Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sorry, Me, But Miguel Cabrera Won AL MVP

Welp. The last post I wrote here was that Mike Trout deserved to win AL MVP, but that in all likelihood Miguel Cabrera would win because Triple Crown and playoffs and other dumb non-MVP reasons.

What I didn't expect was how lopsided the final vote would be - Miggy getting 22 of the 28 first-place votes.

Look, Cabrera had a terrific season. But the fact that 79% of BBWAA voters thought he was more valuable than Trout is, at best, a misinterpretation of what the word "valuable" means in the context of this award.

What's particularly frustrating about this year's old-school-vs-new-school vote is that Trout was a more worthy candidate whether you ignore or include all the numbers, be they archaic (RBI, AVG) or sabermetric (WAR, wOBA).

Instead of rehashing or stripping away all the math, let's focus on just one simple statistic - runs. Trout not only led the majors in that category, but had the greatest impact on the creation of runs on offence, and the prevention of runs on defence.

Trout got on base more than Cabrera, stole more bases, and played far better defence at a far more important position. And he did it despite missing the first month of his first full season in the majors, turning around an Angels team that stumbled out of the gate and leading them to a better record than Cabrera's Tigers.

How much more "valuable" could Trout have been to his team? What more could he have done? Short of taking Ervin Santana's turn in the rotation back in May, not much.

Cabrera was fortunate enough to put up totals that led the AL in all three Triple Crown categories - something that hadn't been done in 45 years, and that, along with his team reaching the postseason, is ultimately what gave Cabrera the edge over Trout.

But we may never see a season like Trout's again. It may have been the best display of baseball in ten years; can anyone honestly say that Miguel Cabrera accomplished that?

Hopefully it won't take another ten years - or 45 - to come around again, and hopefully voters will get it right next time.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Sorry Miggy, But Mike Trout Deserves AL MVP

In all likelihood, Miguel Cabrera is going to win the AL Triple Crown, a feat that hasn't been accomplished in 45 years.

In all likelihood, Miguel Cabrera is going to win the AL MVP, because of the aforementioned feat.

This may have been acceptable in 1967, but not in 2012. Mike Trout deserves to win AL MVP in 2012.

What Trout has been able to accomplish in his first full year in the major leagues is nothing short of sensational. As of this post, he's one stolen base from becoming the third player EVER to hit 30 home runs and steal 50 bases in a season.

If Cabrera hangs on for the Triple Crown, he will become the 16th player to do it. Impressive, yes, but not as much as it appears; it's more a matter of circumstance.

For example, Miggy will finish with a worse average than he did last season (a league best .344), and a much lower AVG than the 2010 winner, Josh Hamilton (.359). And the HR total is only one better than Jose Bautista's 2011-leading total, and far less than Joey Bats' 2010 total of 54. Ty Cobb won the Triple Crown way back in 1909 with a whopping 9 home runs, and Frank Robinson's good-but-not-great .316 AVG was enough to secure the Triple Crown in 1966.

Plus, two-thirds of the Triple Crown statistics - AVG and RBI - are increasingly being seen as irrelevant, as not true measures of baseball prowess, and again, largely dependent on circumstance. Miguel Cabrera hits in the middle of a great Tigers lineup; Trout hits leadoff. And for what it's worth, Trout has 83 RBI, driving in the likes of Maicer Izturis and Alberto Callaspo as opposed to the table-setters in Detroit.

And perhaps the most amazing statistic of all is zero: the number of games Mike Trout played before April 28. Trout has about 60 fewer plate appearances than Cabrera, and has still compiled eye-popping numbers.

Trout's WAR (Wins Above Replacement, increasingly considered the best and most accurate statistic to measure a player's value) is an astronomical 10.7, dwarfing Cabrera's 6.8. Without getting too sabermetric on you, this number means Trout is worth almost a full 4 wins more to his team than Cabrera - a significant number when you consider that four wins is the difference between the Tigers capturing the AL Central and missing the playoffs.

Trout has led his club to a higher win total, and has literally done everything in his power to get his team to the playoffs, short of physically moving the city of Anaheim to the Central Time Zone, which is unfortunately what it would have taken to put the Angels in the postseason.

When you also consider that Cabrera contributes next to nothing defensively and on the basepaths, you're basically saying that what Cabrera does at the plate 4 to 5 times a game is more valuable than what Trout does at the plate 4 to 5 times a game, plus playing a more challenging position at an elite level, plus being a terror on the basepaths.

And that just doesn't add up, no matter what statistic or formula you use.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Yunel Escobar’s Eye Black Is A Black Eye For Baseball

This was on Yunel Escobar’s face during Saturday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays game.

If you’re interested in what it means, you can Google Translate it, but suffice it to say it’s not a kind statement to the homosexual community.

Whether Escobar himself wrote it or the message was written by a teammate as a prank, it’s the kind of thing that has no place in this game in the year 2012, and will do nothing to improve his less-than-stellar reputation.

