Whiskey and Cream: Episode XXIII

Whiskey & Cream for August 9th, 2021

Host: Ari Shapiro

0:40-16:48: “An ounce of perception is worth a pound of obscure”

To the average human being living under the relentless scourge of a variant-multiplying pandemic, understanding and absorbing what mRNA, spike proteins and lipid nanoparticles are can be a most daunting and bewildering experience. From the outset, this modern day global health emergency that’s affected every country on the planet has been handled dubiously by politicians acting as soothsayers, poseurs and hypocrites who want to assure us that they know what’s best for us, even while abandoning the most fundamental principles and medical facts provided by established science and health authorities. Naturally, this has created a harrowing disconnect and some would say existential schism that’s significantly undermined humanity’s collective efforts to move into a bold and brave new future.

Rob Swanda (@ScientistSwanda) is an mRNA Biochemist and doctoral candidate who’s completing his PhD at Cornell University. Back in December of 2020, he decided to post a YouTube video that provided a brief but succinct overview of how vaccines work and why taking them is a personal choice based on a decision that – ideally under normal circumstances – should be rooted in a profound understanding of science. In doing so, he’s unlocked a powerful covenant with those of us interested in knowing truth before ideology, facts ahead fiction, and real coronavirus science in place of anti-vaccination superstition.

Music: “Into The Woods” by Tycho (Christopher Willits Remix)

17:01-32:11: “Baseball is ruled by 12 billionaires and plenty of nostalgia”

120 years ago, the Cleveland Indians baseball club was born and along with it a procession of legendary players who remain synonymous with the team to this day. Cy Young, Bob Feller, Lou Boudreau, Al Rosen, and Frank Robinson are just some of the legendary and towering baseball figures that have come to define the memories for generations of fans of both the team and the sport. Throughout their entire fabled history (one that’s almost completely bereft of any winning flavour considering their last championship victory came in 1948), the Indians were instantly recognizable with their branding that always seemed to define how they were remembered; namely, the Chief Wahoo logo that was used from 1950 up until 2018. A potent and controversial symbol that also alienated and disrespected indigenous people all over the country.

Nick Francona (@NickFrancona) is a baseball journalist and Marine veteran who fought in Afghanistan. His intrepid skills of research and investigation has produced a commitment to finding the truth in a game that’s become filled with chronic deceptions and daily lies when it comes to confronting the racism, sexism and domestic abuse realities that are nonchalantly swept under the rug and quickly rationalized by unscrupulous owners worried more about profit than any measure of social justice. Amidst all the hypocrisy and failure of moral leadership, Nick remains optimistic that the more fans and admirers of MLB appreciate the state of the game today, the more likely they are to understand why rebranding is absolutely necessary in order to set a true example for future generations, and that much more work needs to be done after simply painting over a legacy that should have been confronted a long time ago.

Music: “Journal” by Polar Inc.

32:22-41:45: “General Zod would have enjoyed ruling Canada”

Although Canada managed to get a grip on the most recent pandemic wave, it’s left many in the province wondering what kind of political crucible is likely to remain when the dust settles. Most recently, a triumvirate of conservative-led provinces from Doug Ford in Ontario to Jason Kenney in Alberta and Brian Pallister in Manitoba have all tried the combined patience and humility of their coronavirus-riddled constituents who’ve become fed up with the powder keg of anti-vaccination movements brought forth by their rudderless leadership methods. In short, the fact that mandatory mask and vaccination efforts for front-line and essential emergency workers remains an opportunity cost in their neck of the woods is a sad reminder that ideology still trumps common sense in many parts of the country.

Neil Waytowich (@WaytowichNeil), also know as Neil Before Zod, is a Canadian political blogger and podcaster. He takes little solace in knowing that for a country where a majority of Canadians identify as conservative, their message has been tainted and corrupted by party leaders lacking a stable game plan or any legitimate promises for the future. And although the prospect of a better brand of compassionate and humble successor to the status quo seems like a reason to be positive about the future, Neil remains highly circumspect and abundantly skeptical that the worst may be yet to come and might possibly require a visit from Kal-El himself.

