucks
Why / How long have you loved them? Since I can remember. Growing up in BC with my Dad being a huge Canucks fan made it pretty easy to decide which team to cheer for!
What do you expect from them this season? I think the changes they made last season was the beginning of something great. This year is simply going to add to the success that I see growing in years to come!
What is your favourite NHL team? EDMONTON OILERS
Why / How long have you loved them? “I’ve literally loved the Oilers since I was born. Interesting story, I was born the day the Oilers won their last Stanley Cup in 1990. My brother thinks I’m a curse to the team, because as long as I’ve been alive, they haven’t won the cup since…”
What do you expect from them this season? “I truly believe that the Oilers will make the playoffs this year. With all that young star power, I mean, they’ve got to! If Calgary got into the playoffs this past season, then the Oilers NEED to!”
Note: On September 3, 2015 at the CNE in Toronto, Brett gave the crowd a guarantee that the Maple Leafs would make the playoffs this season. Remember that 😉
What is your favourite NHL team? Calgary Flames
Why / How long have you loved them? My favourite team as a little guy was the Bruins as we have Massachusetts roots, but the battle of Alberta pulled me in.
What do you expect from them this season? A playoff spot, hard to say from there. The west is so competitive it is going to be a dog fight!!
What is your favourite NHL team? The Detroit Red Wings
Why / How long have you loved them? HA! Weeell this isn’t awkward at all! To be quite honest I’m fairly new on the Detroit bandwagon! I was a long time lover, supporter and most often defender of the Leafs (stop laughing!) However I was forced to change my ways, burn the blue clothes, convert and become the enemy when I started dating a player in the Detroit organization about a year and a half ago. Yep, I am the ultimate traitor but if it’s any consolation sometimes I still secretly cheer for the Leafs… shhh..
What do you expect from them this season? Uhmm a cup? haha..kidding. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens without Babcock being there but obviously I’m excited about the season and have faith that the new changes are going to bring big things. 🙂
What is your favourite NHL team? Montreal Canadiens!
Why / How long have you loved them? Well, my father pretty much brainwashed my brothers and I since we were born to love the Habs, so as long as I can remember I guess!
What do you expect from them this season? I’d love to see a strong play-off season myself! I also think it’s pretty cool that P.K. Subban is giving so much back to the community.
What is your favourite NHL team? Toronto Maple Leafs
Why / How long have you loved them? Since I was a kid of 6, we had seasons tickets at Maple Leaf Gardens, up in the Blues, Section 29
What do you expect from them this season? Here are my 2015/2016 predictions: a) In a Wed Oct 7th press release it will be revealed that The Leafs will work a deal with season ticket holders who will now only pay for winning games. b) It’s a rebuild year, or decade or whatever the term is for the 49 odd years they have been waiting to win the cup back…. c) Record Producer and world’s biggest Leaf fan GGGarth Richardson will be hired as the new head coach and will guide the team to victory and win the 2015/2016 Stanley Cup aka La Coupe Stanley d) The Leafs will continue to sell out night after night…Go Leafs Go
Why / How long have you loved them? My Dad is from Toronto and my grandpa was a big fan. I still picture them in 94-96 Potvin, Clark, Gilmore, Tie Domi and the list goes on
What do you expect from them this season? They made some pretty big changes and I’m sure they’ll be making more. Not sure what to expect but I see them winning a cup in 20**…
What is your favourite NHL team? I’m a Leafs guy
Why / How long have you loved them? It’s sort of ingrained in the culture where I grew up that you must be a Leafs fan or face the consequences lol! Geographically, they’re the closest Canadian team and I always root for home.
What do you expect from them this season? I’m expecting them to finally throw us a bone! Come on boys!!
What is your favourite NHL team? We’re both huge Jets fans! Toms also has a love for the Detroit Red Wings
Why / How long have you loved them? We’ve been proud jets fans, even the years they didn’t exist in the league. Those were the years the Red Wings jersey got worn a lot. The year we both started playing hockey the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup, and Stevie Yzerman was Toms all time favourite player.
What do you expect from them this season? The Jets have a lot of young blood, which may bring some growing pains, but should also bring a lot of exciting hockey. GO JETS GO!
What is your favourite NHL team? The Montreal Canadians.
Why / How long have you loved them? I think Hockey is a part of our culture and heritage and so are the Montreal Canadians. I played hockey for 5 years and my dad has always been a really big fan of the team so we used to watch the games together when I was growing up. The last two years have been so busy for me that I don’t have as much time to follow hockey religiously as I did before but I try to support the team every time I can.
