So the Toronto sports scene has more or less dried up with both the Leafs and Raptors currently enjoying the spring weather on the links, and the Jays in New York, learning why they're called the Bronx Bombers (17-6? What the hell is that?).
And so it is, that we here at 63 Years and Counting, for the first time in our admittedly short history, turn our attention to that beautiful game, futbol. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
No, no, I kid. I've always been a soccer fan. But being a soccer fan in North America is not always an easy task, especially when one is separated by one ocean and five time zones from the premier soccer leagues of the world.
The Premier League, Serie A, the Bundesliga, the Spanish Primiera; all great leagues we're sure, but totally unfeasible to follow. The games are all found on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and while we'd like to pretend that we give a damn about Crystal Palace against Bolton United, the fact is, we don't. We don't know a single player on either team, and we don't see that changing anytime soon. (We do note however, that Chelsea have won the Premiership title for the second straight year, and that manager Jose Mourinho is in the front running for the "Biggest Sore Winner Ever" award, after this)
Thankfully for all us North American soccer junkies, there's the Champion's League, which pulls all of Europe's best teams into one conveniant tournament. It's down to the finals now, with 63 Years' favourite team, Barcelona (formerly AC Milan, until we realised that they were owned by Silvio Berlusconi) against the English side Arsenal.
We don't mean to expose our bias or anything, but we predict a 8-0 win for Barca, with a double hat trick for Ronaldhino.
Though, we are thankful for Arsenal, if only for having elimanted Villareal, who's nuclear yellow jersey ranks only slightly higher than Juventus' pink atrocities on our list of all time least favourite jerseys.
And of course the World Cup begins in June, cleverly scheduled to distract us from as many exams as possible. The field is so deep (Brazil), and there are so many teams capable of winning (Brazil), that we hesitate to predict a winner (Brazil). Germany has a lot riding on it this year, but 63 Years doesn't see it panning out for the home side this time around.
And with the old mother country (Greece) sitting this one out, despite being European Champions (the first one who says "fluke" gets a bottle of ouzo smashed over their head), we are at a loss at who to cheer for. The Netherlands have are a strong candidate, as are the Czechs. We will see though, we will see.
Oleing It Up,
Sunday, April 30, 2006
So the Toronto sports scene has more or less dried up with both the Leafs and Raptors currently enjoying the spring weather on the links, and the Jays in New York, learning why they're called the Bronx Bombers (17-6? What the hell is that?).
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
The Jays won tonight behind the hot arm of Gustavo Chacin and the hot bat of Vernon Wells. Chacin is easily one of our favourite players on the Jays. Always so calm and full of poise behind those sunglasses, and always so consistent, he's a rock in the Jays otherwise turbulent rotation. Whatever tomfoolery Ted Lilly or A.J Burnett get up to on the mound, you can rest assured that Chacin will go out there and give the Jays a chance to win. Tonight's win continues his perfect start, 4-0 on the season.
Speaking of fours and zeroes, the (former) Tower of Power, Josh Towers is off to a bad start, already 0-4 on the season. 63 Years fondly remembers when he burst onto the Jays scene, going 8-1 in his rookie campaign. What happened to that bundle of rookie talent? He has had some bad luck, the Jays' bats conveniantly go silent whenever he steps on the mound, but it shouldn't be the offence's job to bail out the pitcher every time.
In other Toronto news, there is no other Toronto news, because the Raptors and Maple Leafs are currently sitting home, twiddling their thumbs, watching much better teams then them compete for trophies that will likely elude them for their careers.
Well, actually, there is some news, none of it good, though that's par for the course. Former Leaf owner Steve Stavro bit the bullet yesterday, passing away from a heart attack. While we could mention that he added twelve years to the Leafs' 40 year Stanley Cup draught (and by extension, twelve years to this blog's title), we find it much more prudent to point out that Mr. Stavro was the man who rescued the Leafs' from the Harold Ballard/Black Hole era, which saw the Leafs post twelve consectutive losing season. Stavro propped the team up with his substantial personal fortune (built through his grocery empire. Yes, the Leafs were owned by a man known as the "Honest Grocer"). So, hat's off to you Mr. Stavro, and as one Greek to another, yeasas.