Music: “Borealis” by Nora Van Elken

41:50-54:09: “Toronto: world class and completely unaffordable”

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who lives in and knows about the city of Toronto that the cost of living in this world class wonderland comes at a steep and generally unattainable price. Instead of witnessing three levels of government working in tandem to help city dwellers with investing in their future, many already believe that we’ve ushered in a new and unprecedented level of austerity. With the lowest property taxes found in the most expensive neighbourhoods across the GTA, the question of how to recalibrate the wealth of Torontonians becomes paramount – especially when deluged with visions of homeless folk being evicted from sanctuary parks adjacent to extremely wealthy neighborhoods, profit-mongering real estate developers buying up scores of sub-divisions and converting them into rental homes, and ideologically-bound politicians ignoring the growing plight of the poor and disenfranchised in all corners of social media..

Matt Elliott (@GraphicMatt) is a journalist who writes for the Toronto Star and has his own official newsletter on all things emanating from city hall(@CityHallWatcher). To call him an expert wouldn’t even begin to do justice given the time he’s spent writing about the cosmopolitan juggernaut that is Toronto. But in his calm and dispassionate manner of analyzing the recent trends across the municipalities of the fourth largest city in North America – one that’s world renowned for its finance, business, technology, and entertainment sectors, and also praised for its supposedly dynamic multiculturalism – he’s also unearthed profound reasons to be legitimately concerned about a post-pandemic future around these parts.

Music: “Standing Outside a Broken Phonebooth with Money In My Hand” by Primitive Radio Gods, performed by Pressing Strings

“Whiskey & Cream Theme” written and performed by Chris Henderson.

Whiskey and Cream: Episode XX

Whiskey & Cream for June 19th, 2021

Host: Ari Shapiro

0:38-8:15: “”Canada and Islamophobia: Hypocrisy lives here”

How quickly so many have forgotten that a deranged, hate-filled gunman stormed a Quebec City mosque back in January 2017 and brutally murdered six men while injuring 19 others, splintering a close-knit Muslim-Canadian community already grappling with xenophobic prejudice in their neighbourhoods. By March of that year, a Liberal MP (Iqra Khalid) tabled a crucial parliamentary motion following the attack that directly condemned the “fear of Islam” as a form of religious discrimination and source of racism across Canada. Although Motion 103 was subsequently adopted and heralded as a progressive triumph of social and cultural solidarity over political grandstanding, it also resulted in 91 Conservative and Bloc Quebecois members voting against it, including the current leader of the opposition Erin O’Toole.

Karim Kanji is a celebrated political and cultural podcaster whose “Welcome To The Music” show has earned him legions of fans who appreciate his disarming candor and real honesty with guests. For him, the London, Ontario attack on a Muslim family that left a nine-year old boy orphaned remains a powerfully tragic reminder that Islamophobia is alive and well in a country that’s always been high on good intentions and low on political results – especially when it comes to growing communities and embracing the multicultural nature of this country.

8:21-15:45: “A disease does not fully exist in America until it has a business model”

Biogen’s Aduhelm has arrived like a bolt out of the blue and changed the way the world is looking at Alzheimer’s disease. Suddenly, a horrific condition which has had little or no medical progress in treatment for decades and is the sixth leading killer in the United States has met its match and been challenged by the marvels of a pandemic world where science lifts us away from sheer futility and into the realm of endless possibility. However, three members of the FDA’s advisory board resigned in protest when it was discovered that the drug had been approved for far broader use and without any substantial consultation. In fact, 10 out of their 11 members voted to reject the application and yet here we are. At $56,000 a year for treatment that doesn’t even begin to address how badly a burden it will place on medicare or socialized medicine if you factor in physician, imaging and infusion center expenses that will more than double the overall cost. Many industry experts believe it’s only worth around $8,000 in raw manufactured costs, leading many to seriously wonder: is this the latest snake oil from big pharma?

