You'll need to pick your fights with the 2010 Toronto Blue Jays or you'll be driven to distraction. Case in point: The hand-wringing over Lyle Overbay's slow start, which is sure to gain force after his ninth-inning error yesterday resulted in an insurance run for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Overbay had a run-scoring, ninth-inning, opposite-field double on Saturday to break an 0-for-18 streak and both he and manager Cito Gaston - not Overbay's biggest fan last year - both liked his swing path. Overbay described the o-fer as "indescribable," and said: "Even though it's only one hit in one game, at least I know it's there."
You know you're in trouble in this city when they boo you pitch by pitch, as is happening to Overbay. Remember, though: He isn't keeping prospect Brett Wallace down on the farm and Randy Ruiz is 32 years old: he's not a prospect, for Pete's sake. Overbay's a free-agent after this season and his value at the trade deadline will be the same with bad numbers as with no numbers, so might as well let him hit his way out of his funk, no? Plus, his defence - yesterday's error notwithstanding - is important in a season that is first and foremost about keeping pitchers healthy. It saves pitches - and wear and tear on arms.
Thirty years in the business and I have never seen such acceptance of choking down the stretch as I saw in the Toronto Raptors locker room after they failed to make the playoffs. Other than Chris Bosh beating a hasty exit and looking properly annoyed, my lingering memory will be Sonny Weems singing. Of course, considering the ovation the Raptors were given after choking - not to mention the insipid cheering that greeted free pizza when the Raptors hit the 100-point mark - you could argue they were just feeding off a non-discriminating home crowd. Jose Calderon was booed louder when his mug was shown on the Rogers Centre video-board at Friday night's Jays game.
Garbage Time: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are masters of execution but when Erick Aybar laid down a bunt in the eighth inning yesterday it was their first sacrifice bunt of the season. … Ubaldo Jimenez threw one of the wildest no-hitters ever Saturday: He walked the lead-off hitter in the third, fourth and fifth innings by which time he'd reached 83 pitches (just 41 strikes) and he pitched entirely from the stretch from the sixth inning on at the suggestion of pitching coach Bob Apodaca … I find the Los Angeles Kings as much fun to watch as the Chicago Blackhawks. Could be worse things for the NHL than to have the Kings move on … Loved Alexander Ovechkin's answer when asked about his high-voltage start in Game 2 beginning, when he lined up Marc-André Bergeron. "Bergeron, he's not that strong a guy. It was mentally good for me." … in Saturday's 20-inning marathon win for the New York Mets over the St. Louis Cardinals, manager Tony La Russa's zest for double-switching resulted in the pitcher coming to the plate with the bases-loaded twice in extra innings.
Finally: I hate to spoil an easy narrative, but can we all forgo comparisons between the Blue Jays and the Montreal Expos? The Blue Jays attendance is not good - 126,054 through seven home games, an average of 18,007 and 28,339 less than last season - but take it from somebody who chronicled the Expos demise, there are several significant differences:
The Blue Jays are locally owned by deep-pocketed owners; the Expos were owned by New Yorker Jeffrey Loria, who took advantage of weak local minority owners;
Rogers owns the Rogers Centre and the revenue streams that come with it;
Rogers needs content for its sports channel;
Montreal's business community never supported the team by buying tickets - even when it was winning;
commissioner Bud Selig has no place to put the Blue Jays, as was the case with the Expos and Washington, D.C. Getting a team back in D.C. was a legacy issue for Selig, and unless they get a new ballpark Tampa Bay is the next team to move.
"I was trying to get over there to take the ball out of bounds and he started to talk to me so I talked back. He (Pierce) was on the ground crying. I don't know what was going on. Two actresses over there, that's what they are.''
- Miami Heat guard Quentin Richardson rips into the Boston Celtics Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett after a melee late in Saturday night's first game of their best-of-seven playoff series. Garnett received two technicals and could face further disciplinary action ahead of Game 2.