Sunday, March 18, 2012

Here we go again - Perennial Loser Leafs Screwing Fans Once More

Flash back to February 4th, 2012 - the Leafs were ahead of the "first place" Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference standings and had just whipped the team of pretenders 5-0 in an impressive road effort.  Man, these guys were looking good.  Two nights later, a sloppy but convincing 6-3 win over the hapless Oilers had Toronto fans feeling that the playoffs were a certainty.  Flash forward to 17 games later and only two total wins, one coming against the Oilers and the team was all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs yet again.  A season that started again so promising - 1st place in the eastern conference at one point - and had been consistent for most of the season, fell apart like the New York Mets or the Toronto Maple Leafs when it mattered most.

As the Leafs 2-15 mark landed them a mere point out of last place in the Eastern conference, enraged fans began calling for drastic changes in the off season.  Many suggested that Phil Kessel, the team's most valuable asset, be peddled in the off season.  The thought of a last place finish got Leafs fans excited, as they so seldomly finish lower than 9th place in the conference, and always tend to avoid a good draft pick, in any year that they possess their own pick.  The exception of course was the season that the Bruins had acquired the Leafs first round pick as part of the ludicrously bad Phil Kessel trade, where the Leafs tanked the season and finished up 29 out of 30 teams.  Tanking this season would afford the Leafs a high draft pick and set them up for the future.  The season ending injuries to Joffrey Lupul (who looked like one of the only players who actually gave a damn) and Nikolai Kulemin looked to only raise the expectations of "Tank Nation" or "Fail for Nail".  Well, not so much Kulemin, maybe we'd have been better off if he was still healthy.

But not so fast.  The team was infuriated by the fans calling for changes and desire to see the team retooled.  They used this as their motivation to start playing and have since reeled off a couple impressive victories; the most recent of which was last night against the juggernaut Ottawa Sens (seriously, how are they in first place???).  These losers are more motivated by personal pride and ego, and a job for next season, than they are hungry to fight for the playoffs.  Why is it the same with these guys year after year?  They start playing hard and competing and become unbeatable when it is too late and the only thing to play for is their finances and personal stats.  Then they get the "benefit" of some extra off time in the playoffs and still get to "stick it to the fans" who had expressed their frustration and desire to rebuild and trade away some of their buddies. 

The example I will never forget was a few years back when the Leafs were sitting in a lottery draft pick position with a chance at the first overall pick with one game remaining in the season.  With one loss, the Leafs franchise could have benefitted for 10+ years to come.  The Leafs go out with one of their most hard fought victories of the season, led by a hat trick by Boyd Devereaux (who never played another game as a Leaf and was only playing for a job next season) and because of this single victory on the last day of the season jumped from a lottery pick, to the 7th pick in the draft.  But hey it's not all bad, we ended up with Nazem Kadri, woohoo!

Come on Leafs - if you fight really hard you can prove us all wrong and end up in 9th place once again.  You fans from the rest of Canada can back off us Leafs fans now.  Being a Leafs fan is punishment enough.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Accountability and integrity in the media.  A code by which writers and bloggers abide by, or an oxymoron?  Baseball fans have been taken on a roller coaster ride by the media of late.  St.Louis Cardinals fans surely had their hearts ripped out when "Fat" Albert Pujols pulled a mini Lebron James and sold them out by taking his talents to LA.  This pain was intensified by an earlier NBC Sports report citing Yahoo! and an "unnamed MLB executive" and announcing that Pujols was "100 percent certain" to remain a Cardinal.  What type of irresponsible journalism is that?  I wonder if that got the hopes of Cardinals fans up.  Even though the writer of the article protected himself by referencing a different Yahoo! article citing the unnamed executive, the writer of the NBC article had no idea who the source was, and thus could have no idea of his credibility or familiarity with the situation.  Besides, how would an "MLB executive" have this sort of information, unless he was a close personal friend of Pujols himself, which he wasn't.  Yet there is the headline of the article, out there trying to grab as much attention as possible, feeding off the hopes and prayers of sports fans, with not a care in the world about whether it is reliable or not.  Hey, a lot of people read the article so probably the author got a lot of slaps on the back from his superiors and who gives a damn about accuracy?

Yesterday night it was Blue Jays fans who were given a dose of "F-Yu" at the expense of irresponsible reporting about the Yu Darvish sweepstakes.  The New York Post came out last Thursday with a report claiming the Blue Jays had likely won the sweepstakes, citing "several sources with knowledge of the situation".  Then Jays fans stay up late last night only to find out that Darvish will most likely be taking his talents to Texas.  Thanks again, media.  It wasn't just the New York Post, but every news outlet imaginable, who jumped on the bandwagon, announcing Darvish was coming to the Jays; all the while nobody knew these "knowledgeable sources" or even stopped to think about how someone would have that information as of last Thursday.  Hey, as long as they can point the finger at someone else (New York Post), it's all good.  In my mind, it is irresponsible and trashy, and one may as well be reading one of those celebrity gossip newspapers.

