April 30, 2009

The Vancouver Canucks will win the Stanley Cup

You probably want to know why I think so. Well, the answer is rather simple: Roberto Luongo.

He's the best goalie on the planet. And his groin injury, the one that caused him to miss almost two full months of action this season, is the best thing that could have happened to him, and the Canucks.

For once, Luongo is well rested. In fact, he's just heating up. Including Vancouver's first-round sweep of the St. Louis Blues, Bobby Lu's played only 58 games this season. The last time he played less than 60 games, and saw just over 3000 minutes of action, was all the way back in 2001/2002. That was a long time ago. The Toronto Maple Leafs were good back then.

Since 03/04, and post-lockout, Luongo's been a 70-plus games goalie. This is the first season since the 2002/2003 campaign that he's faced less than 2000 shots on goal. That's huge. 

Luongo tearing his groin was a blessing in disguise. He returned to action near the end of January, and found his game on February 3. Of Vancouver's final 30 regular season games, Luongo lost only six of them in regulation. Since February, he's been a man possessed.

Luongo's save percentage in February: .914.

Luongo's save percentage in March: .930.

Luongo's save percentage in April: .918.

Luongo's save percentage so far in the playoffs: a ridiculous .962.

Have I told you lately how much I love a good save percentage? Swoon. I won't lie, Luongo's playoff stats leave me all hot and bothered.

The second round of the playoffs (!!!!1) begin tonight and, make no mistake about it, this is Roberto Luongo's time to shine. If there's a goalie who can take his team to the promised land on his back, it's he.

Vancouver still has a ways to go, but I'm looking forward to seeing Gary Bettman present the Stanley Cup to a goalie for the first time. There isn't a more deserving captain.

And here's hoping Mats Sundin shows up for the rest of the Canucks' run, and is worthy of being second in line to raise the most beautiful trophy in professional sports. I've imagined the moment many times, albeit in a Leafs jersey and not a Canucks jersey, and look forward to crying like a schoolgirl when it comes to fruition.

April 29, 2009

The Paul Maurice Effect

With less than two minutes left to play in the third period, up 3-2 in game seven, the New Jersey Devils, on home ice no less, are the last team I'd ever imagine capable of such a collapse.

Unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable.

I must admit, going into the playoffs I gave the Carolina Hurricanes zero respect. As good as they were in the regular season, and as hot as they were down the stretch, I didn't think they had a prayer. Not against a well-rested Martin Brodeur, and the Devils, who never seem to go out in the first round.

I was wrong. You should be used to it by now. I am. 

Props out to the 'Canes. That was fun to watch. And how about Eric Staal, who potted five in the series, including the huge winner. He's a lock for the Olympics next year, no?

An incredible comeback, yes, but I can't say I'm really happy for Paul Maurice. Yeah, I'm more bitter. After his spectacularly failtastic tenure as coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, it doesn't bring me much joy to see his team defeat the Devils, and head off to the Stanley Cup quarterfinals. I guess he's an exceptionally horrendous coach only in Toronto.

Here's hoping the Boston Bruins run roughshod over Carolina much like they did over Montreal. Because, you know, that 4-0 sweep over the team formerly known as Les Glorieux was, umm, slightly enjoyable.

April 27, 2009

Atop the standings

The Blue Jays aren't the only first place team in Toronto. They've got company thanks to the boys down at BMO Field.

No Carver? No Dwayne De Rosario? No problem for Toronto FC. Two huge wins, yesterday and on Wednesday, both via clean sheet, and suddenly the team is leading MLS's Eastern Conference.

You know what that means ... playoffs!!!!1

It's going to be a most glorious summer. 

UPDATE: Blue Jays related, from the always terrific Tao of Stieb:

"Headed into Kansas City for a four-game set with the Royals, the Jays have won all six of their series thus far. We're not sure what the rest of the season has in store, but for now, we recommend taking a moment and relishing the fact that you, my fellow Blue Jays fans, are in the midst of the best start to the season in the history of the franchise."

Sheeeeeit. This might be the best Monday ever. 

April 26, 2009

The Justin Pogge Era

It's over. Before it even really began, it's over.

In the biggest game of the season, with the fate of the Toronto Marlies hanging in the balance, Justin Pogge, the "future" between the pipes for the Toronto Maple Leafs, found himself on the bench. Adam Munro got the start. He played well, but it wasn't enough. The Marlies are joining the Leafs on the greens.

