October 20, 2007

The Weigh In #2

It's time for another installment of The Weigh In. In this edition: Manny Ramirez, the baseball playoffs, Joe Torre, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Chicago Blackhawks, and the Buffalo (or should I say Toronto?) Bills.

How big of a douche bag is Manny Ramirez? On Thursday night he hits a bomb to centre field, with two outs, that goes off the top of the wall and comes back into play - about as close as you can get to a home run without hitting one. David Ortiz, not exactly Flash on the base paths, comes in to score from first base, no problem. Where does Man-Ram end up? At first base. A 400 foot single.

Ramirez's antics are getting old. First of all, it's the playoffs. Second of all, his team was facing elimination Thursday night. You'd think he'd be playing a bit harder, right? Nope, that's not how Manny rolls. To him, it doesn't matter what the situation or the score is. He's going to hit moon shots, and whether they're leaving the park or not, he's going to hold his hands high in the air, admire his own power, and walk out of the batters box.

Great op-ed by Will Leitch in the New York Times about the fact that most fans probably care more than the athletes who actually play the games we, as fans, obsess over. Surely no athlete can care less than Manny Ramirez.

I'm sick of hearing that it's just "Manny being Manny". It's Manny being a jackass...

Lets stick with baseball. Joe Torre is officially out as manager of the New York Yankees. Not surprising, we all saw the writing on the wall, but the details of how it went down were rather shocking. Usually, the Yankees are the embodiment of class, but they dropped the ball on Torre. By offering him a one-year $5 million dollar deal (a pay cut from the $7.5 million he made this season), the Yankees knew they were giving him an offer he couldn't accept. With incentives, the new deal could reach $8 million. Torre was looking for a two-year deal. And the incentives, you ask? He had to win the World Series.

Now that, as Torre would agree, is complete bullshit. The playoffs, in any sport, are half skill and half luck. The Yankees have spent millions upon millions of dollars in the last seven years and don't have a World Series title to show for their efforts. It just isn't that simple. There is no magic formula.

Torre managed some great players in his years in the Bronx, but he also managed some massive ego's. That's what made him such a great manager. He was able to harness every man's ego in that dressing room and got them to buy into the team philosophy. Even though he was disrespected by management, he didn't have anything bad to say about the New York Yankees. Stay classy, Joe.

I believe Torre will be coaching in baseball next season, and I'm pretty sure it won't be in Toronto. At the very least, I hope the Blue Jays at least give his people a call. Every single team in baseball should be giving Torre's people a call...

More baseball...The Colorado Rockies, for the first time in their short history, are off to the World Series. What a magical run. Theirs is the story of fairy tales. Stuff like this isn't supposed to happen in real life. They've won 10 in a row and 21 out of their last 22, including a one-game playoff with San Diego to just make the playoffs. It's hard to root against a team like Colorado. They continue to defy the odds.

It must be good times to be a Rockies fan right now. God knows they've suffered through some tough years. The beer must be flowing like a river in Denver during "Rocktober", especially at Coors Field.

The World Series will begin on October 24 and it will be interesting to see how the long layoff will effect Colorado. Surely they must have wanted to keep playing every day. Dane Cook keeps telling us that "There's only one October" but the geniuses at Major League Baseball have scheduled the Fall Classic such that if it goes the distance, there will be baseball in November. Hopefully, it'll be snowing in Denver. A little Snow Series, please...

On to the ALCS - Is Curt Schilling the best post season pitcher of all-time? As much as I don't like the ever-opinionated Schiling and his stupid bloody sock (I still believe it was fake blood - pure Red Sox propaganda), it's hard to argue with the man's playoff resume. He's started 17 games in the second season and has a career record of 9-2, with an earned run average of 2.23 and four complete games.

Josh Beckett, Schilling's teammate, might have something to say about all this when his career is over. He's been dominant in the post season as well. Though I do despise his little chin growth. It's hideous.

The Red Sox have their backs against the wall once again tonight, but Schilling's on the mound, and I don't think there's anyone else they want to give the ball to. Well, other than Beckett, but he can't pitch again, silly!Here's hoping for a Schilling/Red Sox win to force game seven. There's only one October, and there's only one game seven...

On to hockey - It's been an interesting week for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Monday night in Buffalo, in typical Leafs fashion, they blew a lead - three of them to be precise - and lost in overtime on an own goal by Bryan McCabe. The third period was certainly a doozy.

I must admit I really felt for McCabe after the game. Obviously, he didn't mean to do it and made a mistake. He's been getting ripped in the media already - The Star's Damien Cox really, really hates McCabe - and you just knew he was going to be the main target for the fans and the media after the gaffe.

