Under Further Review – This week, we go around the horn and check out all the happenings in the wacky world of sports.
Mountain Mayhem – Special thanks to our friends at the Westin Bear Mountain Resort & Spa in Victoria for a great couple of days this week. Bro Jake Edwards from TSN 1040 in Vancouver came over to Victoria with the winners of our Bear Mountain prize package for two days of golf and it was a blast.
Brandon Van Horn of South Surrey was the lucky winner and chose to bring along his brother Tyler. They have five kids combined and have not had a chance to play golf together in three years so it was great they could get away. We could not have had two better guys join us so thanks again to Bear Mountain for making it happen.
The Dye is Cast – Yes, the Canucks have handed General Manager Jim Benning a new three-year contract extension. Can you please explain what that is based on? Certainly not on his trade record. Certainly not on his cap management. Certainly not on his free agent acquisitions. I will give him credit for a few good draft picks but when you are always picking in the top half dozen that should not be a problem. However, even then, the jury is still out on Olli Julolevi at #5 in 2016 and Jake Virtanen at #6 in 2014.
Perhaps now he can afford a new dye job! Was he an extra in Goodfellas?
Golden Knights Ticket Sale – You have to love the Vegas Golden Knights approach to marketing. They took a page from the hit TV show “The Office” in creating a promo video for single game ticket sales. Being irreverent always works. Have a look for yourself!
Doesn’t Make Sens – What were the Ottawa Senators thinking when they handed center Colin White a new six-year, $28.5 million dollar contract? White is a decent player who probably projects to be a solid third line center on a Stanley Cup caliber team.
At an average of $4.75 million, White is now the second highest paid Senator behind Bobby Ryan. It smacks to me of nothing more than a weak PR move by the Senators to try and show the fans they are not afraid of spending money. But why not give him three years and see where his career arc goes. It also didn’t make sense to back-load the deal. White will make $6.25 million in the final year of the contract in 2024-2025.
The Senators have taken so much fan and media abuse, and well deserved, that they probably felt they needed to change the narrative by at least demonstrating they are willing to toss a few bucks around. If truth be told, they are barely above the salary cap floor and will probably stay there for the foreseeable future.
All Decade Team – Here’s an interesting read from ESPN.com that was sent to me by a good friend. It’s the All-Decade Team for all 31 NHL teams from 2009 to the present. Check it out for yourself.
The Canuck selections were pretty easy. Daniel and Henrik, of course, with Alex Burrows in tow up front. Edler and Bieksa on defense and Roberto Luongo in goal. Hard to argue with that.
Canadian Content – There’s a cool story being fashioned in Houston with the Astros call-up of Canadian infielder Abraham Toro. The 22 year-old from Longueil, Quebec was taken in the fifth round of the MLB draft in 2016 and was the Astros sixth-rated prospect according to MLB Pipeline.
Toro spent most of the season at Double-A Corpus Christi in the Texas League where he hit .306 with 16 home runs and 70 RBI’s. He’s a switch-hitter who’s being groomed as a super-utility type although third base is his primary position. Toro has a plus arm but is considered to be just an average fielder. His future will depend on his bat and his versatility.
What makes Toro unique is the fact he speaks three languages. He’s the son of Venezuelan parents who moved to Montreal shortly before their son’s birth. Toro learned Spanish from his parents while his Canadian schooling was in French. He later attended Seminole State College in Oklahoma on a baseball scholarship where he mastered English.
Here’s the scouting report from MLB Pipeline: “Scouts inside and outside the organization believe he’s one of the better all-around hitters in the Houston system. Toro has a plus arm and reliable hands at third base, though he lacks quickness and has fringy range.”
Arms Required – In this season of change in Toronto, it has been hard for Blue Jay fans to follow all the roster moves. There’s been a constant shuttle between Toronto and Buffalo and even if you are a diehard, you still need a program to keep up.
Despite all the hype around Vladimir Guerrero Jr., you have to be impressed with how he has developed of late. He has his average up to .280 and has quietly reached the 15 home run mark. His OPS has also been rising since the all-star break. There’s no doubt he will be a middle of the lineup hitter for the next decade.
Bo Bichette made his Dodger Stadium debut this week by slugging a pair of home runs off of Clayton Kershaw, on a night when Kershaw became the winningest Dodger pitcher in club history. Bichette is now one of only six players to ever hit two home runs off the future Hall of Famer in the same game.
On the pitching side, it’s been potluck among the starters since Stroman and Sanchez were sent packing. Jacob Waguespack has been a massive surprise. He’s come out of nowhere to give the Jays a number of solid starts including seven shutout innings of one hit ball on Thursday night against the Dodgers. Waguespack left with a 2-0 lead that the Jays unfortunately squandered. He retired the last 14 Dodgers he faced. His ERA with the Jays is now 3.63 over 52 innings which is amazing because his ERA in Buffalo over the same number of innings was 5.30. To do it in front of 49,000+ at Dodger Stadium is even more impressive. Trent Thornton has also shown signs of growth as a rookie and may factor in down the road.
If the Blue Jays are going to take a jump forward in the next couple of seasons, it will be because of pitching, make no mistake. Down on the farm, there were a couple of very positive developments this week. Former first round pick TJ Zeuch (Zoike) threw a no-hitter at Triple-A Buffalo. The 24-year old right-hander is 6’5” and uses a very effective sinker as his main out pitch. Despite his size, he does not possess an overpowering fastball. A lat strain slowed his season but it looks like we should see him in Toronto in 2020.
