#mlb

Is There Any Way To Fix The NHL Draft Lottery?

The NFL awards the first overall pick to the worst team every season, MLB does the same but based on win percentage (so many games, can’t keep track), while the NBA and the NHL have opted for the lottery system. If the system is set up properly, a fair chance is given to all the teams eligible for the first pick. The NBA will adopt a revised lottery system in 2019 when four teams, instead of three, will vie for the number one slot while the remaining 10 teams that missed the playoffs go in reverse order from worst team record to best of all the teams that missed the postseason.

Each team in the top four (or bottom four, I suppose) will get an equal 14% chance of winning the lottery. Now, considering many NBA teams can be defined by a single player like Lebron James or Kobe Bryant, the need for a franchise player can alter the team’s history, and yet the NBA is quite simple in their method of awarding the top three picks. No fancy gimmicks or jumping up eight spots and the like.

It’s a locked system at the bottom so there isn’t any funny business.

Before I did any research on the other leagues, namely the NBA, a fixed tier of teams at the bottom made the most sense. In the NHL’s case, they’ve put too much emphasis on every team missing the playoffs getting a shot at the first pick. It should be simple. It should be fair.

As a Canucks supporter, they no doubt have been given a pretty raw deal since their tailspin began and they started to occupy the bottom three league positions. This year, Vancouver finished 26th, 29th a season ago, and 28th in 2015/16. They picked fifth the last two seasons and in June they’ll pick seventh.

How is that possible?

In my proposed new system the NHL would adopt a modified version of the NBA model. If the league is worried about “tanking” they can assure themselves that if teams are truly bad there still is a chance even the worst team won’t be guaranteed the top pick. Instead of four teams, I propose the NBA’s original three-team program.

Give each of those teams an equal percentage chance of winning the top pick and because this day seems to be so marketable, logo up all the balls and put them in the lottery spinner just like the old 649 segment every Wednesday and Saturday night.

Obviously, the lead up to the big pick is a big draw and watching the big spinner rake go round and round just adds to the cheesery. No one cares about the teams that just missed the playoffs by a point or two, the draw is the ones on the podium. Even though the reveal itself takes seconds the spin that determines pick number three gets it all going. From there, Gary empties the globe and they have a fresh set of balls with the final two teams.

How many balls they put in really doesn’t matter, although there shouldn’t be too many or it will lose the effect. It’s now a 50/50 chance to draw the winning team ball and everyone is watching. There doesn’t need to be a room full of GM’s sitting like stooges watching cards being flipped over, where’s the fun in that?

Make it all public, make it real. Send the mascots, make it ridiculous when the winning ball is chosen.

When that ball rolls out to determine the top pick, the suspense sells the whole thing. Anyone remember this little nugget?

Watch how that Nike check just hangs there… a marketer’s dream. Imagine the Canucks lottery ball falls and that whale is sitting upside down, that’s a commercial right there. Now imagine that player goes on to do great things and one day hoists the Cup. They roll the clip of that ball falling and sitting upside down. Genius.

Adding to all of this is the rule that a winning lottery team is ineligible for the top three for two years afterward. A three-year swing is a long time in hockey and by then those same three teams from the first go around most likely wouldn’t be in that situation again, or at least one would hope they wouldn’t. The “Oiler rule” as it could be called would keep the league’s parity intact and help disperse the best talent somewhat evenly to a certain degree.

It’s not reinventing the wheel by any means but it’s a pretty simple fix to something that looks way too complicated. Maybe Jason Botchford would even support this model, maybe he’d even play the online button clicking game. We can all dream.

 

Follow me on the twitter: @always90four

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Blue Jays Travis, Colabello May Deal With Odd Man Out

The Toronto Blue Jays are trying to get to the post season for the second straight year and with a slightly different makeup, they have had to rely on multiple players to keep them competitive. The pitching rotation has a different look losing stud ace David Price to free agency and Marcus Stroman to athletic limbo. There have been key injuries to Jose Bautista and Troy Tulowitzki and the strange PED suspension of Chris Colabello.

That being said, the depth of the Jays roster has produced some interesting, surprising and somewhat relieving results. The loss of Colabello was a shock and angered many fans and at the same time confused them. Regardless, they had a hole they needed to fill. In 2015, the man with the soft drink likeness batted .321, had an OBP of .367, 54 RBI and 15 dingers. He was a regular fixture and important cog in the Jays machine.

