Lions.The Lions selected Foley in the first round, fourth overall, in the 2006 CFL draft out of York University. The 34-year-old native of Courtice, Ont., played in 76 career regular-season games and five playoff contests with Toronto, registering 184 tackles, 20 sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception.He was named the top Canadian in Toronto’s 35-22 win over Calgary in the 100th Grey Cup game at Rogers Centre in 2012. A three-time CFL champion, Foley was the league’s top Canadian in 2009 while with the B.C. Ricky Foley was released by the Toronto Argonauts on Friday, with the veteran defensive end getting the news in a text message from a front-office official.“Released via text message by the assistant GM smh…Way to keep it classy #Argos,” Foley tweeted.The move comes a day before Foley was reportedly due a roster bonus. A league source also said the Toronto club had asked Foley to restructure his contract. Keep ya head fam you got a lot of ball left,” Durie tweeted in response to Foley’s earlier message.The six-foot-two, 258-pound Foley was in his second stint with Toronto. LOL. However, they added they tried multiple times to reach him via telephone Thursday evening but Foley never returned any of the messages.The Argos also said they reached Foley’s agent, Johnathon Hardaway, via telephone Thursday night and informed him of their intention to release Foley.In February, veteran slotback Andre Durie tweeted he was no longer playing for Toronto after 10 seasons with the club. The veteran defensive end joined the Argos in 2010 and remained through the 2012 season before spending the 2013 ad 2014 campaigns with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.Foley rejoined the Argos in 2015. 28.“LMAO WOW #lame at least you got a thank you letter ??????? Durie declined to elaborate, but the move fuelled speculation of a falling out between the organization and one of its most popular players at a time when it was without a GM and head coach after Jim Barker was fired and Scott Milanovich resigned to become an assistant coach with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.That left assistant GM Spencer Zimmerman in charge of football operations until Jim Popp was hired as GM on Feb. The Argos made the move official in a statement after Foley took to social media to release the news.The team confirmed that Foley was informed of his release in a text message.
But his .231 batting average was his lowest in five seasons and Martin was obviously wearing down by the end of the year, hitting just .161 with only five extra-base hits over his final 27 games. Old reliable behind the plateOnce again, this will be the primary domain of Russell Martin, one of the busiest catchers since breaking into the majors in 2006. But staying healthy, that’s been the rub for the 26-year-old since he arrived in Toronto for the start of the 2015 season. Howell, 33, is a lefty who is the defacto replacement for Brett Cecil, who signed this off-season with the St. And Bautista, who played for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, will again be in right. “I think if he [Travis] stays healthy, he’s got a chance to be one of the better hitters in baseball,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. But the Blue Jays say they aren’t concerned, that it is still early. But all that didn’t stop Blue Jays General Manager Ross Atkins from proclaiming early in spring training that he thought Toronto’s best lineup this season featured Smoak, who is solid defensively, as the regular first baseman. That represents more than 11,000 innings at baseball’s most demanding position and, at age 34, you have to wonder when that taxing workload will start to exact a toll on Martin’s productivity. This season, Martin will have veteran Jarrod Saltalamacchia as his backup, with a career batting average of .234 and a switch-hitter to boot. The stoic professionalism of Tulowitzki will continue to have a positive effect in the clubhouse and he remains one the of the game’s top defenders. Still only 22, Osuna has emerged as one of the game’s top young closers, posting 56 saves over two years. Last Saturday was his first game of the spring lining up in left. And it has a chance to be even better in 2017. Even during his best season – 2014 with Baltimore when he batted .293 and hit a career-best 21 home runs – Pearce was a positional nomad, getting 47 starts at first, 27 in left and another four in right. And Toronto is perhaps most excited about the prospects of Francisco Liriano, the other lefty in the starting rotation who was a trade deadline addition to the team last season. Melvin Upton Jr. Depending on the final makeup of the 25-man roster, should Travis stumble early the Blue Jays have solid defensive backups with either Ryan Goins or Darwin Barney.Safe betsJosh Donaldson at third base, Troy Tulowitzki at short and Jose Bautista in right field. Liriano has been lights-out during the spring, posting a 1.88 ERA with 25 strikeouts during 14 1/3 innings.In closingThe Blue Jays bullpen has undergone a bit of an overhaul but will still feature Roberto Osuna at the back end. Injuries have caused Travis to miss just over 50 per cent of Toronto’s regular-season games the past two years and