February 28, 2009

The Spin-O-Rama

Much like overtime hockey, it's one of life's simple pleasures.

As if I needed another reason to love Jason Blake. What a rudey. And, needless to say, I most certainly fist-pumped after that beauty.

February 27, 2009

Reflections before the deadline...

If I'm watching guys like Nik Antropov, Matt Stajan, Dominic Moore and Pavel Kubina play their final games in a Toronto Maple Leafs uniform, I must say, I'm enjoying myself.

If one or all of them are gone by next Wednesday, they will most certainly be missed.

Nik Antropov. What haven't we been through together? The potential, the knee surgeries, the bullshit injuries, the blossomage into a 20-goal scorer, the "A" on his shoulder. It's been one helluva ride over the last 10 years.

I'll be honest, I'd hate to see #80 go. I still think it's in the best interest of the Leafs to offer him a three or four year deal, at $3 or $3.5 million a year. If he signs, great. If not, let's see what we can get for him. But I'm definitely leaning towards wanting to keep him.

Dominic Moore. Other than Jason Blake, Moore has got to be the most pleasant surprise on this year's Leafs squad. He picked up another goal last night, a shortie, his 12th of the year, and his 40th point on the season. Dominic Moore. Forty points. Can you believe it?

Moore, an unrestricted free agent next season, can surely help a playoff team. But I want him to stay. He plays hard. He's a leader. He's huge on the faceoffs. He's a Toronto boy. Let's keep him.

Pavel Kubina. You know, a lot of people shit all over Kubina for not waiving his no-trade clause, and not even giving GM Brian Burke a list of teams he's willing to accept a trade to, but I'm beginning to respect Kubina and his desire to remain a Toronto Maple Leaf.

Since Tomas Kaberle went down with an injury, Kubina's been, to quote the insufferable Pierre McGuire, "a monster." In 13 games without his Czech mate, Kubby's scored two goals, added 10 assists, and is a +5. He's been logging crazy minutes, including 28 more last night, and is clearly the leader of the blue line brigade. 

I'm torn on Kubina. If I have to choose between him and Kaberle, I'm choosing Tomas seven days of the week. But over the last month I've come to appreciate Kubina a lot more, thanks to how hard he plays. He wants to be part of the solution around here, and I can't help but respect that. There's a reason he's got an "A" on his shoulder, as well.

Matty Stajan. I've ripped on him for a long, long time, yet here he is, centring the Leafs' top line, and already having set a new career high with 41 points. While I don't believe he's an elite player, he could definitely help a playoff team. It will be interesting to see what Burke does with him.

For the first time in his career, Stajan is producing, and maybe this is one of those cases where the Leafs should trade an asset when he's at his peak. Again, I'm torn.

Before I leave you, I've got a message for Leafs fans, and fans of the New York Islanders (yes, all three of them): fuck Brendan Witt.

Witt better get at least a seven game suspension for that bush-league hit on Niklas Hagman. What a douchebag. Hate the Witt.

Here's hoping Hags is not completely messed up.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, props out to Ron Wilson for sending Tim Stapleton over the boards in the shootout. Playing in his first NHL game, Stapleton sealed the deal, and two points, for the good guys. Stay classy, Coach Wilson.

And, yes, the Leafs did just win back-to-back games in the shootout.

February 26, 2009

Deep Thoughts Vol. 18: Vesa's Back

I don't know what happened to the old, promiscuous Vesa Toskala. Matter of fact, I don't care. He's gone. And hopefully he's not coming back. Vesa's five-hole is no longer open for business, and that's all that matters.

So, a couple of public verbal floggings from Brian Burke and Ron Wilson, and some horrid play from Justin Pogge and his teammates, is all it took to get Toskala back into form? Seriously?

I don't know the answers. Why the hell do you think I'm asking you? But I'm guessing all Toskala needed was some motivation. And God knows Curtis "Old Yeller" Joseph wasn't providing it. Anyway, based on Vesa's recent play (3-0-1, .949 save %), Wilson and Burke look like the smartest guys in show business right now.

I must say, it's great to have the Vesa of old back in the fold. The good Vesa. The Vesa who can stop a few God damn pucks every now and then. He was sublime again last night, stopping 31 of 32 in regulation against the New York Rangers, and all three of their attempts in the shootout.