Of course the Leafs and Raptors are now owned by a coalition of the uninterested. The majority owners are a beast known as the Ontario Teacher's Pension Plan, which as the name might suggest, is more interested in securing massive profits than winning championships. The "face" of the organization is one of the many minority owners, Larry Tanenbaum, a thoroughly uninspiring man. Gone are the days of Conn Smythe...
Saturday, April 22, 2006
The Jays won a doozy last night in Toronto against the Red Sox, taking 12 innings to win 7-6. A.J "Golden Boy" Burnett made the start, but was once again inefective going only four innings. He left after that with "elbow pains", which has surely sent the suits upstairs into collective cardiac arrest. Two starts in, and Burnett is already injured. This is hardly the ideal start for the Burnett era in Toronto.
On the other hand, the other half of Toronto's one-two pitching punch, Roy Halladay, went today against the Bosox, man-handling the Boston order through 5 innings, before handing the ball off to the bullpen, which in turn handed in a spotless effort. Final score: 8-1. That secures the Jays' second series win against Boston, and improves their record to 9-7.
In other news, 63 Years and Counting feels obligated to comment on the firing of Leafs coach Pat "Irish Coffee" Quinn. We here at 63 Years won't say a word against the iconic coach; he was, as GM John Ferguson Jr said, "a consumate professional", a great coach and never one to shirk responsibility. His record with the Buds was sterling, going 300-222-52 behind the bench, taking them to the Eastern Conference finals twice in his seven year tenure.
But that's not to say that we disagree with this move. The Leafs, despite their late surge, were bad this year. Their 9-1-2 run to the end of the season unfortunately glosses over the fact that this team was genaerally inefective all year. You could argue, and it is a valid point, that it was Ferguson who built this team, signing big, slow vets and an even older goalie, but at the end of the day, it's the coach's job to bring it all together, and in that respect, Quinn failed. This team needs a new direction and a new coach to take them there (though, 63 Years would not be adverse to seeing Ferguson on his way out either).
The NHL playoffs also started yesterday. Much has been said about the relative inexperience of many of the starting goalies, which makes us all the more confident in predicting a long cup run for the New Jersey Devils, backed of course by the always great Martin Brodeur. They were in action today, beating up on the hapless New York Rangers 6-1. But when you give up 13 power plays to a team with players like Brian Gionta, Patrick Elias and Scott Gomez, what do you expect?
We have also been told that the NBA playoffs are about to begin, but we were unaware of this, since most people in Toronto weren't even aware the NBA season had ever begun. The Raptors, the NBA's lone representative in the Great White North, were terrible this year, opening the season 1-15, and closing it 1-12. They made a no-brainer this week though, signing soon-to-be star Chris "Aw Shucks" Bosh to a gazillion dollar contract extension. The message here being, there's no stench too great that a huge pile of money can't cover.
Word on the street is that Mike James, he of the career season and inflated ego, will not be back for another go round with the team. Which might be for the best; athletes that compare themselves to Jesus are rarely a positive influence in any dressing room.
Playoff predictions you say? Well, the Raptors have rather soured our taste for b-ball, so let's just say, I don't know... the Pistons take it in five over Phoenix in the finals. Nuff said.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
The playoff seedings are set in stone now, after the regular season wrapped up yesterday. The Toronto Maple Leafs will not be participating this year, of course, but perhaps that is for the best. One could only imagine them being swept in the first round by a team like Ottawa.
Anyway, without further ado, 63 Years and Counting presents its NHL playoff preview
Ottawa (1) vs Tampa Bay (8)
This series finds the would be champs, Ottawa, taking on the defending champs, Tampa. How the mighty have fallen, on both accounts. This year's version of Tampa Bay pales in comparison to the one that went all the way the last time anybody competed for Lord Stanley's mug. Martin "Short Stuff" St. Louis is hardly MVP worthy this time around, and a Sean Burke/John Grahame combo in net most definitely does not equal one Nikolai "Follow the Money" Khabibulin. Ottawa, much like Toronto did, has realised that relying on an aging goaltender was perhaps not the best idea, and must turn to Ray Emery to take them to the big dance. The Sens are hardly the sparkling specimens of hockey prowess they were to start the season, but are still a head above the Lighting talent wise. However, as a life long Toronto fan, I am obligated to cheer against the Sens. But my dislike for the Rideau Riders doesn't make me stupid. Ottawa wins in six.
