August 30, 2008

It's Over...but Travis Snider has arrived!

It's official, I've pulled the plug. Rest easy, 2008 Toronto Blue Jays. Yes, it was over long before last night, but Carl Pavano, Carl fucking Pavano, drove the final nail into the Toronto coffin.

Whatever was ailing the Blue Jays under the John Gibbons regime has returned. With a vengeance. Toronto pitching held the first place Tampa Bay DEVIL Rays - yes, it's still hella weird to say they're in first place - to only six runs over three games, but the Jays left Tampa for New York with only one win.

Last night, A.J. Burnett pitched a complete game, seven-hitter in the Bronx, and he took the 2-1 loss. I've said it before and I'll say it again: it cannot be fun to pitch for this group of hitters.

Speaking of the anemic offence, Jays fans got a glimpse of the future last night, as Travis Snider made his major league debut. I don't know about you, but I had a hard on when he came up to the plate for the first time.

The kid didn't disappoint. He stroked a ball deep into centre field for a double his second time up, and scored the Jays' only run of the ball game. He's only 20 years old, but Snider is going to make playing out the stretch a lot more interesting and fun to watch.

Snider's arrival was paved thanks to the trade-age of Matt Stairs to the Philadelphia Phillies. Stairs is, as my main man Steve Paikin always says, a great Canadian. We all knew he wore that Toronto Blue Jays jersey with a hell of a lot of pride, and I'm definitely sad to see him go. He had some great things to say about Toronto, and you can read all about it at the Thullard Jays Fans website.

Stairsy's on his way to a contender, and I don't doubt that he'll help the Phillies in their quest to make the playoffs. His career is winding down, and I think it's great that he gets to finish it with a team like the Phillies, instead of riding the pine here in Toronto, as we're clearly going with more of a youth movement. Thanks for the memories, Stairsy.

I'm looking forward to new ones from Travis Snider.

August 28, 2008

Matt Mother Fucking Garza

Matt Garza is a Toronto Blue Jays killer. Last night he, once again, bitch slapped our boys. In four starts against the Jays this year, Garza has allowed a paltry one run in 31 innings.

One run. In 31 innings. That is ridiculous.

Sure, Garza is a good young pitcher, but I. Don't. Get. It. Why can't we hit this guy? He has thoroughly dominated the Jays his last three times out, and has got a Scott Downs-like 24 1/3 innings shutout streak going against the local nine.

Really, Garza, what the fuck? Over the course of the season, he's lost to American League bitches like the Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals (twice!), and Cleveland Indians (twice!). But he sure as fuck loves pitching against the Blue Jays.

I don't know, maybe Garza's pissed because we tossed him around like a cheap hooker in his Major League debut last year when he was with the Twins, but, well, shit. Enough with the payback, man.

I hate you, Matt Garza.

And poor David Purcey. He was, uh, dynamite last night. It's a shame he took the complete-game loss. Poor little Purcey.

The Jays' loss, combined with another win by the Red Sox, means we're means I'm drinking.

"I Have A Dream..."

Forty-five years ago today, Martin Luther King, Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and gave one of the greatest speeches of all time.

If you've never listened to the speech in its entirety, do yourself a favour and take 18 minutes out of your day to do so. You won't regret it. It will blow you away, like it did I. It is, needless to say, intensely powerful and remarkably inspiring.

I still find it hard to believe that only 45 years ago America was such a racially divided place.

Call it wonderful scheduling, or call it fate, but here we are 45 years to the day later, and history will once again be made on August 28th. Tonight, my pride and joy Barack Obama will accept the Democratic nomination for the 44th presidency of the United States of America, becoming the first African-American to lead a major party to the polls.

I have no doubt that the late, great Martin Luther King Jr. will be watching down on Invesco Field in Denver tonight as Obama delivers what is already being dubbed "The Dream Speech II," in front of more than 70,000 people. I can't wait.

As Barack Obama prepares to climb Mount Olympus and do what most people have always said is impossible, I know he'll be buoyed by the strength and legacy of the great civil rights leader, who paved the very road that Obama is travelling on. Barack has proved that Martin Luther King, Jr.'s death was not in vain.

America has come a long, long way in 45 years, and we'll find out in November just how far the nation has come. But one thing is for certain, we all have Martin Luther King, Jr. to thank.

So, thank you, Dr. King.

Watch the speech.

August 27, 2008

Guest Post: 5 Ways I'd Change the NHL

It's time to celebrate another first here at Sports And The City: a guest post!

For those of you who read Greg Wyshynski's Puck Daddy blog over at Yahoo! Sports, you know what he's been up to this summer. He's had different personalities, from the great Will Leitch to uber hockey blogger James Mirtle, weigh in with their top five ways they'd change the NHL.

