Archive for March, 2011
Thursday, March 31st, 2011
By: David Alter
Milos Raonic returned home for the first time since taking the tennis world by storm. Showing up at Lacoste in the Bay and Bloor area, Raonic reflects back on the previous three months that saw him reach the fourth round of the Australian open as well as his first ATP tour victory in San Jose.
Now ranked 34th in the world, Raonic gets ready to take on the clay courts as he prepares for the French Open at Roland Garros. Enjoy the video.
Monday, March 28th, 2011
By: David Alter
80 players from all four Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment properties banded together for a night to raise money on behalf of the Team Up Foundation.
The Foundation puts on events like tonight’s inauguaral one4one event to raise enough money to refurbish arenas, courts and fields across the Greater Toronto Area.
This was the first time that all 4 MLSE team properties such as the Leafs, Raptors, Toronto FC and Marlies were all on hand to take part.
Here are some photos from the event.
L-R Marlies captain Alex Foster, Dion Phaneuf, Jose Calderon, Dwayne De Rosario
L-R: Nik Kulemin, Clarke MacArthur, Luke Schenn, Mikhail Grabovski, Carl Gunnarson
L-R: Nana Attakora, Andrea Bargnani, Julian de Guzman, Adrian Cann and Stefan Frei.
Thursday, March 24th, 2011
By: David Alter.
Toronto FC players and staff made their way down to Dundas Square ahead of Saturday’s home opener against the Portland Timbers. The event, which was called for 5pm, got started right away with human foosball, a beer tent and some DJ’. But the players didn’t arrive until 7 o’clock. During this time fans waited and while their passion for the team still rages on, you can’t help the fact that many weren’t really in the mood to celebrate. This guy below, sums it up.
Ok, spelling mistakes aside, you can understand this fan’s point. Four losing seasons, and a disaster of an opener on the road against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
What really stuns me is the timing of when the TFC staff arrive. If you want to make the biggest impact, the players and staff have to be there when you start. Everyone is leaving work right at five. If you want to make the biggest impact possible, the guys have to be there.
Now, prior to arriving Toronto FC announced the signing of two players in Serbian midfeilder Alen Stevanovic and SuperDraft pick Joao Plata.
Below is my one-on-one with TFC Head Coach Aron Winter about the signings and upcoming home game.
Monday, March 21st, 2011
By: David Alter
Cory Boyd started his stellar rookie season at a weight of 215 lbs. By season’s end, he ended at 240lbs, and it wasn’t a healthy increase.
“I wasn’t eating properly” says Boyd. “Arriving with just one American dollar, I was playing with a lot of anger. I wasn’t eating properly and I wasn’t trusting my body.”
To save money, Boyd would stay at teammates’ houses, sleeping on air mattresses and eating fast food so he could. It’s a concern any new player has when trying to crack a CFL roster for the first time. But for Boyd, that will no longer be the case with a new three-year extension.
Boyd was second in the CFL last season in rushing with 1,359 yards on 226 carries, and most certainly would have led the league had he not missed several games due to injuries, which included a concussion. He could have commanded more cash had he been able to duplicate that feat next season and test the free-agent waters. But it wasn’t about when Boyd talked to GM and Head Coach Jim Barker.
“I actually approached him, and I wasn’t prepared for the negotiation” Boyd says. He shocked me by asking me questions about my off-field lifestyle. That jump-started everything from there. It became a two-three week process to see what I wanted and what he (Barker) wanted. I told him it wasn’t about money. It was about being a leader, I wasn’t going to ask for the world.”
Boyd feels that with his newfound stability, he will keep his body in better shape and avoid the lingering injuries that kept him off the field. While theoretically that can hold true, the only other question that comes up is how does he keep that hunger alive?
“We’re professionals” says Boyd. “I have had a lot of things happen to me throughout my playing career, and I was waiting for a sign from above to know if I was in the right situation. When I got here (Toronto) I just wanted to compete hard and I won’t stop”
Here’s my one-on-one with Boyd from today.
Tuesday, March 15th, 2011
By: David Alter
Toronto FC’s captain declined requests for an interview in the team’s first training session since returning from preseason action down south. Dwayne De Rosario made it clear that he would do what he had to do if his contract wasn’t renegotiated to his liking…implicitly suggesting he would hold out.
When we last caught up with De Rosario back on February 15th, he seemed to be pretty positive that things were going to work out, saying things were “still progressing” and that “Things are definitely looking brighter so I’m pleased about that.”