a stubborn knee issue has slowed his work during spring training. Howell and Joe Smith, a couple of MLB veteran free-agent signings. His 2.7 at-bat-to-strikeout ratio was the second-worst mark in the majors among players who played in at least 120 games. All the key hurlers who finished with the team last season are returning, led by lefty 20-game winner J.A. His .882 win percentage (15-2) was baseball’s best among qualified pitchers. Toronto’s starters posted an AL-best 3.64 earned-run average last season, almost half a run better than the staff of the Cleveland Indians, who won the pennant. But if he gets off to a slow start look for the Blue Jays to move quickly to Plan B with newcomer Steve Pearce seeing regular duty at first.Travis aiming to be a healthy choice at secondThere is no doubt Devon Travis can hit, with a .301 batting average and 19 home runs in the two seasons he has been a Blue Jay. Although the final makeup of the seven-man bullpen will not be made final until Toronto concludes its exhibition schedule this weekend in Montreal against Pittsburgh, it will contain at least two newcomers in J.P. A bag of contentionA potential sore spot for the Blue Jays would be first base following the messy departure of fan favourite Edwin Encarnacion to the Cleveland Indians. Veteran Jason Grilli and the free-spirited Joe Biagini will both return and will be primarily the eighth-inning setup hurlers. In July of last year, Smoak signed a two-year contract extension for $8.25-million (U.S.) with an option for the 2019 season. Martin has caught in 1,365 regular-season games, second only to Yadier Molina’s 1,419. As for Smoak, the the switch-hitter had a dismal season at the plate, batting just .217 with 112 strikeouts. Marcus Stroman, fresh off a masterful starting performance for the United States in its championship victory over Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic, appears poised to deliver consistently for Toronto. That leaves left field as another conundrum for the Blue Jays. And he provides Toronto with its best option leading off, which was a rather unsettled area a year ago where even Jose Bautista hit at the top of the order on 40 occasions, not exactly the spot you want to see one of your best power/RBI weapons. The Blue Jays will need continued high-octane outputs from all three, offensively and defensively, if they hope to contend. Smoak responded with just 11 hits and 17 strikeouts through his first 19 games of spring training, a rather unsavoury .224 average that doesn’t exactly inspire optimism. And Bautista, with his well-publicized off-season free-agent exploits, will be playing with a rather large chip on his shoulder that could motivate him to bounce back from a lacklustre, injury-marred 2016.A dicey proposition in leftThe outfield will have a familiar look, starting with Kevin Pillar in centre, ready to add to his already bulging highlight-reel collection of daring catches. Although he has played in only four Grapefruit League games and collected seven hits – four for extra bases – in 13 at-bats, all signs are that come Monday in Baltimore Travis will be in the starting lineup, playing second and batting leadoff. If all three can remain healthy there is no reason to assume this trio cannot continue to display their prodigious skills. Marco Estrada, who made the all-star team but could not play because of a bad back that bothered him all year, reports that he is still dealing with sporadic back pain but is in a much better spot than a year ago. Bothered most of last year with a sore left knee that required off-season surgery, Martin still stroked 20 home runs, tying him for the fifth highest mark among catchers. Toronto’s starters led all of the majors in total innings pitched with 995 1/3 and stymied opposing hitters with an AL-low batting average of .236. Louis Cardinals. It would appear that free-agent newcomer Steve Pearce has the regular job locked up, which is a bit of a stretch considering the 33-year-old has never been an everyday player over his 10-year career. Happ. Still, Martin’s signal calling remains impeccable and his contribution to a starting staff that was arguably baseball’s best in 2016 cannot be underestimated. and Ezequiel Carrera are in the running as the fourth utility outfielder and it is doubtful that there is room for both on the 25-man roster.Armed and readyThe starting pitching, arguably the best in the AL last year if not all the majors, remains the team’s strength. Encarnacion, who had 42 home runs last year when he split the duties with Justin Smoak, will be missed. Further complicating matters is that Pearce is coming off surgery to his right (throwing) elbow and the Blue Jays pampered him. Some concern has been expressed this spring about a bit of a drop in the velocity of his fastball, which usually ranges in the mid-to-upper 90 miles an hour. Aaron Sanchez, whose 2016 workload was closely monitored, posted the lowest starter’s ERA (3.00) in the AL. Last season Osuna garnered 36 saves in 42 save opportunities. Donaldson is one of only three players in the game the past two years (Colorado’s Nolan Arenado and Boston’s David Ortiz are the others) to hit at least 75 home runs, bat .290 or better and score at least 220 runs.
