August 25, 2010

Born Again

In my baseball renaissance, I've taken to finding, reading, loving and sharing quotes on the fascinating game. There are many. And when they're 140 characters long or less, I share them on Twitter, usually late at night.

Some of the greatest ones, though, are too long for that medium. Like this one:

"One of the beautiful things about baseball is that every once in a while you come into a situation where you want to, and where you have to, reach down and prove something."
- Nolan Ryan

When I left Toronto and began Stealing Home, I wrote that "life mirrors baseball." I've yet to come across a quote that better illustrates my point.

Preach on, Nolan.

Incredible image -- that's a Matt Kemp home run ball lodged in the scoreboard -- courtesy of daylife.

August 24, 2010


I've yet to come down from my Jose Bautista high. If you have, watch this.

Which do you prefer: a 16-2 thrashing of the Boston Red Sox by the Blue Jays at Fenway Park, or a dramatic 3-2 victory over the New York Yankees at the ole Dome? Both contests certainly had their charm, and I enjoyed Toronto's Boston Massacre probably more than anyone, but if I had to pick one, I'd have to choose the events of Monday night. What an evening of baseball!1 I needed a cigarette after it was all said and done.

What didn't happen in that game? Ejections, a home plate umpire who couldn't discern the strikezone even as he crouched behind it, a benches clearing -- what shall we call it? -- brouhaha, and, of course, long-ball theatrics, and some showmanship, from Jose Bautista.

What's left to be said about Bautista that hasn't already been written? Forty home runs. A feat Carlos Delgado, the greatest Blue Jays slugger I've ever known, managed but three times in Toronto. But it wasn't that Bautista hit the 40-mark Monday night; it was the way he got there.

What I've enjoyed most about watching Bautista as the season has progressed is the confidence he's brought to the batter's box. As home run after home run began to stockpile, Bautista began, more and more, to believe in himself; to believe in his abilities. Now he steps up to the plate knowing -- believing -- he can take any pitcher out of the ballpark. And it was that confidence, and that swagger, that was on display last night for the New York Yankees, and the baseball world, to see.

Bautista has become a leader on the Blue Jays. The leader, perhaps. And if Bautista doesn't yet have your respect, he will demand it. And he will go out and get it. What I loved most about Bautista's comments post-game was the candor with which he delivered them. Unhappy with being sent to the mat by a high-and-tight fastball from Yankees rookie Ivan Nova, Bautista said he slowly made his way out to the mound in order to gauge the youngster's reaction. He was testing Nova. And Nova failed.

Proof of Bautista's elevation to slugger, and leader, was found in the reaction to the melee, by both the Yankees and Blue Jays. As Bautista crept to the mound, it was New York manager Joe Girardi who stepped in front of him and asked that his young pitcher's bravado be forgiven. Girardi could have gone to his pitcher; he chose to restrain Bautista. And as Girardi put his hands on Bautista, it was Jose Molina first on the scene for Toronto, grabbing Bautista away from the Yankees skipper, and walking him away from the scene.

Then there was the business of Bautista's 40th home run. A no-doubter, if there ever was one. Look, I'm all for guys playing the game the right way; for a slugger to hit a home run and act like he's done it, oh, you know, 39 times before. But Bautista had every right to enjoy that long ball more than any of the his previous 39, and I'm glad he did. Bautista was locked-in; focused. It was, as Parkes over at Drunk Jays Fans put it, "perhaps the greatest display by a hitter in a single at bat that I've ever seen." David Robertson paid dearly for Ivan Nova's mistake.

In the aftermath of the home run, more proof of Bautista's exalted status. If you watch the replays closely, as Bautista steps out of the dugout for his curtain call (yes!!!1), DeWayne Wise and Freddy Lewis are standing on the top step of the dugout, nodding their heads, and looking, it seems, straight at the Yankees dugout. It was as intense a moment I've witnessed all season; a sure sign that this Blue Jays team is tight-knit, and will not back down from anybody, no matter how many games they're behind in the standings.