Yes, you read that correctly. Vesa Toskala stopped all three New York attempts in the shootout. Don't worry, after the game, I went out and bought me one of those scratch-and-win cards. I'll be yelling out "Bingo!" in my cubicle around 11:45 AM.

Toskala's save percentage now comes in at .888. Around these parts, we round up. So, that's 89%, my friends. Andrew Raycroft's checking in at .898. Keep doing what you're doing, Vesa. You're almost there, bro. No matter all the extremely distasteful things I've said about you this season, I still believe in you.

Bye Bye Bell

The forgotten man, Mark Bell, is now a New York Ranger. He hit the re-entry waiver wire yesterday and the Rangers, in their never-ending stupidity (see: Tortorella, John), claimed him. And, to think, I was excited about Bell joining Toronto a season and a half ago. Well done, John Ferguson Jr., well done.

Since he's a now officially a former Maple Leaf, Bell's career is on the upswing. Cue his career rejuvenation, starting...a now.

Kabby Ain't Going Nowhere

Brian Burke wants a first-round pick, a guy who can step in and play right now, and a top prospect for #15. Needless to say, Tomas Kaberle is going to remain a Toronto Maple Leaf past Wednesday's trade deadline, and I couldn't be happier about that.

To all those of you who were excited to see him go, cry me a God damn river.

February 22, 2009

Mats Sundin: The Return...

The game on his stick, Mats Sundin did what he's done so many times in a blue and white jersey on Air Canada Centre ice: he sealed the deal. This time, wearing green as well, he did it to the Toronto Maple Leafs, instead of for them. And it was beautiful.

I doubt I could have written a better script: A beautiful standing ovation in Sundin's honour. Sixty-five minutes of entertaining hockey. A 2-2 game. A shootout equal at one. And Sundin, the yet to be replaced former Leafs captain, with the final word.

Backhand. Shelf. Stick side. Money.

A triumphant, and fitting, return. The game-winning goal. A first-star selection. And I was there. It was perfect.

Let's talk about that epic first period ovation. Leafs fans showed their class, and gave it up for their captain. I'm not sure I've ever heard the ACC any louder. The game waited. Chants of "Sundin! Sundin!" broke out. Mats got emotional. There may or may not have been some dust in my eye, causing severe discomfort to the point of tears. All of a sudden, my overpriced purple seats were worth every penny. It was magical.

Throughout the game, I hollered in support whenever Mats touched the puck. Some made the wrong decision to boo #13, but my fears of being severely let down by the Toronto faithful thankfully did not come to pass. Sundin was well received, as he should have been, and both Canucks and Leafs fans were cheering when he put the puck in the net to end the game.

Of course, there were the token douchebag Sundin haters. I happened to run into two of them after the game. The clowns, one of them with Xs through Sundin's name and number on his jersey, were yelling "Mats has the clap! Mats has the clap!," and talking smack to anyone in a Sundin jersey, myself included. As you can tell, really classy individuals.

Long story short, I: may or may not have engaged them in some intellectual conversation hurled some obscenities their way, am impressed by the promptness of security folk at the ACC, take the Mats-hating of others, especially drunk morons, way too seriously. For I am eyebleaf, "Lord of the Idiots."

While it was Sundin's night, I can't write about being in attendance without mentioning Vesa Toskala. He was fantastic. Went save-for-save with Bobby Luongo, the best goalie in the world, and looked good doing so. Way to not slut it up while I was in the building, Vesa.

Back to business. You know, I have memories of Sundin in a Quebec Nordiques uniform, so many years ago. I don't, however, remember him scoring against the Maple Leafs, although I'm pretty sure he did. After last night, I'll never forget.

About a year ago, we never got to properly say thanks, or say goodbye. Last night, we got to do both.

Thanks for everything, Mats. Including one more magical night. While you'll forever remain a Maple Leaf to me, you're now officially a Vancouver Canuck. Go and get that Cup.

February 21, 2009

Welcome home, Mats...

*The following is generously cross-posted over at the one and only Pension Plan Puppets, where the debate over Mats Sundin threatens to tear us, Leafs Nation, apart...

He's back. As a visitor. As a Vancouver Canuck. As the opposition. As the enemy. But he's back. Home. Where he grew up. Where he became a man. And I can't help but welcome him with open arms.

Look at that smile. You miss him, don't you? It's OK to say that you do. I do, too. It's only natural.

