June 20, 2008

Bouncing Off The Walls

What a day it has been, and it’s only 4:00 pm! For my beloved Toronto Maple Leafs, tonight is the dawning of a new era. Perhaps the post-Mats Sundin era. For my beloved Toronto Blue Jays, what was once old is brand new again.

This morning I learned that the Maple Leafs have acquired local boy Jamal Mayers for a third-round draft choice. Trading a draft pick for a 33-year-old checking line winger probably doesn’t make a lot of sense for the rebuilding Leafs, but I’ve always liked Mayers. He brings some sandpaper to the table and is an above average penalty killer. He can help tutor the Steen’s, Stajan’s, Tlusty’s, and Wellwood’s on how to be accountable defensive hockey players and decent penalty killers.

At around 1:30 pm I began to bounce off the walls of my cubicle. Why? Cito Gaston is back. The Blue Jays have fired manager John Gibbons, hitting coach Gary Denbo, first base coach (and Toronto legend) Ernie Whitt, and third base coach Marty Pevey.

Definitely file this one in the “Holy Shit” department.

It’s not that I, and all Jays fans, didn’t see it coming. The writing for Gibbons was on the wall. His firing is a tough one. He’s the scapegoat for one severely underachieving ball club. Now that he’s gone, I’m $20 richer.

I made a bet with my brother that if the Jays were swept by the pathetic Milwaukee Brewers, the axe would fall on Gibbons and he’d be looking for a new job. Well, voila, that’s exactly what happened (do I have my pulse on this shit, or what?). I just didn't expect half his coaching staff to be handed their papers along with him. Nor did I expect Cito Gaston – Cito freaking Gaston! - to be handed the reigns. Clearly, this had been in the works for some time. You don’t fire half your coaching staff and find replacements in a few hours.

Cito’s back in the dugout with some old friends, too. Continuing the “blast from the past” theme, welcome back Nick Leyva and Gene Tenace. Both are from the Blue Jays heyday, the 1992 and 1993 championship years.

I must admit I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the release on TSN. It was shocking yet, at the same time, unbelievably exciting. I’m eagerly anticipating tonight’s contest between the Jays and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Emotions will definitely be high when I see Cito back in uniform and back with the Blue Jays. It’s been a long time coming. He’s always been deserving of another shot and I’m glad he’s getting it again in Toronto. I haven’t been this excited to watch the Jays in a long time.

Cito freaking Gaston! I still can’t believe it.

The Jays totally stole some of the NHL entry draft’s thunder. For me, at least. Draft day always tickles me the right way, and I’m still stoked about it, especially in light of the fact that the Leafs are selecting 7th overall, their highest selection in the draft in, well, a bloody long time. It’s not about who they’re going to select, it’s about which poor sap is going to have the weight of the franchise flung on his shoulders the minute he dons the blue and white.

The draft is always full of rumours and trades and it will be interesting to see if Patrick Marleau or Mike Cammelleri end up with new addresses tonight.

In utterly depressing news, the Maple Leafs have granted the Montreal Canadiens permission to speak with Mats Sundin’s agent. While I continue to be in severe denial, it seems that Sundin’s career in Toronto is truly winding down. I simply don’t want to believe it, and won’t until it actually happens.

What a day, and there’s still plenty more to come. Stay tuned, mon amies.