December 19, 2008
by Stephen Amell…
You had to know this was coming.
If I wanted to get booed, I’d go on the road. It’s real tense right now. When you’re down three points at home and you’re hearing boos, that’s kind of disheartening.
There are a bunch of different ways to approach Bosh’s remarks after the haphazard shellacking by the Mavericks Wednesday evening.
- The “open letter” technique where you inadvertently come off like a slighted adolescent. This technique is ridiculous. Bryan Colangelo will be taking fashion tips from Rob Babcock before this method has merit. It goes something like this:
Dear Chris Bosh, I’ve been a fan of you for many years and after your great freshman season at Georgia Tech I was ecstatic that the Raptors drafted you. I wasn’t at the game against the Mavericks because nobody could cover my shift. But if I was there I probably would have booed as well. You can’t misinterpret, CB4. Toronto loves you. We want you to retire as a Raptor (don’t leave in 2010). That doesn’t mean that, for this season we don’t have high expectations. Things are tough for Toronto sports fans. We haven’t followed an interesting team in fifteen years. We’re frustrated. Just know that we’ve got your back, no matter what! All the best, JB.
- The angry blog post technique. Nothing good ever comes off this. At best the author comes off as mildly stupid. More often than not you seem like a sycophantic idiot. Here’s an example:
fock YOU chris bosh BITCH. i no u wanna ball with kingjames in nyc so fock you!!! if we wants 2 bou we wants to bou. aint nothing you can dew CBgone.
Long after the player who pushes back against his throng of fanatics gradually shifts past the horizon of his athletic prowess the lights illuminating ninety-four by fifty parkades across the spectrum of basketball-everywhere will remain. Ever prevelant because of the Father who cherishes and nurtures his child’s love of the game. The game. Without them the physical beauty of a perfectly executed jump shot would reverberate only in the emotional-cortex of its author. Perhaps it should have been that way all along.
- Post an ironic video about how booing / heckling should actually inspire a player to perform better. This is an excellent method. Especially if you can find the right video. Honestly, have I ever let you down?
I lieu of the above optons you could just plainly state the following:
The Raptors 2008 / 09 season is slowly turning the fanbase into an irritated version of Anton Chigurh.
In light of this, all the players should be thankful that we actually care enough to voice our displeasure. That’s the right of a paying customer especially when your recent play has reminded us of the smell in a portable toilet before a marathon. (Hot poo.) If things don’t turn around quickly (and we’re not holding our breath) you are going to find the resulting apathy much more hurtful. Trust me.
As for the hysteria over your rumored departure in 2010 that is gaining steam faster than the viral path of a celebrity sex-tape; I say leave. You seem much more interested in becoming an internet celebrity than improving your (scary bad) defense and that makes you expendable. Don’t let the door hit you in your terrible dreadlocks on the way out.
Our 2nd Dick Of The Day, everybody: Chris Bosh.
Check out Stephen at Searching for ‘93
December 10, 2008
by Stephen Amell…
Three years ago I read a book called Wages Of Wins. Unlike Freakonomics which was written by an economist and a writer, Wages Of Wins was written by two economists. That’s a roundabout way of saying that the narrative was slightly less enthralling than driving through Windsor. Before my eyes began spurting blood I did pull away an interesting nugget of information…
By the time a player reaches free agency in Major League Baseball (approximately 28 years of age) that player will have peaked statistically. Which means that teams are (usually) overpaying for a declining commodity. Take from this what you will.
Or, in the absence of good faith consider AJ Burnett, Carl Pavano, Matt Clement, Barry Zito, Cory Lidle (!), Johan Santana (it’s in the mail), Francisco Rodriguez (Yes Sir!) and Chris Carpenter.
Roger Clemens is the exception that proves the rule. Then again, you have to consider that animal semen was a staple of Roger’s diet. That has to count for something.
