Friday, April 04, 2008

Is it Friday Yet?

Oh yah, it is.

Go read Kat's post about the bitchiness that comes with these BBT things and her plea for everyone to STFU.

Although personally, I haven't seen any of this bitching and mean-spiritedness. Maybe my sunny personality and general positivity makes my tablemates so happy that we all get along. Or maybe I'm just not with the asshats. Donkeys, sure... but asshats? Naw. Not a thing. But I'm not questioning Kat, just saying I haven't seen it.

Out in the Riverchasers when someone decided that I had to be bluffing at the J74 rainbow flop when they held AQo and called for 1/2 their chips with 2.3:1 odds. Just because I had a pair doesn't mean it was a bad call on their part. I mean, they turned the Q, so it was obviously the correct decision by them, and poker is all about making correct decisions. We all know that calling = strength.

Just like I made a poor decision in an SnG later when I folded my pocket 77 to a re-raise and re-re-raise push. I would have been against AA and AQ. I would have also flopped quads and been able to walk away and come back to play some other dude HU later. See? A terrible decision by me.

Enough poker. Rant time.

My nation's big airline, Air Canada, is bringing a great new program. For a mere $25 or $35 more, one way, you can get access to customer service agents.

So if your flight gets cancelled due to, say, weather, you get a super-secret number (let's say... 91...2) to call where supposedly, someone who isn't a drugged-up drone will actually help you reschedule, refund, get hotel rooms, etc.. Or if the airline loses your luggage... or whatever else you may need to complain about I guess.

Fuck you Air Canada. This boils down to - "if you want help because we fuck up, pay us MORE money." And will inevitably lead to the "free" customer service dropping in quality even MORE. The good agents will be moved to the premium service, and there will be an tacit approval of worsening the free stuff to push people to the pay service.

What happens when the pay service becomes overloaded? A snowstorm for instance. The call centre will be swamped... so I'll have paid to sit on hold and deal with frazzled overworked agents? Fantfuckingtastic.

I'm sick of Air Canada's crap. Once, a long time ago, flying was a great experience. Your ticket paid for food (and it was better than today), headphones, pillow, blanket, real snacks, and you actually got decent service from people who realized they were being paid for ONE thing - SERVICE. Now? Pay $5 for a shitty sandwich or something that resembles pizza. $2 for an inflatable pillow you have to blow up yourself. Shitty sesame snacks, or my favourite - cashews - because nobody could be allergic to those instead of peanuts. Rude service, security theatre, and a general disregard for the passenger who is PAYING YOUR FUCKING SALARY.

Well, not me... I fly for free.

Now let's talk sports.

The Leafs season is over tomorrow night. They're in 12th place, but I'm pulling for them to win their last game and maybe take 11th, so my pre-season prediction can be right. Not that it matters. They'll have a shitty draft pick and no ability to rebuild. This team need a firehose up the ass to clean itself out. But nope, despite rumours of Brian Burke coming to town, next year's team will look very similar.

Why? Because there's nothing they can do. They either sign Sundin or he retires. Tucker, Blake, and McCabe have no-movement clauses. Kubina is now tradeable, and actually worth something. You can't really trade Kaberle or Toskala. The rest of the team are a bunch of no-name young guys, so you'd be trading for equivalent players. Throw in the salary cap and you've got some serious restrictions.

Antropov has FINALLY had a decent season, if not a full one yet. He made 72 games, which is what I said would take to impress me. It was a career year for him, and I think he's worth another season if he can stay healthy. That said, if the right offer comes along, he's very tradeable.

Ponikarovsky had an off year, and only played 65 games. Still tradeable, but possibly worth more to keep if he's healthy next year.

Personally, I'd bring back Sundin, keep Tucker, buy out Blake, and convince McCabe to waive his clause and see if anybody wants him. If not, buy him out too. Trade Kubina for some prospects and then see what you've got. This leaves the team with one proven defenseman, a decent goalie, a captain whose primary goal is to mentor the young players, and a heart player who can score to teach a bit of grit. You rebuild with an eye to Pogge coming up in a couple years to take over goaltending duties once Toskala gets tired of playing on a losing team. There's promise in some of our youth, and I think it's high time they got more ice time and a chance to live or die on their own accord.

Stajan, Steen, Wellwood, Pohl, Stralman, Newbury, Ondrus and Devereaux all have something to offer. Putting the team on the youth's shoulders could crush some of them, but make other excel. Trial by fire is needed.

And perhaps they can wrap Colaiacavo in padding and he can play some defense without getting injured.. 28 games. Sheesh.

This team needs a serious rebuild. I think that requires a year with the youth getting a run, and a couple veterans around to lead them. A year where these same young guys get a chance to take over that leadership role, and then you start filling holes. It's a 4-5 year plan any way you look at it. It's total bullshit that Leafs fans won't tolerate a rebuild. We've waited 41 years for a Stanely Cup, and 3 seasons now just to see the playoffs. We lived through the Ballard years where any shred of talent was traded in order for Harold to make more money. Leafs fans are brainless sheep who will keep paying to see games, no matter how shitty the team. There's 41 years of history to prove that. 4-5 more with marked improvement isn't going to change that. Plus, the money that would be made if they actually WON some games would more than make up for it. It's a bandwagon with some serious shock absorbers.

Vancouver went and botched it too and are out. Good job Canucks. Edmonton is out as well. The Canadiens are near the top, and the Flames squeaked in. Ottawa holds its destiny in its own hands... needing to at least see overtime against Boston to make the playoffs. Way to fuck up a season Sens. So... 2 or 3 Canadian teams in the playoffs?

But it's baseball season anyway. Jays are 1-2 after their opening series with those most-hated of teams... the Yankees. Three stellar pitching performances by our starters fucked up by our fielding in later innings. Well, not the first game.. that was stellar Yankee fielding that hurt us... and maybe a missed DP or two on our side.

Tonight is the home-opener against the nearly as-hated Red Sox. Marcum vs Wakefield. Could be good. I'll be 5 rows back with some buddies, insulting the Sox and the Blue Jays base coaches all game long.

The Jays have an odd sense around them this year. The refrain is "if all the pieces fit, this will be a good team." What the fuck is that? This is a team that is a favourite for first place in ANY OTHER DIVISION. The problem is we've got the Sox and Yankees and their huge payrolls in ours. Not that the Jays $96 Mil is peanuts. After last year, I'd submit we have the best starting rotation in the league. Halladay, Burnett, McGowan, Marcum, Litsch. What? You don't know those names? That's because they play in Toronto. Accardo is a fine closer, but we only get better when Ryan is back and Accardo moves to setup. The batting? Wells, Rios, Thomas, Rolen, Eckstein, Overbay, Hill, Stairs/Stewart, Zaun/Barajas. This is a lineup made to manufacture runs and clobber the ball when needed.

So what's this trepidation? Because last year looked very similar. We have a much better starting rotation, and have improved the batting somewhat this year. Last year it was injuries that crippled us, and absolutely inexplicable atrocious hitting. This is where my concern comes in. Rolen is already down for a few weeks. We've lost Janssen for the year, and Stairs has a minor ankle issue. I don't know if we canned last year's training staff or not, but we've got a new hitting coach, which can only be an improvement. But if the last few games have been any indication, it's looking like a slow start, with the Jays STILL leaving a ton of guys on base. It doesn't matter if you move them to third if you can't get them home. The OBP HAS to improve this year if we're going to do anything.

And apparently, our fielding could use a bit of work, but that will come. Wells and Rios cover a lot of ground and can throw in the OF. Hill, Eckstein, Overbay, and Rolen are all great infielders, with Scutaro showing he's a good swingman, and McDonald is fantastic in the middle. There's nothing wrong with Zaun or Barajas' catching. Our only obvious fielding hole we have is left. Shannon Stewart and Matt Stais platooning. Stewart has no arm, and Stairs is 40 and can't cover as much ground. Reed Johnson was a solid player there, but I have to assume he's more hurt than we know if they just bought him out to keep those two in play. But other than that hole, it's a field of gold-glove-calibre proportions. It's just going to take some time for Rolen and Eckstein to find their groove with Hill and Overbay. If Eckstein stays wild, I've got no issue with putting McDonald in there for a while to show him how it's done.

So, the team is quality. The coach is solid. Ownership is willing. Management isn't a hurdle (although Ricciardi is having some contract problems with Rios and Hill.. and Rios is worth whatever he costs). The question marks are health, the batting coach, and... heart. I don't doubt the willingness of any player on the team to play hard and win... but it'll be up to the fans to keep them up for the season. Sadly, Jays fans are known to be a touch... quiet. I'll do my part to change that tonight.

Let's go Raptors! Wait... that's next week's game.

I'm sure I could fill in some more space here, but you stopped reading 7 paragraphs ago.


Schaubs said...

I must admit I did skim through the bottom half, only because I am so choked at the Canucks. How BAD are they? They gave up 27 goals in the last 7 games.

I have tickets to the final game of the season on Saturday and it means absolutely nothing. Bad beat.

Toskala is garbage. He's a backup. He has always been a backup.

Fuck the playoffs, Go Calgary I guess. (Can't beleive I just said that).

But hey, at least there will be a red mile to look at!

Astin said...

Want to explain the Toskala comment outside of being a Leafs-hater? :)

33-25-6, .904 2.74

The much-vaunted Luongo:
35-28-9, .918 2.35

.014 SV% diff and .39 less GAA for the saviour of the Canucks. And remember, the Leafs D is swiss cheese. And Luongo played 8 more games than Toskala, with only 2 more wins to show for it.

Now, if you want to compare Luongo to Raycroft... you've got me there.

And Toskala had a rough start to the season, but has been solid for the last 3 months as the everyday goalie. I seem to recall the Canucks were doing better a little while ago... hmm...

But I feel for you Canucks fans... what a complete letdown. We'll be fighting for Burke now it seems.

Go... umm... Calgary? I don't think I'm allowed to cheer for the Habs.