This much we know as Alex Anthopoulos goes to Major League baseball's general manager's meetings this week in Chicago: nobody's untouchable. He knows full well that the team's 75 wins is a minimum 20 wins shy of ever making the postseason. Roy Halladay will not be signed to an extension and is likely to be traded because "his timeline for winning and ours may not mesh," and free agents won't be signed because a perennial contender is not built on free agents.
That's all good, as is the news that Anthopoulos is full speed ahead in finding manager Cito Gaston's replacement. He won't pick door No.1, either. Anthopoulos will sound out other GM's who have hired good managers about the process they used, then begin interviewing candidates in spring training, starting with candidates either out of the game or managing in the minors. Coaches and managers under contract to major-league teams will be interviewed after the season.
Particularly revealing in Saturday's conference call was Anthopoulos' suggesting assistant general manager and director of player development Tony LaCava and new director of professional scouting Perry Minasian will be the two other voices in the room when he closes in on a deal. It will be a lean, progressive, quick-moving group not tied to the Flashback Fridays mentality. Those facts might not sell tickets - but it augers well, especially since Rogers Communications through Paul Beeston is sending out encouraging messages about payroll.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders' first CFL Western Division title since 1976 might help build momentum for replacing Mosaic Stadium. A recent Sigma Analytics poll for the Regina Leader-Post showed almost half of Saskatchewan residents favour a new stadium replacement for Mosaic Stadium, and 37.4 per cent are in favour of a dome. The survey came out on the same day that provincial enterprise minister Ken Cheveldayoff affirmed a $350-million figure for a new stadium with a roof. The Sigma survey also found when people were presented with two options - leaving Mosaic Stadium the way it is or improving or replacing it - 71.9 per cent choose change, and that only one-third of those favouring change would settle for renovations instead of a new facility.
Jacques Demers never could say 'no' to a microphone. After pledging to be above partisan politics, the Conservative Senator and former NHL coach has been doing "robo-calls" for Conservative candidate Bernard Généreux in the riding of Montmagny-L'Islet-Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup ahead of today's by-election … If you want to know what the whole NHLPA mess is about, read Elliotte Friedman's take on his blog on cbc.ca. This is a political struggle between older players terrified about protecting their pensions and cave in to the NHL, and younger ones who want to stand up to ownership. Chris Chelios was a good defenceman back in the day, but I'd want somebody with a brain leading me into the jaws of a labour battle … The Blue Jays were in on shortstop J.J. Hardy, but it would have taken Adam Lind or Travis Snider to land Hardy, who went from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Minnesota Twins for outfielder Carlos Gomez. They will talk in Chicago this week about catchers Chris Snyder of the Arizona Diamondbacks (the Arizona Republic reported Monday that the Jays backed out of a deal that would have sent Lyle Overbay to the D-Backs for Snyder, who had back surgery seven weeks ago) and Russell Martin of the Los Angeles Dodgers … Bulls rookie James Johnson is in line for more playing time now that Tyrus Thomas is out 4-6 weeks with a fractured forearm, including Wednesday when the Raptors host the Bulls at the Air Canada Centre. Johnson was one of the players Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo tabbed as a possible selection with his ninth pick, before going with DeMar DeRozan. Johnson went 16th and has been largely forgotten by the Bulls.
Noblesse oblige is a terrible thing to waste, as is demonstrated by the fact most people in Toronto are either apathetic or apologetic about the city getting the Pan Am Games. It's nice that Hamilton's getting a new stadium, and I guess that mass transit stuff in Toronto will be good, too, although it tells you something about the city that it's depending on a third-rate sports event to think of city planning as something beyond throwing up another condominium. The only people who seem worked up about this are the idle rich who lobbied for the event, and it will be fun watching Toronto try to make sense out of this because there are two things the city doesn't do very well: win and maintain perspective. To wit: "So, that's what it feels like to win, to shed the image of Loserville, to take on sporting challengers as a city and emerge victorious," wrote Royson James in The Toronto Star. Take that, Lima!