Saturday, October 03, 2009
In the history of the Blue Jay franchise things never looked much worse. Even during the expansion days or the Tim Johnson days it wasn't this bad. The clubhouse is a shambles. Who knows if the new GM is up for the huge job. The manager is a lame duck with the players calling for his head. The owners are uninterested in baseball except when it comes to the bottom line. The payroll is a mess with over a quarter of take home pay going to an underachieving player. And the fans have just about abandoned the team. Could it get any worse. Well yes it could when the few marquis players begin jumping ship.
How did we get here? Well 8 years under the guidance of a weak manager in the super competitive American East will do it. J.P. Ricciardi wasn't all bad. He just wasn't that good. He had this knack of finding serviceable players in scrap heaps such as Mike Bordick, Greg Myers, Chris Gomez, Matt Stairs, Scott Downs and C Rod Barajas. He made some pretty good trades such as when he picked up Eric Hinske, Marco Scutaro, Shea Hillenbrand and Scott Rolen. The current Blue Jay roster has some of his draft picks including Adam Lind, 3rd round 2004; Aaron Hill, 1st round 2003; Shaun Marcum, 3rd round 2003; Jesse Litsch, 24th round 2004; and Travis Snider, 1st round 2006.
However, he made some huge blunders in trades and at the draft table. Now every executive makes errors so you are evaluated on not a select number of moves but your decisions over the length of your tenure. For Ricciardi there weren't enough good ones. Remember the Cesar Izturis and Paul Quantrill trade, the Felipe Lopez trade and the Shannon Stewart trade. Some of the moves were motivated by trying to save money. Speaking of money - Ricciardi vacillated between offering large, bad contracts and looking to unload them. Vernon Wells' second contract extension will hamper the team for years to come. Frank Thomas' $18-million, two-year deal plus a $10 million vesting option for a player whose skills were rapidly deteriorating. Alex Rios' contract extension and subsequent waiver move to unload it. A.J. Burnett's $55-million, five-year deal with a last-minute opt-out after finally getting a good season out him. Corey Koskie's $17 million, three-year deal for another player that broke down. B.J. Ryan's $47-million, five-year deal - Ricciardi's first big free-agent signing, the addition was part of a rebranding of the team. Ryan was good in '06, was injured in '07, had a so-so '08 and then fell off the map this year, leading to his release and a $15-million writeoff.
But the worst part of Ricciardi was his arrogance, lies, broken promises, and excuses. He totally betrayed the fans and owners by promising that he could compete with the Yankees and Red Sox without their budget. His most recent take on the AL East is that without the money you can't compete. J.P. have you been watching the Tampa Bay Rays?
Thanks for the memories you bum!
Friday, October 02, 2009
The body charged with attracting more visitors to the midwestern state will now be known as the Tourism Federation of Wisconsin (TFW), in an attempt to put a stop to the jokes.
The federation, a coalition of local trade bodies, has now amended its website to reflect the more anodyne name, which has been changed for the first time since it was founded in 1979.
The website also features the group's new TFW logo, complete with squashed text to find room for the extra word "of".
Obviously fans are already buying Kessel jerseys. This one was picked up during the CBC telecast last night. Isn't it early to be wearing these things? He has yet to even practice with the team.
The extortionist appears to be Robert Halderman, a producer for CBS' 48 Hours. I wonder how much longer he will hold down that job? According to RadarOnline.com, Halderman lived with one of the woman (Stephanie Birkitt, a former intern) who Letterman was involved with. The affair happened a long time ago, before his son Harry was born, and before he got married, but he was living with his wife to be at the time. Birkitt appears in the skit below (Dave calls her Vicki). Letterman has had numerous relationships with staff. For years he was dating former head writer Merrill Markoe. His current wife was once a staff member. Supposedly Halderman is strapped for cash, but extortion?