Jose Bautista has single-handedly brought people back to the ballpark this season. He has single-handedly given people a reason to talk about the Toronto Blue Jays. Bautista has made it easier to swallow the terrible seasons Adam Lind and Aaron Hill are having. He's made it easy to not lose sleep over the fact that save for April and May, Vernon Wells has been awful, and is an absolutely insane choice to be batting cleanup. Bautista is the biggest part of why this season has been one of the most memorable in recent years, and a big part of why Toronto is buzzing about baseball. If you were at the game Monday night, or watching on television like I was, you could sense that there was indeed something different about it. Yankees fans certainly noticed. Their players did, too. Bautista is now enemy number one in their books, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Bautista will break George Bell's single-season Toronto record of 47 home runs. Bautista will hit 50. It's his summer. And I will not, goddamnit, let Damien Cox ruin it.

The Undercard

If Jose Bautista vs. David Robertson was Monday night's main event, Brandon Morrow vs. the New York Yankees was the undercard. Morrow's masterful performance was lost in the lights of The Jose Bautista Show, but it certainly did not go unnoticed.

It's not everyday a pitcher mows through the New York lineup, striking out 12 batters in six innings while only scattering four hits. Morrow put to rest any doubts about his arm, striking out the New York side on three separate occasions: in the 1st, 3rd, and 6th innings. When's the last time you saw that happen?

"Gotta At Least Ask The Question"

Thanks to the aforementioned Cox, everyone's favourite scribe, the Bautista-steroid rumours and allegations aren't going to disappear. The fact Jose got to 40 in the manner that he did against New York won't help. Brady Anderson's name was flying about on Twitter last night, let me tell you.

If Cox is so eager to "at least ask the question," I wonder, where was Cox last summer, when Aaron Hill, who'd never hit more than 17 home runs, and was coming off a concussion-riddled campaign that saw him hit two home runs in 55 games, swatted 36 home runs? Where was Cox when Adam Lind, who hit 11 home runs in 2007, and 9 home runs in 2008, hit 35 last season?

Roger Maris hit 16 home runs in 1959, and 39 in 1960. In 1961 he set the standard: 61 home runs. He'd never hit more than 33 in a season again. I guess he might have been on steroids, too.

Here are my questions: Why Bautista? Why now?

The bottom line: if Bautista is indeed using a super-steroid which isn't turning up in the drug tests he's taking, he needs to start sharing. With Lind, and Hill, and Wells. Because sharing is caring. And because lord only knows those guys could use the help.

Some good has, and will continue to, come out of this situation. It's rather apparent that even those that work with Cox don't seem to like him very much. He's been called out, through sarcastic blog posts and tweets, by his colleagues in his own newsroom, and those in other newsrooms. And while I've promised myself on many occasions to never read Cox again, I'm sticking to it this time. His Bautista piece was the last straw.


Image courtesy of daylife.

August 23, 2010

Stealing Home: Baseball in the desert, Part 2

I wrote approximately 6,000 words about my visit to Chase Field, the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ridiculous, I know; hence why I broke the Stealing Home entries into two parts. But it all makes sense, considering all that went down on a sunny afternoon in late May in the desert.

Baseball in the desert, Part 2 is up over at Globe Sports. Have a read. Perhaps the Toronto Blue Jays jersey I saw at Chase Field, which took me back in time, will have the same effect on you. I'll also tell you all about the swimming pool in right-centre field, and the town hall meeting I attended with Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall, then general manager Josh Byrnes, then manager A.J. Hinch, and 150 or so Arizona season-ticket holders.

Diamondbacks second baseman Kelly Johnson's and Alex Anthopoulos' names were linked during that town hall meeting. And I don't know about you, but I want nothing more than for Johnson to trade his Arizona uniform for a Toronto one. His arrival would mean the end of the Edwin Encarnacion era, with Aaron Hill taking E5's place at the hot corner. Think about it: Anthopoulos long desired Anthony Gose. And he got him. I hope the same fate awaits Johnson, his 129 wRC+, and his 4.3 WAR. Even if it means the Jays part with some of their young arms.

I'll never forget Chase Field, largely because of what it did to my "Schlagballbewusstsein." And I hope you enjoy my latest piece.

Also: be a dear, and let me know what you think about the new banner. Personally, I think it looks fantastic.

August 21, 2010

Picture Perfect

After it's edited black and white, and subsequently framed, the above photograph -- courtesy of the hard-working folks at daylife -- will proudly hang from the walls of my mother's basement. Because the manual scoreboard at hallowed Fenway Park in Boston never looked as magnificent as it did Friday night.