Carolina (2) vs Montreal (7)
What happened to Carolina? These guys were the poster boys of the new NHL, but now they're just another team in the pack. Was losing Eric Cole that big a blow? Was trading for Mark Recchi that bad an idea? And whatever happened to that Eric Staal guy? Montreal has the momentum in this one for sure. The rumblings out of Montreal seem to indicate that David "Swiss Cheese" Aebischer is favoured to get the nod as the starting goalie. Whether that is a plus or minus, I leave up to you to decide. Montreal wins in seven.
New Jersey (3) vs New York (6)
The Devils won their division in style, waiting till the very last day of the season to do it, and are rewarded with a round against the slumping Rangers. Dubbed the Battle of the Hudson by sports pundits far wiser than I, this should be a series where New Jersey can flex their playoff muscles. Martin Brodeur gives the Devils a huge advantage in any playoff series, especially against a New York team that lost its last five games leading up to the playoffs. Can Jaromir Jagr carry this team past the resurgent Devils? Personally, I hope so, but don't hold your breath. New Jersey wins in five.
Buffalo (4) vs Philadelphia (5)
I really like this match up. Either team could realistically end up on top. The Flyers aren't quite as good as past incarnations, but they are still the Flyers and demand some respect. If Peter Forsberg can stay healthy and play at 100%, I see this one going Phillies' direction. But really, it could go either way. Philadelphia in seven.
Detroit (1) vs Edmonton (8)
What happened to the Oilers? Bringing in Chris Pronger and Micheal Peca was supposed to stop Edmonton's bad habit of squeeking into the playoffs. Not so, I suppose. As such, the Oils are going to be in tough to beat my favourite to win the Cup, the Red Wings. The Wings are just too good to be taken down by an Edmonton team backed by by Dwayne Roloson. Detroit wins in five.
Dallas (2) vs Colorado (7)
The Dallas Stars, the NHL's most under appreciated team, shouldn't have too too much trouble dispatching Colorado. And while Jussi Jokinen's ridiculous shoot out record won't be any help in the post season, this is a very good Stars team, and nobody would be surprised to see Mike Modano hoisting the Stanley Cup in a few months time. Not that the Avs are a bad team per se, but Joe Sakic isn't quite what he used to be, and Jose Theodore has yet to prove himself as the second coming of Patrick Roy. Dallas wins in six.
Calgary (3) vs Anaheim (6)
I will be the first to admit, I do not get the whole Calgary experience. It appears that they have managed to convince most of the sporting world that they are the real deal, but there remains one man unconvinced of Calgary's domination. Me. This team relies so much so on its goalie Mikka Kiprusoff that they managed to score one of the league's lowest goal totals and still win their division. Which makes a red hot team like Anaheim the perfect candidate to dust off the sluggish Flames. Anaheim wins in six.
Nashville (4) vs San Jose (5)
I would have taken the red hot Sharks over Nashville whether the Preds had lost their star goalie Tomas Vokoun or not. Vokoun's injury just makes it that much clearer that San Jose will come out on top. Joe "Art Ross" Thornton and Jonathan "Rocket Richard" Cheechoo are just too dominating for it to end any other way. Not that Nashville won't make it close, but in the end, there's only one team that can advance from this pair. San Jose in six.
And there you have it, 63 Years and Counting's 100% guaranteed playoff predictions (We don't mean to brag, but it looks like someone agrees with us). Just don't come crying to us when they turn out all wrong, and an angry loan shark is practicing for his chiropractory degree on your kneecaps. You've been warned.
In other news, following a matinee loss to the Yankees today by Toronto, the series is split 1-1. 63 Years and Counting would like to note that for yesterday's 10-5 win over the Yanks, the Rogers Centre was almost filled to capacity. 63 Years does not however find it pertinent to mention that the tickets cost all of 2$ for yesterday's game.