Dr. Jason Karlawish is an American physician and researcher in the field of bioethics, aging and the neurosciences. He’s also written a series of critically-acclaimed books on the subject, including: Open Wound, Treating Dementia, and The Problem With Alzheimer’s – How Science, Culture and Politics Turned a Rare Disease into a Crisis and What We Can Do About It. For him, it all comes down to trusting and believing in medical regulatory agencies that have traditionally held the best interests of their patients in mind well before aggrandizing their voracious need for profits, and to have government protect their citizens from the exploitation of big pharma and the scourge of false hope.

15:23-21:02: “Say it ain’t so, Robby: the gradual extinction of the modern day baseball hero”

To be banned from Major League Baseball is a terrible thing – especially considering how morally, ethically and existentially the game has gone to rot. Fairly or not, the list of “undesirables” includes Shoeless Joe Jackson for dubiously cheating, Pete Rose for unrepentant gambling, Marge Schott for virulent racism, and Brandon Taubman for being a lying, cheating misanthrope whose conduct shamed the entire sport and a whole generation of disbelieving fans. And now we can add Roberto Alomar’s name to the list as a reminder that fame, fortune and influence is fleeting when humility and decency are lacking, leading us all to a place where the emperor has no clothes.

Shi Davidi is an MLB columnist and insider with Rogers Sportsnet. As someone who’s covered the Blue Jays legend for years, it comes as no surprise to him that fan nostalgia would cloud the reality of what unfolded to a man who’s become synonymous with those glorious World Series championship years. Alomar’s troubles are less about the “woke” culture we live in and more about a rapid disintegration of respect for the national pastime and their fans. For him, the struggle to reconcile a hero’s fall from grace is never easy when the game is running out of role models for the next generation.

21:11-28:30: “An inspirational league for inspired players”

Basketball in Canada might single-handedly solve our collective problems with bigotry and prejudice. That might sound like hyperbole, but when measured up against other professional sports leagues (and most contemporary western governments for that matter), there’s a community-first reality to the NBA that you don’t find with football, baseball or even hockey. It’s a business mentality that started with the belief that their players remain the most important facet of their success and that everything else is secondary when it comes to the welfare and integrity of the sport.

Dashawn Stephens is a Canadian journalist and social media influencer. In 2019, he founded PRSVRE, an athlete-empowered brand and sports-media platform based in Toronto that sheds light on the inspiration derived from collegiate sports and grass roots storytelling. In doing so, it’s shaped an appreciation for the trials and tribulations that underprivileged youth and marginalized athletes face in their quest for excellence and made him into a true crusader for the importance of community-oriented and culturally vibrant philosophies in life.

“Whiskey & Cream Theme” written and performed by Chris Henderson.

Whiskey and Cream: Episode XIX

Whiskey & Cream for April 30th, 2021.

Host: Ari Shapiro

0:38-27:49: “Dignity with pride divided by equity”

Imagine having all the talent, vision and ambition in the world – only to have it scuttled by forces you have no control over. In some respects, I’ve just described a typical employee working for a digital media company today. You know, that realm which has been pillaged and exploited by a sad cocktail of corporate ownership, streamlined departments, and profit-oriented motivations. At a time when aspiring wordsmiths and creative minds are trying to find narratives worth writing home about, it seems that the industry has turned almost completely against them when it comes to finding a place where originality and passion are rewarded, rather than marginalized and bought out.

David J. Roth (@david_j_roth) is the co-owner of Defector Media and the co-founder of The Classical. Together with other writers who left Deadspin in 2019, he’s created a media company that’s less about sensationalistic fanfare and more about the search for cold, hard truths, offering him some measure of control in the spiraling wild west that’s full of woke culture, virtue-signalling, moral relativism and historical revisionism. It makes me truly wonder – what keeps him moving in this world today with his dignity and professionalism intact?

27:50-38:15: “It all begins and ends with goaltending”

Let’s not mince words. The New York Rangers went 54 years between winning Stanley Cups that spanned a period of time which began with World War Two and ended with the rise of Nirvana. For a fan of the team, waiting from 1940 to 1994 in order to taste a championship must have seemed purely inconceivable. Which brings us to the city of Toronto, where bleeding blue and white means entering the post-season with visions of grandeur and also a sick sense of deja vu. What was supposed to be a season for Frederik Andersen to redeem himself has become a voyage of reclamation for Jack Campbell. Either way, the fate of the team will depend on if their netminder ends up resembling Ken Dryden instead of Andrew Raycroft. Patrick Roy instead of Vesa Toskala. Dominik Hasek instead of Jonas Gustavsson. I literally could go on forever.

