Foreign Substance Crackdown is coming. Do the Blue Jays have anything to worry about?

By now I am sure you have heard of baseball’s dirty little secret. Sports Illustrated has called foreign substances the new steroids. Eno Sarris and Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic have written (among other stories on this issue) about Spider Tack and how it can increase spin rate up to 500 revolutions per minute (rpms).

The league starting to take action. Baseballs from a Trevor Bauer start in early April were sent to MLB for investigation. We saw Joe West ask Cardinals pitcher Giovanny Gallegos to change his hat as West saw a substance on it. The League is taking measures to stop this and it seems players are making changes so they don’t get caught. It’s becoming a regular occurrence to see a tweet like this.

The much more damning evidence here… pic.twitter.com/1M7Yqh10Gx
— Lee Trocinski (@LeeTrocinski) June 3, 2021

This isn’t a new problem; the tipping point probably should have come four years ago when a ball got stuck on Yadier Molina’s chest protector.

#OTD in 2017, Matt Szczur reached on a dropped third strike when…the ball got stuck to Yadier Molina’s chest protector…
2 batters later, Kyle Schwarber mashed a 3-run homer …

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Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation

Toronto Raptors Player of the Week: Fred VanVleet

Toronto Raptors Player of the Week: Fred VanVleet

Toronto Raptors fans have heard a lot about Fred VanVleet this week, so why not sum up the obvious stuff first. He broke the franchise record for points in a game on Tuesday when he exploded for 54 big ones vs. the Magic. He averaged 30 points a game this week, shooting 50% from three and making 21 […]
Toronto Raptors Player of the Week: Fred VanVleet – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Avishai Sol / Raptors HQ

Matt Devlin: The Voice of the Toronto Raptors

Matt Devlin:  The Voice of the Toronto Raptors

You’ve heard the voice, Raptors fans, now meet the man.  For over a decade, Toronto Raptors history has been recorded in Matt Devlin’s voice. Since 2008, there have been two constants in the Toronto Raptors organization.  Not Kyle Lowry, not DeMar DeRozan, not Dwyane Casey or Nick Nurse or winning, or positive culture. Even the […]
Matt Devlin: The Voice of the Toronto Raptors – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Avishai Sol / Raptors HQ

Mike Babcock ‘breaks his silence’, but do we want to listen?

By now, you have probably heard that former Leafs coach Mike Babcock “broke his silence” in an interview for The Athletic with Pierre LeBrun.

Mike Babcock breaks his silence. My interview with the former Toronto Maple Leafs head coach:https://t.co/iAP801tMyB
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) January 19, 2021

Conveniently, this silence breaking took place mere days ahead of Babcock’s debut as an analyst on NBC Sports. It’s been a while since I’ve witnessed such an obviously blatant attempt at an apology and redemption tour, and it’s heartening that many seem to feel the same way. That is to say – people aren’t really buying what Babcock is selling:

Dave Feschuk: Former Leafs coach Mike Babcock seems to be trying to position himself as a sympathetic figure. It’s not working https://t.co/fqJmecTbqj
— Toronto Star Sports (@StarSports) January 20, 2021

Now, obviously Mike Babcock has every right to share “his side” of the stories that have circulated about him: the Mitch Marner list incident, the allegations of verbal abuse and bullying from Johan Franzen. But the timing, in addition to the way Babcock chose to address these claims, leaves much to be desired, particularly if one is …

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Author: Mer / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors: 5 things we’ll remember the most from Marc Gasol

If you haven’t already heard, Marc Gasol is going to finish his career at FC Barcelona, meaning it puts an end to his wonderful time for the Toronto Raptors. 2772 minutes. That’s how many total minutes Marc Gasol has played in a Toronto Raptors jersey and we’re going to be reviewing 2579 minutes and 15 seconds […]
Toronto Raptors: 5 things we’ll remember the most from Marc Gasol – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Alexandro Fidanza / Raptors HQ

How the Toronto Raptors should handle their offseason if they want Giannis

We have all heard the Giannis to Toronto Raptors, but we also all know the importance of the Raptors offseason with many players set to be free agents. So how do they approach this offseason while keeping Giannis in mind for the 2021 season? The Toronto Raptors will be left with a lot of tough […]
How the Toronto Raptors should handle their offseason if they want Giannis – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Alexandro Fidanza / Raptors HQ

Tulloch: Why the Maple Leafs Needed to Fire Mike Babcock

In the 2016-17 season, I heard the following story from a source connected with the Toronto Maple Leafs. I wasn’t able to fully corroborate the story at the time, so I didn’t feel comfortable putting my name on it. This was during my first year writing about hockey publicly, and you never want to be wrong about something of this magnitude. If it turns out the rumour isn’t true, well, there goes your credibility.
I’ve now been able to confirm this story with multiple sources, which is what motivated me to put out the following tweet.

