May 31, 2008

Celtic Pride

Kevin Garnett is one intense motha sucka. The Big Ticket, along with his pals Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, are off to the NBA finals. Lakers and Celtics, baby! It don't get much better than that.

It's difficult, and embarrassing, to believe that I actually thought the Toronto Raptors would be a better team than the Boston Celtics this season. It's difficult, and embarrassing, to believe that I actually thought the Raptors would finish higher than the Celtics in the standings and win the Atlantic Division.

It's one thing to be a homer - and that I most certainly am - but it's another to be a complete idiot. And that, clearly, I am as well. But it's not like this is a first. I've been wrong many times before, and I suspect the trend will continue.

Anyway, I've always been a big Garnett fan. He is everything I want Chris Bosh to eventually become. Now that the Detroit Pistons are out of the way, KG is off to the finals for the first time, and I'm rooting for his Celtics. Not because the ungrateful city of Boston needs to celebrate another championship, but because the Celtics have been awful for a long, long time. And because KG deserves a ring. Along with Pierce. And Allen too. These guys have paid their dues.

Oh, and also because I hate Kobe Bryant. No, like really hate him. He is the ultimate douchebag.

May 30, 2008

Much Ado About Mats

Much has been made in regards to Mats Sundin's comments about his hockey future. Will he stay? Will he go? Will he hang up the skates? No one, not even Sundin apparently, knows.

Sundin and his agent met with GM Cliff Fletcher last night and the situation today remains as clear as mud. Unfortunately, it looks like this situation is going to drag on for another few weeks until Sundin figures his shit out.

Am I a little peeved at his request for more time? Absolutely. The Leafs have been off since the second week of bloody April. Mats has had plenty of time to think about his future. Is he entitled to as much time as he needs? Yes, he most certainly is. Does his request for more time mean he'll hit the free agent market? I don't know, and I'm fucking done with all these questions I'm answering myself.

Those who read this tiny corner of the interweb, and those who know me well, know that I'm a staunch supporter of Mats Sundin. Always have been. Always will be. Sundin is, as the kids say, my dawg. I support him until the end. He's made a lasting impression on my soul. While I haven't been able to convince the woman to name our unborn son "Mats" - she's, umm, not too fond of the idea - I'm pretty sure we'll be able to reach a compromise: the middle name. Something Mats Vaswani. I like it already. It just rolls off the tongue.

Anyway, come September Sundin may no longer be a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. After refusing to waive his no-trade clause and leave the city back in March, Sundin left the door open to signing with another team come July 1st, when asked by the media about his immediate future. He said the odds were "50/50" in returning to Toronto. Sundin is, clearly, a genius. No shit they're fifty-fifty! He's either back, or he's not. His insight is remarkable.

His comments, of course, set some Leafs fans off. Why? I'm not sure. What they were expecting him to say - 100%? That it as an absolute certainty he'll be back in the blue and white? Yeah, that would work real well for him in contract negotiations.

Sundin's comments didn't irk me. In fact, I thought they made a lot of sense. Seriously, can you blame him for keeping the door open to other options? Are the Leafs really the most attractive team for a 37-year-old aging superstar? I certainly don't think so. Sundin has, of course, made it publicly known that his dream is to retire a Maple Leaf. It will definitely be interesting to see if he's a man of his word. I most certainly believe he is.

Do his comments have anything to do with him not waiving his no-trade clause a couple of months ago? No, frankly, they don't. Sundin refused to waive his no-trade clause because he didn't want to be a rental player. The two issues are separate. If he signs a contract with, say, the Detroit Red Wings, problem solved. He's not a rental player, he'll be with the Wings all year (to go through the "process"), he'll have a chance to win the Stanley Cup, and he'll get to do it on his terms. What's there to be mad about?

It's my belief, and I've made it well known, that Sundin owes the Leafs, and us the fans, nothing. His contract with Toronto expired and as most smart people would do, he's likely going to hit the open market and see what type of offers come his way. As much as you and I love the Maple Leafs, we'd do the same. He'd be an idiot not to, really. Yes, Sundin's made a lot of money and lives a lofty lifestyle thanks to the Toronto Maple Leafs, but he owes the team nothing. He doesn't owe them any players in return, or any draft picks in return, or a home team discount on a new contract. Sundin needs only to look after himself, and that's what I'm sure he's going to do. How can I be mad at him for that?

Personally, I want him to come back. As if I actually had to tell you that. There's no better Maple Leaf - ever - and Sundin is the perfect man to drive this bus back to some modicum of respectability.

However, expectations in Toronto are going to be low next season, and probably the season after that. Pretty damn low. Unless Cliff Fletcher, or whoever the next GM of this team is, is able to pull off some David Blaine type shit, the Leafs are going to stink for a while. It's the nature of the business. It's clear the Leafs don't represent the best opportunity to win for Sundin right now. While I think it's crazy to think that Sundin doesn't care about winning, I think that at the end of the day it'll be hard for him to put another jersey over his shoulders. I tend to believe that Sundin cares about that Leafs logo, just like you and I do, and he'll come back to lead the next generation of Toronto Maple Leafs. But he's still got to keep his options open, and really that's all he's doing.

Will I be mad at, and/or hate, Sundin if he chooses to continue his career with the hated Montreal Canadiens, or Ottawa Senators, or some other franchise? While those are both nightmarish situations, the Ottawa one more so than Montreal, I don't think I'd have it in me to hate him. Both those teams offer Sundin a better opportunity right now than we do and I wouldn't be able to hate Mats for choosing to put himself first. It's something he never did in Toronto - he's been the consummate professional - and, well, maybe it's time he did.

Mats is a leader. He won the Mark Messier leadership award because when the situation was at its worst, Sundin didn't bail. He didn't pull the chute. He stuck around. He chose to try and be a part of the solution instead of taking the easy way out and abandoning ship. He is the ultimate Captain. He went down with the ship. That's leadership, folks, and that's why I want him to stick around.

I think it is a complete and utter travesty that Sundin is getting ripped on and lambasted simply for keeping his options open. This has nothing to do with the no-trade clause and his refusal to waive it! Sundin's never mentioned any teams, yet media speculation has tied both the Red Wings and les Canadiens to him already.

It must also be remembered that Sundin never made any demands during his multi-year tenure in Toronto. He never asked for the huge contracts. He never asked for super talent around him. By utilizing his no-trade clause, he used a stipulation in his contract that was negotiated on in good faith by both parties. Sundin never held this organization hostage, so why isn't he being given the same respect? It saddens me. It truly does.

I think it's an exercise in futility to rip Sundin about his future and whether to question if he'll be back. The more important question is how much Sundin is worth. If Sundin does hit the free agency market July 1st, the Leafs will be one of a number of teams to send him an offer. While the idea of trading his rights before July 1st has been thrown around, I just don't see it happening. Come on guys, this is the Leafs we're talking about here.

What's Sundin worth to you? How much should the Leafs be willing to pay him to keep him in Toronto? He made $5.5 million last season and it was one of his best in the past decade. He is what he is, and that's a point-a-game player on a team with very little offensive talent. It could easily be argued that he's in line for a raise, but I don't think that's fiscally responsible for the Leafs if they want to turn this ship around. The Leafs can't ice a more competitive team, a fucking playoff team, if they're paying Sundin upwards of $6 or $7 million dollars. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not asking for Sundin to give Toronto a home-town discount. Remember, he owes us nothing. What I'm saying is that if he's not comfortable in coming back for around the same money he made last year, it may in fact then be time to turn the page on the Sundin era. Unless the Leafs can find a way to open up some cap space (see ya, Bryan McCabe!), and unless the team wants to be better and make the playoffs, Sundin can't be tying up a substantial portion of the salary cap. Like my man Mos Def said, "it's all mathematics."

It's clear that due to the fact that Sundin is off the idea (huge!) of being a rental player, any contract will have to include another no-trade clause. I know, it's the last thing the Leafs should be handing out, but I think Sundin will refuse to sign anywhere unless he gets one. Here's what I suggest: Fletch and co. offer Mats a one-year deal, with a no-trade clause, for $5.75 million. Nothing more, nothing less, and leave it on the table come July 1st. If Sundin gets $6 million from the Habs and chooses to take a drive east on the 401, I wish him nothing but the best and thank him for his tremendous service. He will live on in my heart, as a Maple Leaf, forever. No hard feelings.