I was going to chime in with my own five ways, but being the world's greatest procrastinator got in the way, as it usually does. Thankfully, my boy Winson has filled the gap. To his friends, he's known as Winse, Prince, Winsanity, Vince, Winsonia, Winsonian, Squinse, Squinsanity, and Squinson. Over here in the comments section, he's known as Marvelous Win.

I'm going to pass the mic over to my guest of honour, but you can find some of my running commentary throughout the post. Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for the one, the only, Marvelous Win.

*cue applause*

Marvelous Win: 5 Ways I'd Change the NHL

I would like to thank eyebleaf for letting me waste some of my time by letting me post on his blog (eyebleaf: He definitely wrote this while at work). Now that the obligatory thanks is out of the way, let's get down to business. I've been reading a lot about how people would change the NHL, and there have been some very good suggestions. So I started to think, what would be my five ways to improve the NHL? Now, I'm really not like the regular person (eyebleaf: I can attest to this fact), so I decided to tap into my inner Vince McMahon and present to you five stupid ways I'd improve the NHL. They just might be crazy enough to work. Hit my music.

1. Hooligans, hooligans, and more hooligans

Let's take a page from TFC and have a section in the lower bowl, behind the away net, reserved for each city's equivalent of the Red Patch Boys. Anyone who's been to a TFC game knows the excitement the south side brings. Just imagine the away goalie being heckled all game long by the die hard fans; being serenaded with "It's all your fault!" and "Who are ya?" chants. And streamers. We definitely need streamers (eyebleaf: I would have loved to whip a streamer or two, or ten, at Raycroft's useless mug, although they probably would have gone right through him, just like everything else - zing!).

2. What cha say, foo?

Why does hockey, a sport that supposedly thrives on violence, have the worst personality in the world? Why on earth are hockey players taught to be respectable in interviews? Honestly, hockey needs more guys like Sean Avery. I mean, even Michael Jordan was a master of the timeless art of trash talkage.

Imagine, after a Caps and Pens game, Sidney Crosby saying something like this: "That Ovechkin fool ain't got nothing on me. I can dangle around him any day of the week. And he's one ugly mother fucker."

And Ovie coming back with this: "The next time Sid skates into my zone, I will knock him on his ass, and watch him cry like he usually does. And he calls that a playoff beard? I know Russian girls with more hair on their face."

Imagine that. Priceless. Screw promoting team rivalries. Player hatred - think Marty Brodeur and Avery - is the way to go.

3. Relegation, Relegation, Relegation

I'm taking another page from the most popular sport in the world; football. No, not the one the Americans play. That doesn't even involve too much, you know, foot. They really should change the name.

Anyway, picture this: the last place team in each conference would get relegated to the AHL, and the AHL's two best teams would get promoted to the NHL (eyebleaf: the fact that the NHL teams stock the AHL teams might pose a slight problem, but I love the idea of relegation regardless).

Can you imagine how exciting the games would be at the end of the year? No one would ever think about tanking again.

4. Mamma Said Knock You Out

Instead of moving away from fighting, I think we should face facts and start rewarding the guys who have the chutzpah to drop the gloves. Here's my idea: only the loser of the fight should go to the sin bin. So, if you choose to fight and get your ass handed to you (eyebleaf: memories of Mark Bell), your team will be down a man. So don't be starting something unless you plan on finishing it.

5. Blue and Red

Picture this: every time someone passes the puck there'll be a blue a streak on your television, and every time someone shoots the puck there'll be a red streak on your television. What? What do you mean they tried that? And it didn't work? Oh, well, shit.

5. Girls, Girls, and more Girls

I know there's recently been a lot of talk about women and their place in hockey. I mean no disrespect to the lovely female hockey bloggers out there, but I personally think every team should have cheerleaders, or "Ice Girls" as they're called in Pittsburgh. What? I like girls. I like them a lot (eyebleaf: he really does). OK fine, just the hot ones (eyebleaf: it's true, he's mean to the ugly ones).

And after reading that, ladies and gentlemen, now you know why I'm not running the NHL.

We now return to your regularly scheduled programming...

August 25, 2008

Bosh Is Golden

Chris Bosh knows a lot about losing; he is, after all, a Toronto Raptor (zing!). After his trip to Beijing, and a crash course in how to kick serious international basketball ass, Bosh is coming home with a gold medal. And he is most deserving.

Bosh ended up playing an important role on the Redeem Team, and was written about extensively during the games. He was by no means the focal point on what was one sick, wicked, and nasty team, but CB4 checked his ego at the door and is a big reason why the Americans are back on top of the basketball world.