I heard about this Babcock story when it happened, but I didn’t want to bring it up until I could confirm it was true.
The rookie he did this to was Mitch Marner. https://t.co/d6TcayagcS
— Ian Tulloch (@IanGraph) November 25, 2019

By now, news of this story has clearly blown up all over social media, so I think it’s important for me to help set the record straight.
Here’s what I’ve been able to gather from speaking with multiple sources close with the team.
As the story goes, Mike Babcock was frustrated with Mitch Marner …

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Author: Ian Tulloch / The Leafs Nation

We don’t need to write off Liljegren to write in Sandin

In case you haven’t heard, Rasmus Sandin is a Toronto Maple Leaf. In what became easily the biggest story of camp these last two weeks, the 2018 first-rounder shot up the organization like a rocket to nab a NHL roster spot and will make his debut a couple days from now. And the discussion around him isn’t “Can he stick all season?”, it’s “How far into his potential can he dig right now?”, and I’m not even sure I’d bet against him playing top four minutes within 20 games. It’s been that kind of camp.
But with Sandin’s ascent came the typical comparisons that Leafs supporters like to make, with Timothy Liljegren being the obvious target for some negative talk. This happens all the time in hockey and in sports in general, especially in Toronto; Marner can’t be good without it meaning Nylander is now somehow bad, even Rielly and Gardiner had similar discussions surrounding them. It’s par for the course, especially when the players get to the NHL level. But Liljegren isn’t at that level yet, and while people are quick to point that out as a failure on his part, …

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Author: Ryan Fancey / The Leafs Nation

Mitch Marner and his Primary Assist Magic

You may have heard by now that Mitch Marner remains unsigned by the Toronto Maple Leafs as we begin to approach the opening of training camps for the 2019-20 NHL season. There seems to be a gap between how the Marner camp views his value compared to how the Leafs think he should be paid. Marner put up fantastic numbers last year, picking up 94 points and finishing 4th in the NHL with 68 assists. His results were even more impressive at 5v5, where Marner led the NHL in primary assists with 36, five more than Sidney Crosby. Unlike secondary assists, which are mostly luck, primary points are an important, repeatable skill, so Marner putting up the best total in the NHL at 5v5 is quite an accomplishment.
This would seem to set the stage for Marner to get a huge payday. After all, if he can put up the highest rate of primary assists in the NHL then he has a very strong claim to a big salary. However, if you dig into the numbers a bit more deeply, I think there are reasons to be concerned that Marner isn’t going to be able to replicate his fantastic result next season.


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Author: Drag Like Pull / The Leafs Nation

Where can the Leafs dump their problematic contracts?

Have you heard? Kyle Dubas has a lot of work to do this summer. With Auston Matthews’ extension set to kick in and multiple key restricted free agents also in need of new deals, Dubas is going to have to do some tightrope walking to get everybody under the salary cap ceiling.

The Leafs have two obvious problematic contracts: Patrick Marleau (for one more year at $6,250,000) and Nikita Zaitsev (for five more years at $4,500,000). Finding teams to take on those two deals would make life much easier for Dubas as he looks to figure out deals for Mitch Marner, Kasperi Kapanen, and Andreas Johnsson all while improving the roster.
Patrick Marleau
Marleau was brought in back during the 2016 off-season when Lou Lamoriello was the general manager to be a veteran presence as the Leafs’ young core worked their way into the NHL. He had a strong season in 2017-18, racking up 28 goals, but his production dipped to 16 goals in the 2018-19 season and he was a non-factor in the playoffs this year. There’s no doubt he’s been an excellent leader to have on the team, but, a team in a cap bind can’t afford to pay him $6,250,000 …

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Author: Cam Lewis / The Leafs Nation