August 1, 2008By Stephen Amell…There’s a team playing in the National League at the moment that was a near unanimous pick by most pre-season publications to finish dead last. Not in their division. In baseball. This teams current payroll is $21,811,500. This number can also be referred to as: $76,162,400 less than the Blue Jays 2008 payroll.At the heart of this young up-start team is their All-Star shortshop. A 24 year-old Dominican born player with a natural flair for the dramatic. A lifetime .308 hitter that matches defensive smarts with exceptional power for his position. Think Roberto Alomar with more pop. Tony Fernandez with more speed. Kelly Gruber but way less white. On the strength of his young shoulders this team is less than two games removed from the lead in their division. If they found a way into the post-season and won the World Series it would be the greatest achievement by an executive team in the history of professional sport; that is not an exaggeration.And how did this team acquire that electric player? Simple: they traded their star-pitcher and a third-baseman with a bloated contract.Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell for Hanley Ramirez. November 24, 2005.If there is anything more maddening than mediocrity its complacency. Richard Griffin wrote a terrific piece in the Toronto Star last Saturday detailing the transgressions in Major League Baseball since JP Ricciardi took the reins in the fall of 2001. Essentially it was a more succinct version of the original piece that I wrote for tosports.ca (I was not credited). If anything has ever been clear in the time line of sports in the city of Toronto, it’s this:As presently constituted, the Blue Jays aren’t going anywhere. Fast.The Raptors realized they were a mess and handed the reins over to a proven executive who was recommended by David Stern. Presto-chango things are (getting) better.The Maple Leafs finally adhered to the idea that aptitude is not a luxury when building a hockey team and fired John Ferguson Jr. Right now, they’re doing… Something.The Blue Jays on the other hand have shrouded the inner-workings of their team in mystery. Coaches fight with players. General Managers lie to the media about injuries. Star players sit out months at a time with hamstring injuries. General managers insult players that would statistically be superior to any of the players on the current roster. Managers openly embrace the style of play derided by the General Manager. Players drink during the game. Fans have to put up with the team making premium seats available to fans of visiting teams.So I made one of those up. If you go back through the list it seems like the most plausible point.Since 1993 this hasn’t been the most pleasant of times for a sports fan in this city. The two lone highlights (an inspired playoff run in 2000 by the Maple Leafs and a shot by Vince Carter in 2001) are exceptional principally because of a dearth of secondary options. For god sake’s, the most famous shot in the history of the Toronto Raptors didn’t even go in.All of this has combined to shift the collective mindset of the Toronto fan. We want young, entertaining high-energy teams that will mature and blossom with us as we all move forward out of a 15 year (and counting) slumber.Which is why Roy Halladay should have been shown the door today. He’s a marvelous pitcher and a wonderful ambassador; but he’s also the face of franchise mired in mediocrity. Here’s a trade option for Halladay:1. Roy Halladay for Jose Reyes: The Blue Jays acquire the young and energetic shortstop the covet. A marketable, certifiable star in Major League Baseball. The Mets shore up their pitching staff and get a superior pitcher in Halladay who also makes $9,000,000 less than Johan Santana. Might light a fire under Johan, no?What if you found a team that was totally desperate for starting pitching and convinced them to take on Scott Rolen (and his shoulder). You know Scott Rolen, right? He was the guy that was traded for Troy Glaus even though he was in a faster free-fall than Darcy Tucker. Just so we’re clear, Troy Glaus was the guy who was traded for Orlando Hudson the second baseman with the gold glove potential. Yeah, that Orlando Hudson. Seeing as how Aaron Hill’s natural position is shortstop that probably wasn’t the best idea. In fact, if you’re scoring at home an infield of Lyle Overbay, Orlando Hudson, Aaron Hill and Eric Hinske (Rookie of the year, World Champion and current member of the first place Rays) would be vastly superior to the product currently put forth by the Blue Jays.Sorry, I got sidetracked there.Roy Halladay is still a Blue Jay today. I suppose you could argue that’s a good thing. Just realize that all over baseball people are actively trying to make themselves better. Tomorrow night Manny Ramirez will don Dodger Blue. This afternoon Rich Harden tossed for the Cubs. Ken Griffey Jr. and his sweet swing are hitting the north side of Chicago. CC Sabathia is eating sausage and making baseball relevant in Milwaukee again. Pudge Rodriguez is going to take a crack at it with the Yankees.The Blue Jays “like their guys”. Let’s hope they finish 81-81.
July 25, 2008
by Stephen Amell… What if I told you that there was a player in the MLB who (relatively speaking) had a monster 2007 after playing 117 games combined over the previous three season’s? What if I also told you that this player’s strategy at the plate – currently – is to swing like an enraged frat boy at the end of a pub-crawl? There’s more… What if I told you that this player enjoyed his best seasons playing with Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada in Oakland from 1996 – 2000? Is that something that you might be interested in?
