Categories
Baseball Sports

The MLB Regular Season is almost here, and here’s why you should be excited

New rules, new names, and new teams for star players.

The Texas Rangers capped off the 2023 Major League Baseball (MLB) season winning their first World Series in franchise history. The offseason that followed would end up changing the image of how the league now looks going into the 2024 regular season.

Prior to the 2023 season, the MLB unveiled a groundbreaking new rule called the pitch clock. The implementation of the pitch clock gave pitchers 15 seconds between pitches when no runners were on base, and 20 seconds when there were runners on base. In 2024, the plan is to speed the pace of play up even more. 

One of the new rules approved by the league is to trim the pitch clock with runners on base from 20 seconds to 18 this season. On top of this, the amount of visits a coach is allowed to visit the pitching mound in a game will be reduced from five to four. As was the goal last season, the league hopes that these rule changes will reduce stoppages in play and give fans a more exciting product on the field.

Along with these rule changes coming in 2024, there will be no shortage of rookies featured on their respective teams’ opening day lineups. In the batter’s box, the number-two ranked prospect in all of baseball, Jackson Chourio, won his spot on the opening day roster for the Milwaukee Brewers. The 20-year-old put up outstanding numbers last year for the Brewers’ minor league affiliate, posting 91 runs batted in while ending the season with a .282 batting average in 128 games. 

Other notable rookie batters to look out for in 2024 include third baseman Junior Caminero, centre fielder Evan Carter, and left fielder Wyatt Langford. These three batters have all officially made their teams’ opening day lineups.

On the mound, the most notable name to keep an eye out for is2023 first overall pick Paul Skenes. While it has not yet been determined whether he will make the Pittsburgh Pirates’ opening day roster, the 21-year-old flamethrower will more than likely reach the major league field in 2024. Skenes has topped out his pitch velocity at an impressive 102 mph during spring training, most notably striking out the MLB’s top-ranked prospect Jackson Holliday.

Lastly, let’s look at the offseason trades and signings. Not often does a major sports league see its cover athlete get traded or signed elsewhere during an offseason, but Shohei Ohtani did just that this past winter. The reigning American League MVP is moving across Los Angeles from the Angels to the Dodgers. With Ohtani being added to the mix with the 2020 World Series champion Dodgers, the team also added top Japanese pitching prospect Yoshinobu Yamamoto, five-time 20-home run hitter Teoscar Hernandez, and 3.89 career earned-run-average pitcher Tyler Glasnow. The Dodgers have all the components of a star-studded team in 2024.

Three-time all-star and former Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes was also on the move this offseason. He will become the top pitcher in the Baltimore Orioles’ rotation this season as the team looks to make a deep playoff run come November.

Lastly, the New York Yankees completed a blockbuster trade with the San Diego Padres to receive Juan Soto—the 25-year-old outfielder who is already a four-time Silver Slugger, three-time all star and World Series champion. Soto will be added to the lethal batting lineup for the Yankees, hitting alongside star players Aaron Judge, Anthony Rizzo, and Giancarlo Stanton.

Though the regular season featured two games on March 20 and 21 during the Seoul Series, the official date for opening day will be on March 28. When the teams hit the field for the first time, fans will be treated to the addition of new rules, rookies starting their major league careers, and all stars starting a new chapter on their new teams. This season has the ingredients for a very exciting summer of baseball. Time will tell which team comes out on top in November.

Our season predictions:

Exciting team to watch this season: With the additions of pitcher Jordan Hicks, third baseman Matt Chapman, and outfielder Jorge Soler, the San Francisco Giants come into 2024 looking like a much more complete team with a high-powered offence and a deep pitching rotation.

Underrated team to watch this season: Look out for the Kansas City Royals. The team has a good combination between rookie and veteran talent, the Royals could be a sneaky pick for a playoff spot in the American League Central Division this season.

