Friday, 24 October 2014

Shout The Homie Steve Nash


I remember walking into the Sport Chek at the Scarborough Town Centre when I was 10 or 11 years old, excited about my birthday. My cousin (who is more brother to me than cousin) wanted to get me something special for my birthday. Anything I wanted, pretty much. He's a generous dude. 

Basketball jerseys were in. Everyone had a Kobe jersey (was he still #8 at that time?), or an AI, or a Shaq. My cousin, being a Dallas Mavericks fan, had a Nowitzki jersey, among others. Everyone had one, it seemed, except me. 

Naturally, I gravitated towards the basketball jerseys in the Sport Chek. Man, every shape, size, colour I could think of were there. The Portland Trail Blazer red, white, and black pattern caught my attention (so much so that it became the second NBA jersey I owned). I knew I didn't like the Lakers. I knew I disliked every team that got in the Raptors' way of success, like the Knickerbockers or the 76ers. Frankly, having a Raptors jersey wasn't cool. 

I finally stumbled upon a home, Dallas Mavericks jersey, size small. The colours, white with blue trim, were fabulous, but not the reason it caught my eye. The Mavericks logo came and went into my field of view. Before I could even check the name on the back, it was the number on the front that grabbed my attention: 13. 

My soccer number! Probably my favourite number as a young adult. I gotta have this jersey, I thought. Who did it belong to, though?

Nash. 

Hmm. Don't know him, but a jersey with my favourite number and colour that is a perfect fit seemed too good to pass up. Cousin, I found what I wanted! Who's Nash, though?

Oh man, what a loaded question. 

One of the slickest passers this basketball universe has ever produced? The most unselfish player in the history of the game? The purest shooter? 

That's Steve Nash. 

The nooks and crannies he sees on the court, a regular player cannot. In his prime, he saw the court like Neo sees the Matrix. He could get the ball in the hoop seemingly at will. No one has been able to shoot the ball better since he burst onto the scene. 

And he can attack you in so many different ways. Pick and roll, pick and pop, drive and kick, no look passes to big men who are just as shocked as the rest of the players on the court to have the ball reach them perfectly in their hands. 

And he's Canadian to boot?

He's my favourite basketball player. He's retiring a legend. He awoke JAYSRAP from its hiatus. 

And he's one of the main reasons why I fell in love with the NBA. 

Shout the homie Steve Nash. 

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

The Blue Jays Can't Contend With J.A. Happ In Their Opening Day Rotation


I should be studying for a midterm that I have in precisely 6 hours and 21 minutes, but something has been eating away at me and I can’t hold it in any longer.

It has been a pretty strong narrative throughout the course of the offseason for the Toronto Blue Jays. It leaves me with a bitter taste in my mouth every single time it is brought up.

No, it isn’t that lack of activity that I am getting at (though, duh, sign someone!), but the insistence on the part of the Jays that there be only ONE spot in the starting rotation up for grabs.

Yes, R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Brandon Morrow each have earned a spot in the rotation based on performance (not to mention their paycheques). That would still leave two spots open for which the likes of Marcus Stroman, Drew Hutchinson and Kyle Drabek can compete.

My beef is this: how is J.A. Happ being guaranteed a spot in the big league rotation? How do the Blue Jays expect to compete with a guy who has never pitched more than 170 innings in his career, who has had a rWAR over 1.0 ONCE, and who couldn’t strike out a guy to save his life last season?

Now, I will say that J.A. Happ does in fact have more upside than I initially recognized, having pitched to a 2.93 ERA in 166 innings in 2009. I have a couple of issues with this stat, namely that he hasn’t touched that level of productivity in a year with a similar workload since, and that those numbers came against a weaker NL East.

In a year and a half with the Blue Jays, Happ has put up a WAR of 0.4 and an ERA of 4.60 and a 1.414 WHIP. I will concede that injuries have hampered Happ’s production and ability to perform. What I don’t understand is how the Blue Jays can guarantee him a spot in the starting rotation with replacement-level numbers.

If the Blue Jays want to contend, they need to have pitchers with upside in their rotation. Marcus Stroman may be short, but has a sweet fastball that consistently sits 93-95 in his starts. Add to that a devastating slider, a slick cutter and a developing changeup, he has the makings of an above average starter, at least.

Drew Hutchinson has already shown he has the ability to perform at the big-league level with good command of all his pitches. He pitched very well on his way back from Tommy John surgery, and is ready to take on a bigger load on the 2014 Toronto Blue Jays.

Kyle Drabek is the biggest wildcard of all because he has some nasty, nasty stuff. Devastating fastball, curveball, slider with crazy life, he has it all. What he doesn’t have is command. If he finds a way to limit walks at the big league level, he can be a lethal component to a future Jays rotation.

Happ has the upside of exactly none of these guys. Yet, he’s given an automatic slot in the starting rotation. And the Blue Jays really expect the fans to buy that they’re serious about contending? Cut it out, please.

I’ll know the Blue Jays are serious about 2014 when J.A. Happ is the ace of the Buffalo Bisons.
Or when they actually get off their bums and sign somebody.

Not holding my breath for the former or the latter, though. Now back to studying.

Anybody have a calculator I can borrow?