UPDATE: The Blue Jays have released an official statement.
The Toronto Blue Jays do not support discrimination of any kind nor condone the message displayed by Yunel Escobar during Saturday’s game. The club takes this situation seriously and is investigating the matter.
2ND UPDATE: Escobar was suspended 3 games on Tuesday, will participate in sensitivity training and have his lost salary donated to pro-LGBT causes . He apologized at the press conference, saying it would never happen again.  Jays manager John Farrell claimed no one on the team paid attention to what Escobar had written, because it was too small and he had written messages there before.

Needless to say, this is a pretty bad time to be a Jays fan right now: close to dead last in the AL East, ravaged by injuries, and now you’ve got a PR disaster in a city that prides itself on its tolerance.

Hat tip to @James_in_TO for the photo.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Dadpost: Don't Take Unsolicited Advice - Or Candy - From Strangers

This morning Sarah and I decided to take Hannah up to our building's pool for our first swim together as a family (she has a swim class but it's one parent in the water at a time).

There was an elderly woman already in the pool - she was there when I went up to check the pool's temperature to ensure it was warm enough for Hannah - and she remained in the pool when the three of us got in.

Barely a minute or two had passed when the woman decided to come over to us and share her years of wisdom. After she assured us to "not take offense" - I say "us" but she was looking at Sarah the whole time - she hit us with some knowledge: "Babies sometimes pee in pools."

When Sarah responded that Hannah was wearing a swimming diaper, this woman got way too close for comfort and almost kissed Sarah - whilst holding the baby, no less -  and followed that awkward moment up with another "Don't take offense" comment on her way out of the pool.

This situation left both of us a little stunned: what was the point of that exchange, and why would a complete stranger say something like that to us?

Sarah often encounters random people offering their advice while she's out with Hannah, and I can understand how frustrating it must be. Who knows their baby better than her mommy? Answer: definitely not some batty old lady or some housewife whose kids don't listen to her anymore.

This rarely, if ever, happens to me when I'm out with Hannah by myself; I just get people gushing over how cute she is. I guess it's because I'm the dad and the stereotype is that anything I do should be considered a bonus, but if that's the case, shouldn't I be getting bombarded with hot tips because I "don't know any better"?

It's a weird double standard and like most double standards, they make very little sense and are not based on fact. Both Sarah and I are more than capable of dealing with whatever comes our way baby-wise, and even if we're not always successful, we're confident that we have Hannah's best intentions in mind.

We've been with her every minute of her life. You, complete stranger, on the other hand, haven't even shared a minute of it, and if you're going to offer us totally unsolicited advice, that's the most you're ever going to get.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Dana White Cancels UFC 151, MMA World Asplodes

Here's what we know: Dana White has cancelled UFC 151 - the first time ever a PPV has been called off while he's owned the company - because Dan Henderson has a partially torn MCL.

We also know that White had Chael Sonnen lined up to replace Hendo, but Jon Jones refused the fight on eight days notice, under the guidance of his trainer Greg Jackson.

The plan going forward is for Jones to fight Lyoto Machida (again) in Toronto (again) in September.

Needless to say, Dana White is pissed off. He's called both Jones and Jackson out over today's conference call, calling the trainer a "f***ing sport killer". You should stop whatever you're doing and track down that presser, because it was pretty epic.

Having said that, I'm siding with Jon Jones on this one. From his perspective, it makes absolutely no sense to take this fight.

Jackson reportedly said it would have been the biggest mistake of his career, and I can understand why he'd say that.

Jones has the ability to go down as one of the greatest MMA fighters ever, and to jeopardize his legacy by taking a fight with a vastly different opponent eight days before the event would probably not be very smart.

The counter argument to this is laden with macho bluster, that fighters should take on any and all challenges, anytime, anywhere - regardless of whether it's the intelligent thing to do - and that to do otherwise means you're scared.

Perhaps certain factions of the UFC fanbase would be swayed by these Biff Tannen-in-Back To The Future- sentiments , but evidently it wasn't in the best interests of Jones' camp to agree to it. And since there's no clause in Jones' contract that says he HAS to fight, why would he, if he feels he wouldn't be prepared to successfully defend his title?

As a promoter, Dana White is obviously furious that he has to kibosh an entire event, and he's definitely losing a ton of money on this thing, money he can't get back. But as a fighter, Jon Jones - and his camp - only have to look out for Jon Jones, especially when so much is on the line.

His rep will most certainly take a hit - I envision an NWO-like entrance in Toronto come September - but when it's all said and done, Jones will look back on this decision and not regret it one little bit. And he shouldn't.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Bane Kiffin Tumblr Is The Internet's Reckoning

This Tumblr absolutely nails it, mashing up the egotistical antagonist of The Dark Knight Rises with the egotistical antagonist of the Pac-12.

Between the Sean Connery-through-a-megaphone Bane voice and the Christian Bale-gargling-rocks Batman voice, TDKR is chock-full of barely audible yet strangely quotable lines, and this certainly won't help the nonstop one liners.

