October 31, 2008


Dear "Most Valuable Losers,"

Yesterday, continuing a long-standing trend, another Toronto reporter took his shot at Leaf fans. This time it was Howard Berger calling us "losers," but we've seen the same cookie-cutter article before from virtually everyone who covers the team.

Quite frankly, we've had enough.

As fans, we believe that those most deserving of our praise and our scorn are directly involved in the game, whether it's on the ice, in the press box or in the executive corridors. Fans don't pencil in the starting five, make bad trades, or write headlines of the day and shouldn't be blamed (or praised) for the totals in the wins and loss column.

Hockey may be just a game, but it's also a passion. If you're looking for passionate hockey coverage that offers insight and humour, and you're sick of being blamed for supporting a team you're passionate about, you have a better option.

It's time to leave the media superstars behind. There's compelling, timely, wide ranging content waiting just for you online in the Barilkosphere.

Many have found this better way of following the Leafs, but not every Leafs fan has been so lucky. Please send this message to your fellow Leafers via email or postings on message boards, and let them know that they do have a choice.

We hope you'll join us here in the Barilkosphere and become regular readers.

The Barilkosphere: criticism where and when it's warranted, often with a side of funny.

October 30, 2008

Deep Thoughts Vol. 12: Go Leafs Go! Edition

My worst nightmare has come true: Matt Stajan is the Toronto Maple Leafs' number one centre. I'm not sure whether to laugh, cry, or pour myself a stiff drink.

Let's not kid ourselves, I'm leaning towards the drink, but Stajan had me smiling last night. I have to give it up to him. He was on point: a two goal, one assist performance in easily his best game of the season. It might have been one of the better performances of his career.

Stajan has responded incredibly well since Ron Wilson had him watch a game from the press box a couple of weeks ago. On the high scoring Maple Leafs, Stajan has rocketed to third on the team with six points (three goals, three assists) in nine games.

Perhaps there's more to Stajan than meets the eye...

Guess Who

Is leading the Leafs in scoring? One Alexei Ponikarovsky. Nine points, on three goals and six assists, in ten games.

That's my boy.

Anyone else want to question whether he's anything more than just a third-liner?

Who Are These Guys?

Coming off a disappointing loss at home to Tampa Bay the night before, the Leafs had a sluggish first period yesterday. Once again, however, they rallied from two goals down, and ended up controlling the play for the majority of the back-and-forth game.

Toronto ended up firing 48 shots at Marty Brodeur, the most he has ever faced in his career. Ever. No, seriously, ever.

These Leafs don't quit. They come at you, all night. The effort has been there every game, and that's all we can ask for. They sure as hell are fun to watch.

Bizarro Game

A 6-5 final in New Jersey. Five goals on Marty Brodeur. Three-for-four on the power play. Flawless penalty killing. 55% on the faceoff dot. And Vesa Toskala dominating, and winning, a shootout.

That's pretty fucked up. Good thing I played the lottery. I could be a millionaire by the time you read this.

Dominic Moore

Has officially won my heart. I mean, dude is such a sweetheart. What a shift Moore had before he set up Jamal Mayers' first goal in the blue and white in last night's third period. The guy just works so hard. Like Jerry Seinfeld's mom used to say, "how can anyone not like him?"

Moore went to Harvard. He's a smart cat. He's also a local boy, hailing from Thornhill. Dommy Moore is living the dream.

Joining Tlusty?

I'm not usually right, but I was on point with regards to Jiri Tlusty being sent down to the AHL last week. Perhaps Nikolai Kulemin should join him. He looks uninterested out there. I wouldn't mind seeing Robbie Earl, or even Jeremy Williams, on the wing. Those fellas can skate.

A Good Month

The Leafs say goodbye to October with a 4-3-3 record. Considering the competition and the expectations, the better than .500 record is a significant accomplishment. Of course, it is not surprising in the least to me because, well, you know, playoffs! Bring on November.

On Top Of The World

The City of Brotherly Love has finally exorcised the demons. The Phillies are World Series champions.

Look at Brad Lidge's face. 

For one priceless moment, when that final out is made, grown men become boys once again. That, my friends, is why I'm a sports fan. 

Enjoy yourselves, Philadelphians. You waited 28 years. And who knows when you will reach the summit again.

October 29, 2008

Make Yourself At Home, TFC

Toronto FC's season is over. A season that began with so much promise ended with so much disappointment. BMO Field must wait to pop its playoff cherry.

Honestly, I didn't watch enough of TFC in 2008 to tell you where it all went to hell. I'll leave that to the professionals. In this case, The Toronto Star's Cathal Kelly.

I know, I know, there's a lot of hate out there amongst soccer aficionados pointed at my man Cathal, but I enjoy his work. I loved his coverage of Euro 2008 this past summer. His blog was hilarious. In my humble opinion, the man can write. 

Cathal's take on TFC in 2008? The team just wasn't that good. And you can blame TFC's director of soccer Mo Johnston for that.

Johnston promised big things, and he didn't deliver. If Mo was the man in charge of any other Toronto sports franchise, he'd be out of a job. I don't think he's taken enough heat for TFC's brutal season, but my man Cathal brought the fire. Read his column.

Here's hoping shit changes in the front office down at BMO Field. Major League Soccer has been a huge success in Toronto, but there has got to be a better squad on the field, plain and simple.

TFC is already looking all too comfortable in the city's sports scene. They're fitting in rather well, actually. The club is printing money, but the playoffs are nowhere in sight. It's absolutely shocking that they're owned and operated by MLSE.

If it weren't for the Toronto Raptors, these might be some of the darkest days in Toronto sports history. The Jays, Leafs, Argos (yikes), and TFC aren't exactly knocking my socks off. 

Required Footy Reading

If you're looking to satisfy your Canadian footy/TFC blogging needs, because God knows I'm not getting 'er done, check out The 24th Minute. Duane Rollins, he of Out of Left Field fame, is your amiable host. And, yes, the blog is aptly named in honour of TFC's first ever goal, scored by Danny Dichio in, you guessed it, the 24th minute.

Also, the gentlemen over at The Passion That Frustrates Us All have posted part one of their TFC Season Review. Check out the layout, they're good people over there.

You wish you had one, Philadelphia...

I bet Phillies fans don't think that lid on top of the Rogers Centre looks so ridiculous anymore.

That's exactly why we've got it, because apparently baseball can be played even in November.

A mistake by the lake? Hardly. I believe every stadium should be built with a retractable roof. It would save my man Bud Selig a ton of trouble.

