by Chase Ruttig… The Toronto Raptors have been in the Association for 15 years this year, and well they haven’t really made the jump from an expansion franchise to a franchise that is constantly on tv and makes the playoffs almost annually.
Whether it was the false hope in Damon Stoudamire, or the memorable but brief Carter/McGrady era, which was crippled by bringing in overpaid veterans and trying to build a team around a pure scorer.
Perhaps it was Carter’s departure, which was in the horrible Rob Babcock era which brought the Raptors such busts as Rafael Arujo.
Whatever the cause, it seemed like the Raptors were headed to be a basement team to suffer the same fate as their countrymen the Grizzlies, and be shipped back to the the US.
But then Bryan Colangelo was hired and the team has been retooled and overhauled with a focus on European talent and height at every position. The Raptors have been one of the NBA’s most exciting teams of late and won the 07-08 Atlantic Division title. They have real potential to go on a run this year.
They have one of this year’s breakout stars Andrea Bargnani who has finally found consistency in his game, and a stronger, more motivated Chris Bosh.
On top of that they picked up Hedo Turkoglu and have a healthy Jose Calderon. It seems like everything is good in Raptorland lately.
They have a motivated team that can shoot the lights out of the gym every night. Their weaknesses has always been defence, but hey, defence may win championships, but offence wins games.
In the regular season winning games is what matters at the moment.
This is not meant to be a long article but just a notice on how Canada’s team is on its way to the joining the top of the NBA and taking what they think is theirs.
by Chase Ruttig… Well it has been another ho hum season for Canada’s team, the Toronto Blue Jays. This marks the 15th straight year the Blue Jays have missed the playoffs. The last time they made the postseason was 1993, when yours truly was sitting in diapers and sucking his thumb.
The Blue Jays have had good players come through the franchise in this time and have had some solid ballclubs in that time, but they have just not been able to get over the hump and make that step into October baseball.
There are a laundry list of problems in Toronto, but there seems to be one solution that will solve the majority of them.
Rogers Communications needs to sell the team.
The Rogers ownership era has been disappointing to say the least and has been filled with bad decisions, whether it was the obvious conflicts in interest by giving their company an absolute monopoly on everything Toronto Blue Jays, to their horrible front office decisions and the ridiculous J.P. Ricciardi era.
First off Rogers basically bought the Blue Jays to put them on their sports network Rogers Sportsnet and they have basically ruined watching Blue Jays baseball. Their presentation is subpar and Jamie Campbell may be one of the worst announcers in baseball.
They also renamed the SkyDome to Rogers Centre, likely at no cost at all. I am not saying that ownership groups shouldn’t be able to take advantage of their team, but Rogers Communications has absolutely no desire to make the Blue Jays a winning team, and fans have been showing up steadily every year.
But the problem is that this year the Jays set a record for lowest attendance at the SkyDome and it is obviously apparent that Toronto sports fans are drawing the line in the sand and are refusing to pay to go see a losing team.
Also the front office situation could not get any worse. They have hired two moneyball guys as GM when it is obvious that moneyball is dead and does not work. The fact that Oakland has been struggling since they let their three highly paid pitchers go is no coincidence.
They have overpaid the wrong guys and have let go of the right ones, they brought in random middle of the road veterans who were going to be the “key’ addition every year. None of those lasted.
They had to let Alex Rios go for nothing, Vernon Wells is overpaid and on his way out. And arguably the best Blue Jays of all time, Roy Halladay is likely forcing his way out of town, and considering The Doc’s loyalty the Jays must be really bad.
The Jays do have good young arms, but they are often injured. If they can stay healthy they can maybe build on that hot start they had last year, but you can’t coach durability.
And they haven’t hired a good manager in forever. Besides bringing Cito Gaston back, they haven’t made a smart decision yet, and they have even found a way to screw that up.
The Jays organization is one of the worst in baseball and the ownerships hirings are a big part of the problem
This situation could get ugly quick and most Jays fans are not very optimistic about the future. I think that it is time for Rogers and the Jays to go their separate ways for the best interest of the team and for Canada as we don’t want to have another Expos situation.
