The baseball season is thankfully over for the Toronto Blue Jays and plans are already being made for next season.
Hopefully, general manager Alex Anthopoulos will seriously absorb what infielder Omar Vizquel has said about the young Blue Jays, their manager and act accordingly. Last week, Vizquel lamented the brutal base running of the young Jays and the lack of direction from manager John Farrell.
Where have the Toronto baseball writers been all summer when time after time the Blue Jays more resembled a poorly run amateur senior team than a major league club?
In his defence, Farrell has stated “he talked privately to his young players” and how was Vizquel to know the nuts and bolts of those conversations? Farrell may have talked with the players, but I doubt it was about base running because the same individuals (Brett Lawrie, Colby Rasmus, Rajai Davis, Anthony Gose) have made the same boneheaded mistakes since April.
Maybe Farrell’s discussions were about the Leafs, the weather or something else or maybe he’s a poor teacher and the players are slow learners.
The Jays lost 11 of 34 one-run games heading into the last week of the season, and a great many have been the result of Farrell’s incompetence as a major league manager. His decisions and questionable handling of the pitching staff, an area which is supposed to be his expertise, has me believing Anthopoulos made a grave mistake by putting an inexperienced manager at the helm of the Blue Jays.
It’s apparent Farrell has given up on the idea that pitchers Carlos Villanueva and J.A. Happ will make the Jays’ starting rotation next summer, but he’s got both so confused they’ll likely not be back.
Aside from slick middle-infielder September call-up Adeiny Hechavarria, who looks like a real one, I don’t see any bona fide all-stars in waiting.
Toronto has quite a streak on the go, the near last place Blue Jays, the sad-sack Maple Leafs, with arguably the weakest NHL roster of all 30 teams, and the Raptors about to begin another less than .500 season in the NBA. After giving Farrell a free ride all summer, it appears the incompetence has spread to the media.
Please wake up, Alex, and turf this imposter, arguably one of the worst managers in baseball.
The Sports Prophet went a perfect 4-for-4 last weekend, including the predicting the upset special: the Chicago Bears over the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night.
Remember what I wrote last Saturday, Tampa Bay pounded Tony Romo the previous week and Chicago would have an easy time with a weak Dallas offensive line. As for the Cowboys, the loss to the Bears at home was demoralizing. They had more turnovers and flip-flops than Health P.E.I.
Here’s a look at some of Sunday’s key games.
Seattle (2-2) at Carolina (1-3): The Panthers should have won last week versus Atlanta, but a last-minute turnover and a last-second field goal handed a victory to previously unbeaten Atlanta. The Seahawks have a tough defence, but their offence under Russell Wilson has struggled. The Panthers are weak defending the pass, but they’re tough at home and quarterback Cam Newton is due for the win, so bet the Panthers.
Minnesota (3-1) at Tennessee (1-3): The Vikings look like they can win the NFC North against Green Bay, Chicago and Detroit. The spread in this game is six points and considering the Titans have lost three games by 20 points or more, the Vikings should cover. Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder has not thrown a pick all season and is poised for a rookie. Add sensational Percy Harvin and Adrian Pederson to the mix, and the Vikings are for real. Take the points and bet the Vikings.
San Diego (3-1) at New Orleans (0-4): The Chargers are on top of their division and look to put some daylight between themselves and rivals Denver (2-2), Oakland (1-3) and Kansas City (1-3). This is a big game for Phil Rivers and the Chargers and in the past they seldom have risen to the occasion in key contests. Drew Brees and the Saints will score more than San Diego in Sunday’s upset special.
Buffalo (2-2) at San Francisco (3-1): The Bills were torched last week by the Patriots and face a willing, able and hungry 49ers club. This game is as sure as Environment Minister Janice Sherry’s approval of Plan B.
As always, pay the mortgage first, the picks are for fun.
Atlantic Breeders Crown
It’s a huge weekend for harness racing fans as the Atlantic Breeders Crown weekend is upon us.
The yearling sale went Friday, live racing continues today at 1 p.m. and another championship card is at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Charlottetown Driving Park. Today, there are a number of $5,000 Atlantic Breeders Crown consolation events for two- and three-year-olds. Highly regarded two-year-old colt Waterside Kipper is at 7-2 morning-line favourite, and that’s a long price for the talented Hilliard Graves- owned freshman colt.
There’s also the $3,000 Meridian Farms-sponsored Island Pace consolation with horses like Carnivore, Oakrock Almighty, War Cry Ranger, Shock the Rock, Every Day, Lisfinny and Wellthereyougo in the mix.
Sunday’s card features the best two- and three-year-old pacers and trotters in the Maritimes with divisional honours in play in some of the races. Touch of Lightning looks like the best in the $24,000 three-year-old colt race and his great gate speed and gameness should make him the favourite at the betting windows.
They’re all tough in this race with sophomores like Dukes Up, Putnams New Year, First Art Down, Astronomical Union, Mr Thompson, Junebugs Baby and Putnams Storm. The three-year-old fillies have unbeaten Malabrigo as the heavy choice with the chalk players, plus leaving from the rail and having Marc Campbell driving doesn’t hurt.
Owner Derek Buntain, better known as the Cayman Sniper, is here for the weekend to watch his filly, Malabrigo, in the $24,000 race. Another big race features the freshman colts, which will also go for $24,000 on the Sunday card. The Dooley boys are back with another outstanding pacer in Untouchable One. Trained by clever Sean Dooley, for his brothers Shamus and Cirian, this colt is a monster, but there’s seven other pacers capable of an upset, including the Jamie Smith trained T M Valley Storm.
In up-country racing, the $500,000 Tattersalls Pace for three-year-olds goes this afternoon at The Red Mile as the curtain comes down on the Kentucky Grand Circuit. Bolt the Duer and Mark MacDonald have Post 3 and if the sophomore son of Ponder brings his A game, he can win. Sweet Lou, Thinking Out Loud and Mel Myra are part of the 12-horse field.
Fred MacDonald can be reached