- So Roger Federer showed up in Toronto and dropped a deuce in the middle of the court… Maybe it’s just me, but he probably should have stayed home. In all seriousness, the ATP needs to have a chat with players who show up for “B Tournaments” right before majors only to be “shocked” by an unranked player in their first match. It’s sad. And transparent.
- Can anybody think of a successful sports franchise (in North America) that has tweaked or completely changed its jerseys? Watching the Blue Jays last night in their powder blue road uniforms made me a little angry. The Yankees don’t tweak their uniforms. Neither do the Red Sox, Cardinals, Pirates, Dodgers, Reds or Tigers. Even the Philadelphia / Oakland Athletics keep it in the family. The NHL: The Canadiens, Leafs, Red Wings, Oilers, Devils, Flyers, Islanders, (they tried to change their jersey in the mid-90’s only to be smacked with ridicule) Bruins, Blackhawks. Even the Penguins have kept it close to home. The NBA: Celtics, Lakers. Enough said.
So zooming back to 1996 we find the Blue Jays trying to capitalize on their 20th anniversary. What better way to celebrate 5 playoff appearances, 2 World Series victories and a single season attendance record than by completely changing your uniform?
In collusion with this madness is the embarrassing appearance of the Rogers Centre, which, AMAZINGLY, is still painted the colour of the Jays’ original uniform. My gast is flabbered.
If I owned the Blue Jays I would do the following thirteen things. Immediately.
1. The Rogers Centre would be converted to natural grass and the roof would be open at all times unless it rained.
2. The original logo and uniform would be reinstated. All other incarnations from 1996 – 2008 would be burned in a fire pit before the 2009 home-opener at a Tailgate party outside the Steam Whistle Brewery. Derek Bell would be the master of ceremonies.
3. Cito Gaston would be given an open-ended contract.
4. Any player on the team that makes more than $10,000,000 would be put on waivers.
5. $30,000,000 would be allocated to the scouting department / minor-league system. $70,000,000 would be allocated to payroll. These numbers would be outlined in pencil.
6. Tickets in the Rogers Centre would be priced as follows:
a. 100 Level: $40
b. 200 Level: $30
c. 500 Level: $20
d. Season Tickets would be discounted by 20%.
e. All other seats would be sold on a first-come first-serve basis.
7. Food would be better. (This wont be a challenge.)
8. Beer would be $4 for a bottle and $6 for a large.
9. If somebody starts a fight sales of alcohol will be shut down on whichever level the fight took place. Then, between innings, that persons picture will appear on the jumbotron with their name beneath it. Think about that one for a second…
10. Rogers Centre would be open to the public 3 hours before every home game. Fans in attendance would have access to all sections until 30 minutes before game time. Alcohol would be sold in this time period.
11. A new general manager would be hired based on the consolidated recommendations of Paul Beeston, Pat Gillick, Cito Gaston, Joe Carter, Roy Halladay (who is immune to #4) and Bobby Cox. Paul Godfrey would be allowed to record the minutes of this meeting provided he does not speak.
12. Dan Shulman would be offered a king’s ransom to broadcast games until the time of his death. Joe Carter would be hired as the analyst.
13. All Saturday games would start at 4:00 pm or 7:00 pm.
Couple of quickies –
- When I’m in Calgary, I can get away with wearing a cowboy hat. Anywhere else, not so much.
- Does Rod Black get nostalgic when he sees Jason Giambi?
- When does the CFL start?
- Chuck Swirsky telling his Mama to get out the “salami and cheese” makes me really uncomfortable. I can’t be alone.
- If anybody is interested in getting a blow-by-blow on indpendent filmmaking check out: www.ihopetheyservebeerinhell.com — This has nothing to do with sports.
- Raptor fans sure have a 10-year-old’s boner for Roko Uric. I say “10-year-old’s” because they don’t know why they have it. They just do.
Finishing thought –
- If Harry Neale had been appointed coach of the Men’s Hockey team and then proceeded to pull a Roger Federer in the qualifying tournament for the Olympics; people would probably be a little frustrated.
Leo Rautins isn’t to blame in this situation. Rautins took the job. Good for him. We should probably find the person that offered it to him though and make sure he isn’t operating heavy machinery.
Moving forward there is only way viable head-coaching candidate for Team Canada: Steve Nash. Player-coach. Who could be possibly be against this? I dare you to come forward.
July 18, 2008
by Stephen Amell…
- I spent the fall in California trying to further my career as somebody “who pretends”. (Thanks to Colin Cowherd.) This isn’t news, but if you’re a sports-fan and you don’t live in the Pacific Time zone at some point in your life, you’re missing out. Picture rolling out of bed on a Sunday at 9:00 am, grabbing some pancakes and coffee and then sitting down at 9:30 am for pre-game… Games start at 10:00 am. The evening game finishes at 9:00 pm.
All you have to do is ignore the fact that you’re huddled inside like a serial killer evading law-enforcement officials when it’s 85 degrees with four clouds in the sky.
Another moral conundrum: drinking before noon. Luckily, it’s only a moral conundrum if you’re a pussy.
In other words it’s just like the coverage of the British Open starting at 7:00 am. Brilliant.
- Question for TNT: Why not bring Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith over the pond to sit in the booth with Ernie Johnson?
When you remove Tiger Woods from a tournament you’re removing any casual observers from your audience. Anybody that’s watching The Open is a die-hard golf fan. They are going to watch, regardless. So why not spice it up a little bit for the casual fan? Can you imagine the cultural, unintentional, politically sensitive and aggressive humor that would be laced throughout the broadcast if you put together a team with obvious chemistry? Instead, you’ve got bland, flaccid commentary along the lines of: “that’s a peach from The Shark”.
Before the idea is dismissed think long and hard (or just a little) about which course of action would deliver the ratings.
- Mike Weir just dropped an EAGLE putt on the 17th hole. It was the first time Mike appeared on television since I started watching three hours ago in spite of the fact that Mike is in a featured pairing. On a positive note, that should allow Chris Zelkovich to wrap up his column before noon.
- Random aside on the Raptors:
The best game the Raptors played this season (by far) was a road contest against Boston on January 23 of this year. Check out the boxscore.
What strikes me about this game was the apparent manifestation of Jose Calderon as an elite guard in the NBA. Towards the end of the season Jose tired because of the heavy minutes he played in TJ Ford’s absence and the mental burden of TJ acting like an affluent mother who has her spot “stolen” in an exercise class upon his return. For this game though, he was spectacular.
Aside from the aside: Can you bet on the under for wins by the Indiana Pacers before their schedule is released? You probably can. If you have a little extra cash lying around, I highly recommend this.
When you get right down to it, here’s what you’re exchanging in the Ford / O’Neal trade. A guard who had a decidedly negative impact on his team and the players who surrounded him for a big-man who – at the very least – is 50% better than Rasho Nesterovic.
- Roy Halladay may leave after the 2010 season. I don’t care.
Here’s what I do care about: The Blue Jays giving players contract extensions BEFORE their contract year.
Freakonomics was a tremendous book, but I think it missed a softball down the middle when it didn’t cover the “contract year phenomenon”. Malcolm Gladwell puts it best when he says: “The obvious answer is that effort plays a much larger role in athletic performance than we care to admit.” Precisely.
Roy Halladay would appear to be the exception that proves the rule. Insofar as his performance has been steady since 2001 Vernon Wells turned into Junior Felix in 2007. Alex Rios looks more like Adam Lind than Carlos Beltran. Do you believe for a minute that Vernon Wells would have submitted such a gigantic stink bomb (2007 splits) if $130,000,000 was on the line? Me thinks not.
So for god’s sake stop giving these players money for fear that you’re going to lose them for nothing*. Can you imagine walking up to your smoking-hot girlfriend of six months and saying: “Hey there, I’m not sure if this going to work out between us but you’re at least a 9.5 out of 10. So here’s a huge diamond ring and a promissory note for half my families wealth. Go on and take it. It’s guaranteed through six years of us being together. Just, please… Keep going to the gym and eating well.”
She’d be a sea donkey in three months. Its just mathematics.
If Roy Halladay wants to test the waters in 2010 when he’s 33 years old and has pitched well over 2000 innings in his career the Blue Jays should wish him well. In all likelihood he’ll becoming coming off a year in which he goes 24-8 with a 2.75 ERA.
* - Don’t let anybody get away saying, “lose them for nothing”. If you lose a free agent who is not eligible for salary arbitration your teams receives two draft picks. Do you fucking homework and draft well. Pardon my language.
