Eh Game

  • With Milos Raonic winning his first ATP Tour title in more than a year last week in St. Petersburg, Russia, was it Davis Cup teammate Vasek Pospisil's turn to win his first career title at a tournament in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia this week?

    Not this time around, although the 25-year-old from Vancouver did have a solid week before bowing out to No. 2 seed Feliciano Lopez of Spain, 6-7 (2), 6-3, 6-2 in the quarter-finals on Friday.

    Pospisil, the No. 8 seed, cruised over qualifier Yasutaka Uchiyama of Japan 6-3, 6-4 in the first round. He then produced a quality victory over former top-10 player Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus, 7-6, (2), 3-6, 6-3 – a 2 1/2-hour effort in which he won one more point than Baghdatis, 105 to 104.

    In the quarters on Friday against Lopez, who is ranked No. 17 in the ATP Tour rankings, Pospisil pulled out a first set in which both were nearly untouchable on serve. Pospisil lost just seven points on his own delivery; neither player could earn a break point.

    KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - OCTOBER 02:  Feliciano Lopez of Spain competes against Vasek Pospisil of Canada during the 2015 ATP Malaysian Open at Bukit Jalil National Stadium on October 2, 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  (Photo by How Foo Yeen/Getty Images)KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - OCTOBER 02: Feliciano Lopez of Spain competes against Vasek Pospisil of Canada during the 2015 ATP Malaysian Open at Bukit Jalil National Stadium on October 2, 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Photo by How Foo Yeen/Getty Images)

    Lopez

    Read More »from Vasek Pospisil bows out in the quarter-finals of the Malaysian Open to Feliciano Lopez
  • Canada Post unveiled their Great Canadian Goaltender stamp series at HHOF on ThursdayCanada Post unveiled their Great Canadian Goaltender stamp series at HHOF on Thursday

    Stanley Cup, Conn Smythe Trophy, Vezina Trophy, Calder Memorial Trophy . . . Postage Stamp.

    With their resumes already filled with hockey’s highest honours, six legendary goalies added yet another accolade to their names when Canada Post unveiled Great Canadian Goalies - a new postage stamp issue at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto on Thursday.

    Lorne "Gump" Worsley, Johnny Bower, Tony Esposito, Bernie Parent, Ken Dryden and Martin Brodeur were chosen in a process involving the NHL, Canada Post and the Hall of Fame.

    Esposito, who these days is a community ambassador with the Chicago Blackhawks, used to the opportunity to toss some friendly barbs at his older brother Phil Esposito. Phil, who like Tony has won the Stanley Cup, had his number retired and is a Hockey Hall of Fame inductee. Now they both have a stamp (Phil was honoured with a Canada Post stamp in 2002).

     "I’ll show him when I get home,” joked the always dapper Esposito. “Now I’m going to go back with the stamp and I’m

    Read More »from Tony Esposito and Ken Dryden amongst six elite goaltenders honoured with stamps by Canada Post
  • DeMarre Carroll, Toronto Raptors (The Canadian Press/Marta Iwanek)DeMarre Carroll, Toronto Raptors (The Canadian Press/Marta Iwanek)

    BURNABY, B.C. – Count DeMarre Carroll among the many that would like to see the NBA give Vancouver another shot.

    The Toronto Raptors have brought their training camp to the city for the second straight year and will open their preseason schedule at Rogers Arena against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday. It's afforded Carroll, who signed a four-year, $60 million free agent contract with the Raptors in the offseason, the opportunity to visit Vancouver for the first time. Like most tourists that come through the city, the 29-year-old Alabama native is very impressed with what he's seen so far.

    "This city is great. I heard it was a beautiful city and the people here are nice. What I look for (in a city) is good restaurants, a good vibe, nice scenery. I feel like [Vancouver] has all of that," said Carroll. "I think this city really needs an NBA team, and hopefully it gets one soon."

    Over 14 years have passed since the Grizzlies packed up and moved to Memphis, leaving Vancouver after just

    Read More »from Raptors' DeMarre Carroll a big fan of Vancouver training camp experience
  • The allegations of sexual harrassment against Canadian Olympic Committee president Marcel Aubut that caused him to step down for the duration of the investigation aren't the only ones out there.

