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Sports with Patrick Townes, Springwater and area

Diverse group of kids playing soccer.

Canada is hopefully on its way to another gold medal at the World Juniors. The majority of the team members are first round picks who most certainly will enter the National Hockey League in the coming years. After some lopsided games, some are wondering if the tournament itself is valuable for the development of players from other countries. There is clearly a wide gap between the skill of the top teams and the bottom teams. Much like the same argument for curling, many athletes think that a round robin format that features “lock” games is pointless. No true fan wants to watch a 16-2 game. The tournament format should be changed, and it is a simple solution. There are 10 teams in the tournament. The top 5 ranked teams should be in the top division and the other 5 teams should be in the lower division. The top division competes for the gold medal and the silver medal, while the lower division plays for bronze and 4th place. Each of the divisions would play a 4 game round robin, and the top 4 in each division would make the playoffs (1 vs. 4 and 2 vs. 3 in the semi-finals). The winner of the top division gets the gold medal, and the loser gets silver. The winner of the lower division gets the bronze medal. And for the next year, the bronze medal winning team moves to the top division and the team that misses the playoffs in the top division moves down to the lower division. Each of the round robin games in this scenario would be more competitive.

Please…Please…Please remember that when you are organizing a tournament, do not make points-for or point differential one of the tie breakers. This encourages teams to run up the score for no other purpose than competing for a tie breaker that may not even happen. Points against is a better stat to use as a tie breaker.

There has also been a debate surfacing of who was the best overall performer for Canada at the World Juniors in tournament history. Many good names top the list, but when evaluating the players, the teams they played against need to be taken into consideration when looking at the point totals. Take this year for example — Dylan Cozens is the 2nd highest scorer with 13 points. Team Canada has had some easy games throughout the tournament. Tim Stutzle from Germany has 10 points and is 3rd in the scoring race. Players like this tend to get overlooked when considering total points. What Stutzle has accomplished outweighs Cozens performance greatly. Of note, Quinton Byfield has 7 points (7th in scoring) and he had 6 points in one blow-out game. On paper his performance looks great, but there are things to consider other than just the stats themselves.

The International Softball Congress (ISC) used to run a two-tier tournament. The Wyevale Tribe competed at the ISC II level while the top teams competed at the ISC I level. When the two tournaments combined into one, it arguably led to the demise of fastball, as smaller teams could not compete against the top level teams. The early tournament games were used to “pad” the stats of the top teams. The two-tier tournament was great for the sport, and allowed more teams to compete overall. All games were competitive and there were fewer automatic wins and losses.

Tournaments themselves do not always result in the best team winning. Playoffs are the true way to find a winner or the top team in a league. You may win a tournament without necessarily having to play the best team. We all know that many people rush to the tournament board or the bracket to see the match-ups, carefully planning which games they really want to win. For the record, you may as well try to win them all.

Some of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame ballots continue to be a joke. One writer submitted a blank ballot and noted that while the players on the ballot had enough skills and stats to make the Hall of Fame, they lacked the character and integrity to make the cut. This is unbelievable. Some of the writers should be evaluated and removed from this prestigious list. One may question how many games these writers actually watch. It would be interesting for these writers who may hide behind their computers to actually have a conversation with some of the players they are questioning and degrading. It is embarrassing.

The Barrie Baycats have a new interactive scoreboard. This information was provided on their website. It is my understanding that the new scoreboard can play videos and will expand on the stats that can be viewed by fans. Exciting news!

It is exciting that professional sports are talking about playing games outside of the standard confines. The National Hockey League is considering two games on Lake Tahoe, and the recently postponed Major League Baseball game at the Field of Dreams has been rescheduled. This is exciting for fans and should help create additional revenue for the leagues. We were lucky enough to visit the Field of Dreams and it was a very memorable experience.

Kudos to the Toronto Raptors’ organization for sitting Pascal Siakam for a game following his outburst and leaving the court early following an ejection. This sends a message to players that there is a certain (minimum) standard that players must follow. Perhaps Nick Nurse should have a conversation with Charlie Montoyo regarding disciplining players after a lack of effort or judgement. To be clear, this should not happen after mistakes, but it should happen when a player has a lapse in judgement, attitude or effort. There was too much leniency from the Jays’ bench boss and the way he managed led to an early playoff exit. Players were too excited with making the playoffs in a shortened season and one where the playoffs were expanded, when there should have been a larger goal in play.