Allan Bester is a former goaltender for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Although his time in hockey was short and sweet, he remains a true supporter for the integrity and impact of knowing the game between the pipes. For him, if a half-century drought is to end in the midst of a terrible pandemic, it’ll mean having a player between the pipes that’s prepared to put an entire hockey club on his shoulders and never look back.

38:16-54:33: “Secretariat would be proud”

Horse racing and gambling is synonymous for a reason; from the era of classical antiquity to our modernized pandemic reality, the sport has endured through the ages while generating considerable tax revenue – over $100 billion dollars is wagered annually in 53 countries. However, like baseball, it suffers enormously from a having a stewardship that’s less concerned about the state and health of the industry, and more interested in profit-mongering shenanigans. As a result, what was once a spectacle for royalty has been commodified and dismissed by many as being simply backwards or out-of-touch with itself.

Robin Dawson (@RobinOnRacing) started his racing career in 1971 in France and is the author of Last Hurrah: A compelling tale of greed, control, self-preservation…and vindication. For him, a lifetime spent around majestic horses and understanding the kinship between man and beast ultimately inspired him to write his first piece of literary fiction. Although the perception of his industry may have changed over the years, his nostalgia remains a potent force in driving his craft and educating others with his love and affection for a fading equestrian legacy.

54:34-1:03:25: “Two for slashing, Five for dreaming”

How can you not admire what the National Hockey League has done when it comes to handling their second season during this pandemic? What should have been calamitous barriers to travel, gameplay and personnel has resulted in an astonishingly successful season that’s proving to be a huge respite for fans. Seriously, this is front-line escapism when Toronto, Boston, Tampa Bay and other juggernauts of major cosmopolitan cities manage to show the faithful that there’s a reason to believe in more than simply misery and woe. And that’s not just a credit to the leadership of the league, but to every person that’s made this season a success given the adversity which existed before them.

Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) is a digital hockey content writer for the Vancouver Canucks, Daily Faceoff and SportsBettingDime. As a social influencer, he loves finding videos and images that make fans forget the raging dystopia outside their windows and instead focus more on the glorious game before them. That’s why he’s committed to using his extensive platform and admiration of the game to make sure that others can revel in a league that clearly stands alone and ready for the playoffs.

“Whiskey & Cream Theme” written and performed by Chris Henderson.

Whiskey and Cream: Episode XVI

Whiskey & Cream for April 7th, 2021.

Host: Ari Shapiro

0:34-11:21: “Peanuts, crackerjacks and COVID-19”

Major League Baseball has returned…and with a mighty vengeance. First, it was all about bringing back a 162-game extravaganza season in the midst of the worst that a pandemic has to offer. Then, it involved confronting the state of Georgia and rescinding an All-Star game promise that’s drawn the ire of Trump loyalists everywhere. And finally, they went along with having the Texas Rangers host their home opener in a brand new billion dollar facility with over 40,000 humans all eating, drinking, and potentially superspreading themselves into baseball oblivion.

Laura Armstrong (@lauraarmy) is a beat writer with the Toronto Star covering the Blue Jays and their seasonal travails. In her eyes, the city of Toronto has much to look forward to when it comes to competitive and worthwhile baseball around these parts. But in welcoming the return of peanuts, crackerjacks and the chance to one day root for the home team in person, she’s also willing to confront certain gruesome realities that simply can’t be ignored – including the profound risks taken by big business in pursuit of pandemic profits.

