Favorite Reporter

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Monday, March 9, 2015

Brier Recap; and why I suddenly feel the need to Navage my nose.

Brier Recap;

I really wanted to have something to rant about. Relegation, Team Canada, broomgazzi, the CCA (or its new moniker: Curling Canada), TSN dissing the Quebec Team. 

But I have to admit it: I just thoroughly enjoyed the hell out of the Brier this year. 

I was worried heading in. Maybe Warren Hansen was right, and the Brier is just not that big a deal anymore. the Canada Cup and the Slams offer better curling.


In the end, curling saved the day. The games provided all the drama, the tension and the strategy and the excitement that the sport can offer.   Once the Brier reached the playoffs, all the games became epic contests coming down to last rock, with drama and exquisite shotmaking. It was a Curling fan’s dream; it was emotional, and was won in an extra end with a draw to the screw.


Some random thoughts, in no particular order:
  • Okay, it takes a big man to admit he was wrong. So here goes. Team Canada was awesome, and fun to watch. In the end, they made it a better tournament. I know I said that this team did not deserve to be there, and they were certainly on their way to living up to that prediction, but they turned it around. The shift of Johnny Mo to 3rd seemed to inspire Pat Simmons to skip just about the best Brier I have ever seen from anyone, and the rest was history.
  • I have dumped on Johhny Mo before, but man he was awesome. He proved he is the best 3rd in the land, and his energy on the ice made the game that much better and fun to watch. And he came out with some awesome new terminology: “Pat – put a rock here and it is Danger Bay for them!” Love it. Reference to a classic crappy Canadian TV series to describe a couple of rocks in the back 8 - awesome. 
  • Relegation is still shitty. The only bright side is it might motivate Nova Scotia to get off its arse and run a better Provincial in an arena; so as to send the best team that can play under arena conditions (no disrespect to Mr. MacLeod – who was a fine example of sportsmanship).
  • So-so week for the Quebec boys. I am sure they are disappointed to have finished out of the playoffs. The fact is they started the week flat (which might have something to do with Quebec Provincials being 6 weeks before the Brier), and they finished flat against Gushue and Simmons. Too bad,I was looking forward to TSN talking about how many out-turns they throw all weekend.
  • I know Home Hardware is a great sponsor – but their tagline: “Homeowners helping homeowners with Expert Advice”. Really? Are you required to own a home to work there? What if you just rent? And what is this advice? By a round mop?
  • Okay, I liked Dave Nedohin as a player, but he has some work to do on his commentary skills. Mudryk kept throwing him softballs, and he kept swinging and missing. He told endless stories of how he has played with against all of these guys before, and how good they are. Yawn. TSN might have been better to run the games silently.
  • I do not understand Gushue’s last shot against Team Canada in the semi-finals. He needs to force him to one point, and has a chance to throw a back-line tap back to lie behind the corner guard, and instead tries to make a corner freeze on a corner-frozen stone above the t-line. This was a MUCH harder shot than the tap back, in my humble opinion. Instead he lined up the automatic double for Simmons, and that was that. (says the guy sitting watching on his living room couch)
  • I love Vic Router (with Russ and Cheryl), but if I had heard him say BRUSH BROTHERS one more time I was going to switch to Guy on RDS.
  • I need to get a Navage. It has been a dry winter in Quebec, and my nose feels like there is stuff up there from the cretaceous period. Not sure what the difference is between the Navage and my garden hose though. That and I suddenly feel the need to by some new farm equipment, and some chemicals to protect my lawn from Sclerotium (whatever the hell that is).
  • Not sure if they did this at other Briers, but I liked the Team intros at the beginning with the walk-in music and the cheerleaders. Made it feel like an MMA fight. Already contemplating what my walk-in song will be. I am open to suggestions.
  • Nice try TSN – trying to make me like Brad Jacobs. You ignored their boorish behaviour, you kept showing me shots of his newborn baby, and even tried to do a little 5th end fluff piece about how much they love curling and each other. Nice try!
So on this subject, I have to ask…

Why do we hate Brad Jacobs So?

I was watching the 1-2 game Friday night between Brad Jacobs and Brad Gushue. It was an awesome display of curling. There were triples, button draws, touch doubles, drama and excitement right until the last shot.
I was also sitting with my iPhone; reading people’s comments on Twitter and Facebook every so often who were also sharing their impressions of the game. And what did people talk about the most? Was it the great shotmaking? The triples? The sweeping? The fan reaction? Nope, they were talking about how Team Jacobs reacted to making a semi-tough shot for 3 in the 5th end, and how obnoxious their reaction was.