In other, other news, Mats Sundin's 4 point effort against the soon to be Las Vegas Penguins gives him 78 points through 70 games, his best showing in three or four years. It's good to have you back Mats.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Sidney "Lemieux Who?" Crosby notched his hundredth point last night against the New York Islanders. And his ninety ninth. And his ninety eighth. A three point effort from Crosby makes him the second eighteen year old to hit the century, along with Dale "Remember Me?" Hawerchuck, and the youngest player ever to accomplish the feat.
That Crosby could do that at such a young age is almost scary. What's even scarier than that is that Crosby is almost excatly one year older than me. One year, and this guy is already breaking NHL records. What's the most significant thing I've accomplished in my life? Here I am, worrying about getting into university and who to take to prom, and this guy's already made more money than I'll ever see in my life.
Oh, and the title from today's post? Curtesy of Pittsburgh broadcaster Mike Lange, who probably single handedly makes Penguins games worth watching. Well, him and Crosby. Another favourite of mine, "Let's go hunt a moose on a Harley". Not taking anything away from the Hockey Night In Canada institutions of Bob Cole and Harry Neal, but this guy is a totally different kind of broadcaster.
In other news, the Leafs actually face Pittsburgh today, and while the pressure is off Crosby to get one hundred, the pressure is on Leafs captain Mats Sundin, who needs one goal to hit 30 on the season, which would give him nine straight seasons of thirty or more. Bryan McCabe is also looking for his 20th, but he's been looking for that for the past 16 games or so, so don't hold your breath on that one.
In other, other news, the Jays face the Yankees tonight. Twelve games in, neither team is looking particularly good. And on both counts, it's due to pitching. The Jays have some of the hottest bats in the AL, and the Yankees are the Yankees, but when it comes to pitching, both teams have been tried and found wanting. Roy Halladay and A.J Burnett both lost their last starts, and Mariano Riviera actually blew a save.
The starters for tonight are MLB's reigning octogenarian, Randy Johnson, and the Jays up and coming Gustavo Chacin. That gives us an age difference of what, thirty, forty years on the mound?
In other, non-news, the Raptors lost, again. The Raptors motto for next season: "The Toronto Raptors. Finding new ways to lose since 1995."
Sunday, April 16, 2006
The Jays took a tough loss today in Chicago against the White Sox. The game was called in the fifth due to rain with the Pale Hose up 6-4 over Toronto. And because the game had gone the full five, it was considered official. That is of course a bunch of bollocks. The game should never have even made it that far in the first place. It was raining hard enough in the fourth that the game should have been ended then and there. The only reason the Jays had those four runs to speak of is because the Sox pitcher Freddie Garcia was having such a tough time in the rain. It's a tough loss to swallow. Call it sour grapes, call it whatever you want, but that was some unfair stuff going down in U.S Cellular today. Now, I'm not accusing anybody of anything here, but let's not forgot, this is the same team that gave us the Black Sox Scandal. I'm just saying...
And the Leafs were back in mid-season form today, by which I mean they were smacked around 6-0 by Buffalo. It must be hard to concentrate with all those visions of pristine golf courses floating through their heads.
They have one game remaining against the Pittsburgh Crosbys, which if nothing else, should be completely meaningless. Sidney "Calderless" Crosby sits at 97 points on the season, so here's hoping Aubin or Tellqvist or whoever the Leafs shove in net goes easy on the kid. I really hope Crosby hits the century mark. A lot of people have been ragging on him, especially in light of Ovechkin more or less running away with the rookie of the year award, so it would be a great way to cap off what has been really a great year for him.
And in other hockey news, the Vancouver Canucks will miss the playoffs this year. Excuse me a moment, I need to savour that last sentence.
This not only means that the Leafs are not the only Canadian team to miss the big dance (misery, as they say, loves company) but it also gves us a story that could overshadow Toronto's shortcomings. I mean, by all accounts, Vancouver is (was?) a good team, a lock for the playoffs, where as T.O was maybe 50-50 from the start. But Vancouver blew up in a big way, and here's one guy who's not afraid to say he's happy to see it.
