Tom Brady rolls; Pat Gillick rolls into the hall-of-fame and the Leafs win on a Grabovskian spin-o-rama.
It must be seven in the morning:
1. Brady, as in de-ity
As Brett Favre turns to dust and Peyton Manning struggles, Tom Brady is slowly but surely securing the mantle of "quarterback for our times" or at least good enough to justify the hair.
Prior to last night's 45-3 beatdown of the New York Jets Brady had completed 70 of 95 attempts, threw for 877 yards and 9 touchdowns with zero interceptions in his three previous games.
"I'm not sure he can be rattled," Jets linebacker Bart Scott said before the game. "He's one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He's, well, he's Tom Brady, you know."
Last night Brady was, well, himself, if not quite perfect. He completed 21 of 29 passes for 326 yards and 4 touchdowns - a quarterback rating of 148.9.
And don't forget that this was against a team that was 5-0 on the road, the NFL's last remaining road unbeaten, with eight straight wins away from home overall.
"This humble pie tastes like a car tire and it goes down like peanut butter," Jets defensive tackle Sione Pouha said, perfectly capturing New York's night. "That's how it feels. Sunday can't come soon enough."
2. Down 4-1 the Leafs had the Capitals right where they wanted them:
The Alexander Ovechkins were humming along quite nicely, the universe unfolding as it should after Ovechkin scored his second goal in as many games - this after tying a career-long goal-scoring drought of nine games -- to make it 4-1 with more than six minutes remaining in the second period.
But then they got Grabovski-ed as the Leafs stormed back to tie and then win in a shootout:
"I don't know what happened [in]the last 10 minutes," Ovechkin said. "It started with our line when [Mikhail] Grabovski scored. . .a 4-to-1 lead after two periods is pretty big. Losing a game like this is pretty bad for us."
To make it even more orgasmic for Leaf fans - which is everybody, right? Right!? - Grabovski, who excels at shootouts because he doesn't get hassled for not passing, scored the game winner on a spin-o-rama. This is absolutely legal, by the way and is outlined in the NHL rulebook under section 24.2:
"The lacrosse-like move whereby the puck is picked up on the blade of the stick and "whipped" into the net shall be permitted provided the puck is not raised above the height of the shoulders at any time and when released, is not carried higher than the crossbar…
The spin-o-rama type move where the player completes a 360° turn as he approaches the goal, shall be permitted as this involves continuous motion."
3. Pat Gillick, a deserving hall-of-famer
For Blue Jays fans of a certain age - okay, my age -- the name Pat Gillick invokes an idealized father figure; a kindly-seeming type who never raised his voice, and was in turn eternally patient and brilliantly decisive. Pat could do no wrong; so no shock here when he earned his ticket to Cooperstown yesterday.
As Stephen Brunt writes: "His talents - and his quirks - are legendary. Gillick is, at heart, a scout of the old school, who loved to surround himself with the ancient wise men of the game long before he became one of them. He is blessed with a photographic memory, a remarkable repository of names and faces and telephone numbers which he can spin and access like one of those now-antique rolodexes."
But Gillick wasn't simply a (resounding) Toronto success story. He engineered two trips to playoffs Baltimore and of course helped the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies World Series champions; in Seattle he built one of the winningest teams in baseball history, the 2001 Mariners which won 116 games.
And while statistical analysis is the dominant theme in some corners of baseball now, Gillick believed in the human side of scouting:
As Mariners president Chuck Armstrong describes: "What comes to mind is, he got a fistful of plane tickets and he would go around and personally interview or talk with prospective players … and he would call me and say 'Arthur Rhodes has a good face and he understands what it means to be a Mariner.' And he told me what he wanted to do to get Arthur. And he did the same thing with Mark McLemore.
"Or he would call me and go 'I thought I wanted to get this guy, but now that I've talked with him and met with him ... "
4. But would Gillick have made the Shaun Marcum-Brett Lawrie deal?
Quite possibly, if the scouting report his Dad, Russ Lawrie, provided Robert MacLeod proves accurate. Father describes son as the type that would relish the pressure of being a Canadian on Canada's (baseball) team: