Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Year of Emotions

Have no fear. I have not died. Life just kind of got in the way of blogging (read: I've been spending all my free time playing Modern Warfare 2). I figured with the year dwindling down, I should do one last post before 2009 is over. Don't worry, it won't be a top 10 list. As with every other year, it was an emotional rollercoaster in the world of sports. Being a Toronto sports fan, we've definitely seen more lows than highs. Here are some of the emotions I felt along with the events that caused them.


  • Leafs? No
  • Raptors? No
  • Blue Jays? No
  • Argos? Who cares...but no

  • Doc's departure - I don't think I've felt this sad since Felix Potvin was traded
  • Sundin hangs em up - It was expected but it didn't make it any easier
  • Federer losing to Del Potro - Could have made it 6 straight US Opens. Definitely had his chances to put the match away. I hope he has some great years left in the tank
  • Dustin McGowan - Okay so we still don't know if he'll be back or not but when you hear whispers of a player never playing again...chances are he will not be the same if he does
  • R.I.P. Teeder - The Leafs lost a legend but the heavens gained a hero
  • Ian White - And his continued strong play. He is nearing folk-hero status
  • Phil Kessel - I don't care what he cost. I don't remember the last time the Leafs have had a winger this dynamic since...ever!
  • The emergence of Adam Lind and Aaron Hill - I thought both would be good but I had no idea they would be this good! All they're missing is some sort of dynamic duo nickname.
  • Kid Kadri - I wasn't sure about the pick at first but watching him at the World Juniors is definitely a joy. The kid is as gritty as they come. The throat-slash was the icing on the cake. Also, this.
  • Doc vs AJ - The emotion at that event was just phenomenal.
  • Burkie's Doghouse - Bacon wrapped hot can get it in a footlong. That is all.
  • Waiving Rios - I still give a fuck! Rios still has all the tools to be a star in the league. If he puts it all together next year...Somebody buy me a voodoo doll!
  • Bosh's future - I'm going to go on and say that Bosh won't sign an extension with us. If that holds true, this future Raptors team will be a joke to watch.
  • Losing 8 straight - Bring on the Taylor Hall jokes...which sounded so very real at the time
  • Monster's Heart - So they say it's not a serious procedure and it isn't uncommon to have it twice...but that's still the motherfuckin heart you're dealing with!!!
  • Shogun snubbed - Shogun loses a unanimous victory to Machida for the light-heavyweight belt. Everybody else who has eyes thinks differently.
  • Vernon's performance - As much as I wanted to believe in him (I had him on my fantasy team at some point!) he was just so frustrating to watch at the plate
  • Vesa Toskala - This pretty much sums it up
  • 13th Man - I would totally be pissed about it if I was a Riders fan
  • Tiger Woods - You had Elin freakin' Nordegren! What more do you want?
  • Greasegate - Allegations of GSP greasing against Penn were totally bogus. Did they not see how badly BJ got his ass whooped? Greasing doesn't help boxing, take downs or elbows to the face
  • Jays hot start - Probably the greatest cocktease of all time but it was fun while it lasted
  • Komisarek and Beauchemin in October - Uhhh....I thought you guys were better than this?
  • Patrice Bergeron? - Seriously?
  • Drabek - You've got some big shoes to fill
  • In the race - Leafs are in that group fighting for 8th. The playoffs are in sight!
  • Team Canada - Winning gold on Canadian soil sounds awfully nice
  • 5th straight - As of today, the Raps have won five straight and is one game under .500!
  • PLAYOFFS!!1 - In 2010. Book it.
Goodbye 2009!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The End of an Era

I thought I was ready. I thought I said good bye. I thought this would be easy since I already knew it was coming. Truth is that nothing could have prepared me for the news that went down today. Doc was traded to the Phillies. Okay, so it might not be official yet but all that's left are the formalities. While I've seen a bunch of rumours about who we're getting back, I could care less. Today is a day of mourning. The true GBOAT won't be taking the mound in a Jays jersey next April.