    After the story of a Canadian Olympic Foundation employee accusing Aubut of harrassment in repeated comments came out Wednesday night, Canadian Soccer Association board member Amelia Salehabadi-Fouques came forward to various French-language media outlets with her own highly-detailed complaints of repeated sexual harrassment from Aubut.

    Salehabadi-Fouques makes several disturbing allegations against Aubut, including that he kissed her against her will in a restaurant, that he tried to get into her hotel room, and that he asked her "When will we sleep together?" in front of her 15-year-old son. She told La Presse that she first met Aubut four years ago in Montreal while she was teaching labour law at the Université de Montréal; according to her account, she set up a meeting with him at a

    Read More »from CSA's Amelia Salehabadi-Fouques adds to Aubut sexual harrassment allegations
  • TORONTO – Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson will be named American League MVP. Pitcher David Price has a strong case to be the AL Cy Young winner. Both players, along with other superstars like Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, were crucial to the best Blue Jays season in a generation, and a long-awaited postseason appearance.

    But baseball is a team game, and over a grueling 162-game season a winning team needs contributions from everyone on the roster. Case in point, in Wednesday's AL East-clinching win over the Orioles while Bautista was hitting his 40th home run of the season, infielder Ryan Goins quiettly became the first Blue Jays shorstop to ever get five hits in a game.

    The Blue Jays have a lineup with several household names who, deservedly, are getting a lot of credit for this team’s success. Here are five other players who flew slightly under the radar, but were vital to the team’s first division title since 1993.

    Marco Estrada, SP

    Estrada entered the season

    Read More »from Blue Jays' unsung heroes deserve credit for ending 22-year postseason drought
  • That old saying about the more things changing the more they stay the some couldn't be more appropriate when it comes to sports television ratings in Canada.

    We've seen massive change over the past couple of months as the Toronto Blue Jays have risen from the middle of the pack and replaced the CFL as the summer's most-watched sport while the NFL has started to make serious incursions into CFL territory.

    But as the leaves have started to turn (not to be confused with the Leafs), things are getting back to normal. Right up there, along with Jays-mania and the aforementioned football leagues is a hockey game.

    That wouldn't be so surprising if it were a regular-season hockey game that was drawing big numbers, but this was a meaningless pre-season match featuring the usual mix of no-names, has-beens and never-weres.

    Saturday's game between reasonable facsimiles of the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs drew an average audience of 617,000 viewers to Sportsnet -- more than three CFL

    Read More »from The Great Canadian Ratings Report: NHL gets ready to challenge Blue Jays
  • David Price and Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)David Price and Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

    As the late, great Yogi Berra famously said, "it ain't over 'till it's over."

    So sure, the Toronto Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth over the weekend, ending the longest playoff drought in North American professional sports, but the stakes are still high heading into the final week of the regular season.

    The magic number for the Blue Jays to win the AL East title is down to four following a series sweep of the Rays, meaning they can confirm their status as division champions over the New York Yankees as early as Tuesday night. That magic number decreases with every Toronto win and New York loss.

    TEAM

    Sept. 28 – Oct. 1 (4 games)

    Oct 2. – Oct. 4 (3 games)

    Blue Jays

    at Orioles

    at Rays

    Yankees

    vs. Red Sox

    at Orioles

     

    They're also in a great position to end the year with best record in the American League, which would guarantee them home-field advantage from the ALDS through the World Series.

    If the Blue Jays and Kansas City Royals finish the season with the same

    Read More »from Blue Jays by the numbers: Division title, and awards for Josh Donaldson and David Price in sight
  • Canadian tennis star Eugenie Bouchard, who returned to the practice court just a few days ago after suffering a concussion in a locker-room accident at the US Open Sept. 4, flew all the way from Florida to Wuhan, China to get back on the circuit – only to withdraw from the tournament Monday afternoon, a few hours before her scheduled first-round match against No. 11 seed Belinda Bencic.

    The official reason from the WTA is "ongoing concussion issues". 

    Here is the official quote from Bouchard, as supplied by the WTA Tour early Monday morning, Canadian time.

    “I am frustrated and disappointed that I won’t be able to compete at the Wuhan Open this week. Having reached the final last year, I was very much looking forward to playing for the great fans here. I travelled to Wuhan with the intention of playing.  Unfortunately, my concussion symptoms came back during practice on Saturday and It would not be safe for me to go on court today. I will rest in Wuhan for the next few days to

    Read More »from Eugenie Bouchard flies all the way to China, withdraws from Wuhan Open before her first match
  • Joao Sousa, a game 26-year-old from Portugal, put more pressure on Canadian Milos Raonic than any of his previous opponents at the St. Petersburg Open this week.