So please for the good of the loyal and long suffering Blue Jays fans, sell the team and end the monopoly and mediocrity that your ownership regime has created.
by chase ruttig… While it’s the summertime and it is a slow period for sports news, with little to report other than the release of Madden 2010, I am going to let you guys learn a little bit about me.
Throughout the history of sports there have been many colourful characters and dominating athletes. In my lifetime I have seen many great sports moments and have witnessed some pretty bad ones to.
From MJ’s last shot to “The Malice In The Palace” I have seen the peak and trench of sports. Today I am going to let you look at my favorite athletes of all time.
I am a fan of hard playing players who aren’t afraid to speak their mind and have a bit of character to them. And they have to be innovative players who always were on the highlight reels. You won’t find any Tim Duncans on this list.
So without further adue here is the list.
5. Pistol Pete Mariavich
Although I was not alive during any of his career or during his lifetime, Youtube has given many former players new life. Pistol Pete always looked like he was playing a different game and his dribbling drills are still used by coaches all over the world.
His career was cut short by injuries and having to be the star of his team. But the first Million Dollar Man of pro sports never failed to give the crowd something to cheer about and his NCAA career scoring records will never be broken even if he set them without a three point line.
Pistol Pete innovated the art of the deceptive pass and basketball would have been a much different sport if the world never saw The Pistol.
4. Michael Vick
There I said it. Michael Vick is one of my favorite athletes and I hope he shuts up all the haters.
If anyone tells you they didn’t stop and watch anytime they saw Vick drop back in the pocket during his Falcons days they are liers. Vick ran, threw and basically blew up the stereotype of what a quarterback can do.
Vick ran for more yards than some running backs and made plays happen year after year despite having absolutley no weapons at receiver to throw to.
Plus does anyone remember Madden 2005?
Michael Vick is one of this decade’s sports icons, and good or bad people will remember him.
3. Dennis Rodman
Sports ultimate bad boy. Rodman made himself a pop culture figure without help from Nike commercials or being recognized as one of his sports elite.
Despite being what many consider a diva. Rodman was one of the toughest NBA players of the ’90s. During an era that made David Stern invent the flagrant foul and changed the way the game was called, Rodman thrived.
Today’s NBA players all could learn from the things Rodman did on the court. Rodman gave it his all on the court. And at 46 could probably still play.
2. Trevor Linden
I am a Vancouver Canucks fan and Trevor Linden is the ultimate Canuck.
He led the Canucks to the closest they have ever been to a Stanley Cup when they barely lost to the New York Rangers in an epic Game Seven. He was traded away during the Mike Keenan era, but he came back and continued to be one of hockey’s great leaders.
Later in his career he may have lacked some of the speed that made him a star. But he brought it every night and did what it took to help his team win.
Linden earned the nickname “Captain Canuck”.
1. Reggie Miller
There is only one way to describe Reggie Miller: Clutch.
Reggie Miller is one of the most underrated basketball players of all-time. He is a victim of playing in eras where other players got much more attention. MJ, Kobe and Shaq, AI, and others always overshadowed him, but Miller never let that get to him.
He is the greatest shooter in NBA history and is the king of the Mecca of basketball, Madison Square Garden. He gives Knicks fans nightmares and if you mention Reggie Miller at a Knicks game you might not make it out of there on your own two feet.
Miller also was a character and did not shy from trash talking because he always backed it up.
by Chase Ruttig… Dear Roger’s Media,
This is a letter regarding my divorce from your ballclub, The Toronto Blue Jays, I can no longer put up with the false hope year after year, being promised that each over the hill signing will give us the push that will finally get us to the playoffs for the first time since I was born.
I am tired of seeing my favorite players from years past succeeding on different teams.
I am tired of your inability to find a closer. Billy Koch, Miguel Batista, BJ Ryan, Scott Downs, Is that the best you can do?
I am tired of spending in the December, and saving in July.
I am tired of Vernon Wells and Alexis Rios, and the most overpaid outfield in baseball.
I am tired of letting our best players go. Green and Delgado, the O-Dog, Rolen, and now Halladay?
I am tired of injuries.
I am especially tired of J.P. Ricciardi, the worst GM in baseball, and thats saying something when the Pirates are still considered a MLB team.