Roy Halladay was drafted in the first round, 17th overall in the 1995 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. I was ten at the time so I have no idea what his early scouting reports read but I imagine it had the words "work horse", "inning eater", "lights out" and "fuckin awesome!" in there. I remember watching his second career start in a meaningless last game of the season. The one where he was one out shy of a no-hitter! Right there and then, I knew we had something special. I just had no idea how good he would be.

While he's had a rough patch early in his career, he has come back from it and prospered. He went from having the highest single-season ERA to being one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball. Here is a player, a generational talent if you will, that I have seen evolve before my very eyes and you know what? He was ours! We didn't have to lure him with a big fat paycheck, we didn't have to throw a boatload of prospects to acquire him, he was home-grown and we were damn proud of it.

Doc came to work day-in and day-out. He was a quiet leader who led by example. Despite his dominance, he always wanted to get better and he hated making mistakes. How many times have you seen him bark at himself when giving up a late game solo shot despite being up six? This is the type of guy you're getting, Phillies fans.

I went to Doc's last home start against Seattle. It was vintage Halladay; 9 ks, 7 hits, complete game shut out. With two outs in the 9th the crowd was on their feet. Doc got the last out via groundball and the place erupted. We knew it was possibly the last time we would see him in a Jays jersey. We stood and cheered as he made his way to the dug out. He looked up at the fans, tipped his cap and disappeared into the tunnel.

We miss you, Doc.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Post is Brought to you by the Number 2

Two...two wins in a row at home. Ah-ha-ha!

Count 'em, ladies and gents. Today's win makes two in a row and seven in our last ten. Let's keep it rolling, boys. Tomorrow will be a big test against the Bruins. Let's see how we respond after the spanking they gave us on Saturday.

Two wins for me!

I don't get to go to a ton of games but I've been to enough that I have lost count. Whether it was at the Gardens of at the ACC, there was one underlying theme. I went home winless. Prior to this preseason, I have never seen a Leafs win live before. The closest I've ever gotten was a 1-1 tie against New Jersey back when Reichel was still here. Now I finally broke my streak this pre-season in a shoot out win against the Pens and witnessed my first official win live tonight! That's right, baby! I can go to games guilt-free!

Two Big Signings

It took some time but Beauchemin and Komisarek are finally starting to pick up their game. Both of these signings were supposed to give us one of the more intimidating defences to play against. While both players didn't pay immediate dividends, Burke's and Wilson's patience in them are starting to pay off. Komisarek (for the most part) has stopped taking dumb, unnecessary penalties and Beauchemin is starting to look very sound defensively and also provides a canon on the powerplay.

Number 2

No, that wasn't a highlight from last year, that was a hit Schenn threw on Jon Sim just a couple of hours ago. Like Komisarek and Beauchemin, Schenn is finally starting to look comfortable. He's finishing his checks, he's not chasing the puck and he's not letting his man slip by him as much as he did earlier in the season. Ron Wilson has noticed and as a result, Schenn's minutes have started to steadily increase. He played 19:25 tonight compared to the 10 minutes a game he was getting just a couple of weeks ago. Welcome back, OLAS.

Two goals against

I don't know if it's his health, a fluke or Francois Allaire but Toskala has only allowed two goals in each of his last two starts. Sure, the Leafs have played better defensively but this is still Vesa Toskala. I can't really explain it but I don't want this to end. I BELIEVE IN VESA TOSKALA??/

Two annoying fans

I sat behind two very annoying fans. I knew it was going to be a long night when during the warm-up, one of them asked the other who was in net for the Isles and he responded with "I think Garth Snow."