August 18, 2010

Stealing Home: Baseball in the desert, Part 1

I've got so much to say about my visit to Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona, that I decided to split the piece into two parts.

Part one is up at Stealing Home, over on The Globe And Mail's website. Read all about how the Arizona Diamondbacks hooked your boy up with a $135 next to the visiting ball club's dugout, when the visiting ball club happened to be the Toronto Blue Jays.

The 12-year-old Diamondbacks. They've "been through it all, man." And it was a pleasure to visit the oasis they call home.

August 14, 2010

Locking Up Ricky

The Toronto Blue Jays believe in Ricky Romero. So much so that they rewarded him with the largest contract in history -- five years, $30.1 million -- for a pitcher with less than two years of Major League service time to his name. And you know what? I'm totally fine with that. Actually: I'm more than fine with it; I love the decision. Because like the braintrust, I too believe in Ricky Romero.

Here's the breakdown of the deal, courtesy of the always reliable MLB Trade Rumours:

2010: $1.25 million bonus
2011: $750,000
2012: $5 million
2013 - 2015: $7.5 million
2016: $13 million club option ($600,000 buyout)

When Romero was the first pitcher chosen in the 2005 draft, 6th overall by the J.P. Ricciardi regime, here's what the then 20-year-old had to say: "I love competing. I love getting the ball in big games ... I have a lot of confidence that I can get the job done. That's just the type of competitor I've been."

And Romero wasn't lying. Because they said he was a bust; they said he'd never make it.

Five years later, and a year and a half into his pro career, they were dead wrong, and Romero has come as advertised; he's a fiery competitor. It was Ricciardi who in September of last year famously said: "You need a wheelbarrow to take his balls to the mound. That's how big they are."

Do yourself a favour and read that post linked above, from The Tao of Stieb. Almost three months ago to the day, The Ack wrote of Romero's development; he even called him "The Man," which Ricky most certainly is from this day forward.

Think about it: the Toronto Blue Jays went into the 2010 campaign with four young starters at the top of their rotation who are making, in baseball salaries, pennies:

Ricky Romero: $408,300
Shaun Marcum: $850,000
Brett Cecil: $400,000
Brandon Morrow: $409,800

Here's what they're worth, in terms of WAR (Wins Above Replacement):

Romero: 3.4
Morrow: 3.1
Marcum: 2.3
Cecil: 2.3

I've already spent far too much time on FanGraphs, so I'm just going to go ahead and assume that there is no more cost-effective rotation in baseball than Toronto's. There can't be. And Romero's leading the way. As amazing as that above quote from Ricciardi will always remain, it's clear there's more to #24 than just his cojones. There is the business that is his devastating changeup. The pitch he throws when he's got two strikes against a batter; the pitch the batter should know is coming. Below are the counts when Romero gets ahead, the batter at his mercy, and the percentage of time he unleashes his changeup:


It's his out pitch. Only when the count runs full does Romero turn to his fastball (44%) more than his changeup, as he probably should. And what he's doing is working. The batter, if he's done his homework, is thinking off-speed; he just can't hit it. Below are Romero's opponents' batting averages in those same counts:

0-2: .143
After 0-2: .125
1-2: .122
After 1-2: .150
2-2: .160
After 2-2: .165
3-2: .188
After 3-2: .188

Romero's a stone-cold killer. More often than not, he will put you away.

What's made RickRo so effective this season has been the improvement in his fastball, and his ability to throw five above-average pitches, something he wasn't able to do in 2009. According to Fangraphs' Pitch Type Values, Romero's fastball last year was 11.8 runs below average. His slider: 2.1 runs below average. Here's how what he's tossing in 2010 has fared:

Fastball: 7.4 runs above average
Slider: 3.0 runs above average
Cutter: 0.2 runs above average
Curveball: 3.2 runs above average
Changeup: 3.9 runs above average

Romero's changeup hasn't been as effective as it was last season (9.8 runs above average). But he's a more well-rounded pitcher in spite of the fact. He's getting better. And he's only 25.

There's more: Romero's ground ball to fly ball ratio (GB/FB). In 178 career innings pitched since bursting onto the scene a year ago, it's an immaculate 2.01; Halladay-esque. His 2010 GB/FB ratio of 1.99 is third-highest in the American League. And if Romero isn't allowing fly balls, he's not allowing home runs. His 2010 home run to fly ball ratio (HR/FB) is 8.5%, in tune with the likes of Felix Hernandez, Zack Greinke, Jered Weaver, Jon Lester, and Phil Hughes. That's fine American League company, and RickRo is worthy.