    But it wasn't enough; Raonic took the final 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. It is his seventh career title on the ATP Tour, his first since winning in Washington, D.C. in August, 2014, and his first in Europe.

    "It was a very difficult match, very high quality and I’m happy to be able to say I won it," Raonic said after the victory, which earns him 250 ATP Tour points and $187,350 US in prize money. "It was a lot closer than (the score); we both had a lot of opportunities," Raonic added. "I had a lot at the beginning of the second set and he had a lot at the beginning of the third."

    Who was more psyched after Raonic's win, the player or coach Ricardo Piatti? Dead heat. (TennisTV.com)Who was more psyched after Raonic's win, the player or coach Ricardo Piatti? Dead heat. (TennisTV.com)In the end, Raonic went 2-for-12 on break-point opportunities, while Sousa went 1-for-10. To their credit, though, it was largely not a matter of wasting opportunities. Both players played extremely well when they were in trouble, making first serves for the most

    Read More »from Milos Raonic wins his 7th career ATP Tour title at the St. Petersburg Open
  • Frank Lampard, New York City FC, and Kendall Waston, Vancouver Whitecaps (The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck)Frank Lampard, New York City FC, and Kendall Waston, Vancouver Whitecaps (The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck)

    VANCOUVER – It didn't matter whether the roof was open or not (it was), Saturday was a perfect night for star-gazing at B.C. Place.

    Unfortunately, a thrilling encounter between the Vancouver Whitecaps and New York City FC will be remembered for two dubious penalty decisions, rather than the terrific 90 minutes of back-and-forth action, and an especially wild finish.

    A NYCFC side that featured Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard, and David Villa in the starting lineup came away with a 2-1 win, after Villa converted a controversial 95th minute PK. Late into stoppage time Lampard dribbled into the box, and while Matias Laba appeared to win the ball with a last-ditch challenge at the edge of the area, referee Ricardo Salazar pointed to the spot. It was a crushing blow for the Whitecaps, after Pedro Morales’ 88th-minute penalty kick goal – a call that also raised a few eyebrows – had cancelled out Lampard’s 29th-minute strike.

    "The first goal in any game is crucial and New York got the first goal.

    Read More »from Controversial late penalty dooms Whitecaps as they lose to NYCFC 2-1
  • Ever since the 'Being: Liverpool' documentary series aired in 2012, the comparisons between Brendan Rodgers and David Brent – Ricky Gervais' cringe-worthy comedy creation – began.

    In ‘The Office,’ Brent is the regional manager of a paper manufacturing firm based in Slough – a nondescript town on the outskirts of London. Overseeing a bunch of sales-people and accountants, Brent spends the majority of his time desperately seeking their validation. Thinking of himself as a quasi-philosopher, his biggest aim in life is just to be liked.

    But despite the litany of offences (casual sexism, racism and discrimination) and despite his initial selfishness, Brent is a lovable lonely soul, an isolated figure who doesn't like the outside. He merely tries to fit in and be part of the crowd. Essentially, the audience continuously feels an enormous sense of pity for him. And at the end of the second series, when his poor performance and overall behaviour leads to him being made redundant, Brent begs for

    Read More »from Brendan Rodgers' time at Liverpool is coming to an end, and he knows it
  • Milos Raonic was 4-for-4 against Tommy Robredo. He even had defeated him three times on the Spanish veteran's favoured red clay. He even beat him this year in Monte Carlo despite some major foot pain, which resulted in the 24-year-old retiring in his next match, and having surgery a few weeks later.

    So it's no surprise the top Canadian defeated Robredo in the quarter-finals of the St. Petersburg Open Friday.

    But 6-2, 6-1, in 52 minutes, going 4-for-4 on break-point opportunities and winning 75 per cent of points on Robredo's second serve? That was probably beyond expectations for anyone, especially given how little tennis Raonic has played the last few months.

    "It was a difficult match," Raonic told the on-court interviewer after the match, managing to keep a straight face. "I'm really happy with the way I played. I played better than yesterday and that’s all I can ask of myself."

