June 30, 2009

Back in the basement

No, smart ass, I'm not talking about the Toronto Blue Jays. I'm talking about me. I leave the friendly confines of my mom's basement for a quick sojourn out of town, and drama ensues. Farah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, and Billy Mays all leave this world, all too soon. And the Toronto Maple Leafs draft a Muslim kid.

Nazem Kadri is the newest Maple Leaf, immediately the franchise's top prospect, and the offensive future of the hockey club. And I couldn't be happier about it.

No, I'm not going to make like some of my Leafs-supporting brethren out there and bitch about the fact that Brian Burke wasn't able to move up and land John Tavares, or Brayden Schenn. Fuck that. I'd rather celebrate the glory that is, and will one day be in the blue and white, Nazem Kadri.


Filthy, eh? Props to my boy Chemmy for sharing that gem.

What do you think: Nasty Nazem, or Kid Kadri? I'm good with either, really.

I'm titillated about #91's arrival. Probably more so than I was about Luke Schenn. (Blasphemy, I know.) After watching Kadri play back in February, deep down, he's the one I wanted. Mostly because I like saying "Kadri!!1"

"Kadri!!1" is the new "playoffs!!1"

Seriously. Excited. Enough to buy a bottle of champagne in celebration at Peel Pub, in Montreal, on Sunday night.

And how could I not be? Selected seventh overall after putting up 78 points in 56 games last season with the London Knights (and 21 points in 14 playoff games), Kadri is the highest-drafted forward chosen by the Maple Leafs since Scott Thornton, taken third overall, 20 years ago, in 1989. (Let's not talk about how that worked out. Thanks.) Kadri could be the young, dynamic, explosive, home-grown offensive player I've been waiting for all my life.

There's more: Kadri can kill penalties. He led the OHL with 10 shorthanded points last season. It feels like Christmas around here.

And the icing on my Kadri cake: the Ottawa Senators wanted him.

Believe in Nazem Kadri. The future is bright.

And it's about to get even brighter. When the dust settles on July 1st, aptly titled Canada Day to celebrate the NHL's free agent frenzy, my favourite new Maple Leafs will be Kadri, of course, Daniel and Henrik Sedin (I'm sure Mats Sundin put in a good word), and hopefully Manny Malhotra. Seriously; Christmas. In July. I really should get started on that Burke statue.

And, finally, in honour of Burke not trading my heartthrob Tomas Kaberle. Yet, at least ...

Clearly my man Burke realizes the value of an incredible cross-ice pass (like you won't believe) at only $4.25 million a season.

You should, too.

UPDATE: As you know by now, Justin Pogge's been tendered a qualifying contract offer. He remains a Leaf. He also remains a very terrible goalie. One more year, and he'll officially be a bust. Good times.

And here's my new desktop background:

June 25, 2009

Finally ...

Yes. Vernon. Wells.

Last night marked the first time Wells homered and doubled in the same game this season. About bloody time, yo.

The performance was strong enough to send the Vernon Wells Hatred Advisory System spiralling down to ELEVATED. Keep the columns coming, Jerry Crasnick.

And how about Scott Richmond? What a Canadian ...

A goal worth $300 grand

Also falling in the "about bloody time" category, Pablo Vitti scored for Toronto FC. Seriously. Vitti. He scored. It's a fucking miracle.

Half the MLS season is through, and TFC sits a point out of first place in the East.

Yep: playoffs!1 ...

So ends the wait

It's NBA draft day. The folks at Raptors Republic, RaptorBlog, and Dino Nation Blog have got you covered.

I believe in Bryan Colangelo.

June 24, 2009

For all the wrong reasons

It's safe to say Jerry Crasnick does not believe in Vernon Wells.

If you haven't yet read Crasnick's inspired ESPN.com column on Toronto's beloved centre fielder, let me take you on a tour. And trust me, bring some Kleenex along for the ride. It's a tearjerker.

So saith Crasnick:
Since Opening Day 2007, Wells has a slugging percentage of .429 -- the same as Chris Duncan and Rickie Weeks. Among the players who are better: Melvin Mora, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Chris Snyder and Ronnie Belliard.
Chris Duncan makes $825 grand a season. Rickie Weeks, $2.45 million. Kouzmanoff, you ask? $432,400. Mora I know makes some coin, but I'm not even going to bother checking on Snyder and Belliard. I don't need the aggravation.
Over that same span, Wells has an on-base percentage of .317 -- the same as Jody Gerut and Brad Ausmus.
Seriously, Vernon, .317? Fuck. And it's always fun to see the star centre fielder compared to Gerut, who's batting an impressive .199 this season, and Ausmus, a 40-year-old backup catcher. Good times.
The money issue isn't going to abate anytime soon in Toronto. Wells' contract is heavily back-loaded, so the big financial hit is still to come for the Jays. He'll make $12.5 million in 2010, $23 million in 2011 and $21 million in each of the final three years of his deal.
This is where the Kleenex comes in handy.
Wells also has a full no-trade clause, and he'll be approaching age 36 when the contract winds down in 2014. Just imagine how he's going to feel when people say his money is standing in the way of Roy Halladay's signing a long-term deal in Toronto.
The Vernon Wells Hatred Advisory System would cease to exist as we know it if Wells ended up costing Toronto Doc. That scenario would essentially be Armageddon.

