Lou Marsh's Star tarnished?

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:35 AM ET

To sports editors, sports directors and sports fans across the country, the name Lou Marsh has come to mean one thing -- Canada's athlete of the year.

As it does every December, when the smoke cleared at One Yonge Street this past Monday, media across the country fell in line and heralded the Marsh Award winner.

Apparently there are folks in some corners of this vast land who are wondering why they should buy in.

Like those outside of our little centre of the universe who are convinced TSN stands for the Toronto Sports Network, the Marsh is seen as an institution too Toronto-centric for comfort.

Leading that cry this week was the Vancouver sports radio duo of David Pratt and Don Taylor, who loudly criticized Marshmania on the Team 1040.

The beef on Monday wasn't with the selection of speed skater Cindy Klassen as the winner -- though Pratt made it clear he felt B.C. boy Steve Nash should have been given the nod.

Instead, the complaint centred on the process and the fact that the electorate is largely based inside the newsroom of the Toronto Star.

"It's the sports elitists in Toronto who decide what we should be celebrating," Pratt railed on his show, which is simulcast on Rogers Sportsnet.

"I would love to have the Lou Marsh Award taken out and buried somewhere and forgotten about. It's embarrassing.

"They can go out and name whoever the hell they want, but why do the rest of us have too go along."

Because, apparently, that's the way it always has been. Or the fact that legitimate alternatives are few and feeble.

The Canadian Press has athletes of the year, but they are released well after the Marsh and are gender-based. Other media outlets have followed suit but none have, nor likely will, match the cache of the Marsh.

As Pratt suggests, that doesn't make it right. For the record, the Marsh committee does include one Montreal voter, but the rest of this year's 11-person panel is Ontario-based, including four voters from the Star. No one, it seems, from far west of Mississauga.

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FIELD PUZZLES PELLEY, TOO

Add Argos president Keith Pelley to the list of those scratching their head over the fact that the soon to be completed BMO Field (we think) can't be used for football.

"I would have thought it would be a good spot for the Vanier Cup or for high school games," Pelley said, choosing his words carefully. "It would be something you would like to see in a stadium like that."

Not that the Argos were interested in a return to Exhibition Place. Pelley said the only way the Argos would be interested in moving is if the Rogers Centre were to be torn down, "and I don't think that's happening anytime soon."

BLOOD, SWEAT AND ???

Speaking of the Argos, it's not too late to take care of that football fan on your holiday gift-giving list.

Tomorrow at the Mississauga headquarters, the Argos practice locker room will be transformed into a gift shop.

Game-used sweaters, autographed footballs, helmets and more will be on the block.

"Everything has been cleaned," Argos spokesperson Beth Waldman said. "And don't worry, there are no undergarments. There will be some players there, but they won't be modelling."

MOVING FAST

Word from the Toronto FC is that tickets are moving fast for the coming inaugural campaign for the MLS team. Fast as in 5,800 season-tickets sold.

Nice to see the tickets are moving, too bad the BMO Field end zone seats won't be going anywhere, guaranteeing the other type of football can't be played at the taxpayer-funded stadium.

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MANAGING MIKE

For most of the past seven and a half years, Dan Cimoroni was more than a business manager for Mike Weir. In many ways he was the lefty's right-hand man, spending time inside the ropes during practice rounds, massaging his schedule and buffing the Weir brand.

Most notably, Cimoroni was there to help manage the crush after Weir won the 2003 Masters, then help make the Bright's Grove native a wealthy young man.

But Cimoroni moved on to other interests recently, leaving IMG Canada to find new ways to manage what is arguably its biggest solo sporting asset.

For the time being, that means Chris Armstrong -- who worked alongside Cimoroni at IMG -- and the Canadian office's lead man, Brad Pelletier, to run the show.

Combined with the recent change in swing coaches, it has been a busy off-season for Weir.

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DOT ... DOT ... DOT ... DOT ... DOT

There have been rumblings out of Buffalo that running back Willis McGahee is, shall we say, less than enamored with the city's nightlife. No surprise then, that McGahee has been known to spend an off-night or two in Toronto to liven things up ... Apparently the B.C. Lions weren't pleased with the mere hint that the Argos think Casey Printers is a good quarterback and would love to have him in Double Blue. Since the Lions still own Printers' CFL rights (for now), they have accused the Argos of tampering ... Saturday is Sovereign Award night, honouring the best in Canadian thoroughbred racing, and here's guessing Emma-Jayne Wilson has a fancy new dress for the occasion. The talented jockey is finalist for both top rider and top apprentice rider, a sweep that only Mickey Walls (1991) can claim.


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