Baseball is better with Red Sox / Yankees

It’s time to write another chapter in the storied history of the rivalry between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. Two of the biggest juggernauts in baseball going head-to-head in a playoff series, you can’t ask for much more.

The Red Sox and Yankees haven’t had their rivalry renewed like this in a while since the Yankees went through a small rebuild before Judge, Sanchez and Severino came into their own, and the Red Sox had a couple lull years since their last World Series win in 2013. But now, the stars have aligned.

Some of the best baseball moments ever have happened when these two teams have locked up. Because I wasn’t around to witness it, going past the 90’s is tough for me even though I know there’s history going back all the way to Babe Ruth and the curse of the Bambino, but even in the last 10-15 years, boy has there been some gems.

First, Aaron Boone in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS.

Pedro Martinez throwing old people around like their stuffed animals.

The Red Sox turning around in 2004 and coming back from 3-0 down to beat the Yankees in 7 in the ALCS.

The list goes on and on. Even in recent history this season, the Red Sox and Yankees have had a pair of brawls after Tyler Austin got plunked. No matter what, theres’ definitely fireworks when these two teams meet. Add in the playoffs, and you’ve got the makings of a classic series.

Without these two teams near the top of the ladder, baseball simply isn’t the same. As a Toronto Blue Jays fan in the stacked AL East, I don’t like to see it, but it’s the truth. It’s better for ratings, revenue and the overall brand of Major League Baseball. Even the most casual baseball fan will be invested in this series, just because of the history. I myself was rooting for the Oakland Athletics to take down the Bronx Bombers in the Wild Card game knowing that the Yankees probably would win, and it’s better for the game if they did.

With the first pitch getting underway tonight in Fenway, I’m hoping this series meets the hype, we see some world class baseball, and if there’s an old pitching coach or trainer thrown around after a hit batter, I wouldn’t complain.

Red Sox. Yankees. No matter who wins the series, this is baseball at it’s best.

Just don’t let either team win it all.

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Pettersson-mania begins in Vancouver

There’s a lot of ‘first impression’ moments that stand out in Canucks lore over the years. Bure’s incredible showcase against the Jets in his first NHL game. Roberto Luongo’s stellar introduction against the Red Wings at the Joe. But this one is different.

Everyone knew Elias Pettersson was good. He dominated in the SHL as an 18-year-old, something nobody has ever done before. People had him slated as a candidate for the Calder Trophy this year, before he even came to North America for training camp. He dazzled in the pre-season and showed that he belonged. But come October 3rd, it was time to throw all of that out the window and see what this kid is really made of.

And boy did he deliver.

It’s a goal I’ve had on repeat all night. It’s a play that will be infamous in Canucks history, and should be the kickstarter for what should be one heck of a career in the National Hockey League.

Come on.

The great read in his own end to stay and wait for the chip up to him, the awareness of the 2-on-1, the hesitation and of course, the absolute snipe top corner for his first NHL goal, on his first shot, in his first game.

That could’ve been it, and it still would’ve been the buzz all night in Vancouver, but he did it again on the second goal of the game, making a heads up play in front to find Goldobin wide open at the side of the net for his first apple too.

The best part of the night though, was his reaction on the bench after his first goal, with the crowd roaring in Rogers Arena, a buzz in the building that hasn’t been felt since the Sedin’s incredible final game in Vancouver, and prior to that, 2011.

Pettersson finished the night with under 10 minutes of ice time (wyd Green?) and just one shot, but got two points, had some other great chances, and was hounding the puck all night in a 5-2 win for the Canucks.

At this point in the Canucks rebuild, it’s not about the Cup. It’s not about the playoffs. It’s about hope. Will Pettersson do this every night? Definitely not. But the hope is there, there’s a spark in Vancouver that this is a sign of things to come, much like what Canucks fans saw with Brock Boeser last year, and with Bo Horvat years before that. With Quinn Hughes probably making the jump next year, and with Dahlen, Juolevi and Demko still on the way, the future is very bright on the West Coast.

