Pondering sports developments in 2021

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Twenty-one questions to ponder as we enter 2021, the year after most of us experienced the worst year of our lives.

— Will fans entering sports stadiums this year have to produce a valid ticket as well as proof of vaccination?

— Will the Canadian Football League rebound from its stint in the ICU and return to its former glory?

— And if the CFL bounces back, will the happiest people north of the 49th parallel be football fans or the bean counters in the accounting offices at TSN?

— Will outdoor games in the National Hockey League go from an occasional showcase to a near necessity?

— Will the Milwaukee Bucks win a National Basketball Association title before or after the average American fan can both spell and pronounce the surname of Giannis Antetokounmpo?

— Is there any doubt Connor McDavid is the best player in the National Hockey League?

— Is it possible the Kansas City Chiefs might run off … say…. five or six Super Bowl titles in a row?

— If Winnipeg Jets added a stud or two to their blue line, would they be an instant Stanley Cup contender, considering they have the best goalie in the league, and better than average offence up front?

— Is it possible that a Canadian (Milos Raonic, Denis Shapovalov or Félix Auger-Aliassime) could shock the world by preventing one of the big three —  Rafael Nadal, Novak Djovak or Roger Federer — from winning a Grand Slam pro tennis event in 2021?

— Can the Western Hockey League somehow find a path through the coronavirus to play some sort of a season?

— Will the new Seattle Kraken NHL team really have ‘Krak House’ as its arena nickname?

—Is it appropriate to say ‘poor Mike Trout’ in reference to the Angels never winning a playoff series considering he has a contract guaranteeing him $426 million over 12 years?

— Does a TV network exist to carry games from the National Women’s Hockey League, or is streaming games via Twitch their only hope for broadcast exposure?

— Can Canada’s Brooke Henderson overcome the Asian dominance on the LPGA Tour to get to No. 1 on the Rolex world rankings list?

— Can NHL fans handle another late summer playoff run?

— Best American NHLer — Patrick Kane, Auston Matthews or Jack Eichel?

— Considering last year’s reduced schedule and this year’s tentative 56-game slate, how close will 35-year-old Alex Ovechkin — currently 166 in arrears — come to Wayne Gretzky’s all-time record of 894 goals?

— Will the Tokyo Olympics really happen in July?

— How many years will it take for the stink over Houston Astros’ cheating scandal to fade away?

— Will Steve Bartman be among those pardoned by President Trump?

— Will we hear health officials in 2021 declare ‘COVID-19 is over’?

Slapshots

• The late Peter Allis, who died in early December, on Tiger Woods shooting 81 in an Open Championship round in 2002: ”It’s like turning up to hear Pavarotti sing and finding out he has laryngitis.’’

• English pro golfer Eddie Pepperell, on Twitter, prior to a December tournament in Dubai: “I’m trialing a 48-inch driver this week so if you’re the owner of any property at Jumeirah, board it up.”

• RJ Currie of Sportsdeke.com, on a Mariners chrome wine stopper included among 2020’s holiday-gift offerings: “Which is odd, because people who watch the Mariners are usually driven to finish the bottle.”

•  Fox commentator Troy Aikman, after the Raiders’ A.J. Cole shanked a 19-yard punt out of bounds against the Chargers: “I gave up golf for that reason.”

• RJ Currie again: “Clemson coach Dabo Swinney called receiver Ajou Ajou from Brooks, Alberta, an uber talent. Make that uber uber talent talent.”

• fark.com., on Jaromir Jagr continuing to play pro hockey: “Ageless wonder returns for 33rd pro season. Let that sink in, Ripkin, you lazy slacker.”

• Comedy writer Brad Dickson of Omaha: “Nebraska deciding not to play in a bowl game is a little bit like the New York Jets announcing they’ve decided to pass on playing in the Super Bowl.”
•  At @NOTSportsCenter: “BREAKING: The Jets have fired Adam Gase for violating team rules by actually winning a game.”

• Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: Houston’s NBA opener  had to be postponed because James Harden paid a maskless visit to a strip club and got himself DQ’d for violating COVID protocols, dropping the Rockets’ roster below the minimum eight players. It’s believed to be the first time a game was called on account of make-it-rain.”
•  Gary Bachman, via Facebook, after Anthony Davis spent part of the Lakers’ final preseason game trimming his toenails on the bench: “Perhaps he should be traded to the Clippers.”
•  Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic, via Twitter, on critics who say the Cardinals’ DeAndre Hopkins sits out too many practices: “A WR who gets 1,300 yards and 10 TDs a year could show up to my practice with a lounge chair and a pitcher of pina coladas.”

Care to comment? Email brucepenton2003@yahoo.ca.

 

By Bruce Penton

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