Prediction: I'm taking the Phillies (which means the World Series is probably headed back to Tampa Bay). Here's hoping they wrap it up tonight, and all hell breaks loose in the city of brotherly love as Philadelphians celebrate their first pro sports title in a generation. 

October 28, 2008


I spent a couple of hours late last night staring out at the city beyond my window, listening to Natalie Imbruglia, and thinking about Luke Schenn. The kid is staying with the Maple Leafs and, much like Natalie sings, I'm torn.

On an aside, I've got quite the view of Toronto from my mother's basement. You'd be surprised.

When it comes to the man-child known as Schenn, I must admit that I'm surprised, and a little disappointed, that he won't be returning to junior hockey. I felt that, at the end of the day, another year of dominating hockey players his own age could not have hurt him. Schenn would have been the number one guy on the Kelowna Rockets, and would have had the chance to play in every situation, especially the power play - something he won't get much of an opportunity to do here with the Leafs. Schenn was also a shoo-in for the Canadian entry at the World Junior tournament, and likely would have captained the squad.

In Schenn's defence, and also much to my delight, he's played great so far this season. He's proven that he's ready to play with the best players in the world. In only eight games, he's become one of Ron Wilson's go-to guys, and has cracked the top four on the blue line. Frankly, it's hard not to be impressed by what he's been able to step in and do. His play really made it hard for the Leafs to send him back down, and I can't help but admire the drive and work ethic of the soon-to-be 19-year-old (!) for that.

One thing is clear: Schenn plays with the poise of a seasoned NHL defenceman. He plays hard, he plays with passion, and he sticks up for his teammates. Watching the youngster step in and fight Chris Neil, after Neil nailed Matt Stajan on Saturday night, brought a tear to my eye. Schenn really looks like he might be the real deal.

Speaking of Chris Neil, his pathetic douchebaggery knows no bounds. He was willing to drop the gloves and fight Luke Schenn, but when Jamal Mayers was standing in front of him, gloves off and asking for a dance, Neil politely declined, bitch that he is, and skated off to the Ottawa bench. Gutless. Absolutely gutless. Neil is an embarrassment to hockey, the game I love with all my being, and Canada, the country I love even more. Fuck Chris Neil. And if you're down with Chris Neil, fuck you too.

Oh yeah, and Stajan, would you be a dear and try keeping your head up? It would be appreciated. There's only so many of your battles Schenn, six years your junior, can fight, honey. If you're not going to keep your head up, do us all a favour and grow some gonads. Stupid, sexy, Stajan. 

Of course, we don't really know if Luke Schenn is the real deal. Not yet. My good friend MF37, who runs the great blog Bitter Leaf Fan, made some valid points after I emailed him asking him his thoughts on the Schenn announcement. He's right: there is simply no tried, tested and true way to best develop NHL talent. Each and every player, and each and every situation, is different. Schenn may be ready. Or Schenn may not be ready. We don't know. We never watched him play in junior, and an eight game sample size is much too small for us, or anyone for that matter, to pass judgement. All we can do is put our hope in Ron Wilson and the coaching staff. While the majority of signs are pointing to Schenn being the stud we so badly want and need him to be, we'll get the answer we're looking for, one way or another, in a few years. 

The decision to keep Schenn was a tough call by the Leafs' brain trust, especially considering the traffic jam on the blue line. It's a decision they will no doubt take a lot of heat for. But I'll give them props for going against the grain. 

You full well know Damien Cox was foaming at the mouth once he heard Schenn was looking for permanent digs, and Damien undoubtedly will shit all over the club today, conjuring memories of Drake Berehowsky ("Hate the Drake!") and Al Iafrate. Not that I'm surprised. No matter what the Leafs had done with Schenn, the wrath of the mittenstringers was waiting for them.

In the spirit of the season - it's a development year, right? - let's sit back and enjoy watching Schenn develop in front of our very eyes. I'm game, and I'm excited. 

Welcome to Toronto, Luke. Officially, this time. My head was hoping you'd be back on your way to Kelowna. My heart was hoping you'd stay...

October 26, 2008

The Bizarro Maple Leafs

A Toronto Maple Leafs team that out-works, out-skates, out-shoots, and, in the last couple of games, out-scores its opponent. 

Damn. Imagine that.

They did it again last night, a 3-2 triumph over those sad sisters from Ottawa.

Props out to my man crush Alex Ponikarovsky for bagging last night's game winning goal. Hate him all you want, it doesn't matter. He's a rudey, and the smart hockey folks (i.e. me) know it. 

Over the week that was, the Leafs took five out of a possible six points against Anaheim, Boston and Ottawa, and they did it by outworking all three of them. Toronto didn't rely on superb goaltending, or perfect special teams, and they didn't get lucky. Over the three games, the boys battled back from two two-goal deficits, and even held on to two (2!) third period leads. They simply worked harder than their opposition.

On most nights, Ron Wilson's squad will be the second-most talented team on the ice. But, eight games into the season, one thing is becoming clear: this team will not be defeated for lack of effort. Wilson's boys will not go down without a fight.

Bizarro, indeed. Are you scared? A little? Yeah, me too. But in Wilson I trust.

October 24, 2008

Deep Thoughts Vol. 11: "Playoffs!" Edition

Are you impressed by the Toronto Maple Leafs yet? You should be. Especially after last night: a come-from-behind 4-2 victory against the Boston Bruins, in their barn. That's what the kids call a "character win."

You can colour me impressed. Yep, with the same crayons I'm using for the parade route. This team just doesn't quit, and you have to admire that.

For those of you keeping score at home, that's two games in a row where the Leafs have rallied from a two-nil deficit. On Tuesday night they took it to the Mighty Ducks, outshooting them 38-21. Last night they were all over the Bruins, outshooting them 37-28.

The finish may not be there, and the special teams may not be that good, but these guys compete. They're a spunky bunch and, as fans, that's all we can really ask for. A team that goes out every night and skates and plays hard. I've got to give Ron Wilson props for that.

How about Nik Antropov? He scored again last night, thanks to a beautiful feed from my man crush Alex Ponikarovsky, and now has four goals and two assists on the season. I don't think he misses Mats Sundin all that much. Me? I do. A lot.

Technically, with a 2-2-3 record, the Leafs are sitting at the .500 mark. Two regulation time losses in seven games. That's pretty good. Two wins? That's pretty bad. But, still, .500. Playoffs! Crazier things have happened. What, you don't think so? The Tampa Bay Devil Rays are in the World Series. The Tampa Bay mother fucking Devil Rays are in the World Series.

