Baseball season began yesterday! The Jays start their season today against the Tigers, and I’m pretty excited. The Jays had a pretty good season last year, finishing second in the AL East, and big things are expected this year as well. Well, hopefully, anyway. They added Frank Thomas and Matt Stairs to the lineup, increasing the offensive potency of an already-potent lineup. I think that having Vernon Wells sign a multi-year million billion gazillion dollar contract helped to convince them that the Jays were serious. Adding Royce Clayton at short won’t make a huge difference, but it certainly won’t hurt. I was kind of hoping that J.P. Ricciardi would add a stud arm to the pitching rotation during the off-season, or at least someone to replace Ted Lilly. He didn’t, but Josh Towers looked more in spring training like the pretty good Josh Towers from two years ago than the woefully sucky Josh Towers who went something like 2-10 last year, and free agents Victor Zambrano and Tomo Okha look like pretty good signings. Last year, A.J. Burnett occasionally looked unhittable, but sometimes was quite hittable, so if he has more outings in the former category and less in the latter, he’ll be fine, and if Gustavo Chacin can get over last year’s injuries (though he had a lousy spring), the pitching staff should be no worse than last year, and possibly better.
In lacrosse news, the Rock have been playing downright lousy for most of this year, losing games to both New York and Edmonton, who are a combined 8-18. They are not only in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in history (they missed the playoffs in their first season as the Ontario Raiders, but haven’t since they moved to Toronto in 1999), but are also in danger, at 6-7, of finishing below .500 for the first time in history (they were 8-8 last year). However, when they played Philadelphia last Friday night, you’d never have known any of that. They kept the Wings scoreless in the entire first half (unheard of in lacrosse), and went on to win 15-6. Watson was very good in the first half, and amazing in the second, the defense was solid, and the offense was clicking. Ryan Benesch scored four goals for the third straight game, and is starting to make people forget Colin Doyle, though it’s probably too early to say that. Doyle was not only a scoring machine, but he made the players he played with better as well — look at Josh Sanderson and Blaine Manning. Sanderson has been fine this year, but Manning has been remarkably average, and is on pace to end up with less points than last year, which was down from the previous year. I can’t imagine a player as good as he is (was?) has peaked at the age of 26, but he hasn’t been injured or anything, so I can’t explain it.
The Leafs are close to backing their way into the playoffs and I’m not sure how I feel about this. On one hand, once they’re in the playoffs, who knows what could happen (see Edmonton last year), but on the other hand, reality hits — the Leafs are simply not going to win the Cup this year (not that I didn’t know that months ago). I remember thinking last year that if the Leafs don’t make the playoffs, that’ll send a message to management, who might make some serious changes to the team, rebuilding for the future. In that sense, not making the playoffs would be the best thing that could happen. They didn’t make the playoffs last year, but management didn’t do the necessary dump-and-rebuild, so we’re in the same boat this year. If they don’t make the playoffs this year, I have no confidence that the necessary changes will be made (i.e. trade all the big names, load up on draft picks and young kids, etc.), so we’ll be in the same boat again next year, and the year after that, and the year after that… Given that, may as well squeak into the playoffs this year and hope for the best.