World Series champion: There are plenty of teams that are in a ‘win now’ window across the major league. The Braves are coming off a historic season before losing to the Phillies in the playoffs. The Dodgers have loaded up over the offseason. Yet, the team that still shows an immense amount of potential is the Texas Rangers. They now have a World Series under their belt, they have up and coming talent across their lineup in Evan Carter and Wyatt Langford, and still have a very competitive pitching rotation led by Nathan Eovaldi. They are our pick to win it all in 2024.

Categories
Sports

At least consider watching baseball this season

The new rules announced for the 2023 season might just make the game more exciting

Baseball fans aren’t known to be receptive to rule changes within their sport, and I am usually no different. That is, until I heard about the new rules announced for the 2023 season.

From the start of spring training, players have had to get used to bigger bases, restrictions on defensive shifts, and a pitch clock. While it has been a learning curve, these rules promise to quicken the pace of action and encourage defensive plays.

The new pitch clock is undoubtedly the biggest change. From now on, pitchers will have up to 15 seconds to throw the ball if the bases are empty, and 20 if there is a runner on base. There will also be a 30-second timer between batters. If the batter violates the time limit, they get a strike. If it’s the pitcher, the batter gets a ball.

This new rule may make games shorter — and believe me, most spectators would appreciate that — but most importantly, it will make the action unfold quicker. It will definitely make the experience more enjoyable and engaging for fans.

The pitcher will now also have only three attempts to throw to first base to get a runner out. If the third attempt fails, the runner gets to advance a base. Because of the limit, stealing bases might become a more common occurrence.

The pitch clock and new defensive shift restrictions will also favour batting averages and the athletic plays that baseball players are known for. 

The defensive shift restrictions entail that the four infielders must be within the diamond when the pitch is thrown. Two players must be on either side of second base, which means they cannot switch sides based on where the batter aims most.

Because of this, batting averages are likely to go up and more runners will be on bases, giving infielders more opportunities for defensive plays. It will also encourage singles and on-field action.

Ironically, this change brings back traditional infielder alignments and the plays that tended to happen before infielders started placing themselves wherever they are more likely to catch the ball.

Meanwhile, the square bases will go from being 15 inches wide to 18. Some argue that this will create more stealing, but the MLB mainly wanted to make stealing and base-running safer.

Luckily, players have all of spring to train and adjust to these new rules and prepare for the regular season. These changes guarantee an exciting 2023 season and a new era in baseball. I can’t wait to tune in to the home openers, and I hope you will too.

Categories
Sports

Aaron Judge should be number one

MLB steroid scandals continue to overshadow raw talent

On Sept. 28, New York Yankees hitter Aaron Judge made history by hitting his 61st home run of the season against the Toronto Blue Jays, passing Babe Ruth and tying Roger Maris on the list of home runs per season in Major League Baseball (MLB). Judge is now ranking first in the American League for that record and fourth overall in MLB history.

The amazing achievement by the 2017 rookie of the year has been widely celebrated by MLB and fans of the game, and rightfully so, as 61-year-old records don’t get beaten every day. However, his new record brings back a dark past in baseball history that unfortunately eclipses Judge’s natural and exceptional athleticism.

Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Barry Bonds are the only three players to have hit more home runs in a single season than Judge (66, 70, and 73 respectively). What do they all have in common? According to MLB reports, all of them are intimately tied to the baseball steroid scandal era.

Steroids were laughably common in MLB before 2002, when the first instance of drug testing became mandatory for players over spring training. A thorough investigation of the usage of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) among MLB players, known as the Mitchell report concretized the issue when over a hundred players were exposed for their cheating, including Bonds. The sport took a massive blow and people who were once childhood heroes retreated into the darkness. As a sport, baseball was seen almost as fake as the WWE.

Fortunately, today it’s picking back up, but traces of the steroid era linger in the record books.