I can't find a link to it...so let me describe it:

It seemed like a cross between an NFL end-zone dance, and a woman going through childbirth. There was guttural, primal screaming; there were clenched fists. There were high-fives that looked like they would have broken my wrist. There was grunting that sounded like my bathroom on a Sunday morning after an all-day Saturday visit to a cheese factory.

The way this team celebrates has polarized much of the curling world.  People hate them. Some love them, but lots of people hate them. They certainly did not win any fans with the classless and disrespectful foot banging against Kean, and probably lost a few more with their over-the-top celebrations against Gushue in the 5th end. By the time they were in the finals, Facebook posts and tweets all seemed unanimous in hoping that Simmons teaches Jacobs a lesson.
I must say that their celebrations turn me off.  But maybe I am a little too old-school. I come from the Vince Lombardi school of celebrating. Lombardi was the Green Bay coach who famously told his players; “If you manage to get into the End Zone, act like you have been there before.”
Watch this one: Laycock making a sick double-raise-double to keep his team in the game. Check out his celebration after. Classy.

The pro-Jacobs camp will surely say that this team is reaching out to a new generation of fans, raised on highlight videos of the best goal celebrations and reality TV – where over-reaction is a requirement. They will say that they are hated because they are winners. They will quote Taylor Swift: “Haters gonna hate, hate hate.” Maybe I am a just a hater.
But I don’t have the same negative reaction to watching other great teams celebrate - like Gushue. Or Ménard. Or Stoughton. Or Howard. I did not feel weird watching McEwen and team go crazy after he made the best shot of the season earlier this year. But when Jacobs and the Brush Brothers go crazy, I just want to puke.
I think my discomfort comes from what I hold dearly about curling, and the values that are built into the game's unwritten etiquette.
Maybe I look at sports differently now that I have kids. But one thing that I look for in a sport is what traits it helps you develop as a human being. I have learned a lot in curling, and from the many people I have played the game with or against. Here are some life lessons learned:
  • Treat your opponents with respect. Beat them, but respect them.
  • You are not bigger than the game. Others were great before you, and others will be great after you are gone.
  • Control your emotions – both positive and negative ones. Staying calm under pressure is the key to winning.
  • Play the game fairly and honestly. There are no officials – so honesty is required to make it a playable game. Golf and curling are the only sports I know where you call a foul on yourself, even at the highest level of play. (and it is the only sport where you would say to a competitor: “take the shot over” like Kevin Koe did this week)
  • There is no showboating in curling. Never celebrate other people’s misses.
  • Don’t get a tattoo of another man’s face on your chest, because your girlfriend will inevitably imagine him when she is with you! (okay I did not need curling to teach me that one)

By no means do I suggest that all curlers are perfect. We have all been assholes at one time or another. But I know when I have been.  And if I don't, there is usually someone is there to call me on it.

Somehow the game’s etiquette has always been kept by its venerable leaders; the respected old-timer (that every curling club has one or two of) who shakes his head when you slam a broom, or celebrate too wildly. I grew up worshipping guys like Hackner and Lang, Stoughton, Ryan, and Folk. None of these guys would have gone crazy after a tap-back in the 5th end of a tight game. None of these guys ever thought they were bigger than the game. I never heard any of them say anything like “We are changing the face of curling”. 

I am not sure the face of curling needs to be changed. And if it is to be changed, it probably should not be changed for a squinty, angry weight-lifting scowl.

Anyway - once again the Brier proved that it is the ultimate curling event, and despite its flaws and issues (like relegation); is still the greatest showcase for the sport that I love.


  1. No one had a problem with Team Jacobs' show of emotion when they were winning our country a gold medal at the Sochi Olympics. They have raised the bar of curling in Canada and that has been good for the everyone involved in the sport. You can hate them or dislike them but you can't deny they have brought positive attention to the sport of Curling, and have forced all competitive teams across Canada to step up their game if they want to compete with the best. Instead of knocking our Olympic Champions, you should be thanking them for always bringing their level of intensity into every game, to ensure their opponent brings their best game to the table. In the case of Pat Simmons and Team Canada, Jacobs forced them to play their best, and the benefit to all, was the an extra end Team Canada victory with a draw to the pin for the win. I think you what you should be saying is thank you Team Jacobs for being the piece of the puzzle that made this Brier Final so fun to watch, you made it one hell of game for the viewers, and I hope to see you back next year.

    1. Actually I noticed Team Jacobs toned down their celebratory ritual at the Olympics. Their celebration at the Olympic Trials however, was over-the-top. So much so that Craig Saville mimicked it at a Skins game, to much laughter.