There's more still. Because Romero is striking out more batters, walking fewer, allowing fewer hits, and becoming one of the premier ground ball pitchers in the game, his xFIP (Expected Fielding Independent Pitching) of 3.60 is among the best in the business. It ranks sixth in the AL, and those with lower numbers are: Francisco Lariano, Cliff Lee, Lester, Hernandez, and Weaver. And, yes, there are still some who have the audacity to say the Toronto Blue Jays are without an ace.

A hundred and seventy-eight innings. Enough to have me convinced. (I've been convinced for a while.) And at an average of $6 million a season, with $7.5 million being the most Romero takes home in any given year of the new deal, numbers that are "fair to both sides," enough to have the Blue Jays convinced, too.

Ricky got paid. Rightfully so. Your Troy Tulowitzki references are no longer of any use.

Finally, one last quote I'd like to share with you. It's from that fateful day in June way back in 2005, when Romero became a Blue Jay ...

"We figured we would lean more toward the pitching ... The more pitching we can develop the better off we're going to be."
- J.P. Ricciardi

Ricciardi was right. #TeamRomero.

August 09, 2010

Some dreams stay dreams, some dreams come true

Yes, Brandon Morrow did indeed do that on Sunday afternoon. And, ever since, I've been walking around telling everyone within speaking distance that the young man pitched, according to Statistics Guru Bill James' Game Score metric, the fourth most impressive game since 1920, when the Live-Ball Era began. Nineteen-bloody-twenty. Say it out loud. Let it sink in.

There's no doubt about it: Brandon Morrow pitched like a man on August 8th, 2010. Actually, like the mightiest of men. (Read that article from the Toronto Sun; it's arguably the greatest in the history of the tabloid.)

One out. That's all that stood between Morrow and baseball immortality. But Morrow's exploits will live on, in Toronto at least. Because his was the type of performance I will tell my grandchildren about. And that's the beauty of baseball: something truly special can happen on any given day, from even the most unlikely of candidates. Speaking of which, Jose Molina stole second base on Sunday. Seriously. And that's why I continue, more and more everyday, to fall head over heels back in love with baseball.

"Let's all take a deep breath as we go to the most dramatic ninth inning in the history of baseball. I'm going to sit back, light up, and hope I don't chew the cigarette to pieces."
- Vin Scully, during Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series

No, it wasn't the World Series. And, no, Morrow wasn't throwing a perfect game. But damn if there wasn't incredible drama. Heading into the final frame, with Morrow 16 strikeouts deep, and only three outs away from Toronto's second no-hitter, which the franchise continues to agonizingly flirt with, I felt like Vin Scully did more than 50 years ago; like we were indeed headed to the most dramatic ninth inning, in a 1-0 ball game to boot, in the history of baseball.

Thanks for keeping him in the ball game, Cito. And thanks for the baseball butterflies, Brandon Morrow.

Yes, J.P. Arencibia did do that on Saturday afternoon. And had I not heard it from the mouths of Jerry Howard and Alan Ashby, I probably wouldn't have believed it myself. When the young catcher sent his second home run into the stands, I involuntarily began honking the horn of my car. I can only assume that my brain figured it was the right thing to do.

Every baseball player dreams of making it to The Show. And I'm sure every baseball player dreams of getting their first Major League hit in their first Major League at-bat. But to hit a home run on the first Major League pitch to be thrown his way, and to follow that with a double, a single, and another home run ... there's no way J.P. Arencibia could have ever dreamed such a dream. And that's what made his curtain call -- finally, Toronto -- and the smile on his face that much more special.

In all my excitement, I've even checked out Arencibia's FanGraphs page: a 1.255 wOBA, and a 732 wRC+. Quite the debut.

Brett Cecil on Friday night. Arencibia on Saturday afternoon. Brandon Morrow on Sunday afternoon. The latter two becoming worldwide trending topics on Twitter. The streets are talking; 1993 is being bandied about. People are excited about the Toronto Blue Jays.