Looking forward to USC winning the BCS Championship and Kiffin stepping to the mic with "Let's not stand on ceremony here!"

Friday, August 10, 2012

Dadpost: New Music For New Dads - Great Stuff You May Have Missed

*NOTE* You can also find this post on Playground Dads, where I'll be blogging about dad stuff as well.

I’ve been a dad for more than six months now, but I’ve been a music lover ever since I was about two years old. My dad played me a VHS taped off MuchMusic that included videos by Van Halen, Duran Duran, and The New Romantics. I was hooked. There’s a home movie of me air guitaring to “Jump” with a plastic tennis racket.

Since then I’ve spent the last 28 years expanding and refining my musical tastes, and while haven’t been to a live show in quite a while, thanks to the Internet (and Metacritic in particular) I haven’t missed much when it comes to new records.

It’s a pretty significant commitment keeping up with the latest and greatest stuff while also keeping up with my fatherly duties, and I hope to one day pass on my appreciation of good music to my daughter (she enjoys Rush, Tool and Genesis when I play them for her, but she also seems to equally like her mommy’s love of Backstreet Boys, Bieber and Bob Marley).

For now, I’d like to pass on to my fellow new dads some terrific music from the last few years that may have passed you by whilst changing diapers and attempting to put your kids to bed.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Canada: Land of the Three

*NOTE* This is my first post for Cosby Sweaters - hence the Canadian introduction. I'm sorry (how very Canadian of me).

My name is Chris Suppa, and I’m from Canada, where they apparently celebrate third place.

5/8ths of Canada’s medals are bronze. They have one gold medal, in women’s trampoline, which is a borderline sport in a competition chock full of borderline sports.

Canada also boasts five silver medals, which is nice if you like acknowledging the first loser.

Here’s the thing: the rest of the world only cares about gold medals. In fact, it’s only recently that North American media outlets altered their medal count standings to indicate that the country with the most gold medals - and not the one with the most total medals – should be on top of the leaderboard.
Makes sense, right? You won the most events, you win the Games.

Well, if Canada was honest with themselves and only counted gold medals, they’d be rubbing elbows with the likes of Slovenia, Norway and Grenada: all Summer Olympics powerhouses, to be sure.

I actually had a debate today with my co-workers (I work at a Toronto sports TV station – this is important information considering the content of said debate) about who should be the flag bearer for Canada if the medal count stays the way it is.

Most of them wanted Christine Sinclair, the standout player of Canada’s bronze-medal winning women’s soccer team.

That’s right: Canadians would rather reward the best player on a 3rd place finishing team than acknowledge the one athlete that actually managed to WIN HER EVENT.

This is perhaps the most Canadian attitude towards something not involving universal health care.
Sure, Sinclair was absolutely dominant, and has put herself in the conversation for the best women’s soccer player ever.

But this isn’t the Lou Marsh Award (for Americans, it’s the award we give to the standout Canadian athlete of the year – you’re welcome), it’s the Olympics, which is supposed to be a showcase for the very best, and third-best is not the very best.

Most Americans understand the distinction between competing and winning, and how winning is the only thing that really matters. When Michael Phelps doesn’t win gold, it’s considered a disappointment, as it should be. I’d wager he rarely gives a second thought to the silver and bronze medals he’s collected, and why should he? They’d just be reminders of the handful of events he didn’t win in his historic career.

Americans demand excellence and victory from their athletes, and because Canadians don’t have, and likely will never have, that mentality, they’ll have to settle for being also-rans and afterthoughts.

If you’re not first, you’re last. If Ricky Bobby gets that, so should Canada.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Dadpost: Solid Food Progress Report & New Blog Digs

It's been so far, so good in the solid food department for Hannah as she goes past the 6-month mark. Sarah and I have offered her solids twice a day on average for the last few weeks, and with the rare exception she's taken to them quite well. 

Her first solid food was Gerber Rice Cereal, but now that she's had food with actual taste she won't touch the stuff. I don't blame her really; if I was just discovering my sense of taste, bland rice cereal would be somewhere near the bottom of my list as well.

As the cook of the family, I've been waiting for this time in Hannah's life with much anticipation. For you see, one of the items we received at our baby shower was a Baby Bullet (thanks, Tina!)

There are not enough superlatives in my vocabulary to adequately convey how much I love this thing. It purees enough food for several servings, it's super easy to clean, and comes with jars that you can store either in the fridge or freezer. On each one is a little dial with the days of the month so that you can keep track of when the food was made (it's good for 3 days in the fridge, 30 in the freezer).

Combine the Baby Bullet with my rice cooker for steaming vegetables and I've got a formidable arsenal in the battle to provide nutritious homemade food for Hannah. 

Hannah's order of preference (roughly): bananas, sweet potatoes, carrots, peaches, sweet potatoes with chicken. Our pediatrician gave us the go ahead to add meat, but the added texture has proven a little difficult for her to handle. Although I am happy to report that today's feeding session with the sweet potato/chicken blend went well.

Next up are squash and broccoli with beef, which I just made this evening for her to try out over the next week.

