Michael Rand started RandBall with hopes that he could convince the world to love jumpsuits as much as he does. So far, he's only succeeded in using the word "redacted" a lot. He welcomes suggestions, news tips, links of pure genius, and pictures of pets in Halloween costumes here, though he already knows he will regret that last part.

Follow Randball on Twitter

Hockey blues, marathon burgers and soccer madness: A weekend in Toronto

Posted by: Michael Rand under Professional baseball, NHL news Updated: October 15, 2012 - 1:21 PM

 

In a strange twist, we left the self-proclaimed State of Hockey (debatable, Marth might say) and headed to the Country of Hockey on the first weekend during which NHL games were canceled in this most recent labor spat.

 

It did not take long for the inherent sadness and anger to materialize in this part of the world; in fact, it happened before we even officially left the United States. After flying into Buffalo (roughly two hours from Toronto, our final destination, and about half the price since it’s not an “international” flight), we overheard pieces of an airport conversation that went thusly:
 
“I don’t even care about the lockout any more. I will just follow my son’s team for a year.”
 
That was a man, 45ish, wearing a Sabres cap. The comments were directed at a man of similar age, who replied, “Give me 100 dollars to play. I would be happy.”
 
In Toronto, the locals are trying to conjure up even more enthusiasm than usual for the Marlies, the top-level minor league affiliate of the Leafs. Indeed, this squad draws quite well (and proves that in a market mad enough for a sport, major and minor league teams can do quite well). But you could feel it in the grey skies. With every day that passes and takes Toronto closer to winter, the absence of the NHL will cut more and more. It’s a shame in all hockey markets, but especially so there.
 
****
 
Toronto is undeniably one of the friendliest major cities we have ever visited. This was our third trip there, and you wouldn’t think it would be possible to cram so many people into such a limited space and keep the general populace in good spirits, but Toronto manages to pull it off.
 
One secret to the happiness, we would imagine: smart building. There is certainly some suburban sprawl in Toronto area, but the city itself builds up not out – which we have always thought is the smartest thing possible. Classic row-houses are three- or four-stories high but look no wider than a standard SUV. They are either attached (sharing a wall with homes next to them) or detached (meaning there is a gap barely wide enough to see through, though apparently wide enough to house a family of raccoons in the case of our friend John Sharkman.
 
To go with these single-family dwellings are massive glass apartment and condo structures. Brilliant. We’re not sure exactly how real estate works, but we always imagined building to the sky was far more cost-effective then elbowing outwards. It’s how you feel compact without being cramped.
 
****
 
The main event connected to the trip to Toronto was running a marathon there on Sunday. When Sharkman moved to Toronto, we made the commitment to run 26.2 miles with him there. Here is what we now know: Canadian marathons are strangely more difficult because all of the markers are measured in kilometers. That’s 42-plus in all, and it plays wicked mind games over the course of several hours. Once you get to a certain point during a marathon, you have no idea what the difference is between a mile and a kilometer. You just know that somehow you have passed marker 28, which you’ve never seen before, and you still have 14 left.
 
But we made it. This time, we ran the whole thing with Sharkman; you’ll recall, maybe, that in a similar setting in June for Grandma’s Marathon, we ditched him midway through in order to run a sub-4 hour race. This one was all about fun and amusement, or as much as someone can have while doing unspeakable things to one’s legs. The height of this was live-tweeting much of the experience, culminating with a kilometer 37 stop at a McDonald’s that was basically 100 meters off the course. We went in, bought a couple of cheeseburgers to the stunned amusement of the cashier, ate them as we walked and pounded out the final 5K. Our overall time was somewhere in the 4:55 range, but when you adjust for Canadian time that’s actually quite good. Maybe even vice presidential good.
 
****

One final thing you should know about Canadians, or at least something we feel we learned: they are sticklers for rules. One of those rules is that you cannot just walk into a World Cup qualifier soccer match without a ticket, which we suppose is kind of an international rule. But still.

We had it in our head that we could just show up at halftime of the not-sold-out Cuba vs. Canada match Friday and slip in a side gate or some such thing. When no side gate presented itself, we thought (again, for some reason), that waltzing in ticket-less when all the smokers returned from the break would be a keen idea. This, again, proved to be extremely false. (Quoth the usher: “Sir … Sir … Sir!”)
 
The more strategic plan emerged from Sharkman of all people. He targeted folks leaving the arena at the break and offered to buy their tickets. What happened instead was a father and son simply gave us their tickets, which were still good and re-scannable. And these tickets turned out to be in the front row of the entire stadium, quite near midfield.
And this is how we came to watch the final 40 minutes or so of Canada’s 3-0 romp over Cuba, which had exactly 11 players after several defections earlier in the day.
 
What a country.

ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 33 FINAL
Dallas 10
Seattle 13 3rd Qtr 15:00
San Francisco 0
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 0 3rd Prd 9:27
Nashville 0
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
FIU 53 FINAL
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 71 FINAL
Xavier 82
Illinois 88 FINAL
Indiana State 62
Cal State Fullerton 67 FINAL
Wright State 62
Western Ky 62 FINAL
Saint Josephs 59
Michigan State 77 FINAL
Rider 45
UCLA 56 FINAL
North Carolina 78
Long Beach State 50 2nd Half 5:43
Western Mich 51
Marquette 45 2nd Half 11:48
Georgia Tech 42
Stephen F Austin 33 2nd Half
Prairie View 28
UAB 20 1st Half 1:28
Florida 23
Rice 26 1st Half 3:05
Mercer 28
San Jose St 10:00 PM
Washington
Washington St 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Baylor 10:59 PM
Memphis
LSU 20 4th Qtr 15:00
Texas A&M 7
(6) TCU 20 3rd Qtr 0:24
Texas 3
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
LSU 0
BYU 73 FINAL
BYU-Hawaii 52
Charlotte 58 FINAL
Montana 67
Illinois 77 FINAL
(9) Kentucky 71
Central Michigan 61 FINAL
Richmond 56
Oklahoma 57 2nd Half 4:25
South Florida 71
Princeton 62 2nd Half 4:08
Wake Forest 48
(19) Oregon State 85 FINAL
Butler 53

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Will the Gophers bring home The Axe?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT