Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Turning Back The Clock

This one is of interest only to Toronto sports fans methinks.

Don Matthews - Head coach of the Toronto Argonauts (CFL folks) - 1990, 1996-1998 - Back-to-back Grey Cup victories in 1996 and 1997

Cliff Fletcher - GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs - 1991-1996 - Back-to-back conference finals in 1993 and 1994

Cito Gaston - Manager of the Toronto Blue Jays - 1989-1997 - Back-to-back World Series in 1992 and 1993

Why bring up these three? Because as of today, with the hiring of Don Matthews by the Argos, all three of them are BACK in Toronto, in the same positions they held during the best-remembered years their respective franchises have seen in decades. Welcome back to the 90's Toronto.

Report card? Well, Matthews has been out of coaching since 2006 with health problems, but he's the winningest coach in the CFL, and brings success with him. We'll see how the rest of the season plays out for the 4-6 Arrrrrrrrrrrgooooooooos.

Cliff - Came in to clean house. Failed miserably in this task before the end of the season, but the team played better. Once the final buzzer went, he got to work. New head coach, bye-bye Darcy Tucker, Kyle Wellwood, Andrew Raycroft, and yes, even Bryan McCabe. Hello new coach Ron Wilson, GM assistant Joe Nieuwendyk, backup goalie and locker room leader Curtis Joseph, Mike Van Ryn, #5 draft pick Luke Schenn (that move up in draft picks is still the most impressive thing I've seen from Fletch this off-season), Mikhail Grabovski, Niklas Hagman, Tim Stapleton, Jeff Finger, Jamal Mayers, and Ryan Hollweg. Mats Sundin? Still undecided.

So we've lost some dead weight, picked up a bunch of no-names, drafted well, and improved the front office and leadership position. This team will SUCK for a few seasons, but Fletcher's done a fantastic job of tearing down a losing team and laying the foundation for a killer rebuild. When Burke inherits the team next season, he'll have a lot to work with. Expect the Leafs to play boring, defensive hockey this upcoming season.

Cito - He's been back for a little under 3 months. In that time, the Jays have played .614 ball (43-27), which is a big improvement over their .470 (35-39) record this season under John Gibbons. They're on a tear right now with a 10 game win streak. Making the playoffs is still highly unlikely, but I'll be damned if they aren't creating a wee bit of hope. If nothing else, he's got a job here next season guaranteed. Although, as much as I hate taking credit away from Cito, I think Gene Tenace is a BIG part of this turnaround, as the Jays are winning with their pitching AND hitting (11-0 blowouts, 1-0 nailbiters, 6-4 comebacks, 7-4 in extra innings, etc.).

I'll take what's old is new again if it means success.


Anonymous said...

It is great to see those guys doing what they do best. I just hope the Raptors don't jump on the bandwagon and hire Isiah Thomas.

Mondogarage said...

Bringing back Cito was pure genius; dude's a great motivator, and his clubs always played. It didn't hurt that he had a very talented group, as well.

Bringing back those uniforms, however, is a travesty...

Astin said...

Carson - Funny, I was thinking the same thing :). I don't think Colangelo is going anywhere though.

Mondo - One thing I loved about Cito's Jays was their ability to come from behind at any point. 2 out in the ninth and down by 4? It ain't over by a long shot. It looks like that's coming back with this team now. As for the uniforms... at least they're only on Fridays at home.