We also give Hannah jarred baby food for variety and for ease of feeding during the day. She absolutely loves Gerber peas, and also enjoys the Heinz Apples & Strawberries.

Hannah's watched Sarah and I eat our meals at home with great interest, so it fills me with joy to be able to truly make her a part of meal time.

And now for a mini-announcement: I am pleased to report that Below The Mendoza Line has hooked up with the fine folks at Next Impulse Media.

You'll be able to see my sports-related posts at Cosby Sweaters, and my Dadposts at Playground Dad, so check out my stuff on there coming soon!

Friday, July 06, 2012

Dadpost: My New Television Schedule

Before Hannah was born, I was rarely up before 10 AM. Now, by the time 10 rolls around, I'm about four kids TV shows deep into my day before I head off to work.

Between PBS, CBC and TVO (three of the handful of channels I get for free on our HD antenna), we have a LOT of kids' TV options, and Hannah very much enjoys a wide variety of programming.

We're often at the mercy of weather conditions and/or construction on our building in regards to what shows actually come in on any given day, but this is roughly what we're watching. Most of these shows have their shortcomings, which of course only Sarah and I notice, but as long as Hannah is entertained that's the main thing.

The Earworm Factor refers to how much the theme songs/show songs get stuck in my head, 1 being "not at all" and 10 being "want to drill the song out of my skull, trepanning style."

8:00 - Curious George (PBS)

Curious George has always been one of my favourite characters. The first stuffed animal I ever got was a George, and I slept with it probably a lot longer than I should have. The movie was very well done and the show is also quite good. The animation style is modernized but the stories and the mood always bring me back to my childhood.

Earworm Factor (EF): 1 out of 10. None of the songs are similar to the original iconic theme, so they never get stuck in my head. The movie was a bit heavy on the Jack Johnson, but I guess his Dave Matthews-lite style works for something like this.

8:30 - Busytown Mysteries (CBC)

Based off the Richard Scarry series of books, a group of animals go around solving mysteries in BusyTown. This is a fairly recent addition to the rotation, but it's a pretty solid show, with one major flaw: Huckle the Cat ALWAYS solves the mystery, and the rest of the crew just throws out theories that end up being wrong. Also, the pig in the red shirt is kind of a dick, and is even drawn that way, with a frown 95% of the time.

EF: 5 out of 10. The main themes are starting to make their way into my brain; I suspect this number would rise if revisited in a couple weeks' time.

9:00 - SuperWhy (CBC/PBS)

SuperWhy is made by Decode (the company that made Undergrads, which was a pretty solid little cartoon about going to college) and uses fairy tales to help solve problems. It's a good show that is somewhat handicapped by a couple of things:

1) Every show is based around a "super big problem", and what qualifies as "super big" is sometimes a bit of a stretch. Whyatt's wasting water! He hears his baby sister say her first word, but no one believes him! He has nothing to do! Truly problems that rock the foundation of our modern world.
2) Red Riding Hood is USELESS. She's easily the least featured of the four major characters, and with good reason: her "problems" are pretty weak. In one episode this week, her "super big problem" was feeling bad for not sharing any of her bushels of apples. The Super Story Answer was "SHARE", but they should have added, "you selfish brat."

EF: 10 out of 10. By far the earwormiest show we watch, to the point where Sarah is singing it throughout the day. I'll be at work 5 hours later and one of the recurring themes will pop in to my head and refuse to leave, no matter what Rush or Metallica songs I attempt to counteract it with.

9:30 - The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That (CBC) / Dinosaur Train (PBS)

It's no surprise that Dr. Seuss translates well onto the small screen, and Martin Short as the voice of the Cat is perfect. The one thing that bugs me about this show, though, is the kids' mother. She lets them go, go, go, go on an adventure without raising much of a concern as to where they're going or what they're doing. Sometimes they don't even bother showing her saying yes; a voice just comes from the house. That's some kickass parenting there, lady. And the Cat knows he's basically running the show. He teases the kids as to whether or not they should go by adding, "Your mother will not mind at all if you do!" And you know what? He's right: she doesn't give a SHIT.

Cat in the Hat is also on PBS earlier in the day, but thanks to Busytown (and CBC's overall signal reliability) we've started watching it here, so Dinosaur Train often gets bumped altogether, which is a shame. I mean, dinosaurs AND trains! It's a winning combination. That said, the Dinosaur Train A-Z series of episodes is on WAY too often, and that can get repetitive.

EF: 7 out of 10 (Cat In The Hat), 3 out of 10 (Dinosaur Train). The song they play after the Cat takes off with the kids is pretty annoying, but at least it's the only one. Other than the A-Z song getting overplayed, Dinosaur Train's songs are pretty inoffensive. I can't be mad at an Elvis-impersonating dinosaur; he sounds like Johnny Bravo!

10:00 - Sesame Street (PBS)

Unparalleled kids TV awesomeness for 40-plus years. You know the Street is still the place to be by virtue of the absolute garbage that PBS and TVO throw on in their time slot. It's like NFL Sunday: everyone else gets the hell out of the way. Hannah LOVES Elmo, the old-school characters show up enough to keep me happy, and the celebrity guests are great. You can tell they're having fun and consider it an honour to be on the show, and that's because it is.

EF: 4 out of 10. Outside of the Abby's Flying Fairy School theme song, and the fact that all the songs in Elmo's World are set to the tune of Jingle Bells, the rest of the music in Sesame Street is solid.

11:00 - Sid the Science Kid (PBS)

If I'm watching Sid, it means I have the day off, as I usually start work at 11 and have to take off midway through Sesame Street. Sid is a Jim Henson creation, and he's part kid, part scientist and part reporter. It's pretty well done overall, though Sarah's criticisms of it are spot on.

EF:  8 out of 10. A close second to SuperWhy for most annoying songs. They do the same songs every time they leave for school, look for their friends at school, go INTO the's a bit much.

11:30 - WordWorld

WordWorld is a great concept: animals made of words build things using words. Hannah's too young right now to understand it, but when she's older I think she'll really dig it.

EF: 2 out of 10. Not much going on in the way of music; they're all about the words, yo. Word.

I'm not sure what it says about my skills as a father that I've written such a massive post on what I watch with my 5-month old daughter, but anyone who's watched their kid contently and quietly watching knows how invaluable a resource TV can be. Plus a cursory look at the most popular shows for grownups reveals they're not much more intellectually stimulating than any of the programs above, so don't judge me, bro.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Schenn-Gustavsson Era In Toronto Is Over

Note: not an actual era.

The Leafs rid themselves of two players who failed to live up to lofty expectations on Saturday, trading Luke Schenn to Philadelphia for power forward James van Riemsdyk, and the rights to Jonas Gustavsson to the Jets for a conditional 7th round pick in next year's draft.

Schenn was a minus-23 in four seasons with Toronto and while he was mostly the stay-at-home defenseman type, he clearly regressed and should benefit from a change of scenery and playing with his brother Brayden in Philly.

It should be no surprise to anyone that Gustavsson didn't work out in Toronto, but not for the reasons you think.

Imagine you're a promising young goalie in Sweden who lost both your parents before you've even signed a deal. Then imagine the general manager of one of the biggest teams in professional sports calls you "the best goalie not in the NHL."

Then, on the first day of training camp, you've been found to have an irregular heartbeat and undergo surgery.

Now go out and play the toughest position in hockey in front of the most unforgiving and cruel fanbase in the league.

All of these things happened to "The Monster", and now he's off to Winnipeg. He deserved a lot better.

As for the Leafs' actual drafting on Saturday, they grabbed yet another defenseman - Etobicoke native Matthew Finn - 35th overall, to go along with Friday's selection of Morgan Rielly. He's related to former Leaf and current human pane of glass Carlo Colaiacovo, so you know, that should work out great.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

LaDainian Tomlinson Will Retire A Charger

LaDainian Tomlinson is a Charger again, for one more day.

LT will sign a one-day contract with San Diego on Monday, and then start the countdown to Canton.

Tomlinson is without question this generation's greatest running back; his career accomplishments will make him a sure-fire Hall of Famer.

Here's a taste of what LT did in his 11 years in the NFL:
  • He scored a record 31 touchdowns in his 2006 MVP season, including 28 rushing touchdowns.
  • He set or tied 28 team records during his nine-year stint in San Diego
  • He's the first player to ever score 15 or more touchdowns in six consecutive seasons
  • He's still the only RB to rush for over 1,000 yards and catch 100 passes in the same season 
  • He leaves the game ranked fifth all-time with 13,684 rushing yards and second in rushing touchdowns with 145. 
LaDainian Tomlinson was a fierce competitor and one of the most dynamic offensive players to ever play in the NFL.

Let's send him off, montage-style.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Jonathan Quick: Fuck Yeah!

So what do you do after you've won the Stanley Cup, the Conn Smythe Trophy and likely the Vezina Trophy?

Well, if you're LA Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, you get really, really drunk, and you drop not one, not two, but THREE F-bombs on live television.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dadpost: Baby Fingernails

I'm starting to think that Hannah might be Wolverine.

Now before you get all Comic Book Guy on me, hear me out: they're both Canadian, they both don't do what you tell them to do, and they both possess incredible sharp claws.

And after Hannah sunk her fingers into my hand for the eleventy billionth time this morning, I think I might call Marvel to get a distribution deal done.

Oh sure, she might look all sweet and innocent, but just like our X-Man friend, those claws could cut through a man like a hot knife through butter.

I clip them every time we give her a bath, but that only serves to make them even more razor sharp. Even filing seems to sharpen them further.

Mohs Scale of Hardness might list fingernails as a 2.5, but that's clearly just a human average, because baby fingernails are somewhere around an 11.

I'm confident that Hannah's nails could scratch diamond, and would scratch adamantium if that actually existed.

