Virtual Sports Illustrated News Update, Vol. 1

Here’s a look at what’s happening around the world of virtual sports this week:

TORONTO COACH FINED FOR OFFICIATING REMARKS

Toronto Head Coach Pat Schwinn has been fined $5,000 for comments made following last night’s 4-2 loss to Chicago. During the post-game media scrum, Schwinn ripped into the referees as he lamented the numerous “blown calls” he witnessed throughout the game.

“I don’t know if they’re blind as bats or what, but when our guy is coming out of the zone and gets punched in the face by the Chicago player, who then goes and takes the puck up for a breakaway, that’s gotta be called, no questions asked,” Schwinn said. “I understand these are rookie referees, but these sort of non-calls have been happening far too frequently against us. Like that time the other team instigated a fight, but our guy was the only one sent to the box. It’s a joke, I tell ya. A big, fat joke.”

When asked about the fine during this morning’s practice, Schwinn had no comment.

Is it time to crackdown on fighting and roughing?

Is it time to crackdown on fighting and roughing?

HOCKEY CANADA, IIHF REACH AGREEMENT ON UNIFORMS

For months, Hockey Canada and the IIHF have been trying to find a compromise to “Jerseygate” and the use of Hockey Canada logos on team equipment, including the sweater itself. At a joint press conference today, the two sides announced that a compromise had been reached and Team Canada will take to the ice for the upcoming World Championships in a brand new uniform — in a colour that might take some Canadian hockey fans by surprise.

Team Canada's shocking new colours.

Team Canada's shocking new colours.

Gone are the days of the red, white, and black. Instead, the new sweaters will be predominantly green with slight black trim, and in a shocking twist, completely void of any Hockey Canada logos. When asked about the bold new colours, Hockey Canada issued the following statement:

“The Russians had dibs on red for whatever reason, and white would have blended in with the ice. So, we put a bunch of colours into a hat and pulled out green. Could have been worse, though. Fuchsia was one of the options.”

TEAM CANADA SELECTS ROSTER FOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

Team Canada is an early favourite.

Stacked with Fat Guys, Team Canada is considered an early favourite.

After weeks of speculation, Team Canada management has announced its final roster for the upcoming World Championships. Featuring three Fat Guys and one Skinny Guy, this year’s edition of Team Canada will be strong up front, not afraid to take the body, and boasts a bevy of blistering shots from the blue line.

“We feel we have a real strong team this year,” says General Manager Jacques Poutine. “With the players we selected, we’re confident that we match up extremely well against the likes of URS and TCH.”

One puzzling omission from this year’s squad is Medium Guy, who has enjoyed a breakout season.

“Although Medium Guy had a solid year, he just hasn’t shown the skating or face-off skills that Skinny Guy can bring to the table,” Poutine said. “In a tournament this short you need specialists, not generalists, and we believe we have that in spades.”

With such a high level of talent, many are considering this year’s edition Team Canada to be the early favourites to bring home the gold.

SURVEY: UTAH JAZZ DECLARED “UNSTOPPABLE”

They're heating up!

They're heating up!

A recent poll of NBA coaches and general managers has come to one conclusion: the combination of Karl Malone and John Stockton is practically unstoppable.

With Malone’s “monster jams” and Stockton’s uncanny ability to nail three-pointers “from downtown”, the Utah Jazz are a force to be reckoned with and have definitely raised eyebrows around the league.

“Those two guys work so well together,” said one GM. “When they really get clicking and using their strengths to their advantage, they’re unstoppable. They’re on fire.”

The poll, which asked coaches and GMs to name the most-feared one-two punch in the league, saw Malone and Stockton take top honours, followed by Olajuwon and Horry of the Houston Rockets.

BLUE JAYS SLUGGER PLACED ON 15-DAY DL

The Toronto Blue Jays will have to find a way to win without the big bat of W. Jack, who has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with contusions to the knee and thigh. The incident, which occurred during the second inning of yesterday’s game against the Boston Red Sox, saw Jack violently shatter his bat over his knee after being struck out on three consecutive pitches by Boston ace S. Heat. Jack limped back to the dugout and proceeded directly to the dressing room, where he was evaluated by team medical staff.