It's a depressing read. Wells' best season, 2003, was a long time ago. When some guy named Carlos Delgado, who hit 42 home runs and drove in 145 runs that year, was hitting behind V-Dub.

Well played, by Mr. Crasnick. I applaud his efforts. He did good; had me looking up Delgado's and Wells' 2003 situationals. But I believe in Vernon Wells. He's on a seven-game hitting streak. And I'm pot committed.

One more thing: playoffs!!!1

June 23, 2009

Lovely Lyle

It's official: Lyle Overbay is back. And I'm as giddy as a school girl about it.

A .540 slugging percentage, and .939 OPS; both tops on the Blue Jays. Even better: a marvelous 146 OPS+.

And ... wait for it ... he's only grounded into four double plays.

There's more. In 174 at-bats (more than 100 fewer than regulars Marco Scutaro, Aaron Hill, Alex Rios, Vernon Wells and Adam Lind) Overbay has walked 36 times, trailing only Scoots. It's a virtue, all that patience.

Speaking of Scoots, he's strolled leisurely to first 48 times in 71 games (and once to second). I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that Marco will shatter his career high of 56 walks, set last year, in 146 games. What a fucking Scutaro. Love this guy.

But back to Lyle. He's having the type of June I wanted Vernon Wells to have: .300/.455/.620; a 1.075 OPS. Four home runs, four doubles, and 18 RsBI in 18 games.

And yet 93% of his at-bats this season have come from the seventh spot in the lineup.

I want to berate The Cito. I want him to free Lyle Overbay. But I can't. Somehow, Gaston's Jays, with Overbay batting seventh, are only a game behind the Yankees in the wild card standings. Cito's handed the ball to 11 different starting pitchers this season (remember Brian Burress?), V-Dub has one home run in seven weeks, and the team went to hell and back on a nine-game losing streak. Yet here they are. In the race.

I'm going to count my blessings. I'm simply going to be content with Overbay's production. Lord knows the Jays are going to need it the rest of the way. I'm on the same page as The Cito; let's not mess with a good thing.

Welcome back, Lyle.

UPDATE: Russ Adams is batting 1.000. Just saying ...

June 21, 2009

Baseball and my Dad ...

My father is no sports fan. The furthest thing from it, actually. He's got no time for sports; never has, never will. And that's cool.

Dad grew up in India. Sure, he played some cricket in his day, but he didn't have the New Delhi Nuggets to cheer for, watch on the television every night, and read about in the newspaper the next day. Dad grew up in a different time, a different place.

As young kids in Toronto, my older brother and I were smitten over baseball. We treasured our Blue Jays. Loved them. With every ounce of our being. Dad didn't get it, but he sure as hell supported our passion. Back in the early 90s, we, a family of four, would head down to the SkyDome, 500 level tickets in hand, numerous times a season. Thinking back, one of the most exciting days of the year was when we received a letter in the mail from the Toronto Blue Jays, asking us to select which games we'd be attending that season.

Over the years, we went to a lot of games with Dad. While he never took a liking to the team, or the game, he did love one part of being in attendance in the summertime: the SkyDome. A civil engineer by trade, Dad marveled at the stadium's technology. (Classic immigrant story: Dad's education, from the best institution in India, wasn't recognized in Canada.) Sometimes I wished for the Dome to be closed mid-game, just so he could see the roof in action.

Dad also loved the wave. He'd sit back and watch in amazement as 45,000 fans rose, section by section, when it was their turn.

To this day, what I love about Major League Baseball in the fine city of Toronto is its affordability. A man can take his family of four down to the ball park, feed them, and not have to worry about the next mortgage payment, or the next rent cheque. Unbeknownst to me as an oblivious youth, there were times when Dad's wallet wasn't as fat as it is today. But he never let me or my brother find out. The last thing he was going to do was take baseball away from us. Now, years later, I want him to know just how much I appreciated that.

