The Toronto Six will be playing hockey soon!

FINALLY! The National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) announced a plan to play out its 2021 season, and the Isobel Cup. The new season will start on January 23rd. I can’t wait to see what the Toronto Six twitter page will meme about now!

The National Women’s Hockey League today announced a plan to play the upcoming season and 2021 Isobel Cup Playoffs at the 1980 Rink-Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, NY
— NWHL (@NWHL) November 25, 2020

This season will see the first EVER action from the new Toronto Six hockey club, Toronto’s newest professional hockey franchise.
In order to protect the players and staff against COVID-19, the season will be compressed and done in a bubble. The teams will each play each other once, followed by a playoff qualification round to determine seeding, followed by a 4 team Isobel Cup playoff. The Isobel Cup game will be played on February 5th, 2021.
The following additional measures are being taken, as per the announcement:
The teams will arrive separately in Lake Placid in a staggered schedule on Jan. 21 and 22. Beginning Jan. 23, they will each play five games (one against each …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

Hyun Jin Ryu and Teoscar Hernandez (and Ryan Tepera???) got MVP votes

The winners of the American and National League Most Valuable Player Awards were announced on Thursday.

In the AL, Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox took home the MVP after a huge season offensively. Abreu slashed a .317/.370/.617 line with 19 homers and a league-leading 60 RBIs in the middle of Chicago’s potent lineup.
Elsewhere in the AL, two Blue Jays got some consideration further down the ballot. Teoscar Hernandez got a ninth-place vote and six tenth-place votes while Hyun Jin Ryu, who finished third in Cy Young voting, got an eighth- and tenth-place vote.
Here’s the AL’s breakdown…

2020 AL MVP: José Abreu, White Sox
Full voting details:
— BBWAA (@officialBBWAA) November 12, 2020

Over in the National League, Canadian Legend Freddie Freeman won MVP by a pretty wide margin, beating out Mookie Betts, who the Red Sox decided last winter they were too cheap to pay.
The best part of the NL’s ballot? The fact that Ryan Tepera (yes, that Ryan Tepera) earned himself one tenth-place vote.

Ryan Tepera got an MVP vote
— Jeremy Frank (@MLBRandomStats) November 12, 2020

I have no idea why this happened! Tepera had …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Thomas Pannone and Forrest Wall among Blue Jays’ minor-leaguers who became free agents

Major League Baseball free agency officially began yesterday.

While the big names like Trevor Bauer and George Springer and Marcus Stroman and so on will dominate people’s attention, there are also 422 minor-league players who also hit the open market yesterday. The Blue Jays had 18 players become free agents.
Here are they are, courtesy of Baseball America…
Deiferson Barreto, Andrew Burns, Patrick Cantwell, Ryan Dull, James Dykstra, Conor Fisk, Gabriel Guerrero, Mac James, Jesus Lopez, Mike Nittoli, Juan Nunez, Norberto Obeso, Willy Ortiz, Connor Overton, Tom Pannone, Luis Silva, Mitchell Walding, Forrest Wall.
A good chunk of these names are just organizational depth types who were signed to minor-league deals, like Andy Burns, Ryan Dull, and Patrick Cantwell. But there are also a couple of prospects worth noting here.
Thomas Pannone was acquired as part of the Joe Smith to Cleveland trade a few years ago. At one point, he looked like he had a future as a starting pitcher but never panned out. Pannone was designated for assignment in August and cleared waivers. He didn’t pitch for the Blue Jays in 2020 after pitching 116 innings for the club between 2018 and 2019.
And then there’s Forrest Wall, one of the …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Rob Manfred is already crying poor on behalf of the owners

Major League Baseball’s piece of metal hasn’t even been awarded yet and Rob Manfred is already talking about next year.

In an interview with Barry M. Bloom for Sportico, MLB’s commissioner stated that the teams have amassed a collective $8.3 billion in debt by playing the 2020 season without fans. This claim comes just a few days after hundreds of employees, both on the business and the baseball side of operations, have been laid off.
Of course, Major League Baseball’s books are closed so we’ll never actually be able to verify just how much money teams lost this year. I mean, obviously, teams took a significant not having fans in the stands buying tickets, merchandise, and concessions, but player salaries, which make up far and away MLB’s largest expenditure, were prorated to the 60-game season.
Manfred coming out and saying that MLB lost all of this cash is simply just a way to A) navigate the ugly PR situation of so many employees being laid off during a global pandemic and B) get ahead of the game for the inevitable labour negotiations with the Players’ Association that will happen before the 2021 season.
You’ll surely remember …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

This year’s Gold Glove finalists are really weird

Major League Baseball announced the Gold Glove Award finalists for the 2020 season and, in 2020 fashion, they’re, uh, pretty weird.

Lourdes Gurriel is the Blue Jays’ lone Gold Glove nominee which sorta kinda gives you an indication of how strange some of the selections were.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, Gurriel is a solid fielder. He makes some highlight reel snags in the outfield and he has a cannon for an arm that he used on multiple occasions to gun guys out at home.