With the Stanley Cup finals soon to wrap (Wings in 6), the real drama is just getting started. I look forward to a summer of defending Sundin. Anything less would be uncivilized.

And while I can wax philosophical on Mats all day long, and how he's never, ever wrong, certain happenings always seem to put things in perspective. Rest in peace, Luc Bourdon...

May 24, 2008

Textbook Toronto Development

Folks, it's all over for our favourite minor league hockey team, the Toronto Marlies. They were eliminated from the Calder Cup playoffs last night by the Chicago Wolves.

Sure, it was a 19 game playoff run, but it didn't do much for the development of the future Toronto Maple Leafs.

Jiri Tlusty, he of nude photography fame, scored a whopping two goals in 19 post-season games. Yikes. Hell, even Andy Wozniewski managed to score four. Tlusty's playoff disappearing act certainly doesn't bode well for the future, although it's not like he and the Leafs will be playing in playoff games anytime soon.

Speaking of two, that's how many playoff games Justin Pogge, the franchise's anointed goaltender of the future, the goaltending prospect the brains upstairs chose over Tuukka Rask, started out of 19. Yeah, that's really going to help him develop into a top-flight NHL calibre goalie. Well done coach Greg Gilbert, well done.

Alex Foster, who I believe got into a few games with the big club a few months ago, also contributed a measly two goals.

So did Jay Harrison, but he added 10 assists and was one of the few bright spots for the Marlies. Where the fuck was this guy this past season? How is it humanly possible that Andy Wozniewski made the Toronto Maple Leafs - Andy fucking Wozniewski! - out of training camp, and Staffan Kronwall got the call when Carlo Colaiacovo went down with his annual season-ending injury, while Harrison was toiling in the minors? Ridiculous. Straight ridiculous.

If you're wondering, John Mitchell led the Marlies in goal scoring with eight and David Ling led the team with 17 points. For the full scoring breakdown, check out the layout.

A serious lack of discipline devastated the Marlies against Chicago. The Wolves averaged more than eight power plays a game in the five game series and they made Toronto pay, scoring 10 power play goals on 41 opportunities. Last night they were 3-for-9 with the man advantage. In contrast, the Marlies scored two power play markers all series. It's pretty obvious the Marlies are the farm team of the Leafs. Much like the big club the Marlies can't score on the power play or kill penalties, either. Idiots.

In my honest and ever-important opinion, Greg Gilbert should be fired for choosing to play Scott Clemmensen ahead of Pogge. It was an absurd decision and one that could only be allowed to happen under this franchise. Someone - Cliff Fletcher, I'm lookin at you Grandpa - should have bitch-slapped Greg Gilbert stepped in and made sure Pogge was between the pipes. What you have here is another, might I add shining, example of Toronto Maple Leafs player development. Textbook fucking MLSE development. You know how we do.

The optimist in me wants to believe that Pogge won 50% of the games he started, and that Tlusty, who finished fifth on the team in playoff scoring with 10 points, is going to be one fine NHLer. But the realist in me knows that Tlusty went AWOL, that a great opportunity to see what Pogge could have done has been lost, and that this franchise is being run by some serious douchebags who clearly don't know what the hell they are doing.

I need a drink.

May 22, 2008

This Is Our House, and Yes Man U!

What a difference a year makes for the boys down at BMO Field. After last night's 1-0 victory over DC United, the local football heroes are undefeated in six games and making their way up the Major League Soccer standings.

I took in the action yesterday and it was a wet and chilly night. Not exactly end of May weather, but nothing really surprises me anymore when it comes to the temperature around these parts. As a Torontonian my toque is always ready, eh. And I forgot all about the rain and nippy-ness after a few beers.

So, how about Toronto FC? Things have certainly changed since they were bitch slapped 4-1 by DC United back on April 5th. They haven't lost since. The team is winning games, scoring goals, and, much like the "This Is Our House!" chant that filled the air last night, dominating at home.

With a 4-2-2 record TFC sits in fourth place in the Eastern Division. More impressive is the fact that they opened up the season with back-to-back losses. They wrapped up a beauty of a homestand last night with a 3-0-2 record, outscoring the opposition five-to-one in the five games.