Even if it is certain that all three aforementioned players tested positive for steroids, their names still figure ahead of Judge’s and Maris’s in record lists, and no asterisks could compensate for the horrific act of cheating. It might be a strong word but it is justifiable and accurate, even if many athletes used steroids at the time.

Now, for clarification, the use of steroids by Sosa, McGwire and Bonds hasn’t given them the hand-eye coordination needed to hit a ball going over 90 mph, but it did give them more strength, a necessity if you ever want to hit over 60 home runs. Therefore, it did impact their performance.

Sports should be about raw and natural human prowess. Using PEDs should never be tolerated, and keeping the records of Bonds, Sosa, and McGwire justifies and downplays the gravity of using PEDs as professional athletes. At least they’re nowhere near the baseball Hall of Fame, so we can find some solace in that.

However, the issue remains that it takes away from the true heroes, the ones who don’t need the crutch of steroids to beat records. Standing at 6’7” and weighing 282 lbs, Judge’s body is made to hit consecutive home runs. He has also never been associated with any PEDs and it’s utterly sad that we have to give him credit for that.

It’s his name that should be at the top of the single-season home run record. The best sport to be represented by athletes like him and his name should stick around, and not in fourth place. I wish him a 62nd home run, and I wish him the Triple Crown. Now, excuse me while I go knock on wood.

Author’s note: Aaron Judge remarkably hit his 62nd home run on Oct. 4, officially passing Roger Maris and setting the new American League single-season home run record.

Categories
Sports

Liking rival teams can be a healthy way to enjoy sports

Being a fan of two rival teams isn’t easy, but it can be fun

Every sports fan has a favourite team. Some even have two or more for the same sport, which helps them follow different conferences or divisions. But how often does it happen that someone likes two rival teams? It’s rare, but not impossible.

Rivalries are one of the most fun parts of sports. It can even get to a point where you’re rooting for a team’s failure and not another team’s success.

If you’re as big of a hockey fan as anyone in Montreal, there is no way that you don’t absolutely despise the Boston Bruins or the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Or maybe there is.

Pia Yared, who has been living in Montreal since 2015, became a Canadiens fan the second she started living in Montreal. That was until last year, when she watched her first Leafs game and it was love at first sight.

“I just loved their energy, and how they played,” she said. “All it took was one game and I became a Leafs fan.”

She said she is now 55 per cent a Leafs fan and 45 per cent a Habs fan, but that it can fluctuate during the year.

Mitch Levis, a Montrealer and Baseball Québec umpire, also mentioned these numbers, but for the MLB.

He is 55 per cent a Cincinnati Reds fan and 45 per cent a St. Louis Cardinals fan.

Before that, Levis was a huge Expos fan, but he stopped following MLB altogether after the Expos moved to Washington, D.C., and became the Nationals.

However, he got back into it in 2010 when he travelled to Cincinnati and went to a Reds game there, with the Cardinals visiting.

“On the Cards’ roster was Rafael Furcal, a player I had met as a child when he played for Atlanta. But on the Reds was all-star Canadian player Joey Votto,” Levis said, explaining what helped him get back into watching MLB and following these two teams.

Although he doesn’t watch baseball during the regular season due to his busy schedule, Levis watches some games during the preseason and the playoffs. He also follows both teams in the news and on social media to keep up with everything.

He said if he were to watch his two favourite teams against each other, he would probably root for the Reds.

“But I’d also lean more neutral and hope for an exciting pitching matchup,” he said.

Yared also said she doesn’t watch a lot of games during the regular season, but tries to keep up with the news as much as possible.

She mentioned she usually roots for the Leafs over the Canadiens when they face off, but hopes for a fun game, even if it’s not the outcome she expects.

“I try to go into it neutral and see how the game goes,” she said. “And if a team is too disappointing, I’ll cheer for the other one.”

This is exactly what happened in the 2021 playoffs. She went into it rooting for Toronto, but ended up cheering for Montreal the closer they got to winning the series.