This season is all about development, moving forward, seeing the kids grow; and if opening night was any sign of things to come, this year might not be big in the standings, but huge for the future.

The NBA is poisoning major sports

This week, the Golden State Warriors signed DeMarcus Cousins to a one-year deal worth $5.3 million. This comes after the Warriors won 73 games in a season, signed the second best player on the planet the following offseason and cruised to back-to-back NBA titles. There was a phrase going around this postseason that “KD ruined the NBA,” and now it’s safe to say that the Warriors collectively have ruined the NBA.

But that’s just the beginning.

Over in the NHL this week, the Toronto Maple Leafs landed John Tavares, one of the league’s best players for the next seven years. A heartwarming story, as the Mississauga, Ontario product returned home to play with his childhood team he grew up idolizing. The Leafs instantly bounce into Stanley Cup contention, with Vegas already putting them as the favourites to win the cup next year. On the outside looking in, there doesn’t seem to be much wrong with this deal. Then you dive into the contract itself. Tavares’ base salary over every season he’s signed with Toronto doesn’t go over $1 million per season. Some players who spend half their season in the minors make more than Tavares will make just off of base salary. The $77 million that Tavares will make comes mostly from signing bonuses every year, handed out straight in cash by the Maple Leafs. For this year of his contract, Tavares will receive $15.25 million, which he actually already received the day he signed with Toronto. Because of his low base salary, Tavares’ cap hit is only $11 million per season, despite getting paid over $16 million a season. While it’s only the first time this has happened in the NHL, it’s a slippery slope that the league will continue to slide down unless the league steps in. With more free agents next off-season, teams will use the method used by the Leafs to take in top-tier players while lowering cap hits.

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And in the NHL (and the other major sports), not all markets are like the Maple Leafs. Most teams across the NHL don’t have this kind of money to throw around in salary bonuses in order to attract these players. The Ottawa Senators would have to sell the barn in order to make an offer like the one the Leafs made to Tavares. Meaning that only the richest teams in the league can afford the top players in the game, even with a salary cap in place. And it all started with the Golden State Warriors.

Granted, the MLB doesn’t have a salary cap, so teams like the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox have been poaching the top talent in baseball for years. But that’s not what we want in major sports, the unfair balance in payrolls and talent on certain teams. To an extent it’s okay, but when some major league players are making more money than the Oakland Athletics are paying out to a whole team, it’s a little ridiculous.

While the NFL hasn’t quite experienced anything like the NBA’s current landscape has, there’s no saying certain players come together to create super-teams in the future and chase championships. The NHL now seems to be heading in that direction, and the MLB has been unbalanced for decades. The NBA is pretty much decided for the next two years, as we await something to change in Golden State.

And that’s not a good thing for sports.

The Mavericks won the NBA Draft

In a night where Michael Porter Jr. slid down the draft order, Mikal Bridges’ dream come true was shattered in minutes, and Joel Embiid has already started beef with the #1 overall pick, the biggest moment of the evening came when word broke that the Dallas Mavericks were trading the 5th overall pick along with an unprotected 2019 first rounder to the Atlanta Hawks for the 3rd overall pick. Essentially, the Mavericks just scooped up Luka Doncic for Trae Young and a Top-5 pick next year.

 

Aside from the Sacramento Kings passing on the Slovenian star, this is baffling to me. It seems like the Hawks are chasing the pipe dream of Trae Young developing into the next Steph Curry, and since the Hawks’ GM used to be the Warriors’ assistant GM, it’s not hard to connect the dots and assume Travis Schlenk sees a “Curry-like” ceiling in Young in order to make this move. If it works out, fantastic, but there’s simply too many question marks in Young’s game to project the Oklahoma star ever reaching All-Star status in the NBA let alone the resume of a league MVP and three-time champ, and statistically the greatest shooter the league has ever seen. I said it in my group chat with my fellow Sacramento fan, Kev, Atlanta just gave up a generational talent to chase a dream of getting Steph Curry 2.0.

