Jim Balsillie has lots of money, wants to own an NHL team and wants to move it to southern Ontario. That same Jim Balsillie confirmed Tuesday that he has offered to pay $212.5 million US to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes on the condition that the bankrupt team relocate to southern Ontario. That's deserving of another entry alongside this one about his team in Cambridge and this one about his team in Hamilton.
I was listening to The Fan 590 when Bob McCown broke the news, and that prompted this tweet. The Coyotes moving to southern Ontario makes so much sense I can't see it happening. Maybe it's the natural once bitten (in this case, twice bitten), twice shy reaction.
Balsillie's not naming specific city names, so I'm going to guess he's looking at Vaughn, the city above Toronto. Can this happen?
When your hockey team doesn't play past the first week of April, you find joy in rooting against your arch rivals. Last year at this time, happiness was a sweep of the Sens in the first round.
This year, I felt great joy in watching the Montreal Canadiens go down in four straight to the Bruins. Tonight's game was a beaut, with Montreal Canadien cast-off Michael Ryder leading the way with a 3 point night and Habs fans mockingly cheering Carey Price after he made an easy stop. Price responded by taunting his own fans, a move that brought a huge smile to this Leaf fan's face.
Jesus Price, what a series! Au revoir les Habitant.
Shuffling my tunes, I just heard "Big League" by Tom Cochrane. I loved that song. Hearing it now, it made me think of Wayne Gretzky.
I was heavy into Tom Cochrane's Victory Day back in 1988. When the heart breaking news of the Gretzky Trade came down the wire that summer, the song "Big League" somehow became my theme song of sorts for the Oilers ~ Kings deal. From August 9, 1988 to the present day, "Big League" brought me back to that moment.
As if you need a refresher, the trade saw Oilers owner Peter Pocklington send Gretzky, Marty McSorley and Mike Krushelnyski to the Kings for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, three first-round draft picks and $15 million. As a 14-year old hockey and Gretzky freak, I saw it as something more significant. I saw it as the selling of The Great One, not to another team, but to another nation.
It's still a great song. Here's "Big League" from 1988.
Michael Jordan is in the basketball Hall of Fame. He was elected to the class of 2009 today along with David Robinson, John Stockton, Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan and Rutgers women's coach C. Vivian Stringer.
Michael Jordan was the best basketball player I ever saw play the game. It's not even close. I've never seen a player elevate his game to such an elite level come crunch time, so consistently. In the days before we had an NBA franchise the Bulls were the team to watch. A Bulls game on television was must-see TV, and it was all because of Michael.
He finished a 15-year career with the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards with 32,292 points, the third-highest total in league history, behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone. His final career average of 30.12 goes down as the best, just ahead of Wilt Chamberlain's 30.07. He also won six championships with the Bulls and another in college with North Carolina. He also won MVP honours five times. He was like no other player I had seen before and I haven't seen anything close since.
He was an NBA Hall of Fame slam dunk.
As an impressionable young baseball fan, someone game me a book entitled "The 500 Club". It had a page devoted to every player in Major League Baseball history who had hit 500 or more home runs in their career.
This was the early 80s when there was two members of the 700 club, one member of the 600 club and far fewer members of the 500 club than we have today. The 500 Club used to be a much bigger deal.
This was the start of my fascination with baseball statistics. I had to know who held the Blue Jays single season and career records for every offensive, defensive and pitching category. This was before the Interweb, so gathering this data wasn't easy, but it was worth it.
The great milestone for starting pitchers was 300 wins. That was the magic mark. Only 23 players have ever done it, but Randy Johnson is sitting on 295 career wins. Randy Johnson will join The 300 Club this season, and Randy Johnson will be the very last player to reach this mark. There will never again be a 300 game winner in Major League baseball.
Our greatest pitcher this past decade has been Roy Halladay, who I consider to be the 2nd greatest starter in Blue Jays history. Halladay is a throwback, finishing games and winning at about a .700 clip. Roy Halladay only has 131 wins to date and won't get close to 300 in his career.