To be honest with you, it's tough to write this post. I'm not sure I truly believed I'd ever see Sundin on the ice at the Air Canada Centre in anything but a Leafs uniform. But, here he is.

Oddly enough, it's The Hangar's 10th anniversary tonight. Remember, it was Sundin who carried the torch - the "Memories and Dreams" - through the streets of Toronto, over to Bay and Front. He wasn't able to lead us to the "dream," but he sure left behind classic "memories."

Those memories are the reason why I'll be on my feet in applause, at the Air Canada Centre in attendance, when Sundin takes to the ice tonight. Logo on the front of his jersey be damned. After all he did wearing the blue and white, it's my turn to say thanks to the name on the back of his sweater.

There are those who cannot forgive Sundin for the way his tenure in Toronto ended. It remains an issue that sharply divides what is normally one tight-knit family of Toronto Maple Leafs supporters.

To those who say that Sundin lied about not wanting to be a rental player, and lied about wanting to respect the "journey" that is a full NHL season, I say no, he didn't lie. Not to me, at least.

Things changed. Situations changed. Yes, I am on the same page as Damien Cox on this issue. It pains me, but it is what it is.

In my heart, I believe that Sundin was set to retire back in August. He had all but hung up his skates for good. I truly believe that if Sundin knew in June that he was coming back for another season, he would have signed a deal with the Montreal Canadiens before July 1st, thereby ensuring that the Leafs at least received some compensation for his rights.

Sundin's decision to not join an attack as potent as the Habs' was a sure-fire sign to me that he thought he'd left the game behind.

While it may be hard to believe when looking at the standings today, I think most of us would have to agree that Montreal looked more like a Stanley Cup contender than Vancouver over the summer.

And, contrary to what some of the Sundin haters continue to ridiculously trumpet, in my eyes Sundin is, always has been, and forever will be, about winning. Mats led the Leafs. He bled for the Leafs. He cried for the Leafs. He carried the Leafs. He was the Leafs. He didn't want to leave, and he didn't have to. He didn't owe it to any of us to do so.

"I was put in a position I didn't want to be in. For me personally, I felt that we still had a chance to make the playoffs (last year). As captain of the team, (I believed) jumping the ship wasn't the right thing to do."

That's the guy, the one who spoke those words, you're going to boo? Seriously? Let me guess, you'd probably boo the captain of the Titanic, for going down with his sinking ship (I think he had a no-trade clause, too).

Don't do it. Don't let an unfortunate ending cloud your judgment. Things end. And they usually end badly. That's why they end. That's life. I ask that you don't forget what Sundin meant to you, to your city, and to your - to our - team. He always played with tremendous passion, desire, motivation, humility, and, above all else, respect. Isn't that all we could have asked for? I believe it's only right that, tonight, we show him that same respect.

Let bygones be bygones. Do the right thing: applaud Mats Sundin. Lord knows he deserves it. For once, ask not what Mats Sundin can do for you - ask what you can do for Mats Sundin.

Mats Sundin Montage...

If I learned anything at all from Team America World Police it's that, sometimes, "we're going to need a montage. Oh it takes a montage..."

February 19, 2009

Trip For Tavares

Well, the boys and I are off tonight to the great Canadian city of Brampton, Ontario, to take in some OHL hockey action.

It's the London Knights vs the Brampton Battalion. Word on the streets is that some dude named John Tavares plays for the Knights and, apparently, he's the shit.

So, we're going to see if all the hype around this guy is to be believed. We shelled out big bucks, $5 a ticket, so this Tavares fellow better not disappoint.

I like to think of the trip as a scouting mission. If the Hockey Gods choose to shine their light on the Toronto Maple Leafs (they never do), Tavares could be a Toronto Maple Leaf in June (it's not happening).

Anyway, by "scouting mission," I of course mean that I'll be wearing my Leafs jersey, getting hammered on what I assume is cheap, junior hockey priced beer, and chanting "Go Leafs Go!" repeatedly.

It should be a most pleasant evening. Rest assured I'll let you know how it goes.

If you've got a message you'd like me to pass along to our boy, JT, drop 'em in the comments. I'll be sure to oblige. 

February 17, 2009

So when life be stressing me...

my remedy is "bringing back sweet memories."

I love Joe Bowen. It's absolutely ridiculous to think that he made those calls almost ten years ago.

