Cape Breton Post
Baseball’s sticky situation
Former Capers begin pro soccer season, scouting imposter in Drummondville, Lazarev finds new home and more
Welcome to the final edition of Sports Chat for June — where has the month gone?
With the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Entry Draft taken up much of the sports coverage this past week, let’s get right into the other headlines.
Typically, I would start this column with a Cape Breton-related headline, but I couldn’t pass on this point.
Have you watched any Major League Baseball games over the past week?
Well, if you have, you may have noticed umpires checking several pitchers for foreign substances — otherwise known as “sticky stuff” — to help with their performance.
I’m all for things being fair, but what I witnessed on Tuesday night between the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies was horrendous.
Phillies manager Joe Girardi — who I think is one of the best in the game — asked the umpires to check Nationals starter Max Scherzer not once, not twice, but three times in four innings for foreign substances — and every time, nothing was found.
For the record, I’m a diehard Nationals fan, but as a baseball fan in general the ordeal left a sour taste in my mouth, a taste I can’t get over.
In fact, I was so disgusted I turned the game off. Luckily, Game 5 of the Montreal Canadiens and Vegas Golden Knights series was coming on, so I had something to watch.
Meanwhile, in a post-game press conference, Girardi said he’s never seen Scherzer wipe his head as much as he did during the game — his explanation for the repeated checks. News flash, Joe, it’s the summer and athletes sweat.
By the third check, it almost seemed Girardi was only trying to get in Scherzer’s head. Of course, Scherzer was mad, but if that was the strategy it didn’t work, Joe. Washington won 3-2.
I use the Nationals/phillies game as just an example. It’s happening all over the league on what seems to be a regular basis and we’re just over a week into the new rule.
Maybe MLB should implement a rule where teams can have umpires check pitchers once a game. Maybe a rule where if a team checks a pitcher for substances and it turns out to be nothing, they start the next inning with an out?
It might limit teams’ willingness to check, but something has to be done. Right now, it’s just outrageous and simply foolish.
Baseball games are long enough as it is some nights, this new rule will only make the games go longer. Frankly, I don’t think it’s good for the sport.
Is this a new low for baseball? Sadly, it is. Let’s call it Sticky Gate 2021 for fun. #Stickygate21.
Moving on to more local headlines, Cape Breton Island will be represented at the Nova Scotia Golf Association’s women’s amateur and senior championship next week in Church Point, Digby County.
Alexina Lepage, who’s affiliated with the Nova Scotia Public Players Club, will take part in the tournament, which is slated for July 2 to 4 at Clare Golf and Country Club.
She’s the only player with Cape Breton connections in the field. If you’re reading this Alexina, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Post’s sports department to tell us about on your participation in the event.
Best of luck, Alexina.
JACKSON JOINS CAPERS
From golf to basketball, the Cape Breton Capers women’s program will welcome a new member to its coaching staff for the 2021-22 Atlantic University Sport season.
Jonnel (Nel) Jackson, a former college player who represented her native Barbados on its junior and senior national teams, recently joined the program as a graduate assistant under the mentorship of veteran head coach Fabian Mckenzie.
Jackson will be making the move from Edmonton to Cape Breton. She recently served as the head coach of the M.E. Lazerte junior girls’ basketball team, while assisting with the Alberta Basketball Association’s targeted athlete strategy program for girls.
Luckily for Jackson, she’ll learn a lot under the guidance of Mckenzie, who’s one of the best coaches in the country at the university level.
Welcome to Cape Breton, Jonnel.
Staying with the Capers, three players with Cape Breton University connections will kick off the 2021 Canadian Premier League soccer season this weekend in Winnipeg.
Former Capers players Cory Bent and Peter Schaale will return to the pitch with the HFX Wanderers FC of Halifax, while current Caper Isaiah Johnston will dress for the York United FC based out of Toronto.
The Wanderers open the season today against Pacific FC at 6 p.m. Atlantic time. Meanwhile, Johnston and United FC will play Cavalry FC on Sunday at 6 p.m. Atlantic time.
To limit the travel this season, the teams will stay in Winnipeg for four weeks. Each team will play eight matches and face opponents on opposing sides of the country. All games will be broadcast live on Onesoccer.
Best of luck to Cory, Peter and Isaiah.
DURDLE DATES CHANGED
Turning to the courts, Cape Breton tennis fans and players should take note of the date change for the annual Peter Durdle Memorial Open.