Thank you, Dad. Thanks for the trips down to the stadium, the program my brother could keep score in, the hot dogs, the nachos, and the soft-serve ice cream cones from the truck after the game. Looking back, I'm sure there were times Dad could have said no to the program, or to the hot dogs, so he could have had a beer. But he never did; he never said no.

It didn't matter to Dad that he could have cared less whether Robbie Alomar, my most-favourite player in the whole wide world, had a good game or not. Or whether the Jays got the win. But I know in my heart that he hoped Alomar would perform, and that the Jays would win. So his boys could ride the subway back up north with a smile on their faces.

Thank you, Dad. You are an inspiration. Every single day. Happy Father's Day.

June 20, 2009

Felipe Alou Is Wise

He knows the National League is full of shit. Even after managing in it for 14 years.

Courtesy the always on point Jeff Blair:

Of course, AL managers have to worry about double switches only when they're playing an interleague road game in an NL park. Same thing with having their pitchers hitting. And whenever I hear Gaston sadly mention incidents like Scott Downs injuring his toe while batting, I think about [Felipe] Alou. Despite managing in the NL, Alou loved the designated hitter because it made managing the offensive side of the game more interesting.

"Strategy," he told me one time with a frown. "What's the strategy in having a guy with a bat in his hand not knowing how to use it? What play can I put on besides a bunt?

It's true: the best baseball minds know the American League is far superior.


If you missed Marco Scutaro's thievery on the basepaths on Thursday, check this out from Ghostrunner on First. Simply amazing ...

Jeremy Accardo threw two innings of one-hit relief last night, striking out four. I don't think you quite understand how pleased I am to see him back with the big club. Another two weeks, and I'll have completely forgotten about Brian Wolfe ...

Shawn Camp deserves some love. He's pitched well against lefties, and his 117 ERA+ in almost 27 innings of work is worthy of a boner or two ...

You have to read this: Pujols vs. Halladay, baseball's ultimate matchup (h/t Go Jays Go) ...

June 19, 2009

Home Hardware

The Globe and Mail is calling it the "Miracle on Turf." SportsNet dubbed it the "Montreal Miracle." My headline of choice would have been: "Toronto FC Pulls Off Some Crazy Shit."

Needing to beat Montreal by four goals to be crowned Canadian champions, I gave TFC no chance. Zero. Actually, less than zero. Not a prayer.

Once again, I was wrong. Gloriously, wonderfully wrong. Somehow, they did it. By five.

Down 1-0, the Reds awoke. With aplomb. Six goals in a row, three from Dwayne De Rosario (one courtesy a sick bicycle kick). His big-game performance last night was why he was acquired. I have no idea what TFC gave up in return for DeRo, and refuse to ask Google (fuck off, Bing) because the answer is of no significance; Toronto won the trade.

Stop. Think about it for a minute. Six goals. By Toronto FC. In one game. They may never score again.

And of all the guys to bag the fifth and most important goal of the night, you knew it had to be the much-maligned Chad Barrett. On a night where nothing made sense, it was rather poetic.

TFC will be representing Canada in the CONCACAF Champions League, and I couldn't be happier for the squad. But what I'm wondering is: when's the parade? They did win a title. And a trophy. Their first one. And I'd like a parade. Even a low-key affair. It's Toronto; I'm sure someone's got a route already mapped (crayoned?) out.

UPDATE: Make sure to read Sporting Madness' take on the game, courtesy of Andrew Bucholtz. He even breaks down what TFC's win means for followers of the Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps, whom I frankly don't give a shit about.

The Captain

Nick Leyva just tapped that ass. Literally. A pinch-hit, game-winning home run by Rod "The Bod" Barajas. In the city that hates him. That's why he's The Captain ...

Marco Scutaro stole second base. On a walk. You had to see it to believe it. At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter whether Scoots is deemed an all-star or not. We know he is one. Check that; he's the best shortstop in the American League ...

Jeremy Accardo has been freed. He took the red-eye out of Vegas - I think we've all done that - Wednesday night, and picked up the save Thursday afternoon. Impressive; that flight's a bitch. Welcome back ...

The Jays went 0-for-14 with the bases loaded against the Phillies (thanks MLBastian), and left town with a sweep. Exactly how The Cito drew it up, B.J Ryan in a one-run game in the 9th (the fuck?), and all ...

After a decent series, the Vernon Wells Hatred Advisory System has been downgraded to HIGH. We can't be on high alert forever. That would be too Dick Cheney-ish. And that was one helluva catch in centre field in the bottom of the 9th. Anyway, V-Dub is going yard in Washington. I'm taking bets ...

Dustin McGowan may never pitch again. Immsense sadness is there.