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via PhillyVoice

As to Sacramento, who knows why they didn’t take Doncic, obviously they are high on Bagley turning out to be a star, but his ceiling is nowhere near Doncic and the Kings already have a plethora of bigs in their organization, but trying to figure out what the Kings are thinking here would require a whole other post so we’ll stay on track with the Mavericks.

If the Mavs don’t find a way to make any movement before next year’s draft, and the pick turns into R.J. Barrett or Zion Williamson in 2019, maybe Dallas regrets this move, but with Dennis Smith Jr. and Dirk Nowitzki as primary options for Doncic, with a supporting cast in Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews, Dallas should see some improvement with a guy who can do it all in Luka.

In my opinion, Luka Doncic is the James Harden of this draft. Harden went #3 overall back in 2009, and if you do over things today, he goes #1 without a doubt. In ten years, I believe Doncic would’ve gone #1 in this year’s draft after he develops into one of the best all-around offensive players in the NBA. Of course, DeAndre Ayton and Marvin Bagley should carve out respectable careers in their own, but Doncic has the potential to be something truly special, and that’s what the Mavericks traded up for.

That being said, Doncic will need some time, and some development to turn into that player. At 6’8, he’s going to have to increase his athleticism to keep up with the smaller two guards around the league, and his defence might not be at the level of most NBA shooting guards, but his elite playmaking, vision and footwork at the perimeter will immediately help the Mavericks win games and bring the franchise back into the spotlight in Texas.

Without a doubt, the Dallas Mavericks come out as the gangbusters of this year’s NBA Draft.

Don’t count Vegas out

If there’s anything we should’ve learned about the Vegas Golden Knights by now, it’s to expect the unexpected. Finishing the season with 51 wins and 109 points in their inaugural campaign, on the backs of some incredible individual seasons from the likes of William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault and David Perron. But what sticks out most about the Knights system and the key to their success is their defencemen and their puck movement. I’ve never seen a team use so much speed up the middle of the ice all while working the puck around so well, with the defencemen being the anchor to Gerard Gallant’s playbook. It’s something other NHL teams still haven’t caught onto after a full 82 game season, and something the LA Kings will have to adjust to if they want to take down Vegas in the first round.

And that’s the thing, most people do have Vegas going on past the Kings in the first round, but bowing out in the second round. But why? Sure, you look at their roster, the inexperience of their top players, the fact they were basically jumbled together from teams who didn’t consider them vital to their old organizations, but that just fuels the fire that much more. The Knights know people still don’t believe in them. Nobody thinks they can get by Nashville or Winnipeg. But everything dictates that they can, given their unique style of play, a few veteran playoff guys like James Neal and Marc-Andre Fleury, and a terrific home record, where opposing teams never seem to string success together at T-Mobile Arena.

After going to a Vegas game back in February, I can’t imagine what the local rallying cry is like on the Vegas strip right about now. It was crazy when the playoffs were still a couple months away, and it must be a full on party down there now. And after all that’s happened with this team and this town over the last 12 months, how could you not pick the Knights to win? It would be a storybook tale for the ages. From the successful ticket drive, to the expansion draft, to the tragic events prior to the first game, to the unbelievable streak at the start of the year, to the goaltending dilemma midway through the year. But Vegas didn’t let any of that get in their way. They stuck to their guns and wound up with 51 wins and a Pacific Division title.

As the Stanley Cup Playoffs finally begin tonight, the two month journey will see tonnes of twists and turns, but I have Vegas hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup when it’s all said and done, because they’ve given me every reason to believe that this is simply their year, and no matter who’s in their way, the Knights will somehow, someway find a solution and cap off a historic season with the most coveted trophy in hockey.

Damian Lillard has a legitimate shot at MVP

As a Portland Trail Blazers fan, it has been a blast to watch the team lately. After last night’s win, they’ve won 10 straight games, 12 of their last 13, and 15 of their last 16 at home. Simply put, the Blazers are on fire. The big reason for that is Damian Lillard. He’s the heart and soul of the team, and really the team’s success lies on his shoulders. As of today, Lillard is averaging 26.9 points, 6.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game, all to go along with a 44.6% shooting percentage, very high given the amount of shots that Lillard puts up a game. He’s had the highest scoring 10 game stretch in franchise history, passing Clyde Drexler, and has looked unstoppable in this latest Blazers run. It’s time for Lillard to be a legitimate MVP candidate.

