Under Further Review – Douglas Smith with Editor Bill Morphy and weekly contributor Jordan Moss. This week, a season in the balance, Montoyo in the cross-hairs, training camp news, Seahawks red flags and a listless Ryder Cup.
Fall Funk – The road to the post-season has become very precarious for the Blue Jays. Despite a win in Minnesota on Saturday night, the Jays still trail the Yankees and the Red Sox by two games. The pesky Mariners are still in the mix as well. The Blue Jays picked a bad time to go into a September swoon. It’s pretty evident that teams have a book on the Jays. Feed ‘em fastballs and off-speed stuff away and they are not patient enough to take pitches! It causes Jays hitters to expand the strike zone and start chasing bad pitches. Watch teams like the Rays and the Red Sox and you see a much different approach. Bo Bichette took the Golden Sombrero (0 for 4 with 4 strikeouts) on Friday night and looked terrible doing it. His night pretty much summed up the Jays approach at the plate. It didn’t help that George Springer was ice cold after missing 13 games with a knee injury. His first season in Toronto has been a disaster, anyway you look at it. Heading into action on Saturday, Springer had a .156 batting average with an OPS of .482 since coming off the DL. He brought life to the team on Saturday night with a key home run. The Jays have also missed Springer’s defense in center. His catch in the first inning on Saturday night prevented a big inning. Maybe Springer can play hero in the final week.
If you want to point fingers, look no further than manager Charlie Montoyo. The Jays were lifeless in losing four of five and that’s on him. The team should be fired-up in the midst of a pennant race yet they can’t even move runners along. Montoyo sits on his hands and does nothing. Where’s the energy in the dugout? How anyone could be touting Montoyo for AL Manager of the Year is beyond me?
I don’t think he will get the voting support but Jays lefthander Robbie Ray has the numbers to win the American League Cy Young award. He leads Yankees ace Gerrit Cole in nearly every pitching category. Ray leads Cole in innings pitched, ERA, and strikeouts. His WHIP is nearly the same. Ray would become the fourth Blue Jay pitcher to win the Cy Young. Editor’s Note – Is it just me or are Robbie Ray’s pants a little too tight?
Cheaters Always Prosper – In today’s sports code of conduct, honesty and integrity don’t count for much. The Blue Jays had every right to be upset following the incident against Tampa that saw the Rays Kevin Kiermaier walk off with a proprietary data card. It was jarred loose from catcher Alejandro Kirk following a collision at the plate. Kiermaier returned to the Rays dugout and clandestinely passed it along to field coordinator Paul Hoover. Believe me, Kiermaier knew exactly what he was doing. The Jays sent a batboy over to retrieve it but the Rays refused to oblige, making light of the situation. Once again, like the incident in Baltimore involving Robbie Ray and Orioles manager Brandon Hyde, Montoyo stood by and did zilch. Do you think its maybe because he got his coaching start in Tampa? Maybe a little too buddy-buddy with the Rays organization?
You can look at it two ways. The data-driven Rays are the last team you want this to happen against since you face them 19 times a season and may meet them again in the post-season. On the other hand, you can argue that you shouldn’t need to use cheat cards in the first place. As former Jays centerfielder Vernon Wells pointed out, “This whole thing is ridiculous. Here’s an idea…TEACH THE GAME BETTER AND STUDY THE GAME BETTER! You shouldn’t need cards if you are a student of the game. Stop being robots and play the game!” he posted on Twitter. Sounds good but players from other eras never had cheat sheets at their disposal. Of course, they would have used them.
You don’t think the information on the data cards is important? Blue Jay pitchers walked eleven Rays’ batters in a subsequent game. Do you really think that’s a coincidence? If this incident would have happened to the Yankees, there would have been a huge uproar and you can be sure Major League Baseball would have investigated. It happened to the Jays so there’s no action other than to suspend Montoyo and reliever Ryan Borucki after Borucki hit Kiermaier with a pitch in retaliation. All I know is, if faced with a similar situation, I would like to think the Jays would have acted differently and shown more sportsmanship.
