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Sports Illustrated. Joey Votto
Sports Illustrated. Joey Votto

The Look Ahead

The timing couldn't be better for Bautista, Votto Add to ...

In being named winners of the Hank Aaron Award, Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto-born Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds both added credentials to their bids for new contracts this off-season.

Bautista, the surprise major-league leader with 54 home runs, said he was prepared to play on another one-year contract.

"I have no problem with any concern the team might have that I could repeat again," he said, after being named the American League winner as most outstanding offensive player in an online vote among fans and a panel of Hall of Famers. "If I have to play another year under arbitration, I'll do it again. Maybe I won't hit 54 homers. Maybe I'll hit 60."

The case of Votto, the National League winner, is perhaps more interesting. Votto, who had an OPS (on base plus slugging percentage) of 1.024 and is a candidate for the NL most valuable player award after hitting 37 homers and driving in 113 runs to go along with a .324 batting average, is expecting a multi-year contract offer from the Reds in his first season of arbitration.

Bautista faced a barrage of questions about steroid use because of his surprise season and handled them all with aplomb and honesty. But he felt some of the criticism resonated too strongly in his homeland, the Dominican Republic, which is in the throes of a steroid scandal of its own involving young players. Being linked with Aaron, who is untainted by steroids, is likely one reason that Bautista handled several interviews in Spanish after the news conference, answering questions in great depth.

EXTINGUISH THE SUTTER FLAME

The Sutters continue to make a hash of things in Calgary, with Flames head coach Brent Sutter's recent rant against his top players failing to buy into his system a thinly-veiled slap Jarome Iginla. The captain has totalled five shots on goal in the Flames' past two losses, in which the Flames have been outscored 11-2. Hockey folks don't do controversy well - remember: they're all good guys - but there is something mealy-mouthed about the way Brent and general manager Darryl Sutter go about their business. From the outside, I'd say the system needs changing, as do those who put it in. The Flames play the Detroit Red Wings at home this week, then go on a four-game swing to Minnesota, Colorado, Phoenix and San Jose. Seems awfully early to have this much at stake.

TIP-INS

Ric Bucher of ESPN reports that Toronto Raptors guard Jarrett Jack is a trade target of the Miami Heat, along with Daniel Gibson of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Jack is a former college and NBA teammate of former Raptors star Chris Bosh, now with the Heat. Bucher says the Heat are dangling $3-million-plus guard Mario Chalmers in front of teams. … Erick Dampier accepted a one-year contract with the Houston Rockets for the biannual $2.08-million exception, turning down what his agent Dan Fegan said was a one-year contract from the Raptors that included a promise to consider a long-term deal based on Dampier's production. … Samuel Dalembert of Montreal could get his workload increased for the Sacramento Kings in their game Monday against the Raptors, after energizing the Kings in a span of 9 minutes 12 seconds in a 107-104 win Saturday over the Cleveland Cavaliers. working his way back from a strained left adductor that caused him to spend most of training camp in dry dock. "Sam's one of the best in the league at anchoring a defence, and he got us jump-started," Kings coach Paul Westphal told reporters. Dalembert had two blocks, five rebounds and four points and played 16:12.

NHL RAIDS NCAA

One of the consequences of the NHL's salary cap has been teams raiding underclassmen off National Collegiate Athletic Association rosters for inexpensive talent. That's why several NCAA Division 1 coaches are scheduled to meet with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Nov. 9 in Toronto before the Hockey Hall of Fame dinner. According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, NCAA coaches and Paul Kelly, the executive director of College Hockey Inc., and the former head of the National Hockey League Players' Association, want the matter to be addressed in the next collective agreement. But it's an issue that will also need some NCAA flexibility, since players who sign pro contracts aren't allowed back in school. So, often the only alternative for the NHL team and player is to send the player to the minor leagues. It's tough to come down on either side in this issue, because the NCAA as a body is no less loathsome than the NHL.

NUMBERS

7

Through 11 regular-season dates, the number of games in which Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla has been held without a point.

122 minutes 24 seconds

Toronto Maple Leafs goal-less drought heading into their game Tuesday against the Ottawa Senators.

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