Check out some of the kind words our resident hoops superstar received here, here, here, and here.

Bosh is a rudey. It's good to see him finally getting some recognition outside of Toronto. He deserves it.

It looks like CB4 is returning to Toronto with a lot of confidence from his Olympic experience. That should bode well for the Raptors, as the Jermaine O'Neal era is set to begin this October. A front court of Bosh and J.O., with Andrea Bargnani coming off the bench? I must admit, I like the sound of that.

Just pray that O'Neal is healthy, people.

Just. Pray.

My Heart Hurts


I don't know if you caught yesterday's game, but all I have to say about it is this: Matt Stairs was safe. The home plate umpire blew the call in the sixth inning, and it cost the Blue Jays the game. Fuck you, Angel Campos.

That one hurt, man. The whole series hurt. Boston strolled into town and took two out of three, in a series the Jays absolutely had to sweep win, leaving the locals eight games out of the wild card spot with only 32 games left on the schedule.

As Mike Wilner so depressingly points out, the Jays need a miracle of biblical proportions to finish with 90 wins on the year. They need to go 23-9 down the stretch, and even 90 wins won't guarantee they'll make the playoffs. For all intents and purposes, we're done, I know. But, technically, we've still got a chance. We've still got a pulse. However faint.

I went to all three games over the weekend at the Cable Box. I'm all Massholed out, for real. They were everywhere. On the subway. On the street. In front of me in line for some street meat. Massholes as far as the eye could see, all weekend long. In their Pedroia, Youkilis, Ortiz, Beckett, Dice-K, and Varitek t-shirts and jerseys. And I'll admit it, they were loud. They are a vocal and obnoxious bunch.

In terms of the team I most love to hate, the Boston Red Sox have most definitely surpassed the New York Yankees. I'll take Yankees fans any of the day of the week. Fuck the Red Sox. I don't want to see another Masshole for a long, long time.

Boston holds a one game lead over Minnesota for the wild card. While it's all but assured that the Jays will miss the post-season for the 15th consecutive year (I just threw up in my mouth), I'm looking forward to September and a month of playing spoiler. There's a good chance the wild card winner can come out of the Central Division, and I hope the Jays do everything in their power to make sure both the Yankees and Red Sox miss the playoffs. If we're going down, we might as well take the douchebags down with us.

Even though the universe may explode if the Tampa Bay Rays - the Tampa Bay fucking Devil Rays! - are the only team to qualify for the post-season out of the uber-competitive AL East division, nothing would make me happier than for both the Evil Douchebag Empires to miss the playoffs.

Go Jays. Yes, still.

August 24, 2008

North of Steeles Heading South

Before I get to the point, suck on that, Massholes.

So, Shaun Marcum's heading down to the 'Cuse. Can't say I understand this one, especially since we're trotting out borderline first-round bust David Purcey every five days. Even with his recent control problems, amongst starting pitchers Marcum's second on the team in ERA (3.60) behind Doc.

Mike Wilner, in all his blogging greatness, says it might have more to do with Marcum's attitude than his mechanics. Regardless of the reasons, John Parrish is back with the big boys and will take Marcum's spot in the rotation for the time being. Parrish over Marcum? Really? No, I can't support this move. Not right now. We're a game or two from being completely out of the race, and the paper thin back end of our rotation just got even thinner. Brutal.

Check out what my man The Ack, who handles weekend editing duties over at The Tao of Stieb, has to say on the subject. I think he's more perplexed than I am, and I can't blame him.

Anyway, should be a beauty of a rubber match this afternoon. Dice-K vs. A.J. The Jays need this one. Bad.

August 23, 2008

God Damn Boston Red Sox

And there were way, way, too many Massholes at the Cable Box last night, particularly one middle-aged thullard three seats to my left. BoSox Uncle didn't stop chirping, or drinking, all night. "Zaun never gets on!" Hilarious.

Massholes; they're downright insufferable.

August 22, 2008

Scoring Runs Is Fun

Another 14 runs. Another 20+ hit game. Twenty-one last night, to be exact. More importantly, another win for the Blue Jays. I don't know about you, but I could get used to this type of offence.

I'm tempted to yet again ask where these guys have been all season long, but, well, Sidney Ponson was on the mound for the Yankees yesterday. Sorry, Sir Sidney Ponson. You know things are desperate down in the Bronx when Ponson is part of the rotation. And, get this, Carl Pavano is starting on Saturday. Carl fucking Pavano! I didn't even know he was still alive, let alone still under contract and pitching.