What do you expect from them this season? I wish them the best and hopefully the Stanley Cup!
“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” – Rogers Hornsby, MLB player/manager 1915-1953
With a 9-1 win over the Reds in Montreal on Saturday afternoon, Spring Training has finally wrapped up and it’s time to play baseball for real. And boy am I ready.
After 2 disappointing seasons the Toronto Blue Jays once again begin an MLB season with a chance to compete for a playoff spot in the American League. The AL East is still without a dominant super power, which leaves the door open for the Jays to make a run at the postseason for the first time since 1993.
Will it happen? Nobody can say with any certainty either way.
Do I believe it’s possible? Let’s find out.
With 40% of the starting rotation making their first opening day roster there is justified concern about Toronto’s pitching. The good news is that both Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris have tremendous upside talent, and if they can grab a little success early and build a solid relationship with Russell Martin – they should be alright.
Splitting the rookies up in the rotation looks like a smart move from John Gibbons, we’ll see how the mix and match of styles works in keeping opposing hitters off balance from day to day.
There’s not much concern with the top 5 or 6 spots in the Blue Jays batting order on any given day. But what about the 7, 8 & 9 spots… can Devon Travis (R), Dalton Pompey (R), and Michael Saunders (when he comes back) get on base and give the top of the order a chance to drive in some runs?
If the spring means anything (and it rarely does) the rookies should be alright. Travis hit his way onto the opening day roster, pushing the better fielding Ryan Goins back to Buffalo – and while the team is far more concerned with Pompey’s defense in centrefield, having him hit .270 with some doubles included would be wonderful. As for Saunders, once healthy and given chance to play every day in AL East parks, he should be absolutely fine. He won’t win a batting title, and he won’t hit 30 home runs, but nobody should be expected those things anyway.
If the Jays get a collective .275 OBP from the bottom third of the order I think we’ll all be happy. And I think they can do that.
For the first time in team history the Blue Jays have players on the opening day roster that weren’t alive when Joe Carter took Mitch Williams deep in ’93… but I’m not that worried. Both Miguel Castro and Roberto Osuna are set to be 1 inning pitchers. They aren’t expected to go through an entire order once, let alone twice. They are high upside, quality stuff guys that hit the strike zone consistently. With some early confidence and missed bats, both of these young men could make a big difference in the 2015 season.
As often as possible these 5 men will hit in this order for the Toronto Blue Jays. The expectation is that they will hit a pile of home runs, get on base at a higher than average clip, and produce runs day after day.
It’s not a stretch to expect 30+ home runs from Bautista, Encarnacion, and Donaldson. And it’s not a stretch to say that the team is expecting all 5 of these players to sport OBP’s of .350+ – but expectation and reality can be tough to pair.
Jose Reyes is not the overwhelmingly dynamic player he once was, and has had trouble with his health. And Martin is due to regress at least a little bit from his numbers in Pittsburgh over the last 2 seasons.
However, added together, and providing protection for each other every time through the lineup, the top 5 in the Blue Jays order should produce a bunch of runs and help the team to win games.
The Blue Jays could win 87-90 games and win the division (depending on the rebuild Red Sox) or one of the two Wild Card spots.
We said the same thing in 2013 and 2014 – and that didn’t work out. But spring is a time for rebirth and hope… and baseball!
Go Jays Go!
It’s here! It’s here! It’s here!
The NCAA March Madness bracket has been set, and 68 teams are ready to hit the floor and fight for a chance to play in the Final Four and be called National Champion.
And if you don’t care about any of that, this post is meant for you.
This is the 6th annual March Madness Widow Survival Guide, it’s sole purpose is to help you find things to do to stay busy and happy and awesome while your significant other sits on the couch and watches hours and hours and hours of college basketball. Being left alone like this is what we refer to as March Madness Widow Syndrome. We know it isn’t always an awesome feeling, but we’re here to help.
Here are 5 things that you can do between March 17th and April 6, 2015 if you aren’t a basketball fan.
We’ve turned the clock forward an hour, the sun is still up after 5pm, and it’s not freezing cold 24 hours a day. So get your Spring jacket ready, sit out on the porch or balcony, go for a walk around the block or in the park, grab a coffee and sit on a newly opened patio – or grab a beer, that’s great for sunny weekend afternoons.
Ask your friends and neighbours and co-workers for their highest recommendations – find brand new places to go out for dinner or lunch or brunch, order the dishes that people tell you are fabulous. And remember, take out counts!
