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Tao of Stieb: Notable addition would help Blue Jays fans believe again – Sportsnet.ca

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The Toronto Blue Jays have reached an inflection point in their history. After three seasons of skittering backward in the standings, the coming year should be better. It needs to be.

There are signs that after the past few seasons’ strategic retreat, the collection of young and emerging talent assembled by the Blue Jays will be prepared to step up and move the team’s fortunes in a positive direction. Maybe not into contention just yet, but something better than 67 wins.

You’d be hard-pressed, though, to find much optimism for the state of the team among the fanbase lately. Maybe it’s the echo chamber of snark and negativity that thrives on social media, but the overriding sentiment is frustration, and maybe even worse, a growing disheartenment and apathy with where the Blue Jays stand.

Some of this is simply the turgid rot of modern sports fandom, where a segment of every team’s fans believes that if they aren’t in ecstasy, then they should be affecting agony at the top of their voice. But some of it runs deeper, and some of it is less cynical and more true, and it should be a concern for the brain trust and stewards of the franchise.

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The public trust in the Blue Jays is bottoming out, to a point where the management team can seemingly do no right. If they add starting pitchers like a Tanner Roark, or a Chase Anderson, it’s viewed as bargain shopping to raise the floor. And there’s not much reason to get excited about that.

If the Blue Jays take a serious run at players who may be slightly more skilled or revered, but come up empty, it feeds into the negative perception of the team. Either Toronto didn’t do enough to lock the player down, or nobody wants to come play for them. Both explanations leave fans demoralized and frustrated.

It has created a situation where, if the Blue Jays aren’t able to lock up a top player by the time they report to Dunedin in February, the season will begin to feel like another failure before it even begins.

This crisis of consumer confidence didn’t happen all at once. While there are arguments to be had over the team’s transactions in the past year, the messaging around the deals that sent long-serving players out of town for uninspiring returns helped to feed into a bitter pessimism about the team and those managing it.

From a purely rational perspective, one can’t blame the management team if they walk away from the off-season and pocket the “payroll flexibility” until a better player becomes available. But with the current perception of the team as low as it is, it’s hard to imagine how they could get away from the winter without making at least one big splash.

This isn’t an unprecedented situation. In fact, it wasn’t so long ago that Alex Anthopoulos found himself in the same spot. Following a disastrous 2012 season, in which manager John Farrell left for his “dream job” with a divisional rival, shortstop Yunel Escobar walked onto the field with homophobic slurs written on his eye black and the team’s future core seemingly imploded in unison, something needed to change to save the perception of the team.

Ben Nicholson-Smith is Sportsnet’s baseball editor. Arden Zwelling is a senior writer. Together, they bring you the most in-depth Blue Jays podcast in the league, covering off all the latest news with opinion and analysis, as well as interviews with other insiders and team members.

By Christmas of that offseason, Anthopoulos had pulled off two mega deals to bring veterans, league-leaders, all-stars and a reigning Cy Young laureate. They brought back a well-liked manager (John Gibbons) and those blue uniforms — and their offseason boldness was rewarded with a level of reinvigorated fervor from the fans.

It didn’t actually work so well on the field, mind you. Not initially, at least, as the 2013 Blue Jays won just one more game (76) than the shambolic 2012 team. It took two more seasons before some of that massive haul could contribute to the moment when the team’s fortunes truly turned. But the big deals at least created the impression that the team could be bold if it needed to be.

There is some hazard in attempting to turn around the public perception all at once. The free agent market this year ran hotter and faster than any in recent memory, which left the Blue Jays – and many other teams – chasing after a scant few players at the top of everyone’s lists. It has left them in a situation where the decision of a single player could make or break their offseason, potentially sinking the customers’ trust that much more.

This is likely an argument for why teams shouldn’t wait until the perfect moment to begin adding substantively all at once when they are “ready”, and why they should always be looking to make their team better. But that’s another treatise for a another day.

It’s one thing to sneer at the notion of “winning the off-season,” but there comes a moment where if you don’t do something notable, you risk losing more fans’ faith.

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Justin Poirier and Conor McGregor show mutual admiration during backstage meeting following UFC 257

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Despite his first knockout loss in the UFC, Conor McGregor was all class in defeat.

McGregor returned to action for the first time in a year when he faced Dustin Poirier in a rematch in the main event of Saturday’s UFC 257 event in Abu Dhabi. After a competitive first round, Poirier started to take over in the second, landing a series of hard low leg kicks to McGregor that put him in a compromised position.