Ron Wilson

Wilson is serious about success when it comes to changing the culture that exists here in Toronto. Benching Matt Stajan? I'm all for it. Banishing Poni to the fourth line for a game? It seems to have sent a message. Sending Jason Blake to the press box? While I didn't necessarily agree with it, I'm hoping Blake turns it into a positive. As much as I love Blake - and I mainly love him because everyone else hates him - the Leafs did win without him. So, take that for what it's worth.

As for pulling Toskala in the shootout and replacing him with Cujo, no, after much consideration, I can't agree with that move. Please Ronny, don't do it again. Clearly, it doesn't work. 

As a goalie, I can't help but feel pissed off about the decision to replace Vesa. For 65 minutes, the Leafs lived and died by Toskala. Regardless of how Toskala has fared in the shootout in the past and, yes, I know he is the worst goalie in NHL shootout history, it was Vesa's game to win or lose. Period. We goalies are a fragile bunch, even the strongest of us, and you don't mess with a our confidence. Ever. I don't ever want to see that move made again, especially after the bitch slap the Ducks laid on Cujo.

Overall, though, crazy props to Coach Wilson. He's a rudey.

The Toronto St. Pats?

Another team in Toronto? It ain't happening. I mean, does this city really deserve another hockey team? I don't think so. We're good with one shitty one, we don't need another. How about we put a team back in Winnipeg first. Bring back the Jets.

More Tlusty

I want to see more of Jiri Tlusty. No, not like that, man. More of him on the ice. Jesus. Lusty Tlusty has seen only 11-to-14 minutes of ice time per game so far, and played a season low 7:31 yesterday. I'd like to see the kid out there a bit more, and even on the second power play unit. I mean, I'd rather see him out there than Stajan.

Leaf fans have got to be patient with Tlusty - I think I've convinced General Borschevsky - as he's in only his second season in the NHL, and first full season. But, if Wilson plans to waste Tlusty on the fourth line with Jamal Mayers and jackass Ryan Hollweg, perhaps Tlusty's development would be better served with the Toronto Marlies, where he can play 20 minutes a night in all situations.

Guess Who's Back?

Everyone's favourite former Captain, Mats Sundin. No matter what people try to tell you, it's news. It's definitely news. We're talking about the biggest free agent on the market. Sundin's going to begin working out as he prepares for a return to the greatest game on earth. Remember kids, no matter what PPP and Sean @ Down Goes Brown try to tell you, Sundin's done nothing wrong. Nothing.

I'm waiting, Mats. With open arms...

October 22, 2008

Best Fist Pump Ever

Ever since Jason Blake acted like a complete douchebag a week and a half ago against les Habitants, the timeless art of the fist pump has been on the brain over here, and over at Pension Plan Puppets.

Without further adieu, I present the greatest fist pump of all time, courtesy of Los Angeles Dodgers' hero Kirk Gibson:

A walk-off, pinch hit home run in the World Series, followed by the double pump fist pump. Fucking classic. That's about as good as it gets, my friends. Well done, Kirk Gibson, well done.

Sean Avery; Oh What Could Have Been

Sean Avery, everyone's favourite douchebag, took his act to Dallas over the summer. He made his return to New York Monday night, and was at his Avery best during his post-game interview.

So, he gets in Brandon Dubinsky's face, and calls Rangers back-up goalie Stephen Valiquette a "minor leaguer." (You know, a "minor leaguer" who beat the Leafs twice last season, and who has already shut us out this season. Just saying.) Then, apparently, Avery gets into it with the Rangers' colour man. 

My point is, just imagine a full season of Sean Avery and the Toronto Maple Leafs media. Worlds would have collided. Oh, the fun it would have been. Think about it, Damien Cox didn't get along with Darcy Tucker. Imagine the living hell Avery would have put him through. To read the hatred Cox would have spewed towards Avery, day in and day out, would have been worth it alone. 

I still think we should have signed Avery, or at least tried to. He would have made a plucky Toronto team even tougher to play against and, more importantly, Damien Cox's life miserable. And, really, at the end of the day, isn't that we all want? 

* Hat tip to Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy for the Avery video and link. They're good people over there, check 'em out if you don't already. 

October 20, 2008

Thank You, Tampa Bay Rays

I never thought I'd be cheering for Matt Garza, not after what he did to the Blue Jays this season. Last night, I was Garza's biggest fan, and he didn't disappoint. What can I say? When I hop aboard a bandwagon, I go all out.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the Tampa Bay Rays. They are American League champions. They are off to the World Series, and the Boston Red Sox are not. At the end of the day, that's what's most important, my friends.

The Red Sox - much to the chagrin of this Masshole and much to the delight of, well, everyone else - will not repeat as World Series champions. As a die-hard Blue Jays fan born in 1982, the fact that Toronto won back-to-back titles is all I've got left on "Red Sox Nation." Do it two times in a row Massholes, then talk to me.

The city of Boston is in mourning today, and I'm pleased to say that David Ortiz and Jason Varitek are a big reason why. Ortiz hit only .154 over the course of the ALCS, managing just four hits, one home run, and four RsBI. He struck out nine times. 

As for Varitek, his ALCS numbers are downright laughable. He managed one (1!) hit in 20 at-bats for a whopping .050 batting average, and struck out eight times in six games. Attaboy, Tek. Way to lead the troops. If there was any doubt that Varitek's not done as an everyday catcher in the majors, there should be no more, because it's painfully obvious that he's finished. I think Tek might have struck out for the last time in a Boston uniform. 

No Masshole can argue that the better team lost. The Rays were better on the mound, and much better at the plate. B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria combined for 19 RsBI in the series, equalling the output of Ortiz, Varitek, Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, and J.D. Drew combined. Guys like Willy Aybar stepped up for Tampa, while Red Sox youngsters Jacoby Ellsbury and Jed Lowrie didnt answer the bell.

How about that pitching performance last night by Matt Garza? Seven innings, two hits, one earned run off a solo home run, and nine strikeouts. The Red Sox were "Garzafied" twice in the series, and Garza was well-deserving of the MVP award.

And don't forget about David Price's four-out save. With the fate of the Tampa Bay organization, and Red Sox haters everywhere, resting on his young shoulders, Price struck out J.D. Drew with the based loaded in the bottom of the eighth inning. He took the mound again in the ninth and struck out two more, including Varitek (sweet), before getting Jed Lowrie to ground out to end the game. Talk about picking up your first career save in style, eh? Price, only 23 years young, and fresh out of the 2007 draft, has got to be on top of the world today. 

As J.P. Ricciardi is always preaching, pitching is what gets the job done in the AL East. Scott Kazmir was the only Tampa Bay ALCS starter to register an ERA higher than 4.00. For the Red Sox, none of their starting pitchers were able to crack the 4.00 ERA mark. Josh Beckett, who has got to be injured, finished with a nasty 9.64 ALCS ERA.