So pull up just-eat.ca and find a restaurant that you haven’t tried, pick some stuff you think you’re going to want to eat, and order it.
This is an idea that comes all the way back from the very first March Madness Widow Survival Guide.
If you’ve got a couple vacation days, take ‘em. Build yourself a long weekend and hit a B&B. Hit up a nice little town like Port Hope, ON and see the sights, visit landmarks and enjoy yourself. Or, go home and visit your family and old friends. Or, buy a last minute deal and fly south to sit on a beach for a few days and really, really, really take advantage of the time on your hands.
There are some really great comic books out there. Whether you like zombies (The Walking Dead) or updated fairy tales (Fables) or all of your favourites from when you were a kid (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, Thor, Iron Man) there’s something on a shelf for each and every one of you.
Trust me. Give it a try.
Plus, you don’t have to go to the comic book store to get them any more. Digital comics are readily available. And they won’t break the bank.
I say this every year, and I mean it every year. Even if you’re not into the tournament, fill out a bracket. Pick some winners. Find a team to cheer for (please not Duke) and even root against your significant other’s favourite team. Just remember not to rub it in too hard if your team wins or their team eventually loses.
March Madness can be a lot of fun. But if you’re not into it, that’s cool. Make the most of those 3 weeks, they’ll be over before you know it.
And have a look back at the first 5 years of the March Madness Widow Survival Guide
‘Twas month the before Christmas… and that meant kids were starting to eat chocolate from their advent calendars. But why should kids have all the fun?
Since today is the 1st of December, and we’ve officially entered “Countdown to Christmas” mode, I decided to put together a Blue Jays Advent Calendar with a list of players who have worn numbers 1-25 on their Toronto uniform.
Some of the players are still active. Some have long retired. 1 is in the Hall of Fame. And 1 was a Blue Jay as recently as last week.
So, have a look, count down with me, and make sure to tell me how awful my choices were on some of these numbers!
#1. Tony Fernandez
#2. Aaron Hill
#3. Mookie Wilson
#4. Alfredo Griffin
#5. Rance Mulliniks
#6. John McDonald
#7. Jose Reyes
#8. Alex Gonzalez
#9. John Olerud
#10. Edwin Encarnacion
#11. George Bell
#12. Roberto Alomar
#13. Brett Lawrie
#14. Derek Bell
#15. Shawn Green
#16. Garth Iorg
#17. Kelly Gruber
#18. Jim Clancy
#19. Jose Bautista
#20. Rob Ducey
#21. Greg Myers
#22. Jimmy Key
#23. Candy Maldonado
#24. Matt Stairs
#25. Carlos Delgado
It’s early days of the 2014-15 NBA season, the Toronto Raptors are sitting at the top of the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference, and we’re excited for basketball.
So to help me kick off the new season, here’s Allegra to answer some of my hardest hitting, and most random questions pertaining to the new season on the hardwood.
1. I teased you that I was going to put this question in here, so why not start with it… Rank your top 5 Spanish players in the NBA.
Allegra: I still think this is an unfair question and it hurts my heart to have to even think about it. I guess I measure this by how devastated I am when they get injured (they are so delicate, Josh!)
1) Jose Calderon (forever a Raptor in my heart at least) – I road-tripped to Montreal to see him play in the preseason as a Knick and he injured himself earlier that week. 2) Pau Gasol (whom I can now OPENLY cheer because he’s no longer a Laker) – He is basically a perfect enormous man. Between advocating education for young girls in refugee camps, his Sesame Street stint, and his interest in pursuing medicine after he retires? I’ve been looking past the purple and gold for years. 3) Ricky Rubio (the Spanish Zach Efron) – He followed me on Twitter for three seconds by accident. As if I didn’t already love him enough! I got super upset when I heard he’s out for two months after the Wolves game in Orlando. Hopefully this means the return of his #staypositive recovery videos and tweets! 4) Victor Claver – I’ve never been especially excited by Portland as a team but their bench has this dude! He doesn’t get many minutes anymore (though he started for them a few seasons back while Batum was injured). He’s always seemed innocuous to me, even in his dunks and missed threes. 5) A sack of wheat dressed in Team Spain’s Eurobasket uniform – Because I have a completely irrational dislike of Marc Gasol and didn’t want to include him. Eff that dude. I don’t even care how many tea parties he has with terminally ill children.