June 18, 2009

Rock 'N Rolen

There have been many a lame post titles at Sports And The City over the years, and this one might be the weakest of them all. Yet I love it.

Seriously, though. How does one boo Scott Rolen? It's unfathomable.

Clearly, Philadelphia Phillies fans aren't reading enough Ghostrunner on First, where the Rolen love-in - rightfully - continues ...

On a day when three and a half arms - Roy Halladay (1.5 arms), Scott Downs (fucking National League) and Casey Janssen (who's been rather Purcey-like) - hit the disabled list, Scott Richmond went out and threw the game of his life. Like a good Canadian boy would ...

The Sausage King's our new closer. And that's fine by me. (Albeit late, an anonymous commenter came through with one other helluva nickname for Jason Frasor: Jason "Mongolion Destructor" Frasor, as the only difference between Frasor and Ghengis Khan is the horse.) ...

Jeremy Accardo has been emancipated. Here's to him, and to Brad Mills' debut. Looking forward to it. (Afternoon baseball, woo!) ...

Aaron Hill > Dustin Pedroia ...

Marco Scutaro's defence is otherworldly. Only one error so far this season, and how about that double play he started in last night's 4th inning? Instead of a three-run home run, Jayson Worth ran the bases all by his lonesome. Scoots can't possibly get enough credit for what he's brought to the table this season. What a Venezuelan hero ...

The Vernon Wells Hatred Advisory System remains at SEVERE. You tell me, am I being too hard on him? (Not you, Stephen Amell.) ...

Alex Rios is nothing if not wildly entertaining. My boy 40's right; Rios said it best (especially when the Blue Jays are winning, in Interleague play, on the road): "who gives a fuck!?"

June 17, 2009

Hating the National League

Don't you just love it when a pitcher - I don't know, say Ricky Romero, or Scott Downs - who has no business hitting, and who probably doesn't want to hit, has to bat? Me too. It's so much fun; so exciting.

I love how National League enthusiasts continuously defend the asinine decision not to employ a designated hitter with the standard "there's more strategy" rebuttal.

Sure, there's more strategy. I get that. But in most cases, it doesn't take a genius of a manager to throw around the eighth hitter in a lineup to get to the pitcher. Even Buck Martinez can do that.

At the end of the day, pitchers can't hit. Period.

Last night, thanks to bullshit Interleague play, Scott Downs was injured running out a ground ball (x-rays were negative), and Ricky Romero struck out three times, leaving eight men on base.

They're pitchers. They should exclusively pitch, much like in the progressive, forward-thinking American League. Let the hitters hit.

I'm off the National League, huge ...

With the Blue Jays down 3-2 last night, guess who kicked off the 9th inning rally to tie the game? One Vernon Wells, with an infield single to the pitcher. It was his first hit in 21 at-bats. Darrin Fletcher, the greatest colour commentator ever, said it best: that's how all slumps end. Believe ...

If you're pissed off at Alex Rios for his boneheaded baserunning gaffe in the 8th inning, you should be equally pissed off at Nick Leyva. He fucked up, too. While that type of mistake happens in baseball, it seemingly happens too often to Alex Rios. (Richard Griffin is kind of upset about it.) There can't possibly be a better nickname for Rios than The Blissfully Oblivious Gazelle ...

Speaking of nicknames, I think it's official: Jason Frasor is the Sausage King of the bullpen. While I loved some of the suggestions - Bullpen Ninja, Hightower, Fire Hydrant - Sausage King was too good to pass up ...

It wasn't exactly a great performance, and he was bailed out by the aforementioned Sausage King, but B.J. Ryan is now working on six innings of scoreless relief. Believe in The Beej ...

I'd love to know what Cito Gaston said to Ricky Romero in a visit to the mound only three batters into last night's first inning. Whatever it was, it worked. The rendezvous was, my friends, the ultimate example of The Cito Effect ...

Keeping on Romero, he continues to shine. Of the eight American League rookie starting pitchers who've made at least eight starts and thrown at least 50 innings, Rick-Ro leads the way with a 3.73 ERA. His G/F ratio of 1.14 is second to only Baltimore's Brad Bergesen. Boners.

June 16, 2009

Memory Lane

I've been rather quiet, I know. Roy Halladay going down to injury, followed by three consecutive losses at home to the Florida Marlins, will do that to an emotional, youngish lad like myself. Have I told you lately how much I hate Interleague play? Fuck.

There's also that Vernon Wells guy, adding to my misery. He continues to be a thorn - a HUGE thorn - in the side of all Blue Jays fans. Democracy might arrive in Iran before Wells becomes a productive hitter again.