12:48-17:45: “On fire and passing the generational torch”

Here’s the thing about the subject of voter suppression that seems be getting lost between the battle lines of left versus right: at the end of the day, it’s all about democracy. It’s really as simple and elegant as that. Now, you can go ahead and choose to debate the merits of how and why the United States chooses to tackle the grim reality of gerrymandering and the brutally unfair district demarcation that’s transpired across the union for decades, but in the final analysis it really comes down to empowering people and having them succeed through elected officials who care more about their actual dignity than the almighty dollar.

Aaron Parnas (@AaronParnas) is lawyer, writer, podcaster and social influencer based out of Florida. His work with the MeidasTouch political action committee has galvanized his passion for reaching the largest possible audience when it comes to pursuing his agenda for fairness and justice in modern day America. Stuck between the conservative nature of the Gen-Y demographic and the predisposed liberal tendencies of the average Millennial, his thoughts on the passing of the proverbial torch from one besieged generation to another are as frank as they are indelible.

19:23-25:43: “One shift, one period, one breath at a time”

The NHL is doing many things right in the quest to keep their audiences happy during times of trouble. But a deeper look reveals that all that glitters isn’t necessary gold. Minor league hockey franchises all over North America are folding left, right (and pardon the pun), centre, while recent virus outbreaks like the one that subdued the entire Vancouver Canucks team is a stark reminder that, in some ways, the worst is yet to come. And that means hockey will need to demonstrate the kind of leadership and resolve that’s kept it ahead literally ahead of the game when it comes to running a business for themselves, their players, and most of all: their fans.

Eric Engels (@EricEngels) is a writer, radio host and senior hockey columnist with Rogers Sportsnet. As someone who professionally and personally covers the Montreal Canadiens and has dedicated most of his adult life as an authority on the sport of hockey, his opinion on the manner and method to which Gary Bettman and the league have battled the coronavirus is one balanced equally between a healthy sense of optimism and an idealistic desire to see things improve without sacrificing the integrity of the game he so dearly admires.

26:05-39:28: “And now for something completely different…”

Between Justin Trudeau and Doug Ford, it’s become almost a picture of banality to hear the average Canadian sounding off on the nature of the job that our elected leaders are doing as the coronavirus pandemic rages on. The predictable criticism and fatalistic scorn of traditional red and blue pylons debating their ideological views at a time when some human beings are sleeping in makeshift tent in downtown Vancouver and Toronto is beyond surrealistic; as is the simultaneous realization of having to reconcile a mind-boggling reliance on outsourced and incompetent vaccine rollouts along with dubious lockdown strategies in the struggle to keep our fragile population healthy and safe.

Abhijeet Manay (@AbhijeetMonet) is the deputy leader of the Green Party of Ontario. For him, the battle of moving forward from dystopian times has little to do with human ideology and everything to do with our connection to nature. Slowly but surely, the growing trend of citizens more concerned with their children’s future rather than the need for instant gratification is essentially the reason why his party is growing in popularity by leaps and bounds thus begging the question: can the Greens find a way to cut through the hot air of political hypocrisy and evolve into a mobilizing force that can one day offer the country something more than the usual string of false promises and smug excuses?

“Whiskey & Cream Theme” written and performed by Chris Henderson.

Whiskey and Cream: Episode XIV

Whiskey & Cream for March 27th, 2021.

Host: Ari Shapiro

0:39-9:35: “When a strong minority silences a weak majority”

Oh, the glorious absurdity that remains Israeli politics. And now with their fourth election in two years, the world’s most genuine version of participatory democracy once again finds itself rudderless and at cross purposes. Benjamin Netanyahu remains the quintessential “Teflon” braggadocio incumbent who’s cobbled together a vast network of unholy alliances that not only betray his ideological views, but cements his place as an irredeemable opportunistic force during vulnerable and perilous times.

Gregg Carlstrom (@glcarlstrom) is a Middle East correspondent with The Economist and the author of How Long Will Israel Survive? The Threat From Within. For him, Israel remains a fascinating study into how the more things change, the more they stay the same. In his recent book, he postulates and laments on the very historical and spiritually existential reality that’s gripped the nation for the better part of multiple generations.