The Rays and Phillies World Series will get started on Wednesday. I'm not sure it's safe to hop off a moving Tampa Bay bandwagon, but I sure as hell wouldn't mind seeing Matt Stairs win a ring. It's a win-win situation, really. The Fall Classic will be Red Sox free, after all.

Somewhere, someplace, Manny Ramirez is smiling. That makes two of us.

Yes Rays!

October 18, 2008

I still hate the Boston Red Sox

The champagne was on ice. The plastic sheets were up all over my apartment. I even had my goggles ready to go. Then the Boston Red Sox, left for dead, came back. Massholes everywhere rejoiced.

It wasn't supposed to go down like that.

Trailing 7-0 in the 7th inning, it looked like the Red Sox were going to fade quietly into the night. Watching the game on television I swear I'd never heard Fenway Park so quiet. I was revelling in the fact that the Massholes - those unlovable, incorrigible, "we are entitled to every pro sports championship in the world" douchebags - were going to watch the Tampa Bay Rays win the pennant on their turf. Nothing was going to have been better.

Well, talk about the sports fan's equivalent of premature ejaculation.

I should have known. The Boston Red Sox never fade quietly into the night. I'm still having a hard time believing they managed to come back against the mighty Rays' bullpen, with their backs up against the wall to boot. It was high drama. Then again, these are the Red Sox. These are, even sans Manny Ramirez, the defending World Series champions. Jeff Blair of The Globe and Mail, also known as the finest baseball writer on the planet, was kind enough to point out that Boston has won eight ALCS elimination games in a row, and nine of 10 overall. Pardon my French, but that's fucking ridiculous.

Can the BoSox do it again, and pull off another miracle comeback? I can't put it past them. I won't lie, I'm worried about the Rays. They're a bunch of kids, after all. What happened Thursday night, especially Evan Longoria's error in the bottom of the ninth, has the potential to propel the Red Sox back to the World Series.

As much as I do hate the Boston Red Sox, and I really, really do, it's got to be one hell of a joyride being on that bandwagon. From the highest highs to the lowest lows and then back again. Sort of like the Dow Jones.

Before I forget, I want to take this opportunity to point out just how fickle the Massholes, and the MSM that cover the Red Sox, collectively are. I want to show you just how loyal "Red Sox Nation" really is. With their most clutch hitter, and arguably one of the most clutch hitters ever, David Ortiz scuffling at the plate, his nick-name went from "Big Papi" to "Big Popup." You know that Ortiz guy? He was kind of, just kind of, instrumental in bringing a couple of titles to Boston. Of course, after his home run two nights ago, Ortiz is back to having his cock sucked by the Massholes.

It gets better. The "Nation" has turned on their beloved Captain, Jason Varitek, booing him and his pathetic .115 post-season batting average. Varitek's shit. I know it, you know it, and we all know it. In fact, we've all known it for a while. But now the Massholes stop defending him? Really? Now? When he needs their support the most? Classy bunch of fans over there in Boston, man, real classy.

Tonight at the Trop it's going to be Josh Beckett vs. James Shields. Tampa Bay will try to clinch the pennant at home, in front of their oh so loyal fan base who have stuck by the team through thin and, well, thinner. Yes, all eleven people who comprise the "oh so loyal fan base" will be in attendance and, let me tell you, they can't wait.

Speaking of Beckett, he has not looked like the Mr. October he normally is but, in typical Red Sox fashion, I'm expecting him to throw an absolute gem. Maybe he can tear a page out of Curt Schilling's book and paint his sock red. Fake blood worked like a charm the first time around.

For the Rays to win, Shields needs to go pitch-for-pitch with Beckett, and the middle of the Rays' lineup has to be just as good as it was on Thursday. Most importantly, though, the Rays to a man need to forget about the debacle that ended up being Thursday night.

Make it happen Tampa. Please. No doubt the majority of this city's baseball fans are cheering for you. For the love of God and all humanity, make the Boston Red Sox and the Massholes go away, even if it is just for a few months.

Deep Thoughts Vol. 10: Leafs & Rangers Edition

I'm always bitching about the Maple Leafs' perplexing inability to kill penalties, so let me be the first to raise a glass to their efforts when down a man last night. Eight for eight on the penalty kill, my friends. Outstanding.

I guess three days of practice really helped. Who knew, eh Allen Iverson?

The Leafs ended up on the wrong end of the score, losing 1-0 in a shootout, but I'm not going to make like most of the "Negative Nancy's" out there, who will tell you how bad the Leafs were last night and how the tanking of the season is off to a fine start (Lordosis at PPP, I'm looking right at you, big daddy). In the words of my homegirl Wrap Around Curl, "fuck that noise."

Vesa Toskala was sublime last night. What an effort, making 32 saves, a number of them of the difficult variety. When he's on his game he really is one of the top goalies in the league. He did get some help from his goal posts, but all the good goalies do. As a goalie, and a good one I might add, I speak from experience. My posts and I, we're tight. We help each other out. It's a give and take relationship, and I'm sure it's the same between Vesa and his posts. I actually talk to mine. We exchange pleasantries. I'm curious as to whether Vesa does the same.

Here's some deep thoughts:

  • I don't know about you, but I'm really starting to hate Stephen Valiquette. Mother fucker is like nine feet tall.
  • Jonas Frogren is a shot-blocking machine. I'm loving his passion.
  • Poor Marc Staal got his ass kicked by Jamal Mayers. Attaboy Mayers. Pick on someone you know you can deal with. Hollweg, you taking notes, jackass?
  • Matt Stajan's out of the dog house. But he still sucks. I know, he responded to his press box banishment and played better. My point is, he still sucks.
  • If Ponikarovsky takes another lame hooking penalty I think Ron Wilson is going to bench him. And what's with all the Poni hate all over the place? You people are all crazy.
  • Antropov and Grabs have got to start scoring.
  • Nikolai Kulemin is a breakaway machine. I wonder how many more times he can go to the well and use the same move.
  • I hate shootouts.
  • Everyone hates Jason Blake. Except me.
  • Toronto was 33-24 on the faceoffs last night. Practice man, we talking about practice.
  • Seriously, I hate shootouts.
  • Niklas Hagman is quickly becoming one of my new favourite Leafs.

Luke Schenn played a shade under 26 minutes last night, and blocked a number of shots. He was out there on the penalty kill and he was out there in the last minute of play. You name the situation, he can play in it. Fuck it, let's keep him. The future is now, and I'm pretty sure this guy isn't going to be too pleased about it.