As of right now, the Blazers sit in 3rd in the Western Conference, with a respectable record of 41-26. They’re still 10 games behind the Warriors, but if they finish in 3rd in the stacked Western Conference, that’s an achievement in itself. The only problem being that the West is so incredibly tight right now, only 4 games separate 3rd and 10th place (!) with San Antonio currently sitting in that 10th spot (!!!). So even if the Trail Blazers do finish 3rd, they’ve still got a tough test ahead of them in the first round. It wasn’t too long ago that the Blazers and Phoenix Suns had very comparable records, and now the Blazers are only behind the absolute powerhouses in their conference.

Of course, Lillard hasn’t done this alone. C.J. McCollum has also been very efficient in this recent run, Ed Davis has been a defensive anchor, and Zach Collins is really starting to turn a corner in his rookie season. Shabazz Napier has been terrific when Lillard is off the floor, and he’s been the one that’s made sure Portland isn’t being outscored when their bench is on the floor.

As of right now, there are 3-4 guys that are probably are ahead of Lillard in the MVP race. James Harden is obviously #1 right now, Anthony Davis has been on fire since DeMarcus Cousins went out with an injury. LeBron is LeBron, he’s probably in the conversation. Then there’s the fringe guys, Giannis, DeRozan, and that’s probably where Lillard sits right about now too. However, if the Blazers can keep up this streak, and finish 3rd in the West, there’s no reason why Dame shouldn’t win MVP.

Tyler’s complete March Madness bracket

I follow college basketball very loosely, in fact I rarely watch a game all season until the big dance comes around. But when the big dance is on, I’m hooked. There’s just something about collegiate sports in the States that adds so much drama and intensity when it comes down to the wire. I just finished working a collegiate volleyball national championship here in Victoria, and there’s just so much uncertainty when it comes to amateur sport compared to the pros. The #1 seed team in the CCAA men’s volleyball national championship not only didn’t win a game, they didn’t win a single set let alone a game until their final 6th/7th placement game. It just goes to show that anything can happen in collegiate sports, which makes it so much fun.

That being said, I’m putting together my March Madness bracket at 1:00am on Tuesday. Why? Because I’m sick as a dog and I can’t sleep.

Again, my knowledge of this year’s tournament is minimal, I know the big names (Bagley, Trae Young, Ayton) but aside from them, and my hatred of Grayson Allen, most of my picks are basically random. I’ve never had any good luck with my brackets in past years, and I’ve never picked a winner let alone kept a bracket in tact past the round of 64. But this is 2018, my time. And my bracket will last longer than Hayden’s, which is all that really matters. With that being said, here’s my 2018 March Madness bracket.

ROUND OF 64

SOUTH

(1) Virginia vs. (16) UMBC

132-0 since 1998, this isn’t the year for a #1 seed to be upset, right?

(8) Creighton vs. (9) Kansas State

I’m always 50/50 with these 8v9 matchups, but I don’t like how Creighton is ripping off my Toronto Blue Jays, so I’m picking Kansas State.

(5) Kentucky vs. (12) Davidson

A staple in the tournament, I just don’t see a team coached by Calipari bowing out in the first round.

(4) Arizona vs. (13) Buffalo

I like Arizona. A lot. DeAndre Ayton is an absolute stud. My co-worker was raving about him last week at work and I didn’t believe him when he put “Dwight Howard” and “jumpshot” in the same sentence. I got Arizona for sure after watching highlights of that PAC-12 championship game.

(6) Miami vs. (11) Loyola-Chicago

Weren’t people upset Miami even got into the tournament? Why are they the 6 seed? This is the first big upset I got, because I’ve never even heard of Loyola-Chicago and why the heck not.