I miss the playoffs.

February 16, 2009

Deep Thoughts Vol. 17: Sorry, Michel...

I'm not sure what it is about the Pittsburgh Penguins, but they sure as hell bring out the best in our Toronto Maple Leafs, don't they?

Including Saturday night's dominant ass-kicking, the Leafs ended up taking three of four from the Pens this season. That's six points Therrien and co. left on the table. Against the Maple Leafs. Six points that I believe, in the end, cost Michel Therrien his job.

Sorry, Pens fans. And Pens bloggers. The Leafs didn't mean to drive the final nail into the Therrien coffin. Frankly, I'm surprised he lasted as long as he did.

As a coming-out-of-the-closet Pens fan, I think Dan Bylsma for Therrien is a good move. The Penguins are too talented a squad to miss the playoffs. Period. There's a lot of hockey left to play, and the Pens are only five points out of eighth, and seven points out of fifth, in the Eastern Conference. I'm not worried. The Pens are making the playoffs. ComeBackCity2009.

And, for the record, I may or may not be the owner of a Penguins jersey. And I may or may not have found it in the depths of a closet at my parents' place over the weekend...

Jason Blake and the Fist Pump

Back to my first and true love, the Leafs (don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise).

I had a George Costanza moment in the third period of Saturday night's game. After my hero Jason Blake scored his second goal, an absolute beauty, in only 19 seconds, to put the Leafs up 3-2, my right arm involuntarily fist-pumped. It just happened. I didn't realize it until after the fact. And it freaked me the fuck out.

But deep down, I kind of enjoyed it. And I want it to happen again.

Speaking of #55, isn't he just a dear? So much so that even ardent Blake-hater Down Goes Brown is coming around. And if DGB is beginning to see the light, you know Blake truly is playing out of his mind.

John Ferguson Jr.'s Greatest Move

His name is Dominic Moore. He's got 38 points in 56 games, including a team-leading 27 assists. His career high in points, prior to this season, was 18, back in 2005/2006 when he was a New York Ranger.

Moore's been nothing short of a revelation, and has found chemistry alongside the fist-pumping wonder, Blake.

Picked up off the waiver wire, Moore hands down represents JFJ's finest hour (it was a looooong hour). He's making only $900 K, and is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent come July 1st.

Here's hoping Brian Burke doesn't let it get to that point. Moore may be somewhat of an attractive commodity come trade deadline day, but I'd rather the Leafs get his autograph on a new contract. There's something to be said for a guy who works his tail off every night and is able to shed the label of "defensive specialist."

Moore's good people. A Toronto boy. He'll be 29 in August. He can surely teach some of the younger Leafs a thing or two, especially in the faceoff circle. Even during a rebuild, I believe Moore's proven he's the type of guy you want to have stick around.

February 15, 2009

They're back...

You can't see it in that picture*, but Jesse Litsch, along with his epic gut, has man-breasts.

It's great to see that Litsch has come to spring training in the best shape of his life, ready to seize the opportunity to become the number two man in the Toronto Blue Jays' rotation, behind the one and only Roy Halladay.

Truthfully, Litsch's gut and tits don't bother me in the least right now. Not even his rotund figure can deter the optimism that reigns supreme in February.

In stark contrast, The Beej looks great, doesn't he? I can hardly wait to see his first fist pump of the season after he closes out a game. Between B.J. and Jason Blake, the fist pump is enjoying a tremendous revival in Toronto.

Seriously, though, look at Litsch's smile. It just about rivals mine. The boys of summer are back.

And the Blue Jays are winning the pennant.

*A hearty tip of the hat to Ian over at The Blue Jay Hunter for letting me post that pic. It's a beauty. Head on over to his site, and add it to the RSS reader of your choice. Ian does yeoman's work, and even brings Blue Jays heads together for a weekly chat to talk about the upcoming season. And, by "talk about the upcoming season," I mean: Doc's winning the Cy Young, Travis Snider is winning AL Rookie of the Year, and Vernon Wells, Alex Rios, Lyle Overbay and Scott Rolen are all going to have monster 2009s. Playoffs.


In another life, Nate Robinson would have made one helluva figure skater.

Make sure you check out Robinson's photo gallery to relive the glory that was last night's Sprite Slam Dunk Contest. There are a ton of gems, including this one, and this one.