Josh: I have nothing to add here. Always liked Jose, have a soft spot for Ricky… and I would rank the Gasols in the same order Allegra did.
2. On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are the Toronto Raptors to repeat as Atlantic Division Champs… and why?
A: I think there’s a really strong possibility! Not only are the Raps the best they’ve ever been (and they have a VERY impressive record so far and they seem to only be getting more cohesive) but also the competition isn’t especially fierce. Let’s disregard Philly and the Knicks entirely (sorry Jose! This isn’t your fault!) and focus on Brooklyn (boo!) and Boston (meh). Brooklyn tried to buy a championship team last season by signing big names to expensive short-term contracts and it bombed when they had to face Miami in the second round. Now they’ve got the bare-bones team (Joe Johnson and Deron Williams being the only players they have who can shoot outside the paint) that MAY make the finals again but in a lower tier… again. Boston? Welp. They’re SOMEONE’s problem, but not ours.
J: I’m all in on a division repeat this season! I don’t think that any of the teams in the division have a chance to win on a consistent basis like Toronto can. And I don’t think that any of them have to depth to match the Raptors either.
Bring on another banner!
3. Last season I asked who you thought the Raptors MVP would be at the end of the season – let’s ask the same question for this year!
A: Lowry or DeRozan are the obvious answers. DeMar is about five minutes or play away from smashing Bargnani’s record for most franchise points scored; he is SO CONSISTENTLY SOLID and Lowry is just gonna turn into a triple-double machine now that he’s broken through that barrier.
J: Can’t go wrong with either of those choices – and I don’t think there’s anyone else to pick. This team will go as far as DeMar and Kyle takes it, 1 of them will be team MVP.
4. And what about the entire NBA, who’s going to be MVP?
A: DeMar or Kyle, of course! 😉
J: Haha. I’m going to be a little more practical here. With KD hurt it looks like the MVP is LeBron’s to lose. It’s going to take something really special from someone else to come in and swipe it. But if anyone is going to do it, I hope it’s DeMar!
5. Hot or Not: The Raptors 20th anniversary jerseys?
A: SO HOT. Everybody in the world looks good in dark purple. I love the cheesiness of the older logo. I love watching the team play in them looking so proud to be a part of it.
J: 100% agree! I know there was a time when we all hated on the purple and the silly dinosaur logo, but now that’s it’s back and we can look back on the early days of the franchise I’m happy to see it.
6. Sad question time… scale of 1 to 10, how much does it suck for Steve Nash’s career to (potentially) end with his current back injury?
A: 6, but only because he can retire with dignity, albeit as a Laker. I understand a stubborn love of one’s career, I really do… but it’s been a long time since Nash’s body has been more than a broken clump of knotted rope.
J: For me it’s more of a 9. Nash is a two-time MVP and one of the greatest non-hockey professional athlete’s that Canada has ever produced. I’m sad to see him go out like this… maybe he should have hung up his sneakers instead of signing in LA.
7. Be honest: Is Kobe still a top 10 player in the league?
A: Blehh. Maybe top 10 in the west. It’s hard for him to shine while playing on the sloppiest, tanking-est team in the league right now.
J: The Lakers are so bad that Kobe has a chance to put up top 10 numbers this season… but they’ll be artificial because who else is supposed to score in bunches every night for that awful team?
8. The West is Best – we all know it, so who do you think is going to win the Western Conference?
A: With OKC essentially sidelined with injuries and the Spurs showing their age a little, it’s anybody’s title. Most of the teams to have a postseason last year look really good. Will it be the Clippers? They do better every year and the unfortunate ownership issues have been resolved. Houston is on FIRE so far and even Memphis went undefeated for an unreasonably long time. It’s silly to judge this kind of thing from the standings so early, but they’re all playing with a cohesiveness that goes beyond individually talented players.
J: With the Thunder struggling and the Spurs aging (and committed to resting players during the season) I’m going to have to say the Clippers on this one. At least in the regular season. Memphis is intriguing, but I don’t know if they have the stamina to be the best over 82 games, same with Golden State.
9. And who is going to be worst team in the league at the end of the season?
A: Oh, I am giving this to LOLAL. I am a notorious Lakers hater, and their downward spiral is bringing me serious schadenfreude. The 76ers are going to give them a run for their money, though. And while they’ll never be the bottom team, Indiana’s fall has been like a train derailment! Who would have thought that Paul George was THAT important?!
J: My vote goes to Philly. They want to be bad. They don’t care. The Lakers are going to lose a lot of games too… but Kobe will win some on his own if he’s able to drag the team with him.