I even went ahead and sang Take Me Out to the Ball Game at full volume without reservation or embarrassment – simultaneously solo and in a beautiful, jubilant choir of thousands.But I also think I bought a single ticket because I needed to fully embrace the quiet, and have it just be the game and me for a little while. Further, there’s something about sitting next to someone – as opposed to across from them – that makes it easier for those who struggle with their feelings to share them. I spoke to no one besides the kindly beer vendor, and took a fifth-inning opportunity to sprawl out by myself on a grassy berm.The experience reminds me that solitude among the buzz of a busy stadium is like a kind of meditation. Sometimes you have to strip away all the other voices in the conversation, and just listen to yourself for a while.In September, 2015, I left my magazine marketing job of seven years and pursued writing – about the game of baseball and other things – fulltime. I’ve been scared and anxious, worried about what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and where it all will take me. Other days, I worry that I’m descending into a kind of anxious, shut-in void that makes me reluctant to put on pants and go to a social event.What the experience has taught me is how often we measure our skills and our talents – and understand our beliefs – relationally and competitively, and how in doing so we ignore who we are and what we really want. It was a joy to chat with complete strangers, to talk ball with people of varying allegiances, and to dictate my own schedule of when it was time to sit and when it was time to wander. The historic rivalry has an innate thrill to it, and is much more jovial and warm-hearted than the legend would suggest. Even when there are thousands of people around, it’s really just you, your thoughts, your favourite pitcher, and the nine men in your lineup.Baseball is an incredibly social sport to love. You can better appreciate its meditative effect, its rich solace, when it’s just you, and the game, and a Blue Moon Belgian White in your Yankees souvenir cup.Over the last year I’ve faced a great deal of uncertainty and doubt. I often find myself forming my in-game reactions from that cacophony of voices, and I value the experience because it pulls me out of my solitude and into the world.For those of us who are introverted, baseball provides a comfortable space to talk about something outside ourselves. The daily quiet and the inevitable loneliness hit me hard during what was already a time of uncertainty. Some days, I’m optimistic and think I’ve really come into my own voice as a result of that ever-present quiet. We habitually compare ourselves to others to a debilitating degree, believing our successes can only be captured by how much we’ve outpaced someone else. Amid the ambient sounds of the stadium, the ump’s calls and the smacking of ball to glove, I needed to remind myself that yes, I am capable, and that yes, my love for baseball (and the love I get back from it) is not predicated on any interaction or external validation. I dutifully followed strangers in Yankees caps to make sure I didn’t get lost, and then grabbed my own at the team store as a strategy to blend in with the hordes. Sometimes I even measure my affection for baseball in the many connections I’ve made, and the community I’ve fostered through it. If only for an afternoon, I needed to go ahead and buy a single ticket and remind myself that maybe I already have all the answers I need.And as always, the ballpark generously reassured me. I didn’t have to explain or listen to an explanation of a play, or say a single word. And sometimes we simply forget that we like our own company, or that we love things for our own, deeply personal, individualistic reasons.In short, we forget ourselves, and how to be alone.It was for this reason that trip to Yankee Stadium, eight months after making the jump to terrifying freedom, felt particularly meaningful. It was a scary, yet necessary decision, though one that I recognize the inherent privilege of being able to make at all. The excitement, joy, and devastation that baseball provides means you’re never short of things to talk about, especially when you want to steer the conversation away from things you’d prefer not to discuss.Baseball can also be a good facilitator for those times when you need to talk about what’s really important. At least once a season, I try to fit in a solo pilgrimage to the ballpark, just like that afternoon of solitude in New York. Stacey May Fowles is a Toronto-based writer.On a Saturday afternoon in May, 2016, I went to a baseball game by myself. Suddenly, the lifeline that the ballpark and the baseball community had always offered became all the more vital.Showing up at an office from nine to five, and then going home to eat dinner with your partner, means there’s little time to face who you are, or even to hear yourself think. We deal in acceptable ideas. Now that every one of my workdays requires at least eight hours of being completely by myself, I’ve had to relearn that skill of solitude, to admittedly mixed results. I took the escalator up to my level, purchased a beer in a plastic souvenir cup, and, during an unseasonably chilly three hours, watched the Yanks beat former Blue Jay David Price and the rest of the Boston Red Sox, 8-2. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. Copyright © 2017 by Stacey May Fowles. Of course, if you love baseball and you happen to be in New York, going to see the Yankees face the Red Sox is exactly what you should do, regardless of whether or not you have someone to go with. The graceful (and yes, at times excruciatingly slow) pace of nine innings makes it easy to pay attention to both the sporadic action and the person by your side. It’s a game that attracts a vast community of fans to buoy you through wins and losses, good times and bad. We disregard our own capabilities. Watching a ball game creates the same sort of conversational ease as taking a long road trip with a beloved companion, with the bonus of a freshly grilled hot dog and intermittent on-field entertainment.But, in the spirit of good baseball life advice, and at the risk of treading too far into metaphor, sometimes you just have to take the D train to the Bronx and go to the game on your own. Baseball, it said, means you’re never alone, but it also teaches you that it’s okay to be all by yourself.Excerpted from Baseball Life Advice by Stacey May Fowles, which is available in stores April 11. Ever since my dad was my first seatmate, the ballpark has been a safe place for me to confide my thoughts and confess my deep dark secrets to friends old and new. Sure, the game is undeniably a community endeavour, but your love for it can only deepen when you take the time to realize what you alone bring to all its tiny dramas, losses, and victories. I bought a single aisle seat in section 233 at Yankee Stadium, and took the D train from Manhattan to the Bronx alone. While I was enthusiastically cheering them on, I was also realizing that I had long forgotten the fine art of being alone (if I had ever really learned it in the first place), and finding that one of the only times I was around other people now was when I was at the ballpark. I’ve been gifted a single front-row seat on the third-base line at the Rogers Centre and enjoyed the presence of the friendly season-ticketed lonely hearts seated around me – some chose to strike up a conversation with a stranger, while others remained glued to the headphone-assisted privacy of their in-game radio broadcasts. One year during spring training, I stationed myself directly behind home plate at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Fla., where I spent a relaxing afternoon quietly watching Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander lead his team to victory. Published by McClelland & Stewart, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. In the digital age, baseball is a game you can watch with countless others without ever leaving your couch, with each play celebrated or lamented via shared online musings. It was in so many ways a perfect day, and one I desperately needed. While I may have thoroughly prepared myself in all of the important logistical ways – the contents of my bank account made me relatively comfortable, and I had a few reliable freelance writing gigs and a solid backup plan in place – I don’t think I was cognizant of what can happen when you become untethered from the daily socializing that comes along with a traditional fulltime job.When I finally packed up my desk, the Toronto Blue Jays were in the midst of gunning for their first postseason presence in over 20 years, clinching the American League East in the first few weeks of my new, self-imposed exile from the regular working world. I’ve felt unsure, and perhaps I’ve made the mistake of looking outside myself, and of comparing myself to others, to find the answers. We waste a lot of time and emotion on what everyone else is doing well or badly, when we should be investing in and celebrating ourselves. When people discover you love the game, it can replace the usual chit-chat about work and relationships. Leaving the security of a steady paycheque and the bonus of health insurance meant a lot of emotional buildup and a great deal of saving for the financially insecure days that were sure to come. All rights reserved. The mass booing of retirement-bound David Ortiz was oddly light and comical, and a Yankees fan and a Sox fan in front of me in the beer line had a good laugh about the absurdity of it all.