Prediction: Pavano gets his ass handed to him on Saturday, and is never heard from again.

Even though they faced Ponson and a Yankees committee of garbage relievers, full marks to the Jays offence. They finally gave Roy Halladay some God damn run support. Joey Inglett, Marco Scutaro, Alex Rios and Adam Lind went a combined 14-for-22, scoring 11 runs and driving home eight.

Lind continues to bring smiles, and erections, to the Jays faithful. As for Inglett, what do you think, has he played well enough to be given a shot at second base next season (with Aaron Hill moving to short)? I'm leaning towards saying yes. His .308 batting average in 83 games is impressive, and he's been solid out in the field as well. He's most definitely filled in admirably for Hill. The final month of the season is going to be an important one for him.

As for Doc, win number 15 went in the bag last night. Him and his BFF A.J. Burnett have a nice little battle going on for most wins on the team. They've got 31 between the two of them, and have finally become the dominant 1-2 punch we envisioned they would be three years ago.

J.P. Ricciardi was busy yesterday as well, picking up Jose Bautista off the scrap heap from the Pittsburgh Pirates. It speaks incredible volumes about the Jays offence when a guy who's let go by Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh! - has more home runs in 2008, 12, than any Blue Jay. That is so immensely sad, but I guess it just goes to show how dominating the Jays pitching staff - both the rotation and the bullpen - has been this season. The arms are the reason why we're five games above .500, and the reason why I'm still dreaming about the wild card.

I mean, even Melvin fucking Mora has 95 RsBI. Rios leads the Jays with 58. Bautista has 44. It truly is amazing we're still in this thing.

Here come the Boston Red Sox, and I'm sure a contingent of Massholes to the city with them. Seven games back, I'm going to keep it real: nothing but a sweep will do.

August 21, 2008

We Were Due...

For a shit-kicking. David Purcey vs. Andy Pettitte was really a no-contest from the get go. Purcey struggled, Pettitte was effective, and the Jays bats were eerily silent yet again.

For the Yankees, there were positives all around. They stroked 10 hits, including a two-run bomb from Derek Jeter, Pettitte was lights out, and Johnny Damon didn't drop a fly ball all night.

I was hoping to see Purcey step up and deliver against a lineup the likes of New York's, but he was brutal, falling behind most of the hitters he faced in his four innings of work. You can't do that up here in the big leagues, especially against the Yankees. They'll burn you everytime, those bastards.

The esteemed Robert MacLeod of The Globe and Mail completely stole my thunder and wrote the post I was thinking about writing, over at Globe on Baseball. With Purcey and Jesse Litsch manning the back end of the Blue Jays rotation, it's going to take a Festivus miracle for the Jays to get within striking distance of the wild card. The injury to Dustin McGowan really, really fucks things up.

Doc Halladay takes the ball in tonight's rubber match. There's no other guy I want on the mound in what is pretty much a must-win game.

I wonder, if the Jays can somehow close the gap to within five games, might we see a four-man rotation of Doc, A.J. Burnett, Shaun Marcum, and Litsch? A.J.'s only a Blue Jay for 40 odd more days, why not send him out there every four days.

Yesterday's silver lining? The Baltimore Orioles did us a solid and finally beat the Red Sox. We're still 7.5 games back.

August 20, 2008

Thank You Johnny Damon

I would like to take this opportunity to thank New York Yankees douchebag outfielder Johnny Damon for his shocking inability to catch routine fly balls at the Major League level.

Thank you, Johnny Damon. Thank you for sucking so incredibly.

Damon made sure A.J. Burnett got his 16th win last night. I was at the ball game and, trust me, Burnett deserved it. It might have been his finest performance in a Blue Jays uniform; five hits scattered over eight strong innings, one walk, and 13 punch outs. A.J. struck out Damon, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi a combined 10 times. That's domination, folks, plain and simple.

Burnett's now third in all of baseball in wins and strikeouts. He could win 20 games and, boy, wouldn't that be something? It's a damn shame every year can't be a contract year.

Props out to Adam Lind for his game-tying home run in the 7th inning off Yankees starter Darrel Rasner, who was bitch slapping the Jays up until that point. For the record, I prophetically called the Lind home run. And I've got a witness. It might have been the beer talking but, hey, you can call me Navstradamus from here on out.

Do you want to know how sick Adam Lind is? No, do you really want to know? Check this out, jack, from the charming fellas over at The Southpaw.

Props out to Lyle Overbay and B.J. Ryan as well. Overbay made a helluva play on A-Rod in the 9th, gunning him down at second as he tried to stretch a bloop single into a double. Overbay's been a disappointment at the plate (who hasn't?), but I've still got man-love for Lyle. And The Beej picked up his 24th save on the year, getting A-Rod, Giambi and Xavier Nady in the 9th.

