LeBron James earned his first triple double of the season with 23 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds, but his effort just simply wasn’t enough for the Cleveland Cavaliers to get by the Toronto Raports Wednesday at the Air Canada Centre. The Cavaliers 0-2 start instead of answering the call to high expectations have only raised questions and doubts in Cleveland. The 2008 MVP is confident his team will work out the initial kinks to get themselves back on track as one of the top teams in the East.
“Earlier I’d get very upset when you lose two or three games, you’d just feel like you can’t turn it around,” said James. “But I’m at a point in my career now where I know that you can lose two but, at the same time, you don’t look too far into it. You learn from the mistakes and you just try to get better.”
Raptors Andrea Bargnani led all scoring with 28 points. “If Andrea gets it going and is scoring the basketball a lot, then we are going to be tough to beat” said Chris Bosh, who also played a big factor in Toronto’s victory with 21 points and 16 rebounds.
The Cavs are set to travel to Minnesota to square off against the Timberwolves Friday at 8:00 PM. The Wolves are coming off a buzzer-beater win over the New Jersey Nets and will be ready to challenge Cleveland on their own stomping grounds.
In what would be his best outing of the year so far, Jon Lester struck out 12 in 6 solid innings. Lester gave up just one run on three hits and three walks, lowering his season ERA to 5.65. “It started with Lester,” Sox manager Terry Francona said in a post-game interview. “He was powerful.” Boston also got a lift from a retooled batting order. Red-hot second baseman Dustin Pedroia batted leadoff, and speedy centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury was dropped to the 8th spot. The lower half of the batting order continues to deliver; all of Boston’s 8 runs were driven in by the 1-5 spots.
Kevin Youkilis, batting in David Ortiz’s usual #3 spot, hit two homers. Pedroia in the leadoff spot, and left fielder/cleanup hitter Jason Bay each contributed a round-tripper as well.
After a clean 7th inning, Sox reliever Justin Masterson gave up a homer to Alex Rios, but rallied to retire the side and limit the damage. Ramon Ramirez pitched a scoreless ninth to keep the Sox just one game behind the Yankees in the AL East.
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Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells injured his left hamstring during drills Monday and is likely to sit for most of spring training. He was scheduled for an MRI later in the day and is currently waiting for the results. Manager Cito Gaston tries to find light in his injury saying its better to be hurt now than later in the year. “He’s got a chance to be ready to start the season, possibly as a designated hitter,” said Gaston.
Wells has been battling injuries in his recent career. He missed 52 games last season due to breaking his wrist and straining the same hamstring he is now having trouble with. In his 108 games played last year he batted .300 with 20 homeruns and 78 RBIs. The Blue Jays hope Wells can get better for spring training and be ready to go for the upcoming regular season. Gaston said Jose Bautista will stand in for Wells at center field when the Blue Jays take on the New York Yankees to open up their spring training.
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According to a Tuesday Globe and Mail report, NHL governors have been discussing the possibility of adding another NHL team to Toronto. The market does seem large enough, as the Maple Leafs already sell out the Air Canada Centre for every game. Entrepreneur Jim Balsillie, fresh off of aiding an ailing Nashville Predators team, has proposed the addition of an expansion team in Ontario. Much like the Staples Center hosts the Lakers and Clippers of the NBA, the new team would also share Air Canada Center with the Leafs. Balsillie’s other options include placing a team in Southern Ontario locations such as Hamilton, and relocating the Nashville Predators instead of creating a new expansion team.
No plans have been finalized.
Recap – What happened to the days when all the teams from Canada had a stronghold on the NHL? The only thing that the Toronto Maple Leafs have a good grip of is last place in the Northeast and a pathetic 14 road losses, also the worst in the division. It’s been a struggle for the Leafs because to put it simply, they are not very good. The owners have not gone out and spent any money in the free agent market, and the farm system has had trouble developing prospects to a competitive NHL level. It’s sad when fans are going to Toronto Raptors games before the Maple Leafs.
2nd Half – Goaltender Vesa Toskala has been the only bright spot on this miserable team. In his time in net, Toskala has a 2.69 GAA and kept his team in close games late into the third period. Captain center Mats Sundin is putting up his normal career stats, but may want to think about wrapping up his 16 year career after the season finishes because the Maple Leafs are not going to get better anytime soon.
Team Name: Toronto Maple Leafs (19-22-8)
Northeast Division Standing: 5th place
Conference Standing: T-13th place
Final Predictions: 5th in Northeast Division, 13th in Eastern Conference
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