It's truly amazing how high that little black man can jump.

February 14, 2009

The Matrix

Brace yourselves, my friends. You're about to read a post about the Toronto Raptors...

First and foremost, so long, Jermaine O'Neal. We hardly knew you, mate.

I think it's safe to say we all know of the deal by now. Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo finally - no, mercifully - made a move, and O'Neal, along with Jamario Moon and a first round draft pick, is off to the Miami Heat. Your newest Raptors are "The Matrix" Shawn Marion, and some dude named Marcus Banks, who I've never heard of, but who makes more than $4 million a season.

I was actually going to post breaking news of the trade yesterday afternoon, when word dropped that the deal was done. But then I remembered that I don't really give a shit.

Sorry, it's the truth. I care about the Raptors. Not so much about the Craptors. And, make no mistake about it, occupying second-last place in the Eastern Conference, the Raptors are once again the Craptors.

If you're looking for analysis on the big trade, you'll find a small nugget of it here. You know this already, but the trade is all about cap-space. Colangelo is clearing the decks as, with each passing day, we get closer to the summer of 2010, when everyone and their mother becomes a free agent in the NBA.

That being said, O'Neal and his ridiculous salary - $23 million next year - had to go. With the emergence of Andrea Bargnani as a not-so-useless NBA centre, O'Neal, Colangelo's prized off-season acquisition, and his wonky 67-year-old knees, became expendable. Period.

In Marion, the Raptors get a guy who can rebound, and who is known to play defence. I know, imagine that. "The Matrix" is a free agent at the end of the season, and I'm not sure anyone is really expecting him to stick around, his ties with Colangelo be damned. But, hey, I'm sure we'll offer him the choice between the blue and red pill (sorry, I had to do it).

As for Jamario Moon and Marcus Banks, they're all but irrelevant. Moon is clearly happy to just be in the NBA. He doesn't seem interested in, you know, actually improving. Was there another player in Raptors history who so frustrated his coaches? And, Banks. Well, he's going to live up to his surname and get paid a fuck-ton of money to sit on the bench, so who am I to criticize what is, in all honesty, one sweet gig?

As I mentioned above, Toronto's first-round draft pick, between 2010 and 2015, is going Miami's way. All you need to know is this: whenever the Raptors make the playoffs again after this season, Miami gets the pick. And you also need to know this: it doesn't matter the sport, when MLSE makes a deal, it includes a first-rounder going the other way.

Based on some of the comments I've seen over at RaptorBlog.com, it's the addition of the first-rounder that is causing die-hard Raptors fans major angst. As a die-hard Toronto Maple Leafs fan, I'm used to the trading of premium draft assets. So, I'm not about to get my boxer briefs all tied up in knots. Deep down, I know that if the Toronto Blue Jays could trade draft choices, they'd deal their first-round picks, too.

Know this, however, and boxers/briefs/panties beware. If Marion walks away this summer, the Raptors (read: Bryan Colangelo) will have traded T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston, a first-round pick in the 2008 NBA draft (Roy Hibbert), and a conditional first-rounder between 2010 and 2015, for Nathan Jawai, Marcus Banks, and salary cap room (cap room that O'Neal would have provided in 2010, anyway).

Somewhere, Rob Babcock is smiling.

February 13, 2009

Exit Stage Right

It's official. I hate Vesa Toskala. After the Leafs opened the scoring last night in Tampa Bay, Toskala's promiscuous legs opened up, as well. And I don't have to tell you what happened next.

But I will anyway.

Before I could say "What the fuck, Vesa!?!," it was 4-1 Lightning. Four goals in four minutes and 13 seconds. Toskala's night was over, and rightfully so.

Twelve shots. Eight saves. And, for me, a broken heart.

I want Vesa to succeed. I want him to play well. As much as I rail on him, as much as I call him the sluttiest goalie in all the land, I want him to win. I'm a goalie. I hate to see one of my own go through the type of season he's going through. Especially after the effort he gave Toronto last year. 

But I can't support him anymore. Not when he looks completely indifferent, night in and night out, in the crease. It's killing me.

I truly believe that with a goalie who could provide NHL-calibre goaltending, this Leafs team might be fighting for a playoff spot. I know, it's not what's best for the franchise right now, but in my utter and beautiful shortsightedness, I want nothing more than to watch Toronto Maple Leafs playoff action.

