Welcome To North Sports!

North Sports is excited to welcome Mark and LaToya to the team! Mark is a proud country hick with the literary savvy of a true jaded urbanite. LaToya is a sharp witted Alberta gal with an insatiable love for her hometown Flames. As a Leaf fan, this makes me sick.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Not Unbreakable: Dustin McGowan Placed on 60-Day DL

According to various sources, including the Toronto Star's Richard Griffin, the Toronto Blue Jays have placed pitcher Dustin McGowan on the 60-day DL.

For the much-maligned McGowan, this is a major blow to yet another comeback attempt. In fact, this could be the death knell for what was once a very promising career.

Drafted in the first round back in 2000, McGowan was a flamethrowing Georgia high school sensation with control issues. For his first few years in the minors, little changed.

However, the slow-developing prospect eventually turned the corner in 2007 after lighting up AAA with an 11.6 K/9 and then getting called up to replace an injured Gustavo Chacin.

McGowan took this opportunity and ran with it. He finished the year 12-10 with a 4.08 ERA and 1.22 WHIP, including two complete games and a no-hitter that he took into the ninth inning against Colorado.

However, halfway through a slightly disappointing follow-up campaign, McGowan was lost for the season with a torn labrum in his shoulder. Following a torn ACL in 2009 and then a torn rotator cuff not long after, a July 8th, 2008 no-decision against the visiting Baltimore Orioles would mark the last time Jays fan have seen him pitch in a major-league game.

UPDATE: Further reports have just been released by MLB.com that the Blue Jays have placed Dustin McGowan on the 60-day DL as part of his rehab, not because of a setback or any further injury. The club has made the decision to transition McGowan to a reliever full-time, as it's believed this will reduce stress on his repaired labrum.

"The thing that you run into there is, what is the fatigue level, once you get to 80 pitches and above?" [John] Farrell said. "Is that where more damage takes place? Because if that's the feeling—[and] that's the feeling of the medical staff—now, you're looking at a five-inning starting pitcher.

"That's why we have to bring him back in a role that doesn't have limitations, that doesn't affect everybody else on the staff."

Although this cloud apparently has a silver lining, we still may not see McGowan pitch for Toronto in 2011, if at all. There is still a long road ahead for this once future staff ace.

Nonetheless, Coach Farrell is cautiously optimistic:

"The most important thing for Dustin is that he's had no setbacks," Farrell said. "[There's been] no need for added rest on the program he has been on. It still has a chance to be a very good ending to a tough road that he has travelled, but [it takes] a quality person to answer those challenges.

"He has some hurdles yet to come, but if somebody is going to do it, it's someone with his resolve and intensity that will get there."

Good luck, kid. Blue Jay Nation is behind you.

Toronto Blue Jays Sign 17-Year-Old Dominican Outfielder Francisco Tejada

News broke that Alex Anthopoulos and the the Toronto Blue Jays have signed Dominican Outfielder Fransisco Tejada to a reported $150,000 bonus.

According to www.mlb.com:

"Tejada is a 6-foot-4 outfielder with an above-average arm, plus bat speed and the potential to develop into a power hitter. He also is considered a plus runner having run the 60-yard dash in 6.5 seconds."

As a former high school sprinter I can tell those of you uninitiated that a 6.5 60 is incredibly fast. I ran in the Toronto Indoor Track Finals for 60 metres and the best I could muster was a measly 7.4. Incidentally, that was a lifetime best.

Further reports state that until this signing, Toronto was the only team in Major League Baseball this season to have not inked a player from the Dominican Prospect League.

Regardless, with both this and the January signing of 16-year-old Dominican LHP Jairo Labour (also 6'4" with a 92 mph fastball) to a $350,000 bonus, its clear that Alex Anthopoulos is devoted to Latin American scouting. We haven't seen that depth of talent mining since the halcyon days of Pat Gillick when we signed teenagers like Tony Fernandez, Damaso Garcia, Alfredo Griffin and Carlos Delgado.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Is Kevin on a Slowey Boat to Toronto?