There are relief specialists, five man rotations and pitch counts to blame, but the 300 game winner will go the way of the do-do bird. After former Expo Randy Johnson gets there, that is.
I can understand Canada losing to Italy in soccer. In fact, I'd expect that. I'd also expect to lose to Italy in pizza dough throwing. As I type, however, Canada is losing to Italy in the World Baseball Classic at the ballpark formerly known as Skydome. That's unacceptable.
It's the bottom of the sixth, so there's still time. We have to come back and take this. We're not losing to Italy in baseball...
Alex Rodriguez has admitted to taking steroids. A-Rod was supposed to be the clean saviour who would wash the bad taste out of our mouths left by Barry Bonds. A-Rod is a jerk, but we hoped he was a jerk who didn't use performance enhancing drugs.
It turns out he's a jerk who did use performance enhancing drugs. Throw him in the pile with Bonds, Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens. Here's what I wrote last year in Erasing an Era.
A life long baseball fan, I've never seen a pitcher as good as Rocket Roger Clemens. When it comes to offensive prowess, I've never seen a hitter as good as Barry Bonds. As far as I'm concerned, you can take a big ol' eraser and scrub the marvellous careers of both men from the record book.
In a sense, an entire era has now been erased. I'm sure both Clemens and Bonds were stellar before they took performance enhancing drugs, but a little juice spill ruins the entire meal. The steroids era, as it will be called by future generations, has claimed the greatest the game has to offer.
Many will shrug their shoulders and look forward. I can't help but look back, at what was and what wasn't, and wonder how the hell I'll ever know the difference. Does it matter? Yes, and if you're asking that question, you're not a fan of baseball.
I have more questions than answers. Where does it end? When did it begin? Now what?
I never worried that George Bell might be on the juice. It never crossed my mind that Tony Fernandez could be drugging. Dave Stieb had a nasty slider, but he didn't cheat.
Life used to be simpler. Today, every player is a suspect, and nothing is as it seems. It's innocence indicted.
Prior to today, I didn't watch a single minute of NFL football all season. I haven't been able to make such a claim since I was a snot-nosed kid in the early 80s.
I did watch most of today's Super Bowl, and it was a great game. The first half closed with an amazing play, the half-time show was good, Kurt Warner led his Cards back and Big Ben mastered a game winning drive in the final couple of minutes, capped by another fantastic play.
It's not enough to win me back, but it was thoroughly entertaining.
Tomorrow Mats Sundin will likely announce which team he's playing for this season. I have something to say about that, but I'm saving it until after it's all official.
Coincidentally, it was four years ago today that I wrote down my conflicted feelings about Vince Carter. I'm not comparing Mats to Vince, Vince is half the man Mats is, but both ruled this city and left under controversial circumstances.
Here's what I wrote four years ago today about Vincent Lamar Carter.
Now that it's happened, I thought I'd delve into the vault and reexamine the entries I wrote about Vince Carter. They say a great deal about my conflicted feelings about him and what he brings brought to my Toronto Raptors. Lets take a look, shall we? Fittingly, there are fifteen.
- The EA Sports Jinx - October 2, 2003 / 12:53 EST: I'm concerned that Carter is on the cover of EA's NBA Live 2004. There is that jinx and I want Carter to stay healthy.
- Mike's Mailbag - October 29, 2003 / 15:03 EST: I inaccurately predict the Raptors will make the playoffs in 2003/2004. I add a caveat that Carter must remain healthy for this to happen.
- Vintage Vincent - November 27, 2003 / 08:04 EST: I'm gushing over the great Vince Carter after he scores 43 and carries the Raps on his back. I also reminisce about the 51 point game of his I attended.
- Not In-Vince-able - January 17, 2004 / 14:00 EST: Carter injures himself once again and I brace for the worst. I even compare him to Wendel Clark.