TTP Sports will meanwhile continue to do what we've always done - write articles with the utmost integrity and honour.  Unlike a lot of others out there.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wakamatsu the matter with you?

Even though it has been months since the Toronto Blue Jays have reasonably had a chance to get into the post season (or is that decades?), losses like the one last night never cease to annoy me.  We all know the season is over, but as fans, we hate to see our team lose due to boneheaded decision making on behalf of the manager, or poor performance of the players.

With the Jays down 4-3 headed into the top of the 9th inning, and much maligned reliever Kevin Gregg coming in to try to shut things down, Jays fans had to know there was at least a 50% chance of coming back against the woeful Gregg.  And that’s exactly what happened: a base hit by Arencibia, a walk, and a double steal later, and the Jays had two runners in scoring position with nobody out.  An incredible diving catch by Nick Markakis in right field accounted for the first out of the inning, with pinch runner Dewayne Wise scoring on the sac fly.  Unfortunately the Jays couldn’t cash in the go ahead run from third base with less than two outs after Thames popped out and Edwin Encarnacion (what happened to him??) tapped out softly to end the treat.

Nevertheless, the Jays ended up taking the lead in the top of the 10th after a Kelly Johnson triple with nobody out scored on a wild pitch.  Thank goodness that was not left in the hands of Mike McCoy who has absolutely no upside and has no business being on the roster right now.  On this night I saw one good play from McCoy; tagging up and going to third base in the ninth inning.  I also saw him lose a pop up in the lights, strike out twice (once swinging after the ball was already past him, with two guys on base and none out), tap out softly into a fielders choice in extra innings, then get thrown out by a mile trying to steal to end the threat, when the throw wasn’t even nearly on target.  This guy sucks and we have no young top prospects in the minors who could fill center field for a week to give them a taste of the majors?  Hint, hint?  Honestly McCoy has no upside and no future here – give someone else a chance.

Anyhow, the worst part of the evening was still to come.  With the Jays suddenly up 5-4 entering the do-or-die bottom of the 10th inning, for some reason the decision was made to bring in Brian Tallet, who on his best day is a poor to marginal left handed specialist only.  For some reason they trot him out to face a bunch of right handed hitters, and (surprise, surprise) the soft throwing lefty with no stuff gets lit up and the Jays lose the game before you can say “Come back Farrell!”  I don’t know the Jays bullpen situation but come on surely they could have trotted out a better option than Brian Tallet to try and get three outs to win the game.  Could former starter Casey Janssen not come out for a second inning after a quick and painless bottom of the 9th?  Don Wakamatsu made a bad decision bringing Tallet in here.  It boggles my mind. 

If the Jays are looking for a player to fill in with no upside, and no future with the team, I will play for free.  Put me in center field and I’m perfectly capable of losing fly balls in the lights, swinging and missing balls that are already in the catcher’s glove, and getting thrown out by a country mile trying to steal.  Also if you want to bring me on in extra innings in a save situation I am perfectly capable of walking a couple guys and serving up a warning track blast to straight away center to a 150 pound rookie in his first week in the majors.  Give me a call Wakamatsu.  I’ll be ready, just give me two or three warm up pitches.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Beede Rhymes With -- You Guessed It -- Greedy!

With sheer angst, Jays fans impatiently awaited to see if their 1st round pick (and highest selection) Tyler Beede in the 2011 draft would sign with the team. Reports from a month ago led many to believe a deal was in the works, while news leading up to yesterday's midnight deadline suggested a complete 180. Just after midnight, while the Jays were in action against the Mariners in Seattle, it was confirmed that Beede in fact did not sign with the Jays, thus opting to follow through on his letter of intent to play with Vanderbilt University.

Little did I realize until this morning that Beede was the only one of 33 1st round selections who did not sign with the team they were drafted by. The Jays were offering nearly $2.5 million (all figures U.S.), while Beede and his camp were aiming for $3.5 million. Now, I fully understand wanting to obtain an education (I'm sure excessive partying and chasing skirt were a big component as well). But let's be realistic -- it's not often 18-year olds have an opportunity to hit the financial jackpot, and Beede forewent that.

Now, Beede is not eligible for the MLB draft until 2014. For the everyday person, that's not a long time. But a potential professional athlete, that could turn out to be an eternity. I get Beede's thought process -- go back to school, get bigger and stronger, work on my stuff, get drafted higher in the draft, and thus realize a higher financial windfall. Motivating. Then again, he could run into injury problems, lose the passion and motivation, not be as dominant, and end up slipping to who knows where.

Need proof? How about another high draft pick by the Jays in former 2nd round selection (2009), pitcher and nearby hometown talent Jake Eliopoulos? His demands weren't met, so back in the draft he went. Well, a struggled season in 2010 led him to be drafted by the Dodgers in the 14th round. One year of pro ball and a pro contract already "thrown" away, he decided to once again refuse signing on the dotted line. Move forward another year, he failed to re-up his stock yet again, with the Jays of all teams ending up taking another flier on him all the way in the 43rd round. Surely enough, AGAIN he did not sign! So in a matter of two short years, Eliopoulos went from being a top selection with a guaranteed comfortable salary playing pro ball, to one who would be better served flipping burgers at McDonald's.