Various dubious sources, including mlbtraderumors.com, have reported the Minnesota Twins are actively looking to trade Kevin Slowey and that the Toronto Blue Jays are interested.

I have little comment on the motives the Twins may have for moving Slowey. However, I find the notion that Toronto is any way interested to be spurious at best.

The first through the third spots in the Blue Jays rotation are locked in with Ricky Romero, Brendan Morrow and Brett Cecil. With nothing left to prove in AAA, prize prospect Kyle Drabek is all but assured the fourth spot. The only rotation slot still up for grabs is the fifth with Jesse Litsch and Mark Rzepczynski the two lead horses.

So, where would Kevin Slowey fit? The top four are spots are spoken for so I fail to see the need for a $2.7 Million player to pitch out of the five hole. Particularly when you consider that the current incumbents, Litsch and Rzepczynski, make a combined $1.234 Million.

Now before you accuse me of being penny wise and dollar foolish lets dig in to the numbers.

Slowey has a showy (sorry) record with a career 39-21 mark. However, if you did further you'll find that this may be his only redeeming statistical quality.

Never having pitched more than 160 innings in any of his four seasons, Slowey, with his pedestrian 4.41 lifetime ERA, is hardly an inning muncher with a measly 5.2 innings per start average. Some may counter that with his admirable 1.5 BB/9 career rate. To that I'll offer you his very generous 10.0 H/9, middling 6.9 K/9 and ugly 1.4 HR/9 career numbers.

Now, how do those stats compare to Litsch and Rzepczynski?

Mark Rzepczynski is a bit wild with a career 4.4 BB/9. However, this is fairly standard for young power pitchers. Rzep counters this with a sterling 8.4 K/9 to go along with career numbers of 8.9 H/9 and 1.1 HR/9.

Although the sample size is smaller, Rzep shows a higher ceiling as he's already averaged similar ERA and IP numbers as those of Slowey with much more promising ancillary stats.

As for Jesse Litsch, his ERA and WHIP are also comparable to Slowey with the glaring difference that Litsch has proven he can go deep in to games with greater consistency: as his 176 inning 2008 season and 6.0 inning per start average show (he's been injured off and on since then).

I will admit that his low strikeout rate (4.5/9) is a tad disconcerting but he makes up for that with a low 9.5 H/9 and very nice 2.4 BB/9 career stat line.

Perhaps the most glaring stat line is the comparative GB/FB (ground ball/fly ball) and GO/AO (ground out/air out) rates of all three:

Slowey: 0.48 and 0.61

Litsch: 0.91 and 1.25

Rzepczynski: 1.08 and 1.84

I can't see any reasonable scenario where Toronto would want such a hittable pitcher considering the stadium and division in which they play. Slowey would be a disaster here and with his contract, an expensive one.

One last point to consider; none of these reports originated from any Toronto news sources. Just putting it out there.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Twitter Hockey Fans: Your Trade “Sources” Also Live in Their Parents’ Basement

One of the main reasons I started using Twitter was to be in the loop for the most up-to-date hockey news. While it’s still good for that, it’s also good for a load of bullshit, now more than ever.

I didn’t realize that so many 400 pound hockey fans with cheetos-stained fingers had so many “inside sources” intricately involved in their respective favourite NHL teams.

“Well, according to Jarome Iginla’s wife’s sister’s cousin’s boyfriend’s best friend’s hairdresser’s tailor’s deceased grandmother’s uncle’s mistress’ illegitimate child, he is so going to Pittsburgh, and the Flames will be getting Malkin and 10 draft picks.”


The fact that people have discovered that trade rumours spread like wildfire on Twitter has been detrimental to our hockey world, and has also subsequently taken a substantial number of years off my life. You see, most people act like children, and the more attention that can be brought to them, the better.