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    3. Come on, come clean. This is Brad isn't it?? I think the only person that Is This ^^ "pro-Jacobs" is Jacobs himself.

      I think one of the biggest points Mike makes about the reasons people are starting to dislike them, is the over the top celebrating for mediocre shots. All four of them celebrated like they had just defeated Hogan in a cage match after the tap back for 3 in the 5th end. You could put that shot in just about any straight-ice curling club in the province and just about every recreational curler would make it 7 out of 10 times....on mixed night....after 4 beers. So, WHAT ARE YOUS CREAMING ABOUT. I think it's another one of their intimidation tactics, just like the foot tap. They just seem to be looking for way to raise the other teams blood pressure. Nobody said they didn't think the celebrations at the Olympics weren't over the top too. I think he's just pointing out that they're starting to get carried away. AND am I the only one that doesn't agree that Jacobs himself hasn't done anything to "raise the bar of curling in Canada"? I think the bar was being raised by the overall increase in level of play and they have been ONE OF the top teams to emerge from it. It is an incredible accomplishment to win Olympic gold and congratulations to them for doing it but that doesn't mean they are the best team in Canada or that curling in Canada is better because they have made it that way. Yes, they are on TV bashing rocks and screaming like idiots every weekend but they've only won one WCT event all year and McEwen has a $45K lead on the money list. Maybe McEwen is the one raising the bar.

    4. **SCREAMING

      **Jacobs team hasn't done anything to personally raise the bar

    5. McEwen is earning the money, but not the titles that put you in the history books. McEwen even admits that Jacobs has changed the way his team approaches the game and forced them to get better for this season, so I would argue whether its through intimidation or merit, Jacobs has changed the game.

  2. I was a Team Jacobs fan last year, but after being bully-like with Kean's team, along with the increasing intensity, I'm not as much of a fan. I'm happy for them to bring intensity to every game, but I don't think they need to celebrate in 'touchdown' fashion three times in a game. A large part of why I like this sport is because of it's gentleman-like nature, with class and sportsmanship.
    Well said Mike, your blogs are always great! This was a great event and I hope the Brier remains as THE biggest and best curling event.

  3. charisma, humility, empathy. most people find these qualities attractive. these guys appear to have very little or none. same reasons people dislike tiger woods. stephen harper.

  4. What I don't like about the Jacobs team celebrations is the body builder muscle flex, especially by EJ. and yes they did piss me off at the olympics too. I know they feel they need to play with intensity to play their best but find a way to do it without ticking everyone else off. I was in Kenora for the Northern Ontario playdowns and the whole team conducted themselves very well so I know they can do it.

  5. so much spilled ink on the final, but no mention of the magnitude of what Simmons accomplished. He held hammer only 3 times in the regulation 10 ends....and scored a deuce and 3 with two of those hammers...and this, against a team that never gave up a 3 in the whole tournament, and rarely even gave up a deuce.....by comparison it took Jacobs 5 consecutive tries to come up with his first deuce. The scoreboard says it was a close game....but, on closer inspection it also says that this game was a blowout.....5 points with 2 hammers, and a blank on the other.....OUTSTANDING!

  6. Pat Simmons was outstanding, got the goosebumps when he made that draw for the win.

    If Jacobs keeps making difficult shots that are made for television, then I think they earn the right to celebrate however they want, and until Curling Canada steps in and fine thems for their celebrations, then clearly its acceptable.

    I believe Team Jacobs has tremendous respect for their opponents. Just one example was seen after the Brier final they were all class congratulating Team Canada. They will likely win a few more Briers and lose another final or two... but they aren't going anywhere until the rest of the field gets better, so get use to the cellys, the Hulk Smash attacks, the I'm an Olympic Champion and I just proved it responses that fire up this team and keep them hunting for their next Championship, because negative comments on social media aren't going to deter this team from winning again.

  7. Another salient article. Good writing, Mike!

  8. Your emotional “reaction” to Team Jacobs is a deep and personal one, not having “…the same negative reaction to watching other great teams celebrate.” Let’s see if yours is a "fair-game" opinion.
    You disparage (1) Ryan Harnden for capturing (tattoo) his embrace with his own brother at the moment of earning Olympic gold (ITH, Mar 3); medalists routinely immortalize that experience, (2) Brad Jacobs (but no other tour player) for placing the travails of the sport ahead of fatherhood (ITH, Jan 27), (3) Team Jacobs’ homo-erotic appearance, vocalizations, and related expressions (ITH, Feb 28), a myopic view of the intensity of expression in elite sports (tune into TSN or Sportsnet at any hour), (4) EJ Harnden (aka Broomgate) for causing their opponent’s collapse (ITH, Mar 3) after the release of the rock and repeated verbal reminders were not heeded; that the players resolved the matter amongst themselves post-game was not a fact you’d consider sharing (the issue “died-on-the-vine”).
    This is personal for you Mike. You consider Twitter & Facebook as public opinion polls to stage an argument for “Why do WE hate Brad Jacobs.” Surely if your McGill MBA taught you anything, it’s that neither are reliable nor representative of public opinion. The "SGITR" (Smart Guy in The Room) moniker you extol is revealed as the DGITR.