MLB Notebook – The New York Yankees have been on a roller-coaster. They reeled off 13 straight before hitting the skids. They are hot again with homers in 17 straight games. The Yanks have taken the first two games of the weekend series at Fenway to pull even with the Red Sox. Can someone explain to me why the Sox don’t have Chris Sale in the rotation this weekend in a critical series against the Yankees?
If you want my pick for Manager of the Year in the American League, it’s Scott Servais of the Seattle Mariners. What he’s done with that roster is amazing!
If the Atlanta Braves reach the post-season and it looks like they will, it will mark the seventh straight season that Alex Anthopoulos has reached the playoffs. Pretty remarkable when you consider the Jays have only made the post-season eight times in their history.
It looks like both the Giants and the Dodgers will post over 100 wins this season. Unfortunately, one of them will have to play a win-or-you’re-out wildcard game against the red-hot St. Louis Cardinals. The Cards have reeled off a 15-game winning streak, the longest in the franchise’s 129-year history, to solidify the other NL wildcard spot. On September 10, the Cardinals were three games out of the second wild-card spot. Imagine that? How about Canada’s Tyler O’Neill? He has 31 homers for the Cards.
The San Diego Padres season went the other way. Back on July 28, the day of the trade deadline, the Padres had a firm grip on the second NL wild-card spot, leading the Cincinnati Reds by five games. Since then, the Padres have gone 18-30 and fallen right out of the race. Manager Jayce Tingler (classic porn star name) is sure to be fired as soon as the season is over.
Here’s some changes I would like to see in major league baseball. Do something about the designated hitter rule! It’s ridiculous to have two sets of rules for interleague play and the World Series. Baseball needs to expand to 32 teams and then have some kind of geographical realignment. How about moving the Jays out of the AL East and into the AL Central? That would be nice. I would definitely like to see baseball limit the shift. And finally, keep the same roster parameters for all 162 games. No expanded September rosters. If you want to have 28-man rosters, then keep it that way for the entire season.
COVID Crisis – The fourth wave of COVID-19 has plunged Alberta into an unprecedented medical crisis. Things are so bad the Alberta Government is asking for assistance in airlifting patients to hospitals elsewhere in the country. There are over 20,000 active cases in the province yet the Flames and Oilers plan to play games at full capacity. This is as reckless and irresponsible as it gets. Infectious disease experts are pleading with the Oilers and Flames to rethink their plans. One expert is quoted as saying, “Alberta can’t get this under control fast enough to avoid a disaster scenario without a hard lockdown right now; playing NHL games only increases the risk for more cases when you can least afford them,” he said. “Alberta should be going into a hard lockdown right now, not playing NHL games.”
NHL Notebook – When are the Canucks going to wake up and realize defenceman Olli Juolevi is a bust? He’s been part of several training camps yet he couldn’t get through this year’s training camp bag skate without collapsing to the ice. Juolevi has wasted no time falling behind Jack Rathbone and Brad Hunt in the competition for jobs on the left side of the defence. He’s waiver-eligible this year and it would not be a big surprise if Juolevi is cut loose at some point. A few years ago, Juolevi was rumoured to have a video game addiction. Perhaps he can make his mark in Esports.
One of the best under-the-radar moves of the off-season was the Ottawa Senators trade of Evgenii Dadonov to the Vegas Golden Knights. The key for Ottawa was dumping Dadonov’s contract which has two more years to run at $5 million per. The Knights used the cap space created by dealing Marc-Andre Fleury to Chicago to acquire Dadonov. It’s puzzling what the Knights saw in a 32-year-old forward who played 15 minutes per night with the Sens and scored only 20 points in 55 games including ZERO goals on the power-play. Ottawa was more than happy to oblige. With Stone, Pacioretty, Marchessault and Reilly Smith on the wings, Dadonov is likely to be a very expensive third-liner. Alex Tuch underwent off-season surgery and is out until February. That’s going to be a huge loss for Vegas.