These were the playoffs for Justin Pogge to send a message to Brian Burke and co. A message that he can be trusted; that he can carry the torch. Well, Pogge sent a message, alright; he doesn't have the goods. He doesn't even deserve to be Vesa Toskala's back-up next season.

If Pogge's still the future in the crease in Toronto, the future isn't too fucking bright.

Here's hoping the Vancouver Canucks win the Stanley Cup, Roberto Luongo tests the free agent market in July 2010, and becomes a Maple Leaf after Burke offers him a boatload of money and a key to the city.

Toronto needs a God damn goalie. And it ain't Pogge ...

April 25, 2009

If I Ruled the World

Good choice, Adam Lind. I most definitely approve.

Lind is going to St. Louis in July for the All-Star game. Book it.

April 24, 2009

A quote from Michael Barrett ...

"I love playing for Cito."

You and everyone else, Michael. You and everyone else.

And, for the record, I quite enjoy Darrin Fletcher's colour commentary. He's good people.

Pennant. The Toronto Blue Jays are, in all likelihood, winning it.

UPDATE: It really is the Summer of Tallet.

UPDATE #2: The Toronto Blue Jays. DO YOU BELIEVE? (Say it like the annoying Olympics commercial.)

UPDATE #3: Fourteen runs; 21 hits; a 13-5 record. Pinch me.

Beer and the Blue Jays

Ricky Romero's been placed on the disabled list. Have a beer. To drown your sorrows.

B.J. Ryan joined him. Have a beer. In celebration.

Richard Griffin wrote an interesting and provocative blog post. Have a few. It may never happen again.

We, loyal fans, will only be able to watch an upcoming Blue Jays/Red Sox series on TSN2, which nobody has access to. Drink up. Get mad.

Scott Richmond once again performed yeoman's work on the mound. Six innings, six hits, two earned runs (albeit both on solo home runs), and eight strikeouts. What more can one possibly ask of a fifth starter? Cheers, Scott. With a Canadian lager, of course.

Three more home runs last night. Twenty-eight on the season; the second-highest total in baseball. Chicks dig the long ball. And so do I. Get drunk on that one. 

Scott Downs picked up his first save of 2009. I admit, I was loathe to have him move out of his set-up role. Why mess with a good thing? But he got the job done. Raise your glass in honour of the Jays' new closer. With the game on the line there's no one I trust more with the ball than Snakeface.

In spite of all the second-guessing of The Cito, and in spite of all the injuries, the Jays are still in first place; are still playing .700 baseball. Forget the beer. Believe that the Jays are going to win the pennant.

April 23, 2009

Being the bigger person ...

As a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs, a sad excuse of a hockey club that hasn't qualified for the playoffs since 2004, perhaps it's time I stopped reveling in the failures of teams like the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators.

I'm older now. Closer to 30 than I am to 20. Perhaps it's time I grew up a little bit more, and stopped dabbling in the schadenfreude trade.


Naw, who am I kidding?


The Price is wrong. So, so, so wrong.

My favourite quip from last night, however, would have to be "Jesus, Price!" I must admit, it has been most enjoyable watching young Carey, and the Habs, fall from grace. Especially Carey. What a train wreck. A most beautiful train wreck.

One-punch knockout.

Mike Komisarek, ahem, All-Star Mike Komisarek, finally got what was coming to him.

Milan Lucic, I salute you, good sir. Boston Bruins fans are lucky to have you. And Team Canada will be lucky to have you on its side in Vancouver next year.

It's true; I have Lucic Lust (h/t on the most apt terminology to Wrap Around Curl)

The fat lady has sung.

It's going to one helluva interesting summer in Montreal. Gainey's done. Koivu, Kovalev, Komisarek, Tanguay, Lang, Schneider and, most importantly, Brisebois are all unrestricted free agents. And, I don't know about you, but I'd much rather have Georges Laraque, and his zero goals, signed through until 2011 at $1.5 million/season than, say, a guy like Mikhail Grabovski. (Score one for Cliff Fletcher.)

Thanks to Luke Schenn, Mickey Grabs, and another top-ten draft pick this summer, the future is bright in Toronto. The same can most certainly not be said about Montreal. And, well, that kind of puts a spring in my step.

Oh, and I almost forgot: Happy 100th birthday, les Glorieux. Au revoir ...

UPDATE: A poem from the Habs' eulogy, written by the fine folks at the one and only Pension Plan Puppets:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
The Leafs didn't win a playoff game,
But neither did you.