Open and his form has slumped dramatically as he has battled injury in recent years.This year’s Masters marks the 20th anniversary of Woods winning the first of his four Green Jackets at Augusta National. He also won the title in 2001, 2002 and 2005. “I did about everything I could to play, but my back rehabilitation didn’t allow me the time to get tournament ready,” Woods said in a statement on his website.“I have no timetable for my return, but I will continue my diligent effort to recover, and want to get back out there as soon as possible.”The 14-times major winner said he would still be at Augusta National’s clubhouse on Tuesday for the annual Champions Dinner ahead of the April 6-9 Masters.Woods returned to the PGA Tour in January after a 17-month absence following back surgery but has not played a tournament since he pulled out of a European Tour event in Dubai because of a back spasm in early February.He missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open after shooting rounds of 76 and 72 and shot an opening-round 77 a week later in Dubai.Now 41, Woods has not won a major title since he clinched the 14th of his career at the 2008 U.S. Tiger Woods will miss next week’s U.S. The four-times champion did not play at the Masters in 2014 or 2016 and tied for 17th in 2015. Masters due to his troublesome back and has no timetable for his return to competitive golf, the former world number one said on Friday.It will be only the third time Woods has missed the year’s first major since he first competed at Augusta National in 1995.
It was a break from the dreadful years of Harold Ballard’s ownership.Joe Bowen called that game on the radio and it remains a high point, even though he recently passed his 3,000th game as the team’s play-by-play broadcaster. Mio made his way to the rink entrance just as Bowen’s hometown pal, referee Dave [Snapper] Newell, was circling the ice.“Eddie used to sprint down the corridor and explode on to the ice,” Bowen said. “You get a big goal like that after the ’80s, when we had no chance with Harold and you get it right, it was a special moment.“The other thing about the Norris Division and playing there so often was that it really was the rink, before the Ottawa Senators arrived, where a lot of Leaf fans would go there. We played Friday at The Joe and Saturday at home. “The Joe always smelled,” said Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan, who won three Stanley Cups as a power forward with the Red Wings in 1997, 1998 and 2002. “There wasn’t a row of suites halfway up the stands, so it felt like the fans were on top of us. Legend has it that when The Joe was built someone forgot to include the press box. So the last two rows of seats at the top of the arena were knocked out, a ledge was installed, and the box was jammed on top of it. No one who spent time there regularly ever forgot it. 27, 1979, with a game against the St. It was a good atmosphere any night we were there.”Most of the time, though, Bowen wasn’t thrilled with his broadcast spot, much like the rest of the media. Nikolai Borschevsky, a 28-year-old rookie, tipped in a Bob Rouse shot early in overtime to give the Leafs the series win and start them on their memorable run to the Campbell Conference final. The fans loved the scrappers.Shanahan said it was the fans that mattered. “There was a fresh coat of paint the Red Wings always put in the dressing room when the playoffs started,” he said.The greatest Leaf moment at The Joe was May 1, 1993, in the seventh and deciding game of their first-round playoff series with the favoured Red Wings. “During many of the playoff runs I broadcast, some leather-lung right below me, obviously a Red Wings fan, would jump up every time they’d score and give me a stare and everything else.”Another of Bowen’s favourite memories occurred at the start of a game when the Wings had goaltender Eddie Mio, who made up in personality what he lacked in skill. We’re celebrating and a fan reached over the glass to pat me on the head. You could hear them better, especially in the days when the glass was lower.“I remember scoring an empty-net goal to clinch a Colorado series. We generally walked through a concourse, ducked under steel girders or stepped over them, with the nice aroma of stale beer.“I’m not sure what [the smell] was. “I don’t think they’re going to be sad to leave that building.”In the 1980s, the Red Wings did not have much on-ice success, but they had lots of hard-fought games with bruisers like Bob Probert and Joey Kocur in the lineup. The 20,027 fans who regularly filled the place during the Wings’ glory years from 1990 through 2008, when they won their last Stanley Cup, did not care that The Joe never had enough washrooms, that the walkways were too narrow, or that the stairways at the entrances were steep and dangerous on snowy nights. You never knew which one was going to be the hockey game and which one was going to be the other.“I always remember the great ice and the fans. “That rivalry always went Friday-Saturday night. “My kids grew up going to those games. Once The Joe is demolished to make way for a development, and the Wings are ensconced in their new $635-million (U.S.) playpen less than two kilometres away, it will be remembered for great moments and the people rather than the building itself.