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Archive for October, 2009

Toronto Maple Leafs Aren’t as Bad as You Think

This article has been submitted by the debuting Matt Rego…I didn’t have time to set him up as an author so for today he appears to be me. I wish! Welcome, Regg Ross.

We are just about three weeks into the season and our most beloved, and also most hated, NHL hockey franchise are winless in their first seven games of the season. Every hockey analyst has Toronto as the 30th ranked team in the league, and at 0-6-1 it is difficult to argue.

By going 6-3 in the preseason Toronto led the Eastern Conference with 12 points…mind you, that was the preseason. Leafs fans had reason to be optimistic heading into the regular season, as this team was exciting, fast, tough, and, despite Vesa Toskala’s best efforts, kept the puck out of the net. Now the big question: What changed between then and now?
More after the jump!

Hoops Addict Article - Perception is Reality with Isiah Thomas

T-Smith is back at it at Hoops Addict with some reflections on the recent Isiah Thomas/Magic Johnson literary-cum-you-hurt-my-feelings spat. Thankfully, he takes a greater focus on Thomas’ place in history and how the current perception of him skews what should have surely been a great on-court legacy.

Check it out.

Raptors Republic Article - Triano’s Basketball IQ a Source of Optimism

I finally got back on track over at Raptors Republic. While comparing Jay Triano to Sam Mitchell isn’t necessarily a fair exercise, I think it’s clear that the man at the helm is the reason for a good deal of the optimism surrounding the Raptors right now. Through his understanding of player psychology, his willingness to break the status quo, and his extremely high basketball IQ, Triano is a source of optimism for Raptor fans.

Check it out!

The On Deck Circle NBA Preview: Daniel Day-Lewis Edition

Carmelo Anthony Pictures, Images and PhotosWith the NBA season a mere two weeks away, the time has arrived to yet again break out a fresh batch of predictions, forecasts, and best-guesses. Having already covered the Absurd side of the preview, today The On Deck Circle will dive into the second half of our forecast, as known as the Astute. Everyone is talking about it! (No one is talking about it.) Read on for the (supposedly) insightful portion, where we offer up a dozen legitimate predictions on how the season will shake out.
More after the jump!

The On Deck Circle NBA Preview: Galifianakis Edition

With the NBA season a mere two weeks away, the time has arrived to yet again break out a fresh batch of predictions, forecasts, and best-guesses. Some of these season previews will undoubtedly offer up a list of banal platitudes and obvious observations (“The Lakers will be really good!” “The Kings won’t!”) to which I ask: where is the fun in that?

No friends, if The On Deck Circle is going to hand out a season’s worth of roundball predictions and prophecies, we are going to put our (my?) own twist on things. That is why this year’s version of the NBA Season Preview (now with 20% more Zing!) will be broken into two categories: Absurd and Astute. We’ll leave the insightful portion for tomorrow, and today offer up the zany, the jocular, the preposterous, and the possibly-Marburian.
More after the jump!

Hoops Addict Article - Turkoglu Represents Toronto

Trev just laid down a phenomenal article over at Hoops Addict, exploring how new star acquisition Hedo Trukogly represents the city of Toronto.

Check it out, but here’s a telling glimpse:

“Turkoglu signing with the Raptors this summer did not just underline the city’s unique position amongst NBA cities in terms of its global persona, it was actually a direct result of said persona. Toronto’s well-earned reputation as a ‘global city’ drew his eye (and perhaps more important to any married man’s decision-making, his wife’s).

Turkoglu’s exposure to the city throughout his NBA career allowed him decide that its character and lifestyle were to his liking, to the point that he did not even feel the need to visit it when on his tour of prospective free agent destinations. That speaks to his comfort level with the diverse multiculturalism it offered.

If we step back and examine this for a moment, it is a rather ground breaking idea. For maybe the first time in the history of one of Toronto’s non-hockey teams, the city itself was a selling point for a potential free-agent signing.”

Seriously, it’s a great read and you should let your eyes cop that.

Five for Fighting: Leafs Goaltending, Leafs Youngsters, What Laraques is Cookin, and NHL Rule Changes

Toronto Maple Leafs and the Goaltending Carousel
The Leafs’ goaltending situation is getting ridiculous, already. Obviously, nobody is happy with Vesa Toskala between the pipes. This has been the case all offseason as people clamored for Jonas Gustafsson and Joey MacDonald to be the team’s one-two punch in net, and after an extremely shaky start (4 games, .810 SV%, 5.57 GAA), an “injury” has put Toskala on the shelf for a couple weeks.

