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2 Feb 22 Furious
Look, they're not all going to be winners
There’s no “right” time for a legend to call it a day. There are plenty of examples of a transcendent athlete extending their career beyond its twilight. Rightfully so, say those who believe a star athlete has earned the right to go out on their own terms.
A pragmatist might argue otherwise. Sports, life, and time all march on. Keeping a legend’s place in the lineup well after their prime may be blocking the progress of a young prospect, or costing the team a playoff spot.
Last week I wrote about the Canadian women’s national football team as they prepare for this summer’s World Cup. This past week they took part in a mini-tournament (under protest) as a tune-up. The team played three matches, tinkering with different lineups. A consistent presence in those lineups was Christine Sinclair, who has scored more goals than any human in the history of international football.
In any sport, when you have a brilliant scorer in your team, you can let them put the team on their back and change the game like the, uh, gamechanger they are. And, in a lot of ways, this has been Canada’s plan on offence — lump the ball up-field and let Sinclair figure it out, which she often did — despite not really a being a plan. Over the years, the team has gotten deeper and more talented. While that means more scoring options, it also means reduced dependency on Sinclair, and a different role for her. As she moves closer to the end of a spectacular career, the team has to figure out what a system without Sinclair looks like, but until then, the team is figuring out how she fits into a lineup that is making room for emerging talent and finding cohesion, while remaining a bona fide contender for trophies.
It’s never going to be a popular opinion to say that Sinclair should move on, even if it were that simple (it’s not). There’s no doubt that she’ll appear in her sixth World Cup, and it remains to be seen whether including her in the lineup will boost or disrupt it. Of course, we’ve probably thought the same about Albert Pujols. Or Tom Brady. Or the seemingly indestructible Jaromír Jágr. Sometimes the athlete fades into the sunset, but other times they keep breaking records and building on their legendary status (see: Alexander Ovechkin or LeBron James).
The pragmatist in me wants to know what a post-Sinclair Canada looks like, but the fan in me will root like hell for her to lift that trophy in August.
During the 2022 season, three wide receivers wore #2 for the first time in the NFL. One was KaVontae Turpin, who spent time in the USFL and the ELF before making the Pro Bowl as a return specialist in his first year with the Cowboys. The other two were traded before the 2022 season started, with one going from the NFC to the AFC, and one from the AFC to the NFC. Name them both.
Of the 17 players who have worn #22 during the 2022-23 NBA season, only three have made All-Star teams. None of them were All-Stars this year. Who are they?
Two Hall of Fame defencemen famous for wearing the same number for the majority of their careers also wore #22 for one year each — one at the beginning of his career with his first team, one at the end of his career for his last team. Both have won the Norris Trophy and the Conn Smythe Trophy. Who are they?
Three players in MLB history have worn #22 for 15 or more seasons. Two of them have only played for one team. Two of them have won Gold Gloves. One is in the Hall of Fame. One has won a batting title. One has died. Name all three.
Answers from last week’s issue
With a victory over the Eagles in Super Bowl LVII, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid became just the third head coach to win a Super Bowl against a club where they were previously employed as a head coach. The first time it happened, Weeb Ewbank coached the Jets to victory in Super Bowl III over his old club, the Colts. Who was the only other head coach to do this?
Jon Gruden won Super Bowl XXXVII with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, beating the Oakland Raiders the season after leaving them.
The player with the single-season goal-scoring record for the Flyers is also ranked second all-time in the NHL for goals scored by an indigenous player. What’s his name?
Reggie Leach scored 61 goals for the Flyers in 1975-76. His 381 goals are second only to Theoren Fleury.
A multiple All-Star pitcher has racked up 100+ saves for the Phillies and for another team. He’s the career saves leader for both teams. Who is he?
Jonathan Papelbon is the career saves leader for both the Phillies (123 saves) and the Red Sox (219). He is the career crotch-grabs leader for both teams as well, probably.
Two point guards were drafted out of St. Joseph’s in the first round of the 2004 NBA draft, four picks apart. They narrowly missed facing each other in the Eastern Conference finals several years later, as one of them was injured for that round. Who are the guards?
Jameer Nelson and Delonte West are the droids we’re looking for.
RIP Cardinals and broadcasting legend Tim McCarver.
Many thanks to Darren Flutie for being named his name and to you for being named your name, unless your name is Matt Walsh (the extreme right-wing skidmark, not the excellent comic and actor) because fuck you.
Until next week, be the Ezequiel Carrera you wish to see in the world.