Rewind to last year when TFC couldn't score - 25 goals in 30 games - and won only six games all season. It's like night and fucking day. Eight games into this campaign and TFC already has four victories and nine goals. Needless to say, the addition of cats like Amado Guevara and Laurent Robert have been huge.

And how about that Danny Dichio fellow? He's fun to watch on the tube but you really come to appreciate him after you watch him play live. He's all over the pitch. He scored the lone goal last night in the seventh minute, made a wonderful defensive play to save a goal in the 64th minute, and was throwing elbows all game long. To say he's "physical" out there is an obese understatement. It's no wonder Dichio is already a Toronto folk legend and revered by TFC fans. He's a blue collar guy and this city quickly falls in love with his type.

If you haven't been down to BMO Field to check out some hot, steamy TFC action, what the hell are you waiting for? The atmosphere is great. Passionate fans, colourful chants, flying streamers, and, as the cherry on top, an improved product on the field.

My only complaint? The MLSE standard $9.25 can of Carlsberg. That's robbery. Grab a few pints before the game or be smart in life and sneak in a mickey.

Before I go, I've got to show some love to my other boys, the Red Devils of Manchester United. European champions once again, please! Thankfully I was able to catch the game at work, and it was a beauty. For the record, I hate penalty kicks. My heart skipped a beat when John Terry's attempt to seal the deal for Chelsea nicked the post and went wide. I wonder how many drinks it took the poor guy to get some sleep last night. The woodwork was certainly not kind to the Blues yesterday.

And does it get much dumber than Didier Drogba's antics? While his little slap to the face of Vidic wasn't Zidane-like crazy, it was enough to get him red carded. And if Drogba's still in the game he's definitely one of Chelsea's five penalty takers, likely keeping Terry out of the box. What a shame!

The "double" is complete. "Glory, glory Man United." Indeed.

May 20, 2008

Damn It

I'll be honest, the news that defenceman Aaron Ward re-signed with the Boston Bruins yesterday had me feeling a little down. I was hoping he might become a Toronto Maple Leaf come July.

I know, he's not that great. But I've always kind of, you know, had a thing for Ward. And I figured he'd be a solid, veteran addition to the Leafs defence corps, provided they find a suitor for the one and only Bryan McCabe.

Ward's 35 years old - a couple of years older than I thought, I must admit - but he's the reliable, stay-at-home type of defenceman Toronto lacks since they traded (the now Stanley Cup finalist) Hal Gill. Ward's also got three Stanley Cup rings, so he's been a useful cat over the years.

He was the only free agent defenceman I really had my eyes on. With the big strides Anton Stralman took in the recent World Championships I figured if the Leafs could trade McCabe the defence, with the addition of Ward, would look like this:

Kaberle & Kubina
Stralman & Colaiacovo
White & Ward

Well, writing all of that is completely useless now because Ward is staying in Boston. He probably wouldn't have landed in Toronto anyway because, seriously, who the hell is going to trade for Bryan McCabe!?!?

Not all hope is lost though. Stralman could be the real deal and, after getting called out by Don Cherry on Coach's Corner, perhaps Jay Harrison, playing great hockey for the Toronto Marlies, is finally ready to make the leap to the NHL. At the end of the day, the Leafs are going to suck expectations are not going to be high next year . It's probably better we don't sign an aging free agent defenceman and look to promote from within.

There, I feel better now.

Speaking of the Marlies, they're now down 3-0 in their semifinal series to Chicago, and on life support. They've been outscored 13-to-2 in three games. Check that, they're in a freaking coma. It hasn't been pretty. Perhaps now the idiots will turn to the franchise's future between the pipes, Justin Pogge, because, really, what else do we have to lose?

And just imagine if Pogge comes into the lineup and leads the Marlies to a stunning and most improbable (read: fucking impossible) come-from-behind series victory in seven games? He'd be a legend. A Toronto Maple Leafs prospect who might actually become a great hockey player.

Imagine the freedom...

May 17, 2008

Smarter Than I Thought?