The tournament, in memory of the late Peter Durdle, was scheduled for July 8 to 11 at the new New Waterford Tennis Club facility. However, it has been moved to July 29 to Aug. 1.
MVP HONOURS FOR FRANCIS
Switching to the QMJHL, a former Cape Breton Eagles forward was recently named the most valuable player for the Saint John Sea Dogs.
Ryan Francis received the Sea Dogs’ honour after finishing the 2020-21 regular season with 10 goals and 27 points in 17 games, following his trade to Saint John from Cape Breton in January.
The Beaver Bank, N.S., product had his best game in a Sea Dogs’ uniform March 9 when he recorded four goals in the club’s first game in over four months.
Congrats on the honour, Ryan.
Sticking with the QMJHL, the Drummondville Voltigeurs kicked off draft week on a rather odd and concerning note.
On Sunday, the Quebecbased team received word that someone — under what may be a fake name — was posing as a scout for the team on social media. The person was asking people for contact information, etc., the team said.
To make matters even more strange, the person used a picture of a man wearing a suit and tie and that turned out to be a photo of La Presse columnist Hugo Dumas in Montreal.
Of course, Dumas wasn’t the person pretending to be a scout, but it goes to show you how far people will go on the internet — pretty scary to think about it.
The Voltigeurs never issued an update on the situation, but hopefully things have been resolved.
LAZAREV FINDS NEW HOME
In Russia, former Cape Breton Eagle Maxim Lazarev will play for a new team in the Supreme Hockey League next season.
The 25-year-old recently signed with AKM Novomoskovsk for the 2021-22 season after spending last season with CSK VVS Samara.
In 38 games in a Covid-shortened season, the forward recorded six goals and 19 points along with 27 penalty minutes and a -1 rating.
Lazarev played three seasons with the Eagles, recording 79 goals and 186 points in 160 games from 2013-16.
He was the team’s third overall pick at the 2013 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft. Cape Breton with pick fourth overall at this year’s Import Draft, slated for Wednesday afternoon.
Meanwhile on the track, harness racing resumed last weekend at both Northside Downs in North Sydney and Inverness Raceway after the pandemic forced the delay to the start of the season.
Accelerator outduelled Johnnie Jack in the stretch drive to take the afternoon feature in 1:59.1 as part of a nine-race card on opening day at Northside Downs on Saturday.
Live harness racing will continue this weekend, beginning with Northside Downs today at 1 p.m. Horses will take to Inverness Raceway on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Due to provincial restrictions, no fans will be allowed on the grounds. However, organizers at both Cape Breton venues are hopeful restrictions will ease next week to allow fans back sometime after June 29.
ANOTHER OILER FOUND
Earlier this month, we reported in this column that Daryl Reaugh — one of the former Cape Breton Oilers we couldn’t track down for our Oilers series last month — was working as a broadcaster for the Dallas Stars.
I had mentioned we were still searching for former players and their locations — we’ve found another player.
Alan May, who played 50 games with the Oilers during the 1988-89 season, is currently serving as an analyst for NBC Sports’ Washington Capitals broadcasts.
The tip was provided to the Cape Breton Post by reader Brian Mcphee.
Thanks for the heads up, Brian.
QMJHL DRAFT COVERAGE
Just a reminder, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Entry Draft, rounds 2 to 14 and the American Draft will take place today beginning at 10 a.m.
The Cape Breton Post will be covering the event and I’ll have live coverage on Twitter (@Cbpost_jeremy) and at saltwire.com. Coverage will continue in Monday’s print edition of the Post.
We’ll have coverage of the Cape Breton Eagles as well as all Cape Breton-related player connections.
Sydney Mitsubishi Rush teammates Alexander Christmas and Preston Pattengale are the top-ranked Cape Breton players, listed between the sixth and eighth rounds.
Meanwhile, the Eagles were scheduled to pick at No. 8 overall Friday night. Results of the first round were not available at press time, however, coverage can be found at saltwire.com.
Best of luck to all players in this year’s draft, especially those from Cape Breton.
Finally, this week, a notice to readers that Sports Chat will not be published on July 3.
Although you may see my byline on stories next week, I’ll be on vacation until July 5.
If you have a note of interest, please feel free to send it to my email. I’ll receive it and respond upon my return on July 6.
Have a note of interest you would like to see appear in this weekly column? Send it to Jeremy at firstname.lastname@example.org along with a name and phone number for contact purposes.