April 22, 2009

A night at the ball park ...

Not even the good Doctor himself can win them all. Allowing an uncharacteristic two home runs sealed Roy Halladay's fate last night, but it's all good; it was still a pleasure to be in the building to watch him do what he does.

The Blue Jays did have their chances to win. In the 8th inning, with the bases juiced and only one out, Rod Barajas lined out to third on an absolute screamer. Travis Snider then sent the first pitch he saw into center field. (Patience, young Jedi warrior. Patience.) 

In the bottom of the 9th, Alex Rios, the tying run, stood only 90 feet away. Alas, Vernon Wells couldn't bring him home. Cue the jokes about Vernon's: (a) contract; (b) weight; and (c) laissez-faire attitude.

For Wednesday, April 22, based on the Homeland Security Advisory System, Toronto's Vernon Wells hatred level is High, or Orange; there's a high risk of juvenile and unsubstantiated attacks on the centre fielder. Don't say I didn't warn you ...

Mission: Doc   It's my goal to be in attendance every time Halladay takes the mound at the Rogers Centre this year. So far, I'm two-for-two. Thanks to my boy 40 I was in a seat I totally can't afford last night, able to watch Doc do his thing up close and personal. It was a beautiful thing, let me tell you, even in a losing cause. Swoon ...

"Viva La Vida"   I couldn't help but shake my head every time Scott Rolen walked up to home plate. For the love of God, man, pick another song ...

Thanks, Mr. Blair   Back in March, before the season started, I sent a Twitter message (I refuse to call it a "tweet") to our good friend Jeff Blair, asking him to tell Lyle Overbay that it's 2006 and not, in fact, 2009. Clearly, Mr. Blair obliged. After going two-for-two with two walks yesterday, Overbay's batting .333. His nine walks are second to only uber-leadoff hitter Marco Scutaro (13), and he's rocking a team-leading .467 OBP, and a team-leading 1.078 OPS. Welcome back, Lyle. I missed you ...

Fuck. The. Wave.   I used to be apathetic towards it. Now I'm with the Drunks; I can't bloody stand it ...

A Short Story   The following has nothing to do with last night's game, but much to do with the pennant the Jays will be winning a few months from now. My friend "Dave Schultz," who blogs over at I Mean, We Got Guys, is a teacher out west, in Oregon. She sent me an email yesterday saying a kid walked into her classroom wearing a Ken Griffey Jr. Seattle Mariners jersey. Schultzie isn't a baseball fan, but she's an incredibly smart woman, and she reads this here blog (they go hand-in-hand). So she told the misguided youth, "Ppfftt, the Jays are gonna win the pennant." Amazing, eh? She's doing her part. Anyway, apparently a factual statement like that is comedy out in Oregon. The kids laughed, she said. A lot. Yeah, I know; kids are stupid. Especially American kids. But the moral of the story, you see, is that word is spreading. Pennant. Say it. Shout it. Tell your friends. More importantly, believe it ...

April 20, 2009

Ricky Romero is indeed so fine ...

Oakland's Jack Cust thinks so too.

"He's got a bright future. He reminds of (Johan) Santana a little bit, his body and his mannerisms, the way he throws. Santana's got those broad shoulders like he's got. 

"He's similar, he's got a similar arm slot, similar delivery. He's going to be good."

He already is, Mr. Cust. Damn good.

Romero's 2-0. The proud owner of a 1.71 ERA, and bonerific 1.10 WHIP. He's thrown as many innings and allowed as many hits as one Roy Halladay: 21, and 19. Exquisite company. If spots two through five behind Doc were up for grabs in the Toronto Blue Jays' rotation, it's safe to say LL Cool Rick'Ro has grabbed number two. With authority. And I am loving every minute of it.

The bats fell silent over the weekend. But it was the pitchers' time to shine. Shout out to Brian Tallet; what a spot start on Saturday afternoon. The team couldn't have possibly asked for more. And Scott Downs. What's left to say about Downs that hasn't been said before? He is unreal. Another three and a third innings of relief over the weekend, and nary a run allowed; not even a hit. So far this season, in 7.2 innings of work, Downs has allowed two hits, zero walks, zero runs, and struck out twelve. Don't you ever change, Snakeface.

David Purcey, no shout out for you. Stop. Walking. Batters. His 13 walks (in only 15.1 innings) are more than Halladay (3), Romero (4), and Scott Richmond (5) have combined to throw. They're unacceptable. And I'm sure The Cito and Th'Arnsberg (The Arnsberg) won't stand for them much longer.