“The Diamond” would take advantage of his brilliant strategy, dropping and finishing McGregor at just over the halfway point of the round to complete the biggest victory of his career.

While it was all class in the octagon and at the post-fight press conference, Poirier and McGregor shared a moment backstage following their second battle.

Poirier evened up the series at a win apiece on Saturday. McGregor knocked out Poirier in the opening round of their first meeting at UFC 178 in September 2014.

A trilogy fight is of interest to both competitors, but it seems that Poirier will move ahead to compete for the lightweight title, which is currently held by the retired Khabib Nurmagomedov. UFC President Dana White hasn’t lost hope that “The Eagle” will return for at least one more fight. It appears as if those chances are fading away by the hour, though an official decision on the title has yet to be announced.

Source:- MMA Fighting

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Floyd Mayweather Issues Scathing Conor McGregor Critique – HotNewHipHop

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Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor have had a rivalry for a very long time now. Ever since the two fought back in 2017, it’s clear that they don’t like each other very much and that fact isn’t going to change anytime soon. McGregor has been practically begging for rematches, all while Mayweather has sought opportunities elsewhere.

Last night, McGregor lost in stunning fashion to Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 and Mayweather was clearly waiting for a reason to comment on the match. Upon seeing a social media post that pondered why McGregor is praised for his confidence while Mayweather is criticized for it, Mayweather decided to let his feelings be known. Taking to Instagram, Mayweather offered a large paragraph explaining that he thinks there is a lot of racism at play here and that guys like McGregor need to be taught a lesson.

Per Mayweather:

“I seen this post and my take on it is that the world knows Con Artist McLoser can steal everything from me and be loved but I’m hated. That just lets you all know that racism still exist. Just know, that bum will never be me or be on my level. I’m just built different, my mindset is on another planet, my skills are second to none, I’m a natural born winner and yes I talk a lot of trash, but every time I back it up! This is what they hate. It’s sad that you can be a poor black kid from the ghetto that has dealt with racism your whole life and work extremely hard to put yourself and your family in a better position, and most of the hate come from my own people. Connor cannot even win in his own sport, but talking about coming back to boxing to fight Pacquiao. Nobody wants to see that, it’s like my leftovers eating leftovers.”

These biases have existed for quite a long time and it’s clear that Floyd is fed up with seeing them play out time and time again. Not to mention, Mayweather’s post hints at the fact that a McGregor rematch is no longer in the cards, which is unfortunate but not surprising.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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Corey Perry’s debut shows his acquisition is another win for Bergevin – Habs Eyes on the Prize

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Corey Perry’s addition to the Montreal Canadiens was always going to be interesting. He clearly had some value left to share, but he didn’t really have a place in the lineup on opening night. However when Tyler Myers concussed Joel Armia at the end of Thursday’s game, it opened the door for the NHL vet to step into the lineup, and onto the team’s hottest line.

He went ahead and made the most of it, a great sign that even at 35 years old, Perry can still bring it on the ice in a decent-sized role.

HockeyViz.com

In his 13:10 of five-on-five ice time (second on the team among forwards), Perry controlled just shy of 63% of the shots when he was on the ice. In his matchups, there were only two players he was below 50% against in terms of shot attempts: Nils Hoglander (42%) and Zack MacEwen (37%). Perhaps slightly more impressive is that against the big guns of J.T. Miller, Brock Boeser, and Elias Pettersson, Perry didn’t allow a single shot attempt against.

While he was on a line with Tyler Toffoli and Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who have been outstanding in the series against Vancouver, Perry was able hold his own even if he did spend time away from both during the game. To cap it all off, Perry even added his first goal in a Canadiens jersey, which, despite being ugly in nature, still counts all the same on the scoreboard.

It’s moments like this that you can see how well Perry still reads the game at the NHL level, his head is up the whole way, and he knows exactly where his linemate is. He had a handful of these moments as the game wore on, including a beautiful bit of dangling to create a scoring chance for himself.

Perry’s speed and elite goal-scoring ability are long gone, but he provides more than that on the ice due to his hockey IQ. With Joel Armia out long-term, Montreal needs exactly this type of veteran to step up and play while giving them the best possible chance to win.

Marc Bergevin being able to secure a piece like Perry for nearly league minimum just in case the team needed some reinforcements is looking like another great bit of foresight. It’s been just one game, but it’s far more comforting to be adding a guy with over 1000 NHL games, than hoping a fringe AHL player can make an impact. With a deep Calgary team looming on the horizon, Montreal will be counting on more games like this one from Perry, and it seems like he’s got plenty left in the tank to oblige.

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