I don't like the Canucks. Period. They're stocked with talent (Naslund, Morrison, Sedin 1 and Sedin 2, Carter Jovanovski) but they are oh-so lazy. Sure, you Vancouverites might say, "Oh but Jason, there were the injuries, so many injuries!" to which I say, put down the blunt, and take a good look at your team. The first mistake was letting Brian Burke go to Anahiem. That man is hockey genius. How many GM's could trade Sergei Fedorov, Sandis Ozolnish and Petr Sykora, and still end up with a better team? Secondly, employing Marc Crawford as a coach has seriously angered the karma gods. You can only go so long with that hair before bad things happen. And thirdly, Danny Cloutier?! What were you thinking? It didn't work the first three tries as a starter, and yet you guys went to the well one more time, and look where he is now. He missed the final 60 games of the season. Cloutier is not a top flight goalie, so stop pretending he's something that he is not.
Here's you homework for the offseason Vancouver: Go out and find a real goalie. None of this "Oh look, we got Buffalo's third string goalie! Stanley Cup, here we come" bollocks. I swear, if you guys start Alex Auld or Mikka Noronen next year... You know, I hear Curtis Joseph might be available. And hey Eddie Belfour needs to feed his kids too, you know.
West Coast Dazed,
Saturday, April 15, 2006
The Leafs are done. Finished. It's official. No playoffs for them, the first time in seven years. They made a go of it though, I'll give them that much. And they went out in style, those Leafs did, 8-0-2 in their last ten. But in the end, they left it too long to pull off comeback.
But on a brighter note, the Leafs did win tonight, against none other than their most hated rivals, those bastards from Ottawa. They didn't just win, they handed Ottawa their asses on a stick, as the kids might say. 5-1 final score. That's Toronto 1, Ottawa um...7... on the season. But those seven previous losses don't matter now, because the boys in blue won the only game that mattered, the last one. So what if Ottawa beat Toronto by scores of 8-0 and 8-2? That's ancient history now. One can't dwell on the past, doncha know.
And in other news, A.J Burnett made his belated season debut for the Jays against the World Champion White Sox. Suffice it to say, they lost. Burnett wasn't terrible, but compared to the Chisox starter Mark Buehrle, he was totally outclassed. The score was 4-2, hardly a blowout. All of the Sox's runs came curtesy of Paul Konerko's two home runs , both off of Burnett. I mean, he wasn't that bad, it's just he wasn't that good either, by which I mean $55 million dollar good.
And I would really like it if the Toronto sportscasters would put down their pom-poms for half a second and stop making excuses for Burnett. There's a fine line between commentary and cheerleading, and the's Jays play-by-play guys seem to be firmly planted on the rah-rah side. I mean, I understand that the company that owns the Jays also owns the sports network on which the games are broadcast (and the stadium in which they play, and sooner or later the air which they breath, and the thoughts which they think), so that essentially Vernon Wells and the man telling me that Vernon Wells is stepping up to the plate are recieving their paycheques from the same source. I understand that, I do. I understand that Burnett represents a huge investment for the Jays and that by extension the broadcasters also share a vested interest in Burnett's well being, but still, could they at least pretend to be unbiased? Just a little bit? Just because your boss is paying him big bucks, doesn't mean he's above criticism. A loss is still a loss.
And in other news, those lovable losers, the Toronto Raptors were facing the powerhouse Detroit Pistons yesterday and actually won. And yet, somehow life goes on. I'm told the game was sold out in Toronto, but you can be sure that those fans weren't there to see the Raps play. The season will soon be over, mercifully, and Brian "I Relish A Challenge" Colangelo will begin trying to turn this franchise into something resembling more like basketball team than a three ring circus.
And speaking of broadcasters who should put down the pom-poms, where did the Raptors even find Chuck Swirsky and Jack Armstrong? I assume it was in a lobotomy doctor's waiting room, because you would have to be slightly brain dead to be able to call 82 Raptors' games a season and still find reasons to be excited about this team. That neither of them has even contemplated suicide in their tenure with the team is a testament to their dedication. Or severe mental retardation. Either one really.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
I've been thinking lately, that if I were the Red Sox manager, I would never let David "Big Boned" Wells anywhere near a baseball when the Jays are in town (or any other team for that matter, but that's neither here nor there). Against the team he once called his own, Wells is terrible. I think he's a lifetime 5-9, with an ERA way up there when playing Toronto. Not that I'm complaining. He is after all, the one who blasted T.O's fans in his surprising autobiography (surprising in that, up till then, most people just assumed he didn't know how to read).
