Last week’s column exposed the first half (seven through 12) of the Dazzling Dozen — the 12 most compelling people in sports (from a Canadian’s perspective) — and now it’s time to list the top six.
(The six hlghlighted last week: Roger Federer, Jay Onrait, Brooke Hendeson, Bianca Andreescu, Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., and Tom Brady.) The drums are rolling, the anticipation is high and the eagerness to find out who ranks in the top six is without compare. So, here we go:
6. Hayley Wickenheiser. What an achiever! The trail-blazing hockey star from Shaunavon, Sask., is not only regarded as the best female player in the game’s history, but her post-playing days are raising eyebrows, too. She completed medical school in 2021, but instead of saving lives in hospital ERs, she instead veered into hockey management, deciding to try to save the Toronto Maple Leafs. Wickenheiser was hired in 2018 as the Leafs’ assistant director of player development and was promoted in 2021 to senior director of player development.
5. Alphonso Davies. Probably more famous in Europe, Germany in particular, than in Canada, the 20-year-old Edmontonian is our country’s best soccer player. Born in Ghana, Davies at age 17 was the youngest player ever to suit up for Canada’s national team, and now stars for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga. A Wikipedia entry says Davies is “considered by some to be the best left-back of his generation.”
4. Christine Sinclair. From one soccer superstar to another. What Davies has become in men’s soccer, Sinclair has been doing in spectacular fashion for the past 20 years on behalf of Canadian teams. Now 38, the Burnaby, B.C. native has won the award for best Canadian soccer player an astonishing 14 times. She is the world’s — the world’s! — all-time leading goal scorer in international play (men or women) with 186. Sinclair is a national treasure.
3. Bryson DeChambeau. This is a list of ‘compelling’ people, and DeChambeau, love him or hate him, is certainly compelling. He has changed the game of professional golf, using science and human biometrics to drive the ball astounding distances, making the game a matter of pitch-and-putt for him on some layouts. His controversial methods and public spats with fellow golf superstar Brooks Koepka have kept DeChambeau in the headlines — on the course and off.
2. Connor McDavid. Like Oilers’ alum Wayne Gretzky, McDavid, aka the Best Player in the World, is can’t-miss viewing. He performs miraculous tricks with the puck at higher speed than anyone in the NHL, leaving defencemen breathless, goaltenders shaking their heads and fans amazed.
1. Shohei Ohtani. He hits. He pitches. He’s the top slugger in Major League Baseball. He was the starting pitcher for the American League in this year’s All-Star game. Apparently, there’s nothing the Japanese superstar cannot do. That’s why it’s ‘Sho-time’ when the Los Angeles Angels play and why he is the most compelling sports figure in the world today.
• Comedy writer Brad Dickson of Omaha: “A 12-year-old New Jersey boy has been named a chess grand master. When I was 12 I was trying to figure out how to get my new checkers board out of the box it came in.”
• Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg: “Italy beat England on penalty kicks. Deciding a soccer game with penalty kicks is like deciding a baseball game with a bowling match.”
• Golf Channel broadcaster Shane Bacon, on Twitter, after Open Championship video of Tyrrell Hatton snapping a short iron after a poor shot: “Hatton running out of holes to complete the Tantrum Slam. Flipped the bird, broke a wedge. All that’s left is kicking your bag and breaking a tee marker.”
• Janice Hough of leftcoastsportsbabe.com: “Aaron Judge was among six New York Yankees who tested positive for COVID (the day after the all-star game). Aaron Judge was an all-star. So the worst thing that came out of that MLB All-Star game might not turn out to be those hideous uniforms.”
• Comedy writer Brad Dickson of Omaha: “Summer Olympics start soon. Prediction: by the time they’re over NBC will stand for ‘Nothing But Covid.’”
• Kaseberg again: “NFL star, Richard Sherman, was charged with five counts — including DUI and criminal trespass. They threw out the lesser charge of impersonating a Cincinnati Bengal.”
• Another Richard Sherman crack from Kaseberg: “In Seattle, future Hall of Famer, Richard Sherman was taken down by a police dog and charged with burglary domestic violence and a hit-and-run. Sherman is a free-agent, but this latest ugly incident will make him all but utterly irresistible to the Las Vegas Raiders.”
• From Jack Finarelli’s column on sports curmudgeon.com: “(Bears QB) Mitchell Trubisky got married on July 3. Now we know he completed at least one pass in his life.”
• Headline at the onion.com: “Conor McGregor Undergoes 3 Hours Of Surgery To Repair Fractured Ego”
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By Bruce Penton