Posts Tagged ‘Toronto’

IndyCar Race Preview: Honda Indy Toronto

July 17th, 2010

The IZOD IndyCar Series makes it first foray into the Great White North of the season with this weekend's Honda Indy Toronto, an event won by Dario Franchitti last year.

Each of the past eight races held on the 1.755-mile Exhibition Place street circuit have been won by different drivers; the last driver to successfully defend his victory was Michael Andretti in 2001. Andretti is the all-time wins leader at the circuit with seven victories, a factor in his decision to purchase the race's assets in mid-2008 and rescue it after that year's running was cancelled due to the demise of Champ Car.

This weekend's event, as well as the Edmonton airport race two weeks from now, are widely celebrated by the Canadian fans, and are especially welcomed by the Canadian members of the circuit. Alex Tagliani and Paul Tracy, the two active Canadian IndyCar drivers, will each be running special paint schemes in the race—Tagliani a new Hot Wheels-backed livery, Tracy an equally impressive car backed by the Canadian arm of the Make-a-Wish Foundation and the Toronto Blue Jays.

But the drivers aren't the only ones returning to their home country this weekend. In fact, two of the engineers on the de Ferran Dragon Racing team, lead engineer Eric Zeto and performance engineer Scott Raymond, call the province of Ontario home. The team hopes to build on their momentum from Watkins Glen, where driver Rafa Matos finished an impressive 4th despite losing his in-car telemetry in the middle of the race. Matos finished 10th at Toronto last year.

Matos has certainly shown the speed this weekend, with his best lap in the second practice, a 62.3984-second run, good for fifth in that session. But 13 cars—half of the field—were within a second of that session's leader, Ryan Hunter-Reay, who turned a 62.1433-second lap.

Within those 13 cars, seven different teams are represented—Andretti Autosport, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, Team Penske, de Ferran Dragon Racing, FAZZT Race Team, KV Racing Technology, and Chip Ganassi Racing. This suggests not only a close battle for pole position, but also a mammoth struggle just to make the Firestone Fast Six.

In the race itself, don't be surprised if Will Power and Justin Wilson challenge for victory. They are two of only four former Toronto winners in the field (the others being Tracy, who won it in 1993 and 2003, and Franchitti, who won in 1999 as well as last year). Power and Wilson were right on Franchitti's tail last year, finishing third and fifth, respectively, after starting second and fourth.

Television coverage of the Honda Indy Toronto begins on Sunday at 12:30 PM EST. The race will be shown on ABC.

Miami’s New Big Three

July 17th, 2010

By Troy Sparks

Some NBA teams have three superstars, or the "Big Three."

Add Miami to the mix.

There are high expectations down there in South Beach.

What we don't know is if this trio will meet expectations.

So, what did the LeBron James free agent signing with the Heat mean for the franchise?


Did it make enough waves for team president Pat Riley to return to the bench?

Maybe it did.

James waited on Chris Bosh, who waited on Dywane Wade to make up his mind.

Since we already knew through a source that James would sign with Miami, he should've announced it then instead of having us watch the announcement on ESPN.

That night, I watched Donald Trump's "The Ultimate Merger" instead of that garbage.

All three players could play for less money this upcoming season and reap their benefits on the back end of their contracts.

I don't think the three stars will win the championship with the Heat.

Cleveland owner, Dan Gilbert, said James quit on the team in the playoff series with Boston.

Now, would James do that to his old team? If he did, he's a sore loser.

I saw that "sore loser" mentality when the Cavaliers lost to Orlando and James didn't want to congratulate Dwight Howard.

If you're a Cavs fan, do you welcome James back with open arms? Or, do you despise him for leaving the team high and dry?

Chicago and New York looked like fools. They unloaded some players in hopes of getting James. Wade thought about signing with the Bulls, since his two kids live in Chicago.Maybe he didn't want any drama from his baby's mama.

I couldn't blame Bosh for high-tailing out of Toronto. Toronto is a hockey and Canadian football town.

For all what it's worth, James and Bosh probably started a trend: Future free agents signing for less money with playoff teams that will contend for an NBA title.

In the back of his mind, Gilbert wants the Heat to fall flat on their faces.

Since James lives in Akron Ohio (for now), should he get love from fans in Ohio?

Other than Davis Stern's own thoughts that James should've stayed with the Cavs, the NBA's most sought-after free agent had the right to sign with any team.

Thanks to Curt Flood for pioneering the free agent movement.

He challenged the system and thought that no player should be bound to one team for his career.

Instead, Flood thought his services should go to the highest bidder.

It's cool that all three all-stars wanted to play together. Wade is still the leader of the Heat. How much time would pass before James feels that he should be the leader? I don't think he'll play second fiddle. Bosh doesn't mind being the third wheel because he doesn't mind tagging along.

Everyone in the Heat organization expects an appearance in the Finals, immediately. My guess is they won't beat the aging Celtics in next year's playoffs.

The heat is on for the three stars. They will keep the fire burning or flame out.