    A rogue lock didn't slow down Raonic as he dismantled Tommy Robredo Friday in Russia. (TennisTV.com)A rogue lock didn't slow down Raonic as he dismantled Tommy Robredo Friday in Russia. (TennisTV.com)

    When your biggest problem on a tennis court against a former top-10 player is a rogue lock of hair – an

    Read More »from In just 52 minutes, Milos Raonic rolls into the semi-finals at the St. Petersburg Open
  • (Update, Friday a.m.: Bouchard's name is in the Wuhan draw, to face No. 11 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland in the first round)

    Monday morning, Canadian tennis star Genie Bouchard posted on Instagram that she was happy not to have to sit around in the dark any more.

    Tuesday afternoon, she posted a pic of herself at "home", home being Florida.

    Wednesday, she posted a pic of herself ... playing tennis.

    The location was the Crandon Park Tennis Center on Key Biscayne, home to the Miami Open.

    Unlike the previous week, when Bouchard withdrew from the WTA Tour event in Tokyo fairly early on, she was still officially on the entry list as of Friday morning in China for Wuhan, a Premier 5 (high level) tournament at which she reached the finals a year ago.

    And all indications from sources in Wuhan are that she is on track to play.

    We'll find out soon enough – either a Tweet from some airport, or her

    Read More »from All signs point to Eugenie Bouchard's return from concussion in China next week
  • Preparing athletes for life after sports has become a crucial topic recently, and that's part of why the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Paralympic Committee are launching Game Plan, a new "wellness and transition" initiative featuring partnerships with groups like professional services firm Deloitte, financial services firm RBC and HR/mental health services firm Morneau Shepell to help Canada's high-performance athletes succeed off the field both during and after their careers. Canadian trampoline gymnast Rosie MacLennan spoke to Yahoo about the new program Thursday, and said it's going to be a vital piece to help her and other athletes.

    "I think there is incredible potential," MacLennan said. "I think they're taking a really well-rounded approach and kind of going at it from a bunch of different directions through their Five Pillars [career management, networking, education, skill development and health]. I think it will also create an opportunity for athletes to use it in a way that is most beneficial to them, because we're all a little different, our needs are all a little different. I think it has incredible potential to benefit athletes not only off the field of play, but on the field of play, while they're still competing and training, and also as they transition to whatever their second career might be."

    Read More »from Rosie MacLennan: "world-class" Game Plan will be a boost for Canadian Olympians
  • The bigger questions surrounding Canada's 2016 Fed Cup tie hopes are 1) whether Genie Bouchard will play and 2) will she be in better form than she was this year.

    But the second question, the actual location site of Canada's first-round tie against Belarus, was answered Thursday as Tennis Canada announced Quebec City would welcome women's tennis Feb. 6-7, 2016.

    "PEPS is becoming a second home for our team since we will be playing a Fed Cup tie at the venue for a third consecutive year. The girls like Quebec City and the fans there have always supported us," was the quote from Canadian Fed Cup captain Sylvain Bruneau in the press release.

    The tie will be played in the PEPS complex, where the National Bank Cup was played last week. That's where the Canadians defeated Slovakia in 2015, and lost to the Czech Republic in February (without Bouchard).

    If Victoria Azarenka plays for Belarus (she met the Olympic qualifications, barely, by playing twice in 2015) and Bouchard plays for Canada,

    Read More »from Quebec City to host Canada's next Fed Cup tie vs. Belarus in February
  • The Toronto Blue Jays are drawing big crowds at the stadium and on television, too. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan DenetteThe Toronto Blue Jays are drawing big crowds at the stadium and on television, too. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
    The Toronto Blue Jays have realized the Canadian dream: They've managed to draw attention from Americans.

    The team's impressive run to its first division title in 22 years has been drawing record ratings in Canada -- and broke another one this week as it became the most-watched series in Sportsnet's history.

    But the Jays managed to attract some big audiences on U.S networks, too. Of course, most of those tuning in were probably more interested in their opponents, the New York Yankees.

    Wednesday's game, a 4-0 Toronto victory over the Yankees, scored a 0.8 overnight rating on ESPN -- well above the network's season average of 0.5 for its Wednesday Night Baseball package. (A cable rating point in the U.S. translates into about 1.1 million viewers, meaning Wednesday's game was watched by about 900,000 people on ESPN.) It was also double what ESPN drew for a comparable game between the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals last season (0.4).