Colabello then was suspended 10 games into this season and thus created a void.

Toronto has used Edwin Encarnacion mainly as a DH and that seems to suit everyone just fine (see David Ortiz). Justin Smoak has proven to be a suitable replacement and moving to base number 2 the emergence of Devon Travis has made the Colabello’s insertion back into the lineup slightly murky and not just because of the suspension.

Travis, thru 151 AB has a .272 AVG, a .315 OBP and 6 HR. He is 2 HR back of his season high last year, slightly off his pace of getting on base and realistically if the Jays continue to trend upwards, so will his average. DT is a young, valuable part of this offense and isn’t a liability at 2B. Adding to all this is the fact Travis has only been a starting fielder for 35 games this year.

Depth late in the season will doubt be key for the Jays and realistically the pitching will be their major concern. Looking at the infield though gives Toronto options at the trade deadline. Do they move Colabello/Travis for a depth starter on the mound? What will Jose Bautista look like by season’s end? What kind of bird food does EE’s parrot eat?

All important questions that need to be answered.

Recently signed Justin Smoak gives the infield a very secure look and triggers the trade rumours that much further when it comes to Cola. The Jays can only use one of these guys at a time and if they aren’t screwing up, its pretty tough to pull a guy like Travis or Smoak out of the lineup.

Looking at Bautista, he’s still an elite talent but the Jays have been relatively fine without him. Sure, they could use his bat and he still has a laser from right field but the maturity up and down the lineup gives the Jays options to move a roster player for a starter they know they need to advance past the regular season and deep into October.

Not having a veteran hurler like David Price may cost Toronto and Marcus Stroman is not even close to his electrifying self from a season ago so using the assets they have will again be important.

The Jays spent big last year to get as far as they did and the clutch Troy Tulowitzki gave them stability around the horn with Josh Donaldson at 3B. Darwin Barney has spent a lot of time in the lineup which just further cements that infield as stocked.

Moving guys to the outfield is basically a conversation ender as Captain Canada, Michael Saunders, isn’t going anywhere, Kevin Pillar is a bear trap and again Jose Bautista is still quite reliable. Not to mention Ezequiel Carrera has faired nicely in Joey Bats absence.

What direction do the Jays go as the season carries on? It seems that Chris Colabello being suspended not only cost him 80 games but it may have cost him his job in Toronto. The moral of the story is don’t do drugs and if you’re gonna do them, make sure no one can take your place.

Did I just say that, I meant don’t do drugs ever they are bad.

Your Toronto Blue Jays are 3.0 games back of the division lead and currently hold a wild card spot. I like the chemistry they have right now and I wouldn’t want to rock the boat too much.

This team can still get it done and they have gotten it done without a guy many would have thought they would struggle without.

Funny sport that baseball.

photo: thestar.com

Will Blue Jays Feel The Love In October?

Is it World Series or bust for Jays fans this year? Will they still feel the love in October? April 2016?

As Canadians, we tend to like a winner and if you look through all the Canadian sports franchises, there isn’t much to celebrate once the post season begins. The Stanley Cup hasn’t been awarded north of the U.S since 1993; despite the game being created by a Canadian, the NBA championship has never come to Canada, not even close, the NFL and the CFL well….. and of course the Jays won back to back titles in 92/93.

When the Blue Jays last won it all, I was 10 years old and Joe Carter hit a home run that still is vivid in my mind to this day; I don’t need hilites to remind me. Since then, September has basically meant NFL is here and NHL training camps are gearing up. Baseball fans tune out their emotions and watch Boston and New York duke it out.

Toronto has made strides to get back to glory but never all at once. Roberto Alomar, Carlos Delgado, Roger Clemens, Vernon Wells, Roy Halladay, Frank Thomas, Troy Glaus, Scott Rolen B.J Ryan and AJ Burnett; all names that bring both good and bad memories but they played for Canada’s team.

Always typical with any sports franchise on the cusp of doing something great: have a plethora of talent in one area but not the other. Pitching goes south and the bats catch fire, bats go dead and the pitching is lights out. You’d think because there isn’t a salary cap that the Jays could buy there way out of trouble.

