Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Baseball Triumph Continues Canada's Domination of Phoenix Sports Landscape

Today’s 8-6 victory by Canada over the United States in the World Baseball Classic left many observers stunned.  With powerhouses such as the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Cuba in other brackets, this round was supposed to be a formality for the Americans.  However, placing the game in the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks made the upset inevitable.  Canada simply continued its quest to take over the Phoenix sports world.



The movement began in 1996 as the Winnipeg Jets relocated to the Valley of the Sun and became the Phoenix Coyotes.  Immediately, the Arizona capital contained far more Canadian athletes than it had ever seen.  However, ownership disguised its intentions, knowing that a successful Canadian takeover of Phoenix sports would have to be gradual.  The city’s residents did not suspect a thing at the time, with the team’s leading scorer (Keith Tkachuk) hailing from Massachusetts and the star goalie (Nikolai Khabibulin) coming from Russia.  Just to be safe, ownership added another American star, center Jeremy Roenick, in a trade with the Chicago Black Hawks.



The real sign of a Canadian conspiracy came in 2001, as the Coyotes were sold to a new ownership group.  The new managing partner happened to be the most famous athlete in Canada’s history – all-time great Wayne Gretzky.  It was a natural progression, as the previous managing partner was a man known as “The Pretty Good One.”  In 2005, The Great One added “head coach” to his job description.  He had not planned to coach, but he changed his mind after his wife bet him that he couldn’t do it.



Seizing control in hockey is not unexpected for Canadians, but the same cannot be said of basketball.  However, the reigning NBA MVP is Suns point guard Steve Nash, who hails from Victoria, British Columbia.  Despite the absence of star big man Amare Stoudemire, Phoenix is firmly entrenched in first place.  Therefore, Nash is the MVP favorite once again.  With a Canadian star having taken control of the team, some local residents are fearful that Americans no longer have a place on the Suns.  Speculation is rampant that owner Jerry Colangelo plans to acquire more players from north of the border in the off-season.  Also, rumors are circulating that instead of the traditional tank-top uniforms, Suns players will soon be dressed as Mounties.



Currently the Arizona Diamondbacks and Cardinals do not feature any Canadians on their rosters.  Not coincidentally, those franchises are floundering.  The Diamondbacks did win the 2001 World Series, with Randy Johnson picking up the wins in games six and seven.  The Big Unit was only capable of such heroics because he began his major league career in Montreal.  As for the Cardinals, they will host the Super Bowl in two years.  To have any hope of competing in that event, they may have to succumb to the Maple Leaf Siren Song.  If Arizona represents the NFC in Super Bowl XLII, it may be led by quarterback Avril Lavigne.



The next step in Canada’s inevitable takeover of Phoenix was Team Canada’s victory this afternoon.  In any other city, Team USA would be sitting pretty with 22-game winner Dontrelle Willis starting opposite Orioles farmhand Adam Loewen.  In Phoenix, however, the Canadians teed off as if the Willis they were facing was Todd Bridges on Diff’rent Strokes.  Canada’s centerfielder Adam Stern was the offensive star with a single, triple, and inside-the-park home run.  As a result, in this contest alone he exceeded his major league career hit total by one.  Ken Griffey, Jr. could have done the same if he had gotten 2,305 hits in today’s game.



Despite a furious rally by Team USA, the eighth inning provided proof that any efforts to resist the Canadians in Phoenix would be futile.  Trailing by two runs with two men on, Phillies star Chase Utley crushed a ball that seemed sure to reach the seats of Chase Field.  However, Stern caught the ball at the wall to end the inning.  Thus, the Canadian mystique was even more powerful than one of baseball’s oldest truisms: that a player with the same first name as a ballpark will dominate in that park.  This rule was best embodied by former Houston legend Astrodome Johnson.  But in Chase Field, Chase Utley could only scream, “D’oh Canada!”



Clearly nothing can stop the momentum of Canadian athletes in Phoenix for the foreseeable future.  As a result, local residents can expect to hear this utterance for years to come: “It’s a dry heat, eh?”