The jewel of the Jays system now that the first wave has reached the big club is right-hander Nate Pearson, another former top pick. He’s now the #1 rated prospect and is being counted on as a future ‘front-of-the-rotation’ starter. Pearson celebrated his 23rd birthday by throwing seven shutout innings in his Triple-A debut. He was still able to hit 99 on the radar gun with three of his pitches in the 7th inning. Pencil him into the rotation as some point next season.
The projected starting staff that began the season with the Jays has been decimated. The trades of Stroman and Sanchez coupled with injuries to Clayton Richard, Matt Shoemaker, Clay Bucholz and Ryan Borucki has wiped out the starting staff completely. Clearly, there’s some pitching help on the way but a lot more will be required before the Jays can even dream of a playoff spot.
MLB Notebook – It didn’t take Aaron Sanchez long to land on the DL in Houston. The erstwhile right-hander has been placed on the disabled list with a sore pectoral muscle. This after just his third start with the Astros. His Velo had reportedly dropped noticeably.
When is major league baseball going to realize baseball in Florida is a fool’s game? Tampa Bay and Miami are 29th and 30th in the league in attendance and fan interest is non-existent. The Rays are averaging 15,114 and drew just over 7,000 this week for a game against the mighty Mariners. The Marlins, meanwhile, are averaging 10,047 and are bleeding money. MLB should pull the plug on both franchises and stop the charade. Frankly, I would prefer to see the Marlins move to Montreal so we could keep Montreal in the National League. How ironic would that be? The Expos would come full circle – from Montreal to Washington to Miami and back to Montreal. And in case you were wondering, Jays attendance has plummeted this season to 21,907 per game, 22nd in MLB.
Put Up the For Sale Sign – It was great to hear news from the Lion’s Den this week that the team is officially up for sale. Club President Rick LaLacheur has confirmed that owner David Braley is looking to sell the team, potentially to a group of local buyers. This is long overdue and could be a very positive move for the football club as long as you don’t get a group of owners who turn into 20 general managers.
Fire Up the ATM – Be honest, did you even know who Corey Conners was at the start of the PGA Tour season? A year ago, Conners was toiling on the Korn Ferry Tour and wondering if his pro career would ever get off the ground. Fast forward to this week where Conners is participating in the FedEx Cup finale at the Tour Championship in Atlanta with a chance to pad an ever-growing bank account. He’s currently sitting T15 heading into the weekend.
The Listowel, Ontario native is guaranteed to win over $3 million in his rookie season and has secured entry into next year’s Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championships plus all of the WGC events. Conners nascent rise included a win at the Valero Open in Texas where he was a Monday qualifier. What a great story!
Felix Auger-Aliassime is also rising fast. He’s now moved past Milos Raonic on the ATP Tour rankings. The 19 year old Montrealer is ranked 19th, three spots ahead of Raonic who has dropped to 22nd. Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ontario is ranked 38th. Raonic reached number three in the world a few years ago, the highest a Canadian has ever been ranked. Auger-Aliassime and Raonic are the only Canadians to break into the top 20 since 1973.
No Big Rush – I’ve been warning everyone about the Seahawks lack of pass rush. They had only three quarterback hits and no sacks in their second exhibition game against the Vikings. The lack of pressure allowed the Vikes to be on the field for 74 plays and roll up 409 total yards. Now you know why there has been reports that Seattle is interested in acquiring Houston defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
Have you noticed that every time a veteran Seahawk is booted out of town they waste no time dissing Pete Carroll and the Seahawks organization? Richard Sherman did it. Earl Thomas did it. Michael Bennett did it. I have a theory about why that is.
When key vets are let go I think reality sets in and they realize how good it was in Seattle and they suddenly become bitter. Don’t forget, when a player is traded or released, it affects his whole family and not just him. The kids don’t want to leave. The wife and extended family doesn’t want to leave and it creates a lot of negative feelings. They probably also know that there days of winning may be over. How do you think Sherman feels playing in San Francisco? He’s certainly now out of the limelight because the 49’ers won’t be in the playoffs any time soon.
They take it out on the organization and try to find a convenient target. Bennett said he became bored and slept through team meetings. Sherman said he got tired of Carroll’s rah-rah act. Thomas gave a 3-finger salute, presumably to Carroll, when he was being carted off the field with a second broken leg that effectively ended his Seahawk career. Sure, money played a big part in their exits but could it also be because their acts wore thin?
Nobody is Listening! – Could someone tell ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith to shut his trap? He is annoying at the best of times but his latest diatribe on Raptors President Masai Ujiri was totally out of line. Smith claims Ujiri made a big mistake by staying in Toronto and not taking a job with the Washington Wizards, adding “he has nowhere to go but down.”
Something tells me Ujiri won’t turtle in taking on the challenge of rebuilding the Raptors one more time.
Video Vault – ‘Kind of Blue’, the epic Miles Davis recording first released in 1959, is celebrating its 60th anniversary. It is not only the highest selling jazz album in history, it is generally consider to be the greatest jazz recording in history. Check out this great tribute!
There was a book written about the album a few years ago that documented how Columbia Records released the wrong tape of the recording by mistake. Apparently the tape they used was recorded at the wrong speed and was slightly off. It would be decades later, when they re-mastered the album, before they discovered their mistake. Still, it would become the highest selling jazz album ever.