Maybe George W. Bush is smarter than I thought. Probably not, but after reading a interview one thing is clear: Dubya knows baseball. When asked which pitcher he'd select (if he was once again an MLB team owner), he made the right, and wise, choice.

He chose our boy. That's right, Harry Leroy Halladay III. Bushy may not know much about foreign policy or, hell, even domestic policy, but the man knows his baseball.

"And Roy Halladay from the Toronto Blue Jays is a great pitcher. He's a steady guy, he burns up innings."

He more than just "burns up innings," Bushy. He's a complete-game machine.

Difficult to believe, but I've got a lot more faith in Bushy after today than I did yesterday.

To read the transcript of Bushy's interview over at Politico, where he calls out our boy, click here.

For reaction on his selection from Harry himself, check out sports reporter extraordinaire Cathal Kelly's article at The Star.

Before I forget, Happy Birthday Queen Victoria. Much respect on the long weekend. It is appreciated. Cheers, and enjoy yourself.

May 15, 2008

Happy Birthday, Harry

Harry "Doc" Halladay celebrated his 31st birthday yesterday and his Blue Jays teammates finally gave him what he's been longing for: run support. And a win! A very happy birthday indeed for The Doctor.

After a brutal start to their road trip that saw them score only four runs in a four game set against Cleveland, the Jays have suddenly put together some wins. Last night over the Twins made it three in a row and it came when Halladay was not at his best. He grinded out the "W" and it was good to see the Jays offense bail him out for once.

On too many nights Doc has been masterful while the bats have let him down. He's already thrown four complete games, two more than anyone else in the American League, and has unbelievably lost three of them.

The Jays offense - I know, the word "offense" is an incredible stretch - has averaged a putrid 3.14 runs per Halladay outing. Not good enough. Last night, Matt Stairs made sure to better that in the first inning, when he hit the eleventh grand slam of his career to spot Doc four runs before he even threw a pitch (happy birthday!). Doc needed every last run the Jays gave him, but he was due for a victory. Harry's been his usual fly self so far this season and his 4-5 win-loss record should read more like 7-3.

Speaking of Stairs, he is a rudey. Nice little
feature about him from Robert Macleod at The Globe and Mail. Stairsy is proving that if Frank Thomas is losing bat speed as he gets older, the pride of New Brunswick is doing the opposite. He can still turn on a fastball and boy did he ever last night. Stairs leads the team in home runs (6), batting average (.306), and is second behind Scott Rolen with a .828 OPS. And he respects the game. Even when he bitch slaps a ball into the upper deck for a grand slam, like he did last night, he puts his head down and runs the bases. No admiration of his moon shot, no silly ManRam-style hand gestures, nothing. He's a true Canadian hero. Stay classy, Matt.

And if you haven't heard already, Scott Rolen is the
Best Blue Jay Ever. It's tough to argue with. The more I watch Rolen play, the more I fall in love. I can't believe I actually used to be a big Troy Glaus fan. I feel all dirty inside, like a cheap hooker. Glaus has nothing, absolutely nothing, on Rolen. What a gamer. Much has been made about Rolen's 15-pitch at-bat on Tuesday night, and he was at it again in the first inning yesterday, walking to load the bases for Stairs after an 11-pitch battle. Rolen is quite Godly. Quite. "The Third Base Jesus," as The Tao said.

Some quick (bong) hits:

I don't know what the Blue Jays did or have done to anger the baseball God's, but the injuries rained down with a vengeance last week. In a two-day span Vernon Wells, John McDonald, David Eckstein and Jeremy Accardo landed on the disabled list. My dream of just one God damn relatively healthy season was violently killed, execution style...

"Son of a" Litsch is leading the team in wins with five, the Jays are in last place in the American League East, and the Tampa Bay Rays are in first place. Ain't nobody can tell me they saw all that shit coming...

Jesse Carlson is the Blue Jays' Jamario Moon. What a find...

B.J. Ryan, touch wood, has been great coming off the Tommy John. While he hasn't been overpowering, he's yet to allow a run in 11 innings, has struck out 13 douchebags, and said douchebags are only batting .179 off him. I said touch wood so, please, do it...