At the end of the day, sports are meant to be fun and to bring people together. Everyone has unique sports experiences. You can like one team and be loyal to them until death. You can like a team, then decide you don’t like them anymore, and pick a new one. You can also not have a favourite team, but instead just enjoy a sport.

Or, you can have two favourite teams that have a great rivalry, and enjoy every second of chaos you’ll witness.

 

Graphic by Madeline Schmidt

Categories
Sports

The use of instant replay in sports

Are video reviews and instant replays good for sports?

The implementation of instant replays in sports has been a subject of debate for fans and leagues since the technology was first industrialized for sports in the 1960s. Today, every major league uses video reviews to varying degrees, along with coaches’ challenges, to aid officials in making the right calls.

As technology continues to evolve, video replays will only get better at deducing what the human eye cannot, and reduce the number of controversial outcomes in games. Supporters of instant replay will justify the need for review by pointing to key moments in sports where the wrong call stood, and a winner was mistakenly crowned.

The most notable recent example came in the 2018 NFC Championship game in the National Football League (NFL), when the Los Angeles Rams defeated the New Orleans Saints 26-23 in overtime.

While post-game banter should have been focused on the Rams’ achievement in reaching their first Super Bowl final since 2001, the outcome of the match was mired in controversy following an unpenalized pass interference committed by Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman on Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis.

The dramatic play would later be notoriously dubbed the “NOLA No-call,” and the NFL would respond by making pass interference reviewable in its future seasons.

Nowadays, all games are officiated with the extensive use of instant replay reviews, whether it’s the deciding minutes of a championship game or an unassuming regular season matchup.

In theory, minimizing the number of referee-related mistakes is a notion worth supporting, but not all sports fans and athletes are in favour of the current replay system. Gabriel Guindi, who co-hosts CJLO’s sports talk show the Starting Rotation, is one such enthusiast who cannot get behind the excessive use of video reviews in the National Hockey League (NHL).

“Hockey probably does it the best compared to the other major sports leagues,” Guindi said. “But most of the time it does more damage than good. They might review a play for a few minutes and, if anything, I’m left more confused than when I saw it live.”

Louis-Vincent Gauvin, a second-year guard for the Concordia Stingers men’s basketball team, is an avid fan of the National Basketball Association (NBA). When the league made the transition towards more reviews by adding coach’s challenges in 2019, Gauvin worried it would have an undesirable effect on the quality of games.

“Basketball is at its best when the play doesn’t stop and there is a constant flow,” Gauvin said. “Stoppages for replay reviews and coaches’ challenges can ruin the natural rhythm of the game.”

Gauvin believes that the intention to review close calls makes sense, so long as they can be accomplished in a timely manner.

“The referees’ mistakes are part of the sport, so I can accept incorrect calls here and there if it means preserving the natural momentum and pace of the game,” Gauvin said.

While instant review can prolong games and make them tough to digest for some spectators, it doesn’t stop the NBA from achieving peak entertainment value, Gauvin believes, thanks in large part to the sheer amount of talent in the league today.

Categories
Sports

The Blue Jays make key additions to their roster

The team adds George Springer to its roster

Toronto Blue Jays General Manager Ross Atkins has been mostly quiet for the first two months of the Major League Baseball (MLB) offseason. However, he stepped up big time in the past few weeks, signing outfielder George Springer from the free agency market.

Springer signed for six years and US$150 million, which represents a franchise record contract for the Blue Jays. The team’s newest acquisition is a three-time all-star player and the 2017 World Series Most Valuable Player (MVP). The 31-year-old played all his previous seasons with the Houston Astros.

Springer hit 39 home runs in 122 games in 2019, followed by 14 in a shortened 51-game season last year. He hit four home runs in each of his last three postseasons.

In addition to Springer, Atkins added closer Kirby Yates and pitcher Tyler Chatwood to the team. Both should add good depth to a young lineup in need of more experience.