How did @yunitogurriel earn his FIRST Gold Glove nomination?
Two words: Piña Power
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) October 22, 2020

But he’s not exactly your prototypical Gold Glove guy. Gurriel just switched to left field mid-way through the 2019 season and still looks pretty green at the position at times. He often runs the wrong way off the hop and that’s why he ends up making TV grabs. FanGraphs had him at -3 defensive runs saved in 2020, but defensive metrics are always a bit tricky, so take them with a grain of salt.
Elsewhere, there are some other puzzling choices, like… the White Sox having two catchers as finalists, Clint …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Leafs send Rubins to Denmark to water Andersen’s plants/play hockey

It’s still player loan SZN, and if there is a league out there that can take on some AHL players it seems NHL teams are scrambling to find them. Today the Leafs found a home for Kristians Rubins.

Loan: Kristians Rubins (D) | Toronto Maple Leafs -> Frederikshavn White Hawks | #Denmark
— EP Transfers (@ep_transfers) October 4, 2020

So it’s hard to take any kind of issue with this move, other than it not being a blockbuster trade of consequence, but as far as Rubins related news it seems good.
Rubins has been hustling to move up from the ECHL to the AHL, and earning his entry level deal, losing that momentum wouldn’t have been ideal.
Rubins joins other Leafs players such as Egor Korshkov, Mikko Lehtonen, and Filip Karl to land gigs overseas. Previously Jesper Lindgren had been loaned on behalf of the Leafs before his trade to the Penguins. Filip Hallinder, the return in the Kapanen deal, is also playing in Europe.
You can get a full breakdown of their performances here:
Prospect Roundup: Lehtonen on fire, Leafs earn letters

Rubins will be eligible to return to the Leafs/Marlies when …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Major League Baseball will apparently use bubble cities for the playoffs

Following the lead of the NHL and the NBA, Major League Baseball is reportedly planning to use bubble cities for the playoffs this fall.

Per Jeff Passan, the plan is for American League teams to play in Los Angeles and San Diego, while the National League teams will play in Arlington and Houston. It isn’t specified whether the Los Angeles park will be Angels Stadium or Dodger Stadium, but I would guess the latter given that the goal here seems to be avoiding anybody having home-field advantage.
This makes a lot of sense as MLB surely wants to avoid any kind of outbreak of COVID-19 happening during the playoffs when there isn’t any room for error. The NHL and NBA have done an excellent job executing their playoffs in bubble environments, so there’s a clear lead here for MLB to follow.
The best part about this for the Blue Jays? No possibility of playing a playoff game at The Trop!

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Jacob Waguespack and Santiago Espinal got optioned to the Taxi Squad

Major League teams needed to snip their roster from 30 players to 28 today, so the Blue Jays optioned Jacob Waguespack and Santiago Espinal to the Taxi Squad.

INF Santiago Espinal and RHP Jacob Waguespack have been optioned to our alternate training site and added to the Taxi Squad.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) August 6, 2020

These decisions weren’t surprising at all. As I wrote earlier today, it was inevitable that players with options would end up being sent down because having depth in a season like this is so important. So many teams are dealing with an array of injuries so sneaking a guy like Joe Panik or A.J. Cole through waivers would be impossible. The Blue Jays already lost reliever Brian Moran to waivers as the Miami Marlins desperately search for more veteran depth.
While Waguespack and Espinal didn’t really do anything wrong in order to warrant being sent down — the former had been a very solid pitcher in relief and the latter is the best backup infielder on the roster — they simply got caught in a numbers game.
Next up, the Jays will have to clear …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

NHL announces eight more players test positive for COVID-19

The National Hockey League has announced eight more players have tested positive for COVID-19.

A total of 4,934 tests were conducted on over 600 players that took part in phase two activities with a total of 30 tests coming back positive — a spike of seven cases since the league’s last batch of testing was announced on July 6th.

NHL statement on COVID-19 testing results:
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) July 13, 2020

Beyond phase two protocols, the league identified one additional case of COVID-19 in a player bringing that total to 13 cases.
The league said all players who tested positive were/have been in self-isolation and were/are following CDC and Health Canada protocols.
As the league transitions to the start of phase three and training camps, the league says they will continue to give regular updates on the number of tests administered to all players and the results. The NHL will not be providing information on the identity of the players, or club they play for.
On Twitter: @zjlaing

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Author: Zach Laing / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors should target Victor Oladipo in the offseason

League insiders are beginning to believe that Victor Oladipo’s time in Indiana could be coming to an end. Oladipo is a near-perfect fit with the Toronto Raptors, should he be made available in the offseason. One of the biggest storylines of the NBA resumption is players deciding not to return to play. This is happening […]
Toronto Raptors should target Victor Oladipo in the offseason – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mark Birdsell / Raptors HQ