How amazingly awesome is Shaun Marcum? A man crush is quickly developing. And
I'm not the only one. In over 56 innings of work Marcum is sporting a 2.22 ERA and, even more impressive, a .151 opponents batting average. Nobody can hit him right now...

Toronto's offensive struggles have been well documented. Over the weekend, when the Jays didn't score a run in over 30 innings (!!!), it got to the point where it was more comical than frustrating. A ridiculous inability to hit with runners in scoring position, errors, unassisted triple plays, you name it, the Jays have been through it. It has been a strange opening two months of the season. While for many the "Fire John Gibbons" watch has begun, I'm of the opinion that he should remain manager of the Jays for entire season. For once, it is time to hold the players, not the manager, accountable. Gibbons isn't the one who's up there unable to get the job done...

So, J.P. Ricciardi released Reed Johnson for Shannon Stewart. Hasn't really worked out too well. Stew's struggling, so welcome to Toronto Kevin Mench and Brad Wilkerson. Is it still unacceptable to say that releasing Johnson was a mistake?...

And Ricciardi released Frank Thomas because Adam Lind was ready, so we were told. But he's back in the minors, so he's not ready. Now, I have no problem with Lind getting his cuts in the minors. I guess I just don't like being lied to. In the end, I'm the idiot. No sports team in this city is honest, yet honesty is all I continue to expect...

May 12, 2008

Wanted: Video Goal-Judge

Do you live in the Halifax area? Are you looking for a part-time job? If you answered yes to both questions, the 2008 IIHF World Hockey Championship might be the place for you. The tournament is looking for a new video goal-judge because, well, just check this out:

I still can't wrap my head around the fact that after the video review, the "goal" still counted. It's pretty clear to any douchebag out there that the puck went through the side of the net. I smell an anti-USA conspiracy because, well, wow.

And don't ask about the music being played in the clip. It's weird as hell, I know, but I must say it does work well with my conspiracy theory.

Finland ended up winning the game 3-to-2. Team USA head coach John Tortorella was, umm, peeved after the game. Can you blame him?

Imagine if something like this happened to Team Canada. There would be riots and violence in the streets. A blunder of this magnitude should not be happening at a major tournament being held in Canada. It's pretty ridiculous.

May 11, 2008

Chris Bosh needs a new hobby...

Chris Bosh took the Toronto Raptors' playoff defeat really hard. It's killing him that his season is over. As the video below will show you, he's really having a hard time figuring out what to do with all of his free time.

His first movie, the plea to get himself voted into the All-Star game, was all good and fun. Now Bosh's movie-making fetish is just getting weird. Anybody else get the feeling that Bosh is just trying too damn hard? Dude needs a new hobby. Perhaps Bosh should spend a little less time in front of the camera and, like Chris Black said, a little more time in the weight room. And maybe Andrea Bargnani can join him. God knows he could use the reps...

And just in case Bryan Colangelo didn't have enough on his plate this summer, Jose Calderon has come out and said he wants to be a starter. Not surprising considering the way Jose played this past season. He's a starter in this league, no doubt. The months ahead will be mighty interesting...

And Mike D'Antoni is leaving the Phoenix Suns to coach the New York Knicks? The New York fucking Knicks!? To quote the one and only Jerry Seinfeld when he found out the girl he was seeing had dated Newman: "Why?????"

May 08, 2008

Bring Back Burns

The axe finally fell on Paul Maurice yesterday. Fired. Relieved of his duties. Released. Not exactly what I would call earth-shattering news. We all saw this one coming from a kilometre away.

I'm not going to dwell too much on Maurice's tenure with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He simply didn't get the job done. Under his tutelage the Leafs were unable to win on home ice, sported a mediocre power play, and were frighteningly awful at killing penalties. Most importantly, the team didn't make the playoffs.

I can't honestly say I'm going to miss him. As I've written before, his track record speaks for itself and, well, it ain't making a whole lot of noise. Maurice just isn't that great of a coach.

Yes, Maurice is good people. And a great quote. I hope he lands on his feet and gets another job in the NHL if that is what he desires. However, good guys always finish last. Dead last. Or, well, 24th in the 30 team NHL.