(3) Tennessee vs. (14) Wright State

If I could point out Wright State on a map, I’d pick them over Tennessee, but I can’t, so I’m taking Tennessee.

(7) Nevada vs. (10) Texas

I know who the Longhorns are. They’ve had some terrific athletes come and go through their program. While their record (19-14) is much worse than Nevada’s (27-7), I’ve just got a hunch Texas takes this one.

(2) Cincinnati vs. (15) Georgia State

I actually had Georgia State pulling off this upset, but last minute I decided to switch it back so hopefully this doesn’t backfire. I just can’t name anyone on Cincinnati and I haven’t watched them play at all this year. But, their record is outstanding and everyone has pretty high hopes for them, I’ll let them past the first round.

WEST

(1) XAV vs. (16) NCC/TS

I don’t know who NCC or TS is. I’ll take the #1.

(8) Missouri vs. (9) Florida State

Just comes down to the school. I know FSU, don’t really know Missouri. Basically flipping a coin again here.

(5) OSU vs. (12) South Dakota State

Ohio State has ice in their veins. 😉

(4) Gonzaga vs. (13) UNCG

Out here on the west coast, a lot of people here root for Gonzaga. I’ve tried to pledge my allegiance to Washington, but again, very loose with US college sports when it’s not the big games. I’ll take Gonzaga in this one just because they’re the better team, but they always seem to fall flat when I pick them going far.

(6) Houston vs. (11) San Diego State

Because why not.

(3) Michigan vs. (14) Montana

The Fab Five is a terrific documentary. Wolverines take it.

(7) Texas A&M vs. (10) Providence

Johnny… Basketball?

(2) UNC vs. (15) Lipsomb

No way the Tar Heels bow out in the first round, I watched their showdown with Duke from a couple weeks ago, guys can play.

EAST

(1) Villanova vs. (16) LIU/RAD

Rad.

(8) Virginia Tech vs. (9) Alabama

Wonder what the money line is for Virginia Tech to make it farther than Virginia? Might not be a bad bet to take up. Plus, Alabama already won one college sport, they’re not winning two.

(5) West Virginia vs. (12) Murray State

How many teams does Virginia have?

(4) Wichita State vs. (13) Marshall

Another hunch pick. The higher seeds don’t all make it onto the round of 32, just feels like this could be an upset.

(6) Florida vs. (11) BON/LA

I don’t know either of the 11 seed teams, but looking at Florida’s record, maybe they were the ones who weren’t supposed to be in the tournament? It was either Florida or Miami. I’m taking the upset again.

(3) Texas Tech vs. (14) SF Austin

I like the letter “t”.

(7) Arkansas vs. (10) Butler

Butler’s logo kind of looks like my old high school mascot. Actually it’s identical to Gonzaga’s, either way I’m picking Butler because I like dogs. Expert analysis over here.

(2) Purdue vs. (15) CSU Fullerton

Purdue usually does pretty good. I’ll take em.

MIDWEST

(1) Kansas vs. (16) Penn

Kansas has produced some of my favourite players (Wiggins, Embiid) so I’m taking the Jayhawks.

(8) Seton Hall vs. (9) NC State

Wasn’t Seton Hall the name of the school that the Mighty Ducks go to in D3? I’m taking NC State, unless Adam Banks is coming off the bench.

(5) Clemson vs. (12) New Mexico State

Orange is a nice colour.

(4) Auburn vs. (13) Charleston

My boy Cam Newton came from Auburn, hence they have to make it past the round of 64, the only way Charleston wins is if they start wrapping the foil and change their branding to the Chiefs.

(6) TCU vs. (11) ASU/SY

Wait, was it Syracuse who wasn’t supposed to make it in? Oh no.

(3) Michigan State vs. (14) Bucknell

I don’t think the Spartans will fall on their face quite as hard as they have in years past.

(7) URI vs. (10) Oklahoma

Considering I have never heard of URI and I expect Trae Young to drop 35 in the first couple games of this tournament, I’m taking the Sooners.