Speaking of V-Dub, check out this great post from The Tao of Stieb: You'll Never Love Vernon Like You Loved Carlos. It's great, and The Tao is probably right. I miss King Carlos.

June was to be a crucial month. Ideally the month where the AL East, or at least the wild card, was won. Instead, the Jays are floundering; 5-and-7, with 12 games left against the National League, including six against the defending World Series champions. As if playing in the AL East wasn't hard enough.

Wells hasn't helped the cause. In fact, he's falling apart. In 42 June at-bats, Wells has four hits, for a whopping .095 batting average. His .170 OBP and .337 OPS make me want to assume the fetal position and have a good cry. Or have a drink. Many drinks. Wells is no longer batting fourth in The Cito's lineup, but he shouldn't be batting third, either. What happened to our Vernon?

There's been some chatter as to the optimal location in the lineup for Wells, with some even going as far as saying he should be at the top of the order. Not that Marco Scutaro hasn't been a revelation, but for the Jays to succeed (read: make the playoffs!!!1) they need production out of Wells. Any production.

With runners on base (131 at-bats), Wells is batting .198, and slugging .298. With runners in scoring position (74 at-bats) the numbers are even worse: a .149 batting average, and a .284 slugging percentage. Clearly, he's no RsBI machine.

While I shudder to think of Wells as a leadoff hitter, the numbers suggest I perhaps shouldn't be so afraid. According to the Worldwide Leader in Sports, when leading off an inning, in 62 at-bats, Wells is batting .306 with an .890 OPS. With nobody on base, in 125 at-bats, Wells is batting .288 with a .792 OPS.

I'm not sure how one justifies moving Scoots out of the leadoff spot, but I'm all for it if it means Vernon gets on track. Of course, this post is useless, because there's no way it happens. Not in Citocity.

All of a sudden, the Tampa Bay Rays are tied with Toronto for third place in the division. The Red Sox have jumped five games ahead, and the Yankees hold a three game advantage on the wild card. Sadness.

On my sullen walk to work this morning, Nas came through on the iPod. I, too, took a trip down memory lane, through the first 41 games of the season, when the Jays were 27-and-14, and the talk of the town. Those were good times.

One last thing: I believe in Vernon Wells. I have to.

June 13, 2009

A Brutal Night

I don't want to talk about it. And I may or may not have been weeping at my seat at the Rogers Centre when Doc left the game.

To make matters worse, the Pittsburgh Penguins are Stanley Cup champions. While I'm overjoyed for the incredible bitches at Puck Huffers, fuck the Penguins.

Poor Roy Halladay. Poor Marian Hossa.

Brutality is there.

June 12, 2009

In search of a moniker ...

As I mentioned on Twitter last night, we need a nickname for Jason Frasor. A good one. And suggestions have begun to come down the pipe.

ar - Kee hit the ground running with "The Vulture." I like it. Much like a bird that feeds on the carcasses of dead animals, there is something predatory-like about the 2009 version of Frasor.

Platform Shag put forth "Razor," and The Blue Jay Hunter is on board. Unfortunately, I'm not, and I'm going to have to shoot this one down. It can't be done. Not in this town. Thanks to one Andrew Raycroft, not anymore. It would be a slap in Frasor's face for him to have the same moniker as the most atrocious goalie to suit up for the Toronto Maple Leafs in recent memory. Apologies, Pshag and Ian.

I do, however, like Searching For '93's suggestion: "Hightower." Something about it works. At 5'10 and 175 pounds, Frasor isn't a dominating physical presence on the mound. But he pitches like one. He pitches like a "Hightower." And the nickname reminds me of Officer Hightower, from Police Academy, which I always thought was based in Chicago, Frasor's hometown. Bottom line: I dig.

Last, and certainly not least, "The Bullpen Ninja," courtesy The Ack. I must admit, I'm feeling this one, too, probably the most. Frasor certainly is ninja-like. Quiet and unassuming, yet lethal. He can beat you with one mother fucker of a fastball, or his "fosh" pitch.

What do you think? Have at it in the comments, and throw in new suggestions as well. Jason Frasor, along with his 1.96 ERA, 0.74 WHIP, and .182 opponents batting average, is worth it.

UPDATE: How do we not go with Sausage King?

The Wager

Remember the Blue Jays bet I made with Stephen Amell from Searching For '93, back in March? You know; eight categories, over/under, seven worth one point, wins worth two points, highest total score wins.

And, of course, $100 and a videotaped autograph with Mike Wilner on the line.

Well, I joined SA on a podcast for an update. Thanks to some fine handicapping by Mr. Amell, the score is tight, and it should be fun to see how it plays out over the summer months.