He participated in a full training session today. Not showing any signs that he was still unhappy , until of course, when he walked off the field.
We were left with only new Head Coach Aron Winter to comment on any of this. When asked flat out if De-Ro has a new contract in place, Winter stated “I don’t have comment on that, if Dwayne doesn’t want to speak to you, I don’t have answers.”
When asked if De Rosario will be playing in Vancouver on Saturday, Winter says “I don’t see a reason why he shouldn’t be there.”
There is a chance that this could be completely blown out of proportion and De Rosario may have declined to speak for another reason, but it’s highly unlikely. He’s usually pretty open to talking, and he’s well aware of what the optics of the situation suggest by declining to speak. Clearly he hasn’t got what he wanted yet, which is a substantial raise.
There is also the notion being floated around that his contract had already been renegotiated once in the past and that the league and team won’t allow for a renegotiation until his current deal expires. If that’s the case, he may just have to deal with it and continue to play at a salary he isn’t happy with. One way or another, things aren’t going his way and we should have more answers tomorrow. Both sides are running out of time.
Monday, March 7th, 2011
By: David Alter
It doesn’t come as any real shock that Reggie Evans appears ready to return to the lineup given that he had this marvelous tweet six days ago.
Evans had been out since late November when he underwent foot surgery. Evans returned to the practice floor last week and today expelled a lot of energy on the court.
“We’ll have to watch him again tomorrow” says Raptors Head Coach Jay Triano. “We’ll see if there are no relapses and see how it goes.”
Should Evans return, the team will be a little crowded down low. But that plays well into the team strategy, as well as Evans’ recovery.
“It’ll be a four-man rotation for the bigs” says Triano. “Usually we try to stick with three unless someone gets in foul trouble but we’ll find ways to get him on the floor and see what he can do.”
Ed Davis really hasn’t spent a lot of time practicing with Evans given the injury timing, (Davis made his NBA debut after just after Evans went down due to a knee ailment.) “He helps the bigs a lot because you can’t push him around” says Davis of Evans. “He’ll attract the attention and that helps all of us.”
Home Sweet Home
While most Raptors enjoyed their trip to London, many were happy to just be back and on the practice court. There was a feeling that the team might get the day off to try and recover from the immense jet-lag (next game Wednesday). But it turned out that getting back on the court A.S.A.P. was preferred by the majority.
“You have to exercise through this” says Triano. “The best thing you can do to adjust to the new time zone is get into your routine as much as possible and exercise. Exercise helps the body and that’s why we came in to practice today.”
Many European players like Leandro Barbosa, Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani are used to travel but admitted that it was hard to adjust if you didn’t get a good night sleep on the plane ride there. This begged the question how this was any different than going out west to Los Angeles? Evidently when you fly east overnight, you have to stay completely awake and if you don’t get enough sleep on the plane or if you fall sleep early, it screws up your clock. Given that both games were 3 o’clock eastern time, I don’t see how you couldn’t adjust. But this has been one of the contentious points about the potential for a European division. While the general feeling was the experience was positive for the Raptors, most were just relieved it was over and happy to be home.
Friday, March 4th, 2011
By: David Alter
If there is one person in this city that best exemplifies kindness, charisma and energy rolled-up into one dynamic package, look no further than Mike “Pinball” Clemons.
Last night, “Pinball” along with wife Diane held their fourth annual Michael “Pinball” Clemons Foundation gala (this year themed the ‘Blueprint Gala’), with the goal in mind to help build 131 schools in third world countries over the next five years.
Up until the lead-up to the evening, the foundation had raised enough funds to build 80 of those schools since the program first began a year ago.
Here’s my conversation with “Pinball” just prior to taking the stage.
Pinball is sure to bring home the fact that while his foundation is meant to help those who aren’t brought up with some of the same resources and shelter that many take for granted, the point is to help out any way you can and donate.
Shortly after our conversation came some of the festivities which included a lot of items up for auction and several different raffles. But what seperated this event from any other is the sheer difference when Pinball takes the microphone. He knows how to command the attention of the room and spread his message t0 help out those in need.
Not a single hint of background noise could be heard when Pinball took the stage, his choice of words well thought and inspiring. Along with Sportsnet Radio THE FAN 590′s Bob McCown, and the support of Habitat for Humanity Toronto, MPFC is well on its way to reaching their goal.
He’s a selfless man, one that many felt would make a great Mayor. But right now Pinball dedicates his time to his foundation, and the many that are less fortunate that he aims to help are in good hands. Pinball is Everything Toronto.