(2) Duke vs. (15) Iona

Did I mention that I hate Duke?

ROUND OF 32

SOUTH

(1) Virginia vs. (9) Kansas State

I mean, they are the best team in the country for a reason.

(4) Arizona vs. (5) Kentucky

What a game this would be. Again, really like Arizona. Sorry Calipari.

(3) Tennessee vs. (11) Loyola-Chicago

I was on the fence of giving this one to Loyola-Chicago to make things interesting, but I decided to take the safe bet.

(2) Cincinnati vs. (10) Texas

Just kidding. There’s gotta be upsets somewhere.

WEST

(1) Xavier vs. (9) Florida State

Again, gotta put these upsets somewhere. Plus, haven’t really heard the buzz about Xavier. I also don’t really listen much so maybe that’s why.

(4) Gonzaga vs. (5) OSU

Ice. In. Their. Veins. Maybe next year Gonzaga.

(3) Michigan vs. (11) San Diego State

As long as Michigan remembers how many timeouts they have, they should win this one. Stay classy.

(2) UNC vs. (7) Texas A&M

I’ve already got one Texas team pulling off an upset, can’t have two.

EAST

(1) Villanova vs. (8) Virginia Tech

Wanted to give this one to Virginia Tech, but I just don’t see it happening.

(5) West Virginia vs. (13) Marshall

Come on Marshall! They’ve got the underdog Cinderella story in the making.

(3) Texas Tech vs. (11) BON/LA

Can’t go wrong with those “t”‘s.

(2) Purdue vs. (10) Butler

I can’t go overboard with upsets, I’ll stick to the script with this one.

MIDWEST

(1) Kansas vs. (9) NC State

I was so… so close to picking NC State on this one. But I’ve got another upset coming in this division.

(4) Auburn vs. (5) Clemson

Super Cam. MVP. From Auburn. Go Tigers.

(3) Michigan State vs. (6) TCU

Hayden likes Michigan State. Go TCU.

(2) Duke vs. (10) Oklahoma

I HOPE YOUNG DROPS 60 AND THE BLUE DEVILS THROW IN THE TOWEL AFTER THE FIRST HALF AND THE CLEANING CREW HAS TO MOP GRAYSON ALLEN’S TEARS OFF THE COURT.

Was that too far? Let’s move on.

SWEET 16

SOUTH

(1) Virginia vs. (4) Arizona

Arizona. Ayton. They’re good.

(3) Tennessee vs (10) Texas

I’ll just take the higher seed here.

WEST

(5) OSU vs. (9) Florida State

ICE. IN. THEIR. VEINS.

(2) UNC vs. (3) Michigan

I mean, if it weren’t for Chris Webber, the Wolverines wouldn’t even be in that position. Plus I like the blue and gold combo.

EAST

(1) Villanova vs. (13) Marshall

Why not?

(2) Purdue vs (3) Texas Tech

Gotta go with the high seed after the last pick.

MIDWEST

(1) Kansas vs. (4) Auburn

As much as I want to take the Tigers, they’re not taking down Kansas.

(6) TCU vs. (10) Oklahoma

Trae Young is good at basketball.

ELITE 8

SOUTH

(3) Tennessee vs. (4) Arizona

I’m still watching that one dunk from the PAC-12 championship game on repeat.

WEST

(3) Michigan vs. (5) OSU

ICE. Just kidding. Fab Five better.

EAST

(2) Purdue vs. (13) Marshall

Had to make them bow out eventually.

MIDWEST

(1) Kansas vs. (10) Oklahoma

Trae Young can’t guard all five positions at once. Eventually someone’s going to exploit the rest of the Sooners and Young will have an off game.

FINAL FOUR

(3) Michigan vs. (4) Arizona

Wildcats. Good.

(1) Kansas vs. (2) Purdue

There’s no way a Jayhawk resembles anything like what Kansas’ mascot looks like.

CHAMPIONSHIP

(1) Kansas vs. (4) Arizona

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DeAndre Ayton leads the Wildcats to an NCAA title. I can see it now.