If she ever learns to do the Berserker Barrage, we're all doomed.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Euro 2012 Day 1 Wrap: Greece Gets Another Bailout, And You Can't Show Any Weakness In Front Of The Russians

Well, that was certainly one hell of an opening to the 2012 European Championship.

On paper, Poland vs Greece looked to be one of the worst, if not the worst, opening match in tournament history.

On the pitch, it was...not that.

Two goals, one red card, two ludicrous yellow cards, one howler per keeper, one saved penalty, all in a match which could have featured exactly none of the above.

The Poles came out strong in front of their home crowd, which was to be expected, but the Greeks responded well and got two huge breaks from Polish keeper Wojciech Szczesny, first failing to clear a cross that led to the eventual tying marker, and then earning a straight red for a rash challenge that will leave him on the bench for Poland's next match.

Greece could have won were it not for a poor penalty take from captain Giorgos Karagounis, but given how badly they were outplayed early on, you won't hear too many complaints about the result.

Overall it was a much deserved sharing of points and a sign that both clubs are frisky and look to stand a chance of coming out of the group in second place.

I say second place with a purpose, because Russia has clearly shown they're the class of Group A.

The George Bush-haunting Russians blasted four past Petr Cech, two from 21-year-old phenom Alan Dzageov, who's already this tournament's Wayne Rooney, and is surely cashing the cheque to a top-flight international club for next season.

Dick Advocaat's side looks like a worthy challenger to whomever comes out of Group B's team deathmatch, which kicks off tomorrow with the Netherlands versus Denmark and Germany versus Portugal.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Dadpost: Baby's Growing and Mommy's Famous

Hannah will be four months old on Monday, and it's amazing how much she's grown up already.

She locks eyes with us in the morning and lights up, smiling wide and often. She loves watching Sesame Street in her rocker, sitting in her high chair while Sarah and I eat, and playing with her various toys and her various entertainment centres. She enjoys going on trips to the library, the mall, and to visit her grandparents.

Of course, it's not all smiles und sunshine. We're pretty sure she's getting her first tooth, so she's been mega-drooly and irritable the last few days, to the point where it's affecting her ability to sleep through the night, something I was definitely getting used to.

Also, as the weather gets hotter, so too does our non air-conditioned apartment. An overheated baby is not a happy baby, so we've been running the fan and cool mist humidifier to keep everyone's body temp down.

But overall, things are going well. I got home from work today and - after washing my subway-ridden hands - swept her up in my arms. The feeling of holding her as she cuddles into my shoulder and neck is indescribably blissful, and the 9 hours or so spent away from her are quickly dismissed and forgotten.

While I'm away, Sarah is at home taking excellent care of Hannah, and when she has the chance has been blogging about her first journey through motherhood.

Today we learned that she's been nominated as one of Toronto Mom Now's 30 Ultimate Mom Bloggers, and is in the running for a contest to determine who's got the best mom blog.

You can vote for YYZ Bambina Blog starting May 29 here.

Way to go babe! Hannah and I are proud of you.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Brett Lawrie Freaking Out Is A Metaphor For Baseball

So, Brett Lawrie will get suspended for the above. Most people - including most baseball people - will agree that the forthcoming suspension is warranted.

But what will umpire Bill Miller get? Probably nothing, or at least next to nothing; a warning or stern talking-to from the MLB umpire board of shadowy figures.

It's an imbalance that baseball continues to allow, for old-timey, prehistoric, bullshit reasons.

In virtually any other walk of life, Bill Miller gets reprimanded for being wrong. He gets held accountable for his mistakes, especially when they potentially change the outcome of an event.

But not in baseball.

It's really the one thing I can't stand about my favourite game: its outright unwillingness to adapt or change with the times.

Nostalgic baseball "purists" uphold this stubbornness as a virtue, as a part of what makes the game great. I say it's the part that holds it back from being excellent.

Yes, Brett Lawrie is mad. And he's justified. He got jobbed, and got frustrated. And he'll be vilified for losing his cool, and deemed deserving of whatever suspension he'll receive.

And yet, everyone will simultaneously acknowledge that yeah, the umpire made a mistake, but hey, whatareyagonnado, that's baseball.

It's pathetic, is what it is.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Vlad Guerrero is a Blue Jay

According to The Ken Rosenthal, the Blue Jays have signed Vladimir Guerrero to a minor-league deal.

Said minor league deal will reportedly become a prorated 1.3 million if he makes the big club, so Vladdy will have some incentive to get into game shape, and the Jays aren't on the hook for much if he stinks.

What this means to the lineup is unclear, but worst-case scenario Guerrero would be an imposing bat off the bench against left-handed pitching, and best-case scenario he resembles the Vladdy of old at DH, moving Edwin Encarnacion to first and sending Adam Lind to the bench against lefties.

Keep in mind, Guerrero hit .290 last year with Baltimore, and had a .300/29/115/.841 line the year before, so it's not like the dude has completely forgotten how to hit the baseball.