    ESPN managed its big number despite the fact

    Read More »from Blue Jays games drawing big television audiences on both sides of the border
  • The last time tennis fans saw top Canadian Milos Raonic, his back was spasming during a painful loss to Spain's Feliciano Lopez in the third round of the US Open.

    The loss wrapped up a difficult summer, during which the 24-year-old struggled with ancillary physical issues in the wake of his foot surgery in the spring, particularly his back.

    Raonic returned Thursday in St. Petersburg, Russia, in the indoor conditions he has had so much success on during his career. And he had no trouble in dismissing Russian wild card Evgeny Donskoy 6-4, 6-4 to move into the quarter-finals against Tommy Robredo of Spain.

    It took just an hour and 12 minutes.

    "It’s a start. To be able to succeed at this tournament, you have to win the first one," Raonic said in an on-court interview.

    Tournaments with 28-player fields are challenging for the top four seeds, who have first-round byes. As the No. 2 seed, Raonic had been in St. Petersburg all week waiting to play, not having signed up for doubles. He didn't

    Read More »from Milos Raonic successful in return to the court in St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Marcus Stroman, Toronto Blue Jays (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)Marcus Stroman, Toronto Blue Jays (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

    SCORE AND SITUATION

    TORONTO – Marcus Stroman was simply sensational Wednesday night, pitching the Toronto Blue Jays to a 4-0 win over the New York Yankees to increase Toronto’s lead atop the AL East to 3 ½ games.

    Making just his third start of the season after making an astonishing comeback from a torn ACL that was supposed to keep him out the entire year, the 24-year-old right-hander went seven scoreless innings and Kevin Pillar and Russell Martin came up with big hits to lead the Blue Jays to victory.

    The offence didn’t wait long to test Ivan Nova, but had nothing to show for it after two innings. In the first, Josh Donaldson reached on an infield single and moved up to third on a double by Edwin Encarnacion. However, they were stranded on the bases after Nova struck out Justin Smoak on a 3-2 curveball. Ryan Goins led off the second with a walk and Darwin Barney followed with a single to left field, but they too didn’t come around to score.

    Stroman had no such trouble in the early

    Read More »from Marcus Stroman shines as Blue Jays beat Yankees 4-0
  • If this year's Davis Cup was the one that got away for the Canadians, as they watch the less-accomplished Belgians (who defeated them in July without having to face the injured Milos Raonic or Vasek Pospisil) prepare to meet Great Britain in the big final, 2016 will be a year to right the ship again.

    It began in Santiago, Chile Wednesday evening with the World Group draw.

    There were eight possible opponents for the unseeded Canadian team for the World Group first round, which will take place March 4-6, 2016.

    Three were guaranteed to be home ties (Belgium, Argentina and Serbia). One was guaranteed to be on the road (France). The others – Great Britain, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Australia – would have the home-court advantage drawn by lot.

    The Canadians got probably the worst possible outcome. They drew France – the only tie they had no chance to host, and a rich tennis nation with a Grand-Slam winning doubles team that leaves them having to play a perfect tie on the road to

    Read More »from Canada's 2016 Davis Cup quest begins in France
  • New York Yankees 6, Toronto Blue Jays 4 (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)New York Yankees 6, Toronto Blue Jays 4 (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

    SCORE AND SITUATION

    TORONTO – Know this: these New York Yankees will not go quietly.

    Yankees rookie Greg Bird hit a three-run home run in the top of the 10th inning to lift New York to a 6-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night.

    Bird's blast off Blue Jays reliever Mark Lowe came after Brian McCann led off the inning with a bunt single and Slade Heathcott reached on catcher's interference.

    It was the biggest hit in a wild game that showed that the race for the AL East title will be decided in the final days of the season.

    After being shutout by David Price for the first seven innings of Monday night's game, the Yankees sent seven batters to the plate and put through two runs in the top of the first inning off Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada.

    Kevin Pillar cut New York's lead to 2-1 with a solo home run in the third. The Blue Jays tied the game in the fourth thanks to a two-out RBI single by Justin Smoak that scored Josh Donaldson from second.

    Estrada settled down after the

    Read More »from Greg Bird's 10th inning home run lifts Yankees to 6-4 win over Blue Jays