“It was like a dump,” said Leafs TV broadcaster Bob McGill, who played for two fierce rivals of the Red Wings in the 1980s, the Leafs and the Chicago Blackhawks, before a brief run with the Wings late in his career. Neither he nor his teammates worried that their arena did not have the same luxury features as the new wave of arenas that came along in the 1990s.“All we cared about was the atmosphere on the ice,” he said. “I’m watching this and I see Snapper Newell coming down the ice. Four Stanley Cups followed but there were still players who could score and fight if they needed to, like Shanahan, or check and fight, like Darren McCarty. Even at our alumni game around the lockout, I think it was in ’06, it was almost sold out. You could connect better with the fans. “There was no red-carpet, private walkway for the players. When it gets going, the Leafs scored like six goals. But The Joe, as it came to be known after the Red Wings took residence on Dec. I felt we got between a half dozen and a dozen goals at home [per season] from those bounces.”Leafs head coach Mike Babcock was the Red Wings head coach from 2005 to 2015, winning a Stanley Cup in 2008. As long as the beer was cold, the Red Wings were literally or figuratively kicking someone around the ice, and the security guys looked the other way when they threw an octopus on the ice at playoff time to maintain another Detroit tradition, the fans were happy.“It felt like a tough, gritty arena with a gritty team and gritty people,” Shanahan said.The Leafs play their final game there on Saturday and, now that the Red Wings have missed the playoffs for the first time in 25 years, the final NHL game at The Joe will be their season-closer on April 9 against the New Jersey Devils. Reporters looked over the shoulders of fans in the last row, who weren’t shy about telling out-of-towners what they thought of them.“You were literally in the seats with those guys,” Bowen said. I got lots of opportunities out of that.“It’s a walk down memory lane. He just slapped me right on the face.”Shanahan said the rink itself had its quirks, especially the boards, which the Wings used to their advantage until other teams figured it out.“Any time the puck was shot from the point and it missed the net, you knew the puck was coming back out in front of the net,” he said. Louis Blues, had no luxury suites ringing the lower levels or any private clubs for high-rolling season-ticket owners.Not that the loud, mostly working-class fans would have any truck with such frills. I’m thinking, ‘They don’t see each other.’ Sure enough, he comes out and whammo! But to be honest, it felt like home.”It was a fitting backdrop to an arena that matched the hard-scrabble Detroit downtown, even though it was one of the first new buildings to open around the NHL as the 1980s began. Stale beer and stale popcorn. He says there are simply too many memories to list them all, from having hockey legends like Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay as dressing-room regulars to coaching players like Yzerman and Nick Lidstrom and working with general manager Ken Holland.But he’s still a hockey coach and lives firmly in the present.“You think about all those things,” Babcock said. Newell goes flying and they have to cart him off the ice.“The game is delayed by I don’t know how long. It was an important part of my life. The play happened quickly and Bowen is proud to say he made the right call by tabbing Borschevsky as the scorer.“Our broadcast position was down at that end, almost at the blue line, so when Bobby Rouse shot the puck I definitely saw Nicky get a small piece of it,” Bowen said. “Some of our veteran defencemen that were used to that would sometimes shoot the puck wide, knowing there were a couple of forwards who would position themselves to take advantage of it coming off the boards.“I think in the early days, people didn’t talk about it as much. There’s so much more scouting now. I’m sure you can do that in the warmup and get ready to play.” And the fans still hated us.”Clark also remembers the Red Wings could be counted on to make The Joe as uncomfortable as possible come playoff time, even off the ice. It was the smell you remembered more than anything.For anyone walking in the hall under the stands at Joe Louis Arena between the dressing rooms of the Detroit Red Wings and the visiting team, it was always there – a pungent mixture of stale beer, stale popcorn and fermenting garbage in the nearby bins. Mio says, ‘Geez, my concentration was completely screwed up.’ So Snapper Newell had a big hand in a Leaf win at Joe Louis Arena.”In the 1990s and early 2000s, the Wings gave up most of the roughhousing to become a skill team with Steve Yzerman and the Russian Five. They played in the old Norris Division with the Leafs, who boasted equally abrasive players like McGill, Wendel Clark, Brian Curran and Al Secord, and it was soon known as the Chuck Norris Division.“The love-hate,” Clark said when asked what he remembered most about the place.