I'm done with Vesa. I know I'm giving up on him without much of a fight, but it's over between us. I deserve better. I'm sorry, but there's not much left to look forward to but the day he is no longer wearing the blue and white.

Saturday, Leafs and Penguins. Two words: Pogge time.


Vesa and I are back together. 

Once the emotion subsided, I had a talk with Kimberlass, of the infamous Puck Huffers. She's got a soft spot for Toskala, and she, in her endless wisdom, convinced me that I cannot abandon him in his darkest hour. As a goalie, it's my duty to support him, especially when he's lower than he's ever been.

So, I apologized to Vesa. Things are tough right now, but we have to believe we'll get through it.

Make no mistake about it, though, Vesa slept on the couch last night.

February 12, 2009

Required Reading...

Doug Glanville

Doug Glanville is a former Major League Baseball player. He's also an Ivy League graduate, with a degree in systems engineering from Penn. Needless to say, he's one smart cat.

Glanville has, for the past year or so, been writing a guest Op-Ed for The New York Times. It's dope. You really ought to check out the layout. He sheds light on his time in "the show," and his take on the Alex "Douchebag" Rodriguez clusterfuck was a fantastic read.

I know. A smart and articulate baseball player. Who can read and write. It's weird. But trust me, he's in the Times, so he's the real deal.

I love The New York Times.

Puck Huffers

I stumbled upon Puck Huffers thanks to my good friend Wrap Around Curl. It's arguably been the best thing that's happened to me in the last two months. Yeah, I know, I live a fascinating existence. Fuck off.

Anyway, the blog is run by two sassy ladies - Kimberlass and debrisslide - and they write about the trials and tribulations of their beloved Pittsburgh Penguins, who, somehow, are fighting for their playoff lives. They've only got nine more points than the Leafs, that's how dire the situation is down there.

The game recaps over at Puck Huffers are incredible. As is the "Michel Therrien Radar." The ladies' faith in their shitty team never fades. In a way, they remind me of, well, me. In the younger, more optimistic, never-say-die days of my youth.

Seriously, check 'em out. You can thank me later.

Between Hockey, Football, and Stiletto Shoes and Puck Huffers, I may or may not be becoming a Pittsburgh Penguins fan...

The Humming Giraffe

If you're like me, you've been keeping tabs on Mats Sundin. He's gone, but certainly not forgotten. 

I've been getting my Canucks blogging fix over at The Humming Giraffe, where Alix is falling in love with Mats right in front of our very eyes. Let me tell you, it's a beautiful thing.

It's funny how all that talk about Sundin looking slow out there, and being the root cause of all the Canucks' problems, has come to a screeching halt. With 10 points in twelve games, Mats is looking fine, thank you very much. Training camp? Fuck a training camp.

I'm happy for my boy. I'm not the jealous ex who wants to see his sloppy seconds struggle. No sir, not me. I want to see him fall in love again. I want him to be happy. I want him to win the Stanley Cup.

I want a Canucks jersey.

Pension Plan Puppets

I mentioned Wrap Around Curl above. Well, the rookie Leafs fan has joined the team over at Pension Plan Puppets. Recession? Economic downturn? None of that shit exists over at triple-P. The site continues to grow at alarming, housing bubble-like rates. Good on you, guys. And now, gal. An excellent addition to the team, if I must say so myself.

PPP, ruthless dictator of the website, also joined Stephen Amell on a podcast over at Searching for '93. Have a listen. PPP brings the heat, especially when it comes to the Toronto media.

I'm Keith Hernandez

What do you get when you combine Seinfeld and sports bloggage? I'm Keith Hernandez. If you're addicted to Seinfeld much like I am, there's no way you're not going to enjoy this blog. Check out this post on Kevin Millar, who's now officially a Toronto Blue Jay.

"Cowboy up!"

Oh, God. I just threw up in my mouth.

Ok, that's it. Happy reading. Remember the words of one Billy Madison:

Billy: "Sheesh, what's up her butt?"
Veronica Vaughn: "What was that, Billy?"
Billy: "I said 'Reading is...good!'"

February 11, 2009

Roberto Alomar has AIDS

You can read the story here. There are a couple of links within the story you should check out, as well.

Suddenly, all those "catch the taste!" jokes don't seem so funny anymore.