Plus, I mean, it's Vladdy freakin' Guerrero. Disliking Vlad is akin to disliking kittens, or patio beers.

Guerrero will become the 56th player to suit up for both Canadian MLB clubs, and his first dinger with the Jays would be his 450th career home run.

Oh, and he has a .411 career on-base percentage at Rogers Centre with 12 HR and 36 RBI.

In summary: yes.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Goodbye, Junior

Junior Seau was the reason I became a fan of the San Diego Chargers. He was also the reason I became an NFL fan in general, and part of the reason why my favourite number is 55.

He played with such fire and passion that it was impossible to not be a fan of his.

And that fire and passion could be one of the reasons Junior Seau is dead.

Seau played 20 years in the NFL. That's 2-0. Most NFL players don't make it past four or five years (the average is 3.3).

And that number could be one of the reasons Junior Seau is dead.

Throughout all the tributes and memorials that are to come, you won't hear a single bad word about Junior Seau, not even when he drove his car off a cliff in 2010 after an apparent domestic dispute.

And that level of respect could be one of the reasons Junior Seau is dead.

We've heard a lot recently about what happens to NFL players after they retire. In a lot of cases, the story doesn't end well, and it didn't for Junior Seau, or seven other members of the 1994 AFC champion Chargers roster.

Did Seau shoot himself in the chest, as Dave Duerson did, to preserve his brain for examination? To send us a message that, yes, there was something wrong with him, and to find the answer so that no one else has to die in this way?

Perhaps we will be able to answer that question, in time. Or perhaps not.

Either way, the sporting world has lost one of its all-time greats and a true professional, and unfortunately, his profession could ultimately be one of the reasons Junior Seau is dead.

We'll miss you, Junior.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Intrigue At Chavez Ravine

No, that's not the title of the latest Jackie Collins novel (sidebar: is Jackie Collins even still alive?)

On Saturday night at Dodger Stadium, Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals will take on Matt Kemp and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Oh, and some 19-year-old kid named Bryce Harper will be making his sort-of-anticipated major league debut.

All set to the dulcet tones of Vin Scully. I can think of worse things to watch on Saturday night.

If Harper sticks with the big club through mid-June, he'll be making a trip to the Dome from June 11-13; a Harper/Brett Lawrie encounter should send the bro-meter through the roof, which will hopefully be open due to nice weather, and to let the bro-ness dissipate harmlessly into the bro-mosphere.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

This Week In Terrible Human Beings

I won't write too much on this since it's been done already (and in far better fashion), but I will say a few things:

1) That couple is the WORST.
2) Shout out to Michael Kay for hammering the couple on air for a good inning or so.
3) If that was me at the ballpark with Hannah, I'd be giving that dude the business. No one's punking my kid like that for some attention-hungry cougar.
4) This will be all over Plays of the Week tonight (especially since I'm producing it).
5) Seriously, THE WORST.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Philip Humber Wins At Life, Deserves A Week Off

So how do you follow up a miracle pitching performance? With the miracle of life, of course.

Philip Humber - owner of baseball's 21st perfect game -  is now heading home to be with his wife as they prepare for the birth of their first child.

Humber's still expected to make his scheduled start on Thursday, but, if I may: FUCK. THAT.

His baseball career will never be at a higher trajectory; it's only downhill from perfection. And four days after reaching that high, he's about to reach another: welcoming the next generation of his family.

So if I were Humber, I'd be telling Robin Ventura he can go find some other jabroni on Charlotte or Birmingham to make a spot start, because I'm taking a week off to, you know, be with my wife and new baby, and ALSO I RETIRED 27 STRAIGHT BATTERS MY LAST TIME OUT SO GO FUCK YOURSELF.

Ahem. Congrats to the Humbers on the new addition to the fam.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Edwin Encarnacion: Heart & Soul of the Offence

The name "Encarnacion" literally translates from Spanish to "incarnation". So, if my Babelfish is correctly lodged in my ear, Edwin Encarnacion is "the embodiment of a deity or spirit in some earthly form". 

OK, a bit of a stretch, I know, but still, it drives my point home: through the first 15 games of the season (small sample size alert!), EE has been the Jays' best hitter.

He leads the team in nearly every major statistical category, even stolen bases (3). His 13 RBI puts him among the AL leaders, He hits cleanup against lefties, and probably should be against righties too; he's hitting .341 against them so far.

Unlike the usual "I felt great in spring" bullhonky , a few things have changed for Edwin. His swing is shorter and two-handed, as opposed to the long one of past years where his left hand would fly off on the followthrough. He also eliminated the high leg kick and lost some weight.

And his much-maligned defence has been a non-factor; other than three games at first, E5 has been on DH duty.

What's most surprising - and a sign that this might be for real - is that EE doesn't usually get going until after the All-Star Break. Encarnacion was hitting a paltry .209 / .333 / .374 when he was traded to Toronto in July of 2009, and EE's 1st half splits as a Jay the following two years were...not the best:

2011 - .255 / .283 / .405
2010 - .221 / .304 / .463

His current .323 / .368 / .613 line is likely unsustainable for a whole season, but it's nice to have a presence in the middle of the lineup that isn't a complete muppet (see Lind, Adam).