I'll give McCabe credit for standing up and talking to the media on Wednesday after practice. He knew he was getting ripped and his message was the right one - Relax!

Maple Leafs fans are a fickle bunch. We're still way too early in the season to be passing judgement on this team. Sure, they've been maddeningly inconsistent, but again, it's early. Give them some time to work out the kinks. I'm not going to evaluate this team until Kyle Wellwood, Carlo Colaiacovo and Mark Bell are in the lineup. At least 20 games need to be in the bag before I think we can make a logical assessment on where this team stands.

I'm also tired of hearing about McCabe's $5.5 million dollar salary. It's just nonsensical that fans calling in to the talk shows keep bringing it up. If you're not happy about his contract, blame John Ferguson, don't blame Bryan McCabe. What was he supposed to do, blush and tell Ferguson it was worth too much? He signed what was OFFERED to him, fools.

I'm not sure why Leafs fans need someone else to boo when we've got Andrew Raycroft. On a serious note, the booing doesn't help anyone (not even Raycroft, the poor sap). These are our boys, this is our team, let's embrace them. McCabe bounced back with a solid game on Thursday night, scoring a goal and dishing out some hits. I wish Leafs fans would sit back, take a deep breath, and have some green tea. It's a long season. Seven games does not a season make. The Leafs picked up a point in Buffalo Monday night, so just shutup and take it. If Toronto had picked up a point late last year against Buffalo, when they blew a 4-1 lead in the third period (and ended up losing 5-4 in regulation), they would have made the playoffs. My point is, be happy with the bloody point. Let's think bigger picture here, folks...

Still on the Leafs, how about one Nik Antropov? Long gone it seems are the days when he was the guy getting booed at the Air Canada Centre.

Stupid Leafs fans. Now they love Antropov. He's got 11 points in eight games and has been the best Leafs forward so far this young season, along with Mats Sundin. He's playing with a ton of confidence and you can see it in his game. When he puts his mind to it, he can dominate. I said it last year, for what this guy brings to the team, at $2 million a year he's an incredible bargain. The patience the Leafs have shown with him may finally be starting to pay off, almost 10 years after he was a first round draft pick. If he can stay healthy, the sky's the limit...

How good are the Philadelphia Flyers looking early on this season? Talk about a quick turnaround. They were one of the league's worst teams last year, but they cleaned house and are showing signs that they could be an elite team, and fast. Daniel Briere is leading the charge with nine points and Martin Biron is looking more than solid in net. Philadelphia has always lacked goaltending, but they may have finally found a keeper in Biron. They're definitely looking like a playoff team.

Philly's got a record of five wins and only one loss. They've scored 25 goals in their 6 games and, most impressive of all, have only let in 10. To put that into perspective, the Maple Leafs usually let in 10 goals in about 5 periods of hockey...

The Chicago Blackhawks are in town to face the Leafs tonight and they arrive in Toronto with - surprise - a winning record. It's been a long, long time since the Blackhawks were any good. I don't even remember the last time they had a winning season. I'd have to Google it to find out. Give me a second.

Ok, it was the 2001/2002 season. Ouch.

The future, however, is looking mighty bright for the young Blackhawks. Patrick Kane, last year's first overall draft pick, is already leading the team in scoring with seven points in the teams first seven games. Not too shabby. Jonathan Toews, another highly touted young Canadian, has a point in each of the five games he's suited up for. And boy did he score a beauty last night. Goal of the season, so far. Make sure you catch SportsCenter or YouTube it. Trust it.

For Chicago, the kids are alright. It should be a good test for both the Leafs and the Hawks as they face off on Hockey Night in Canada...

And finally, is the NFL coming to Toronto? The short answer is, I think, yes, at least for a pre-season game. The Bills have asked for permission from the NFL to play an exhibition game in Toronto in 2008 and a regular season game in Toronto in 2009.

This issue has gotten a lot of play in the media over the last couple of days. Here's why the Bills wouldn't relocate their franchise to Toronto - they've got a better option in Los Angeles. The NFL isn't going to expand to Canada before they put a team back in L.A. It just doesn't make sense to not go back to a huge U.S. market like La La land and instead put a franchise in Canada.

Although I think Toronto is well-deserving of an NFL team, the Rogers Centre isn't the best place for it to call home. Ralph Wilson stadium in Buffalo has got capacity for crowds of more than 80,000. The Rogers Centre can only fit 55,000. And one thing is for certain, the arrival of the NFL in Toronto, whenever it does happen (and I do think it eventually will), will mean the end of the CFL. Everyone knows that.

However, my main concern in regards to the NFL coming to Toronto, and specifically the Rogers Centre, with its lack of parking near the stadium, is where the hell would we tailgate? It's all about priorities, people...