- Sergio Garcia looks great so far. So does Greg Norman (!). Does anybody else get the feeling that Sergio’s performance is directly related to his choice of clothing? I certainly do.
- Throughout the Brett Favre saga (which is awesome) nobody seems willing to mention that Favre lost (at home) to Eli Manning in a game that would have sent the Packers to the Superbowl. Moreover, the seminal play of the game was Favre throwing a duck across the field, while he was falling down, from his own 30-yard line. Delving into it deeper you realize that from 2003 – 2006 the record of the Packers – with Favre starting every game – is 32 wins and 32 losses. Once again, these are the facts.
- If you’re not going to send Charles and Kenny to The Open can we at least have the option of picking up the BBC commentary? I want to hear things like: “A wonderful moment of respite in these nefarious moments.” / “Furyk is in a spot of bother.” / “Garcia needs to lash mightily at the ball for he is trying to evade more than the wind on the shores of Scotland.”
Ok. Time to head outside.
July 11, 2008
by Stephen Amell…
If you’re a fan (or observer) of the Toronto Blue Jays, these are the facts.
The Blue Jays payroll is $85,950,000 in 2010. This sums covers 9 players.
- Scott Rolen: $11,000,000
- Roy Halladay: $15,750,000
- AJ Burnett: $12,000,000
- BJ Ryan: $10,000,000
- Vernon Wells: $12,500,000
- Lyle Overbay: $7,000,000
- Alex Rios: $9,700,000
- Scott Downs: $4,000,000
- Aaron Hill: $4,000,000
A few disclaimers:
- AJ Burnett can opt out of his contract after this season.
- Vernon Wells contract explodes to $23,500,000 in 2011.
A few landmines:
- The following players will be controlled by the Blue Jays in 2010 and are not listed above in the payroll:
- Brian Tallet / Shawn Camp / Dustin McGowan / Casey Janssen / Shaun Marcum / Brandon League / Jesse Litsch / Brian Wolfe / Joe Inglett / Adam Lind.
This brings the list of players to 19, six short of a major league roster. I have not included players without any major league service.
A conservative estimate for the aforementioned 9 players at an average salary of $3,000,000 would bring the payroll to $112,950,000. There are still 6 roster spots that need to be filled.
A history lesson:
- With the current core group of players the Blue Jays record since 2003 is 448 wins and 453 losses.
- Rogers purchased the Blue Jays in 2000 for $120,000,000. Forbes Magazine valued the club at $352,000,000 in April 2008. That’s an increase of approximately 293%.
A few editorial comments / statistics:
- It would appear (and this is mainly speculation) that we’re reaching a tipping point for fan discontent in the GTA. Assuming that there isn’t a pronounced anomaly and performance remains roughly the same it would be safe to assume that fan attendance (and the revenue it generates) will steadily decline.
- When JP Ricciardi is fired shortly all bets are off. Every major contract that he has handed out is back loaded. Comically.
- This November will be the 7th Anniversary of JP’s “5-Year Plan”. So… That’s neat.
- JP Ricciardi refuses to even consider signing Barry Bonds in spite of the fact that Bonds is willing to play for the veteran’s minimum; which he would then donate to charity. Currently, the Blue Jays are paying Frank Thomas $8,000,000 to play for the Oakland Athletics. The justification for this was a thinly veiled reference to Bonds’ alleged connection to steroids.
- Gregg Zaun and Troy Glaus were mentioned in the Mitchell Report for their alleged use of performance enhancing drugs. Ricciardi acquired both players via free agency and trade respectively.
- Vernon Wells for his career has averaged 26 HR’s / 171 Hits / 95 RBI’s / .280 Average. His best season (by far) was 2003 when he batted in front of Carlos Delgado (42 HR’s / 145 RBI’s / .303 Average).
- Vernon is under contract until 2014. He is not an elite player by any statistical measurement. At least he isn’t injury prone.
- Alex Rios over a complete season for his career has averaged 13 HR’s / 143 Hits / 62 RBI’s / .286 Average. Since signing an extension that will keep him with the club until 2015 Alex is on pace for the worst statistical season of his career. In five full years of major league service (barring an explosion in the second half) his has not had a season that would make him an elite player statistically speaking. His defence is phenomenal. He is 27.
What does this all mean? You be the judge.
Major kudos to Cot’s Baseball Contracts.