The Blue Jays are 10-4, winners of their first four series. And that's what it's all about: winning each and every series. Everyone is doing their part. From Halladay, to Romero, to Aaron Hill, to Marco Scutaro, to Travis Snider, to Adam Lind, to Shawn Camp, to ... well, everyone except Alex Rios and Purcey, really.

What was that? Speak up, J.P. Ricciardi haters. I'm having a difficult time hearing you.

Toronto is the best team in the American League; the only team in the Junior Circuit sporting double digits in wins. I must admit, the view from up here is pretty fantastic. I could get used to it. And the Jays' first game against an AL East opponent is still 11 games away. Pile up the wins, boys. You're going to need them come September.

A much-deserved day off for the local nine, today. Read Jeff Blair's article. He won't admit it, but I think he's beginning to believe. 


Pennant, too, of course. They go hand in hand.

April 19, 2009

Mats Sundin Love Fest

Busy tonight?

Watching game three between the Vancouver Canucks and St. Louis Blues, because you miss Mats Sundin, and are rooting for the Canucks to win it all so he can raise the Stanley Cup?

Join me. I'll be live-blogging the game.

I'll pick you up at 7:00 pm.

UPDATE: Canucks win. Mats Sundin's got a lower-body injury. Cue the lame jokes from ignorant Leaf fans. He'll be good to go in round two, no doubt.

Thanks to all those that came out to the live blog. I figured the evening would be all about Sundin, and the return of Paul Kariya, but that's usually how it goes when I'm running the show.

The "event" even brought out a Sundin hater; "fucksundin" to be exact. The haters, God love 'em. They're nothing if not passionate in their "Sundin sucks and screwed the Leafs" stance. They're also wrong.

Go Canucks. For Mats Sundin. And Taylor Pyatt.

April 18, 2009

For the haters ...

Mats Sundin's first playoff goal in five years. Blood, shiner, and all. Paying the price. And it was a game winner, of course.

Welcome back to the post-season, Mats. Enjoy your stay. Inshallah, it shall be a long and fruitful one.

April 17, 2009

On Chris Bosh ...

From AltRaps over at uber Toronto Raptors blog Raptors Republic:

[Chris Bosh] finishes the season averaging 20/10, in the company of only two other players in the league, yet the idiots in the peanut gallery want to dump his ass for whatever we can get and make out that he doesn't play with heart. Idiots. 21pts and 19boards against a team that was playing for something. Just smile, Chris...big up yaself.

After perusing the stats, there's only one player in the NBA, other than Toronto's CB4, who definitively averages 20/10: Dwight Howard (20.6/13.8). You might know him as Superman.

Two other guys who just about pull it off: The Big Fundamental himself, Tim Duncan (19.3/10.7). And the pride of the People's Republic of China, Yao Ming (19.7/9.9).

I know what you're thinking. And I agree. Tim Duncan does have the best nickname. Ever.

Anyway, that's some pretty impressive company for Bosh to be in, no?

The season's over. It's decision making time for Bryan Colangelo. He's under the bright spotlights now. Does he get Bosh's autograph on a long-term contract before his deal expires in 2010? Does he bring back Anthony Parker? Shawn Marion? Joey Graham? Pops Mensah-Bonsu? The legendary Jake Voskuhl? What about head coach Jay Triano? Oh, the questions.

If it were up to me, I'd re-sign Marion. The Raptors desperately need his eight rebounds per game. He can't create his own offence, but that's what Jose Calderon is for. You know how I feel about Pops. I'd re-sign AP, too, only because I'm an emotional suck, and only to come off the bench. Joey Graham, good luck and Godspeed. Voskhul's a no brainer; bring him back. What a cheerleader. And I've no idea what to do with Triano. I'll trust Colangelo on that one. 

And you're damned right I'd re-sign Christopher Wesson Bosh to an extension. Or at least try to. If he refuses, then the trade route must be explored. We wouldn't get fair value, no way, but Vince Carter taught me a couple of valuable lessons: one, he's a douchebag; two, this franchise cannot afford to make a trade like his again.

Look, I'm not a fan of Bosh's online habits either, but he brings it on the court, and that's why option number one must be to lock him up. At the end of the day, 20/10 speaks for itself.

April 16, 2009

Could Burke really trade Schenn?