It wasn't long ago that EE was dubbed one of the worst players in baseball, so as Dean Pritchard might say, it's been quite a journey.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

If You're A New Parent, Or Just a Human Being, Read This

Drew Magary is one of my favourite writers. He writes for Deadspin and GQ amongst others, and his first novel The Postmortal is awesome.

His latest Deadspin piece talks about the last seven weeks or so of his life; his wife had their third child that many weeks premature. It is funny and sad and scary and genuine and all of the things that good writing should be. It is 100% worth your time, whether you're a new parent or not.

My cousin Julia just took home her baby girl after a premature birth, and I consider myself super lucky that Sarah and I didn't have to go through that. I'm sure it made everyone involved that much stronger, though.

Thanks for sharing this, Drew.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Three Kids > Two Blown Saves

Toronto sports fans - aka, the worst - have been quick to jump on new Jays closer Sergio Santos for costing his team 1.2% of the season, because, again, they're the worst.

Santos, to his credit, has admitted he's been overthrowing and thus letting the pressure of April baseball in Canada get to him (ahem), but perhaps this tweet from Shi Davidi sheds more light on Santos' possible "distractions":

On side note, Santos will be leaving team after Wed game for birth of third child Thurs. Set to rejoin team Saturday.

Having another child is a "side note"? This pretty much says it all, doesn't it?

Without going all Ozzie Guillen on this, the reasonable human beings trolls ripping Santos should really reassess their own priorities.

As a new dad I've learned that everything is secondary to the health and well-being of my family, as it should be. Has that attitude affected my performance at work? Probably, yeah. Do I let it keep me up at night? Absolutely not; I need my rest for when Hannah keeps me up at night.

Perhaps we need to remember that athletes are people with families, too, and perhaps their performance at their jobs gets affected by major life events, too, just like us.

So how's about we cut the man some slack? Or we can just watch how Coco Cordero does as the interim closer this week. That might also work.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Howard University No Longer Has Sports

We've heard of colleges losing a program here and there for various rape and non-rape related charges, but this is the first I've heard of an entire athletic program getting suspended.

Washington City Paper reports that Howard University is temporarily suspending all sports teams and all upcoming games while they conduct a review.

Details are scarce at the moment, but it appears to have at least something to do with textbook vouchers given to student-athletes:

...the university allowed athletes to spend money that they didn't use on books on whatever they wanted, a possible violation of NCAA rules.

Frankly, I don't see what the big deal is. I had my own personal program like this at Ryerson; my parents gave me money for textbooks, and I spent it on not textbooks.

I'm pretty sure we just call that OSAP up here.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Jays Demote Brett Cecil To Double A, Dirk Hayhurst Is Not 'Avin It

It seems I've read the same two stories about the 2012 Blue Jays all off-season: they're so underrated they're getting overrated, and that the starting rotation is the team's only and glaring weakness.

How these two trains of thought haven't derailed each other is a story for another day - that day being after a few turns through the back of the Jays rotation. But it appears we finally have an answer to the question, "Just who the heck is gonna start behind Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow and Henderson Alvarez?"

That answer: mercifully not Brett Cecil or Aaron Laffey.

Cecil's awful spring was rewarded with a demotion to Double-A New Hampshire and Laffey will presumably be left on the side of road where the Jays found him.

Joel Carreno and his wicked sinker will take Cecil's spot in the rotation for a turn or so, followed by Alvarez and Kyle Drabek. The Jays will likely shift Carreno back to the pen and roll four starters for the rest of the month.

This rotation shuffle seems to sit well with everyone except former Jays pitcher and author extraordinaire Dirk Hayhurst, who's filling up his Twitter feed with how much he disagrees with the move.

While I'm very much looking forward to reading Hayhurst's new book Out Of My League, I must say that said title aptly describes his reasoning.

All Tweets are [sic]'d:
OK, first off, the argument Vegas is where pitchers go to die is dumb.

No, it isn't. A cursory look at the 51s pitching stats from 2011 reveals that the likelihood of Cecil "figuring it out" in Vegas isn't great. Drabek was awful there last year as well.
2nd, busting a guy whose pitched in the Bigs or AAA for the last 3 years to AA is not better for their confidence, it's like saying "not only do we think there is something wrong with you, we KNOW there is. You cant handle AAA in your present state"

It's not LIKE saying that, it IS saying that. Cecil wasn't getting anyone out in spring training, and has no business being part of a rotation that's considered the weak link in a contender.

Young, lefties always have the potential to be something.

True, lefties often hang around forever as relievers, but a guy topping out at 89 as a 25-year-old isn't worth taking a chance on (see Mills, Brad).
I could go on - Hayhurst sure did - but Shi Davidi dropped the hammer on everyone:
Cecil says demotion was expected, that he chose to go to double-A because it gives a truer read of results

Boom, Garfoosed.