“I’ve been through a lot, and my experiences will prove invaluable.”
Since joining Rogers Sportsnet a few years back, Torontonian Hazel Mae has dated a bevy of professional athletes and at least one other sports anchor (Sportsnet’s Brad Fay), but she’s now about to settle down and get married.
To a baseball player.
Hazel, a Boston-based sportscaster these days, is engaged to Kevin Barker, a non-roster infielder at the Blue Jays’ camp.
•Ex-Calgary Stampeders quarterback Jeff Garcia, at 37, rejected a chance on the weekend to finish his career near his Bay Area home partly because the Oakland Raiders are wretched, partly because they wouldn’t guarantee him first-string status, partly because the Buccaneers offered him more money (more than $5 million US for the first year of his deal next season) and partly because he’s long had a thing for Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden.
The feeling is mutual; Gruden has coveted Garcia since 2004. Finances kept the two apart but Garcia thinks Gruden has landed a better man than he would have in ‘04.
“He’s getting a more focused, more motivated, more excited player now,” Garcia said. “I’ve been through a lot, and my experiences will prove invaluable.”
•Speaking of Garcia, Calgary radio star Mike Richards does a hilarious impression of the QB, featured in his highlight clips at www.fan960.com/audio/mike_richards_audio1.jsp. It’s well worth checking.
Richards, 43, is an Ontarian who used to strut his stuff as a comic/impersonator for The Fan 590 in Toronto in the mid-1990s. He’s come a long way and now, with The Fan 960 in Calgary, he has what sources say is the No. 1 sports-radio show in Canada.
The sponsor of his audio page, Tree Brewing, is prospering remarkably from his success. Since hooking up with Richards about a year ago, the company’s product is up 400 per cent.
•A senseless deal: The Argonauts traded receiver/returner Keith Stokes to Montreal for defensive halfback Richard Karikari. Now, Karikari isn’t on the Argos’ roster after quietly being allowed to become a free agent. The Alouettes have big plans for Stokes.
•B.C. native Justin Morneau, MVP in the American League last season, is close to signing a four-year extension with the Minnesota Twins, worth $33 million … The starting point to keep Ichiro Suzuki with the Seattle Mariners: An $80 million extension … It’s official. The Jays’ payroll exceeds $100 million.
• And, as dreadful as Chris Bosh and the Raptors have been in recent games, Vince Carter and the New Jersey Nets have been even worse. Still, at year’s end, Toronto coach Sam Mitchell likely will be unemployed while New Jersey coach Lawrence Frank likely will remain with the Nets.