We’re so willing to (rightly) write off Eklund with pretty much everything he says, but why not the joe-blow hockey blogger telling us that the Pens are seeking to move Crosby?

You see, we have to take a different approach to the hockey rumours we read on Twitter. Still not sure how? Lucky for all of you guys, I've made a chart:

Ultimately, I don’t give a shit that your hopes and dreams of playing in the NHL were shattered the moment you discovered you sucked at all positions. I do care, however, if you’re wasting my time by feeding me false information. I don’t want to fuel your hopes and dreams, I want to destroy them.

If you’re that bored, get a pet, or a blow-up doll. And stay in the basement.

About head shots

First off, is it "head shot" or "headshot?" I'm using the two word notation. Deal with it.

Not much more needs to be said in regards to the NHL, its officials, and the head shot issue.

Watching a game last night however, something struck me as very peculiar. It is a rule in the NHL, that if a player shoots the puck off the playing surface, its a delay of game penalty. The rule is simple. Black and white. Easy to enforce.

You never see an intermission panel discussing whether or not that call in the first period was a delay of game penalty. It either was or it wasn't.

And yet here we sit, night in, night out, discussing head shots and if THIS hit was a head shot, or if THAT hit was a head shot.

It doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

You would think it'd be in the best interests of Colin Campbell and the league to protect their players (not only the stars), so it baffles me that there is a cut-and-dry delay of game call but on ice officials have no official recourse when it comes to a shot to the head. There is a murky, unclear rule now, but in the end, it is left up to the referee's discretion.

Seeing as how every NHL referee is rather incompetent, this is a terribly flawed system.

Make it simple. Make it black and white. Make it easy for the officials to look good.

Follow Mark on the Twitter: @roseyrocket

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The curious case of Vernon Wells

By now, its old news that Vernon Wells is no longer a Toronto Blue Jay.

Angels fans are left scratching their heads at a move that Jays faithful are praising, seeing as how the club somehow not only convinced Anaheim to take Wells and his ridiculous contract, but send two quality roster players in return.

There isn't much to say that hasn't already been said really.

It is interesting to ponder though, how different this Toronto exit is from previous pro athlete departures.

Vernon Wells, with a reasonable contract, would have been adored in Toronto. He was always a class act, both on and off the field. He never once complained about the team or demanded a trade out of the city, like so many pro athletes before him.

If you think about it, Wells was even more gracious in departing than Roy Halladay.

In Doc's case, there were murmurs he wouldn't mind being moved, and he actively showed his frustration with the Blue Jays progression during his final summer with the club.

That is not to say Halladay was a dick about the whole situation, and who can blame him when he did show signs of wanting out?

With Wells though, there is just a somewhat passive sense of caring, and it is all to blame on the ridiculous contract the J.P. Ricciardi gave him some years ago.

Burger King could hire me for $100 an hour and I could be a dependable, adequate employee there, but never in a million years, would I ever be able to live up to that wage. And that is where Vernon was in Toronto. To justify that contract, he had to put up MVP numbers, and we shortly learned that would not be possible.

Don't blame Wells. Why would he turn down what Ricciardi offered?

If you forget about the contract (hard to, I know), and just look at the numbers, Wells was arguably one of the best Blue Jays of all time. Whether that claim is justified or not, Jays fans will never see it that way.

Admittedly, I was never a fan of Wells, even before the contract. Was he a serviceable Major League centerfielder? Sure. I always saw the bad side of Vernon though, like I do with most things and most people. The world needs cynics. I would see Wells strolling through a game with an I-could-care-less attitude. I saw him killing rallies by swinging at first pitches all the time, always popping them up. But to give him the benefit of the doubt, with a contract that ludicrous, the negatives are all anyone is going to see.