I am tired of Rogers Sportsnet and their monopoly on Jays games, the only reason Rogers got the team in the first place.
I am tired of hearing Jamie Campbell’s voice every day.
I am tired of too many veterans, not enough prospects.
I am tired of wondering how Ricky Romero’s career will go down the tubes.
I am tired of overhyped veterans. Glaus, Thomas, etc.
I am tired of August and September the two worst months to be a Jays fan.
I will always be there for you, and I will check up occasionally, but the flame we once had is gone and I think its best that we see other people and stop this continuous heartbreak.
I will be watching and if you can change maybe we can work things out.
by chase ruttig… The trade deadline has come and gone and so has Blue Jays fans worries about losing one of the best pitchers in the franchise’s history. Roy Halladay remained a Blue Jay as no team wanted to pay the price that was worth the best pitcher in baseball, which Halladay is.
So now that we know Halladay is still a Jay the question is: What will his future with the franchise will be?
Rumours are that J.P. Ricciardi is waiting to the summer to get a better offer, but that is unlikely as it puts the Jays in a position of weakness trying to squeeze whatever they can get out of him before he bolts for free agency. I think this is the most likely option but this depends on if Ricciardi has a job after the season, which I highly doubt.
If Halladay gets traded I think it will be a change in leagues because the Jays would obviously want to do anything in their power to avoid seeing Halladay in another uniform.
I think he will go to the Phillies or Cubs as they have the prospects to trade for him, it is just a matter of waiting until the Jays are left with no choice but to trade him.
If Halladay goes I believe it will be during the 2010 trade deadline if the Jays are sellers at that time, it all depends on the front office situation and the Jays play at the time.
Another option obviously is that he will resign with the club, which I think is a possibility if Ricciardi is gone in the offseason and the Jays stay healthy and make strides next year. With their talented young pitching staff and lineup, this could very well happen.
What does this mean to J.P. Ricciardi? I believe that he will be fired at the end of this season as enough is enough and I am sure all Jays fans are tired of the mediocrity in Toronto. They have been at the .500 bubble for most of his almost ten year tenure in Toronto.
As always, I will keep you posted on the Roy Halladay/ J.P. Ricciardi storyline as it happens.
by Chase Ruttig… Well it is that time of year again. The NBA and NHL seasons are over and free agency is winding down, the NFL is still in the minicamp stage, and the only thing to watch on the tube is baseball, right?
Wrong, there is one shining beacon of hope—and that is the CFL. As a Canadian I must introduce you to the savior of summer sports boredom.
The Canadian Football League is the only pro football league in North America that plays its games in summer, and with the Arena League being on hiatus, it is your only chance to get your football fix during the NFL offseason.
The game may be different than the NFL; three downs instead of four; twelve players a side; and a bigger, wider field are some of the fundamental differences. The league is exciting and fast, allows group celebrations, and is an entertaining product off and on the field.
Here are five reasons why you should watch the CFL
5. The Saskatchewan Roughrider Fans
The fans of the Saskatchewan Roughriders may just be the most eccentric fans in pro football—from wearing watermellons on their heads to making cowboy hats out of beer boxes (I have worn both), the Rider fans always have a great idea. They travel to every game no matter where it is in Canada, and when they have a home game they always bring the thunder.
They didn’t host a home playoff game for nearly twenty years till their Grey Cup run in 2007, and believe me Taylor Field was rocking from week one.
If you want to see how football can succeed in small markets look at the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
4. The Wide Recievers
The CFL always has great wide receivers. From Rocket Ismail during his days in Toronto to Milt Stegall, the all-time leader in CFL touchdown receptions; to present day all stars like Andy Fantuz, and Arland Bruce III, the CFL’s Chad Johnson—who infamously honored Michael Jackson by taking off his uniform and pretending to be buried. The CFL has great receivers who always want to entertain.
Combine that with quarterbacks who love to let it fly and you have the league that puts the points on the board.
3. Former College Stars
If your favorite college player didn’t make the NFL, don’t worry, chances are he will be in the CFL. We have many former BCS college starters in the league, and Graham Harrell is making his way to the CFL, he is sure to light it up in the run and gun renegade league.