NHL Free Agency: Carolina Hurricanes Team Report (July 16 Edition)

July 17th, 2010

Despite a period of silence surrounding the Carolina Hurricanes over the past week since they signed Joe Corvo , several minor signings have began to fill out the depth chart for the 'Canes new minor league affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers.

Carolina's official website, as well as plenty of other sources, report that 26-year-old defenseman Bryan Rodney, 24-year-old goaltender Justin Pogge, and 24-year-old center Nick Dodge have all been signed to new contracts by the Hurricanes.

All three had become restricted free agents on July 1.

Rodney, the only one of the three to appear with Carolina last season, was inked to a one-year deal that will pay him $525,000 at the NHL level in the upcoming year.

Rodney was a significant part of the Albany River Rats' defense in both the regular season and playoffs, as well as scoring his first NHL goal and adding 10 assists in 22 games with the Hurricanes.

Former Duck and Maple Leaf prospect Pogge, who was acquired at the trade deadline from Anaheim along with a 2010 fourth round pick for Aaron Ward, was given a one-year NHL entry level contract ($500,000 salary).

Pogge has started five NHL games over his young career (all with Toronto), but played very little with Albany last spring after his acquisition due to an injury. He will now step into an alternating role with Mike Murphy at the goaltending position for Charlotte.

Dodge also received, like Pogge, a one-year NHL entry level deal. Dodge led Albany in plus/minus last season as well as recording 36 points in his full 80-game season.

Despite adding Rodney, Pogge, and Dodge to the lineup, the 'Canes did lose one of their "prospects" this week. AHL enforcer Tim Conboy was signed to a one-year, $550,000 salary contract by the Buffalo Sabres Thursday night.

Conboy had played 40 games with the Hurricanes over the past two seasons, logging one point and 61 penalty minutes. Conboy will be remembered, if at all, only for his brutal, bloody, and often incessant brawls at both the NHL and AHL levels.

Despite this plethora of small-talk news, the Hurricanes continue to hold on to their $12.5 million in cap space, the 12th-most in the NHL, according to

The signings of Corvo and Anton Babchuk earlier in the month helped fill out the Hurricanes most pressing defensive needs going into free agency. However, a third-line center is still on the wish list, although there is plenty of cash to find one.

Former Canuck Kyle Wellwood , 26,  and 32-year-old former Capital Eric Belanger are two names being tossed around as being reportedly contacted by Carolina for that position.

In other news, the Hurricanes announced that Rod Brind'Amour's No. 17 jersey will be retired on a February 18, 2020, game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Ironically, Brind'Amour played much of his early career with the Flyers before established Carolina as a reputable hockey team with his trade to the Hurricanes in 2001.

"Brindy," as he was affectionately nicknamed, announced his retirement several weeks ago.

Lastly, the Hurricanes' box office also announced yesterday that their October 1 matinee exhibition game (1:00 p.m. at the RBC Center) against the Atlanta Thrashers will offer free admission for fans .

The 'Canes are the first team to announce a deal like that for the upcoming preseason, and tickets can be picked up quite a few promotional events over the summer.


Mark Jones is currently Bleacher Report's featured columnist and community leader for the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes . In his 21 months so far with the site, he has written over 210 articles and received over 170,000 total reads.

Visit his profile to read more, or follow him on Twitter .

Twins put Morneau on DL with concussion (AP)

July 16th, 2010
Hoping to use the All-Star break as a slump-busting springboard, the Minnesota Twins must start the second half without Justin Morneau. The big-swinging first baseman missed his fourth straight game on Thursday with a concussion and was placed on the 15-day disabled list after the 8-7 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

Toronto Blue Jays Playing Moneyball Alex Anthopoulos Style

July 16th, 2010

Yunel Escobar is the main player Alex Anthopoulos acquired when he dealt Alex Gonzalez away. Anthopoulos had stated that his plan to build (not rebuild) the Toronto Blue Jays is to get young, controllable players—players whose salary we can control for several years.

When we got rid of Gonzalez, we got rid of a player who is old, whose salary we cannot control beyond next year, and who is having a career year. I have already written why this trade works out great for the Blue Jays, so let's not go there.

Instead, let's look at the fact that we can only keep Gonzalez cheaply for one more year; after that, if he keeps up this torrid pace, he will command a much higher salary.

Escobar, on the other hand, is a player whose rights we control for three more years. This means that we can sign him to a contract similar to Adam Lind and Aaron Hill, a small amount of money now with potential for big money later. The thing is we are in the Yankees' and Red Sox' division, so we cannot spend as much as them, but we can control these younger players and how much they make.

If we control their salaries, then we can keep saving the money needed to get more top-flight prospects into our system whose salary we can also control, so by the time these guys are being paid big money we have other cheap rookies to offset the cost. In a division that spends so much money, this could be the only way to compete. Kudos to Anthopoulos for doing this.

One of Billy Beane's most brilliant techniques was smart drafting and getting rid of players as they are about to come to contract years for lots of prospects. Anthopoulos decided he does not need to get rid of his players. Instead, he can structure their contracts to keep them in Toronto for the prime of their careers. Rich teams like the Yankees can have them when they're old—like say, 35. This could be Moneyball Anthopoulos style.

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