71-67 is my final score, by the way.

And there you have it. My complete bracket. I’m sure 3 games into the tournament my bracket will be shredded, but hey, let’s give it a go.

The Troy Tulowitzki experiment has failed

In the world of trades in sports, you win some, and you lose some. At the time, this was a trade the Toronto Blue Jays seemed like they couldn’t lose. While their record at the time was questionable for a playoff push, the acquisition of Troy Tulowitzki from the Colorado Rockies in July 2015 was a major boost for the Jays. Unloading a worn out Jose Reyes and three prospect pitchers, Miguel Castro being the most notable at the time, The Jays infield instantly became the best in the majors, with MVP-caliber Josh Donaldson at the hot corner and silver slugger Edwin Encarnacion at first base. While he gave the Jays an immediate boost into their first postseason appearance in 22 years, it’s simply not worked out since. Injuries, inconsistencies and straight up deterring skill have seen Tulowitzki go from an MVP caliber player to an average, if not below average shortstop in today’s league.

At 33 years of age, it seems like Tulo’s best playing days are over. Last season, the five-time all star hit .249 with 7 home runs and 26 RBI over an injury-riddled 66 games played. Every time he stepped up to the plate, you could almost guarantee it was either a strikeout or a ground ball to short. It’s too bad, because if he was half as productive as he was in Colorado, chances are the Blue Jays could have another World Series title to their name. Instead, the Jays lost to the Royals in the 2015 ALCS, David Price left for the Red Sox, and after another ALCS visit in 2016, the Jays are back to where they have been for the majority of the last 20 years.

MLB: JUL 29 Phillies at Blue Jays

If you’re Ross Atkins, you have to look at the organizational depth at shortstop and realize there’s better options out there. With Aledmys Diaz and Yangervis Solarte both within the organization, they can both outplay Tulo, at least at the plate. With Tulowitzki not projected to be ready on opening day, the Jays should plan as if he’s not even coming back. While he’s still set to make $20 million per season through the 2020 season, he’s played nothing close to the money he’s currently getting. It’s time to turn the shortstop position into a three-way battle, giving all three players a chance at the every day starter role rather than giving Tulowitzki the reigns and just having Diaz and Solarte for when he goes down.

It’s going to be an interesting season of Blue Jays baseball, with so many questions regarding Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki and the pitching depth, odds are things will probably go the same way they did last season, but if the stars align, we could be in store for much more.

Fortnite outsmarted PUBG, and won

Go onto any online gaming message forum, and the debate will be there. PUBG vs. Fortnite, the Battle Royale duel between an early concept that skyrocketed in success, but a true winner taking their idea, flipping it on its head and creating something much, much better.

Before I get into this, I have played Player’s Unknown Battlegrounds, for about twenty minutes. When it first came out, I was dying to play it, but without a PC, I was left watching twitch streams and youtube playthroughs. One day in November, I was browsing the PlayStation Store looking for something to play with my buddies, and I stumble across Fortnite. It looks pretty simplistic, a copycat of PUBG for sure, but it’s free, why not give it a shot. I log in, and I’m hooked. I immediately got my friends to download it and the six of us rotated through playing squad games, and to this day the majority of us still play pretty often.

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PUBG came out on Xbox One in the new year, and since I picked up a One S, my buddy and I decided to split it. It was buggy, way too much real estate and not nearly as thrilling as Fortnite. We ran around for a good 15-20 minutes, found a car, drove it into a river, got out, ran around some more before being picked off from a quarter mile away. Fun. I quit the game, haven’t picked it up since.

What makes Fortnite so genius is that they not only made the game free to play (sort of), but they took everything that made PUBG so popular, and completely reversed it. PUBG is full of detail, realism (for the most part) and grand maps that let you explore and team up for survival against 90+ other players. While Fortnite kept the basic values of PUBG, they went for the simplistic approach, which is good news for their developers. They took the giant map and crammed it into a smaller space, but not too small, for fast-paced action, more weapons, less realism for a wider audience and most of all, building, which gave the game a fresh perspective and made it seperate itself from PUBG. All this was a perfect strategy to profit off of something that was great, but could be much more, by taking things away rather than adding more.