The Leafs went into a tough building against the NHL's best team, killed eight penalties, shut out their high-scoring opposition, and came out with a point. I'll take it.

Some will say the Leafs have won only one game out of their first four. Not me. I say we've only lost one out of four in regulation time, against some pretty formidable competition.

October 16, 2008

The Giambi Stache

Jason Giambi = douchebag. Even his stache was on steroids.

And by steroids, yes, I mean Just For Men. Technically, it was enhancing the performance of his stache. You know what they say: once a steroid using douchebag, always a steroid using douchebag.

October 15, 2008

Deep Thoughts Vol. 9: I Hate Ryan Hollweg Edition

I'm going to get right down to business: fuck Ryan Hollweg. Seriously, fuck him. It's obvious after Monday afternoon that Hollweg is nothing but a brainless monkey, good for only a few cheap laughs.

Ok, ok, fine. The man can dance. But he sucks at hockey. He can't fight, he can't score, he can't do anything but knock a man face first into the glass. Ryan, I don't know if you missed the memo, man, but you don't hit from behind. Stop it. Before you kill someone. If Hollweg keeps his act up, the league will have to start using those minor hockey league jerseys, you know, with the stop signs on em. Even then, I don't trust him. Hollweg has, in a very short time with the Leafs, proven that he is clearly an idiot.

Points squandered in October are the ones that always come back to bite the Maple Leafs in the ass come April, and Hollweg cost us a point on Monday. The Leafs were sitting pretty up 3-1 before Hollweg hand-delivered the St. Louis Blues an invitation to get back in the game.

It's clear that all Maple Leaf fans think Hollweg's a douche. He is. But I'm surprised many in "Leafs Nation" aren't thanking him. He was largely, if not solely, to blame for Monday's shootout loss, and isn't that what everyone wants around here, more losses for our beloved Leafs? You know, Tank Nation? The Tank for Tavares? To all you pro-tankers out there, go out and buy your Hollweg jerseys because this guy is doing more harm than good for the Maple Leafs.

Damn pro-tankers. They make me so mad. I'm not a pro-tanker, so what, other than an idiot, does that make me? A pro-just barely make the playoffs-er, I guess.

As for Hollweg, when everyone in the Leafs blogosphere is agreeing with Damien Cox, you know something's amiss. But Damien's right (*shudders*), this guy doesn't deserve to wear a Leafs jersey, plain and simple. Get him out of here, Fletchra. Pretty please.

Pour Yourself A Drink

I know it's only been three games, but the numbers don't look good my friends. Going into last night's NHL action the Leafs had allowed the most goals in the league (12) and, much to my chagrin, still can't kill a God damn penalty. 

The penalty kill is "performing" like a 72-year-old man in the bedroom. It needs help. The Leafs have killed off only nine of their opposition's 15 power plays, good for a 60% success rate and, you guessed it, sitting last in the league. Just how God-awful the PK unit has looked out there is what worries me. Guys are skating around like they don't have a clue. Montreal made us look downright silly on Saturday night when they had a man advantage.

This should put things in perspective: the Leafs and Habs have both played three games and Toronto has allowed more power play goals (six) than Montreal has allowed in total (five).

You know what else the Leafs suck at? Faceoffs. For teams that have played two or more games this season, the Leafs are, once again, dead last in the league, winning only 42.3% of their draw's. Sure, the Leafs will miss Mats Sundin's automatic 25-to-30 goals, but it's on the draw where his absence will be felt the most. He spoiled us when it came to faceoffs. He was money, always above 50% and at or near the top of the league every year. Oh, Mats.

Vesa Toskala's numbers aren't that great either: a 4.36 goals against average and a Raycroftian .860 save percentage. I blame the penalty kill for Vesa's poor numbers, but I'm sure he'll be the first to admit that he's got to have more nights like the season opener in Detroit.

Something To Be Thankful For

Yeah, the Leafs lost their Thanksgiving matinee thanks to that imbecile Hollweg, but I did have something to be thankful for: Matt Stajan was a healthy scratch. Ironically, he was replaced by Hollweg, so the whole thing didn't work out so well but, still, Matt Stajan was a healthy scratch. Say it. It feels good. 

Ladies and gentlemen, I think the Leafs finally have a coach who realizes that Stajan simply isn't that good. Pat Quinn loved him. So did Paul Maurice. And I have no idea why.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that if you give me the option between having Hollweg and Stajan in the lineup, I'm picking Stajan eight days of the week. But, that being said, now that Hollweg is suspended, I'm open to seeing Ian White on the wing before Stajan gets back in there. Let Stajan sit up in the press box for a little while. Maybe that'll get him to play with a little more gusto, a little more urgency. God knows he could use it.

Ron Wilson Likes Luke Schenn

Anton Stralman? Not so much. Stralman saw his first action of the season Monday afternoon, but he took a seat come the third period. It was Schenn who benefited, and Luke ended up with over 25 minutes of ice time. I think both of these guys have bright futures in the league and, in all honesty, I would have rather Wilson kept the six-man rotation running.

I thought Schenn looked his age, a mere 18 years old, on Saturday night against Montreal, but he rebounded with a solid performance on Monday. Schenn is fantastic, but Stralman needs to be given every opportunity to shine as well. Anton may very well end up turning into a special player in his own right.

Bottom line: we've got a few young studs on the blue line. If Schenn does end up going back to junior, which I hope is the plan, then a 25-minute game against the Blues is perfect for his development. Stralman? He'll get his ice time. It's only a matter of time before Carlo Colaiacovo goes down.

Oh Finger Where Art Thou?

Is it wrong that I'm excited to see Jeff Finger play? This is what it has come to. The days of Alex Mogilny and Brian Leetch are long, long gone, replaced instead by the likes of Mikhail Grabovski and Jeff Finger. Good times.

Paul Kariya's Fist Pump

Did anyone catch Paul Kariya's fist pump after he scored St. Louis' fourth goal on Monday? He displayed beautiful fist pump etiquette, employing the celebration on a game-tying goal in the third period. Well done, Paul Kariya. I salute you. I only hope Jason Blake was taking notes.

A Two-Horse Race

Democracy is at work here at Sports And The City, and it's clearly a two-horse race when it comes to the fate of the blog's welcome banner. Will Tomas Kaberle maintain his slim lead and replace Sundin? Or will Sundin live on in infamy forever here at Sports And The City? The poll runs through until November 1st. Vote early, vote often.

RIP Alexei Cherepanov

Hockey, in the long run, really doesn't mean much. May the young man rest in peace. 