You know who's enjoying the new Brian Burke era the most in this, the fine city of Toronto? Jeff Blair, of The Globe and Mail. His column today is an absolute must read. (Talks with Mikhail Grabovski's agent have "not been successful." Lovely.) 

Burke's for real, and he's got his binoculars locked on John Tavares. Apparently he's already called the New York Islanders to say hi, and sent what I'm sure was a very pleasant email down to Tampa Bay. The man doesn't mess around.

My initial reaction to Burke's comments from Tuesday was that of reservation. I thought the Leafs weren't going to mortgage the future anymore, so what's all this talk about trading first round picks, and possibly even trading Luke Schenn? Say it ain't so.

But along came Jeff Blair, via Twitter, and in his infinite wisdom he asked me:

@eyebleaf Hey, you guys wanted Brian Burke? You got him. What makes the Leafs better: guy like Bouwmeester and Tavares? Or Schenn and No. 7?

Well, I'll be damned, but I think Blair might be on to something. Don't get me wrong, I love Luke Schenn. He is the type of defenceman we Maple Leafs fans have dreamed of for years. But if the Leafs send him to Long Island, where hockey goes to die (ugh, sorry Luke), along with draft picks (ugh, multiple first rounders, I'm sure), in return for Tavares, well ... it certainly makes you think, doesn't it? 

Of course, there's no guarantee Burke will be able to sign unrestricted free agent Jay Bouwmeester at 12:01 PM on July 1st, further complicating matters.

But were it all to go down as planned, come July 2nd, a Leafs team with Tavares and Bouwmeester, and a depleted draft picks cupboard (as if that's anything new to this franchise), would be better than a Leafs team with Schenn and a seventh overall first-round draft pick, whomever it turns out to be. Period.

Look, I know Schenn's special. But Tavares might be even more special. He might be Evgeni Malkin, or Alexander Ovechkin, or Sidney Crosby type special. He might be the young, dynamic offensive player the Toronto Maple Leafs have never had.

It's a tough one. Believe me, I know. How the hell do you trade a guy like Luke Schenn, the future captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs? And to the Islanders, of all teams. He doesn't deserve that. It would be blasphemy; a sin. And then, on top of that, Burke would be putting all his eggs in the free agency basket. Frankly, I can't believe this is even being discussed.

But I think if the opportunity presented itself, if the Islanders agreed to accept a package of Schenn and multiple draft picks for John bloody Tavares, it just might have to be done. And Brian Burke is crazy enough to do it.

April 15, 2009

No ...

I don't like this. 

Eight innings pitched; three hits and two earned runs allowed; one walk; nine strikeouts; and a no-hitter into the 7th.

"Everyone in the world thinks about it ... I'm not going to lie and say I wasn't. I had good movement on everything. It just wasn't meant to be."
       - Allan James Burnett

"A.J. really stepped up ... We needed a big performance out of someone with a short bullpen, and A.J. likes that."
       - Joe Girardi

No. I don't like this one bit. Hit the disabled list already, Allan James ...

April 14, 2009

Deep Thoughts: The Franchise

Travis Snider's two home runs moon shots are still on their way to Winnipeg. I'm sure my good friends Dave and The Ack will let me know when they arrive. The baseball world is beginning to take notice of Sniderman. You know what I love about him? His home run trot. Stay classy, young man ...

One through six in the order (Scutaro, Hill, Rios, Wells, Lind and Rolen), no Toronto Blue Jay is batting less than .300. That Cito Gaston guy can really put together a lineup, eh? ...

Speaking of Marco Scutaro, he leads the league in runs scored and can be the starting shortstop, and leadoff hitter, on my team any day of the week. Viva Scutaro. Viva Venuezela ...

B.J. Ryan threw 12 pitches yesterday; eleven for strikes. That's the B.J. we know. The B.J. we love. Nails? Nails! And I'm sure Brad Arnsberg had something to do with it. "In Arnsberg We Trust" ...

Kevin SLOWey certainly lived up to his name last night, didn't he? Prick ...

I know Jesse Litsch's injury is forearm related but, seriously, would it have killed him to come into camp pink and efficient, but a little less rotund? I'm already feeling like he took his opportunity in 2009 for granted ...

In last night's eighth inning, Scott Downs allowed a leadoff double, and followed with a wild pitch. With none out and a man on third base, he proceeded to strike out the side, like the uber set-up man he is. Did you enjoy his tiny display of emotion after the fact? I sure as hell did. I heart Snakeface. What a hero ...

The Jays are in first place. The Boston Red Sox are in the basement. You're damned right I'm enjoying this ...

