You call that vitriol? Okay, so Hedo Turkoglu's return to Toronto on Sunday afternoon came in a preseason game at the Air Canada Centre if front of 8,000 empty seats. Still, the boos? The catcalls? "It wasn't as bad as Vancouver," Steve Nash said.
Turkoglu, Nash and the Phoenix Suns were beaten 121-100 in a game that only reinforced that, on the rare occasion when Andrea Bargnani is awake, the Toronto Raptors have a chance. With two games left in the preseason - Wednesday against the Chicago Bulls and Friday in Montreal against the New York Knicks - Bargnani's first half had better be a harbinger. Otherwise, does anybody seriously doubt he's set up to be the target for Raptors fans this season?
Turkoglu attempted to disarm the fans with a wide smile and gestures. Like Damon Stoudamire, Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter and likely Chris Bosh before him, he's had little difficulty cutting ties with the team. "I never got much love when I was here, either," Turkoglu said.
Turkoglu's body language and complaints about his use were one of the subtexts to the demoralizing 2009-10 season. He bobbed and weaved around issues after the game Sunday, saying he never bad-mouthed Toronto, holding back criticism of head coach Jay Triano or general manager Bryan Colangelo.
But it's clear he felt there was some sort of campaign against him, and when the Raptors' history with high-profile players leaving under controversy was put to him, he shrugged and said, "I can make comments about that but people have to realize it's not always about the players. You got to see what's really going on and make your judgment after that. It's not just random guys. Chris [Bosh]was an all-star, the other guys were all-stars, too. People need to make a judgment, then, instead of just going after players when they come back here."
Thanks a lot, Joe
The capacity for NHL players to sell their peers down the river remains an issue that separates them from other professional athletes. And it's not just deliberately targeting opponents for possible career-ending head shots.
Joe Thornton provided another example when he decided to forgo free agency in the summer and signed a three-year, $21-million (all currency U.S.) contract extension with the San Jose Sharks, and then appeared to be doing handsprings that he had taken a $200,000 annual pay cut. "Back in the old days you could have gotten $12-million," Thornton told the San Jose Mercury News. "But nowadays you have to think of the team and what's best for the team."
This is playing into ownerships hands. Each free-agent contract is built upon preceding free-agent contracts and, if anything, all Thornton has done is helped ensure somebody else will also take less money. Donald Fehr has some educating to do with these guys: give ownership $200,000 and they'll take $500,000.
Cone of silence
Neither Tim Wallach nor Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Ned Colleti have responded to requests for an explanation as to why Wallach has a "clause" in his contract that prevents him from interviewing for the Toronto Blue Jays manager's job - from both the Blue Jays and from the media. Wallach, who managed the Dodgers Triple-A Albuquerque affiliate, is expected to join Don Mattingly's staff as a coach but the Dodgers have allowed him to interview for other manager's jobs, including one with the Milwaukee Brewers. That means that either Wallach disliked so much his time in Canada with the Montreal Expos that he asked for the clause to be included - which seems out of character - or that the Dodgers have an axe to grind with the Blue Jays over another personnel matter. Either way, it's chintzy.
THE FINAL WORD
At the heart of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment's problems with Toronto FC fans is the fact that the Reds supporters know exactly what they're supporting. They aren't Raptors or Leafs fans, who know that they are paying to see the best league in the world in their respective sports even if the home team stinks. Reds fans could see vastly superior soccer on Setanta or at the pub for free or on the Internet any day. For that reason, the contract between club and fans is much more important, and the lousy on-field product has made it impossible to keep support for the players separate from distrust of the MLSE suits. It is broken, folks. Pure and simple.
If it was just a job, I think I could already have it, and probably have it in a few places, and I really am flattered by the people who have had me in and have talked to me and even offered me a chance. But I'm looking for that perfect situation, and it hasn't presented itself yet.
With baseball 10 days away from entering its traditional news blackout period to coincide with the World Series, the ESPN analyst, widely-considered the most attractive managerial candidate on the market, tells Sirius-XM's Chris Russo that he will remain picky.
Number of goals Columbus Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer has scored in matches involving Toronto FC
Number of goals scored this season by Toronto FC's $987,000 pro-rated striker and designated player Miguel Angel Ferrer Martinez, known as Mista.
"I don't want to sound arrogant about it, but I've made so many postseason starts, to me, this is just another game. I'm looking to keep it close, just like I always do, no matter who I'm up against," Andy Pettitte
The New York Yankees pitcher tells reporters he feels no added pressure ahead of the third game of the American League Championship Series on Monday after ace CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes crapped out in the first two games of the series.