Yesterday, I got an e-mail from Gregg Drinnan – the former sports editor of the Kamloops Daily News and the current owner/operator/jack-of-all-trades at the Taking Note blog you see on my list of “Columnists I Read”. He knows my affection for outrageous culinary offerings at sports venues – – and he also realizes that I might not be completely familiar with athletes who starred in the CFL and the WHL. Here is the salient text of his e-mail:
“Chris Walby is in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. He was a terrific offensive lineman with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. In the early 1970s, he played junior A hockey in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. The Kildonan North Stars would put him in front of the opposing net on the power play and no one could move him. He was huge …
“This week, the Blue Bombers will unveil the Walby Burger.
“The new Walby Burger will be launched Thursday at Red Zone Grill locations behind sections 107 and 130. The Walby Burger includes six burger patties, six chicken tenders, six hotdogs, six pieces of bacon, cheese, pickles, lettuce, fries, onions, tomatoes, and a secret special sauce. Limited quantities will be available.”
This concoction will cost $45 – – but that is in Canadian dollars so I guess that means it’s a bargain. It is also billed as a “five-pound burger” which means if someone eats all of it, he/she will not need to chow down again for about 48 hours.
Based on the construction of that sandwich, you might assume that Chris Walby wore number 6 for the Blue Bombers. Well, you would be wrong in that assumption. Based on the contents of that sandwich, you might assume that there will be limited quantities because there is insufficient room to store all those components at the Red Zone Grill if 500 gluttons showed up and ordered one. I think you would be correct on that assumption. [Aside: I started to calculate an estimated caloric content for the “Walby Burger” but my calculator overheated and went dark in the midst of the calculation…]
The NY Post had a report earlier this week saying that Stan Van Gundy would be leaving ESPN and signing on with Turner Broadcasting. As of this morning, I have not found any other reports confirming that upcoming move, but the NY Post tends to be highly accurate when it reports on media-related news. So, I will take that report as an accurate one.
Stan Van Gundy has been a presence on ESPN’s studio programming related to the NBA since signing on there about a year ago. Turner Broadcasting does not do nearly as much studio programming related to the NBA as does ESPN; so, it is likely that Stan Van Gundy will do some – if not all – of his analyzing during live telecasts. If he is as interesting in game situations as he is in studio commentary, that could mean a shake-up at Turner Broadcasting with regard to the pecking order of their analysts. It also leaves a hole at ESPN that will need filling.
Stan Van Gundy is very good behind a microphone. Keep an eye – or an ear – out for what his assignments are at Turner Broadcasting and for who might replace him at ESPN…
Speaking obliquely of the NBA, the league has become a financial driving force for the formation of something called the Basketball Africa League (BAL) which will begin operation in March 2020. There will be 12 teams; each will play a 5-game schedule against each of the 5 teams in its conference. Games will be staged in 6 cities around Africa:
- Cairo Egypt
- Dakar Senegal
- Lagos Nigeria
- Luanda Angola
- Rabat Morocco
- Tunis Tunisia
Based on records from that regular season, there will be a winnowing to a “Super Six” – the three best teams from each of the conferences made up of 6 teams. The “Super Six” will play a round-robin format to cull the field to the BAL’s “Final Four”. That tournament will take place in Kigali Rwanda.
Your first reaction to this sort of news might well be along the lines of:
- So, what…? or Who cares?
I think that may be a tad short-sighted. The NBA – – like the NFL and MLB – – would love to attract more interest and fandom overseas. There are pro leagues in China, India, Australia and various European countries, but none of them have the NBA front-and-center in their operations. The BAL could be a first for the NBA and that could be interesting and valuable even though the African audience for the BAL – and presumably for the NBA after that – is not an audience with huge amounts of disposable income to lavish on a new sports focus. The NBA also demonstrated a pragmatic streak here when it chose to partner with FIBA in the creation of the BAL. FIBA has expertise in dealing with the highly politicized world of “sports governing bodies” in various parts of the world; FIBA can offer the NBA a lot of “grease” in that aspect of setting up the new league.
Last season, about 20% of the NBA players on team rosters were from countries outside the US. In the NBA Finals, Pascal Siakam – a native of Douala Cameroon – played an important role in the Championship run of the Toronto Raptors. The NBA may be looking to increase it player pool as well as its fanbase.
Finally, consider this comment from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:
“Golfer Robert Garrigus has completed his three-month suspension for using marijuana.
“Which certainly puts a whole new spin on ‘getting up and down.’”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………