One last blog MMQB – & then it’s back to the future

&&&&& this will be the last blog version of the Monday Morning Quarterback for the foreseeable future.

I will go on blogging here at jacktoddbooks.wordpress.com but I will return to my old space in the Gazette sports pages beginning next Monday – part of a new and old crew of columnists that includes three brilliant young writers (Saleema Mawaz, Émilie Nicolas and Martine St-Victor) along with my old friend and former neighbour, the wise and classy Paul Delean.

I hope that as you followed me here, you will follow me back to the Gazette. If there is one thing we have learned from the past four years, newspapers are perhaps the last refuge of the truth. If not for great newspapers such as the Guardian, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times, much of Donald Trump’s skulduggery and lies might have gone unnoticed.

As it is, nearly half the American electorate has fallen for a worldview that is a complete load of racist bushwah. The Gazette doesn’t have the power to influence affairs south of the border – but solid reporting and a new and more diverse crew of columnists can make a difference in Montreal and in the city of Quebec, where some of the same ugly currents that flow south of the border need to be met with the truth at every turn.

Meanwhile in Washington D.C. – The election wasn’t the only thing going on. Down 2-1 at halftime and with its shot at the playoffs dangling by a thread, the Impact battled back to defeat D.C. United 3-2 and book a spot in the playoffs with a match Nov. 20 against the New England Revolution in Foxborough.

It’s not quite the Habs and the Bruins, but it might revive some interest in Montreal. This season, the combination of some decidedly mediocre results and the pandemic that kept the team south of the border meant that the Impact had almost fallen off the radar before this victory.

The best part of the win was the header by Victor Wanyama that tied it at 2-2 in the 74th minute. Headers are usually point-blank affairs, but on this one Wanyama came sprinting in and sent a corner kick sizzling through a crowd of bodies with one of the prettiest headers I’ve ever seen. It was hard, fast and accurate and it set the stage for Romell Quioto’s winner in the 88th minute when he slipped between two defenders to deflect Mason Toye’s cross.

Quioto was fortunate to be on the pitch after he came up from behind to give a United player a shot in the back, apparently in retaliation for some unseen transgression. Quioto could have been red-carded on the spot, but he was allowed to play on and, to his credit, he came through.

It’s hard to see the Impact making much noise in the playoffs. They had won only two of their last 12 games going into this one and they finished the season at 8-13-2 and slipped into the playoffs by the same route the Canadiens took last summer, with an expanded field due to the pandemic making room for the Impact to slip in despite finishing ninth.

The buzz around the team, understandably, has been almost nonexistent. But we all know Montreal – if the Impact defeat the Revolution a week from Friday, they’ll be the talk of the town, as they were when Didier Drogba was scoring goals.

 Cheating? What cheating? Ah, baseball. When we start thinking that it would be a good thing if Expos-killer Bud Selig were back in office, you know things are pretty bad.

But not only did Commissioner Rob Manfred fail to discipline the Houston Astros players involved in the sign-stealing scandal in any significant way, he allowed the team to enter the 2020 postseason and he’s damned lucky the Astros didn’t advance to the postseason.

Now Manfred has more egg on his face with Alex Cora and A.J. Hinch, both of whom served one-year suspensions, now back managing in Major League Baseball. Cora was simply rehired by the Red Sox (which was no doubt the plan all along, as the Sox get slimier with every passing season) while Hinch was hired by the Detroit Tigers.

You can argue that managing the Tigers is simply an extension of Hinch’s punishment but Cora will have the Red Sox money behind him even if superstar Mookie Betts just won the World Series with the Dodgers.

Point is, neither Cora nor Hinch should ever have managed again, nor should a long list of Astros players have been allowed to stay in the game. Both Shoeless Joe Jackson and Pete Rose have received lifetime bans for far less.

Heroes: Victor Wanyama, Romell Quioto, Bojan, Primoz Roglic &&&& last but not least, some guy named Joe Biden – who will be throwing out the first pitch for the Washington Nationals next spring.

 Zeros: Bobby Orr, Todd Bertuzzi, Jack Nicklaus, Brett Favre, Eldrick Woods, A.J. Hinch, Alex Cora, Rob Manfred, Ron MacLean, Don Cherry, Claude Brochu, David Samson &&&& last but not least, Jeffrey Loria.

Now and forever.

TWITTER: @jacktodd46

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