Plenty of calls, e-mails and texts received in busy week.
One friend's message was short: "Andrea Bocelli is gone. So am I."
My friend is not a ball fan. He appreciates excellence.
Over the years he has paid to hear Colin Powell speak, although he disagrees with his politics; watched Mikhail Baryshnikov while disliking ballet, heard Bocelli sing, although he does not like opera and watched Roy Halladay pitch.
He would only go to the Rogers Centre to see Halladay face the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox.
Mostly Halladay was stoical. His game-face was on about four days before his next start.
That was Halladay we knew and the fans loved.
Yet he did have a sense of humour. Like in 2004, Pat Hentgen returned to the Blue Jays training camp in Dunedin.
"Pat was the first to come over and say hello in 1996, my first big-league camp," Halladay said during our usual state of the franchise session.
Turning around, Halladay tugged on a blue, yellow-striped, shirt hanging in Hengten's locker: "He was wearing the same shirt back then."
Concussion specialist Dr. Charles Tator should get his own exam for trying to drag Kingston's own Don Cherry into his hockey head-shot controversy. Not only was the doctor wrong in his assessment that Cherry is partly responsible for recklessness in hockey, he picked the wrong guy to tussle with. I'm no hockey coach but not once have I heard Cherry advocate running kids head-first into the boards from behind.
Here and there
I'll take Vanier Cup MVP and Golden Gaels quarterback Danny Brannagan of Burlington's mighty Assumption Secondary School Crusaders as my Canadian athlete of the year over that guy in Pittsburgh, Sidney Crosby. All Brannagan did in the final game of his five-year university career was throw for 286 yards and three touchdowns to lead Queen's to the Vanier Cup ... How 'bout my inbox? I've won 750,000 Irish pounds, 100,000,000 Euros, 1,000,000 British pounds and $250,000 cash. Who says the Internet is bad? Another good month like this and I can afford to buy the Blue Jays or go to a Maple Leafs game ... Tiger Woods has been on the cover of the New York Post 20 days in a row, breaking the old record set by the 9/11 attacks ... Seeing New York Rangers coach John Tortorella blow up in his post-game presser on Wednesday reminded me of tirades from my former boss, Wayne Parrish.
Former Etobicoke baseball coach Bob Smyth looked out his window the other day in Ladysmith, B.C., to see a truck and then a uniformed man hauling a huge package to the door.
"What's that?" Smyth growled.
"A box," the delivery man said.
"I can see that, thanks for the info," replied Smyth, who found a framed Canada jersey his protegee Joey Votto wore during the World Baseball Classic at the Rogers Centre in March.
Smyth will hang it alongside Votto's Cincinnati Reds jersey from his first game in the majors.
The good ones, such as Votto, don't forget their coaches and all that they have done.
1. Our world juniors must-see hockey, maybe the best of the year -- have a geographically balanced roster with eight players from the Western Hockey League, eight from Ontario and six from Quebec. A young minister of sport from Quebec approached Ed Chenyoweth, WHL boss, demanding equal representation at a cocktail party before Canada left for Sweden and the 1984 worlds. Only one Quebec player -- Mario Lemieux declined -- was on the roster. "You're right," Chenyoweth said. "Your league represents one province, my league represents four, so we get four times as many." ... 2. Gord Bamford of Lacombe, Alta., and his Baseball Glove video. A youngster wishes for a "genuine cowhide/Rawlings Pro Special/one autographed by Halladay." ... 3. Reading Tim Wharnsby. CBC made an excellent hire in the hockey scribe. Catch this week's piece on the 1988 Canadian Olympic hockey pucksters and where everyone is 22 years later at CBCsports.ca ... 4. WIND Mobile. Have not heard this much excitement about a phone since we talked about getting one at the cottage on Wolfe Island.
CITY's Howie McKenny, who always made me laugh ... The FAN's Late Nite Vampire Stormin' Norman Rumack, part of the station's voice in the early years. Rumack was like Montrealer Ted Teaven -- tough on-air and a gentleman when the red light went off. Rumack's Late Nite Vampire website is up. Best interviews ever with Devon White or Paul Molitor? Norman was doing the questioning.
Outfielder George (Dandy) Wood is listed as being born in Boston. Kingston's own Scott Crawford of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame has news that SABR Bio expert Peter Morris has discovered that Wood actually was born in Pownal, P.E.I. Wood led the National League in home runs in 1882, hitting seven for the Detroit Wolverines. Wood played 13 seasons in the major leagues, collecting 1,467 hits ... Also left-hander Ed (The Only) Nolan, who pitched five big-league seasons before retiring in 1885 was born somewhere in Canada and not Paterson, N.J. The search continues. Canadians had problems obtaining visas in the 1800s but had no trouble with nicknames.
The Jays had scouts Roy Smith and Gary Rajsich in Houston to watch Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman this week. Chapman defected when the world juniors were in Edmonton in 2008. Jays have a $16-million US war chest to spend heading into the 2010 draft. Will they be players? ESPN reported the Red Sox already offered a $15.5-million bonus ... Top Canadians for next June's free-agent draft? Lefty James Paxton of Ladner, B.C., at Kentucky University and Whitby lefty Evan Grills ... Best wishes for a happy holidays ... And whatever happened to Bob Bailor?