The Hit Parade column

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 5:05 PM ET

 Since the night the Calgary Flames recorded their first playoff win in eight years, in Game 2 of the first round against Vancouver back in April, their fans have grown increasingly rabid.

  The parties on the infamous Red Mile have grown with every win and have already become Canada's version of Mardi Gras or Carnival -- without the beads but with all the nudity.

 The question is, just what will Calgarians do for an encore if their team completes an improbable but magical run to the Stanley Cup tonight?

 The party, if those fans can suck it up for just one more night, promises to be both spectacular and frightening. And legendary.

 Even at almost a buck a litre for gas, it's gotta be worth the drive.

 EVERYBODY'S PERFECT: As play-by-play man and Winnipeg media icon Bob Irving says, training camp is the perfect time of year for the Blue Bombers.

 The team is unbeaten, everybody looks like an all-star, and other than the occasional on-field scrap, everything is just hunky dory around Canad Inns Stadium.

 In training camp, every team is a Grey Cup contender (even the Roughriders) and it's pretty hard for coaches, fans and media to find things to complain about.

 The typical training camp question -- How do they look? -- is usually returned with positive responses.

 Until the first game, that is. And that would be today.

 After today, weaknesses will be exposed, last week's potential all-stars will be next week's castoffs and, win-or-lose, people will find something to wring their hands about.

 And that means we can all sit back and say: "Ah, it's finally football season."

 PAPER LION? The Sun's own Ken Wiebe has been doing his finest George Plimpton impression this past week. First he took a shot at glory by trying out for the NHL as part of the Making the Cut reality show and the very next day, took to the airwaves and did his best Joe Buck for a Goldeyes doubleheader on Shaw (writing a story for The Sun as well, we might add). We're thinking the roll might end soon though, especially when he sees his next assignment is to do a first-person piece on Hockey Gladiators ... In honour of the 60th anniversary of D-Day (if you were there, we can't thank you enough), here's hoping for this weekend at least, no athlete refers to his upcoming game as a war ... Kurt Warner will move to New York to play for the Giants after being released by the Rams this week. Since the Giants already have Eli Manning, Warner isn't in their long-term plans, so his thinking must be that New York is either A) the best place for him to spread the word of God, or B) has the most possible radio call-in shows for his wife to make an ass of herself on ... The Giants play in Jersey. Who's Kurt going to spread the word to there? Tony Soprano? ... Honestly, if we said in October that the Calgary Flames were going to win the Stanley Cup, a straight jacket and padded walls would most certainly have been recommended ... Do you suppose anyone in Calgary will even notice that the Bombers and Stampeders are playing today? ... Anyone who says Jarome Iginla is not the best hockey player in the world right now, didn't see Game 5.

 HUNG MANIA: Why do the Tampa Bay Lightning continue to let the Hulkster's daughter sing the anthems, when clearly William Hung is available? ... If that aforementioned American Idol castoff was the owner of Smarty Jones, would it be a Hung horse? ... In the last few months we've seen Anna Kournikova trying out bobsledding, baseball and, most recently, yachting. If we give her a stick, some skates and some tight-fitting Cooperalls, maybe Americans will finally pay attention to the Stanley Cup final ... Who will score more points in the NBA final? Kobe and Shaq combined, or the Pistons? There ought to be a Vegas line ... The Pistons are involved in such low-scoring games, some observers are starting to blame the neutral-zone trap ... The Lakers could use Jack Nicholson as their sixth man and still beat the Pistons ... NDP leader Jack Layton mistakenly referred to the Calgary Flames coach as Darryl Sittler recently, which is OK because when asked for a comment on Layton, Darryl Sutter reportedly replied: "Who does he play for?"

 QUICK HITS: Goldeyes play-by-play man Paul Edmonds, on the upcoming elections: "If the lawn markers are any indication of who's going to win in my riding, then this guy ComFree's going to win it hands down." ... From Jay Leno: "Angelina Jolie tells In Touch magazine that in three years she'd like to have a shaved head, 30 tattoos, seven children and three lovers. So apparently she's trying to join the NBA." ... Sign outside a church in Edmonton this week: "Jesus said we should say a prayer for our enemies. Go Flames Go." ... From Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic: "To those screaming about how NHL commissioner Gary Bettman upstaged the Stanley Cup final by holding a news conference and drawing great attention to the upcoming labour battle: Calm down. No one was paying attention in the first place." ... Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press on Indiana's Ron Artest shooting 29% in the NBA's Eastern Conference final: "The NBA fined Artest for making an obscene gesture but never specified the act. Was it his jump shot? ... Comedian Alan Ray in the San Francisco Chronicle, on the 35th World Series of Poker: "Men sit around placing bets for six hours at a time, or, as Pete Rose used to call it, a doubleheader." ... From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: "The last major-league player to record 50 hits in just one month was: (A) Ichiro, just last month, off an array of American League pitchers (B) Any one of seven New York Mets, in 2002, off the bullpen bong." ... Greg Cote of the Miami Herald on the poor ratings for the Stanley Cup final in the U.S.: "ESPN could air a rerun of a mah-jongg tournament and get that. In fact, Game 1 barely cracked the list of top 20 cable telecasts that night, stumbling in at 19th and trailing (among other shows) a Cosby rerun." ... Also from Cote. "Did you catch (Marat) Safin mooning the tennis crowd at the French Open? Even after dropping his drawers, he still had on more clothes than Serena Williams."

 Numbers game

 76%

 Percentage of voters in a Couchmaster.ca poll who believe the CFL should allow teams to carry a fourth quarterback as long as he is Canadian.

 78%

 Percentage of Couchmaster voters who would rather see the Calgary Flames win the Stanley Cup than have the NHL avoid a long lockout.

 KNUCKLEHEADS

 ESPN Radio play-by-play man Brent Musberger says he overheard referee Eddie F. Rush at the scorer's table during Game 6 of the NBA's Western Conference final, asking how many personal fouls had already been handed out to Shaquille O'Neal. We're not sure, but it doesn't sound much like Rush wanted any part of calling a foul that would force Shaq out of the game. Is this an indication of how badly the NBA wanted to make sure there was not a Minnesota-Detroit final?

 SAY WHAT?!

 "Who wants to play for an organization that's plain, with everybody liking each other? You don't foul hard. Nobody's late. Nobody argues with Phil (Jackson). That's boring ... We have to give y'all a show. This is the biggest reality show right here. We got to give it to y'all. That's why we get such high ratings."

 - Lakers centre Shaquille O'Neal.

 "When we made the turn, we got ice cream."

 - Annika Sorenstam on how her parents convinced her to stay with golf when she wanted to quit at 12 years of age.


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