Saying Goodbye is Tough
Edwin Encarnacion had eight phenomenal seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays. Unfortunately, a lot of that has become clouded after Encarnacion’s decision to sign with the Cleveland Indians this past week. Bitterness has overtaken the Toronto fan-base, directed at both management and Encarnacion himself. Fans are frustrated, discouraged and confused; the Blue Jays have lost in the American League Championship Series (ALCS) in back to back years. With that in mind, many thought it was a no-brainer to sign Encarnacion for at least a couple more shots at the World Series. Prior to free agency, the Jays had offered the star slugger a 4-year $80 million contract. This move was the beginning of the end of Encarnacion’s time in Toronto, and here is why.
Typically teams send out a qualifying offers to their star players. Qualifying offers are to submit a team’s intent in signing a player, and are typically a fairly low amount for the player’s actual worth. Teams then follow that up with something similar, giving players a low-ball offer. Instead, the Blue Jays upgraded their $17.2M qualifying offer to an added 3 years and an annual salary of $20M. This upgraded offer came from an organization which has typically been considered a budgeting team, one not supportive of lengthy and lucrative contracts. Encarnacion and his agent Paul Kizner saw this offer and, despite its lucrative value, believed they could find even more money on the open market. The Blue Jays did not have to play their best hand immediately, and when they did it set off a chain of events. Encarnacion said he wanted to see what the market had to offer for him, and the Blue Jays panicked.
Toronto quickly signed Kendrys Morales, a player in the prime of his career, like Encarnacion’s and a designated hitter (DH), Encarnacion’s positon with the Blue Jays. Morales signed for three years and $33M, and Kizner said Encarnacion felt the Blue Jays had moved on after this deal. The Blue Jays also re-signed Justin Smoak for first base and also got utility-man Steve Pearce off of the free agent market, further showing the team adapting to life without Edwin. These signings, which likely would have been complimentary to Encarnacion in management’s mind, were seen as red flags to Encarnacion. The former Blue Jays’ star saw these players as his replacements and prepared himself to move on. There had been rumours for weeks, but it seemed that, as time passed, it became less and less likely that Edwin would be staying north of the border. This past week Encarnacion made his decision: a four-year $80 million contract with the Cleveland Indians, the same, as that fateful contract the Blue Jays had offered Encarnacion. This is what most fans will read, and that is as far as they will go. They will grow angry with Encarnacion, saying he betrayed Toronto. But that is simply not the truth.
The reality is Toronto should have taken their time. Instead, they played their best hand and, when Encarnacion refused, they simply moved on. In contrast, though, Encarnacion and Kizner misread the market and chose to hold out for more money. Now, after signing this deal with Cleveland, misinformed fans will interpret this as a shot at the Blue Jays’ organization. When it was more likely a sense of miscommunication and some feelings being hurt. Business was done in an unusual fashion and it cost both parties. The moral of this is that Edwin’s reputation should not be tarnished by this. Edwin played over 1000 games for the Blue Jays, and Blue Jays fans saw him grow as a player and professional over that time. Going from an average first baseman/designated hitter, to an all-star slugger this past year. A three-time all-star, four-time Top 15 in AL MVP voting, and the man who ran the bases with a parrot on his arm, Encarnacion deserves an immense amount of respect from Blue Jays fans. Anyone who considers themselves a Blue Jays fan should show him the utmost respect. As a Blue Jays fan who has become immersed in the Toronto Blue Jays over these past five or six years, thank you for a hell of a ride Edwin and good luck in your future!
The Penalty Box
- It is getting lonely in the desert. The Arizona Coyotes continue to slip further down the standings, losing four in a row heading into the Christmas break, including a 4-1 loss at the hands of the Maple Leafs and Arizona’s native son, Auston Matthews. If there is any positivity coming out of Arizona, it is seeing Shane Doan recently eclipsing 400 career goals.
- The New York Rangers are reeling after starting off red hot. The Madison Square Garden residents were atop the Metropolitan for some time, but with the Blue Jackets and even Flyers catching fire the Rangers have a crowded mirror. Washington still sits behind them, but the Capitals have four games in hand. The Blueshirts need to get their act together quickly and Henrik Lundqvist needs to be sharper, having been pulled twice in his last 10 starts.
Stars of the Week
- The Blue Jackets are the hottest thing in hockey. No two ways around it, the Blue Jackets beat the Pittsburgh Penguins by a stunning score of 7-1 before the Christmas break and have won 12 in a row. John Tortorella has gone from coaching a cellar-dweller to sitting atop the league at Christmas. It is astonishing how quickly times can change in this league. Huge praise is due for rookie defenseman Zach Werenski, who has 21 points in 32 games and deserves consideration for the Calder trophy (rookie of the year), despite being publically overshadowed by the likes of Auston Matthews and Patrick Laine.
- Speaking of hot teams, the Minnesota Wild have won 10 in a row themselves. The Wild defend their home-ice incredibly well. At the Xcel Energy Center this season, the Wild are 12-3-0. Backstopped by an early Vezina frontrunner, Devan Dubnyk, the Wild also have a balanced scoring attack, led by a revitalized Eric Staal, who is enjoying his best season since the lockout shortened 2012-13 campaign. The Wild will need to stick to their winning ways to keep pace in a busy Central division, as the Blackhawks and Blues will continue to jostle for position.
The Weekly Rap
- The Raptors only had a pair of games this week, but they took care of business in both. Coming off the Christmas break the Raptors only just overcame a scrappy Portland squad, however the Raptors won while only shooting an abysmal 33% from the field.