    From time-to-time you acknowledge being an asshole and that you’re usually “called” on it. You’ll recall Sutton’s No Asshole Rule (your Twitter June ’11) and THE test: (1) if after listening to someone one feels demeaned/humiliated/belittled ~ then they’re an asshole, and (2) if someone aims their invective at others who have less influence than oneself ~ then they’re an asshole. It’s clear that your malicious comments on Team Jacobs answer the first test and the medium you use to share them, given the megaphone you speak through via your blog (and its intention to influence the opinion of the “masses”), answer the second test. So you passed the test and I’m letting you know. Given your self-appointed moral authority and “keeper” of the game title and avowed interest in sharing values and lessons-learned, consider teaching these lessons: teach others not to be an asshole to people they don’t know (and call-out those who are, regardless of whether you know them). Remind others that if they’re not present in a situation (a sporting event, for example), it’s prudent to stay silent on matters of which they have no first-hand knowledge. Remind others to be careful about taking on the role of the moralist – zealously asserting that what’s best for them is best for everyone; such persons are often blind to their own shortcomings and seldom live up to the ideals they espouse. Remind them not to use words like “classy” and “etiquette” about the behaviours of others in one context (eg “on-ice) and yet themselves behave like an asshole in another context (eg “off-ice”) ~ they’ll reveal themselves to be hypocrites. Remind them to always get their facts straight before “opining” on a matter, particularly when they’re sharing their opinion in the public sphere ~ where they may be called-to-account. And if they’re ever “OK-but-not-great-at-something,” it’s not advisable to lodge persistent personal attacks at those who are amongst the best at it. The tactic will simply reveal (about themselves) a deep-seated malice that is borne of insecurity and envy.

    Like their peers, Team Jacobs acknowledges areas of their game that require improvement. As your corporate experience has taught you, it’s better to have a hole in your team than an asshole on your team. If you want people to follow your blog and consider your opinion, don’t be an asshole about it. Otherwise, they’ll call you on it, as Sutton has advised. On expression of the sport you hold so dearly, consider some emotional restraint when choosing your words about those who share your devotion. The values and life-lessons you purport to have learned from this sport – and those who play it – are absent in your words and deeds.

    1. I agree whole heartedly with this review of your blog Mike. This does seem highly personal to you and your comments seem laced with hateful prejudice. You appear to be on a mission to convert the curling community to your way of thinking regarding the Jacobs rink. You mentioned that you have children. I taught my children to say I strongly dislike.....not to ever use the word hate. Your written behavior is not responsible nor is it creditable when it is so nasty. Mike McEwan has publicly acknowledged the things about the Jacobs rink that spawned change in his own team. The media has been instrumental in crediting the Jacobs team with increased fitness levels and intensity of play. We attended the Continental cup in Vegas and the Jacobs team was a total credit to the Canadian team in every way. When you used the words "Why do WE hate them so "I almost lost it. WE DON'T. YOU DO!!

    2. Fair points.

      A few words in my defense:

      1. I do not know these guys personally. When I say I hate them - I hate their on-ice personnas. I do not hate Brad.
      I hate them the way I hate the Boston Bruins. I am sure Zdeno Chara is a very nice guy at home, and a good family man, but I cheer against him. And I think that is fair game.

      I know hate can be a strong word - but it can also be a pretty weak one, especially when it is attached to public sports figures.

      2. I definitely do not have an agenda against these guys - nor am I trying to turn public opinion against them. As I mentioned, the "inspiration" for this blog was the on-line commentary I read all week on Social Media coming from my circle of contacts - a lot of who are competitive curlers. I humbly submit that my blog is far less influential than you seem to give it credit for!

      3. I might have gone a bit far with a few lines, (upon further reflection, I admit the tattoo joke was at least a little bit mean), but it usually while attempting to be funny/entertaining, not mean. If you are offended, my apologies.

      4. I think it is very fair to say that this team is polarizing. A lot of people love them - and I certainly am more than a bit envious of their talent and ability. But they rub more than a few fans the wrong way. I kind of get the impression that they want it that way. The Boston Bruins don't lose any sleep about being the Big Bad Bruins, and I don't think Team Jacobs will shed a tear after reading my blog - if they happen to come across it.

