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WHACKED STATS: Canadian Thanksgiving

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In the , Thanksgiving is a traditional weekend for sports. Two special Thursday NFL games, the annual Mississippi-Mississippi St. "Egg Bowl," the Friday Nebraska-Colorado matchup — not to mention NBA and NHL games. But what about ? Our neighbors to the north do things different. They play a version of football with a 110-yard field. They still pledge allegiance to the British Crown. And they celebrate their Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October. Surprise, surprise. But Canadian-born athletes in major-league sports all knew that last weekend was a holiday back at home, even if none of their fans had a clue. So here's the question: Do they raise their games to another notch when their compatriots are eating turkey and drinking Labatt's? Here's the tale of the tape. Only Canadian-born, active major-league athletes who have participated in a Thanksgiving weekend game count. Oh, and no hockey players; we ain't got all day.

Baseball

Hoser Thanksgiving takes place during the baseball playoffs, so although there are plenty of Canadian baseball players, this list is pretty short. Rheal Cormier, Moncton, New Brunswick: The Red Sox made a fantastic comeback from a 2-0 deficit to the Indians in the 1999 ALDS. Cormier helped Boston by throwing 3 2/3 scoreless innings in Game 4.
  • Corey Koskie, Anola, Manitoba: The Twins' starting third baseman in the 2002 ALCS against the Angels. Last weekend, Koskie got one hit and one run in both Saturday's and Sunday's losses. Sucks, eh?
  • Matt Stairs, St. John, N.B.: A member of the 2000 Oakland A's team that lost to the Yankees in the ALDS. On Oct. 8's decisive Game 5, Stairs got a pinch-hit double. It didn't keep the Yankees from winning, however.
  • Larry Walker, Maple Ridge, B.C.: A star player for the Colorado Rockies in their 1995 NLDS series against the Atlanta Braves. But on Saturday, Oct. 7, Walker went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in the series-ending loss to Atlanta. He was thinking of creamed parsnips, we bet!
  • Jeff Zimmerman, Kelowna, British Columbia: In the 1999 ALDS against the New York Yankees, Zimmerman threw an inning of scoreless relief for the Rangers in Game 3 on Saturday, Oct. 9. The Yankees won the series in a sweep.

    CART

    CART's ever-shifting schedule has occasionally put a late-season race on 's day of thanks, including this year. When there is a race that weekend, it can mean bad news for Canadian drivers.
  • Alex Tagliani, Montreal: He has only two CART races on this celebratory weekend, and he hasn't finished either of them. In the 2001 Grand Prix of Houston, Tagliani came in 19th place out of 26th after an accident; in the 2000 Honda Indy 300 on Oct. 15, mechanical trouble caused him to finish 22nd out of 25.
  • Paul Tracy, Scarborough, Ontario: Like Tagliani, Tracy didn't have much luck in the 2001 or 2000 races; he crashed in both of them. But, on Oct. 9 1994, Tracy won the Grand Prix of Monterrey! And fellow Canadian Jacques Vinnenueve finished in third place! Truly a great day for .

    NFL

    Here's a fun trivia fact: Not only are kickers Steve Christie and Mike Vanderjagt both from , but they're both from Oakville, Ont.
  • Mitch Berger, Kamloops, B.C.: A punter with the Eagles, Bears, Vikings and now the Rams. Every Canadian Thanksgiving weekend since 1994 he's ... made some punts. Thrilling.
  • Randy Chevrier, St. Leonard, Quebec: A Francophone center who played with the Bengals in 2001. His team lost to the Raiders on Oct. 7 of that year. Now he's with the Jaguars, but he doesn't play.
  • Steve Christie, Oakville, Ont: A long-time kicker with the Buccaneers, Bills and now the Chargers. Last weekend against the Chargers, he was 5-for-5 on extra points in a San Diego victory. His greatest Canadian Thanksgiving moment? A 1995 win over the Jets in which he hit five field goals and two extra points. Ya hey!
  • Rob Meier, West Vancouver, B.C.: A defensive end with the Jacksonville Jaguars since 2000, Meier's greatest homeland Thanksgiving day was this year against the Tennessee Titans, when he had two tackles and a sack.
  • Davis Sanchez, Vancouver, B.C.: He didn't play last weekend against the Chiefs with fellow Hosehead Christie, but he did play in his rookie year of 2001 in an Oct. 7 loss to the Browns. Sanchez even made a tackle!
  • Mike Vanderjagt, Oakville, Ont: If there was an All-Canadian-Thanksgiving football team, Vanderjagt would surely be its kicker. Playing for the Colts since 1998, Vanderjagt has never missed a field goal or extra-point attempt on Canadian Thanksgiving. Last week, he went 5-for-5 on field goals in a 22-20 win over the Baltimore . Truly, Vanderjagt is a Canadian hero.

    PGA Tour

    Not too many golfers come from our snowy neighbors — anyone who can swing a stick plays hockey — but some stuck it out on the links.
  • Todd Fanning, Winnipeg, Manitoba: What we politely call a "golfer who isn't one of the best." Last weekend he missed the cut at something called the "Gila River Classic at Wild Horse Pass Resort." Any of you ever heard of that?
  • Glen Hnatiuk, Selkirk, Manitoba: A longtime golfer from the Great Plains of . Hnatiuk has bounced between the PGA Tour and the Buy.com/Nike Tours over the years, but when he has entered the Michelob Championship — for many years the traditional Canadian Thanksgiving PGA event — he's never missed the cut. In 2001 he even finished tied for 26th!
  • Ian Leggatt, Cambridge, Ontario: Finished tied for 62nd at Kingsmill in 2001, which is better than what he did at the Invensys Classic at Las Vegas last weekend — a withdraw after a first-round 77. Ouch!
  • David Morland IV, North Bay, Ontario: Shouldn't his name be "David Morland Fore"? Anyway, he had bad luck during Canadian Thanksgiving events, as he'd never made the cut that weekend. Of course, Morland rarely makes the cut during non-holiday weekends.
  • Brian Watts, Montreal: Struck gold at the 1999 Michelob, finishing tied for 8th and taking home $67,500 (in American dollars). Otherwise, his best Canadian Thanksgiving finish was back in 1988, when he finished tied for 67th at the Gatlin Southwest ... and won a whopping $816 (again, in American dollars).
  • Mike Weir, Sarnia, Ontario: For golf, Weir is "The Great 'Great White North' Hope." Weir's worst Canadian Thanksgiving finish was a 69th-place result from Kingsmill in 1988, and two years later at the same tournament, he finished second in a playoff to take home a cool $324,000. That'll buy lotsa snowmobiles! Eric Brown's first-hand knowledge of is limited to a trip to Exhibition Stadium in the 1980s. Send him an e-mail, eh, at ebrown@foxsports.com.
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