When the Angles visit Toronto this summer and Wells returns to the Rogers Centre for the first time in a road uniform, he should be applauded. Let's remember that he is no Chris Bosh, no Vince Carter, no A.J. Burnett. Wells put in a good amount of time here, and yes, played some very good baseball as a Jay. Not to mention, he was a tremendous ambassador for the city and the team. People should remember that.

But in the end...

Thank god that contract is off the books.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Dear All Sports Fans: There Isn’t a Conspiracy Against Your Team

It’s inevitable. You’re going to hear it from every sports fan.

“Why does the league hate my team?”

While I’m mainly a hockey follower, I don’t doubt that this is a common statement from every fanbase of a professional sports league.

“Well maybe if the NBA wasn’t busy humping the Lakers every 2 seconds…”

“Nothing is going to be done about it, the league hates the Canucks”(side note: it’s not the league; it’s self-respecting hockey fans).

“Crosby is only raking in the points because the league wants him to be their poster boy and therefore ensures that he is given the best opportunities to score, especially against Philly.”

“Penalties always get called on the Flames, and we never get any opportunities.” Maybe we’re just selectively trying to forget how awful their power play is.

Believe it or not, I’ve actually heard people say these things before. Well, I may have altered them a bit into proper English. We all know many of these people aren’t intelligent enough to properly use “therefore” or “ensures.”

Fact: every sports league is inconsistent in their rulings, reffing, etc. Yes, it’s true that Gary Bettman seems relentlessly determined to prevent another hockey team from coming to Canada, but is he behind the delayed return of the Stanley Cup to here? I sincerely doubt it. And don’t get me wrong; I’m no Bettman fan.

This was most recently heard in the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs while the Canucks were playing the Blackhawks. You see, their loss had nothing to do with the fact that Roberto Luongo nearly shit his pants anytime Dustin Byfuglien was within 20 feet of his crease. It did, however, have everything to do with the fact that Bettman didn’t want them to have the Cup. I guess that’s one way to excuse 40 years of mediocrity. Or you could just retire another number and again dedicate it to “the fans.”

Even more hilarious are the “rumours” surrounding Sidney Crosby’s relationship with the league. You see, he’s the poster boy. He’s the money-maker. He’s the man. The fact that he has been practicing hockey practically since he was in the womb is irrelevant; he’s clearly favoured. In every single game. Nothing to do with talent at all.

That’s why the league threw the book at David Steckel, right? Oh wait….

Lastly, and perhaps, most hilarious, involves the recent debacle surrounding Tom Kostopoulos and Brad Stuart. After watching the jaw-shattering hit on Stuart, there wasn’t doubt in anyone’s mind (anyone with a brain) that Kostopoulos was going to be suspended. After all, injury? Wham. On a Detroit player? Double whammy.

But because the league took longer than two minutes to determine Kostopoulos’ fate, the league was secretly sabotaging the Detroit Red Wings for being too good. Yes, the WINGS.

Actual quote from Wings fan: “I don't expect the league to look at this. If I am not mistaken, the player that got hit is wearing a Wings jersey.”


I mean, of all teams, the Wings are at the centre of a conspiracy? You mean the team that’s offered multiple power plays a game? The team that, for reasons unknown to others, is seemingly allowed to have every single player on the roster bark at the ref?

Yes, I am trying to drift away from the conspiracy theory crap, but the Wings most certainly get a lot of favourable calls. Not only this, but really Wings fans, what the hell do you have to complain about? It’s not enough that this team has practically dominated since drafting Steve Yzerman? Detroit has been a damn good team for so long that it’s unfair, and suddenly because the league doesn’t suspend every player that touches a Red Wing for 40 games, there’s a conspiracy against Detroit?


I hope they all felt like morons when the league announced a six-game suspension of Kostopoulos five seconds later.

So, all sports conspiracy theorists, listen here. Every team has been subjected to lopsided reffing and ruling. Some more than others, but that’s just the way it goes. In the NHL, you spin the wheel of justice and get what you get.

Instead of whining, just accept that your team sucks. Or that you suck. Or both.