I put quotations around injury because a large part of the problem with Vesa is clearly mental, so this may be an early-season vacation more than anything. He spent his summer hearing the sport’s largest media market rip him to shreds, and he’s been booed on several occasions already. His playing style isn’t conducive to a lack of confidence, as his size is not such that he can afford to cower in his crease or look around defenders. Instead, he is bested suited to be aggressive, something he has not shown the willingness, confidence, or ability to do thus far.

I was a Toskala supporter in the offseason, but at the same time, Brian Burke spent a big chunk of energy and money chasing The Monster, and it doesn’t make sense to have him sitting on the bench while the starter struggles. If not for his own groin problems, the situation would be pretty clear – let Gustafsson sink or swim while Toskala heals up.

Instead, Joey Mac got the call (with James Reimer backing up in an emergency) against Colorado. It was ugly, and mostly unlucky, but he didn’t exactly solidify his roster spot when all parties are healthy, either.
More after the jump!

Hoops Addict Article - Los Angeles Lakers Season Preview

It’s the NBA season…it means I’ll eventually be writing again (probably), and Trev is back at his Hoops Addict gig. This time, he’s previewing the Los Angeles Lakers for this year and…well, let’s just say things are certainly going to be dramatic in LaLa Land.

Check it out!

1/82: What We Know About the Leafs

This title, which will be a running one for Leafs coverage here, assumes that knowledge is evenly distributed across 82 regular season games. This is not reality, of course, as we know plenty from previous seasons, the offseason, the preseason, and other “hockey insider” cues. Still, there are but 82 games that count, unless you are of an elite 16, so it is really only the truths these 82 games reveal to us that matter. Thus, after one night of NHL hockey, we know but 1/82 of what we will know about the Toronto Maple Leafs come season’s end.

1/82, or 1.2195%, is an awfully small glimpse of the overall picture. Still, if we are to take opening night lessons to be of any greater importance than a 47th-game’s lessons (and we all sure treated Game 1 that way), then we have some positive and negative things to look forward to when it comes to this year’s incarnation of the White and Blue.

The Leafs fell 4-3 in overtime to the Montreal Canadiens last night, an outcome that is surely disappointing and not necessarily deserved. The Leafs outplayed the Canadiens throughout the night; they won battles for loose pucks, controlled the time of attack, out-shot Montreal by a wild margin, and looked physically superior to the small-but-quick Habs. Still, records are all that matter and good efforts are essentially for naught, so the Leafs must take the OT loss for what it is – a single point, a disappointment, and an early building block for a team that is still carving out an identity together.
More after the jump!

Is Roy Halladay the 2009 Cy Young Winner?

Most Blue jay fans probably don’t realize that the team is still playing right now. For those that do, they would have witnessed (or at least known about) two phenomenal starts from Roy Halladay down the stretch.

On September 25, in what may be his last start at Rogers’ Center as a Jay, Halladay spun a gem against the Mariners, to the tune of 9IP, 0ER, 7H, 0BB, 9K. It was a complete game domination we have come to expect, though that doesn’t make it any less spectacular.

On September 30 at Boston, in what may be his last start as a Jay, period, Halladay shut down a potent Red Sox lineup, posting a mesmerizing 9IP, 0ER, 3H, 2BB, 6K. Again, complete dominance we have come to expect and take for granted.

While many are hopeful that these won’t be his last starts as a Blue Jay, it would be a fitting way to end a 12-year tenure where he has set franchise records in almost everything. His career line stands at 148-76 over 313 appearances (287 starts), 1.20 WHIP, .255 AVG against, 3.43 ERA, 1495 K, 2046.2 IP, 49 complete games, and 15 shutouts.

Arguing Halladay as one of the best pitchers of all time is an article for another day, and his place as the Greatest Blue Jay Ever is simply not up for debate. What he has brought to the franchise and the city is one of those unspeakable experiences being sports fans affords us; we can not describe it to a non-Jay fan, but every one of us will somehow hurt if he leaves the team this offseason.

But this piece isn’t meant to be a pre-emptive goodbye or reminiscing. Instead, the point of this article is to posit one more time a debate that Jays’ fans have argued for a decade now:

Be it resolved that Roy Halladay should be the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner.
More after the jump!