Finish the puzzle J.P.

November 4, 2008  Aaron O’connell… To make one thing clear, the number one priority during this off-season for J.P. Ricciardi is to sign A.J. Burnett who I believe was one of the Jays best players last year if not their M.V.P.

And this is only my opinion, but Roy Halladay and A.J. Burnett are the best one-two punch in the entire league and the outer core isn’t that bad either.

Shaun Marcum, Jesse Litsch and Dustin McGowan round out the top five (if healthy) of what I think could be the best starting gig in the majors.

Now you could throw David Purcey and Scott Richmond into the mix and even then I think the Jays rotation will be one of the best in the league, as long as A.J. gets signed.
Next in the list would be thanking Cito Gaston over and over again for changing the Jays from a team who had absolutely no chance of making the playoffs, into a competitive team who showcased that they are done losing. I mean the way I’m looking at it, Cito saved J.P.’s job.

And he did it with the players he had, no signings, a few trades, but that’s it. So really, I don’t think they Jays need to do a lot as far as getting players in the off-season. Maybe sign another power hitter if they can, but I like where this team is heading with what they have if they stay healthy of course.

Now I’m not going to name exactly who will be playing what position and where they’ll be in the batting lineup because nothing is ever written in stone and things change once spring league starts.

But, I think J.P. should get David Eckstein back. Ok. I’m only kidding. Picking up Eckstein wasn’t one of J.P.’s greatest accusations. But even though they already had Johnny Mac and Marco Scutaro, I was ready to give Eckstein a shot at the beginning of last year.

In all honesty, I think Toronto needs to build their team chemistry and start making runs like they did at the end of this season, throughout next season.

I mean look at the Rays, they were one of the worst teams last year and this year they made it to the playoffs with will and excellent team chemistry.

Mind you lately they have showed us that they bring a bit of power onto the field, but all their success wouldn’t have happened if the players didn’t believe in each other.

While watching the Jays play extremely well towards the end of this season I noticed that the players were patting each other on the back, giving high fives, laughing and just plain having fun.

The chemistry between them seemed to be increasing and that run they made showed the baseball world that they can be at the premier of the league.

Now I’ve said it once before and I’ll say it again, if the Jays can stay healthy, finish the puzzle with consistently good batting to go along with their excellent defense and top notch pitching. Toronto fans can quit admiring their playoff tickets from 1992 and 1993 and purchase a brand new one.

Hey Milt. Give your head a shake.

October 4, 2008 Aaron O’connell…

I’ve never met Milton Stegall before and I definitely want to keep it that way.

How can a professional athlete disrespect another professional sport? Yes Milt, I said sport. Yesterday Stegall opened his mouth saying that hockey is not a real sport. He even went as far as pretending not to know who Wayne Gretzky is.

To tell you the truth I had know idea who Milt Stegall was until I heard those foolish words slip out of his big mouth in an interview.

Ok, I did my research and lets just say, he can do pretty much anything on the football field, but man, have some class off of it.

The thing that pissed me off most is that Stegall’s reasoning behind hockey not being an actual sport made absolutely no sense.

He compared hockey to darts and bowling. Now I have nothing against either game, but tell me how throwing a small object at a rubber board is comparable to skating your ass off for 60 minutes.

He also said that he could take any hockey player in a fight. Now let me count. Chara, Boogaard, Simon, Laraque, McGrattan, Bertuzzi, Brashear. Should I keep going? I’m almost certain the tiny but feisty Danny Carcillo could take Stegall in a tilt.

And then! Stegall went on to say how hockey players are dressed like figure skaters. What the fuck! Hey Milt, all figure skaters wear are skates and they aren’t even the same as hockey skates.

It seems Stegall is quite familiar with the word ‘record’, but has absolutely no idea what the word ‘respect’ means. I would love to see him strap on a pair of skates and play an 82-game season let alone a 30-second shift.

You see I could go on for days about CFL players running around in tights and performing unnecessary celebrations after they score a touchdown, but as a sports fan I do have a little thing called respect.

Stegall admitted that he’s never even been on the ice before and for some reason, he seems to think that he can label hockey as an illegitimate sport.

It’s one thing to say you don’t enjoy playing or watching a certain sport, but it’s a whole different story when you disrespect that sport.

If I were disrespectful, I would celebrate my next hockey goal by skating like a maniac, purposely fall into the boards displaying myself as a dumbass, and call it the Milton Stegall on-skates-celebration.

I just don’t get it

September 10, 2008 Aaron O’connell… If someone can give me a legitimate reason why the men’s U.S. Open final was not televised or where it was televised in Canada, I would give them a million bucks.
The fact is there’s no possible reason why Canadian tennis fans had to suffer by missing a piece of tennis history.

It may not have been a shot at a fifth straight Wimbledon title which is declared as tennis’ greatest tournament, but lets face it, five straight U.S. Open titles isn’t bad either.
Roger Federer has now won 13 major championships, one behind ‘Pistol’ Pete Sampras for most career grand slams and is pushing his status as the top player tennis has ever seen.

If people don’t think that Canada has die-hard tennis fans then they are wrong because a few friends and myself sat in front of a laptop watching for every time another game won, was added to the score on the official U.S. Open website.
And because we weren’t in the U.S. region we couldn’t actually watch the match online, we just simply had to watch the scoreboard.
Trust me, we were not the happiest group of tennis fans, but we had to follow the match somehow.