Wells was at it again, getting smacked around by the Jays yesterday, losing by a final score of 8-4. It was though, a good day to be sitting on the Green Monster, as the Jays' hitters put baseball after baseball up there. In one of the games more alliteratory moments, it was Wells squaring off against the Jays' Vernon Wells, but Wells went to the well one to many times against Wells, and well, Wells put it well above the Monster (I'll stop now).
That puts the Jays back at .500, and keeps their GB at a manageable 3.
In other news, The Leafs have rewarded the newest back-up goalie flavour of the month (Cristobal Huet, Tim Thomas, Hannu Toivonen, Antero Niittymaki, Ray Emery, Cam Ward, etc etc) J.S Aubin with a new contract. Am I the only one who isn't thrilled that Aubin has become the de-facto starter? I mean, yeah he's winning games, but they're meaningless games, games with nothing to play for except dignity, and even then, I think the Leafs lost that awhile ago. I just can't help but get the feeling the Aubin is just another flash in the pan goalie, red hot right now and seemingly unstoppable, but eight games does not a starter make. I just can't see this guy going 60 games for the Leafs next year.
I'm also annoyed the way Mikael Tellqvist has been shunted aside, cast off as old news. When Eddie "Upper Body" Belfour finally called it quits (for which I will always love him for doing), I was excited because it would give Tellqvist a chance to flex his muscles. He performed well enough, considering the Leafs still had a legitimate chance at the post season. But then came those two games in Montreal, those two playoff deciding games in Montreal, which the Leafs lost in front of Tellqvist. Ever since then, it's been Aubin all the way, and Tellqvist has fallen by the wayside. What happened to this guy one day being the number one guy? It seems more likely that he'll be traded come July. I swear, if this guy is traded and goes on to become a hall-of-fame type goalie, John Ferguson better watch his back.
Oh yeah, the Leafs are taking on the Islanders tonight. I'm not even going to mention the "P" word in the context of this game, or of the Leafs having anything to with the "P" word, because they don't. Have a chance, that is. Please guys, do us all a favour and lose tonight. End this charade already. It's getting painful to watch.
ADDENDUM, Sept 11, 06: What the hell!? We came up with that bit of alliteratory genius way before them. Our laywers are currently looking into serious legal action against these bastards. TSN.ca, watch your back!
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
When the Leafs are finally eliminated from the playoffs, no one will be able to point any fingers at Mats Sundin. If anything, that man is the only reason this team can still even pretend to be in the playoff hunt. Ever since winning a gold for the Svenskis (sadly, the only time winning and Sundin will ever be used in the same sentence) he's been on fire, scoring goals like it was 1999. The Leafs iconic captain was at it again last night, racking up four goals and two assists (that's six points total, for our slower readers) in a nail-biting 6-5 overtime win over Florida. Or so I've been told. Because the game was only available on the Leafs' very own digital channel, Leafs TV. Those bastards on Bay St. have shifted 13 games on to the specialty channel, only available those willing to fork over the cash. Long story short, I didn't see the game. And another thing: That was the first hat trick by a Leaf player since Stevie Sullivan had a four goal night of his own some six or seven years ago. And another thing: Steve Sullivan used to play for the Leafs?! What the hell!? How did they let him walk!? What were they thinking!?
And one last thing: I just read that Darren McCarty has filed for bankruptcy. Whoops. My advice? Offer to shave off that bloody goatee, and in return, his creditors would back off. Hell, if McCarty owed me money, I'd accept that deal in second.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
The Jays had one of those crazy-random Monday afternoon games in Boston today (what, don't people have jobs in Beantown?) and I managed to catch the tail end of it. The Jays almost kinda made it close in the top of the eighth, cutting their four run deficit to two off a Frank "Vinnie" Catalanatto homer, but really it was never going to happen. Paplebon came in and shut them down 1-2-3 in the ninth to seal the deal.
But I'm not here to complain about Jays lossing (I have a hunch that there will be ample time for that before the season's through). I noticed something funny during the game, something taht as a Toronto fan, I don't often see.