If you want to take a trip down memory lane and watch your favourite players on Saturday as pros. The CFL has it covered.
2. Games Spread Out Accross The Weekend
Unlike the NCAA or NFL, which mainly have their games on Saturday and Sunday respectivly, the CFL has games from Wedsenday through to Saturday, with the staple being Friday Night Football, and trust me, high school kids have nothing on us.
If you want to get your football fix all week and have memorized every single play of NFL Replay, it might be time to check out the CFL.
1. It’s easy to find.
With the internet it is easier than ever to watch the CFL. Go to www.cfl.ca to check out the American TV schedule, and I’m sure the games are on ESPN360. If you are tech savy, www.channelsurfing.net streams the games.
It’s fast and convienent to watch some summer football.
By Chase Ruttig… Throughout the modern history of the NBA there has been a certain stigma about European players, especially those that are entering through the NBA draft.
They are said to be less athletic; a product of weaker competition, unable to adjust to the style and pace of the NBA, and unable to adjust to American life.
While that may be true, the downfall of most NBA teams is that they think all European players will be busts if they are picked high. This is furthest from the truth.
While there have been examples of this throughout history, when you look through the history of the draft, many European players have had solid NBA careers.
In the 90’s players like Vlade Divac, Deltef Schrempf, the late Drazen Petrovic, Arvydas Sabonis, and Toni Kucoc had solid seasons with Schrempf becoming athree time All-Star.
Most of these players developed a stigma of Europeans being reluctant to leave Europe, the most famous being Kucoc, who is mentioned in the great book The Jordan Rules as being nicknamed “The Waiter” by his Bulls teammates.
This decade has given us Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Pau Gasol, Big Z, Hedo Turkoglu, and Jose Calderon, all who have became starters on playoff teams. These players have brought the European style of basketball to the forefront and many teams are using it in their playbooks.
With all these star European players in the NBA, why do Europeans still have a mark on their record? I feel maybe it is because they are less marketable, but are they really, or is it just the NBA pushing us the college star who played in the Final Four before jumping to the NBA?
Why can’t it be the European, who as a teenager played against men, leading his team to the Euroleague title before jumping to the bright lights of the NBA?
What is more impressive, Stephen Curry’s performance in the 2008 NCAA Tournament or Ricky Rubio’s performance agianst the Redeem Team in the Olympic Final with a injured wrist?
I would take Rubio over any other player in this years draft due to the fact he proved he could play against NBA players already.
While yes, some European players have been busts in the NBA, haven’t players who have played in the NCAA turned into busts? Just because you played in the NCAA, which somehow is the second best basketball league in the world, you become better than any other prospect.
Did teams shy away from picking players straight out of high school in the lottery? These players played against far weaker competition and still managed to become lottery picks, without proving that they could perform against players at or above their skill lelvel.
Plus the level of international basketball has became more competitive with the U.S. completley missing the Final at the Olympics and losing in the 2006 FIBA World Championships against Greece.
So then what is the proof that Europeans are at a lower level than college players? Is it that there are more college players than Europeans? Is it the amount of publicity the college players receive through the NCAA? I think so, and is that a valid reason to pass on a poitentially elite player?
What the NBA needs is a Junior World Championship, much like what hockey has through the IIHF, in which the world’s best basketball nations compete in an Under 20 tournament with the best players.
This could take place before or after the college season, and it would give scouts an oppurtunity to look at the best European players and the best North American players compete against one another.
This has worked for hockey, and the tournament is one of the highest rated sporting events in Canada every year. Imagine the oppurtunites in marketing this tournament. Stacked United States team faces country with European star trying to upseat the U.S. at top of basketball world.
Until the old ways of thinking among NBA teams change, European players will always be considered second rate compared to former college stars and who knows maybe one day a team will pass up on the European Michael Jordan.
Chase is a 16 year old dealing with the trivial happenings of living in small-town Saskatchewan Canada, considered the middle of nowhere for North American sports. Hit me up with feedback or article ideas. My email is if you want to email me for any reason.
By Chase Ruttig… Toughness is a trait in an athlete that is often misused especially in basketball. Most sportswriters and analysts equate toughness as being fired up and visibly intense.