Pennant ...

I Don't Like To ...

... dump all over Andrew Raycroft. OK, fine, I do. But you know what? I'll never do it again. I'm getting out of that business. More accurately, I've been forced out of that business.

The NHL's regular season is over and, adding insult to the fact that the Toronto Maple Leafs are once again on the outside looking in at the playoffs (!!!!1), Raycrap finished with a save percentage higher than that of Vesa Toskala's; .001 percentage points higher, to be exact.

Oh, the humanity.

It doesn't matter that Raycroft started 27 games compared to Toskala's 53. It doesn't matter that the Colorado Avalanche, as a team, allowed 36 fewer goals than Toronto. It doesn't matter that the Maple Leafs were the worst defensive and penalty killing team in the league.

What matters is that five-on-five Raycroft was better than Toskala, posting a .905 save percentage to Toskala's .903 at even strength. Sure, Toskala's save percentage on the penalty kill was higher than Raycroft's (.841 to .832), but both numbers are downright pathetic, so they cancel each other out.

Ugh. Toskala shouldn't have been playing hurt. Period. No more excuses. I hope he's deeply, deeply ashamed of himself.

The bottom line? Raycroft and Toskala both suck.

That's it, that's all, I'm done. Sorry, Raycroft. I'll see you in hell.

Now, to bring it all back to the title of the post, and to try and erase Raycroft the goalie who shall never again be named from our collective psyches, London, Ontario's own ShadK ...


You'll notice that the comments section has changed around here; no more pop-up window. It's all now done within the post. If you loathe change, let me know; we can always return to the good old days. Your feedback would be appreciated. Remember: without you, there would be no blog.

Well, there would be. But no one would be reading it. And what the fuck's the point of that?

April 12, 2009

Dead Presidents

Last week, The Tao of Stieb opined on Scott Rolen's choice of intro music.

Now, look, I admit it: I like Coldplay. But "Viva la Vida", while strolling up to the plate? I'm with the Tao; abort mission.

I'm also confident that Rolen's choice of intro music is all I'll be criticizing him for in 2009. The Greatest Blue Jay of All Time is batting .348, after all, and will be instrumental in Toronto's efforts to secure the pennant. Cito's boys are playing .714 baseball; we're well on our way, my friends.

And, no, I still don't want to talk about B.J. Ryan. Look, it's during times like these, when our closer is clearly struggling, that we must rally around him. Have some faith; believe in The Beej. Instead of calling for his head, and for him to be shipped to Vegas, trust that the man who saved 32 games for the Blue Jays last year is going to get his shit worked out. Remember, in Brad Arnsberg we trust. 

On an aside, In Arnsberg We Trust should really be on a t-shirt. I'd buy that. And rock it with pride.

Anyway, while I can criticize Rolen for choosing Coldplay, I wouldn't be able to do the same to someone who walks up to home plate with the following playing on the speakers ...

April 10, 2009


From Friday's Toronto Star:

"[Vesa] Toskala revealed yesterday he tweaked his groin in Calgary on Nov.11 and played the rest of the season injured until he finally had a pair of surgeries, one to repair his hip, the other his groin. He's got about 10 weeks of rehab still to go. 

"'I started doing more exercise a few days ago, things are going well,' said Toskala, who added he wouldn't have had the surgery had Toronto been in the playoff hunt.

"'At that time, we were 10 points out and it didn't make any sense to keep playing,' he explained. 'I felt I could play and I think I played all right. I wasn't 100 per cent.'"

So, between November 11th, when Toskala was hurt, and March 3rd, the final game he played this season, Curtis Joseph and Justin Pogge started nine games. In a rebuilding year, Ron Wilson's Toronto Maple Leafs trotted out an injured goalie night after night, after night, after night.

Why? Who allowed this?

It's ridiculous. And unbelievably frustrating. Joseph should have played a hell of a lot more. And if the Leafs didn't have enough confidence in him, or Pogge, they should have went out and acquired another goalie. God knows a full season of Joseph and Pogge would have ensured the team a lottery pick in the draft. (Toskala's unreal February totally killed that flex.)

It's true: since 2004, the Maple Leafs can do nothing right. 

My only hope is now that Brian Burke is in charge, the inmates are no longer running the God damn asylum. 

Virtual Raycrap

EA Sports' NHL 09 is, hands down, the most realistic hockey video game. Ever.

Check out the video below (the goalie is none other than my good friend Andrew Raycroft) ...