Have a listen. As SA put it: "Along the way, we may or may not talk about Twitter, Jeff Blair, the Raptors, Reggie Evans, Bryan Colangelo, the Stanley Cup Finals and, um, other stuff. It's a great conversation."

Enjoy. If you get through the whole thing, you're a trooper, and I'd love to know your thoughts.

A Simple Decision

What to do on a Friday night: head down to the Rogers Centre and watch Roy Halladay abuse the Florida Marlins? Or head to a local establishment to watch game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Red Wings and Penguins? (Win that shit, Hossa.)

In all honesty, it's a no-brainer. Doc only starts 15-to-17 home games a year.

June 11, 2009

In praise of the doctor ...

No, not Roy Halladay. Not this (one) time.

I'm talking about Dr. James Andrews, of Birmingham, Alabama, doctor to the stars pitchers.

Dr. Andrews apparently has a monopoly on the burgeoning Tommy John surgery market, thanks in no small part to our Toronto Blue Jays, and up next is Jesse Litsch.

I can't say I'm surprised, so let's forget about Litsch for a second. Can J.P. Ricciardi sign Dr. Andrews? He might as well lock him up. Let the other, less experienced doctors work on the rest of baseball's broken pitchers. Hell, even throw in a no-trade clause, JFJ-style. There could be a press conference, where Dr. Andrews is presented with a jersey, and a cap. It'd be grand. The jersey would, of course, have "DR. ANDREWS" across the back.

Oh shut up, Brad Arnsberg haters. I don't want to hear it. Dr. Andrews has got to eat, too.

One day, in a ceremony at the Rogers Centre with the future president of the ball club (how's that search going, anyway?), the legendary Dr. Andrews will have his name, along with the final number of Tommy John surgeries he will have performed on Blue Jays players, rightfully honoured on the Blue Jays' Level of Excellence.

Inshallah, I will be there, on my feet in applause. Thank you, Dr. Andrews, for mending our wounded.

(See you in a bit, Jesse. Make sure you hit the treadmill.)

UPDATE: Here's Dr. Andrews' jersey. Although I have no idea how many TJ surgeries he's performed on Jays players, it looks pretty fly.


At one time, it was Jesse Litsch. Then David Purcey (by default). Scott Richmond, for a bit. Maybe even Ricky Romero, just once. Now, the answer is unequivocal: Brian Tallet is the number two man behind Halladay. The Summer of Tallet, indeed ...

Jason Kapono for Reggie Evans. A post defender with a zeal for rebounding, for arguably the most one-dimensional player in the NBA. Rejoice! Although sadness is there, as this signals the end of the Pops Mensah-Bonsu era in Toronto. For shame ...

The MLB Draft happened. I didn't really care ...

The Toronto Maple Leafs have a new goaltending consultant coach: Francois Allaire. Now they just need a goalie ...

June 09, 2009

Rooting for Marian Hossa

Weird, eh? Trust me, I know. But read me out.

In my defence, the Ottawa Senators' stank Hossa used to be afflicted with has worn off. He was last a Senator way back in 2004; a long time ago, when even the Maple Leafs were good. Five years later, I want Hossa to win the Stanley Cup. With the Detroit Red Wings. In Pittsburgh.

I never thought the day would come, but I respect Marian Hossa. I respect the decision he made last summer to sign with the the Detroit Red Wings. He made it for the right reason: to win the Stanley Cup. And in choosing Detroit over the Penguins, Hossa's one win from vindication.

Every hockey player is one game, one shift, and one injury away from having his career ended. Hossa left a ton of guaranteed money, and years, on the table to chase his dream.

Now don't get me wrong; Hossa got paid. He made just under $7.5 million this season. But he could have banked $9 million a year in Edmonton, or signed a multi-year deal with Pittsburgh estimated at about $50 million. And I can't help but admire that. For some reason, I don't want Hossa's decision to leave Pittsburgh and sign with Detroit to come back and haunt him.

Most of all, I appreciate Hossa's desire to win. If Mats Sundin truly wanted to win a Stanley Cup, he would have signed with the Red Wings last July (Detroit wanted him), or called Ken Holland mid-season and agreed to play for the league minimum. Instead, by signing with Vancouver, Sundin chose the route he took in Toronto: get paid, and play for a team with not the best shot, but a shot.

I believe Mats wanted it. Bad. Just not enough. Not as bad as Hossa wants it.

His Ottawa tenure a thing of the past, I'm hoping Hossa is high on Brian Burke's July 1 to-do list. Marian's a star; thirty-years-old, a proven 40-goal man, and only two seasons removed from a 100-point campaign with Atlanta. And, possibly as early as tonight, a Stanley Cup winner.