Toughness, in all reality, is making smart decisions and playing in the team dynamic. This includes taking smart fouls, making free throws, being “clutch,” and playing hurt.
So, to sort the mess that is the definition of toughness, I have compiled a list of things that make a basketball player tough, both mentally and physically.
Toughness is giving more on your end of the floor than on offense. Any superstar, or any basketball player for that matter, can score, but it is the great players that prevent their opponents from scoring.
Toughness is not saving your energy for the next quarter or next game. Treat every minute you play basketball as if it is the most important game or most important practice of your life. Leave it all on the court, and you will be amazed at the results.
Toughness is not whining about fouls or dirty play. Many people give examples of tough players, and many of the medias go-to tough guys are leading their team, or the entire league, in technical fouls. A tough player knows not to cost his team points by arguing with the officials.
Toughness is taking good, clean charges. Don’t confuse this with flopping, what I mean here is stepping in front of your man and establishing your position in order to alter his shot or draw a foul. Vlade Divac and Manu Ginobili are not tough, but the players who lay their body on the line to take good, hard charges are among the toughest players in sports.
Toughness is putting the team first. Every player can make themselves look good on any given night, but the tough players put the team ahead of their own personal stats and achievements. The most important stat in sports is the numbers on the scoreboard when the clock hits zero.
Toughness is playing through the foul. Good players draw fouls; great tough players draw the foul and score. Which leads me to…
Toughness is making your free throws. The best sign of a tough, disciplined player is his free-throw percentage. Did he put in the work to do his best?
Toughness is being there first. First to practice, first to games, first on the bus, first to high-five his teammates, first to pick up his teammate after a charge or foul—the team players are always there first.
Toughness is working hard to get open. It is easy to get your touches when your defender makes a mistake, but it is tough to make the effort to get the ball with a defender in your shorts.
Toughness is wanting and making the shot when it counts. Tough players get their team wins when the pressure is on.
Toughness is discipline. How about that? Can we finally get rid of the word toughness from our sports vocabulary? It is now called being a disciplined player, not a tough player.
Toughness is blocking shots inbounds. Any jumper can block a shot into the fifteenth row, but a tough player will block it to his teammates in contrast to going for the highlight reel.
Toughness is versatility. Any player will be good at one thing, but the toughest players will take the time to be good at everything.
Toughness is playing hard, not playing dirty. You can play hard, and use hand checks and putting the hand in the face. But tough players do not take cheap shots.
Toughness is wanting the ball with the game on the line. The tough players will want their teams chances riding on one shot, and they relish the moment.
So there you have it, that is what toughness is in basketball.
By Chase… Well it is championship season once again, the NBA and NHL Playoffs are in the Conference Final stages, the European soccer leagues are wrapping up and so is the UEFA Champions League. Once again a perennial champion, that I hate for doing so is going to win a title, it just happens, so here are the five cities I would love to see never win a title.
5. Manchester, England
I know we all live in a North American sports market, but the EPL is the biggest soccer league in the world, and the most watched. The Red Devils from Man U have won the EPL Championship more times than any other club. Combined with the countless domestic and league cups, Man U seems to never go through a rebuilding stage, and they let you know about it. Here is to hoping Barcelona teaches them a lesson in the Champions League Final.
4. Dallas, Texas
I may not have to dream about this one as the city of Dallas hasn’t won anything of significance since the Dallas Stars won the Stanley Cup in 2000. Dallas is the city of excess, the have extravagant stadiums, extravagant players, and most of all extravagant owners.
I think everyone is on my side when I say that Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban are up there on the most hated owners list. Top that off with the Americas Team nickname with the Cowboys, and you have yourself the number four most hated city.
3. New York, New York
This pains me to say, since I am a Giants fan, but I would love to see New York enter a sports abyss. The Yankees and Mets are big spenders who gouge the fans and don’t pay them back. Don’t get me started on the whole call your team New York while playing in New Jersey thing.
New York media also always think their teams are better than they really are. I wish Old Yankee Stadium was open so the real fans could see their mediocre lineup of overpaid underachievers, same with the Mets.
2. Los Angeles, California
This really can only go towards the Lakers and USC, because they are the only teams that ever seem to win anything, but L.A. really pushes my buttons. Well I don’t mind their teams, it is the fans and the celebrity atmosphere at the games that gives me a sick feeling.