10. You don’t drink coffee, but I do – and I want to know which NBA head coach you would want us to sit down with for a hot beverage and basketball talk.
A: We have the most emotional investment in talking to Dwane Casey, of course, and he seems like he’d be an excellent conversationalist. I’d buy Jason Kidd a coffee just to spit in it.
J: Coach Casey would be my #1 pick purely for homer reasons… I’d love to talk to him about the team and what he would like to see them accomplish. My 2nd choice would be Gregg Popovich. Pop seems like he has a ton of personality to let loose in the right setting, and I’d love to see it firsthand.
11. Last question: What are your expectations for this 2014-15 Toronto Raptors team?
A: I want better defence than in previous seasons, and I think they’ve really been working on that. I want us to use our assets a little better. I want to see our rookies clock more minutes. I want Terence Ross to get his confidence back. I don’t think I’ll be at all disappointed. I think that we’ll be smarter about fouling. You can see how badly they want these wins. It’s beautiful. I’d be shocked if we didn’t make it to the second round of the postseason at least.
J: I’m looking for consistency from this team. The defensive effort needs to be there every night – and the team can’t rely on a big 2nd half to win games every night. If they can do that and players like Terrence Ross and Jonas can grow while DeMar, Kyle & Amir do their thing and the bench chips in, these Raptors could be a round 2 playoff team.
There you have it. NBA predictions from Allegra and I.
If you’ve got different answers, or you like ours so much that you feel a need to tell us – do it in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter.
Enjoy the season.
The NHL season starts tomorrow night with a marque match-up between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens…
And so here we are, the same as every season, with my list of predictions for the new hockey season. Some of these predictions are more likely to come true than others. Some are pretty far fetched. But in some reality, somewhere, all 20 of these guesses could end up being correct.
Let me know how far off from your reality I am and pitch in any predictions of your own.
Weekly Power Rankings cause fist fights between fans AND the experts that vote on them… especially in the West with Anaheim, LA, St. Louis and Chicago.
The San Jose Sharks don’t make it out of round 1 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and everyone gets fired and half the team gets traded.
There will be 50-75 (294-419) fewer fights in the 2014-15 season than there were in 2013-14 (469).
The Islanders and Rangers both qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs… and my fingers are crossed that they meet in the 1st round!
Winnipeg struggles all season long and makes a slew trades including Evander Kane and Dustin Byfuglien.
Toronto misses the Playoffs and fires Randy Carlyle.
This will not be Jaromir Jagr’s last NHL season.
Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos will go to the last week of the season fighting for the Rocket Richard Trophy.
The bottom 5 teams in the NHL: Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Buffalo, Florida.
Josh Gorges and Brian Gionta will combine for 21 goals and 55 points in their 1st season in Buffalo.
Manny Malhotra will finish in the top 3 in faceoff win percentage and become a Montreal fan fav with a big playoff goal.
Don Cherry will be reprimanded by Rogers after his controversial comments land on the front page of major news outlets.
Detroit misses the Playoffs for the 1st time in 75 years and Mike Babcock becomes the biggest free agent head coach in a generation.
Phil Kessel scores 43 goals for the Toronto Maple Leafs – 15 more than anyone else on the team.
Ryan Miller has an okay, but not great, season as the Canucks fight for 8th place in the West all season.
The Dallas Stars will be the dark horse team in the West and will challenge for 2nd in the Central.
Carey Price wins 41 games and posts a sub 3.00 GAA AND stays healthy for a Habs Playoff run.
Pernell Karl “P. K.” Subban steps up and earns his massive new contract money – and becomes Canadiens captain in 2015-16.
The Chicago Blackhawks and LA Kings meet in the Western Conference Finals.
The @LAKings remain the #1 NHL team on Twitter – but look for @BlueJacketsNHL to make a push with the support of their fans.
I don’t know how right or wrong I’m going to end up being on any of these 20 predictions… but hey, that’s what the internet is for.
Have a good season!
It’s Friday, September 12 and the Toronto Blue Jays have 17 games remaining on the schedule, including tonight’s series opener versus AL East rival Tampa Bay.
So… what does this mean? Well, the Jays are currently 10.5 games behind the Baltimore Orioles for the AL East lead – but they are only 3.5 games behind in the race for the AL’s 2nd Wild Card spot – and that’s not insurmountable.