Right from the start there was this weird buzzing noise coming from the TV. I couldn't figure it out what it was for the life of me. I tried changing the channel, which seemed to stop the noise, leading me to conclude that it was not the TV that was the problem, but the game itself. Was there something wrong with Sortsnet's feed maybe? A glitch in the system?
Oh wait, my mistake. It was just the sound of a full baseball stadium, the sound of 50,000 people having a good time. My bad. It's just, when all you have is the sparsely populated Rogers Centre (formerly the SkyDome, formerly the House That Joe Built) to use as your frame of reference, the sight of every seat filled can be a little disorienting, if you know what I mean.
And another thing: How great would it have been if Josh Beckett had been up against not Josh Towers, but A.J Burnett? The ex-Marlins pitchers squaring off in a showdown to the end. Now that would have been some good baseball.
In other T.O news, the Leafs can, ahem, keep their playoff dream alive when they take on the recently eliminated Florida Panthers tonight. However, if they had any compassion for their fans, they would just put us out of our misery and lose. It would be so much easier on everybody.
The Raptors - is that eight straight now? Does anybody even care anymore? Just repeat the mantra, "think of the lottery, think of the lottery" and everything will turn out fine. Either way, they take on the Miami Heat tonight, in what should be a rather painful, one sided rout for one of the teams involved. I'll let you figure out which one I'm talking about.
Monday, April 10, 2006
So what's the deal, you may be wondering. What have I stumbled across this time, is no doubt running through your head. Well, you have discovered one of the blogosphere's newest hidden gems (did I mention that I was modest?).
We here at 63 Years and Counting are dedicated to Toronto and her sports teams, the Maple Leafs, Raptors and Blue Jays. The title reflects Toronto's sad lack of success at winning championships. The Maple Leafs, with a playoff miss this year (anyone who still thinks they can make the playoffs is invited to kindly go jump off a bridge. It ain't happening) will make it some forty years without drinking from Lord Stanley's mug. They last won it all in 1967, the year before the NHL's expansion. Since then, they haven't even made it to the final round.
The Raptors only came into existance in 1995, so the commitee of one is willing to cut them some slack. However, the way the franchise is going, the light at the end of the tunnel is still a long way off.
The Jays are Toronto's most recent winner's of anything, posting their incredible back-to-back World titles in 1992 and 1993. Unfortunately, the franchise has been resting on those laurels for the past twelve years, with not so much as a post season berth to show for it. This year's Jays seem to be serious though, with GM J.P. "Show Me The Money" Ricciardi finally opening up the wallet to land some heavy hitters. The way things are going, 63 Years and Counting is putting their money on the Jays to be the next T.O team to win something. We're not saying it's going to be this year, but compared to the Raptors and Leafs, both of whom are in the process of extricating themselves from the ground that they had been driven into, the Jays are looking pretty good.
But most importantly, this is a sports blog. There's not going to be any politics here, no celebrity gossip, no headline news, no siree. Just sports.
And another thing. Am I the only one who was happy that that Rollins guy didn't break DiMaggio's record hit streak? I mean, is a hit streak really a hit streak when it's separated by six months in the middle? The baseball gods made the right call on that one, stopping his streak before he got close enough to pose any threat. Imagine the big whomping asterix next to that record if he had actually gone through with it.
Speaking of asterixes, here's hoping that baseball's walking asterix, Barry "BAL- What?" Bonds finally figures it out and retires before he breaks the Bambino's home run mark. Does anybody really want baseball's biggest jackass to pass Babe Ruth? The only positive thing is that the way Bonds is going, there's no way he could pass Hank "755" Aaron. Thank God for small wonders. I would be able to forgive him for the whole pill-popping and lying thing, and even the jack assery, if only he would just retire his aging ass. Save everyone the headache. Please.
That's really all for now,
Sunday, April 09, 2006
So yesterday was a good day to be a Toronto fan. Both the Leafs and the Jays were in action, and both came out on top.