Yates played for four teams before signing a one-year contract with the Blue Jays. He had a career-high 12 home runs in 2017. Chatwood has even more experience, having started in 2011. Despite being a pitcher, he has three seasons with 14 home runs or more, and a career-high of 20, also in 2017.

Such additions to a group that already has rising players like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette should please fans. The team might not be a World Series contender for 2021, but the future’s getting brighter for the franchise.

The Blue Jays are playing a tough division that includes World Series finalists Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees. The Blue Jays finished with a 32-28 record last year, and were eliminated by the Rays in the first round of the postseason. It will be interesting to see how they do with the new acquisitions this season.

 

Graphic by Rose-Marie Dion

Categories
Sports

A look back at the world of sports in 2020

Recapping this year’s great sports events — despite the pandemic

The year is coming to an end, and it’s time to recap what happened in sports in 2020. This year has been filled with unforeseen situations, but luckily for sports fans, leagues around the world have begun to see a bit of a return to normal these past few months.

Here’s a look back at important moments that happened in sports this past year:

National Hockey League (NHL)

It’s been a unique year for the league, as the 2019–20 regular season had to be abruptly postponed, and then cancelled the remaining games in order to resume right away with a special playoff format.

We saw the Montreal Canadiens take advantage of the new format, qualifying for the 24th and last spot available for what was first a qualifying round to the playoffs. It was the first time since 2016–17 that the Habs qualified for the postseason.

The Stanley Cup was finally won on Sept. 28, 2020, with the Tampa Bay Lightning defeating the Dallas Stars in six games. It was the Lightning’s second Stanley Cup after also lifting the trophy in 2004. For the Stars, it was an impressive playoff run, surprising many fans and analysts. The team didn’t start the regular season on the right track, but turned things around in time and came close.

Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and Women’s Tennis Association (WTA)

It’s been a busy season for tennis organizers. Most ATP and WTA tournaments have been cancelled this season because of COVID-19, while others, except for tournaments in January and February, were postponed.

Despite that, we’ve still seen important achievements in 2020. In the ATP, third racket in the world Dominic Thiem won his first Grand Slam title last September when he won the US Open. On his way, he defeated Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev, both members of the top 10.

Later in September, we saw the Grand Slam tournament of Roland-Garros exceptionally being played in fall. Normally, Roland-Garros is competed from late May to early June, which made a huge difference for players since the tournament is played on clay, and the colder weather impacted the ball’s speed and rebounds on the surface. Of course, many players were not used to playing in such cold weather, meaning we saw some wearing jackets during their matches.

Tournament favorite Rafael Nadal won his 13th Roland-Garros this year, a record in professional tennis. He has joined Federer at the top of the list, tied with 20 Grand Slam titles each.

In the WTA, young sensation Iga Świątek surprised the tennis world by winning Roland-Garros, her first ever singles title. At just 19 years-old, she defeated Markéta Vondroušová (21st), Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep (2nd), and 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin (4th).

Major Baseball League (MLB)

The MLB season was shortened to 60 games, which forced the league to modify its postseason format. This year’s postseason allowed 16 teams to compete for the title. With a 32-28 record, the Toronto Blue Jays took the last spot in the American League and qualified for the wild-card series round. Despite their early elimination, it’s been great to see the Blue Jays qualify for the postseason.

It’s been hard for the MLB to organize its season with all the cities involved, but it ended pretty well. The Los Angeles Dodgers won their first championship since 1988, after coming really close in the past few years. They defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in six games.

What was interesting about this series was the difference between the two teams’ payroll. While the Dodgers had the second highest payroll in the MLB with $107.9 million, the Rays competed with the third lowest of all, a mere $28.3 million. It raised a lot of questions on parity in baseball, since we’re normally used to having high-payroll teams playing the World Series.

