TORONTO - It’s never a great thing when you’re talking to the sports editor and a big shot from the news department comes running in with a copy of your column in his hands.
Visions of screw-ups past immediately flashed through my head, including the infamous Jose Canseco fiasco of 1989 when I was ordered to write a story about the monster home run the Oakland A’s slugger hit against the Blue Jays in the playoff game at the SkyDome. My entire night’s work was this one story and I somehow managed to totally muck it up by writing: “Canseco’s smash to the third deck in right field ...”
Shortly after the piece was filed, one of the editors called to say that Canseco’s shot wasn’t to the third deck in right field, but the fifth deck in left, to which I replied: “Left, right, the point is, it was a helluva shot.”
And then I hung up the phone.
There’s a reason why I’m known as the ‘King of the Career-Limiting Move’ here at the paper.
Anyway, the news guy wanted to point out that a Calgary radio station had taken out an ad beneath my column in Wednesday’s paper, basically to take the piss out of Toronto Argonaut fans. It read: “Hey Argo Fans ... Ever been kicked in the head by a horse? Well you’re about to be!” And then there’s a phone number with “Counsellors are standing by”.
Ha ha! Clever stuff, although my initial reaction was: Most Argos fans probably haven’t been kicked in the head by a horse. I don’t know what’s going on out in Calgary, but we don’t have herds of wild horses wandering the streets and kicking people in the head. We have a mayor who’s as big as a horse, and slightly better groomed, but not a lot of actual horses.
As for the line: “You’re about to be!” — as in, you’re about to be kicked in the head by a horse — I’m not sure what that means, though perhaps the Calgary radio guys are suggesting that the Stampeders are going to hammer the Argos in Sunday’s Grey Cup game and Argos fans will feel like they’ve been kicked in the head.
Okay. But here’s the deal with that: This is Toronto. Every team in Toronto (excluding the 2012 Argos) loses all the time. We’re used to getting kicked in the head. It no longer hurts.
Being an enterprising go-getter, I dialed the number in the ad and some guy named Gerry Forbes answered. Turns out Gerry hosts the morning show at CJAY92 (The Big Hick 92) with Stephen Murray and Red Dawg. That’s the guy’s name, Red Dawg.
Now, I don’t know anything about radio, other than the Blue Jays have apparently been fantastic for years, but I do know that if there’s a guy on the air named Dog, and he spells his name D-A-W-G, the show has to be wacky. Gerry informed me that the station plans on running two more ads in our paper, including something about how they’re going to show up in Toronto with horses and “muskets”, and they’re going to get a horse to “poop” in the lobby of a hotel. (Apparently, horses are omnipresent in Calgary).
I don’t know about the musket thing — I can only guess roaming bison are still a problem in Calgary — but I do know the ‘horse-pooping-in-the lobby’ story. It’s tradition that when the Grey Cup is held in Toronto, some yahoo in a cowboy hat rides a horse through the Royal York Hotel. It’s all good, clean, hillbilly fun (until the horse takes a dump — and then guess who cleans it up? That’s right, some serf from Toronto).
I salute the boys at CJAY92. Clearly, they’ve caught the spirit of the Grey Cup. One tip, however. If you do bring a horse to T.O., and leave it “hitched” somewhere, it’ll be on a boat bound for Nigeria in about 18 seconds. So, be careful.
And it’s probably not a great idea to wander the streets of Toronto with muskets, even if you do greet everyone one with a folksy “howdy.” We don’t take kindly to big-shot western types flashing their muskets and spurs and playing Sweet City Woman on their fancy stereo systems. We’re just simple city folk. We don’t want any trouble.
My boss, Bill Pierce, who’s basically a football nut, wants me to go to the Calgary Pancake Breakfast on Thursday to soak in the atmosphere. I’d rather soak in a barrel of rancid mayonnaise.
I’ve got nothing against Calgary, other than those giant jack rabbits that swarm people in hotel parking lots. But if I wanted to see a group of men wearing cowboy hats, chirping “howdy pardner” to everyone, I’ll go to a Village People convention.
But, hey, thanks for buying the ad.