UPDATE: Read this post from James Mirtle. It's hard to win the Stanley Cup (understatement of the year). I'm not going to rip Hossa for giving himself the best shot to do so. 

June 08, 2009

Vernon Wells Hatred Advisory System

Check it out, we made The Globe and Mail:

A hearty tip of my Jays cap to G&M columnist Jeff Blair for the shout-out. He's one of the few out there who peruses the blogs, and that's a good thing.

And another thank you to my man The Blue Jay Hunter, who put together the five Vernon Wells Hatred Advisory System pictures. To decrease my workload here on the blog, Wells continues to do almost nothing at the plate, so we're still coming in at SEVERE, and have been for a while now. Thanks Vernon.

Mr. Blair doesn't believe in Vernon Wells. I, albeit reluctantly, still do.

Here's hoping V-Dub proves me right, starting tonight, deep in the heart of Texas (I love saying that) ...

Doc. Again.

Roy Halladay did it again. This time a complete game shutout of the Kansas City Royals on only 97 pitches, 73 for strikes. Win number six at home; MLB-leading win number 10 on the year. The man is a marvel.

Mission: Doc, to watch every start Roy Halladay makes this season, has so far been a rousing success. I took in yesterday's matinee for $11. Doc's the best, and by far the cheapest, ticket in town. And while I'm beginning to struggle in my attempts to wrap my head around just how well Halladay is pitching in 2009, I know that watching him certainly never gets old. Everytime Doc is on the mound at the Rogers Centre I sit back for just over two hours, pound a bag of sunflower seeds, and watch in amazement as he humbles the opposition. It's a beautiful thing.

Doc's on pace for 27 victories. I know, "on pace" doesn't mean shit, but think about that for a second; 27 wins. Halladay is in the midst of one of the finest pitching seasons Toronto has ever seen.

I'll see Harry Leroy on Friday, when the Florida Marlins come to town. You should, too.

Before that, however, the Blue Jays have a date with the Rangers down in Texas, Vernon Wells' home state. Since The Cito has chosen to leave Wells in the cleanup spot, I've no choice but to believe in Vernon. I'm thinking he needs my meaningless support.

So: I believe in Vernon Wells. I believe he's going to have a big series at home in Arlington, and help the Jays take three of four deep in the heart of Texas.

June 06, 2009

Deep Thoughts

Chris Bosh isn't signing an extension with the Raptors this summer. If you're surprised, you're probably not very bright. He wants to be a free agent, and he wants a max contract. I can't blame him. I'd want the same.

I'm not exactly a basketball aficionado. I don't know much, but I do know that Bosh is not worth $130 million over six years. I can't imagine Bryan Colangelo thinks he is, either.

Whether he's traded this summer or departs via free agency, Bosh will go do down as the second-best Raptor ever. It's been swell, CB4.

More importantly, who should replace Boshosauras in the Sports And The City banner? Calderon and his three-ball salute, or the emotionless Andrea Bargnani? ...

Typical Toronto Blue Jays: light up the best pitcher in baseball, Zack Grienke, then get owned by Luke Hochevar.

You know we're in June when even I begin to question The Cito. Trailing 5-2 in the bottom of the 7th inning, with runners on second and third, why not bring in Scott Rolen to pinch hit for Raul Chavez? Sure, Chavez homered earlier in the game, but I'm about as confident in his bat as I am in Vernon Wells as a cleanup hitter. And it's not like Rolen needed the rest; he didn't play on Wednesday, either.

I'm beginning to think that Scott Richmond's penchant for one brutal inning per start might have him sent to the bullpen or, worse, down to Las Vegas. Canada hasn't won a game since May 3. And because everyone and their mother has had a chance to pitch for the Jays this season, I imagine Fabio Castro or Brad Mills will get a shot soon enough ...

Interesting post last night from The Globe and Mail's Robert MacLeod on Rios-Gate. When the Jays announced that Rios would be making a statement - apologizing - on the field before yesterday's game, MacLeod said: "Several reporters were not even yet aware what Rios had done." Clearly, those reporters weren't on Twitter and/or on the blogs, which were buzzing about Rios' vocabulary all Friday afternoon. The power of the blogosphere ...

Doc's on the mound tomorrow. If you need me, I'll be at the Rogers Centre ...

UPDATE: TFC continues to suck. I guess they're just trying to fit in.

June 05, 2009

Keeping it Classy

After his epic five strikeout performance yesterday afternoon, Alex Rios was in an ornery mood. To say the least.