Food For Thought

With his mind-blowing 17 Ks, Brandon Morrow joined Roger Clemens as the only other Toronto Blue Jays pitcher to strike out more than 15 batters in one game. Clemens did it an astounding four times in the two years he represented Toronto. The next time you're bored, or wasted, check out Clemens' 1997 and 1998 splits. Whatever he was on during his stay in Toronto, at 34 and 35 years old, it was some quality stuff ...

It's tough not to feel for Seattle Mariners fans right now ...

Since Alex Anthopoulos's acquisition of Yunel Escobar, the Blue Jays are 15-7, and 14-5 when the shortstop is in the lineup ...

Your Toronto Blue Jays, with 59 wins, have only three fewer than Roy Halladay's Philadelphia Phillies. And it's those same Phillies who are 140 million dollar "contenders." What a world ...

August 04, 2010

They grow up so fast ...

When, many years from now, we look back upon the career of Ricky Romero, I have a feeling we'll turn the page to his performance Tuesday night in the Bronx. For it was masterful; poignant. A young pitcher, doubted by so many for so long, coming of age on baseball's brightest stage.

How's this: Romero two-hits the star-studded New York Yankees; Travis Snider (among others) deposits a changeup into Yankee Stadium's right-centre field bullpen; and Yunel Escobar ends the game with a defensive gem from the hole at short.

Yeah, I can get used to that, too.

The Toronto Blue Jays are 56-51, yet here I am, asking you to pinch me.

And don't look now, but Cito's boys are playing 1.000 baseball when Adam Lind gets the start at first base. Undefeated, yo.

August 01, 2010

27 Outs: Toronto

The picture above comes to you courtesy of Fuck Yeah Toronto, who are absolutely correct when they say: "Because if you don't love Toronto, you probably have no soul."

Shall we?

1. Jose Bautista, the talk of the town, is on pace, after hitting another home run Sunday afternoon, to finish with 49 round-trippers. That would be two more than George Bell's team-record 47, way back in 1987. If JoBau does indeed set the new Blue Jays standard, his season will have to go down in memory as the most unexpected in Toronto sports history. I for one am delighted he wasn't moved, and is still a Toronto Blue Jay.

2. You know who doesn't get enough love? Pitching coach guru Bruce Walton. I'll be honest: I don't miss Brad Arnsberg at all. And I definitely thought I would.

3. I'm undecided, for his last home game as The Manager on Wednesday, September 29, between a simple, and to the point, "Thanks Cito" sign, or one that reads "CitoCity Forever."

4. I can't believe we're already in August. And you know what's going to suck about this month? The fact the Blue Jays have to face, in this order, the: New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland A's, Red Sox, Yankees, Detroit Tigers, and Rays. As of today, the morning of August 2nd, none of those teams are under the .500 mark. The Angels are a game over, and the Tigers and A's are both 52-52. The month will be an interesting barometer moving forward, that's for sure.

5. The Houston Astros traded their Roy. And I imagine Astros fans are feeling like we did when we traded ours. Our condolences, National League friends; we know what you're going through.

6. I like to think that when both Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman were dealing with the Astros, and making their respective deals for Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman, they were channeling their inner Clay Davis: "You think I have time to ask a man why he giving me money? Or where he gets his money from? I'll take any motherfucker's money if he givin' it away!" I'm not so sure I like this new baseball world, where money has to be traded in addition to the talents of the likes of Roy Halladay, Berkman, and Oswalt.

7. Want: Berkman to bomb in Yankees pinstripes. Nothing personal, just business.

8. Do not want: Alex Rodriguez to hit number 600 against Toronto.

9. If Jesse Litsch and Brian Tallet don't pitch for the Blue Jays in 2011, or ever again, I won't be mad.

10. Brett Wallace for Anthony Gose; the trade. A stunning example, when you consider it was a prospect-for-prospect trade, of how much blogs, and the internet in general, have changed the game. Wallace, who never played a game for the Toronto Blue Jays, was, the day he was dealt, already a household name. He was the "first-baseman of the future;" prospect porn of the highest order. The new Vivid star, so to speak. I saw him play, back in May, out in Las Vegas. He went 1-for-3 with a double, and a run scored. What impressed me most about Wallace, however, was his taste in music, choosing to walk up to bat to T.I.'s "I'm Back." We'll keep track of what he gets up to while we wait for Anthony Gose. The only 19-years-old and playing in A-ball Anthony Gose. The young man who has been compared to Carl Crawford. At the end of the day: I have complete faith in Alex Anthopoulos. He's already earned it, in his first season on the job. If Gose was his man, Gose is now my man. The higher the ceiling, the higher the reward.

