Monday, August 17, 2009

Gotta Laugh To Prevent Yourself From Crying



This is my old man in a nutshell.

We were away from home for almost five weeks this summer. Up north and then PEI and then home for four days and then up north again. And while today is a hot bastard and news is that this type of weather is going to stretch deep into September July, usually the most glorious of months, was the shits. Here. Out east. Up north.

Last July was cooler than what we are used to but it was awesome. 70 degrees each day and rain at night is alright with me. Less than 70 degrees and rain every day. Not so much.

So when we drove east it was pretty well through the rain. And once we were on the Island it was pretty well all rain, all the time. We had three sunny days when we were out at Wood Islands and three more the rest of the time we were out there. So six sunny days out of nearly three full weeks. And frost warnings a couple of nights. Bah.

And then we headed up north and it rained. It rained when we were at the landing loading the boat, it rained all the way across the lake. It rained when we unloaded the boat. It rained when we were swimming. It rained when we were fishing. It rained at night and during the day. It rained when we had our big feast with our neighbours (we raised a tarp over the deck - it worked just fine thank you very much). It rained and rained and rained some more.

We had a couple of more days left in our stay when my Dad came in and announced the weather. My Dad loves the weather. He listens to the radio and watches TV to get the news on the weather. When we go to visit or when they come to visit the Weather Network is on all of the time. He can talk about fronts and air currents and lake effect and weather patterns from Prince George to Cape Spear. He missed his calling. I knew he was heavy into the weather when he began talking about Alberta Clippers and Kentucky Lows in his everyday conversation, names that sounded like old time minor league hockey clubs, dropped here and there in the discussion on what the weather would bring later today, tomorrow and on the weekend. So my old man comes upstairs and smiles.

Good news folks - its going to be sunny at noon tomorrow.

Huzzahs from all. Until my wife pulled me aside later.

They never said that!

What?

What your Dad said. I was right there. They didn't say it was going to be sunny at noon. They said 'May clear in the afternoon'.

I know! Its awesome. Finally some sunshine. Should be awesome once we get to lunchtime.

They didn't say that!

Jeez, you're just a pessimist.

She snorted with derision and stalked off, waving her arms. I have a special gift for making her completely mental.

Dad was pretty close to right by the way. Sun came out before 1 and it was a beauty of a day.

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Even dear old Dad would have a tough time getting behind the Oilers these days. I'm a dyed in the wool optimist myself but I look at this club and I don't see much to like. As a guy who was introduced to the Oilogosphere by Vic Ferrari back in March of 2006 as a good place to visit after an Oilers loss - he always has something positive to say (or something like that), he said, it goes against my nature to prophesize doom and gloom but this club reminds me more and more of the Cubs or the Leafs or, more apropos perhaps, the Jays.

The Jays were once a model of how a sports franchise should be run. Excellent drafting and development resulted in a club of homegrown talent that went from expansion to contender in a relatively short period. They made mistakes as they tried to take the next step both with free agents and managerial choices (Bill Caudill, Jimy Williams) and on the field itself (the loss to the Royals in 85, the awful collapse in 1987) but under Pat Gillick they always looked to have a plan and when it became clear that they had to make things happen (it took a while - Gillick's nickname was Stand Pat) then they did, first trading for Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter, and then augmenting their roster with free agent signings and deadline deals. Two World Series resulted.

Nowadays the Jays are a loser franchise. That's the only way to describe them. They have been mediocre forever now with only individual brilliance (Pat Hentgen, Carlos Delgado) sustaining any sort of pulse in a once proud franchise. It's the impending departure of Roy Halladay which has really gotten my goat though. Don't get me wrong - I'm nothing more than a casual fan these days. I watch the playoffs here and there, nothing more. I know that the Yankees, Dodgers, Phillies and Angels are having good years and maybe the Cardinals? And the Red Sox have tailed off, right?

But the Halladay situation? A joke. A joke because the Jays have had a great pitcher on their club for years and years now and haven't even got a sniff of a pennant race. Not even close. Only excuses about the division they are in and their payroll and so on. And of course Tampa of all clubs nearly won it all last year. And so the club trots out the heroes of yesteryear, balding or greying, thickening middles for some, whenever they can. Because they have absolutely nothing else.

Now this diatribe is not aimed at the Oilers although in my mind they are flirting with this territory. The good old days supercede anything happening right now. There is plenty of sizzle (the pursuit of Heatley, the signing of Khabibulin, Pat Quinn's arrival) but very little in the way of steak. There is no reliable backup goaltender and this might cost them their season. The penalty kill cost them their season last year and yet there are no veterans who can win faceoffs or kill penalties. There is, again, a lack of quality veteran two way players on this club. The forwards are small. There are, as LT says, a half dozen leadoff hitters and nobody to bat cleanup.

I like what Tambellini did at the draft and I like what he has done with Springfield but for the fourth year running there is a lot of uncertainty about this club and when a club spends this much money one would think that they should have a shot at a division title at least, not a puncher's chance at a playoff spot. That they are spending money is terrific. That they are spending it unwisely again is not. That is worrisome and that falls on management. Summer is not over yet but time is running out.

Although I guess if they are spending dough and getting nothing for it they are more like the Leafs than the Jays after all.

4 comments:

Paper Designer said...

The lack of a quality back-up is not a problem that is beyond solving. Garon was had for a back-up that was promptly buried in the minors, a low-level prospect and a mid-level pick. You don't think that if it came down to it, the Oilers could flip Deslauriers, a third round pick and Potunly to a team that is looking to hand off a netminder?

No, I'm pretty sure the concern should be the starting goaltender. I'm not all doom and gloom, but there's no guarantee he will play well, either.

Black Dog said...

P.D. - I think Khabibulin will be alright although I wish they would have gone in another direction

As for the backup goaltending well its an easily solved issue but I have no faith in this club's way of doing business. They almost pissed away 2006 for want of a goaltender and the past few seasons have shown an almost masochistic mindset when it comes to staying the course, no matter what holes need to be filled. See veteran D in 2006/2007, PK specialists/veteran centre last season etc

mattwatt said...

I see the need for a move to be made, but part of me has a bias that this is not all management's fault. Due to the prevalent economy, there are going to be far fewer willing partners for the Oilers to work with.

Still, no excuse for how they have made somewhat of a mess on this roster over the last 3 years.

Question: Why do fans in Alberta hate Horcoff so much? I have just moved back home to the farm, and the words people spew about him as a player, it is as if these people, many who have played a far higher level of hockey then me, do not understand his value. They hate him more the Penner, which is disturbing to me in more ways then one.

hunter1909 said...

Let me be the first:

Predict the "When Lowe loses his job on the Oilers", for big cash prizes.