After living through its first shared season with a CFL team last year, hosting a Grey Cup and then being smothered under an outdoor NHL ice surface for the Centennial Classic, last year’s natural grass pitch was torn out and replaced. After a brief off-season, the fans returned Friday, ready for the next chapter.On this frigid, miserable, rainy March night, with a frosty wind roaring through the lake shore stadium, BMO Field wasn’t as packed and rollicking as it had been on those memorable playoff nights. Attendance in the 30,000-seat house was announced at 27909.Still red and white smoke and fireworks crackled to welcome the team home, while an enormous black flag was unraveled in the stands, revealing the season’s theme in red scrawl: Dawn of the Reds. Clint Irwin was back in goal after Alex Bono started thet game in Vancouver.“Coming back from international weeks, notoriously haven’t been our best performances because we have big personalities on our team who aren’t with us for periods of time,” said Toronto head coach Greg Vanney.There were several prime scoring opportunities missed. They re-sodded it during a Canadian winter, with the help of an inflatable greenhouse built over the field to hold in heat and artificial light.Giovinco returned Friday, after missing the win at Vancouver due to a leg injury sustained in their second game. For the earlier-than-usual home opener, the BMO Field grounds crew did something unprecedented. Cooper didn’t enter until the 76th.Bono – who has yet to allow a goal this season — made three saves on the night, and Irwin made two, as the team had its third clean sheet in four games. Midfielder Justin Morrow was out with a heel injury, so young Toronto native Raheem Edwards got his first MLS start. Vanney said after the game that early examinations indicated Irwin may have a hamstring injury.Toronto took 13 shots to Kansas City’s 15, but just two of those TFC shots were on target.The Reds play four of their next five at home, starting Apr.8 versus Atlanta United. The keeper walked off slowly, with help, and Bono replaced him.Altidore finally entered the game in the 62nd minute to a loud ovation from the fans, replacing Ricketts. After opening the season on the road and going 1-0-2, TFC returned to BMO Field for the first time since the MLS Cup final last December, a wintry night that had ended in heartbreak – with green and blue confetti flying as the Seattle Sounders hoisted the cup after besting the Reds in a shootout.The rainy weather for this home opener was reminiscent of Nov. Then Jonathan Osorio boomed two wide, Eriq Zavaleta headed one high, a Tosaint Ricketts had a right-footer blocked and an Edwards came ever so close several times, charging at the net from out wide. A large red banner swung in front of the supporters’ section reading “With heartbreak comes a new beginning, a new opportunity”.A brand new playing field made its debut. Giovinco fanned on one early, failing to get a solid foot on a beautiful pass in front. in a World Cup qualifier Tuesday in Panama City. Michael Bradley started the game, despite playing heavy minutes for the U.S. Their improbable journey had captivated a fan base who lived through the lean years. 30, the night TFC treated its fans to an unforgettable goal-filled semi-final match with the Montreal Impact and won the two-game aggregate 7-5. The two others from that qualifier, however, began Friday’s contest on the sidelines – Altidore (U.S.) and Armando Cooper (Panama).Victor Vasquez started in place of Cooper. In the team’s first game at home since a remarkable run to last year’s MLS Cup final, Toronto FC played to a goalless draw with Sporting Kansas City on a rainy Friday night.Jozy Altidore sat much of the game, while Sebastian Giovinco was held without his first goal of the season once again, despite a handful of good chances, as neither side could score in the battle of unbeaten teams in Week 4 of the Major League Soccer season. Giovinco buried his face after his second-half free kick rifled off the crossbar and his late-game shot was wrangled by the keeper.Irwin left the game after he was injured making an awkward leg save on Kansas City’s Soony Saad in the 36th minute and instantly collapsed to the ground, clutching his leg.
The top two teams in Pool A earn byes to the semifinals.The medal games will be played April 7. Decker tapped in a pass from Megan Bozek, who skated the puck into Canada’s zone and circled behind the net before feeding her teammate.The Americans carried a 20-9 margin in shots into the third period, but the Canadians had their chances to strike first.Captain Marie-Philip Poulin hit the post five minutes into the second period and Meghan Agosta put a backhand off the post on a partial breakaway with seven minutes remaining.The United States takes on Russia (1-0) followed by Canada versus Finland (0-1) in Saturday’s Pool A Games.The host team was greeted warmly with chants of “U.S.A.” and the waving of numerous stars and stripes flags.The Canadians had a week-long training camp, including a pair of exhibition games against boys’ teams in Leamington, Ont.After picking up a pair of wins against the United States in December’s two-game exhibition series, Szabados kept the visitors in the game early while they were badly outshot.The 30-year-old from Edmonton is playing her first international tournament with the Canadian women since her 27-save performance in the Olympic women’s hockey final in 2014.She spent just over two seasons playing men’s pro hockey in the Southern Professional Hockey League.Canada lacked the attack of the December series when they scored a combined eight goals over two games.In the other Pool A game, Yekaterina Smolentseva scored a power-play goal with 50 seconds remaining to lift Russia to a 2-1 win over Finland.The Finns didn’t play get a scheduled exhibition game against the United States because of the dispute between the players and their federation.Russia was without forwards Olga Sosina and Anna Shokhina serving one-game suspensions for their match penalties in an exhibition game Tuesday against Switzerland.Sosina, Russia’s leading scorer in last year’s world championship, was penalized for kicking a player, while Shokhina took a tripping penalty 69 seconds before the end of regulation time.In Pool B, promoted Germany upset Sweden 3-1 and Switzerland edged the Czech Republic 2-1 in a shootout.The top two teams in that pool play the bottom two from Pool A in the quarter-finals. The United States shook off the drama of the days leading up to the women’s world hockey championship by beating Canada 2-0 to open the tournament Friday.The Americans lacked Canada’s preparation with just two practices together and no pretournament games while they negotiated for more financial support from USA Hockey. The host country didn’t report to training camp and had threatened to boycott the tournament if their federation didn’t co-operate.Brianna Decker and Gigi Marvin scored for the defending champions in front of a full house in the 3,500-seat international-sized rink at USA Hockey Arena.Nicole Hensley collected an 18-save shutout for the United States, while Canadian counterpart Shannon Szabados stopped 26 of 28 shots.Marvin threaded a shot through traffic from the point and got a deflection at 4:49 of the third to beat Szabados low stick side.The United States also scored at 17:54 of the second period.