- Toronto will need to be better on Wednesday as they will be travelling into California to take on the Golden State Warriors in a HUGE game.
Top 5 NBA Power Ranking
- Cavaliers (23-7)
- When you can get beat the best, it can make you the best. LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers overcame a 14-point deficit in the 4th quarter against the Warriors on Christmas Day, capping the win, with a clutch, game-winning basket by Kyrie Irving. The Cavaliers lost last evening, but that was without LeBron, meaning not much can be read into that loss at all. They won their most important game of the year thus far, and that is all that matters.
- Warriors (27-5)
- Golden State may have lost, but we saw the power of this team. Despite an underwhelming performance from Stephen Curry, the Warriors only lost by a single point. The Warriors do not need Stephen Curry to play like an MVP every night in order to win. If the Warriors can get everyone going on the same night, they can takedown the Cavaliers. Even with a missing piece, they are only a step away.
- Spurs (25-6)
- San Antonio easily dismantled the Bulls on Christmas Day and saw an offensive explosion from LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge dropped in 33 points, showing he can still carry a heavier load when needed. The Spurs have a relatively easy stretch ahead of themselves, outside of a date with the Raptors on January 3rd. They will likely use this to try to pass the Warriors in the standings.
- Raptors (22-8)
- Toronto is on a 4-game win streak, and has a healthy record of 5-0 in divisional play to this point. With the Boston Celtics heating up, the Raptors will need to continue to assert themselves on both ends every night. If the Raptors can beat either the Warriors or Spurs, or both, it will definitely be considered an incredibly successful 6-game road trip out West.
- Thunder (19-12)
- This will surprise some people, but the reality is that the Thunder have won their last three games and Russell Westbrook is maintaining his insane pace. The Thunder have a busy January ahead of them, but before 2016 is over they will have to tango with the Grizzlies and Clippers. These games are crucial ones for Oklahoma City.
NFL First Down and Three & Out
First Down: Aaron Rodgers has thrown 14-straight touchdowns without an interception and is looking like his old-self. The Packers have gone from being way outside of the playoff picture to setting up a date with the Detroit Lions for the division crown on Sunday night. At this rate, if the Packers show up with their loaded lineup working on all its cylinders, they will likely rout the Detroit Lions, who cannot catch a break in the NFC North.
Three & Out: The Oakland Raiders have had such a magical season, but it may have come to a screeching halt. Derek Carr, the star quarterback for the Raiders, is out for 6-8 weeks minimum with a broken fibula. This was the last thing Raider fans wanted to hear, as they continue to fight Kansas City for the AFC West division title and an important bye past the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Matt McGloin will step into the quarterback position in Carr’s absence and have a heavy task ahead of him, in trying to fill Carr’s shoes.
DOUBLE BONUS FIRST DOWN: It was a party in Cleveland! The Browns won a game! The San Diego Chargers rushed their field goal unit onto the field for a last second field goal, but Chargers’ kicker Josh Lambo could not kick the game into overtime and the Browns got their first win of the year to avoid the infamous 0-16 record.
As well, Dontari Poe, a nose-tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs tried his hand at quarterback on Christmas. Poe who has rushed in a pair of touchdowns for the Chiefs’ offense in his career, took the snap on the goal line, and, instead of rushing went for what Chiefs’ head coach Andy Reid called a “Bloated Tebow Pass”. The pass found tight-end Demetrius Harris for a touchdown and capped a Chiefs win over the Denver Broncos.
DOTA 2 News
Na’vi Turning a Corner
- Famous Ukrainian team Natus Vincere has filled out their roster. Accompanying Dendi (Danil Ishutin) and General (Victor Nigrini) who stayed with the team after the Fall roster shuffle, will be Pajkatt (Per Anders Olsson Lille), rmN- (Roman Paley), and Biver (Malthe Winther). This roster is a little different from a typical Na’vi roster as it draws from all of Europe instead of just the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) region. Pajkatt will captain and be drafter of the team.
FY’s Fresh Start
- One of the most famous support players in the world has moved Vici Gaming to Vici Gaming J. Vici Gaming J is sponsored by NBA player Jeremy Lin and now has a roster full of veteran Chinese players, attempting to reclaim the former glory that the organization has had.
What to watch this week?
- Tuesday: Senators at Rangers 7:00pm ET, Slovakia vs Canada 8:00pm ET
- Wednesday: Flyers at Blues 8:00pm ET, Raptors at Warriors 10:30pm ET
- Thursday: Celtics at Cavaliers 8:00pm ET, Thunder at Grizzlies 8:00pm ET
- Friday: Clippers at Rockets 8:00pm ET, Flyers at Sharks 10:00pm ET
- Saturday: Canada vs United States (World Juniors) 3:30 pm ET, Blue Jackets at Wild 6:00pm ET, Canadiens at Penguins 7:00pm ET, Knicks at Houston 8:00pm ET, Clippers at Thunder 8:00pm ET, Sharks at Kings 10:30pm ET
- Sunday: Red Wings at Maple Leafs (Winter Classic) 3:00pm ET, Giants at Redskins 4:25pm ET, Packers at Lions 8:30pm ET
- Monday: Blackhawks at Blues (Winter Classic) 1:00pm ET, Senators at Capitals 7:30pm ET
Special thanks to Geoff Marlowe for helping with the editing work and a big thank you to you the reader for taking your time to read my work! Appreciate it! Hope everyone has a happy holidays, and remember to truly enjoy this time of the year! Hope you continue to read along, if you have any suggestions/comments/questions, please feel free to inbox me or talk to me on Twitter @sassysaslove.