National Football League (NFL)

The NFL always seemed clear that they would maintain their season, and despite some COVID-19 cases in the league and postponed games, things have been going fairly well for the league, considering the circumstances.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have won their first 11 games of the season, the best season start in franchise history. After finishing 8-8 in 2019–20, the Steelers seem to be a totally different team so far this year.

Another team to watch are the defending Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs. The team is currently 11-1 after 12 games, and easily leads the AFC West division.

Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA)

All eyes were on defending champion Tiger Woods at the 84th edition of the Masters. The event, normally held in April, was rescheduled for Nov. 12 to 15.

It was finally the best golfer in the world, Dustin Johnson, who put on the green jacket as winner of the tournament.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)

We saw many great Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fights in the UFC this year, but one thing that  stood out is surely Khabib Nurmagomedov’s last fight. The superstar remained perfect with a 29-0 record, defeating Justin Gaethje in his only fight of 2020.

After the fight, Nurmagomedov announced his retirement from the UFC, following his father’s death. Nurmagomedov is considered as one of, if not the best MMA fighters of all time.

 

Graphic by Rose-Marie Dion

Categories
Sports

A first in four years for the Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays qualified for the postseason for the first time since 2016

The world of sports has been shaken by COVID-19. Major League Baseball (MLB), 2020–21 was shortened to a 60-game season, which forced the league to modify its postseason format.

Compared to what would normally be 10 teams in normal seasons, this year’s MLB postseason allows 16 teams to compete for the title. With a 32-28 record, the Toronto Blue Jays took the eighth and last spot in the American League and qualified for the wild-card series round.

Even if their last World Series championship dates back to 1993, the Blue Jays have given their fans many great memories during their recent postseason appearances. From Jose Bautista’s bat flip in 2015 to being one series away from playing in the World Series in 2016, the MLB’s only Canadian team always seems to find a way to stand out.

Despite having given sports leagues many organizational and scheduling problems, the pandemic seems to have been oddly helpful for Canadian teams. In hockey, six Canadian teams qualified for this year’s National Hockey League (NHL) playoffs, including the Montreal Canadiens, who were ranked 24th out of 31 teams in the NHL when the season was stopped in March.

The Habs were the 24th and last team to enter this year’s unique NHL playoff format, despite their 31-31-9 record. For the Blue Jays, the situation was pretty similar, as they took advantage of a reduced schedule to win just enough games to punch their ticket into the postseason.

Final thoughts:

Win or not, the postseason is always a great opportunity for players to gain experience and learn. COVID-19 has no doubt been a worldwide problem, but every positive moment and vibe created must be embraced, and the Blue Jays making the postseason is definitely one of them.

 

Graphic by Rose-Marie Dion

Categories
Sports

Justice and Equality, Now

Some things are bigger than sports

On Aug. 23, a Black man named Jacob Blake was shot by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Blake was shot seven times, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.

After this event, much of the sports world and its high-profile athletes used their platforms to speak out against systemic racism.

On Aug. 26, in the National Basketball Association (NBA), the Milwaukee Bucks were scheduled to play Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Orlando Magic at 4 p.m. In response to Blake being shot several times, the Bucks didn’t emerge from their locker room, calling for justice for Blake. It was announced by 5 p.m. that all NBA playoff games were postponed indefinitely.

The Bucks then released an official statement explaining their decision not to play, outlining their inability to focus on basketball when change is needed. The strike sparked a chain reaction in sports, as people from all disciplines showed their support. Kenny Smith, former NBA player and co-host of Inside the NBA on TNT walked off the set of the show on-air, in solidarity with player protests.

In keeping with this idea, on Aug. 26, three Major League Baseball (MLB) games were cancelled in order to draw attention to systemic racism, while seven more were cancelled the following day. In the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), fourth-seeded Naomi Osaka won her quarterfinal matchup at the Western and Southern Open, but withdrew shortly after to fight for racial justice. The tournament responded to her courageous act by postponing all of Thursday’s scheduled matches. On Aug. 27 and 28, all NHL games were also postponed, and multiple football teams cancelled their practices as well.