Other annoying things they did
-They kept trying to heckle Roloson (from the 300s) by screaming "Rolllllll-sooooon" know there's another O in there somewhere
-Kept referring to Grabovski as Grabovs. I've heard Grabbo and Grabs but Grabovs? That just sounds weird
-They spat out incorrect facts. Roloson faced 61 shots and stopped 58 the last game. He didn't stop 62
-They added "son" to the end of every sentence and described things as "ill"

Two times the fun

They played "the song" twice! Once before the game and once after. I need that for my ipod. Haters gon' hate!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Leafs 2009 Skills Competition

I grew up loving the sport of hockey but sadly, road hockey outside my house is about as competitive of a level as I got to. Heck, I might be the only person born in Saskatoon that doesn't know how to skate! This is why I love skills competitions. It's simply a treat for me to admire the skill level of these athletes up close. Here's a recap of the 2009 Leafs Skills Competition.

Schenn and Finger right before the puck control relay

It all started with the puck control relay. The blue team of Schenn, Finger and Beauchemin beat out the white team of Exelby, White and Kaberle due to Exelby stumbling. This is why you're a healthy scratch, XLB!

The blue team got another point as Komisarek beat out Orr in the individual puck control relay. Seriously, who picks these players? Why is Colton Orr in this event?

The White team giving Primeau a shower

The next event is the fastest skater. My personal pick going into the event was Phil Kessel who ended up having the worst time.

As each skater skated by the benches the opposing team would shower them with their water bottles. I don't know if they were filled with water or yellow Gatorade but there's a golden shower joke in there somewhere. Here's a list of the participants and their times

Jason Blake - 14.09
Phil Kessel - 14.85
Mikhail Grabovski - 14.32 (this was timed with the manual stop watch because the clock messed up and had him at 9 seconds)
Christian Hanson - 14.46
Nikolai Kulemin - 14.05
Wayne Primeau - 14.72

I had no idea Kulemin was that quick.

Hagman winding up for the shot

Next up is my favourite event; the hardest shot. My personal pick for this event was Francois Beauchemin edging out Poni.

Here are a list of the participants and what they clocked

Jeff Finger - 85.6 // 89.7
Tomas Kaberle - 95.1 // 95.7
Alexei Ponikarovsky - 95 // 90.4 but the shot didn't hit the net
Lee Stempniak - 89.7 // 93.3
Francois Beauchemin - 102.2 // 99.8
Niklas Hagman - 95.9 // 84.9
Mike Komisarek - 97.4 // 101.5
Nikolai Kulemin - 93 // 98.4

Looks like my picks are 1 for 2 so far. Poni didn't fare as well as I thought he would though. Also, if Kaberle can blast it at 95+, he should definitely be shooting the puck more often!

The moustache is in full force

Next event was the accuracy competition. My personal pick for this one was Tomas Kaberle going for another 4 for 4 like he did a couple years back. Unfortunately, he was a passer and didn't even get to shoot!

Here are the participants and the results

Niklas Hagman - 2 for 8
Matt Stajan - 2 for 8
Lee Stempniak - 4 for 8
Phil Kessel - 2 for 8
Rickard Wallin - 4 for 5
Christian Hanson - 3 for 7

Rickard Wallin? Seriously? I thought he got deported back to Sweden or something. Kessel rang a couple off the post but most shots were around the middle of the know, right where a goalie's chest would be! No wonder we can't score!

The panel of judges with Monika. My restraining order wouldn't let me get any closer.

They then had a "creative" shoot out challenge. Each player had 2 shots each and the judges (those puck bunnies and Carlton) would score the attempts based on creativity. I believe the shooters were Kessel, Blake, Grabovski and Hagman. Blake was the only player to score and he didn't do the spin-o-rama. What's up with that?

Grabvoski playing keep away with a kid during a break in the action

Next was the 3 on 1 event. This event featured 3 skaters against 1 defenceman and a goalie. The team had a minute to score as many goals as they could. Engelage was in net against the blue team and MacDonald was in net against the White team. Unfortunately, I didn't jot down the participants for this event so if memory serves me right it was

Kessel - Stajan - Ponikarovsky vs White. They scored 1 goal.
Blake - Grabovski - Kulemin vs Komisarek. They scored 2 or 3.
Primeau - Mayers - Hanson vs Exelby. They scored 1.
Hagman, Stempniak, Orr vs Schenn. They scored 1 or 2.

Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

The IR squad of Gunnarsson, Gustavsson and Mitchell.

The last event was the Breakaway. Every shooter got a shot. Only Kaberle, Orr, Stajan and Beauchemin advanced past the first round...on Joey Macdonald and Andrew Engelage! You think our shoot out can use some help? #WeMissYouMats

Francois Beauchemin ended up winning it with the lone goal in the second round via wrist shot.

Hagman, Blake and Kaberle

The White team ended up beating the Blue team by a score that nobody cared about. I was surprised to see Engelage in net instead of Toskala. He wasn't with the injured guys either. Did he get released? Somebody please tell me he did...

This was my first Skills Competition and I had a good time even though my friend was late and I had to wait outside for a good half hour...I could have gotten a Burkie's Dog! The atmosphere was totally different from a game. I guess this is what happens when you replace suits with jerseys. Surprisingly, I didn't spot too many jersey fouls but I did see 2 Pogge jerseys (1 Leaf, 1 Marlie) and a Stralman jersey. I hope nobody bought Tlusty jerseys!

I'm not sure how many tickets were available but the Leafs did a good job making this an event affordable for the kids. Even as I waited outside for my friends this man came up to me and offered me a couple of tickets for free! Speaking of free, people will take anything for free...including styrofoam accuracy targets that says Rogers of them. WHY WOULD ANYBODY WANT ONE OF THOSE???

If anybody is interested, here are the rest of the photos I took

Friday, December 4, 2009

Scrambled Thoughts

More than Advertised
I hope to have a full post on Kessel some time in the near future so I won't go into too much detail here but being born in 85, I don't remember seeing a winger on the Leafs with such offensive flair since...ever. Kessel is the winger Sundin never had. A lightning quick release, speed in the neutral zone and the ability to finish plays. Somebody Pinch Me. This Phil Kessel guy is too good to be a Leafs winger.

The Monster just went in for his second heart ablation in about as many months. He should be back in a week to 10 days time. While reasons for concern are low, it's the heart we're dealing with here so extra caution should always be taken. We want Gustavsson to be our #1 for the next ten years. There's no reason to rush him back.


The Raptors will have none of it. Here are some quotes from the team yesterday

"Every time something happens it's always, 'It's okay, it's all right.' It's not all right. Problems go by without attacking them or challenging them or bringing them to the forefront and getting them solved. We can't keep keep putting them to the back of the bus and just saying, 'That's okay.' It's not all right."
-Jarett Jack

"You've got to address (the defensive issues) and you've got to show people on tape. It's not personal. If you want to win, you're going to have to make some sacrifices."
-Antoine Wright

Does Jay Triano deserve some blame? Yes. But he doesn't deserve all of it. It's a team game and frankly, he isn't the one on the floor getting beat by his man. Whether it be the NBA or NCAA, every player on this team has played on another team before. Did they not teach you how to close out on perimeter shooting? Did they not teach you how to defend the pick and roll? Did they not teach you how to box out for a rebound? Because these are a lot of the fundamental errors I see that leads to buckets by the opposing team.

It's easy to point the finger at the coach and play the blame game and unfortunately for Triano, I don't see him lasting too much longer on this team as he's already lost the respect in the locker room. Sadly, I think it will take more than a coaching change to pull this team together. Even with the worst coaching possible, no team should allow 146 points in regulation...

Marco's Shipping Up To Boston

Dear Scoots,

From stealing second off a walk to your incredible .789 lead-off OPS, I loved every bit of your play. You were great for us last year and you definitely will be missed. With that said, please give me back my spare key and get the fuck out.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Free Pizza

It almost makes me forget about wasting two and a half hours watching that shit-show known as The Raptors.