Mike Komisarek must have been pretty hyped up for his first game as a Maple Leaf. To boot the Leafs were up against their historical rivals and his former team. But he's going to have to reign in his emotions just a tad if he intends on surviving the season. The official position of management was that they were "happy with his play". But were they really? He had 5 minor penalties and a fighting major. At this rate he will finish the season with 1230 penalty minutes (the NHL record is 472 minutes by Dave Schultz). He is too important to be spending a quarter of the game in the penalty box. And while he was killing time in the box, the Canadiens scored 2 powerplay goals. Playing physical and intimidating hockey does not mean playing stupid hockey.
But the most annoying part of last night's game for me was the fight between Colton Orr and Georges Laraque at the 1:51 mark of the first period. Talk about staged fights. What could have triggered a fight with only 1:51 gone in the first period in the first game of the season? They both looked light dumb stooges fighting over nothing. I can except signing physical players to make your team tougher if they can play hockey. However I'm not so sure Orr fits into that category. If he really is a hockey player, then why did the coach only give him 1:28 minutes in ice time? You hand out a $4 million contract to a guy who spend less time on the ice then the guys who scrape the snow away during commercial breaks?
Thursday, October 01, 2009
You don't have to follow baseball to know that the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry is one of the most annoying in sports. So when a die-hard Boston fan meets his match with fourth grade Yankees fan (in the state of New York), it's gonna get ugly. Unfortunately for the young boy, he has no say when the teacher forces him to flip his shirt around and hide the Yankee colors. It must be a great feeling to be able to flex your authority over a 9-year old.
Van Buren Elementary fourth-grader Nathan Johns thought his teacher was kidding when he instructed him to go to the bathroom and turn his Yankees T-shirt inside out.
No one should be surprised by Jim Balsillie's failed attempt to acquire the Phoenix Coyotes. He went about it the wrong way from day one. He liked to characterize the NHL as conspiring to keep him from purchasing a team to move to Hamilton. But really it has been Balsillie who has been conspiring to undermine the league rules.
Balsillie could have spent the past 3 years shmoozing the league owners and executives. Afterall, you need 20 or so Governors on your side to purchase a team. Or he could have positioned himself to be first in line for an expansion team. All he had to do was prove that he was a great guy, with lots of money and a love for hockey that was willing to play by the rules. He did the opposite. He has developed so much animosity that there is no chance that he will ever get a team now.
Craig Leipold, the previous owner of the Predators at one point was willing to sell Balsillie his team. Now the owner of the Minnesota Wild, Leipold was testifying as part of the high-proﬁle bankruptcy proceedings of the Phoenix Coyotes, recalling the six months of fractured negotiations in 2007 when he’d tried to sell the Predators to Balsillie. For two years, Leipold had kept his feelings about the Canadian billionaire largely to himself. Now, he is ready to be first in line to tar and feather Balsillie. Leipold isn't alone. This is not Gary Bettman conspiring to keep the NHL out of Canada. Balsillie made himself an NHL pariah.
In the end, Judge Baum had no choice. He gave Balsillie every opportunity to make peace with the league. Instead he continued to antagonize the owners who he needed on his side to purchase a team. The Judge understood that it would be too disruptive to force Balsillie on the league. After all, this was not just a bankrupt company looking for a white knight. This was a sports franchise that is part of a network of 30 franchises that must cooperate with each other.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
He only logged 91 playoff games in that time but scored 82 points in the postseason, retiring without his name on the Cup. But he did win Olympic gold for Sweden, so he's got that going for him, which is nice. There will be a lot of debate about how good player and leader he was. Are his accomplishments magnified by being a Leaf? We will never know how good he was because he played in a mediocre organization for most his career. Leaf fans hold Doug Gilmour in such high regard but Dougie never won a Cup in Toronto and he posted big numbers for a shorter period of time. But Gilmour visually demonstrated his passion for the game while Sundin was much more stoic.