The Leafs were in Philly and smacked 'em around 5-2. True, all five goals were on the power play, and the last one was an empty netter... but any time the Leafs win a game by more than one goal these days is cause for celebration in my books. Especially when the other team is Philadelphia. That win puts them 3-1 against the Flyers this season. It's weird, but if this had been a season or two ago, that kinda record against the former Broadstreet Bullies would have been reason enough to pop open a bottle of bubbly, but now, I find that I just don't care. With the Leafs playing like garbage, and the Flyers no longer resembling the power house they used to be, the rivalry has lost it's spark. Perhaps because the game was essentially meaningless, it was hard to hate the team that eliminated the Leafs the last time anyboy competed for the Stanley Cup. The Leafs, despite being 5-0-2 is their last seven, have failed to pick up a single point on the eighth place team. (Side note: I really wish news outlets would stop saying that the Leafs are keeping their playoff hopes alive. Their playoff hopes died a long, long time ago)
The Jays on the other hand (I'm just going to pretend that they didn't lose today) showed some grit by coming back to squash Tampa 8-4. I had started off watching that game, in which Ted "I Don't Need No Spring Training" Lilly was making his season debut, but after three innings of all around bad play by the Jays, I gave up to go follow other pursuits. I mean, Lilly was stinking up the place. He couldn't hit the strike zone if it had been enlarged by two feet. But it appears my lack of faith was misguided, because right after I gave up on the Jays, manager John Gibbons gave up on Lilly, yanking him for Brian "Shave Those Side Burns" Tallet, and the rest is, as they say, history.
But with the loss today, that puts them at a rather mediocre 3-3. And here I thought these guys were the closest to ending Toronto's streak of futility. Sigh...
The Raptors have quietly assembled a seven game lossing streak without anybody really noticing. It's all about the lottery balls now, I suppose.
And the Leafs, despite being on a hot streak, are still doing little better than spinning their wheels in the mud. I just wish the headline writers would stop pretending the Leafs actually have a shot of going somewhere. With five games left, it would take something like a giant asteroid wiping out the entire Tampa Bay Lightning team for this Leaf squad to make the post season. And even then...
Saturday, April 08, 2006
So the Major League Baseball season got off to a start the other day, but much more importantly, the Toronto Blue Jays season started on Tuesday, with a convincing win over Minnesota. The Jays have an incredible buzz around them right now; anything is possible for this team.
For good reason too. The Jays' general manager, J.P. "Moneyball? What Moneyball?" Ricciardi finally decided that there was more than one way to win the World Series and dusted off the ol' cheque book, landing some free agent fish in the offseason. A.J. "Tommy John" Burnett, "Hammerin'" Troy Glaus, Lyle "The Other Guy" Overbay, and Bengie "Don't Forget About Me" Molina, to be exact. With those boys, plus Roy "Dr. Cy Young" Halladay and Vernon "I Don't Need No Carlos" Wells, the Jays have their first shot at doing something since the glory days of the early 90's. We should be so hopefull.
But if ever there was a year to break up the 1-2 Yankee-Red Sox stranglehold on the AL East, it's this one. The Yankees, while fielding a starting nine that could take on any all-star team, have a pitching staff with a combined age of approximately 250 years (180 without Randy "I Ain't Never Touched My Sister" Johnson). The Red Sox on the other hand, with the departure of Johnny "Stylin' In Pinstripes" Damon have returned to being those lovable losers we used to know and love (And another thing: What's holding Curt Shilling together? My guess is duct tape).
So things are looking up for the boys from up north. The general consensus among those whose business it is to know is that the Jays will be very much in the wild card hunt come September. Do the cards hold a World Series in the Jays future? Well, let's not go over board here, but hey, why not? Stranger things have happened.
And one more thing. I'm really surprised that no one else has picked up on this story, because it seems pretty obvious to me. With their opening night win, that puts the Blue Jays at 1-0 on the season. Going to my calculator quickly, that puts them on pace for...carry the one... multiply the denominator... add pi... a 162-0 season. I don't mean to beat the Jays' drum too loudly, but that's pretty impressive.
"Touch 'em all Joe"
ADDENDUM: So it appears I was a little premature in predicting an undefeated season for the Jays. Whoops, my bad. With their spanking at the hands of Minnesota last night, that puts the Jays on pace for a mediocre 81-81 season. And I had such high hopes for this team too... So you can call off the parade down Yonge St. I really thought this team could do something special this year. Sigh... maybe next year.