Also USC seems to cheat the NCAA Rule and seems to go unpunished while continuing their tradition of being Los Angeles’ only professional football team. Combined with the Dodgers, it seems like there is a lot of cheating going on in the City of Angels, and as they say, cheaters never prosper. Lets hope that motto stays true for say, the rest of my lifetime.
1. Boston, Mass.
Now here comes Public Enemy Number One. The Celtics won one title and they are back on track as an unstoppable force? The Patriots are a dynasty? The Red Sox are still love-able losers?
Boston sports fans love to see their teams in a certain light. Plus like L.A., they continue to ignore their teams cheating ways. Also Boston is another city that is never happy unless their team wins the title.
Plus I just cannot get into cheering for their vanilla players. It seems that if you play in Boston you have to be a wholesome, uninteresting kid of guy. They also never pay attention to the Bruins until the playoffs start, much like their leader, ESPN.com writer Bill Simmons, who is the ultimate symbol of a Boston sports fan.
He is a fan who when they lose, seems to bring up past glory.
Boston lets hope your entire city gets cursed by the Babe, and your whole city goes one hundred years without sniffing a title.
By Chase… The Toronto Blue Jays have been one of the best stories in the young MLB season, riding hot bats and surprisingly-good young pitching. The Jays were in first place in the AL East until Sunday, where after a now seven-game losing streak, are in third place in the toughest division in baseball.
If you didn’t see this fall coming, you must be a die-hard Jays Fan. Here are five reasons the Jays have cooled off.
5. Overpaid, Underachievers
In recent years, general manager J.P. Riccardi has brought in several high-profile players to Toronto, and much like in the 90s, it has received various results, mainly bad ones.
B.J. Ryan has totally lost any skill and confidence he once had, Vernon Wells is not worth the money, and Alex Rios plays erratically in the field lately. The Jays have great young talent. The guys who have been around the block need to step it up if they want to return to first place.
4. Lack of Fan Support
Even with their hot start, the Jays can’t seem to fill the Rogers Centre, which, when it opened as the SkyDome, had one of baseball’s most raucous fan bases. The Jays fans still have bite (look at their forced forfeit during their home opener against Detroit for evidence) but the fans just don’t come to the ballpark consistently.
If you look at the top attendance in baseball, it almost directly relates to the standings. The Jays’ young players would definitely get a morale boost if their fans were behind their back.
But let’s face it: Toronto is, and always will be, a Leafs town and the novelty of the Jays wore off the minute the Rocket and Carlos Delgado left town. If they don’t pick up their act, the Jays might be in danger of turning into the Expos, and Canada will be left without a team.
The surprise of the Jays young arms has been exciting to watch, especially Canadian-born Scott Richmond. But the scary thing is that two of the Jays’ best young pitchers, Dustin McGowan and Shawn Marcum, are injured for the majority of the year.
If the current pitching staff develops and aces Marcum and McGowan get healthy, the Jays will be a force, but until then, injuries will continue to hamper this team.
2. Vernon Wells
Vernon Wells was given the role of face of the Jays once Carlos Delgado forced his way out of town. Wells is a five-tool player at best, and at worst he is a Gold Glove Outfielder with alright base-running.
Wells’ performance at the dish has been sub-par for awhile now and his RISP is even worse. The Jays need to move him out of the cleanup role and replace him with Kevin Millar or Lyle Overbay until he gets his confidence back.
1. They Are Just Not Good Enough
Well, the Jays’ run has been impressive. Not one person would have told you in March that the Jays would even sniff the Wild Card, let alone first place, but despite the injuries and lack of talent, the Jays are still in contention for entering the playoffs in June.
They do have bright spots, but they also have glaring weaknesses. For all the offense of Hill, there is the slumps of Rios and Wells. And for the impressive start of the young rotation, there are the mishaps of B.J. Ryan.
Don’t get me wrong: the Jays are a talented, young baseball team, but they just don’t have the names, or payroll, that Boston and New York have.
If the Blue Jays put their act together soon, we will be having an interesting summer; if they don’t, we will be having another typical Jays season: over by mid-August
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