I figured the Jays would struggle to put runs on the board last night, coming off that ridiculous 15-run explosion at Fenway Park on Sunday, and they did. But thanks to Damon's misadventures out in centre field, we got the 2-1 win, and that's all that matters.

The series, and one huge week of baseball, continues tonight. Make me proud, David Purcey.

August 19, 2008

Bidding Maurice Adieu...

It's a sad day for Toronto FC. It's official, Maurice Edu is leaving us. He's on his way to greener pastures after signing a 5-year deal with the Glasgow Rangers of the Scottish Premier League.

I don't really have anything witty or even slightly humourous to say about this. It's honestly a bit depressing. I wasn't ready for this. I mean, I knew Edu would leave us one day. I just didn't think it would be so soon.

Oh, Maurice. It's only been a year and a half since you got here. We were just getting to know each other. But, I know, you have to go. It's a great opportunity, and hopefully a springboard to bigger and brighter things, like a spot on a club in the English Premier League, or in Italy, or Spain. It hurts, but I understand. I ain't mad at cha.

For those of you not quite up to speed on all things TFC, Edu was the team's first ever draft pick, first overall in the 2007 MLS SuperDraft. He had a solid rookie campaign, and was named MLS Rookie Of The Year last season.

Edu was over in Beijing at the Olympics for team USA and it's looking more and more likely that he'll be a mainstay on the American international squad for years to come. Look for him at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

The guy's a gamer. Actually, he's a rudey. He represented TFC well in his short stint here in the city, and he will be missed. But I wish him well as he takes the next step in what will hopefully be a long and successful career.

Cheers, Maurice Edu. Don't forget where it all began.

August 18, 2008

Marvelous Matinee

Wow. That was most enjoyable. Ain't nothing like beating the living shit out of the Boston Red Sox. To do it at Fenway Park, against their "ace," well, I can't ask for much more than that.

Sure, it was only a two game set thanks to Friday's game being rained out, but we won 'em both. And last I checked, that's still a sweep. The legendary Tao of Stieb put it best: "Yah chowdah heads! Why don't you take those 15 runs and shove them up Sweet Caroline's pooper?!"

The Jays looked like they were making up for a season's worth of terrible hitting, and overall execution, in yesterday's joyous matinee affair. It was fun to watch. Fifteen runs, 22 hits, and an astonishing 10 doubles. It was the type of offensive display I envisioned I'd be watching on a regular basis from these Blue Jays. Oh, how wrong I was.

Alex Rios was the main event in yesterday's doubles parade. Dude was simply on fire, finishing five-for-six with four two-baggers and a single, three runs scored, and two runs batted in.

Once again, I've got to show Johnny McDonald some love. In the first inning, with the Jays up four-nil and runners on second and third with two down, Mac, the ultra-light hitting PMoD (if you still don't know what PMoD stands for, shame on you), stroked a Josh Beckett offering off the Green Monstah for a double. Six-nothing Jays. It was a huge hit early from the number nine hitter, and it sent a message to the BoSox. The message? Something along the lines of "Today, we will not be fucked with. And Beckett sucks."

Hey, you know that Adam Lind guy? He's good.

Hey, you know that Brad Wilkerson guy? He's, uh, not very good. Yeah, he's made some circus catches the last couple of months in the field, but his .215 batting average and .624 OPS, in 74 games with Toronto, are downright awful.

Might there be a Richie Sexson sighting?

The Jays, fresh off their successful 5-1 road trip, head into their off day today with a 65-60 record, and seven games behind Boston in the wild card race (you're damned right it's a race). If the Red Sox look hard enough, they might just see Toronto in their rear view mirror, far off in the distance, but gaining some ground nonetheless. Remember what the always-wise Ace Ventura Pet Detective said: "Assholes in mirror are closer than they appear!" Yes, we are those assholes.

Seven games. Crazier shit has happened. And New York and Boston will be in town this week, beginning tomorrow night. This is what it's all about, folks.

Bring on the Yankees.

August 15, 2008

It's Up To God Now...

After watching the Toronto Blue Jays take three of four from the Detroit Tigers, one thing is for certain: Magglio Ordonez needs a haircut. Desperately.

Seriously, Maggs, dude. That hair, it's got "I'm a douchebag" all over it.

I'm not sure I could cheer for a guy with a mop like that. Sure, the .320 average, 15 home runs, and 71 RsBI are nice but...who am I kidding? With numbers like that, considering how flaccid the Blue Jays offence is, there would be a Magglio Ordonez shrine in my 365 square foot closet apartment.