I know that the actual final was supposed to be played on the Sunday and was pushed back a day due to rainy weather. I understand that sports channels already had something booked in their five o’clock Monday time slot, but you would think at least one of them would clue in and say, ‘hey we could make a lot of money if we broadcasted the U.S. Open tonight’.

It didn’t turn out to be a five set Nadal-Federer marathon classic like everyone was hoping for.

Instead it was the young Scotsman, Andy Murray making history of his own, playing in his first grand slam final.

Even though Federer took the match quite easily in three sets you can bet that it won’t be Murray’s last grand slam final of his career.

The 21-year-old has had tennis fans on their feet all year whether it be showing off his all-around game, winning hard-battled five-setters, or pumping his fist while pointing to his bicep after winning a huge point.

As tennis itself added another chapter to its history, Canadian fans unfortunately will have to skip this one. Yes I’ve watched the high lights numerous times, but it’s not the same as watching the actual match start to finish.

Someone will be scratching their head wondering why on earth they didn’t broadcast the match.

I guess next year if there’s a rain delay and the tournament is pushed back, I’ll just have to hop on a plane and take a trip to New York to watch it live. I mean it might only be a chance to see Federer win six in a row. Big deal. Right?

Too Little Too Late

September 8, 2008

by Aaron O’connell… As I sit in my living room at the start of September, watching the Jays go on a bit of a run, I say the same thing I have been for the past few years, too little too late.

I love Toronto to death, but every year is the exact same as the one before. They go on winning streaks giving me a slight hope that I may see them play in October, but in the end it’s never enough.

Maybe next season I’ll go in with the attitude that the Jays will be the shittiest team in the American League and see if they can grab one of the top four spots, but I don’t think reverse psychology will quite work in this situation.

They are, without a doubt in my mind, part of the toughest division in baseball especially now that Tampa Bay has found the chemistry a team needs to make the playoffs. I could honestly watch a mini-playoff between the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and Jays and be totally satisfied as if I was watching the World Series.

But that is why the MLB is so competitive because just over a quarter of the teams in the league get a shot at winning one of the greatest prizes in professional sports. In this era a team has to be well over the .500 hundred mark to even get a shot at making the playoffs unless you’re part of the NL West.

It’s not like the Jays have been playing awful baseball, they just simply haven’t been playing well enough, but are showing teams that they are a solid baseball team that can compete with the best in their recent success.

The Jays have won five in a row in sweeping the season series against the Minnesota Twins and sit seven games over .500 and nine games out of the wild card spot with just over 20 games left.

If I was a mathematician I would be saying they still have a chance, but I’m not, I’m a sports fan who is facing the reality that the Jays will have to wait yet another year for a chance to play October baseball.

With one of the best team ERA over the last three years in the entire league you would think that the Jays should have been in the playoffs in all of those seasons let alone one, but their bats have been dead especially when runners are in scoring position.

They haven’t had the clutch hitting that wins ball games and in the long run championships, but since the return of Cito, they are ten games over .500 and they have been swinging the bats exceptionally well giving Jays fans a sense of enlightenment for next season.

Lets just cross our fingers and wish for a full puzzle next season where the bats are booming and the pitching remains the same because if so, Jays fans can quit admiring their ticket stubs from the 1992 and 1993 playoffs and purchase a brand new one.

Hey McCabe… just beat it!

August 29, 2008

by Aaron O’connell… With a whopping five goals to go along with 18 assists in just 54 games, not to mention a nice fat or should I say overweight salary, Bryan McCabe is surely one of the top defensemen in the NHL.

Maybe if these stats were 2007-2008 power play points. Lets make something clear if a defenseman making over $7 million a year gathers just over 20 points and is a minus two, to me it’s, well, pretty fucking horrible.

And I’m sure nobody forgets those two or three pretty tape-to-tape breakaway feeds to the opposing teams, which in my mind should count against McCabe’s stats if the other team manages to put the puck in the back of the net.

So with all that said Bryan McCabe made over $300, 000 a point last season and as a Leafs fan you have to think the name Van Ryan would look pretty good on the back of the blue and white jerseys for the 08-09 season.

It has been said that new head coach Ron Wilson is high on the Pavel Kubina and will probably place him on the back end of the power play along with Tomas Kaberle so there is really no reason the Leafs shouldn’t send McCabe to Florida for Mike Van Ryan.

I mean McCabe did score 80 per cent of his goals on the power play but when you do the math, those goals add up to the number of one of the greatest defensemen of all time, Mr. Bobby Orr.

I think it’s funny when people say that McCabe is a power play specialist when to me the Leafs have to play short-handed every time he steps on the ice. If the Leafs were down two men on a five-on-three they could put McCabe out as a fourth and probably get away with it.

I’m sure he didn’t fall into the trap of overpaid Toronto athletes who perform miserably in there first year after signing for the big bucks. I think his success in the past was just a fluke.

We all remember when Vince Carter signed his huge deal with the Raptors and then went for a shit the following year. He even said that he was giving 100 per cent every game, which, coming from an athlete, is unheard of.

And then Vernon Wells signed a huge contract with the Jays and followed up with a less than par season.

Don’t get me wrong. I would never compare Bryan McCabe to those two professional athletes because it’s incomparable, it just goes to show that money doesn’t buy winning. But I’m sure $7 million would buy McCabe a beautiful home right on the beach in Florida where he can relax and like when he’s on the ice, go unnoticed while he watches the waves crash to shore.

And hey you can’t be a minus while you’re at the beach.