Check out the following:

It's always great when one of the faces of the Blue Jays franchise refuses to sign an autograph, and curses ("Who gives a fuck? Fuck you! Fuckin' idiot.") in front of the children.

Well done, Rios. Keep up the great work on the field, and on the streets of Toronto.

If that was me, I'd have simply yelled "Hola Alex!"

And a hearty tip of the hat to Sports And The City reader Josh for sending the clip over to my inbox.

UPDATE: An asshole, yes. But he's still our asshole.

June 04, 2009

Done waiting for Vernon Wells ...

Vernon Wells' .257 batting average is now the lowest among regulars on the Toronto Blue Jays. Ditto his .310 on-base percentage. His .394 slugging percentage is better than only Jose Bautista's, and not by much (.389). Our cleanup hitter hasn't homered since May 6th. May fucking 6th.

I don't even want to talk about his OPS, but I have to. .704? The Vernon Wells Hatred Advisory System is about to break. 

Wells' OPS at the Rogers Centre (Happy Birthday!) is a pathetic .563. He's hitting .172 in the friendly confines of home, with two jacks and nine RsBI. I kid you not: a single, solitary tear fell from my eye while looking at Wells' splits.

Adam Lind, by comparison, is the proud owner of a .967 OPS at the Dome. He's batting .333, with six home runs and 24 RsBI. Lind has, for all intents and purposes, outperformed Wells this season in only 25 home games.

Enough is enough. Cito Gaston has to move Wells out of the four-spot. One can only sit and watch Wells' futile attempt at being a legit cleanup hitter for so long. Of Toronto's 25 remaining games in June, 15 are at home. The Cito knows it has to be done. It's no longer a matter of if, but when.

I've got a lot of time for Vernon Wells. He can play on my team, and patrol center field, any day of the week. But he can't bat fourth. Not anymore.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention it, but it's official: the Jays are Jared Weaver's bitch

UPDATE #2: Adam Lind is batting cleanup this afternoon. Wells has a "day off." A real day off. Not one of his regular days off, when he's in the lineup, and does shit all. 

June 03, 2009


I paid $8.50 to watch Roy Halladay do what he did last night. I gave so little, and got so much. It was akin to robbery. I now know how Rogers Communications feels when doing business with me.

It was an epic performance from Doc. I've been to five of his six starts, and last night's might have been the best yet; even better than when he laid the smack down on A.J. Burnett and the Yankees

What's really left to be said about Halladay? As TD points out over at The 500 Level, since 2002, when Halladay became a premier pitcher in baseball, through twelve starts he's arguably never been as dominant as he's been in 2009. His 82 strikeouts, thanks to a career-high 14 last night, are astounding. The man is aging tremendously.

A couple of folks put it most aptly: 

Baseball Facts - "Roy Halladay can make Tim McCarver shutup."

Ghostrunner on First - "Roy Halladay is not of this earth." 

It's one thing to watch Halladay shut down a lineup with a masterful two-hit, 95-pitch performance. It's another to watch him allow four earned runs in a troublesome seventh inning, and end up throwing a 133-pitch complete game victory.

At the top of both the 8th and 9th innings, I was on the edge of my seat, hoping to see Halladay emerge from the dugout. Each time, he did. No bullpen was going to blow the lead. Thank you, Cito Gaston. 

And make no mistake, The Cito knows: pitch counts mean something only to mere mortals; not Harry Leroy Halladay III. 

In the final two innings, Halladay struck out five Anaheim Angels. The side, in the 9th, to end the game.

If you don't know, now you know: Doc's the best pitcher in baseball.

UPDATE: Check out Pitch F/X goodness from Doc's start over at The Mockingbird. Halladay's 130th pitch of the evening hit 94.7 mph on the radar gun ...

UPDATE #2: Brian Wolfe's on his way to Las Vegas. As the fine bitches at Puck Huffers say: Woo!

UPDATE #3: Doc's start, and finish, last night, did not qualify as a "quality start." Needless to say, the quality start statistic is now dead to me. I will never reference it again.

June 01, 2009

Big Bad Wolfe

I don't know about you, but I don't ever want to see Brian Wolfe - even a blurry Brian Wolfe - again.


I agree with Mike Wilner, Accardo's no "white knight." Not by any means. But surely he's better than Wolfe. And regardless of the role Accardo would play in the bullpen, I want the best arms coming out of left field ...

A 14-15 May is in the books. June will see the Jays play 17 of 27 at home, and finish up interleague play (until the World Series). In July and August, the schedule gets AL East heavy; 71% of games in July, and 77% of games in August, will be against divisional opponents.

June just might be where this race is won. Who better to kick it off than Roy Halladay?

It's going to be a marvelous summer.