Yes, it has been a while. I missed you too. Let’s skip the pleasantries and get down to brass tacks, shall we?
The Jays’ Off-Season: Win or Lose?
It’s hard to say. It cannot be called a total failure, because that would require a detriment to the team; they would have had to take a step back. In total, this is essentially the same team as last year, despite a few minor roster changes. Is that good enough? In the almost two and half years Anthopoulos has been GM of the Toronto Blue Jays he has preached patience above all else. It appeared, at least for a while, that his call had been heeded, but then again, what choice did Jays’ fans have?
His dumping of Vernon Wells’ contract earned their trust and their respect. And he proved himself clever by signing Yunel Escobar when the league-wide perception seemed to be that he would be a problem child for any team. However, a certain tension in the air around The Fandom of Toronto appears to suggest that their patience is beginning to run thin. This is, ultimately, a matter of perception. The perception at the beginning of this year’s off season was that The Blue Jays were finally going to spend some money and make a push for the playoffs. Fans had dreams of Yu Darvish and Prince Feilder dancing in their heads. Not Together. And not actually “dancing”.
For some reason or another Anthopoulos and the Jays’ PR squad let the sports media be dominated with stories about their bid for Yu Darvish, and how they were perhaps first in line to sign that promising pitcher. Then talk of “price parameters” cropped up and Darvish became linked inextricably to the Texans and it seemed like everything in Jayland was back to normal. It would be another team with some talent, a decent record, but lacking the financial clout to make it happen in the megabucks world of the MLB. So no, it is not a win. But, that does not necessarily make it a loss either.
Something Afoot In Leafland?
Well, if you listen to the blogs, talking heads, and newspapers, The Toronto Maple Leafs are eternally on the verge of a megatrade or a coaching change. All the time. No exceptions. Even in the off-season, a trade for a superstar centre or power-forward is always not far off. In this climate you do not need silly, paltry things such as facts, or even reason, to start a heated discussion about the Leafs. Many leaf fans live everyday under the presumption that players such as Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf will be suiting up in a blue and white sweater by the end of the season.
This is because they are constantly told that. The following are players rumoured to be coming to the Leafs in the past couple of years that I can remember off the top of my head: Steven Stamkos, Zach Parise, Jeff Carter, Chris Drury, Jordan Stall, Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan (several times), Ryan Getzlaf, Ales Hemsky, Dustin Penner, and JVR (twice). Oddly, neither Dion Phanuef nor Joffrey Lupul were ever, to my knowledge, rumoured to be going to the Leafs before they were in fact traded here.
While it is possible that Luke Schenn is traded for JVR (please no), or maybe Carl Gunnerson (even worse) bloggers and journalists know they are not being fact-checked, and that it is good enough to merely imply such an impending trade to have your piece read. Nevertheless, I will say that recent roster moves have implied a trade may be coming. However, I somehow doubt it will bring the unquestionably-first-line centre the Leafs so desperately covet.
I’m back tomorrow to talk about Mike Cammalleri and media access in the NHL.