You know who else was a great quote? Pat Burns. And he was pretty good at that whole coaching thing, too. He's the perfect man for the job. Burns' resume screams competence: a Stanley Cup ring, a Jack Adams award, and experience in Toronto. Who better than Mr. Burns to take over behind the bench? His passion is exactly what we need as we enter a new era.

Of course, "competence" and "Maple Leafs" don't exactly go hand-in-hand, but I can't imagine that Burns doesn't want this job. The Leafs hold a special place in his heart. I remember reading an article from a couple of years ago when the 1992/1993 Leafs got together for a little reunion. Burns spoke fondly about that team and how special it was. He also offered this little nugget of information: on his mantle at home is not a picture of his Stanley Cup winning New Jersey Devils team. Instead it's a picture of the 92/93 Maple Leafs, the most special team he has ever coached.

Bring Back Burnsy. It has got to be done.

May 07, 2008

The End Of Salami And Cheese...

It is a sad, sad day in Toronto. In fact, it's the end of an era. Chuck Swirsky, the voice of the Toronto Raptors, is leaving town and heading south to Chicago. This is, as they say, fucking brutal.

Chuck...the Swirsk...*cue silent moments of reflection*

Man, I am going to miss him. To think that there won't ever be another call to "get out the salami and cheese" is heartbreaking. Quite. I think this hurts even more than the severe rapeage playoff ouster at the hands of Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic.

Chuck was a rudey. Still is. Was hands down the best play-by-play announcer in this city. Joe Bowen is up there but I think Chuck's, well, Chuckisms put him over the top. It's hard to imagine a Raptors game without the standard Swirsky sound bites:

Toronto's loss is Chicago's gain. Swirsky is returning to the Windy City and will be calling Bulls games on Chicago radio. It is, as Doug Smith so kindly reports, stricly a family-oriented move. Say what you want about the Swirsk, but you can't hate on him for putting family first.

I'll miss him on The Fan 590 and, of course, on Raptors telecasts next season. I'll really miss the salami and cheese. But I wish him well. Thanks for the memories, Swirsky.

(On a side note, I wonder, can he take Leo Rautins with him?)

May 05, 2008

Best Save Ever...For Real This Time

Evgeni Nabokov already made the save of the playoffs a few weeks ago, but he one-upped himself yesterday. He was at his ridiculous-robbery-best again last night, and I think this one's even better, considering it was overtime and his team was facing elimination.

He and his Sharks may have lost the game, and the series, but Nabokov's a straight rude boy.

Best. Save. Ever.

May 01, 2008


Last night, as I read the numerous post-mortems on the Toronto Raptors season, watched another NHL playoff game that didn't involve the Toronto Maple Leafs, and watched the Toronto Blue Jays lose another heartbreaker (where is the bloody offense!?!?), I began to think about better days.

Days back in 1993, in particular. "The good old days." Fifteen years ago. Geezus. Time flies.

As I thought to myself, "I shouldn't be watching the God damn Habs and Flyers," my thoughts drifted to the spring of 1993 and the man who represented those wonderful times, number 93 himself.

Doug Gilmour. My first love. If that video doesn't bring a smile to your face, your heart is made of stone.

"Boy, oh boy, he's a beauty!" Indeed, Don Cherry, indeed.

Meanwhile, the offensive juggernot known as the Toronto Blue Jays wasted another magical pitching performance, this time from Dustin McGowan. This team is really starting to piss me off. They've managed only one run and seven hits in their last 18 innings. For a team that is supposed to be an above average hitting team, this is absolutely unacceptable. And utterly disheartening.

I'm more scared than I am upset. The Jays finished April with a dismal record of 11-17 and a season that began with so much promise is quickly fading to black. The "road trip from hell" - one win in eight games - mercifully ends tonight in Boston.

Great column by Blair at The Globe. Check out the layout, even though it'll likely only make you more depressed. It seems J.P. Ricciardi could pull the trigger on a trade, but teams only want our pitching.

The struggles of my beloved Blue Jays got me thinking back to the fall of 1993, when our players could, you know, actually hit the baseball. Sometimes, they'd hit the ball so hard it would clear the fences. A home run. Remember those?

Looking back, I don't think I understood, at the time, just how truly dramatic and special that moment was. I also didn't know it would be the last time we'd make the playoffs...