We all can do our part to help make this world a better place, especially in 2020, where we have the tools and the technology to share our message and learn from each other. For example, a group of former and current NHL players started the Hockey Diversity Alliance in order to inspire the new generation of players and fans. By providing resources to the young generation, the Hockey Diversity Alliance is showing it wants to do more than just support a cause. Their ultimate goal is to eliminate racism and intolerance in the game.

The Concordian wants to support and follow the movement taken in the sports world. That’s why this article is the only one that will be published in the sports section for our first issue of the semester. Some things are bigger than sports, and we should never ignore them.

We stand for racial justice and equality. Black Lives Matter.

 

Graphic by Chloë Lalonde

Categories
Sports

Colour Commentary: Big four North American sports league suspend play due to COVID-19

Last Wednesday night, Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19.

What ensued next was absolute chaos. The NBA swiftly announced that it would be suspending play after that night’s games were finished.

Around 1 p.m. on March 12, after a meeting among team owners and commissioner Gary Bettman, the NHL also suspended play until further notice. Bettman has teased a summer restart, but nothing is confirmed as of publication.

Then the news of leagues and competitions really started to pour in. Here is a summary of what happened next:

  • NCAA’s March Madness, the single biggest sports gambling event in the United States announced the cancellation of the tournament.
  • Major League Soccer suspended its season for 30 days.
  • The Association of Tennis Professionals suspended play for six weeks.
  • The Canadian Football League combine was cancelled.
  • The International Ice Hockey Federation’s under-18 world championships got cancelled.
  • Women’s World Curling Championships got cancelled.
  • Hockey Canada suspended all activities including all Canadian Hockey League games, the U-Sports National Championships and all unsanctioned minor hockey leagues.
  • The American Hockey League suspended play until further notice.

This was all on Thursday.

Since then, many major competitions would follow suit, including the English Premier League. The EPL was one of few competitions that were supposed to continue until Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for COVID-19.

With sports being suspended/cancelled, many 24-hour sports radio and TV stations are scrambling. However, one channel that has to be given credit is TSN.

Their coverage of all things sports that day was incredible—they ran commercial-free from the time the NHL made it’s announcement around 1 p.m. until their flagship show, SportsCentre was scheduled at 6 p.m.

Thursday was a grim day, but some positive news came out of it. A team of three Canadian doctors had managed to isolate the COVID-19 virus to further research towards a vaccine.

Rick Westhead of TSN was the first reporter to interview one of the doctors on SportsCentre about the impact of what the team’s findings mean for research.

I tip my hat to TSN for continuing live coverage and reporting during a time where the world probably needs sports the most to distract them from what is going on.

At The Concordian, we are committed to you and will still be bringing you sports pieces every week.

Stay safe, stay calm, and stay clean. And for Pete’s sake, wash your hands.

Categories
Sports

Colour Commentary: The MLB missed the mark on the Astros cheating scandal

On Nov. 12, 2019, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich came out with a damning report that the Houston Astros illicitly stole signs during the 2017 and 2018 Major League Baseball seasons.

Mike Fiers, a former Astros pitcher, said that the Astros had an intricate system which involved a centre-field camera that gave a feed to someone behind the Astros’ dugout at their home stadium. Then, a member of the Astros organization would hit a garbage can to signal what pitch would be coming based on the sign the opposing catcher gave to the pitcher.

On Jan. 13, 2020, Rob Manfred, the commissioner of the MLB confirmed the allegations against the Astros. The trashcan method was only used during the 2017 season, the same season that the Astros claimed their first World Series Championship in the franchise’s history.

Manfred then threw the hammer down on the Astros, fining them $5 million USD, suspending their manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for the entirety of the 2020 season, and forcing them to forfeit their first and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021. Moments after Manfred confirmed the allegations, the Astros’ owner Jim Crane fired both Hinch and Luhnow.