Anyway, enough about Maggs.

The playoffs get underway tonight. Well, in all likelihood, my playoffs. Red Sox and Blue Jays from beautiful Fenway Paahk. Doc vs Paul Byrd. The start of fifteen in a row against AL East opponents. Nine games out of the wild card.

Light a candle, make the sign of the holy cross, get on your knees facing Mecca, have a pooja, do what ever it is you need to do. Start praying.

August 13, 2008

Not Waving The White Flag...Yet

I still don't have it in me to throw in the towel on the Jays' season. Perhaps that's because I'm a homer. Or simply an unrealistic idiot. Regardless, I just don't have it in me.

Before I go forward, I'd like to stricken the Cleveland series over the weekend from the record. Let's just, you know, toss it out the window, and fuhged about it. Cool? Cool.

The Jays have been playing decent baseball, and guess who got another win last night? That's right, A.J. Burnett. For those of you keeping track at home, that's 15. Fifteen fucking wins from A.J. Burnett. I must admit that after his first two injury-plagued seasons in a Toronto uniform, I didn't think I'd ever see this day.

I love Burnett. As I recently blathered, I hope he stays.

It was great to see the Jays' offence pick up their pitcher last night. Down 4-1 heading into the seventh, Toronto batted around, scored four, and made sure A.J. left the game in line to get the win.

Two at-bats in the bottom of the seventh stood out. With Adam Lind at first (three more hits last night, including another home run; how sick is this kid!?!?), Johnny McDonald battled Tigers pitcher Bobby Seay through a long, long at-bat, which must have been at least 10 or 11 pitches, before doubling down the left field line. Mac's taken a lot of heat for his toothpick-like hitting abilities, but he came up big last night, and his average is now at least over the Mendoza Line. Even with his minner stick at the plate, I'm glad Mac's seeing some more playing time. If only for the selfish reason to watch him play shortstop. The guy's a wizard.

After MVP (Most Versatile Player) Marco Scutaro brought Mac home, Vernon Wells' twig provided the other rather large, clutch hit. Welcome back, Vernon. His double scored Scutaro and Alex Rios, and put the Jays in the lead for good. Say what you want about Wells and how disappointing the first two years of his mammoth contract have been, you know how much his bat means to this offensively challenged lineup.

Scoot also deserves some props. I think the only position the guy hasn't played this year is catcher. And considering how low Gregg Zaun's stock has fallen in the eyes of the Gastonian one, I wouldn't be surprised to see Scutaro strapping on the pads.

Scoot's the everyday third baseman until further notice, now that Scott Rolen has hit the disabled list. Wells comes back, and Rolen takes his place on the DL. That's just how we roll here in Toronto.

There should be zero talk of Rolen coming back this season. His shoulder's fucked, and his health has got to be the number one priority. Two years and over $20 million remain on his contract - that's, umm, kind of a lot of dough - so Rolen and the Jays should be thinking about 2009. He's got to get healthy, because at the plate, he's a shell of his former self. If a fourth surgery isn't an option, I'm not sure what's next. Might retirement enter the equation? Seems kind of premature, but I don't know. All I know is Rolen is not the player he used to be. BUT I'm not going to shit on J.P. Ricciardi over the (Glaus/Rolen) trade. No way. I loved the trade when it was made, and still think it was one J.P. had to make at the time. Hindsight is easy, motha suckas.

The boys are back to two games over .500 - what do you know, a 1-2-3 inning from B.J. Ryan! - and have two more games in Detroit before heading over to Fenway Park for a date with the Massholes. Here comes the heat. Fifteen games in a row against the Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay DEVIL Rays, and New York Yankees.

The days of reckoning are upon us, my friends. These might very well be my 2008 Toronto Blue Jays playoffs. Regardless of what you think, and whether you believe the Jays are still in this or not, the season will be decided in the next two weeks.

Is it extremely likely that the Jays will continue to play .500 baseball over the next two weeks, or get spanked by their three divisional opponents in front of them in the standings? Yes. Absolutely.

Is it possible that they go on a 13-2 run and get themselves back in the race? Yes. Absolutely.

The odds are 50/50, my friends. I don’t know about you, but I’m setting myself up for some serious disappointment going with option number two.

Make me proud, Blue Jays...

August 11, 2008

Technical Difficulties

Sports And The City is currently experiencing technical difficulties. Internet service at Chez Eyebleaf will hopefully be up and running by Wednesday night. Until then, for all your time wastage needs, peruse the blog roll. Freely.