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Sure, the game has expanded a lot over the past few months, with miniguns, hand cannons, rocket launchers and all kinds of other gadgets and traps being added to the game along with a re-designed map and crisper graphics, but Fortnite has reached its peak. We’re talking about it, friends are talking about it, celebrities are talking about it, professional athletes are hooked on it. Fortnite has officially hit the glass ceiling. Now the question is, how long can they sustain this popularity? And can PUBG make a comeback? To be fair, PUBG still has a very large prescence on PC, but Fortnite has dwarfed them across all platforms. Once Fortnite releases its campaign (which should be out by now, no?) another wave of players will flock to it to test out the co-op zombies story mode for a fresh take, but they will need to continue to make the Battle Royale mode fresh and exciting, by hosting unique modes and challenges every week in order to keep the current player traffic at the rate it’s currently at. While personally I don’t think Fortnite can possibly stay this popular past the new year, it’s been an absolute blast to play considering it was free, and I still enjoy picking it up every now and then and giving it a go, although I don’t think I’ll ever win a solo match. Ever.

As far as PUBG goes, it’s back to the drawing board if they want to catch up with Fortnite, but again, don’t see that happening.

Don’t believe the Toronto Raptors hype

Sure, the Toronto Raptors are having the best season in their franchise’s history, and there’s an argument to be made that they could take down the best teams in the Eastern Conference and advance to their first ever NBA Finals appearance. But it’s Toronto.

The Raptors are prominent under-achievers, they have been since they entered the league back in 1995. They’ve had some great players, some great teams, but the organization simply hasn’t been able to win when it matters. It’s happened time and time again, and it’s happened a lot in recent years, with the Raptors simply unable to break through the ceiling despite three Atlantic Division titles in the past four years. It almost feels like you could put the Golden State Warriors in Toronto Raptors uniforms, and they would find a way to bow out in the second round. It’s simply not in their franchise to be a solid team in the post-season.

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I actually like the Raptors, they came to my hometown of Victoria, BC for training camp this summer and I got the chance to meet DeRozan, Lowry, the whole gang pretty much. I follow the Portland Trail Blazers out in the West, but I always keep tabs on the Raptors just because they’re “Canada’s team” and they’re always on the local sports stations. I remember the Andrea Bargnani days, the Jose Calderon era, Chris Bosh backpacking the team for a handful of years, and I truly want the Raptors to go all the way this year. It’s just not going to happen. Not with the Boston Celtics and Kyrie Irving standing in their way, and past that, they’d still have to get by LeBron, which they never have, and never will be able to do. I don’t care how bad the Cavs are playing right now, come playoff time, LeBron becomes a different level of dominant, and he could single-handedly take down any team in the NBA, except for Golden State.

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And that’s really the bottom line. Even if the Raptors do have a miraculous run and find their way out of the Eastern Conference for the first time in franchise history, there’s no way, and I mean NO WAY this team beats the Golden State Warriors in a best-of-seven series. Unless Curry and Durant go down at the same time, the Warriors are winning the championship this year. You could put the Houston Rockets and the Boston Celtics all on one combined team, they’re not beating the Warriors. The Warriors are better than the dynasty Bulls or Celtics, the only team I could see standing somewhat of a chance against them is the early 2000’s Lakers because of the inside presence of Shaquille O’Neal, but it would still be close. The NBA Finals trophy simply isn’t up for grabs this year. Not without a miracle anyways.

While the Raptors currently lead the Eastern Conference down the home stretch and are on pace for a 60-win season, it’s best not to get hopes too high for Toronto, even though the hype up here in Canada will be through the roof if they do indeed get past the Celtics and the Cavaliers. While their bench has been terrific this year, Lowry and DeRozan aren’t enough to get past the likes of LeBron and Kyrie’s Celtics.

The playoffs leading up to the finals will be a show, don’t get me wrong, I just don’t see Toronto winning it all.