Jonathan Papelbon drilled Adam Lind in the top of the ninth inning Tuesday night, running a 94-mile-an-hour fastball in on his elbow after Lind had hit three home runs. A Blue Jay reliever could have retaliated in the bottom of the ninth but it just didn't happen. This is a passionless team running out the string. Even when one of their few valuable assets gets drilled no one comes to his defense. It's no wonder the Jays are 28 games back. I'm sure Brian Burke would note that this team does not have proper levels of pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence. Just another reason why the team can't win.
UPDATE: Tonight Roy Halladay stuck up for his teammate by drilling David Ortiz right in the wrist early in the game.
Ontario's new rules prohibiting cellphone use while driving will go into effect Oct. 26, the government announced. But it will be Feb. 1 before drivers will be fined up to $500 for chatting, dialing, texting or emailing on hand-held devices.
I bought a bluetooth speaker for my car last week in preparation for the new law For those who dislike headsets I recommend it. The make is Blue Ant and clips onto your car visor. You can download you phonebook and it will announce who is calling you. It is voice activated so you can answer calls, ignore calls and dial numbers without using your hands.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Starbucks is now selling instant coffee, and the move will coincide with the company's first-ever television ads.
Nearly eight months after Starbucks started selling its Via instant coffee line in Seattle and Chicago, the company has rolled out the coffee to the rest of North America today. This is a little ironic coming from the very company that prided itself on crafting a perfect cup of gourmet coffee for an increasingly sophisticated coffee consumer.
Via will also be sold at Marriott hotels and on some major airlines, along with grocery stores next year.
I was given a sample today and it was fine if you like Starbucks coffee. It isn't really instant coffee as we know it - coffee crystals in a jar. This is micro-ground coffee so fine it dissolves in water.
While it's a risk for Starbucks, the move could be worth a lot of money, as the instant coffee market is worth an estimated $21-billion. Instant coffee is currently all the rage in Europe, and in some countries, it accounts for 80 per cent of all coffee sales.
The instant brew will cost $1 per cup, which is another attempt to give money-conscious consumers an alternative. But $1 for a cup of coffee is steep when you consider you supply your own hot water, mug, milk and sugar. I don't see Via being a big hit in the home market but rather it makes more sense for workplaces and hotels. All you need is a source of hot water and you have a cup of coffee which allows you to dispense with the need of a coffeemaker.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Tonight I thought he was acting weird. We had made plans to meet at a bar to have a drink. I was shopping with my friends all day long, so I thought he was upset at the fact that I was a bit late, but he made no comment.
Conversation wasn’t flowing so I suggested that we go somewhere quiet so we could talk. He agreed but he kept quiet and absent. I asked him what was wrong; he said nothing. I asked him if it was my fault that he was upset. He said it had nothing to do with me and not to worry. On the way home I told him that I loved him, he simply smiled and kept driving. I can’t explain his behavior; I don’t know why he didn’t say, “I love you too.”
When we got home I felt as if I had lost him, as if he wanted nothing to do with me anymore. He just sat there and watched T.V. He seemed distant and absent. Finally, I decided to go to bed. About 10 minutes later he came to bed, and to my surprise he responded to my caress and we made love, but I still felt that he was distracted and his thoughts were somewhere else. He fell asleep - I cried.
I don’t know what to do. I’m almost sure that his thoughts are with someone else. My life is a disaster.
Today the Giants lost, but at least I got laid.
Stolen from here.