Apparently encouraged, Valanciunas two possessions later decided to pump-fake a three-pointer before driving from 23-feet out and trying to dunk over George, who mercifully fouled the hulking Lithuanian as the bemused crowd cheered.The Pacers simply couldn’t get close again after that as the teams traded baskets in the fourth. DeMar DeRozan scored 40 points to help Toronto beat the Pacers 111-100 Friday, allowing the Raptors to keep up in the congested race for the top of the Eastern Conference while dealing a blow to Indiana’s post-season hopes.DeRozan added nine rebounds and four assists for the Raptors (46-30), while Jonas Valanciunas looked just as dominant as he did in Toronto’s seven-game win over Indiana in the first round of last year’s playoffs with 16 points and 17 rebounds. The Pacers seemed to deflate after that.Second-year point guard Delon Wright gave the Raptors a buoyant boost off the bench, posting 11 points and six rebounds on only five shots while proving a vexing disruption on the defensive end. They face off again Tuesday in Indianapolis.It was the seventh 40-plus-point game this season for DeRozan. A pair of free throws from Pacers guard Jeff Teague cut the Raptors’ lead to 104-97 with 1:15 left.On the next play, Ibaka swung the ball to DeRozan, who swished a high-arching three-pointer from 27 feet out. Toronto won the first matchup 116-91. Serge Ibaka added 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Raptors, who are now winners of seven of their last eight despite the absence of star guard Kyle Lowry, who’s still recovering from right wrist surgery.Versatile swingman Paul George amassed 28 points and nine rebounds but couldn’t halt the recent downward slide of the Pacers (37-39), who have now lost five of their last six as they jostle for one of the last two playoff spots in the East with Miami, Chicago and Detroit.Neither team managed to pull away in the first half, with the Pacers carrying a two-point lead into halftime after a less-than-pretty 24 minutes that saw the Raptors shoot 37 per cent from the field while at times looking discombobulated at both ends.Their focus intensified in the third.DeRozan, again almost impossible to stop offensively, scored nine of the team’s first 11 points in the quarter – including a pair of three-pointers – to help the Raptors re-take the lead.Then Valanciunas went to work, ultimately producing a 12-point, 13-rebound quarter including a picturesque baseline dunk over Rakeem Christmas’s outstretched hands. DeMarre Carroll added 12 points for the Raptors, who next play Sunday against the woeful Philadelphia 76ers.Raptors coach Dwane Casey sounded an optimistic note on Lowry, who’s been out since the all-star break. “Hopefully we can get him in for a couple games before the playoffs start,” Casey said.By some scheduling quirk, the Pacers and Raptors play all three of their games against each other this season in a span of less than three weeks.
The guys played with intensity and I hope the people enjoyed it. The teams had used up their pitchers and pinch-hitters and there was no use pursuing it further in a game that doesn’t count in the standings. He went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. It’s a bit tougher when you’re playing in front of a lot more fans but, at the end of the day, we’re still getting ready for the season. They went 3-3 in previous two-game sets against the New York Mets, Cincinnati and Boston.The announced crowd was down from the nearly 50,000 that turned up in previous years and they were somewhat less animated, except when Martin batted. “I don’t know if it’s disappointing,” said Martin. Mercer and Frazier followed with singles but Starling Marte flied out to end the threat.Stroman is coming off an MVP performance for the United States at the World Baseball Classic and was happy with his outing.And he liked the pro-Blue Jays atmosphere at Olympic Stadium.“It’s more of a feeling like the WBC where I’m coming from,” said Stroman. Howell.It is a fourth straight year the Blue Jays have ended their pre-season with a pair of exhibition games at the Big O. I hope there’s 50,000 in the Rogers Centre every game I pitch this year.”Aaron Loup, who is battling for a bullpen job, pitched the scoreless sixth and had two strikeouts, while Ryan Tepera got two hitters out in the seventh and was replaced by J.P. “I love pitching in front of huge crowds.“I feel like I’m able to feed off those games. The more people the better. Maybe people won’t go home happy because we didn’t win but they won’t go home sad because we lost.”The two teams meet again on Saturday afternoon, which marks the end of the pre-season for both clubs.The Pirates outhit the Blue Jays 9-5.The Blue Jays got on the board in the third as Darwin Barney led off with a triple off starter Jameson Taillon and scored on Kevin Pillar’s groundout.The Pirates tied it in the fifth off Joe Biagini when Jordy Mercer’s two-out single was followed by a triple off the right field wall by Adam Frazier, who was thrown out trying to stretch it into an inside the park home run. A tie was not the hoped-for result but Toronto Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin wasn’t disappointed.A crowd of 43,180 at Olympic Stadium, who saved their loudest cheers for local favourite Martin, watched the Blue Jays play to a nine-inning 1-1 draw with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.It was not the thrilling end many may have hoped for, but that’s how it works in pre-season baseball. “You prefer to win the game, but tying is better than losing.“It can only happen in spring training, but it’s not the first time we’ve gone through it. Frazier has reached base in 13 of his last 14 games.Neither side mustered much of a threat from then on.Jays starter Marcus Stroman allowed five hits and no runs in four innings, but he had a nervy third when Josh Harrison singled but then was caught stealing.
