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Love Them Rockies

October 16, 2007 @ 09:08

This may be a little dramatic, but the Colorado Rockies may save baseball. The Rockies made it to their first World Series last night, completing a four game sweep of the Arizona
Diamondbacks.

The Rockies have now won 21 of their last 22 ball games, including seven in a row in the playoffs. A one game tie-breaker against San Diego, a three game sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies and now a four game sweep of Arizona, and they've done it all on a 54 million dollar payroll.

Compare that the Yankees and Boston Red Sox who have payrolls well over 100 million and it could mean a new era of baseball.

Somewhere along the line the Yanks and Red Sox and other teams in baseball with exorbitant payrolls will have to stop down and reassess what they're doing.

Why spend hundreds of millions when its becoming quite obvious that solid scouting, coaching and managing can often supersede huge payrolls.

Like a lot of casual baseball fans when the playoffs arrive and the Yankees and Red Sox are there again, I lose interest.

This year, thanks to the Rockies, I'm back on board.


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Big Night For The Captain

October 12, 2007 @ 10:18

I've got to be honest I've never been a big Mats Sundin fan. I've never bought into the "he's never had anyone to play with" argument and I think he's well down the list of great Leaf captains.

As a matter of fact I think Mats Sundin would have been better served in Toronto if he'd never have become the captain. Without that spotlight and pressure I bet he would have accomplished a lot more.

But that's all water under the bridge now and it doesn't take away from what he has accomplished and doesn't lesson how much class the guy has.

Even though it took him quite a few more games to surpass Darryl Sittler's all-time Maple Leaf goal and points records it was still a warm and stirring moment at the ACC last night when he managed to surpass both records.

His smile said it all, and his acknowledgement of the fans in a post game interview with Paul Hendrick was first class all the way - and hats off to Leafs TV for making Mats the first, second and third star.

It was a great night for Mats Sundin and to be completely honest I'd love this to me a great season for the guy.

Unfortunately a great season probably means being traded to a contender at the deadline.


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Good Game Bad Outcome

October 4, 2007 @ 10:12

As for the game last night, over-all it was very entertaining. The Leafs had the lead with just over five minutes to play and up until that point that had matched the Senators stride for stride.

Some might argue that goaltending was the difference, and although I'm not a huge fan of Andrew Raycroft, I'm reluctant to blame him. The goaltending issue in Toronto has become so convoluted it's hard to make a fair judgment.

It a fast paced and a fun hockey game to watch and at this point I'm not about to hang the loss and Raycroft. As usual there were defensive breakdowns in the Leaf system that led to the opportunities.

I'll let Raycroft get a few games under his belt and turn in a few lesser performances before I jump all over the guy.


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Forty And Counting

October 3, 2007 @ 10:01

The Maple Leafs start a new season tonight and like most Leaf fans I'd love to see them do well. Not only make the playoffs but hang around for a few rounds.

Missing the playoffs the last two years has made a Leaf fan long for the good old days of making it to the conference final a few times in the past 40 years.

But from my perspective, it doesn't look good. No doubt the Leafs have improved themselves with the acquisition of Jason Blake and Mark Bell, but Blake's going to have the weight of the world and great expectations on his shoulders to score 40 goals again, and Bell won't be able to play until November and after that it will take him a while to settle in. By then the Leafs could be out of the race.

You may have noticed that I didn't mention Vesa Toskala as part of the Leafs improvement, and I do that because I can't.

From my perspective the jury's still out on this guy. Being the number one goaltender in Toronto is a long leap from being a back-up in San Jose. If Vesa Toskala think's he's been under pressure before, he ain't seen nothing yet.

I hesitate to say "the poor guy" because he's under contract to make enough money to last him the rest of his life, but having that contract in hand and having to deal with a porous defense and fans who often come across as moronic will make his life a lot more difficult than it was in Northern California.

And there's another problem staring the Leafs in the face. Their lack of skill.

Mats Sundin has it, and Tomas Kaberle has it and Jason Blake may have some goal scoring skill, but beyond that the Leafs have nothing but a bunch of grinders and players who from time to time display some skill but have no finish.

Guys like Kyle Wellwood, Alex Steen, Matt Stajan and Alex Ponikarovsky- guys who won't take the Leafs anywhere until they move to the next level.

Watching the Leafs play teams like Buffalo and Ottawa lets you appreciate the wide gap in skill level. It's almost embarrassing.

Yes, the Leafs have improved their roster this year but so have a few other teams in the Eastern Conference which means squeezing into the top eight is going to be just as difficult as it was last year.

A lot of things have to go right in order for the Leafs to make the playoffs this year, but I don't think they have the horses to make it happen.

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Fiscal Justice

September 28, 2007 @ 08:44

Sometimes you can perfectly understand why people lose faith in the Canadian justice system.

You know what they say, money buys justice and it's often played out in Ontario court rooms on drunk driving charges. As the saying goes, if you've got ten thousand dollars to spend, you're pretty well guaranteed to get off your impaired charge.

We might see a bit of that happening in a Newmarket courtroom where former Maple Leaf Rob Ramage has pleaded not guilty to five charges including impaired driving and dangerous driving causing death.

In December 2003 with former NHL Keith Magnuson as his passenger, Ramage crossed the divided line on Rutherford Rd. and hit another car head on. Magnuson died, the other driver survived.

Because he was injured in the accident Ramage never received a breath test, but blood samples taken at the hospital revealed a drug alcohol level nearly four times the legal limit and there were several empty beer cans found in the car.

But here's where a good lawyer comes in. Ramages attorney Brian Greenspan has argued that the alcohol swab used to take the blood sample could be responsible for the high reading if it was administered improperly and the beer cans could have been full but exploded on impact during the accident.