I don't know Beede, so I have nothing personal against him and hope he made the right decision. On the flip side, as a Jays fan, I wish nothing but success at failing for him. Talk to us in three years and let us know if you made a wise decision to pass up what could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity over $1 million that may never be made up again. He better hope he was advised by the right people.

Pretty remarkable sporting landscape these days. Since when did raw 18 year olds earn the right to hold out for millions more when all that they are being based on is their talent and potential? Can't help but think "greedy" -- Beede, in my eyes, was just that.

Miller and Rauch blow it as Jays bullpen craps the bed once again

In a game with three times more home runs than Jose Bautista hit in the home run derby, Toronto fans who stayed up late had to endure an all too familiar site - Jon Rauch and the Jays bullpen handing away another game.  This time things started out promisingly with Eric Thames putting the Jays up 2-0  in the first inning.  Later it was Canadian phenom Brett "Don't say I have a girl's name" Lawrie putting the Jays up 5-4 with a solo bomb to left.  In the 8th inning, the Jays called upon Trever "Near 2.00 WHIP" Miller to face a couple lefties.  On an inexcusably flat breaking ball right down the middle of the plate, Mike Carp fished one out of the park to tie the game up.  Shame on John Farrell for letting Trever Miller be the one to blow the game in the 8th inning; at least put out there somebody who has a chance of getting the job done.  Speaking of who not to bring in, up strolls John Rauch who promptly allows Casper Wells to scare up a home run and suddenly the Jays who had led all game are trailing due to another case of inept bullpen work.  In the top of the 9th, the Jays went down like kittens to end a frustrating game.  The game ends and the camera shows Rauch sitting there staring blankly ahead in the Jays dugout.  Perhaps he is considering a new career as a salesman in a "Big and Tall" men's suit store rather than subjecting himself and us to this frustration night after night.

Friday, August 12, 2011

More Lawrie!

We all know the build-up that has developed for Brett Lawrie. He was a highly touted prospect coming into the season, and has played himself into one of the best prospects in baseball. Plus, he's Canadian so all Blue Jay fans had reasons to cheer him on. But what really should draw fans to him is the passion and love for the game. For anyone who saw his reaction to his Grand Slam the other night, you know what I'm talking about. To those who didn't, this is what you missed:
Lawrie, with the bases loaded approached the plate in his typical aggressive stance. After taking a couple of pitches, he skied a pitch over the left field wall. Everyone including Lawrie was hoping it would leave the park. But when it did, that's when Lawrie exploded. He pumped his chest, yelled as he rounded the bases and almost even passed Aaron Hill on the base paths in the process! The teammates he drove in would later meet him at the plate and he would respond by greeting them with vicious high fives! His other teammates in the dugout would greet him with the same fanfare, and Lawrie still maintained his adrenalined pumped attitude. It energized his teammates, but also energized the stadium. He was called out for a curtain call in only his first week on the team. Even I was getting pumped and loving what I saw.
This is what the Jays need to not only attract the fans but improve their play. Teammates will draw off of his enthusiasm and energy and fans watching at home will continue to watch to see what Lawrie will do next. The Jays' future is looking better and better each day.

Welcome home, Vernon

Tonight, at the Skydome, Toronto and the Blue Jays welcome back Vernon Wells for the first time since his trade to the Angels.  Wells was arguably the face of the franchise, along with Roy Halladay, for many years, and had a couple massive seasons along the way.  However, Wells will always be viewed by the majority of Blue Jays fans as a disappointment; and whether that is fair or not is a subject for another day.

Wells was criticized for having some of his worst years immediately after signing his humongous 7-year, $126M contract extension.  His perceived 'nonchalant' attitude on the field because of his always calm and smiling demeanor gave many the impression that he was financially set for life from his new contract and didn't care as much as a others - ie. Roy Halladay.  His tendency to always swing on the first pitch of a plate appearance often frustrated fans, particularly when he made an out on a bad pitch in a key situation.

In the past, I have ripped Vernon for a lack of desire and being content to miss the playoffs in exchange for some down time where he could sit back with a "Mint Julep" from his home in Texas.  Looking back, it was unfair for me to say that, as I am not in a position to know how much Vernon cared, or how effective he was as a clubhouse leader behind the scenes.  Wells also fought a nagging left wrist injury which lingered for a few seasons and undoubtedly sapped some of his power.

Off the field, Vernon was very charitable to the community, and on the field he holds the record or is near the top of most Blue Jays offensive statistical categories.  Let's not forget all his gold gloves in center field.  He never attacked the fans, and never disgraced himself with a Tiger Woods-esque scandal, spitting on an umpire (like another now god-like sports figure in Toronto), or anything like that.  The sad thing is people will be booing tonight.  I just hope there are enough cheers and standing ovations to overshadow those too bitter to appreciate Vernon's contributions.