This has been a troubling season for Jack. In addition to slumping in the batter box, he continues to fight allegations that his name is actually a pseudonym and that his true identity is “Joe Carter”.

Team doctors are still removing the splinters.

Team doctors are still removing the splinters.

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How to Improve Baseball (and Make It More Like Hockey)

It’s early April, and you know what that means — playoff hockey is just around the corner! Of course, the beginning of spring also signals something far more sinister in the sporting world — another baseball season has arrived. That’s right, 162 games of yawn-inducing tedium. Can you feel the excitement?

What kind of a name is "Rance", anyway?

What kind of a name is "Rance", anyway?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate baseball. In fact, I used to love baseball and was a huge fan of the late ’80s / early ’90s Toronto Blue Jays teams. Jesse Barfield, George Bell, Lloyd Moseby, Kelly Gruber, Tom Henke, Dave Steib, Cecil Fielder, Tony Fernandez, Rance Mulliniks … they were all awesome (but not as awesome as the Joe Carter / Roberto Alomar teams that actually went all the way, of course). And while I still can appreciate the sport and all of its subtle little intricacies, I rarely ever watch it anymore — and if I do, it’s usually the last couple innings of a playoff game.

And why is that? Because baseball is downright boring to watch — and if it’s the regular season, it’s absolutely dreadful.

So, in order to spice things up and infuse a little bit of April hockey excitement into boring April baseball, I am proposing the following changes to the game:

Full Contact Baseball

Of course, step one would to be unpussify baseball by making it a full contact sport. Yeah, I know, there’s already a little bit of contact involved in the play (especially at home plate), but these cases shouldn’t be isolated incidents — they should be actively encouraged. I see absolutely no problem with allowing first basemen to deliver a crushing shoulder check to the baserunner as he comes charging in, and I particularly relish the thought of seeing the shortstop sending a runner head-over-heels with a devastating hip check as he dashes between second and third.

Like this, but anywhere on the field!

Like this, but anywhere on the field!

Not only would this suggestion make the baseball highlights on TSN slightly more bearable to watch, but as as added bonus, baseball becomes a much tougher sport to compete in. As the injuries pile up and the fatigue sets in, Bud Selig will have no choice but to drastically reduce the schedule as he sees that the players are no longer capable of participating in 162 meaningless games. It’s a win-win situation for everybody, really.

Replace Walls with Boards and Glass

This suggestions calls for short boards and glass be installed along the entire perimeter of the baseball field, just like a hockey rink. First, it would provide a bit more protection from errant foul balls and broken bats for the fans in the first few rows. Second (and most importantly), it would add a touch of excitement to the routine fly ball. Can you imagine the centre fielder running back to the warning track to make a catch, and then at the last moment jumping into the glass for the grab, re-enacting an Alex Ovechkin goal celebration as he’s surrounded by screaming fans pounding on the glass? Now that would be interesting.

Back ... back ... back ... Ovechkin grabs it at the wall! What a catch!

Back ... back ... back ... Ovechkin grabs it at the wall! What a catch!

Feeling Shame in the Penalty Box

In baseball, when a player commits an error, nothing really happens. Sure, maybe a run gets scored, but chances are the scorekeeper was just tired of seeing zeros in the last column of the game’s boxscore and decided to take matters into his own hands. Why not make an error actually mean something by sending the offending player to a newly-created penalty box, forcing his team to play a man short for the rest of the inning? It would up the offensive output considerably, as there would be many more gaps in which to bloop singles — and if the “new” NHL has taught us anything, it’s that more offence puts butts in the seats, right?

Those are just a few ideas that could add some life into mundane springtime baseball. Would they actually generate excitement for the sport once implemented? Well, there’s only way to find out — which means the ball’s in your court now, MLB. Or is that dugout? Batter’s box? Whatever, you have the ball, just do something with it, jerks.