Toronto finished last in the East at 74-88 in 2013 and was third in 2014 at 83-79.Gibbons, who first joined the Blue Jays’ coaching staff in 2002, posted a 305-305 record in his first stint as manager. This organization has been great to me over the years. The new deal gave Gibbons a slight pay raise while guaranteeing his salary through 2017 with no option for 2018.This is the second managerial stint for Gibbons in Toronto.The 54-year-old from San Antonio, Tex., previously served as full-time manager from October 2004 to June 2008. “I wasn’t obsessed with it. Here is the essential breakdown of the Blue Jays line-upLast fall, the Blue Jays finished with an 89-73 mark and beat the Baltimore Orioles in the AL wild-card game. He guided the team back to the playoffs last year. He has a 250-236 mark in his second stint.Gibbons spent parts of three seasons as a catcher with the New York Mets after being drafted by the team in 1980.He later worked as a coach and manager for a number of teams at a variety of minor-league levels.The Blue Jays will kick off their 2017 regular season on April 3 at Baltimore. Toronto beat the Rangers again in the ALDS but fell to the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS.Gibbons and general manager Ross Atkins talked about a deal briefly after last season, and renewed discussions at spring training.“It’s always a nice reward,” Gibbons recently said in Dunedin, Fla., when reports of a deal first surfaced. Gibbons spent three seasons as a bench coach with the Royals before he was re-hired by the Blue Jays in November 2012.The Blue Jays initially struggled after his return. Toronto’s home opener is set for April 11 against the Milwaukee Brewers at Rogers Centre. Toronto won the East Division title in 2015 with a 93-69 record and went on to reach the American League Championship Series. The Toronto Blue Jays rewarded manager John Gibbons for making back-to-back post-season appearances by extending his contract through the 2019 season with a club option for 2020 on Saturday.Gibbons, who has spent parts of nine seasons as the Toronto skipper, helped the franchise end a 22-year post-season drought in 2015. The Blue Jays defeated the Texas Rangers in the AL Division Series before falling to the Kansas City Royals.The season is about to start. I’m pretty happy, pretty excited.”Gibbons’s contract was restructured before the 2016 season by team president Mark Shapiro, who replaced the retired Paul Beeston at the end of the 2015 campaign.The old deal, put in place by former GM Alex Anthopoulos, had a unique rolling option that became guaranteed each year on the first of January, with another option year added annually.
And I got off the ice with a smile… Instead they had to rely on the 5.54 point lead they had taken into the free dance to hold off twice-world champions and French training partners Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron after Moir inexplicably lurched forward having tripped up on their circular step sequence.The Canadians won the title with a total of 198.62 despite being beaten in the free dance by almost three points by Papadakis and Cizeron.Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani unexpectedly ended up with bronze after American team mates Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donahue, who had been lying third, surrendered their medal hopes following a fall by Donahue.Canada’s Patrick Chan laid down one of the finest performances of his comeback on Saturday.But the three-time world champion, who has talked all season about playing catchup to an audacious field of high flyers, remains a step behind.The 26-year-old from Toronto finished fifth at the world figure skating championships on Saturday, dropping two spots after the free skate despite landing three quadruple jumps.It’s the identical finish to last year’s world championships in Boston, but in the moments after his skate, he spoke about embracing a different outlook on his skating this season.“Emotionally it’s very different,” said Chan. this is a process for next year, leading up to the Olympics. I put a lot a pressure to prove something to other people, as opposed to proving to myself.“My approach today was to forget everything that’s going on around me, forget how Yuzu (Hanyu) skated or anybody else before me and just put out what I can put out. His total of 321.59 earned him gold. “I was very upset last year because I had set myself up for failure. I’m just trying to stay ahead of my game, or my own challenges.”Skating to “A Journey,” a piece of music written by Canadian men’s skater Eric Radford, Chan opened with a quad toe loop-triple toe loop combination, then reeled off a huge quad Salchow, which he added to his repertoire this season. It was far from the perfect performance they are known for but a slip by Scott Moir could not prevent him and Tessa Virtue from winning a third ice dance title at the world figure skating championships on Saturday.The 2010 Olympic champions, who had taken a two-year hiatus after settling for silver at the 2014 Sochi Games, had been expected to cap their comeback season with a flourish having earned world record scores in their short dance just 24 hours earlier. He bobbled the landing of his third quad, a toe loop, but it marked the first time he’d rotated three quads in competition without a fall.He scored 193.04 points for the program, for 295.15 points overall.Japan’s Olympic gold medallist Yuzuru Hanyu roared back from fifth place after the short program to post a world-record free skate score of 223.30.