2008-09 Opening Lineup
Blake – 35
Mayers – 34
Antropov – 28
Ponikarovsky - 28
Hagman – 28
Moore – 28
Hollweg – 25
Grabovski - 24
Stajan – 24
Steen – 24
Mitchell – 23
Kulemin – 22
Tlusty – 20
Kubina – 31
Kaberle – 30
Van Ryn – 29
Finger – 28
Frogren – 28
Colaiacovo - 25
White – 24
Schenn – 18
Joseph – 41
Toksala – 31
Average age: 27.3
Average height: 6'1"
Average weight: 202 lbs
Projected 2009-10 Opening Lineup
Blake – 36
Primeau - 33
Ponikarovsky - 29
Wallin - 29
Hagman – 29
Orr – 27
Stempniak - 26
Grabovski - 25
Stajan – 25
Mitchell – 24
Rosehill - 24
Kulemin – 23
Stalberg – 23
Kaberle – 31
Van Ryn – 30
Beauchemin - 29
Finger – 29
Exelby – 28
Komisarik - 27
White – 25
Schenn – 19
Toksala – 32
Gustavsson - 25
Average age: 27.3
Average height: 6'1.5"
Aveage weight: 202 lbs
David Bagshaw pleaded guilty earlier this year to the murder of Stefanie Rengel, whom he lured outside her Toronto home and stabbed on Jan. 1, 2008, at the behest of his girlfriend, Melanie Todorovic. Today he was sentenced as an adult Monday to life in prison with no eligibility for parole for 10 years.Todorovic was convicted of first-degree murder in a separate trial. She was sentenced as an adult to life with no chance of parole for seven years, the maximum allowed for someone under 16. The Judge had described Todorovic as the "puppet master" in the murder, but said while she may have given the orders, it was Bagshaw who carried them out. The description has certainly resonated with the public.
For the Rengel, they must be relieved that the trials are over. However, there must be a certain amount of anguish knowing that these two might be out of prison in seven and ten years. Let's hope that it is much longer.
Toronto-based electric car company Zenn Motor Company Inc. says it decided to switch its business strategy from selling electric vehicles to distributing an electric drive train.
Zenn has built about 350 all-electric, two -seater vehicles that sell for about $15,995 (U.S.) and have a range of 80 kilometres (50 miles). Top speed is 40 km/h (25 mph).
It was supposed to have launched the cityZenn car this fall which would have been highway capable vehicle with a top speed of 125 kilometres per hour (78 mph) and a range of 400 kilometres (250 mi). This would have been able to compete with the GM Volt and other electric cars being developed. CityZENN target price is around $25000 - $30000 which would have been very competitive.
It's hard to understand what happened to change their minds. Perhaps the big push in the past year by the world's major manufacturers to launch electric cars drastically reducing the company's advantage in the matter of only a few months. It appears it will try to take advantage of its electric drivetrain to sell its technology to larger manufacturers.
I know the Zenn cars currently in production have met resistance from Canadian regulators because of low speeds. In Ontario they cannot be used on public roadways.
Director Roman Polanski was taken into custody late Saturday night in Zurich, Switzerland in response to a 31-year-old U.S. arrest warrant against him. The Polish-born movie maker had entered the country in order to accept a lifetime achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival later today.
Polanski was arrested in the United States in 1977, accused of raping a 13-year-old girl after giving her alcohol and drugs at the home of actor Jack Nicholson, where he was photographing her during a modeling session. In a plea bargain, he was allowed to plead guilty to a charge of unlawful sexual intercourse and was sent to a medical prison facility for 42 days of evaluation.
The judge had a change of heart and it looked like Polanski would receive a prison sentence and then be deported. He fled to France and has spent the past three decades there. With no extradition treaty in place between the U.S. and France, Polanski was free to continue making movies, including The Pianist in 2002, which earned him an Oscar in absentia.
Polanski attempted to get the long standing charges dropped in a petition to the Los Angeles court system last year. His lawyers provided the court with an affidavit signed by the victim, 45-year-old Samantha Geimer (pictures at 13 and today), requesting that the court drop all charges against the director. She reportedly received an undisclosed settlement from the director years ago and was satisfied that justice had been served. The U.S. court system denied Polanski’s request.
The gas station clerk needed some way to identify a customer who was returning after being shorted $10 at the gas pump. Before scrawling "Black Lady - Big - Fat" on her receipt, however, he probably should have realized that she would be taking the receipt with her.
he customer, it should be noted, didn't have a problem with the first half of the notation, but found the addition of "Big - Fat" hurtful and unnecessary.