Ball de­liv­ers a hal­lelu­jah mo­ment

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - Editorial - Bob Wake­ham Bob Wake­ham has spent more than 40 years as a jour­nal­ist in New­found­land and Labrador. He can be reached by email at bwake­ham@nl.rogers.com

Re­turn­ing to New­found­land Mon­day, June 18 af­ter a week in Trump Land, a coun­try where nearly half the pop­u­la­tion con­tin­ues to dis­play an alarm­ing and ro­botic al­le­giance to a mo­ron, I started to pe­ruse the lo­cal news of the last seven or eight days and, not sur­pris­ingly, ob­served a cou­ple of con­nec­tions be­tween events here and the na­tion to the south of us. For example (drum roll here): I had al­ways thought the most fa­mous guar­an­tee in my life­time, the one that has a per­ma­nent spot in my nog­gin, oc­curred in 1994 dur­ing the Stan­ley Cup Play­offs when Mark Messier, the cap­tain of the New York Rangers — the team I have fol­lowed re­li­giously since the age of 14 — promised all diehard Blueshirt fans that the Rangers would win Game 6 of the se­ries with New Jersey, a se­ries they trailed at the time, three games to two.

It was a prom­ise that prompted the kind of sen­sa­tional head­lines you’d only get in an over-the-top city like New York: “Mess Sez We’ll Win Tonight” screamed The Daily News; “Cap­tain Coura­geous’ Bold Pre­dic­tion,” was the New York Post’s melo­dra­matic de­scrip­tion of Messier’s un­am­bigu­ous fore­cast.

And, of course, New York fans, and all hockey fans for that mat­ter, will re­call that Messier scored a hat trick in that sixth game won by the Rangers, who then went on to take the se­ries against New Jersey in seven games, and ul­ti­mately win the Stan­ley Cup that spring for the first time in 50 years.

I was watch­ing that game at a friend’s house in St. John’s, and my fraz­zled nerves were re­flected in a con­stant “tak­ing of the Lord’s name,” as the believ­ers de­scribe the blas­phemy of us­ing “Je­sus Christ” as an ex­ple­tive, to a point where my buddy’s wife, a woman with a grand sense of hu­mour, felt the need to ex­plain to her three young sons: “Mr. Wake­ham likes to pray when watch­ing hockey, boys.”

So, for ob­vi­ous rea­sons, that was the most sig­nif­i­cant guar­an­tee I’d ever en­coun­tered, un­til, un­til, ladies and gen­tle­men, I re­turned to New­found­land from the States the other night and dis­cov­ered that Dwight Ball had ut­tered a dra­matic prophecy while I was afar that ranks right up there with the prom­ise made by Mark Messier nearly a quar­ter of a cen­tury ago.

And, like Messier, who’d drawn the New York me­dia to his cor­ner of the dress­ing room be­fore fore­cast­ing his team’s im­mi­nent win, Ball was ob­vi­ously aware of the his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance of his own legacy mo­ment, en­cour­ag­ing re­porters, as he did, to hang on his ev­ery word just be­fore mak­ing his own ex­tra­or­di­nary prog­nos­ti­ca­tion dur­ing a re­cent gath­er­ing of the Lib­eral faith­ful.

Just in case any jour­nal­ists hap­pened to be doz­ing off — and you couldn’t re­ally blame them for grab­bing a few Zs while a po­lit­i­cal leader not overly blessed with or­a­tor­i­cal skills spoke to a room jammed with paid-up party loy­al­ists — Ball or­dered them to “take your note­books out,” be­cause he was about to ob­vi­ously shock the room.

And boy, did he ever! He swore to his dis­ci­ples in the room and, of course, by ex­ten­sion, the en­tire prov­ince, that the Lib­er­als would win the 2019 pro­vin­cial elec­tion. Hal­lelu­jah, broth­ers and sis­ters! Cym­bals must have crashed in com­mu­ni­ties through­out the land.

We were all wor­ried there for a while, the same way Ranger fans were wor­ried back in 1994. But Mess told us to re­lax. And now Ball has told New­found­lan­ders we’ve noth­ing to fear. He may have even mut­tered un­der his breath a line from Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger in “The Ter­mi­na­tor” flick: “I’ll be back.”

What a re­lief to know we’ll have Dwight’s lead­er­ship skills and charisma for an­other few years (the equally dy­namic duo of Ches Cros­bie and Gerry Rogers must have shiv­ered them­selves to sleep upon hear­ing the clair­voy­ant premier’s pre­dic­tion).

And, what ter­rific tim­ing, be­cause he dis­played those God­given tal­ents just last week (in an­other one of those U.S.A./ New­found­land con­nec­tions I came across dur­ing my own ver­sion of NTV’s “Week in Review” of news events of the past week) by show­ing the world how to deal with The Di­a­bol­i­cal Don­ald: just in­vite him to a Broad­way play — “Come From Away”, to be ex­act. He even of­fered to pay for the bil­lion­aire’s tick­ets (at tax­pay­ers’ ex­pense, I would imag­ine).

I’m quite sure Sarah Huck­abee San­ders and com­pany danced a jig in the West Wing when the let­ter from Premier Dwight ar­rived in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. (Un­for­tu­nately, in re­al­ity, the for­mer re­al­ity show host prob­a­bly doesn’t know New­found­land from Dis­ney­land).

But at least our ad­ven­ture­some premier showed us all once again why it is we’re tick­led pink that he has guar­an­teed an­other term for the Lib­er­als on the break wind hill.

By the way, I and sev­eral fam­ily mem­bers were for­tu­nate enough to see “Come From Away” last Satur­day, and en­joyed the pro­duc­tion im­mensely; there was a min­i­mal amount of New­fie hill­billy crap, and an abun­dance of ma­te­rial that caused our hearts to swell with pride.

There: “Week in Review” com­pleted.

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