On Claude Julien, an astonishing play and the great Lewis Hamilton

Y’know, boys and girls, we here at MMQB Central have been watching sports longer than most of you have been around. Since Rocky Marciano was heavyweight champ and Hank Aaron was a rookie. So long that when Cassius  Clay won his gold medal at the Rome Olympics, I felt inspired to go climb the fence at the high-school track and work out, alone in the dark.

In that time, I’ve seen more highlights than a bean-counter can count but I’ve seen very few plays as astonishing as Seattle receiver D.K. Metcalf running down Arizona’s Budda Baker in a 90-yard chase after an interception – or as cringeworthy as the Dodgers comedy of errors that led to the Tampa Rays winning Game 4 of this strange World Series in the most bizarre year any of us have seen. (And remember, your Monday Morning Quarterback didn’t just live through 1968, he covered it. Although for some strange reason, I don’t remember much about the 1960s.)

You’ve probably seen the Dodgers play by now – but if you haven’t seen Metcalf run, check it out. It’s like Usain Bolt at the Beijing Olympics. Astonishing.

Canadiens fans, you never disappoint: We’re at least three months away from the next NHL season (if there is a next NHL season.) COVID-19 is running rampant in the U.S., home of 24 of the current 31 teams. No one knows when or if the Canadiens will be on the ice again.

So our old friend Claude Julien, looking hale and hearty, has his off-season media availability (what’s wrong with press conference???) and he casually mentions having Jake Evans at centre on the fourth line between Paul Byron and Artturi Lehkonen on the fourth line – and the Habs mob starts frothing at the mouth.

Why? Because Julien didn’t mention former first-round pick and ardent Trump supporter Ryan Poehling on the fourth line. What does it mean? Where is Poehling going to play? How could he forget the best game Poehling will ever play, when it came against the Leafs in his NHL debut?

Good lord, people. Take two Valium and call me in the morning. I personally don’t give a flying farthing if Poehling suits up for the Habs again in this lifetime – in fact I’d sooner he went and played somewhere more suited to his outlook on life, like Mississippi. But to read anything into a comment about fourth liners delivered when a season is months away – oy.

Doff your hat to Lewis: We should know better by now but we were surprised at the mini-tornado of nastiness that sprung up last week after we saluted Lewis Hamilton for tying Michael Schumacher’s record victory total in Formula One.

As someone who covered both drivers and was on hand for Hamilton’s first career victory on Ile Notre Dame in 2007, I simply wanted to salute a great achievement – but that didn’t suit some people, who simply had to jump on Twitter to put Hamilton down.

Why? I’m afraid I know the answer to that question and it makes me a little sick. It’s the same reason Donald Trump is president and no Black man on this continent can endure a traffic stop without fearing he’ll be shot.

Hamilton didn’t win 92 F1 races by a fluke, or because he consistently had a great car. No one wins on the circuit without a great machine. But take a look back at when Mercedes began dominating: it was when Hamilton replaced Schumacher. Granted, Schumacher was on the downslope of his career but still, it was Hamilton and not the German legend who turned Mercedes around.

Since then, he has consistently outdriven his teammates in the same car while winning an otherworldly 35.1 percent of his races. More than a third of the time when Hamilton steps into his car on a racing Sunday, he takes the checkered flag. Schumacher himself could manage only 29.6 percent.

If he stays safe, Hamilton will win well over 100 races in his career. I said last week he’s one of the four great drivers in the history of the sport with Schumacher, Ayrton Senna and Juan Manuel Fangio. I’m not putting any of them down – but when you put Hamilton down, you need to look in the mirror.

&&&& this just in from the Fennis Dembo Hall of Name: We would like to welcome two new entries, both from Big 10 Football – Ohio State running back Master Teague and Indiana Hoosiers wide receiver Whop Philyor.

Lies, rumours &&&& vicious innuendo: Someone asked a couple of weeks ago why Donald J. Trump is not a zero for the MMQB. It’s because if I make Trump a zero, then I would have to throw everyone else out of the zeros category. Trump isn’t merely a zero – he’s a suppurating pustule on the buttocks of humanity, a grotesque caricature of a man, a greedy, fraudulent, lying, grifting monster who is responsible for the putting children in cages and for the deaths of at least 150,000 Americans from COVID-19. The zeros are reserved for the likes of Don Cherry, Claude Brochu, David Samson and Jeffrey Loria. At least the damage they cause is limited. …

Have to be worried for Alphonso Davies, the young Bayern Munich star who is arguably the best soccer player Canada has ever produced. Davies was struggling a bit even before he went down with what looked like an extremely painful torn ankle ligament on the weekend. He’s out six to eight weeks. …

Headline of the year candidate, from the Los Angeles Times after that debacle in Game 4 of the World Series: “The Rocky Pitcher Horrorshow” …

I feel like I’m pretty much alone in this, but I miss the Canadian Football League. Yeah, the NFL – but there’s nothing like the CFL in October. I fervently hope the league is back next fall because the CFL is one of those fragile threads that bind us together. …

I can tell already, at least once in the next hockey season I’m going to write Jake ALLEN when I mean Jake EVANS. Or vice versa. So be kind when I do…

And watch out, folks. Quilico is coming soon to a Kindle near you.

Heroes: Lewis Hamilton, D.K. Metcalf, Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager, Randy Arozarena, Kyler Murray, Claude Julien, Alphonso Davies, Evan Bush, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, &&&& last but not least, Michael Schumacher.

Zeros: The NFC East, Eugene Melnyk, Rob Manfred, Rays baseball, Daniel Snyder, Jerry Jones, Nick Saban, Ron MacLean, Don Cherry wherever he is, Claude Brochu &&&&& last but not least, David Samson and Jeffrey Loria.

  Now and forever.

TWITTER: @jacktodd46