Honestly, I've got nothing funny, witty, or sarcastic to say about this. Robby was my hero, my idol, my everything, growing up. It's a sad day, and I wish him well in his fight against the disease.

Here's hoping he gets into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, wearing a Toronto Blue Jays cap of course, before he leaves us for good.

Good luck, Robby.

February 10, 2009

Best. Celebration. Ever.

I planned to write a post about Nik Antropov, and how Brian Burke is an idiot for publicly saying he's not going to offer him a new contract. Way to go Burke. That's real smart. It should do wonders in terms of trade leverage. But you know what? Fuck it.

One of my homeboys, Karan, a loyal Sports And The City reader who also goes by the monikers "deeismovingbacktotorontoandican'twait" and "deewouldletARodstickhisneedleinhimanyday," sent me the video below. It's straight out of an Indian movie. And it is, without a doubt, the greatest goal celebration I have seen in my 26 years on this here earth.


Epic, wouldn't you agree? It might just be better than the timeless art of the fist pump.

If Jason Blake pulls that one out of his bag of tricks, his number might have to be honoured one day.

Don't thank me. Thank Karan.

February 09, 2009

Who gives a shit?

Anyone else sick to death of reading, hearing and talking about Alex Rodriguez's steroid revelation?

Fuck. Enough already. What exactly is so surprising? The guy has always been a $250 million dollar douchebag. Now he's a steroid-using $250 million dollar douchebag. It makes sense. Deal with it, and let's move on.

Honestly, I don't give a damn who it is; a baseball player testing positive for steroids is not news.

Did I mention that A-Rod's a douche?

Yes? Good.


He admitted it. After lying about it for, what, more than a year? What an idiot. Ladies and gentlmen, give it up for Alex Rodriguez, douchebag extraordinaire. Now, get over it.

February 08, 2009

Is there anything better....?

Greetings from Thunder Bay, Ontario. Yes, the land of the Staals. All of them. Does anyone want to fill me in on the fourth brother's name? I can only name three of them.

Anyway. On to more important things. 

You know, no matter how poorly this season has gone for Toronto, for some reason, I'm able to get up (giggity) for games between the Leafs and Habs.

Last night was no exception. I was out with my work peoples, a large contingent of them Montreal fans, and I was representing in my blue and white jersey. It had to be done. And the Leafs, for once, did not disappoint. Even Vesa Toskala, goaltending slut extraordinaire, was on top of his game.

Seriously, though. Is there anything better than watching Luke Schenn, the soon-to-be captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs, score his first career goal against les habitants in Montreal? He played 25:47 last night, and was a force. His goal was hopefully the first of many against the Canadiens.

Is there anything better than having the Montreal faithful boo Mickey Grabs, only to see him play an influential role on a second-period goal by Nikolai Kulemin? Suck it, Habs fans. And Kostitsyn - I don't care which one -  is still a pussy.

Is there anything better than watching Carey Price squirm like a mother fucker during his post-game interview, trying to dissect his most-pathetic performance? I mean, Price was waving after each puck that went past him. He was straight guessing out there. It was glorious. Hey Carey, where's your Usain Bolt impression now, honey?

Is there anything better than seeing Brad May step up and fight Georges Laraque? May clearly isn't the smartest tool in the shed, accepting an invitation from the undisputed heavyweight champion of the woooooorld, but the man has guts, and I can respect that.

Is there anything better than seeing Jason Blake rip two wrist shots past the aforementioned Price? A little game-winning goal action, please! I've got him in my pool. I heart #55. He's on pace for 30 goals. Fist pumps all around.

And how about that penalty killing effort? Is there anything better than seeing the Leafs brush off seven-of-eight? The only goal the Habs were able to score with the man-advantage came when the Leafs were two men down.

Most of all, though, is there anything better than seeing Vesa Toskala make some God damn stops? Thirty-one saves on thirty-three shots. Imagine that. It's no joke: your best penalty killer is always your goaltender. Well done, Vesa. Way to not whore it up for one night. Don't you feel better about yourself?

And, while I know it's not totally Leafs related, is there anything better than seeing Mats Sundin pick up three points in an ass-kicking of the Chicago Blackhawks by the Vancouver Canucks? Do your thing, Mats. Get those legs under you. I'll see you in a couple of weeks, my dear.