October 13, 2008

Fist Pump 101

Last week in the comments section over at Fenway West I ripped Boston Red Sox miniature douchebag Dustin Pedroia for his extremely poor fist pump etiquette. Well, it seems Toronto's own Jason Blake needs to touch up on his fist pump manners as well.

For the record, I'd like to say that I am not a big fan of the timeless art of the fist pump. I've never really enjoyed Tiger's, I hate Nadal's, Sean Avery looks like a complete douche when he does his thing, and Danielle Briere, who has employed the fist pumpage after every single goal he has ever scored in his life (even empty net goals), has ruined the fist pump for me forever.

As for Blake, one of the few, if not only, fist pumpers on the Leafs, my man just needs a quick lesson. A fist pump refresher, you know? We all forget sometimes. No big deal.

So, Jason, the next time the Maple Leafs are down 5-0 and you score a power play goal, which happens to be a tap-in into an empty net because the goaltender is out of position, please use your mother fucking brain and refrain from the fist pump celebration. I know, you're excited, you're a cancer survivor, and you're probably just happy to be alive. I get that. I too am happy for you. In the negative hell hole which has become Leafs Nation, I'm one of your biggest supporters. I even picked you in my hockey pool, that's how much faith I've got in you.

But, please, the next time you want to use the fist pump, first think about the score. It matters. In fact, I would love it if you could do me a solid and save the fist pump for only game-tying or game winning goals, in the third period or later. Thanks man.

That's it. I told you, just a quick refresher. 

What about you, are you a fan of the fist pump? Do you use it when you score on the ice, or in the bedroom? Are you looking to spruce up your fist pump, or add it to your repertoire? This might help. Good luck, and Godspeed.

October 12, 2008

Poll Time

Before I get started, did you know you can buy your own Portable Dance Pole? Only $299.99. Crazy. The things you'll find here on Al Gore's internet. 

Unfortunately, I'm not talking about that kind of pole. And, no, I'm not talking about a "Will the Toronto Maple Leafs make the playoffs?" poll either, because we already know the answer to that one. The answer is yes, douchebags. Please, let's not talk about tanking and Tavares. Please. I don't want to hear it.

As you can see, the Sports And The City banner above is comprised of the Toronto skyline along with Mats Sundin, Roy Halladay and Chris Bosh. Since Mats Sundin is no longer wearing the blue and white, a friend of mine suggested that he needs to be replaced.

Well, the choice is in your hands. Democracy, baby, it's a beautiful thing. Look to your right and you'll find the poll. Vote to your heart's content. The poll closes at 10:00 pm (EST) on November 1. Once the results are in I will get the Sports And The City marketing department on it (Deaner, that would be you). 

Me, I'm loathe to replace Mats. In the words of Chris Tucker, aka Vic Damone Jr. in Money Talks, Sundin was "my first, my last, my everything." Just for the record, Money Talks was Chris Tucker's finest performance. The Rush Hour trilogy ain't shit.

This place is all about you, the readers. Yes, all three of you. Equally. I leave the fate of the banner in your hands. Vote or Die. 

October 11, 2008

Steve Nash Looks Good in Red...

"I've enjoyed my success in Phoenix and would love to stay here. But if not Phoenix, playing in Toronto would be a dream come true in many ways."
 - Steve Nash

For you and me, Steve. For you and me.

In all honesty, am I the only one who became extremely aroused after reading that quote?

The esteemed Michael Grange of The Globe and Mail has more on Nash potentially donning Toronto Raptors red in 2010.

Picture it: Jose Calderon and Steve Nash manning the the Raptors' backcourt. Sheeeeeeit. 

October 10, 2008


Well, well, well. What a way to start the season. The Maple Leafs went into the abyss known as Detroit on the night the Red Wings raised another Stanley Cup banner to the rafters, and emerged victorious.

Now that, my friends, is what I call crashing the party. A hard fought and well deserved 3-2 victory. I couldn't be happier.

As much as I hate to say that I called it, well, umm, I called it. Seriously. Here's an email I sent to the boys yesterday afternoon at 2:48 p.m.:

"Toskala will steal the show tonight. 3-2 Leafs."

Well, whatta ya know, eh? My girlfriend, clearly impressed by my prophetic skills, asked me how I knew the Leafs were going to win. I was honest: blind faith and unbridled optimism. I'm no genius; I'm a homer.

Vesa Toskala did indeed steal the show. He was the best player on the ice, from either team. He was splendid, stopping 35 of 37 shots, including a couple of tough ones late in the game. Unlike last season, there's no question who's the man between the pipes for the Leafs, and Vesa played with a purpose. He knows how important he is to this team. God bless him.

If you missed Nikolai Kulemin's game-winning goal, don't worry. I got you:

My man Jim Hughson said it best: "Nikolai Kulemin's first National Hockey League goal is a beauty." With some serious emphasis on "beauty." I went pretty ape shit over that one. I know you did too. Filthy goal, and it showcased the immense talent Kulemin possesses.

Here are some other deep thoughts from last night's tilt:
  • I was talking shit about Dominic Moore right before he scored the Leafs' second goal. Chemmy, that one was for you. And who was on the ice taking a huge defensive zone faceoff on the penalty kill in the dying seconds of the game? Dominic fuckin' Moore. He played more than Antropov and finished with a goal, five shots on net, and a +2 rating. He's huge.
  • I like the #77 on Kubina's back. Pavel doesn't exactly elicit memories of Paul Coffey when he's skating up ice, but the digits suit him, still.
  • I'm a fan of Jonas Frogren's facial hair. Frogger played an aggressive, physical game which I enjoyed. He really does remind me of Danny Markov.
  • Matt Stajan played 9:19. I love you, Ron Wilson. 
  • Niklas Hagman is fast. Very fast. One thing's for sure, this team can skate. Finally, three years after the lockout, the Leafs get it.
  • Mikhail Grabovski's a playmaker, pure and simple. Grabs didn't stand out last night, but he had his moments. Kid can dangle.
  • Mike Van Ryn looked good back on the blue line, and he's got decent wheels.
  • Tomas Holmstrom is a beast in front of the net. There is a lot of junk in that trunk.
  • Luke Schenn looked every bit like an NHL defenceman. He played 17:20, and I enjoyed seeing him paired with my heart throb Tomas Kaberle.
  • The Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Detroit Red Wings, the defending Stanley Cup champions, in their barn. That's hype. It looks like even Damien Cox enjoyed it. Sure, he took a petty below the belt shot at Darcy Tucker, but he still enjoyed it.
  • Alexei Ponikarovsky hit his first post of the season. There are plenty more where that came from. Hey, 40, is the Poni Express ridin' this season? Holla atcha boy.
I don't know about you, but I was full of nerves last night. It seemed like there was a lot more on the line than just two points in the season opener. With about ten minutes left to play in the third period, with the Leafs holding on to a 3-2 advantage, I sat quietly, hands folded together in front of my mouth. I was waiting for Detroit to score, and for the lead to evaporate. I was waiting for the inevitable.

