December 14, 2009
Excuse me while I to continue to explicitly rip off Elliotte Friedman. Although he certainly can't have been the first to list his thoughts. That was Peter King ...
1. The Toronto Raptors delighted the home crowd Sunday afternoon. Big games from Chris Bosh and Hedo Turkoglu. Minutes, energy, points and blocked shots from Sonny Weems and Pops Mensah-Bonsu. But it was Jarrett Jack who had me on my feet after he got in the face of Trevor Ariza, who swung and missed with a bitch-elbow targeted for the back of Demar DeRozan's head.
A Raptor. Standing up for his teammate. It was a sight to behold. I felt like a proud parent, even though I have no children, and have no influence in stopping the Raptors from playing like Goddamn choir boys.
Bless you, Jarrett Jack.
2. I hate Mondays.
3. Ladies and gentlemen, the Joey Gathright and John Buck eras in Toronto have begun. The Jose Bautista era isn't over just yet, and let's not forget about Raul Chavez; we're in for another year of snap-throws down to first.
What? You're not excited? Yeah, it's unfortunate as fuck that neither Buck or Gathright can get on base; career OBPs of .298 and .327, respectively. But, well, beggars can't be choosers. And the Toronto Blue Jays are definitely beggars. And sellers. Beggars and sellers.
4. My number one source for information on Dustin McGowan is the Blue Jays blogosphere. It's why I don't believe McGowan will ever pitch again. I want to believe. But it just isn't worth the emotional investment.
5. In honour of John Gibbons, Ted Lilly, and Shea Hillenbrand, I hope Cito Gaston and Jeremy Accardo come to blows. And here's hoping it's Accardo, by TKO, in the first round.
6. Great post by The Ack, the esteemed weekend editor over at The Tao of Stieb, about his desire for Doc to be traded "anywhere but the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California, United States of America." He's right, but at the end of the day, if that's the best deal on the table, I'll learn to love Joe Saunders. And so will you.
7. The Ack brought up service time in his post, and how long guys are under team control. It got me thinking: the Jays have done a pretty good job of locking up their players - Alex Rios, Aaron Hill, Vernon Wells (don't start), even Roy Halladay. And I'm rather confident Adam Lind and Travis Snider will be added to that list.
When Paul Beeston says that money is available when the team needs it, I'm going to believe him. No, there's no briefcases full of stacks of crisp $100 bills for big-ticket free agents -- see Figgins, Chone and Bay, Jason -- but the checkbook is readily available when it comes to the cornerstones of the future; for the core: the Hills, Linds, Romeros and Sniders. And if one of those signings doesn't work out - HOLA ALEX!!!1 - so be it, that's life. Shit happens. "The player" gets his hands on crazy bank, and stops giving a fuck. Thankfully, there are other lunatic general managers out there to take your problems off your hands.
Think about it: if that money wasn't available, to lock up the team's budding stars, the Blue Jays would be the Florida Marlins. They'd be relatively competitive, and win a World Series every now and then. And this is my stop along this train of thought, because the end of the line is another bottle.
8. Continuing with the disappointment theme, I'll be honest with you: Tyler Myers is putting up the type of numbers in Buffalo I wish Luke Schenn was in Toronto. And guess what Myers was up to last season? You guessed it: playing in the WHL.
I'm by no means giving up on Luke Schenn. A trip upstairs in civvies is what he needed; what he deserved. He's looked lost in the defensive zone, doesn't fit the mold of a great-first-pass, puck-moving defenseman, and looks like he shoots the puck only a little harder than I do. My biggest worry is that this kid gets pigeon-holed into something he's not, and never lives up to sky-high expectations in Toronto. I'm worried that in the end we'll only be left disappointed. Other than a young kid who throws a great bodycheck every now and again -- yes, an important skill to have -- I'm not sure what Luke Schenn is.
9. In four games since being reinserted into the Maple Leafs lineup, Rickard Wallin has played 06:39, 10:24, 08:16, and 11:11 respectively. No points, of course. It's Wallin. My point is: why couldn't Jiri Tlusty have been given those minutes?
Granted, my definition of an adequate Tlusty tryout was 15 minutes a night in the NHL, but I'd have been happy with Wallin-type minutes. And we'd all be happier with Wallin out of the lineup. It was a win-win. The trade still doesn't make sense to me.
10. Why did no teammate of Tomas Kaberle come to his defense in the third period Saturday night, after Mike Green so rudely shoved him into the boards? Kaberle could have been killed!1 All Tomas could muster was a couple of shoves to Green's chest, because I'm sure he figured Mike Komisarek was going to help a brother out. A minute later, Kaberle was shown laughing on the bench, probably because he knew he could have ruined Green's life, but just didn't feel like it.
I don't know, maybe it's me. Did you see Green nail Kaberle? Wasn't it just a little, well, bullshit? Am I making too much of it? Am I pulling out the "Where were his teammates on that one?" card too often? You can let me know if I am.
11. I know I'm the leader of the Fire Ron Wilson brigade, but it hasn't gone unnoticed that he's shown a real knack for benching players at the right time. Last season, it was Tomas Kaberle and Jason Blake. This season Niklas Hagman and Matt Stajan. And it's worked. Those two have led Toronto's -- dare I call it? -- resurgence. Hopefully Schenn will respond in the same fashion.
It seems patience upstairs has prevailed. Wilson's in it for the long haul. He continues to set the tone; if you're not on board, enjoy the view.
My excuse? Stability. It frightens me. I'm simply not used to it anymore.
12. I was daydreaming about Phil Kessel at work a couple of days ago. It happens more often than I'd like. Anyway, my mind wandered, and I thought of Nik Antropov; it would have been neat to see the two of them play together. Antropov's playing with Ilya Kovalchuk, and producing: 25 points in 30 games.
Suddenly I stopped myself. Why isn't anything Matt Stajan does ever good enough for me?
After Saturday night's impressive performance, Stajan's got 25 points in 31 games. He's already tied his career-high of five power play goals. Of centres who have taken more than 500 faceoffs this season, Stajan ranks ninth in the league at 52.4%.
An unrestricted free agent next season, I want Stajan to stick around. And that's the best compliment I can give him.