9:35-18:54: “Synonymous with baseball, he reveals only truths”

True admirers of the Toronto Blue Jays have long coveted the history and lore associated with the only baseball franchise in Canada. So when a local favourite sportscaster whose voice had become a staple with the radio broadcast and whose literary prowess established him a trusted authority was unceremoniously let go by the media company that owns the team..the outrage was palpable and fierce.

Mike Wilner (@Wilnerness) is a baseball columnist and podcaster who writes for the Toronto Star. His passion and love for the game is not only entrenched in the hearts and minds of countless fans who have come to appreciate his talents, but is also on display with a measure of humility when he’s recognized as the voice that was synonymous with the team for the better part of two decades.

18:55-27:34: “An explosion of false and misleading narratives”

North Americans recoiled with horror at the site of yet another massing shooting in the United States. This time, it was the turn of Boulder, Colorado – and once again, the familiar narrative of racially motivated violence permeated the media cyber-waves as we steel ourselves to the white noise of conspiratorial conjecture and the relentless spread of social media disinformation.

Shayan Sardarizadeh (@Shayan86) is a European journalist investigating online disinformation, conspiracy theories, and extremism for the BBC. He’s mortified that not only does social media allow others to chronicle and display chillingly brutal acts of criminality, but that it sets yet another standard of exhibitionist viewing that does nothing more than sensationalize our appetite for violence rather than provide ointment for our grief.

27:35-33:15: “I haven’t seen a winning baseball or hockey team in my lifetime”

It took a mid-season pandemic swoon for the Toronto Maple Leafs to realize their own limitations; that they remain an offensive juggernaut constrained only by the limitations of their goaltending. While Frederik Andersen has yet to win a single playoff round and the feel-good story of Jack Campbell refuses to go away, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where the team rides the hottest hand available – especially if that hand has a catchy nickname and is beloved by teammates.

Braydon Holmyard (@BraydonHolmyard) is a sports writer and editor for The Toronto Star. For him, the triumvirate of pro sports teams in the city has opened up endless possibilities for glory and escapism; that’s why he remains vigilant that the local Original Six franchise in particular might make him forget this pandemic altogether.

33:15-40:52: “It’s about unspoken hockey integrity”

When veteran NHL referee Tim Peel was caught articulating his thoughts on camera recently, the mountain of outrage that was generated by the subsequent viral video was as predictable as it was disturbing. Sure, he was scheduled to retire by season’s end and was perfectly positioned to be the sacrificial lamb in this particular controversy, but the heavy-handed, sanctimonious manner in which disciplinarian Colin Campbell and the rest of the league responded to the issue at hand seems to mirror the level of self-righteous overreaction that’s become synonymous with our modern social media culture.

Matt Best is (@bestofmatt) a video producer and podcaster who does work with the Mayo Media Network, Penalty Box Radio and Locked on Predators. His decision to expose evidence over YouTube of a professional league’s unwritten rule that’s frequently manipulated and generally accepted by fans as “a part of the game” ended up creating precisely the kind of quagmire that the NHL was looking to avoid.

“Whiskey & Cream Theme” written and performed by Chris Henderson.

Whiskey and Cream Round Table: Toronto Blue Jays Edition (03-05)

Whiskey & Cream Round Table for March 5th, 2021.

Host: Ari Shapiro

Guests: Eric Rosenhek, Jesse Goldberg-Strassler & David Morassutti

Narratives: Toronto Blue Jays Baseball; the end of the radio experience courtesy of Rogers, why MLB continues to struggle through the pandemic when it comes to their publicity, and why a great reckoning is at hand if baseball doesn’t get their priorities in order.

Duration: 34:48

WARNING: Listener discretion is advised. This podcast contains seriously blunt truths, excessively mature language, ruthlessly candid perspectives, and the kind of intellectual discourse that serves to enlighten, educate and punch through the darkness until it bleeds daylight.