Here’s how the rest of the season looks for the Jays
vs. Rays vs. Rays vs. Rays @Orioles @Orioles @Orioles @NY Yankees @NY Yankees @NY Yankees @NY Yankees vs. Mariners vs. Mariners vs. Mariners vs. Mariners vs. Orioles vs. Orioles vs. Orioles
13 of the 17 games are against the AL East. 14 of the 17 games are against teams that Toronto is either chasing or fighting off in the playoff race. 10 of the 17 games are in Toronto. Toronto has a 4-3 record in Baltimore this season. Toronto has a 2-4 record at Yankee Stadium this season. The Blue Jays likely need to win at least 13 of these 17 games – and get some help – to make the playoffs.
Also… get ready because if Toronto wins 8 of those first 10 games we’re going to have some VERY exciting baseball when the Jays come back home.
I was texting with Brian last night and without hesitation I acknowledged that the Mariners series could be the most important series in the last 20 years for this team. And maybe I’m getting ahead of myself thinking about it. Maybe we all are. But that’s what fans do.
We look at Jose Bautista’s hot streak and tell ourselves that he can put this team on his back if he needs to. We’ve seen him do it before. And we think about Dioner Navarro and Edwin and Adam Lind supporting him so he doesn’t have to. We get excited with Jose Reyes and Kevin Pillar and Anthony Gose and Danny Valencia contribute as they have been doing.
We look at the starters and their recent ability to go deeper into games without giving up the big bad early inning and giving the team a chance to win these ball games. We drool over Marcus Stroman and what he’s doing. We nod with approval when Dickey and Buehrle perform like the veterans they are. We smile when the rested bullpen comes in and gets the job done.
And with every win we tell ourselves (and each other) that the Blue Jays chance at a playoff spot is improving.
Right now ESPN.com has the Blue Jays sitting with a 5.5% chance. But if they take care of business and give themselves a chance against Seattle… that 5.5% could get much higher.
And as a fan who has been waiting 21 years to see these meaningful games and then the playoffs that come as the payoff… I’ll take that chance.
Earlier this afternoon I was involved in an intense Facebook comment thread discussing Ray Rice’s domestic abuse case and the punishment he deserved from the NFL. Later in the afternoon the Baltimore Ravens announced that they had terminated the contract of Rice. In that thread the question of why sports leagues should be able to dole out punishment for actions that take place off the field.
It’s a valid question. Very. In this case specifically it is, Why should the NFL be allowed to suspend Ray Rice for his actions in that hotel elevator?
My answer, accountability.
Ray Rice, like all other professional athletes are paid a lot of money to put on a uniform and perform in front of their team’s fans. They are also public figures, particularly the superstars, who are role models to millions of young fans around the world… whether Charles Barkley likes it or not.
On top of that, these athletes are representatives of team and their league. In and out of uniform they represent their organizations 12 months a year. And they aren’t the only ones who fall under this umbrella.
In December 2013 Justine Sacco sent a tweet from her personal phone, on her personal time, before she left on her personal vacation. You might remember the tweet… Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white! The next day Sacco was fired from her position as Communications Director for “hateful statements”. She was held accountable to the standards of her organization and suffered punishment because of her choices and her actions. Sacco isn’t even famous (other than because of this incident) and she was fired for her racist and offensive tweet.
Almost exactly a month earlier, at City Hall in Toronto, council voted to remove the majority of Mayor Rob Ford’s power in the wake of his crack cocaine and drinking scandal. The police hadn’t charged him with any crimes (and still haven’t, though many people are still waiting to see if it happens) and there was no definitive proof that Ford had used illegal substances or alcohol at City Hall during working hours. However, as THE MAYOR of Toronto he was found not to be living up to his requirements as the leader of the city. He wasn’t portraying the positive image that the city expected. And while some people argued that he did it on his own time and it shouldn’t matter, the fact is that it does matter and that’s why so many Torontonians spoke out and took offense. Hell, before the transfer of power happened I spoke on BBC radio about Ford and the mess he was making in Toronto.
In these 3 cases the NFL/Ravens, IAC, and the City of Toronto all made the decision that the actions of these individuals was detrimental to the organization and the public – and so they were punished outside of any action by law enforcement.
I don’t know if what’s coming next for Rob Ford (re-election, losing the election, criminal charges, relapse, etc.), I don’t know what Justine Sacco is doing now, and I certainly don’t know what is going to happen to Ray Rice. But right now, today, I know that the Baltimore Ravens did the right thing (even if it was late) by holding Rice accountable for his actions and removing him from his position of privilege and power.
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