What’s up with the Anaheim Ducks? The real answer is nothing! Bob Murray has sat back and watched the team become a laughingstock. The Ducks set an NHL record last season with the worst power play (8.94 percent) in league history. They also managed to post a league-worst 2.21 goals-for per game. They haven’t made the playoffs in three years. Cue the Shane Wright sweepstakes because the Ducks are in dire straits and need a big time infusion of talent. It doesn’t help that Hampus Lindholm, Rickard Rakell, Ryan Getzlaf and Josh Manson are all unrestricted free agents at the end of this season.
Seahawks This Week – All the optimism built in Week 1 evaporated during the Seahawks home opener in Week 2. The Seahawks watched a 15-point lead at halftime and a 14-point fourth quarter lead fly out the window in a disappointing 33-30 overtime loss to the Tennessee Titans. Here’s some of our takeaways:
- It certainly feels like the Seahawks let the game get away. Ten penalties for 100 yards will do that. Many of the flags came after the play was over and allowed drives to continue. A late hit on the quarterback. A late hit out of bounds. A taunting call. Very undisciplined and it cost the Seahawks the game.
- Teams have been baiting DK Metcalf into penalties. He seems to lose his cool at the drop of a hat. Metcalf has been flagged four times in two games. Pete Carroll needs to get him to cool his act.
- Offensively, the Seahawks could do nothing in the second half after a very efficient first half that saw them score touchdowns on three consecutive possessions. The easy scores were actually detrimental since the Hawks never really established a consistent rhythm. When they needed the run game in the second half, they couldn’t get it going. The finished 4 of 12 on third down. The had only 77 yards rushing in total.
- The biggest indicator was time of possession. Tennessee held the ball for 42:33 while Seattle’s time of possession was just 22:42. That’s a 20 minute gap, more than a full quarter. The Seahawks also lost the time of possession battle in week 1 against the Colts. Not a good sign.
- The Titans shredded the Seahawks defense for 532 yards including 212 on the ground. Derrick Henry was held to 32 yards in the opening half but blew the doors off after the break. He finished with 35 carries for 182 yards and three touchdowns.
- It’s early but Seattle ranks 29th out of 32 NFL teams in yards allowed per game (434) and second-to-last in average rushing yards allowed (162.5).
- Teams are learning to take advantage of Jamal Adams over-aggressiveness. It was never more evident than on the long touchdown run by Henry in the fourth quarter that drew the Titans to within a touchdown. Adams was looking to blitz and was caught out of position.
- Bobby Wagner was a wrecking ball. He racked up 20 tackles, a new club record plus a sack and two quarterback hits. However, did he register all the tackles because he had trouble in coverage? On top of his 182 yards on the ground, Henry caught a career-high six balls for 55 yards, many of the catches coming against Wagner.
- Jason Myers missed extra point proved to be very costly. It would have forced the Titans to go for a two point conversion in order to force the game into overtime. Instead, they converted the extra point to tie the game and opened the door to the win in the extra session. Myers missed four extra points last season, four in 2019 and three in 2018. What the hell’s his problem?
NFL Notebook – Carolina Panthers Christian McCaffrey is the latest example of why you don’t want to dish out big money to NFL running backs. In April, 2020, the Panthers signed McCaffrey to a four-year, $64 million dollar extension, averaging $16 million per season. It was the richest deal for a running back in NFL history. McCaffrey was coming off a season when he became only the third player ever to record 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 receiving in the same year. Marshall Faulk and Roger Craig were the others. Since then, McCaffrey has missed 13 games due to injury and last weekend, went on IL again with a torn hamstring. He’ll be out at least a month. The injury will afford Sherwood Park, Alberta native Chuba Hubbard with an opportunity to start.
The Miami Dolphins will rue the day they drafted Tua Tagovailoa. He had to leave Sunday’s Buffalo debacle after two series with a rib injury. The Dolphins had to turn to Jacoby Brissett who was completely ineffective. With the Raiders, Colts and Bucs coming up, Miami’s season could be in jeopardy. The Dolphins selected Tagovailoa from Alabama with the fifth overall pick in 2020, a mistake that could haunt them for the next decade. The L.A. Chargers grabbed Justin Herbert with the next pick.