I was the Calgary Flames' defenceman, rounding the net. There were but four seconds left on the clock. I fired it. 

And what do you know? Good old Raycrap.

Well done, folks at EA Sports. Well done ...

April 09, 2009

There are no words ...

Just watch. And make sure you wait for it in slow motion.

Yes. My thoughts exactly.

An absolutely filthy goal, especially that final flick, but it begs the question, especially after yesterday's spankage: what the hell has happened to Bayern Munich?

April 08, 2009

What was that, Bruce Arthur?

Far be it from me to point out when someone is wrong, considering I'm, uh, not right 98.2% of the time, but the National Post's Bruce Arthur rained all over my optimism/pennant parade with his column on Tuesday, so I've no choice but to let him have it.

Here's some of what Arthur wrote yesterday (my emphasis in bold):

"... Of course, it's like this every Opening Day, even in Toronto, when Roy Halladay is pitching in front of 48,000 fans, and first place in the American League East is not yet conceded. If you could imagine that a healthy Dustin McGowan was following Halladay tonight, and Shaun Marcum was going tomorrow, and more promising young arms would follow after that, then you would be a happy Blue Jays fan, indeed.

"Instead the rotation turns to butter for the rest of the week, and the crowds will probably melt along with it. As one long-time Jays observer put it, 'the worst part about tonight is tomorrow.'"

Well, Bruce, butter David Purcey most certainly is not.

Toronto's new number two starter was certainly up to the task last night. He went seven strong on 101 pitches, striking out five, and giving up three runs - two of them earned - on five hits and three walks.

Yeah, he erred in the 7th inning when he failed to hit catcher Rod Barajas on an intentional walk attempt (the fuck?), and then threw the ball into centre field after the fact, but Scott Rolen and Aaron Hill picked up their pitcher in the home half of the 8th. Because they are heroes. And that's what heroes do - hit home runs.

Speaking of Hill, if he stays healthy this season, it will soon sink in, if it hasn't already, just how significant his loss to injury last season truly was. It gets me all hot and bothered to see him back on the field, and back at the plate. Hill's special.

I know, I know, B.J. Ryan blew the save. Let's not talk about it. Not right now, at least. The Jays picked up the win. Wins in April matter.

Anyway, here's hoping Bruce Arthur shows Purcey some love in his column today. Something along the lines of "I can't believe it's not butter!" would be suffice. He earned a no-decision, but Purcey was effective, even if he did rely almost solely on his fastball. Should the Jays have a prayer in 2009, that's how our friend David will have to pitch. Period.

And I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to tonight; Jesse Litsch, baby. And tomorrow afternoon; the Major League debut of one Ricky Romero. More promising young arms. Well, whatta ya know ...


April 07, 2009

Yes. Jays.

I'm a little too inebriated to write anything substantial. So, pictures (courtesy of the fine folks at daylife): 

The home opener will forever be a momentous occasion.

Harry Leroy Halladay III: the greatest Toronto Blue Jays pitcher I've ever known.

In all the hype surrounding Travis Snider, I almost forgot about Adam Lind, the unstoppable, 6 RsBI man.

Rod Barajas could get used to this pose.

Careful of Aaron's head, Vernon. Please.


April 06, 2009

Opening Night

It has proven difficult to escape the copious amounts of negativity - whether in print, on blogs, on radio, and on television - that surrounds the 2009 edition of our Toronto Blue Jays. It is in abundance. It is everywhere. And I'm tired of it. Sick of it. Done with it, actually.

You will find none of it here. No sir. My glass is half full. 

Here you'll find someone who will be on his feet to welcome back Aaron Hill when he steps to the plate for the first time tonight; who can't wait to see what Travis Snider, only 21 years old, can do over the course of a full season; who thinks the Gastonian One can build on his half-season success of 2008; who can't wait to see how the Jays' young arms - Jesse Litsch, David Purcey, Ricky Romero, Casey Janssen, and eventually Brad Mills and Brett Cecil - respond to the monumental challenge at hand; who is looking forward to again watching Scott Rolen patrol the hot corner better than anyone in this city before him; and who will appreciate every single, solitary pitch Roy Halladay throws.

I could go on. I haven't even mentioned Alex Rios, Vernon Wells, or Lyle Overbay. And I won't, because there's really only more thing you need to know; that there's been a slight change to the Toronto Blue Jays' 2009 to do list. Here it is, amended:

Before I depart, I'd like to thank everyone who's taken a second to vote in the "Will the Blue Jays Win the Pennant?" poll currently up and running. I must admit, I'm most pleased with the results so far. It's heartening to know that, somewhere, there exist those who are as bullish on the Jays' chances as I am.

