The Oakland A’s improved their chances of representing the American League in the World Series by acquiring ace lefty Jon Lester from the Boston Red Sox in a trade of titanic proportions.
In landing Lester, the A’s now have the best starting staff in baseball in Lester, recently acquired Jeff Samardziga from the Cubs, Scott Kazmir, Sonny Gray and Jesse Chavez. The price was hefty as the A’s had to send slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, 28, to Boston, and the young right-handed hitting star should love cozy Fenway Park. The A’s also got outfielder Jonny Gomes and cash while the BoSox received a high draft pick.
It was no secret Lester was not happy he did not get the long extension his close pal and second baseman Dustin Pedroia got earlier in the season. Lester might get a better one in the off-season when he will be the hottest item on the free agent market.
If the Red Sox are able to sign Lester that would make this trade a huge swap in favour of Boston, and that’s something the Toronto Blue Jays would not like to see happen.
Neither the Baltimore Orioles nor the Jays did anything of significance by Thursday’s trade deadline and I didn’t expect either would. The O’s are in first place and the Jays a close second in an eastern division where the woeful Yankees are somehow staying close.
I wouldn’t count Tampa Bay out yet, but the trade of standout pitcher David Price means they’ve thrown in the towel.
The Red Sox are dead last and staying right there after moves that depleted their strong pitching staff of Lester, Jake Peavy, John Lackey and Felix Doubront. I talked to one Red Sox fan Thursday and he was moaning and groaning like a sailing ship in heavy seas. I just love it.
On the local front, the Charlottetown Gaudet’s Auto Body Islanders entertain the first-place Fredericton Royals Sunday at 1 p.m. at Memorial Field.
The Royals are 16-8 and the Islanders 10-15 in New Brunswick Senior Baseball League play. Their Island team’s pitching staff remains strong with Brody McDonald (3-0, 1.44 ERA), Jordan Stevenson (3-4, 2.71) and Jacob Beck (2-5, 3.48) but except for Morgan MacLean (.368) and Jordan Duffy (.297), the sticks have been silent. Young Taylor Larkin and Dylan McKenna have hit the ball hard in recent games while Sean Corcoran is due to come alive offensively.
They will have to be as they face a hard-hitting Fredericton team with six batters in the top 20, including Mike Washburn and Dave Barr, who are first and third.
The Halifax AAA mosquito baseball team deserves full marks for its thrilling come-from-behind victory over the Charlottetown Royals in the Fiddler MacDonald championship game Sunday at City Diamond.
Halifax had the home game and trailed by two runs with three outs remaining, but rallied and handed Charlottetown the heart-breaking loss.
The Royals, however, will be travelling to Corner Brook, N.L., from Sept. 12 to 14 for the Atlantics. Great crowds, warm, hot weather and 16 well-matched teams makes for a great tournament.
Some of the standouts for the locals were pitcher Tanner MacLean, hard-hitting Cameron Squires and my new favourite catcher, Brock MacDonald.
The Canadian tennis picture is shining brightly with the emergence of youngsters Milos Raonic, Vasek Pospisil and Eugenie Bouchard, especially after their great play at Wimbledon a few weeks ago.
The Canada Open for men begins next week in Toronto while the best female players are in Montreal in two weeks’ time.
On the local tennis front, Mark Rainnie, 8, won the Rogers junior event in Cornwall to go along with the Charlottetown title earlier in the summer. He must get his athletic skills from his mom, Kendra.
If you enjoy rugby, the place to be is today at the Co-op field just of North River Road in Charlottetown, as the Hunter’s Ale House Mudmen are in action.
The senior women tangle with the Dartmouth Pigdogs at noon, the second division Mudmen take on the Pigdogs at 2 p.m. and the first division Mudmen battle powerful Enfield, who clobbered the Halifax Tars last weekend, at 4 p.m.
In this division one game featuring the very best teams and players in the Maritimes, Islander Adam Fitzpatrick, who stars for Enfield, will be playing against his twin brother Aaron, who plays centre for the Mudmen.
In the second division, youthful Dr. Steve Farmer, who started playing rugby at age 42 five years ago, will start for the Mudmen. Farmer, better known as The Sandman, took up the game when his daughters started playing in high school.
This is high-calibre rugby with a lot of studs right out of college and university and for a middle-age man to excel at this level is amazing.
The late Roy Scantlebury did the same thing at the same age. Wow.
The P.E.I. under-18 men’s team is preparing to head to Calgary to play in the upcoming national festival. More on them next week.
Another team heading west next week to a national tournament is the provincial under-14 girls’ softball team, which will compete Aug. 6 to 10 at White Rock, B.C.
The team was put together last October and they’ve been playing in various tournaments all summer getting ready for the nationals. Head coach Chris Halliwell and his assistants Bob Power, Stephanie Lawlor, Katie Batt and Kate Domarchuk are confident their team will be competitive.
Live harness racing continues tonight at the city track with a 12-dash card beginning at 6 p.m.
Three divisions of the Spud Island Classic for Open Mares, each at $2,250 headline the card.
The co-feature is the $2,000 finale with horses like Red Magician, Tempo Seelster, Panacotta and Balanchine.
Elleofnxample, bred, raised and sold here by breeder Jamie MacKinley, stepped to a new lifetime mark of 1:49:2 last Saturday at The Meadowlands. The mare pushed her earnings over the $300,000 mark and now is among the fastest Maritime breds ever.
At Mohawk this evening, Captive Audience (James MacDonald) looks like the horse to beat in the $34,000 top class, as last week’s winner State Treasurer races today on the Hambletonian card against the likes of Sweet Lou and Captain Treacherous.
The $1 million Hambletonian for three-year-old trotters goes today at the Meadowlands and 11 trotters will contest the race, one of the greatest on the North American calendar. The card gets underway at 1 p.m. and heavy-favourite Father Patrick will try to remain unbeaten.
The Hambo ranks right up there at the top with the Little Brown Jug, the North American Cup and, of course, the Gold Cup and Saucer as the greatest races in harness racing. Only Kingston, P.E.I.’s legendary owner H B Willis ever owned a horse in the Hambo and that was Arnie’s Aim, who was fourth in the 1981 classic.
Tickets for Wednesday’s Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame Inductions ceremony in Toronto, which includes our own Wally Hennessey, have been sold out. Wally is one of 14 inductees into the hall this year and the only from the trainer-driver standardbred ranks. From all of us at The Guardian, congratulations Wally.
Next Saturday is the first Gold Cup and Saucer trial and the excitement and electricity is everywhere. What a great time to be on this little Island.
Fred MacDonald’s column appears in The Guardian each Saturday. He can be reached at email@example.com.