But it didn't happen. Like the night ten years ago when the Leafs beat Detroit and began a new chapter in their history, I felt we turned to a new page, and to a new chapter, last night. The John Ferguson Jr. era is mercifully behind us. The Paul Maurice era is done and gone. The post-Mats Sundin era has officially begun. It's on to bigger and better things, my friends.

The Leafs held on for the win last night, and I felt vindicated. Not for me, as a fan, but for the players. I wanted nothing more than a Toronto win yesterday not so that the fans would start believing in this team, but so that this edition of the Toronto Maple Leafs would start believing in themselves.

*UPDATE* I forgot to say: PLAYOFFS!

October 09, 2008

Happy Anniversary, Tomas

Ten years. Can you believe it has already been ten years together? Time flies. It really does. It has been a remarkable journey, and I want you to know, Tomas Kaberle, that I love you.

Before I continue, I must apologize for my most brutal photoshop skills. As you can see, I have none. I don't know how guys like Greener and Chemmy do it. But, like I always tell my girlfriend, it's the thought that counts.

Oh, Tomas. Where do I begin? You came out of nowhere 10 years ago and stole my heart. You've held it ever since. I'll never forget the first time I saw that smile, and those rosy cheeks.

I remember our first night together, October 10th, 1998, like it was yesterday. The Detroit Red Wings, the defending Stanley Cup champions, were in town. We had a new coach, a new goaltender, and a new attitude. Coming off a disastrous season in which the Leafs missed the playoffs, no one knew what to expect.

Wait a minute, that sounds familiar, doesn't it?

Tomas, you were new on the blue line that night, yet you quickly showed that you belonged. You helped start the season on the right foot. We were victorious that night 10 years ago, 2-1, and on Monday morning at school we, the die-hard Maple Leafs fans, were all abuzz over #15 on the blue line. I won't lie, Tomas. Not on a day as special as this. You had me at hello.

Like any long term relationship worth a damn, we've battled. We've been through our ups and downs. We've seen the good and the bad. Sure, we've had great times: the lengthy playoff runs, and the All-Star game appearances. We've also had our troubles: your contract holdout in 2001, douchebags laying you out with late hits, the Paul Maurice years (try to block them out), and, of course, the NHL lockout of 2004/2005.

I missed you so much during the lockout, Tomas. It was, arguably, the most difficult year of my life. A long, cold, depressing winter without you. Without the Toronto Maple Leafs. Without hockey. Oh, how it hurts my heart to just think about those days. 

You, however, had faith. You said we needed the time apart, to figure things out on our own, and you were right. You returned in due time, just as you said you would; a man of your word. Sure, the lockout didn't mean a damn thing as player salaries are once again completely out of control, and the salary cap's floor has gone through the ceiling. Sure, the Leafs have missed the playoffs three seasons in a row and all signs are pointing to that trend continuing. Sure, all your closest friends in the dressing room have been shown the door. None of that matters, Tomas. What matters is that you're still here with me. Where you belong. 

(Allow me to keep it real for a moment: it also matters that Kaberle comes at a very reasonable price. Thank you.) 

I know that last year some people tried to tear us apart. Others will try and do the same this year. They're jealous of our love. Fuck Jeff Carter. Fuck a first round pick. Call me selfish. Call me a stupid face. I don't care. Tomas, you're the one I want here in Toronto, and we must stray strong. Until death  Cliff Fletcher asks you to waive your no-trade clause (again) do us part, right? Right. 

My point is, we've persevered. Here we are, 10 years deep, 10 years strong. Ten glorious years. Have I told you how much I love the way you rush the puck up ice today? Nobody starts a break out like you do, Tomas. Nobody. Don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise. And your tribute song on YouTube, which is now my cell phone ring tone I might add, says it best: "He make cross-ice pass like you won't believe."

It's been one hell of a ride, Tomas. I've enjoyed every second of it with you. As we embark on another chapter in our lives together down in Detroit tonight, all I want us to do is live for the moment, and live for today. I know everyone in the world thinks the Leafs are going to be terrible this season. Let's prove them wrong. Fuck John Tavares. Fuck Victor Hedman. I mean, who knows how long we have left together? Who knows how long we have left on this earth? I won't be cheering for the Leafs to lose. I don't have it in me. I'll be cheering for you, Tomas, and for the rest of the boys. Live for today. Have faith. Let's shock the world.

I'm counting on you, Tomas, like I always have. Regardless of what letter you've got on your jersey, you are the leader of the Toronto Maple Leafs. I know that Mats Sundin has taught you well, and I know that you won't disappoint. Make me proud, Tomas, like you always have.

Please, raise your glass. I love you Tomas Kaberle. Here's to 10 years. And ten more.

Go Leafs Go.

October 08, 2008

Papelbon = Douchebag

Another reason to hate Jonathan Papelbon. As if you needed another one.

It's blatantly obvious that he's a six-year-old in a 27-year-old's body.

Now, there's no doubting Papelbon can pitch. It pains me to say it, but he's one of the best closers in baseball, as Jeff Blair so poignantly informs us.

And don't get me wrong, I hate Craig Sager's suits as much as the next guy, but why does Papelbon have to be such a jackass?

*Hat tip to Stoeten, he of Drunk Jays Fans and TheScore.com fame, for the video.

October 07, 2008

The Agony of Defeat

Is there anything in pro sports more agonizing than watching your opponents celebrate on your turf after they've just ended your season? 

What about when it's the Tampa Bay Devil Rays who have sent you packing? Ouch. Multiply the agony pictured above by 73.

I feel for the Chicago White Sox, and the entire city of Chicago (Chicago is Toronto's cousin). One city, two baseball teams in the playoffs, and neither were able to get past the first round. My heart really goes out to these two. The guy with the sign really needs a hug.

The Rays Have a Bandwagon?

So, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are moving on to the ALCS and, well, it's official: I've hopped on to their bandwagon. Yes, there actually is a Tampa Bay Rays bandwagon. I found it yesterday. I know, it's fucked up. I've got to admit, though, that I'm feeling the mohawks. It's all about solidarity, brother. And who doesn't love a fairytale story of worst (in the entire league) to first?