Whiskey and Cream: Episode VII

Whiskey & Cream for January 19th, 2021

Host: Ari Shapiro

0:36-13:20: “On the outside and feeling betrayed”

The inauguration is almost upon us and most Americans are waiting with bated breath to usher in what should be a new era in US politics. But as the steam goes out on the Donald Trump presidency and the reality of losing a fair and democratic election sinks in, it isn’t a coincidence that anti-state and anti-law enforcement ideas are flourishing across all states of the union. The movement has taken on a decidedly militant turn across the board specifically because the outgoing administration crafted a brutal and convenient revisionist narrative that Trump supporters are stuck on the outside looking in on an election that was stolen and requires them to defend themselves and their honour. As a result, multiple forms of virulent militant activity ranging from The Oathkeepers to The Proud Boys are finding themselves with the kind of raison d’être that could end up creating a measure of public unrest not seen since the civil rights movement.

Brendan O’Connor (@_grendan) is freelance journalist and the author of Blood Red Lines: How Nativism Fuels The Right. He’s covered right-wing extremism since the end of the Obama administration and believes that overstating the danger of what may come can lead to poor analysis and even worse conclusions. But what he does believe is that what happens next will be a period of turmoil, and that The Biden administration will likely not be defined by healing and reconciliation. In his eyes, there will be a greater and far more spectacular reckoning of political violence in the US for the foreseeable future.

13:21-19:31: “When lightning strikes twice”

Most Canadians don’t realize how special and unique the Tampa Bay Lightning are as a professional NHL franchise, and with the return of hockey for a second season in a pandemic reality, there’s a great deal to be said for an organization which values their fans as much as their profit levels and industry achievements. In a market devoid of hypercritical fans and a vicious media backbite, the Lightning aren’t just winners on the ice – they are bona fide winners off it as well.

Dave Randorf (@DaveRandorf) is the play-by-play commentator for the Tampa Bay Lightning and a celebrated Canadian sports broadcaster. He’s never taken his success for granted and believes that in aligning his future with the Florida-based Stanley Cup champions, he can help fans of hockey feel better about their own personal struggles by enjoying a first class organization which has succeeded in winning the championship twice since the turn of the century. Which, for the record, is twice more than the Toronto Maple Leafs have accomplished since 1967.

19:32-26:21: “Coming back to normal, a little dark and colder”

It’s hard to keep your mind fresh and spirits high when the numbing reality of covid statistics exist to remind you that all is not normal. It makes one really wonder: how much of this can we take without going back to the normal things – you know, the simple things. Like enjoying a breakaway in overtime, an extra innings nailbiter or the last few remaining seconds of an alley-oop, centre court play to win the game in regulation. Having sports back, even under such abnormal conditions, is essentially a return to normalcy that gives us the kind of distraction needed to help absorb the hypocrisy of our times – the fact that politicians and corporate profiteers are treating this time as business as usual.

Tony Ambrogio (@Tony_Ambrogio) is a freelancer with TSN and teaches at the College of Sports Media in Toronto. He’s a highly respected sports journalist who finds himself becoming a colder, darker person when confronted with an endless barrage of pandemic statistics and political hypocrisies which make him pine for the simplicity of hockey, basketball or baseball. Amidst all the vitriol and hate associated with masks and vaccinations, he remains grateful that society can still rely on professional sports to bring us back to a time when arguing at the dinner table and mulling over the latest feats of athleticism were once the norm.

26:23-34:01: “The psychology of pandemic sports betting”

We’ve come a long way from the days when sports betting was frowned upon as a reckless or taboo indulgence. With 19 American states now legalizing the activity, it’s clear the appetite for gambling has reached a whole new level with the pandemic raging throughout the winter. In the first couple of months alone, Table Tennis became the seventh most wagered on sport as people sought to find ways to wager money on competitive spectacles that reminded them of something other than negative media news and gradual societal decay.

Ben Fawkes (@BFawkes22) is the VP of Digital Content at VISN The Sports Betting Network and has done work with ESPN. For him, the concept of sports betting is all about psychology and economics and shouldn’t be for the faint of heart. In a changing world of easy to use technology and unlimited access, his mantra of making informed decisions and playing within your boundaries is an absolute prerequisite for anyone who is serious turning this pursuit into a money-maker, and that having consistent success relies more on studying and learning the craft well before embarking on it.

“Whiskey & Cream Theme” written and performed by Chris Henderson.

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