Count the New York Jets among the worst franchises in sports. They gave up on Sam Darnold to draft Zach Wilson but the narrative doesn’t change. Darnold is 2-0 with the Carolina Panthers while Wilson, the #2 pick in this year’s NFL Draft, threw four picks on Sunday as the Jets fell to New England. Wilson has predictably struggled in the Jets 0-2 start. Instead of letting Wilson learn behind a veteran starter, the Jets have thrown him to the wolves. He’s getting no protection behind a porous offensive line. Some teams never learn. The Patriots are 19-2 against the Jets over the past ten years. Both losses came in OT.
On the subject of quarterbacks on bad teams. Joe Burrow threw interceptions on three consecutive plays in the Bungals loss at Chicago. That’s hard to do. Again, Cincinnati invests in a franchise quarterback with the #1 selection in last year’s draft, then watches as he goes down with a torn ACL thanks to playing behind the worst offensive line in football. Have you perhaps considered building the protection first, then drafting the quarterback?
Watching Kyler Murray is like watching a water-bug. He’s a Houdini escape artist in cleats. The Arizona Cardinals may not make the playoffs this season but they are going to be a handful every week.
Ryder Cup Notes – Any golf fan had to know that the script was going to be flipped at this year’s Ryder Cup competition at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. The U.S. team boasts 8 of the top 10 players in the world rankings. Europe has just one – and that’s Spain’s Jon Rahm, the top-ranked player in the world. Coming in, Europe had won 9 of the last 12 competitions. You could anticipate a rout and that’s exactly what’s happened. Why did European captain Padraig Harrington load up on 40+ veterans? Sorry but Paul Casey, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter are not going to move the needle at this point in their career. Collectively, there are without a single point so far. Rory (Mr. Bean) McIlroy has been a bust. Dustin Johnson has been a beast for the Americans with wins in all four of his matches. The U.S. team has an insurmountable 11-5 lead heading into Sunday’s singles matches. Put the champagne on ice.
Leftovers – The B.C. Lions gift-wrapped Friday night’s loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders. A botched punt by Stefan Flintoft put the Riders in excellent field position for the winning drive. The punt looked about the same as when you try to squirt a wet peach pit out from between your finger and thumb. You have no idea where it’s going.
Center Steven Adams of the Memphis Grizzlies is the youngest of 18 children. The boys in his family have an average height of 6 feet 9 inches. The girls average 6 feet. His sister Valerie Adams is an Olympic gold medalist in the shot put.
Spotify Songs of the Week – Not sure if you are familiar with British singer Paul Carrack. He’s been dubbed “The Man with the Golden Voice” and if you listen to him sing, you will see why. Carrack rose to prominence in the mid-70’s as the frontman for the band Ace. He also had tenures with Roxy Music, Squeeze and with Roger Waters’ backing band, The Bleeding Heart Band.
Fast forward to today where he has a thriving solo career. Carrack has a new album that’s just been released called “One on One.” We recommend “Lighten Up the Mood,” “Precious Time,” and “When Love is Blind.” Fine stuff!
YouTube Artist of the Week – Dion DiMucci is one of the few remaining rock n’ roll giants from the 1950’s. He’s best remembered for fronting Dion and the Belmonts and hit singles like “The Wanderer” and “Runaround Sue.” Dion and the Belmonts were part of the ill-fated “Winter Dance Party” tour that included Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. After a concert on February 3, 1959 in Clear Lake, Iowa, Holly and others decided to charter a flight to their next venue rather than taking the tour bus. Dion was invited to join them but balked at the $36 cost, as it was the same monthly rent his parents paid for their apartment. As you know, the plane crashed, killing everyone on board.
Believe me, Dion is alive and well and still going strong. He celebrated his 82nd birthday in July and continues to write, record and perform. Here’s the music video for a fantastic new song “Take It Back” featuring the great Joe Bonamassa on guitar.
Dion recorded another tune with Bonamassa entitled “Blues Comin’ On.” Here’s the video.
We have one more video for you. This one is with Paul Simon performing “Song for Sam Cooke (Here in America).”
To be recording such great music at 82 is a testament to an amazing artist. For more on Dion’s life and music career, click on this link.
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