The Rays remind me a lot of the 2003 Florida Marlins. You know, a bunch of kids who don't seem to be bothered by the pressure that comes part and parcel with October baseball. They've got nothing to lose because no one thought they'd be in this position in the first place. They just play. Oh, and they're coached by an old white dude.

There is one thing, however, that I could do without when it comes to Tampa Bay: this. It pains me deeply to see Eric Hinske going ape shit once again with a bottle of bubbly. It's just not fair; just not right. I saw enough of Shitske and champagne last year after the Boston Red Sox won the World Series. The deplorable Hinske saw a whopping total of two at bats during Boston's march to the title and, yep, you guessed it, he struck out both times. What a douchebag. 

Speaking of the Red Sox, they've got a date with the Devil (Rays). Boston is, most unfortunately, moving on after they finished off the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last night. While I am happy for the great Canadian Jason Bay now that he has escaped baseball purgatory, you all know how I feel about the Red Sox.

Rays and Red Sox should be a doozy, and undoubtedly intense. These teams don't like each other.

Let me put it this way: when it comes to the Red Sox vs. the Rays, winner moving on to the World Series, I'm hoping I get to see Shitske pop another bottle of Bambino. 

Go Rays.

October 04, 2008

Vintage Raycrap

Andrew Raycroft made his home debut in Colorado last night and showed the Avalanche faithful what we in Toronto, and even folks in Boston, already know: he sucks.

My advice to fans of the Avalanche? Get used to it. Raycroft is the definition of awful, atrocious, pathetic goaltending. While my heart does go out to Colorado supporters, I can't help but feel an overarching sense of joy that Raycrap no longer calls Toronto home.

I know it's only pre-season action, but Raycroft looked in mid-season form last night, allowing six goals on only 23 shots to the Chicago Blackhawks. That's a 0.739 save percentage, my friends. That is brutal. Raycroft's expectations in Colorado might just be lower than Sarah Palin's. Yes, he's that bad.

I still don't understand what the hell management in Colorado was thinking when they signed Raycroft to a one year deal worth $800,000. He's an impostor. He's certainly no goalie. A goalie is supposed to stop pucks. It's part of the fucking job description! Raycrap fooled the Bruins, he most certainly fooled Toronto, and he was one of the major reasons former Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. lost his job (actually, I probably owe Raycrap some props for that). 

All that being said, only one thing is clear: they've got some pretty solid drugs down in the Denver area. It's the only explanation I can come up with as to why Raycroft still has a job in the NHL. He shouldn't. His signing, even though it was only worth $800 K, was arguably the worst in hockey history. Yes, worse than the Jeff Finger contract. Way worse.

You know, I honestly don't know why I get joy out of seeing Raycrap struggle.

I just do.

October 03, 2008

Joe Inglett IS Reed Johnson

Why? Can someone please tell me why Toronto Blue Jays fans are still complaining about the release of Reed Johnson? It was six months ago. Please, for the love of all things holy, get over it.

Just yesterday an acquaintance of mine, who happens to follow the blue birds loosely, was whining about how J.P. Ricciardi made the worst decision in the history of baseball when he released Johnson back in March.

Look, I get it. Choosing Shannon Stewart over Reed was a mistake. I'm sure Ricciardi himself would admit that. OK, you're right, he wouldn't, but still. My point is, mistakes happen. Ricciardi isn't the first general manager to err, and he surely won't be the last.

I loved Reed Johnson in a Blue Jays uniform as much as the next guy. He was a gamer. One gritty mother fucker. Socks up, played the game the right way, all that good stuff. And how could you not appreciate that facial hair? Believe me, I missed him this past season. He was gone, yet not forgotten.

But if you think Reed Johnson was one of the main reasons behind the Jays' struggles in 2008, you need an Ari Gold style bitch slap. 

Even if Johnson had played out 2008 with Toronto, he would surely have departed as a free agent over the winter. He wants to play everyday, and the opportunity to do so in Toronto simply doesn't exist, thanks to guys like Adam Lind, Vernon Wells, Alex Rios and uber rookie Travis Snider. For you math aficionados out there, that's four outfielders to fill three spots.

Enough about Reed Johnson. Please. Instead of always focusing on the negative and bashing J.P. Ricciardi, how about looking at the positives? A novel idea, ain't it? Instead of bitching and moaning about the release of Johnson, why don't you give Ricciardi some props for finding the middle infielding clone of Reed Johnson: the one and only Mighty Joe Inglett.

Last I checked, Johnson can't play second base. And last I checked, Inglett played a pretty significant role for the Jays this year. He filled in admirably for the fallen warrior Aaron Hill (whom I miss terribly).

How do Inglett and Johnson compare? Check out the layout:

                G       AB  R   H    2B  3B   HR  RBI   BB   K   SB  CS   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS+
Inglett    109    344   45  102  15   7     3    39    28  43  9   2   .297  .355  .407   102
Johnson  109    333   52  101  21  0     6    50    19  68  5   6   .303  .358  .420   101

They played the exact same number of games. Johnson's average was only six points higher, and let's call their on-base and slugging percentages a push. Yes, Johnson scored and drove in more runs, but Inglett was tied for fifth in the American League with seven triples, he walked more, struck out less, and was more successful in the base thievery department. The final statistic, OPS+, says it all; they're the same fucking player! When it comes to Joe Inglett and Reed Johnson, as my main man Jerry Seinfeld so eloquently put it, "the difference is negligible."

They compare. That's my point. Sure, we lost Reed Johnson, and it sucked. Yeah, we had to put up with the likes of a clearly finished Shannon Stewart, and Mencherson, because of it, and we're all certainly better people for having had to watch that shit show (we endured). But in the end the release of Johnson, the incredible mediocrity of Stewart and Mencherson, and the insight of the Gastonian one, led us to Adam Lind, and Travis Snider. Things worked out, n'est pas?

Instead of beating the same dead horse - that would be the "I hate J.P. Ricciardi, he is the worst general manager in the world, what happened to the five year plan?" dead horse - focus on the positives.

Focus on Joey Inglett.

October 02, 2008

Full House

No, your eyes are not deceiving you. Those are real, actual people who filled Tropicana Field down in St. Petersburg this afternoon, to watch their beloved Tampa Bay Devil Rays defeat the Chicago White Sox 6-4 in game one of their American League Divisional Series.

Rays fans. 36,041 of them. At one game! They're not unicorns. They do exist. Who knew?  

Needless to say, attendance records in Tampa were obliterated today. 36,041 fans is about 532 more than the Rays saw in their first nine years of existence. Well done, Rays fans, well done.

A full house at the Trop. Can't say I ever thought I'd live to see that one.