They did. But never more than one star at a time.

Their other problem was that as soon as they developed a star, they traded him away because they weren’t in a position to win and felt they could just keep flipping and building, flipping and building. Why not struggle like the Rays did and eventually have a plethora of talent at your disposal?

Well, it looks like Rogers Media has pulled out all the stops and wunder GM Alex Anthopoulos has put together a dream team of sorts.  Anchored by some original talent like Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, the Jays have definitely put their money where their mouth is this year.

Trades bringing in Josh Donaldson for oft-injured Brett Lawrie, David Price and Troy Tulowitzki; big name signings like R.A Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Russell Martin have all put the Jays in contention to not only win the AL East for the first time since Full House was a staple of my Tuesday night viewing, but a chance to win the World Series and maybe keep some of the big stars around for a few more years.

But what if the Jays lose out to the Yankees by game 162 and slide to the one game playoff spot? Where will the Blue Jays fan base be? Can the bottom fall out that quickly? These are some pretty big questions that will be asked if it all falls apart.

The MLB post season is an enigma. Teams that run the table all year can be upset in one game or run into a hot team at the wrong time. With Toronto’s recent success, there have been struggles as well. Mark Buehrle has been less than perfect lately and Marcus Stroman is ready for return. R.A Dickey can knuckleball his way to a Cy Young but can he do it to the World Series?

Are the Blue Jays faithful going to be just that as this gets closer and closer? Hockey season is getting close and the immediate market Maple Leafs will be vying for the whole pie as will the Raptors. Winning fixes everything so maybe now IS the time for this to happen.

Sellouts and Blue Jays haven’t been said in the same sentence for many many years and now you take a look in the stands and seats are hard to come by. The nice thing about the real baseball fan and I believe there are tons in Toronto, is that they don’t appear corporate.

When Air Canada Centre opens for business in October, the suits will take over and the real fans will be stuck up top. Here’s where the Jays can really put a stranglehold on that cold month. If they are winning or assured a playoff spot the fans will be there.

Over the final month of play, the Jays have just over 24 games left. Seven of those are against the Yankees, a quick set against the Braves and the rest against the Red Sox, Orioles and Rays. I venture to say it will basically be playoff baseball here on out.

Even though the Jays have made their amazing push, the only let down for the Yankees was their series awhile back vs. Toronto. They haven’t let up. Its going to be a “who flinches first” race to the finish and if the Jays can hang on, they have the fire power both in their starting rotation, bullpen and their batting order.

Winning will make this all very sweet but even in defeat, Toronto has managed to keep even the most casual fan interested. Josh Donaldson’s season long heroics have been things of legend even on the wrong side of the score as have Edwin Encarnacion’s hit streaks and yard balls.

The addition of Tulowitzki and Jay killer David Price have put the Blue Jays over the top and only a monumental collapse could derail this train. The Jays are for real this time and every dollar has been spent to ensure they get a proper chance to succeed.

Fans are coming out in droves, new fans are being created, bandwagoners are buying merch and the thought of watching post season baseball on Sportsnet with Buck and Pat gets me excited.

Hoisting the World Series trophy is rarely done with a home grown team, ok aside from the St. Louis Cardinals. The Blue Jays won with some pretty big splashes back in the 90’s adding Roberto Alomar, Joe Carter and a few other notable players, so this isn’t the first time they’ve struck it rich.

Cash is king in baseball and winning it all by drafting, developing and making a run is practically impossible. However, just because you spend the big bucks, doesn’t mean you’ll win it all. It can be done on a shoe string budget, just ask the famous “Moneyball” GM Billy Beane.

So even though the Blue Jays spent their money a few times in the last year or two, the clubhouse they have right now is producing wins, fans and if they have it their way: a third World Series Championship. But if for some reason it all falls apart and they come up short, don’t expect this revitalized fan base to simmer down.

The fans are pulling for this team and the belief is real. No more let downs come mid September. The Blue Jays have what it takes to endure the marathon that is the MLB. AA has put together a winner and confidence has never been higher.

I wouldn’t mind seeing 1993 replay itself with a walkoff Bautista dinger.