The punishment is undoubtedly harsh, but was it enough?

Well, the short answer is no.

The players were all given immunity by the MLB because of their cooperation with the investigation. Even if Manfred were to suspend some of the players, it is technically on the manager to make them aware of the rules. So the case of suspending them becomes one of legality, not morality. They knew what they were doing was wrong, however if an arbitrator were to get involved with the MLB Players Association, there would be enough of a case in favour of the Astros’ players to absolve them of all wrongdoing.

What about the championship though? That is an organizational feat, not just one by the players. This is where I feel like the MLB missed the mark.

The MLB had no problem cancelling the 1994 postseason, but for whatever reason they have a problem with stripping the Astros of a tainted title. Sign stealing has been around forever, and the counter argument to it is “create better signs,” but that becomes moot when a team is illegally videoing the opposition.

Baseball is a sport that polices itself. I’m sure some players will be hit by pitches, but at the end of the day they’ll still have their rings on their fingers and a banner hanging at Minute Maid Park.

Categories
Sports

Roy Halladay was a role model for Canadian pitchers

Former Blue Jay goes into Hall of Fame as one of the greatest in franchise history

The 2019 Baseball Hall of Fame class was announced on Jan. 22. Among the legendary names that will be inducted in Cooperstown, New York in July, one name stands out to Canadian baseball fans.

The late Roy “Doc” Halladay (1977-2017) spent 11 of his 15 full seasons as a Toronto Blue Jay, winning 148 games. He also won a Cy Young Award as the American League’s best pitcher in 2003. He made an impact whether he was playing or not.

Jackson Morgan, a pitcher for the Concordia Stingers baseball team, looked up to Halladay. “He was a huge role model for me growing up,” Morgan said. “What made him a role model wasn’t necessarily his performance, but his [behaviour] on and off the field.”

On the field, Halladay was known for an assortment of pitches, and his command of the strike zone was one of his most notable skills. Growing up playing baseball, Morgan learned how to create more movement on his pitches by watching Halladay play. “I can remember watching him dominate and thinking to myself: ‘If I was a batter, I’d be helpless as well,’” Morgan said.

Halladay’s impact on Canadian baseball fans is in the same scope as former Blue Jays Joe Carter, Jimmy Key and fellow Hall of Fame member Roberto Alomar, who were the Blue Jays’s first stars. Danny Gallagher, a former reporter who covered the Montreal Expos, believes Halladay is one of the most successful Blue Jays of all-time. Like Morgan, Gallagher also believes Halladay had an impact on youth players in the country.
The Blue Jays weren’t a good team from 1998 to 2009, when Halladay was pitching for them. The Jays never made the playoffs, despite masterful performances from Halladay. Morgan wished that Halladay would have seen some better chances to win.

“I only wish they had a better supporting cast for Doc during his tenure with the Jays,” Morgan said. Halladay only played playoff baseball twice, in 2010 and in 2011, as a player for the Philadelphia Phillies. There, he continued to dominate, and in 2010 against the Cincinnati Reds, he became only the second pitcher after Don Larsen in 1956 to throw a no-hitter in the playoffs.   
Players inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame choose which of their former team’s logos is inscribed on the cap of their plaque. Halladay’s family requested to not have a logo on his plaque. Despite this, Gallagher said he will be forever linked with Toronto baseball.

“The Blue Jays will always consider Doc one of the greats in franchise history,” Gallagher said. Even without the Blue Jays logo on Halladay’s plaque, his legacy as a Blue Jay will remain on the minds of all Canadian baseball fans.

The same was echoed by Morgan, as what he saw from Halladay’s play as a young baseball player will be forever remembered. “His legacy will live on forever. I’m thankful he played for a Canadian team and young Canadian pitchers like myself had exposure to such an influential and important baseball figure,” Morgan said.

Main graphic by @spooky_soda.

Exit mobile version