Remember, a little hope never hurt anybody. 

April 05, 2009

Deep Thoughts ...

It's getting to the point where the fine folks at MLSE might be better served finding a goalie through Monster, or Workopolis. After three games, Toronto FC's Stefan Frei and Greg Sutton leave me wanting more. And I'm usually easily satisfied. Also, you know how I said Brian "Binos" Burke and the Toronto Maple Leafs should re-sign Martin Gerber? Abort mission. What I meant was that they shouldn't re-sign Gerber. Because he, too, sucks ...

Look, I know comparing the Leafs to the Boston Bruins, defensively, is certifiably ridiculous. But Toronto allowed 14 goals over the weekend. Fourteen. That's about eight percent of all the goals Boston has surrendered this season (181). Eight percent. In two games. The Leafs have fished the puck out of their net 106 more times than Boston this season. And I'm going crazy because of it ...

The Toronto Raptors' chances of making the playoffs (!!!!1) were officially squashed on Sunday. Thanks to the Knickerbockers. At home, no less. A formality, sure; but it still hurts. The drink of choice to celebrate this momentous occasion? Sapporo ...

Wait, more on the Raptors. If Bryan Colangelo re-signs Shawn Marion, and Pops Mensah-Bonsu, is anyone else willing to give this group of five - Jose Calderon (healthy), Anthony Parker, Marion, Chris Bosh, and Andrea Bargnani - a mulligan? You know I am. Yes, I have issues ...

Speaking of Mr. Blair, add him, Stephen Brunt, Jordan Bastian, and Big League Stew's 'Duk to the list of people who are wrong about the 2009 Toronto Blue Jays. Bastian and 'Duk both have the Jays finishing last in the AL East, and Blair thinks "only the Baltimore Orioles are preventing the Jays from being the worst team in the league." I love those guys, and enjoy their work. You should too. And I'm also sure they all thought a youthful 2008 Tampa Bay rotation of James Shields, Edwin Jackson, Andy Sonnanstine, Scott Kazmir, and Matt Garza would propel the DEVIL Rays to the pennant ...

I caught the tail end of a Sportsnet feature on Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, of The Million Dollar Arm fame. Make sure you check it out. About the fairer sex, one of Singh and Patel, I'm not even sure which, had this gem to say: "American women are very dangerous. They want money." ...

Baseball's back, baby. It's a glorious day ...

April 03, 2009


Did you hear that? It was me. Hopping aboard the Vancouver Canucks' bandwagon. Whole-freakin'-heartedly.

The Leafs are done. The dream has been packed up and put away until September, when we shall meet again. Until then, I'm all about Vancouver. Playoffs!!!!1, Canucks style. 

Mats Sundin is going back to the post-season. For the first time since 2004, when I was, like, five years old. It's been a long, long time. Excitement is there.

Mats may not win the Stanley Cup with the Canucks. I know that. I'm just glad he's getting the chance...

PS: It's not Leafs, Sundin, or Canucks related, but remember to vote in the new poll.

April 02, 2009

Return of the Crooklyn Dodgers

I don't have much to say. The Toronto Maple Leafs have officially been eliminated from playoff contention. I'm in mourning. Sure, they beat the Flyers, but really, who cares? 

Forty Creek. On the rocks. To celebrate the Leafs' futility, that is the drink of choice. For a few days, at least. (Thanks, Michael Knight; 40, you have to have a glass of this with us.) 

Like my man Brian Burke said, not making the playoffs, low expectations be damned, still feels like a kick to the groin.

How about some music, instead?

Jeru the Damaja's verse, the final one, might be my favourite of all-time. It's that good.

I have faith that Brian Burke will most certainly make sure that playing for the Maple Leafs is "survival of the fittest."

Here's to next year, and making the God damn playoffs.

Bring on them Blue Jays ...

April 01, 2009

Because we could all ...

... use some more Katt Williams in our lives:

One of the Toronto Blue Jays should use that song this year at the Rog.

I was thinking Alex Rios, although he is partial to his Latino beats.

Even B.J. Ryan, 87 MPH heater and all. Because he'll still be hustlin'. Kind of. 

But I've got to go with Vernon Wells. It's a track fitting for the season he is about to have ...