This may be the start of something truly special. #thehuntforblueoctober

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

It’s 4th Down, Bottom Of The 9th With The Goalie Pulled

When it comes to football, baseball and hockey, the blame game often lies on the Quarterback, Pitcher and the Goalie. Is it their fault the rest of their team blew their assignments to put all the pressure on these guys? Depends on who you ask I suppose. These three positions are quite similar in how the public views them and what is asked of them by their coach and team mates. Who has it worse? Who deserves the most blame? Even championships can’t save these guys.

It’s Sunday Night Football, Brady vs. Manning, Rodgers vs. Romo; the spotlight is shining brightest on the man behind center. The matchup is always QB vs QB, not team vs team. Quarterbacks are paid the big contracts and are the face of the franchise. Who starts on Sunday is the big discussion on talk radio and when the chips are down every throw, run and sack is scrutinized.

Baseball takes a different approach by employing the starting rotation. Every team has 5 guys they deem are worthy of leading their team to victory once every 5 days. The pitching duel isn’t as relevant but again they face the most scrutiny because they are the players that start every.single.play.

Goaltending in hockey shares the spotlight that the other two positions do; the flip is that they are the last guy to beat before a goal is awarded. Unfortunately, the goalie is the one often blamed for a team’s misplays. It doesn’t matter if the defense is brutally awful or the forwards can’t cross center ice without giving up the puck, if the puck goes in, cue the boo birds.

Every Sunday the best quarterbacks in the league can be hung out to dry by a stellar defense or an offensive line that has more holes than swiss cheese. The QB is commonly the one to blame and his performance is the lightning rod for why his team did so poorly. The amount of study that goes in to one game is mind numbing: option reads, deep plays, the run game and the unforeseen flag all go into how a team fairs when they have the ball. A poorly timed pass can result in an interception that could end the game.

Once the pitcher steps onto the mound it’s his game. All the preparation and game tape can change in an instant when the first pitch of the game goes deep over the left field wall. Thankfully, baseball is played a pitch at a time and even a badly executed pitch can be recovered by a well positioned fielder. Quarterbacks can relate to a degree, the game is in their hands until they let go, then it gets real.

Even though a goalie doesn’t have the puck to start the game, it takes seconds to have them involved. Goalies have it pretty rough. There is so much that has to happen before its their fault, however, one mistake by anyone on their team can be forgiven if the goalie does his job properly. Goalies can be asked to steal games when the guys up front aren’t necessarily equipped to get the job done on their end.

What links these 3 positions together?

Aside from the crazy hate, relentless criticism and the ability to lose their job because they don’t win EVERY SINGLE game; all of these people share a remarkable mental toughness and are celebrated for doing a job most players wouldn’t want to be responsible for. Putting a blatantly obvious interception in the rear view mirror when it puts his team behind takes a special type of athlete and even more special when he can engineer a game winning drive in the last 2 minutes.

Having a pitcher give up consecutive home runs or walking in the go ahead run to have the reliever come in and strikeout out the side to get his team back in is something most athletes don’t want to be responsible for. Or maybe its the flip side and the pitcher has a perfect game or a no hitter going; its the loneliest place in the world but you know your team will do whatever it takes to keep it alive and it doesn’t matter who you cheer for, you want to see it happen.

Behind the mask, the puck is the ultimate decider of fate. A quarterback can throw an interception but the game isn’t necessarily over, a pitcher can give up a hit, doesn’t mean the winning run comes in; with goaltending, when the puck crosses that line, you failed. Its final. So much can be put on the tender for what HE didn’t do to keep the puck out when a blown assignment by his defense gave the goalie no chance aside from a miracle. Its a cruel, cruel game.

As the great Uncle Ben from Spiderman once said “with great power, comes great responsibility”. Nothing rings truer than these 3 positions. Championships are won and lost on a bad pitch, an overthrown pass or a screened shot. ERA, WHIP, pass completion, QB ratings, touchdowns, interceptions, save percentage, GAA, shutouts, perfect games and no hitters; none of that matters unless there is a W attached to it.

The pressure to perform at each of these sport’s biggest positions is incredible but the rewards can turn an ordinary Joe into Joe Montana. If I had to pick, goaltending is the hardest. The split second decisions are so drastic that a teams downfall can happen quite quickly. I don’t envy any of those guys.

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