Thank you for your patience and cooperation during this most difficult time.

And I know the Blue Jays were swept by Cleveland, fucking Cleveland!, over the weekend, at home no less, but today is a new day, and a new series. Go Jays. We're only eight gam...ah, fuck it.

August 08, 2008

Won't You Stay, A.J.?

Holy shit. I think A.J. Burnett is finally, finally, putting it all together. We're not even halfway through August, and Burnett registered his 14th win of the season last night. I'm like, giddy.

Burnett! With 14 wins! In August! Two more than his previous career high! Sigh. Our A.J. is all grown up.

I get the feeling Burnett is enjoying pitching for Cito Gaston. Since the Gastonian one returned to the Toronto dugout, A.J.'s won eight of 10 starts. He made it four dubyas in a row yesterday to complete the four-game sweep of the hapless Athletics of Oakland.

What made yesterday's win so sugary sweet was the fact that Burnett didn't have his best stuff, and had to battle. Oakland jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, which led to a mound visit from Cito in only the second inning. Whatever Gaston said, it worked. Burnett worked his tail off the rest of the way, going six innings and giving up four earned runs on the night. But most importantly, he kept his team in the game, and his offence responded by bringing out the brooms.

Again, I must reiterate that I absolutely love how Gaston goes out to talk to his pitchers during the game, instead of sending pitching coach Brad Arnsberg to do the deed. Cito's just heavenly.

Speaking of Gaston, he's coming back next year. And I couldn't be happier about it. It's a celebration, bitches!

Back to Burnett. It's apparently only a foregone conclusion that he's going to opt-out of the final two years of his contract with the Jays come seasons end. I wouldn't be surprised if he does. Nobody should be. He'd be an idiot not to, really. He's having a career year at the most opportune time in his life, and everyone knows pitchers get grossly overpaid on the open market (hello, Carlos Silva).

A part of me, however, is hoping, and praying, that A.J. proves all of us wrong. With $24 million left on his contract, it's not like he's going to have trouble feeding his family if he sticks around. Perhaps, as crazy as it sounds, A.J. is content here in Toronto, along with his best friend forever Roy Halladay, his mentor Brad Arnsberg, and his favourite manager Cito Gaston. Perhaps A.J., after years of searching, and after years of trying to harness his amazing potential, has finally found his happy place. And it happens to be right here with the Toronto Blue Jays.

I don't think there'd be anything better in the whole wide world than A.J., at the end of the season, coming out and saying: "You know what? Fuck it. I'm staying. We have unfinished business here in Toronto."

A man can dream...

I leave you with a phenomenal post from The Tao of Stieb, on the douchebags known as bandwagon Blue Jays fans. Do yourself a favour and read it. No, really, read it. I'll wait. No, I insist.

Back? Cool. I know, I told you it was great. It's the perfect example of why I read, and why I love, The Tao of Stieb, probably the best Toronto Blue Jays blog that exists out here on Al Gore's internet.

August 07, 2008

Marcum's Back, Bitches

It was his fourth start since coming off the disabled list a couple of weeks ago, but Shaun Marcum, the real Shaun Marcum, returned last night. It was a pleasure to see him on the mound dominating the opposition once again.

Marcum was lights out against the pathetic Oakland A's, who've dropped nine in a row and are finally playing like the craptacular team most of us thought they were.

North of Steeles was hit hard in his previous three starts. He'd given up 16 earned runs, as well as a disturbing six home runs, in 14.2 innings of work. I'll admit it, I was beginning to grow a little concerned. Marcum had been so lights out up until his injury (a 2.65 ERA in over 98 innings pitched), and we need him more than ever if we have any hopes of making something out of the rest of this season.

Well, Shaun took the ball last night and quelled my fears. He shut down the A's over seven innings, giving up only three hits, walking two, and striking out seven. Oakland's only run did come via the long ball but, hey, I'm not complaining after a pitching performance of that calibre.

The Jays hitters didn't exactly light up Gio Gonzalez in his first big league start (shocking!), but Rowdy Rod Barajas hit a three run dinger in the first inning, and it was all the Jays would need. Now, I'm not sure how many three run bombs the Jays have hit this year and I'm too lazy to actually check, but I would think that they haven't hit more than seven (let's not kid ourselves, I'm probably wrong). So, it's always fun and special when it happens.

Our beloved birds, winners of three in a row and four of their past five (including a come from behind walk-off!), once again continue the severe cock-teasage of their most loyal fans. With a record of 58-56, and trailing the Boston Red Sox by 7.5 games in the race for the wild card, yes, it certainly is going to take a miracle.