It sounds far-fetched but that doesn't matter. All that matters is that Greenspan is raising doubt to the jury and he's doing a pretty good job.

It may not result in justice, but that's our justice system.

Category: Sports | Stuff

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Canadian Pride

September 28, 2007 @ 08:41

Yes, I'm old enough to be one of those guys who vividly remembers Paul Henderson's big goal in the 1972 Summit Series. It was 35 years ago today.

I forget what day of the week it was, but I was 16 and in grade 11 at Stephen Leacock in Scarborough.

There was a bit of a controversy at the time because the school refused to shorten the day so everyone could go home and watch the game that started at 12:30. Instead, they offered to have televisions placed through the school, but I didn't like this idea because I wanted to concentrate on the game.

I was a sports nut when I was 16 and this game represented probably the biggest thing in my life up until that time. Thankfully my parents gave me permission to leave school at noon that day and watch the game with neighbourhood friends.

What a wonderful feeling when "Henderson took a wild stab for it and fell" and then got up and scored to win the game and the series.


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Tiger Joke

September 28, 2007 @ 08:40

In honour of the President's Cup, which I could give two shits about, here's a Newfie joke involving Tiger Woods.

You can tell Newfie jokes because these wonderful people have a fantastic sense of humour and no chip on their shoulders.

On a golf tour in Newfoundland, Tiger Woods drives his new Ford Fusion into a gas station in a remote outpost.

The pump attendant, obviously knows nothing about golf and greets Tiger in a typical Newfoundlander manner completely unaware of who the golfing pro is.

"How's she cuttin' bye" says the attendant.

Tiger nods a quick "hello" and bends forward to pick up the nozzle only to have two tees fall out of his shirt pocket onto the ground.

"What are dose?" asks the attendant.

"They're called tees," replies Tiger.

"Well, what on god's earth are dey for?" inquires the attendant.

"They're for resting my balls on when I'm driving", says Tiger.

"Fookin Jaysus," says the Newfoundlander, "Ford tinks of everyting!"

Category: Fun Stuff | Sports

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Bad Start

September 27, 2007 @ 09:55


I hope I'm wrong but I think we may witness the ruination of a hockey player over the next few months.

Vesa Toskala was a happy man just a few short weeks ago. He had been acquired by the Toronto Maple Leafs and given a new contract that kicks in next year.

This year he'll make 1.3 million dollars and then next season that jumps to four million for another three years.

The strategy was clear for the Maple Leafs, Andrew Raycroft wasn't doing the job so they needed another goaltender and the best available was the man who played back-up in San Jose.

Toskala was considered the best back-up in the NHL and clearly capable of being a starter, so the Leafs made the leap.

But there's an intangible in Toronto and it's called pressure. Players are exposed to things in Toronto that don't exist in any other city and Vesa Toskalo is about to be crushed by the avalanche.

The media, the fans, the history and the desperation to win are all things that are piling up on Toskala right now and last night was another indication that he might become the latest in a long list of players who haven't been able to handle it.

He made his second start of the pre-season last night and he allowed seven goals on 36 shots. He didn't look very strong.

Things may turn around and Vesa Toskala may become the greatest goaltender in the history of the Maple Leafs, but it's going to be tough. Toskala came to town with a lot of fan fare and huge expectations, and then he signed a contract worthy of a number one goaltender without having ever been a number one.

In the hockey mad market of Toronto that's a lot to have resting on your shoulders, and if everything I've mentioned isn't enough, he has to deal with a defense that so far this pre-season has been nothing short of laughable.

We may never see the real Vesa Toskala.

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Leaf Fans

September 21, 2007 @ 09:22

Yesterday afternoon I was tuned into the "Bill Watters Show" on am 640 and I sat there shaking my head.

You've gotta love Leaf fans. We're so desperate for success, so thirsty to rise above mediocrity we become delusional.

Yesterday Bill and Brian Duff fielded several calls from Leaf fans who think Simon Gamache is the next Leaf superstar. Gamache played the first two pre-season games in Edmonton and Winnipeg and showed some flash and at one point delivered a big hit.

Yesterday on the Watters show, several callers were ready to give Gamache a spot on the top line and crown him the next Leaf saviour.

At one point leaf radio colour man Jim Ralph called in and said he had to get down to the ACC as quickly as possible for the news conference about Gamache being named captain. It was very funny.

Truth is, Gamache was drafted by Atlanta in the ninth round back in 2000 and has a grand total of four goals with the Thrashers, the Predators and the Blues. Since being drafted, Gamache has spent way more time in the AHL than he has the NHL.

But in two exhibition games as a Leaf, playing against teams that are only played half their NHL rosters, Gamache showed enough to whip Leaf fans into a frenzy.

As Watters said yesterday, Gamanche will probably have a great season this year.

At the Ricoh Centre with the Toronto Marlies.


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Dollar Daze

September 20, 2007 @ 09:00

I've watched both Leaf pre-season games and so far I don't have a lot to say about the team.

There' are virtually no openings on the team, so outside of Jason Blake, Mark Bell and Vesa Toskala, we're going to get the same team as last year.

The question is, will these three new guys be enough to put us into the playoffs. Which raise another question posed by neighbour John last night.

Since when did making the playoffs become the ultimate goal. Other teams and franchises talk about winning the Stanley Cup, but with the Leafs it's making the playoffs.

We're being conditioned right now for that to be considered a successful season. Be one of 16 teams in a 30 team league to make the post-season.

It's sad.

Meanwhile, the strong Canadian dollar is working well for all Canadian teams but especially the Leafs and Bill Watters explained it on his show yesterday.

Compared to 2003, with the turnaround in the Canadian dollar and the new player agreement, the Leafs will add 57 million dollars to their bottom line this year.

And you can bet your ass, if they make the playoffs, they'll raise ticket prices next season.


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