- Mr. Popular - January 30, 2003 / 11:09 EST: Carter leads the league in all-star votes for the fourth time and I try to figure out why he's so damn popular.
- Guest Blog Entry - January 30, 2004 / 15:45 EST: For the first time, I publicly admit in this space that Vince could be traded. I also admit that he's not the second coming of Michael Jordon. "If you had brought up the subject of trading Vince Carter a couple of years ago, I would have laughed in your face."
- It. Is. Over. - March 27, 2004 / 11:04 EST: I was pissed when I wrote this entry. The Raptors were going to miss the playoffs yet again and I knew something had to give.
- Vin-sane - July 2, 2004 / 09:04 EST: ESPN reports that Carter wants to be traded and I try to digest the news. "Vince is our star and it will hurt to watch him suit up for another team."
- The End of an Era? - July 14, 2004 / 10:55 EST: Rumours were swirling that Carter was on his way out and I thought we were in the final hours of the Vince Carter era in Toronto. "The writing's on the wall and we have to accept it."
- Carlos and Vince - July 16, 2004 / 21:37 EST: I found it interesting that it was becoming incredibly likely that both Carlos Delgado and Vince Carter would be leaving Toronto. Still, I held on to a semblance of hope that Carter could stay. "It's entirely possible we're cheering Carter's name on opening night as he stays with the Raps. I'm hoping he does because players with his talent are few and far between."
- Guest Blog Entry - July 20, 2004 / 14:48 EST: I admit I'm completely torn about the whole Vince Carter saga. "I'd like him to stay, play hard and lead us back to the playoffs where he can shine on a bigger stage."
- My Sports Wishlist - September 22, 2004 / 08:23 EST: Carter makes my sports wishlist as I wish he'd stop being such a suck, rescind his trade demand and play his ass off.
- 41 Reasons to Kick Ass - November 3, 2004 / 13:11 EST: The Sporting News ranks Carter the 41st best player in the NBA and I see this as a positive, potentially lighting a much needed fire under Carter's butt. "This gives Carter 41 reasons to kick ass this season."
- More Than 41 - November 23, 2004 / 07:56 EST: It didn't take long to realize that Vince Carter wasn't going to perform for the Raptors the way Vince Carter can. "When we finally do trade this major disappointment, we'll likely get little of value in return. Then, without a doubt, Carter will kick it up a notch and shoot the lights out for his new team."
- The Vince Carter Era Ends - December 17, 2004 / 17:36 EST: Vince Carter is traded to the New Jersey Nets. "It's time to move on my friends."
That last line of #14 says it all. I have no doubt that Carter will be awesome for the Nets. He lost all motivation here in Toronto and put it in auto pilot a long, long time ago. It's a damn shame because he had so much upside and could have been the man to lead us to the championship. Could have been, should have been, would have been...
Farewell #15. Thanks for the memories. 51 against the Suns, baby.
I recently wrote about these tough times we're experiencing in Toronto professional sports. It seems to get worse every day. Now that A. J. Burnett has flown the coop for big bucks with the Yankees, I don't know how the Jays will crack the top three in our division for the next few years.
In the comments for that entry, someone mentioned that just about every Toronto manager / coach got fired in 2008. Except for the Rock, a team I always forget exists, the Leafs, Raptors, Argos, Toronto FC and Jays all saw a managerial / head coach change this year.
Maple Leafs - Fired both GM John Ferguson, Jr. and head coach Paul Maurice in 2008. Cliff Fletcher was replaced by Brian Burke as GM later in 2008.
Blue Jays - Fired manager John Gibbons in 2008. Somehow, J.P. Ricciardi held on to his job as GM.
Raptors - Fired head coach Sam Mitchell in 2008.
Argos - Fired head coach Rich Stubler in 2008. Don Matthews resigned as head coach later in the year.
Toronto FC - Mo Johnson stepped down as coach in 2008.
I'd hope 2009 is a better year for Toronto sports franchises, but as a realist, I'm already looking at 2010. Sigh.
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