As my man WillRain points out over at The Southpaw, the Blue Jays are one of the hottest teams in the game since June 22nd, playing over .600 baseball. In all effectiveness, two brutal 14 game stretches have ruined Toronto's season and have made the playoffs the longest of long shots.

To everyone out there who bitches and moans that the baseball season is too long, read the above-linked-to post over at The Southpaw and let it sink in. Every game, every single God damn mother fucking game, whether it's number one or number 162, matters.

Of course, there will be no throwing in the towel from this corner. Not yet, at least. The Blue Jays still control their own destiny. With a rotation that features the zen-like Roy Halladay, a healthy A.J. Burnett, and the Shaun Marcum who chucked last night, I'll take, and actually like, our chances.

Believe. Really, what do you have to lose?

August 04, 2008

Scott Downs: the type of guy you take home to meet mom...

My man crush on Blue Jays uber relief pitcher Scott Downs continues to intensify, especially after his marvelous performance Saturday night down in Texas.

Downs is a straight rudey. I thought, and still think, that he should have been an all star. The guy has been dynamite out of the 'pen for the Jays all year, and Saturday was no exception.

Downs entered the game in relief of A.J. Burnett and went two and a third innings, facing seven hitters, and retiring them all. He lowered his team leading ERA to 1.37 and hasn't allowed a run since July 5th. He's also held opposing hitters to a paltry .202 batting average. The much-maligned J.P. Ricciardi deserves some serious props for locking Downs up and having him become an integral part of the bullpen. Downs has done nothing but deliver.

I fucking love Scott Downs.

I know, the Blue Jays can't hold a lead for their lives and lost two out of three deep in the heart of Texas, but, well, I don't want to talk about it. I'd rather focus on the few positives I've got left, like my main man Downs. He makes the Jays' dance with the .500 mark a little easier to deal with.

August 01, 2008

Another God Damn Post On Mats Sundin

Today is the day we were supposed to learn of Mats Sundin's decision regarding his future. Well, much to nobody's surprise, that ain't happening. But let's talk about Mats anyways.

Norte over at He Score, He Shoot! is officially bothered by the Sundin situation and the former Toronto captain's inability to come to a decision regarding if, and where, he will play next season. In Norte's words, "Give it to us straight Mats."

I think it's time to put on Mats Sundin's shoes, and look at the situation from his point of view. Remember, you're a professional ice hockey player, and 37 years old.

Sundin, as of July 1st, became a former Toronto Maple Leaf. He's a free agent, with no obligation of any kind to the Leafs or us, their loyal (and alcoholic) fans. Sundin has repeatedly maintained that he hasn't decided if he can put his body through the rigours of another NHL season. In my humble opinion, that is giving it to us straight. And we have to give him the benefit of the doubt. Why? Because he didn't take the $20 million Vancouver deal the moment it was offered to him. Because he's publicly said that the Vancouver deal is much more lucrative than any other offer he's received.

If Mats had taken the Canucks deal on July 1st or, hell, any time in July, he would have been a liar, a douchebag, and a hypocrite. But he didn't. Nothing has changed. He's maintained the same story from day one, and has stuck to it. He simply doesn't know if he wants to play next season.

If Mats does decide to prolong his career with another team, what's there to be bitter about? A draft pick or two? Come on. We're talking about the guy who gave us the best years of his hockey life. His youth. His prime. His everything. Life isn't simple. What really is forever anymore? There's a reason why half the people who get married on this side of the world end up getting divorced. I know Sundin started his career in Quebec, and he may yet put on another jersey, but he will always be remembered as a Toronto Maple Leaf. The best one, ever, actually. Not many athletes can say they spent their whole career, or even 14 years, with one franchise. Sundin doesn't deserve to have his legacy determined over any of this bullshit. Just remember what he did out on the ice.

Keep Sundin's shoes on. If you were him, you'd probably be doing exactly what he's doing right now. Some serious introspection, and keeping all your options open. The guy has got one or two years left of hockey in him, from which he can make $12-$14 million. He can set up another three or four generations of the Sundin family, for life. But he's got to want to do it. He's got to have the desire to do it. A hasty decision would be the wrong one, wouldn't you agree?

When it comes to Sundin, I tend to ramble. I love the guy. With all my heart. With the window closing on his career, and other opportunities facing him, I don't have it in me to be upset with him. I just want him to be happy. If he chooses to leave Toronto, I'll feel the sting, but I'll hold the door for him on his way out. It's the least I can do, after all he's done for me. If I've learned anything in my almost 26 years on this planet, it's that all good things must come to an end.

And, just for the record, Mats can fondle my frilly unmentionables whenever he likes.