Unless you're an idiot, it's obvious that the answer to all of the above rhetorical questions is a resounding "no." Beating the Montreal Canadiens never gets old. No matter where the Leafs are in the standings. 

February 05, 2009

End Of An Era...

Do not be alarmed. That picture, by all accounts, is real. On some distant planet many, many years ago, Brad Wilkerson did, in fact, receive a curtain call. He played for some team called the "Expos." No, I don't know who the hell they are, either.

It's over, my friends. The Brad Wilkerson era in Toronto, which began on May 9, 2008, has mercifully come to an end nine agonizing months later.

Wilkerson, a free agent, is off to play terrible baseball for the Boston Red Sox, the fourth team he will inevitably let down in the last five years.

His signing, worth a base salary of $400,000, but with the potential to go as high as $2.5 million, proves that baseball actually is immune to the ills of the global financial crisis. If Wilkerson can parlay his dry-heaves inducing 2008 statistics - a .220 batting average, .308 on-base percentage, and .634 OPS - into a job during these trying economic times, well, Major League Baseball is doing just fine, thank you very much.

You know, I don't know much in life, but I am certain about one thing: my unborn son is so playing baseball.

As he packs his bags for New England, I wish Wilkerson nothing but the best. I look forward to never seeing him in a Toronto Blue Jays uniform again.

February 04, 2009

Quel Surprise!

The Toronto Maple Leafs blew a 3-1 lead in the third period last night.

Florida scored on their only power play of the game, with 53 seconds left on the clock, to send the contest to extras.

Former Leaf Bryan McCabe, whom Leafs fans ridiculously jeer every time he touches the puck, scored the game-winning goal in overtime on a shot Vesa "I'm a goaltending slut" Toskala should easily have stopped.

Yeah. That's about right.

Oh, and remember, I told you not to boo McCabe. I've got to admit, I'm happy for him.

February 03, 2009

I forgot to say...

Thank you.

I'll be honest, there was some wellage of tears during #93's tribute on Saturday night.

I was proud, not emotional, when Wendel Clark's number was raised to the rafters. But I found myself dabbing the corners of my eyes when Doug Gilmour was immortalized. I still maintain that all the dust, you know, in my mom's basement had something to do with it, but I can't lie to you. Gilmour was worth the tears. After all, the pride of Kingston, Ontario was one of the main reasons I got into hockey. 

Growing up, I wanted nothing more than to be the second baseman for the Toronto Blue Jays. Roberto Alomar was my hero, my idol, my God; my everything. Until Gilmour arrived.

After Cliff Fletcher brought Dougie to town, he was quick to capture the heart of my older brother. Thinking back, I was one of those annoying kids who followed his big brother around, and wanted to be just like him. In no time, Gilmour had my heart in his hands as well.

All these years later, it's tough to look back. The Gilmour years were magical. Straight magical. Some of my fondest memories as a Leafs fan come from that era, when Gilmour ran the Leafs, and ruled this city. But he left with unfinished business. Like so many before him, and like Mats Sundin after him. 

Gilmour came back, though. He found his way back home. I was at the Saddledome in Calgary, with my brother, back in 2003, when Dougie donned the blue and white once again. It was like a dream. Until he blew out his knee, and missed the playoffs. It then became a nightmare. For Gilmour, for the Leafs, and for us, the fans, it simply wasn't meant to be. And I will never, ever forget that collision.

Those who know me, and I trust that many of you who read this space regularly do by now, know what Mats Sundin means to me. But there was something special about Gilmour. Sundin was fantastic as a Maple Leaf, statistically the best ever, but he was no Gilmour. I'm not sure we'll see the likes of #93 around here again.

Gilmour arrived in 1992. He was gone by 1997. In only five short years, he left his mark on the collective soul of a hockey mad city. Although he was never able to get there as a Toronto Maple Leaf, his number now rests where it rightfully belongs: at the top.

Thanks, Dougie...

February 01, 2009

The Timeless Art of the Fist Pump

As you can see from the photo evidence above (merci beaucoup, Yahoo! Sports), Jason Blake, the Toronto Maple Leafs' leading scorer, has got it down pat.

And you know what? I've never been much of a fan, but I'm beginning to grow rather fond of #55's fist pumpage action. Especially when he shows excellent fist pump etiquette, and it comes after an eventual game-winning goal in the third period against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Keep doing your thing, Blake.