11. A hearty thank you to my man @AnswerDave for this gem: #gosefacekillah.

12. Welcome back, Travis Snider. Absence does make the heart grow fonder.

13. David Purcey pitched another scoreless inning Sunday afternoon. Yes, I did just use "David Purcey," "pitched," "another," and "scoreless inning" in the same sentence. Believe it. In 22.1 frames this season, the former first-round pick, drafted 16th overall in 2004, is sporting a tidy 1.61 ERA, and 0.94 WHIP. Yeah, the WHIP blows me away, too. I mean, it's Purcey. He's struck out 19, and hasn't walked a batter in his last six appearances. More impressive: his .207 BABIP (which he will no doubt have trouble maintaining), and 3.77 FIP. May he never start another ball game again.

14. Lyle Overbay's July numbers: .301/.369/.527, along with five home runs and 12 RsBI. And he hit .282, with a .378 OBP, in June, too. If he keeps this up, I have to believe Anthopoulos will at least make him an offer to stick around. After the type of season Adam Lind has had, I'm not sure how wise it would be to simply hand him the keys to first base.

15. If Overbay is a Blue Jay next season, here's what the 2010 team looks like to these eyes: Fred Lewis, Vernon Wells and Snider, left to right in the outfield. Overbay at first, Aaron Hill at second, Yunel Escobar at short, Bautista at third, Lind the designated hitter, and J.P. Arencibia behind the plate. (I doubt John Buck would agree to platoon, so Jose Molina could be brought back, even though he'd get a few too many at-bats for my liking.) Under the assumption that Hill and Lind learn how to hit again, I don't mind if Anthopoulos doesn't dip a toe into the free agency waters; I'm fine with the build from within, and through trades, philosophy. And while it will surely be an agonizing decision whether to remove Bautista's arm from the outfield, what other options does the team have?

16. Yunel Escobar certainly knows how to make a great first impression. In 14 games as a Blue Jay, he has swept a collective city off its feet.

17. Want to know what the guys on the farm are up to? Check out the latest from The Southpaw, in their Monthly Prospect Review for July.

18. The Ack's working this long weekend over at The Tao Of Stieb, and chimes in on Kyle Drabek, whom we all hope will never, ever pitch in the Pacific Coast League.

19. Switching gears, how bloody ironic is it when Hedo Turkoglu says the Toronto Raptors organization "has problems"? Or that "nobody wants to go to Toronto," a year after he hand-picked the place? Much like after watching him play for a year, all I could think after reading the Turkish wonder's comments was: That's the best he can do?

20. I own a Chris Bosh jersey. I plan to cover up the "SH" in BOSH with tape, and add a couple more Os using a marker. Yes: BOOO. I'm glad, though, that he came on Canadian television to clarify his comments about Toronto being "different." How else would I have figured out that Toronto is part of a whole other country that is not the United States? Thanks, Chris. Enjoy Miami. And it's waffles.

21. I can't believe I'm about to make this comparison, but Bryan Colangelo heading into the final season of his contract as Raptors general manager reminds me too much of John Ferguson Jr.'s final few months as general manager of the Maple Leafs. How the hell did it come to this? Either give him an extension, or replace him now.

22. Andrea Bargnani will, like me, not miss Chris Bosh, and have a monster 2010/2011.

23. Finally, the Leafs. The fucking Maple Leafs. A few people have recently tried to convince me that the three-year, $9 million contract Toronto generously signed Colby Armstrong with is not a bad one. These people are wrong. These people are idiots. Armstrong is nothing more than a third-line winger, and I'd pick Alexander Frolov, and Alexei Ponikarovsky, over him eight days of the week. Heart, and grit, and -- for the love of God -- truculence, do not score goals.

24. If the team doesn't kill penalties at a success rate of at least 80%, Ron Wilson should be fired. Seriously.

25. If the team finishes in the draft lottery, again, Brian Burke should be fired. And a 15-year-moratorium on trading first-round draft picks should be introduced.

26. The window through which Burke can trade Tomas Kaberle without his approval is set to close in less than two weeks. Tomas might make it, after all.

27. The Toronto Argos are ... Yeah, right.