      Yeah, this blog was a little preachy, even for me. Sorry about that. I am on a quixotic quest to make curling better. Sometimes I go a bit far. Sometimes I charge the wrong windmill. If I came across as an asshole to you, my bad.

  9. I'm not a particular fan of the Jacobs team BUT if we want to influence young people to curl, you need teams like them that celebrate curling as an athletic endeavour worthy of celebrating points and the plays that make those points. Like it or not, in most young people's eyes curling is for people who can't play "real" sports and any young guy who plays is a "wimp" or "nerd". Show them a jacked, physically imposing guy, working up a sweat, obviously pumped to be winning and making the big plays and that perception starts to die. My son quit curling when he hit his teens. He was a pretty good curler and he enjoyed curling. He understands the complexity of it and knows how difficult being really good at it is, but curling isn't "cool" like hockey, football, basketball, etc. Now when he watches he says if curling had been the way the Jacobs team looks, plays and celebrates, when he was playing, he probably would have stayed with the sport. The gentlemanly smile currently acceptable in curling when you make a good shot or beat an opponent can't compete with the goal celebrating, fist pumping, chest bumping, adrenaline rush of celebrating plays, points and wins that other sports provide to a young guy. If you want those young guys filling your clubs - give them more teams like Jacobs to represent curling.

  10. Who could have imagined the worst 3rd (Simmons) being a hero at skip while Brad Gushue missed shot after shot in the playoffs.

    Kevin "You'll aint good enough to play with me" Koe was the gong show of the week. All 3 members of TEam Alberta making the 1st all star team and they still miss the playoffs.

    Scott Howard on his skip, Mark Kean: "Man was that stupid"

    Can someone explain how Brett Gallant is still a big talent when he can't even hit the broom consistently?

    Please force Jamie Koe into retirement already.

    Lets get something straight. Johnny Mo crashed and burned and his old man fired him as skip. He didn't play great 3rd, he was the weak link on the team. But he has horse shoes up his butt and his pappy is good at forcing him onto some team that somehow carries him.

    Reid Carruthers dismal record of 4-7. Holy crap, is Mike McEwen the biggest choke artist in the history of curling. Could you imagine, one of the greatest curlers of all time who never made it to the Brier even once?

    Mark Nichols played well in the playoffs but he's been a bust otherwise. Gushue really hasn't got a prayer of ever winning a Brier with this group.

  11. Pat Simmons on the option of throwing last rock while Johnny Blows calls the shots: "You mean I'm going to have to make miracle shot after miracle shot to cover up for that retards mickey mouse strategy"

    Pat Simmons on Pappy Morris showing up as coach during the timeouts: "Bugger off, Sonny Boy was fired, remember?"

    The Brad Gushue Smoke and Mirrors Show...should have been blown out 10-0 in 2 ends by Alberta, but somehow win. Gallant is ranked 7th amongst 2nds and they finish 9-2 with Nicholls pretending to be a good 3rd. Then the rest of the team plays good and Gushue turns into a 70% skip in the playoffs.

    I bet Team Bubble goes to the worlds and doesn't even make the playoffs. I mean that bleeping team is horrible most of the time.

    I think Jacobs implodes now. Their whole world view was based on Briers and Olympics. The regular tour just doesn't turn their crank.

    Russ Howard is the best broadcaster period. I don't think Cheryl will be back.

    The Brier playdowns, nevermind the Brier itself, is far more fascinating that the grand slam bs.

    Hey the worlds is upcoming...whoopdee doo. I don't give one damn iota about the worlds or the olympics.

  12. The Stupid Network (TSN) with that constant nonsense of split-sceen updates during the games. What is this, some kind of collab with big screen manufacturers? Hey dummies, we all don't have 52" screens you know. Why not have all the games on at once and call every game at the same time geniuses.

    The continental cup (or whatever its called) where team world vs team na is the dumbest curling tournament in the world. What a waste of time. Its supposed to copy the Ryder cup in golf but its just plain stupid, Get rid of it already.

    Enough with the swearing. If I want to watch degenerates, I'll watch hockey, football, etc.

    The rocks are way too lively. Curling is not pinball on ice.

    Too many rule changes. The game was way more popular when it was so-called boring. Fools like kevin martin are going to wreck this game.

    Ban the synthetic "brooms" and the rugs.

    I don't know what the purpose of the "coaches" appearing on the scene during timeouts.

  13. 3 posts of ''everybody is a dumb ass but me'' in just over an hour, in the middle of the night. Someone needs to take his Ritalin and go back to bed.