Author Archives: Thomas Waind

Bench Life Jersey Thursdays October 18th, 2018

This is the third weekly instalment of my “Jersey Thursdays” blog series. Last week we had some nice jersey submissions and an impromptu Rance Mulliniks scouting report. With this week being the start of the NBA regular season I took a more NBA-centred approach to this blog. The readership is starting to go up for these blogs but it seems like the audience participation has been limited to guys that write for this site. That being said, I’m just going to lower my pad level and keep moving the chains.

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Bench Life Jersey Thursdays October 11th, 2018

Last week was the first edition of my weekly jersey blog where I gave out a few of the hits from my own collection. This week we’re back with a few jersey submissions from a few dutiful fans (my uncle + Ray and Ballantyne). As this thing grows I’m hoping to expand my search for the best/worst jerseys to a global level but for now I’m a humble yet hungry small fry in the jersey blogging community. Read more

Bench Life Jersey Thursdays October 4th 2018

I’m starting this weekly jersey blog because I’ve always been a huge jersey nut but have yet to really do much blogging on the subject. The idea for these blogs will be to write about any cool or funny jersey talk circulating around the internet and to roast some real jersey fouls that pop upon my Twitter feed. As someone with a checkered past with jersey purchases, I do have some insight on these matters. As I go along I hope to have some people send in some cool jerseys for me to blog, but more importantly feed me the bad ones. Since this is a new feature on the website it’ll obviously take some time to gain any steam at all so in the meantime I’ll do a quick run through on my some beauties that I’ve acquired. But in the future, if you want to put your buddy on blast for an old Aki Berg jersey but are too polite, send them my way.

Now to give a taste of the highs and lows of my jersey collection:

The Good

The 2014 Sochi Olympic Martin St. Louis jersey is easily the best jersey that I own. These jerseys were kind of divisive compared to most of the other jerseys that Canada has rolled out. This was the first year of the modern Nike necklines and the jersey definitely fits like a lighter athletic material than the typical hockey jersey. I personally thinks it’s awesome because of the seeming throwback design to it and cool little details like the 12 golden maple leafs on the front representing (at the time) Canada’s 12 combined gold medals in men’s, women’s and sledge hockey.

On a personal level this jersey is awesome because, when I was growing up, Matrin St. Louis was one of mine and my grandpa’s favourite players. If you were a fast, skilled player and/or a good old Canadian boy my grandpa seemed to be a huge fan. Martan St. Louis (old grandpa Waind pronounced Martin like some sort of Quebecois but then butchered the  last name and pronounced it like the city of St. Louis) seemed to be at the intersection of a Venn diagram that had the Sedin twins on the one side and the Sudbury born Staal brothers on the other.

Anyways, the summer before the 2014 Olympics my grandpa passed away and when Marty finally cracked team Canada I knew I had to scoop up this jersey. It was just an awesome scene waking up early to watch my guy win the gold and get thrown on his shoulders by back-up goalie Mike Smith. Simply the best.

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The Bad

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Well that’s not bad at all…

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Yikes.

The kicker here is I got brainwashed by the Cliff Fletcher propaganda when he and the Toronto media labeled Luke Schenn the future captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs. You would have thought that I would’ve seen the writing on the walls after the poor play and Dion Phaneuf trade. But I still thought that the hulking Saskatchewan native would eventually turn it on and become the Adam Foote calibre shutdown guy we were promised. The Schenn-for-JVR trade that happened right after I got this jersey sucked because, as a hockey move, I knew it was a home run from the moment it was announced. As a consumer of mediocre hockey jerseys it made me nauseous.

I actually rocked this jersey last night at the sports bar for the Leafs opening night dub over the Habs (not a biiiiig deeeeeal). As a jersey, the 2010’s Maple Leafs Reebok third is one of my favourites. And since it has Luke Schenn on the back I don’t mind wearing it out and risking some beer spillage. It also separates me from some of the fair weather fans rocking the Tavares jerseys who would have no idea who Mikael Tellqvist or JS Aubin are.

The Ugly

Why would I buy this?

In my defense Rasmus hits big daddy dongs.

Like the Blue Jays front office, I was tricked by the sweet swing and luscious mullet. He had the speed, power and tools of  a hall of famer but just didn’t know what to do with them. In 2007 Baseball Prospectus had him ranked as the 8th best prospect in baseball wedged between Cy Young pitcher Rick Procello at #7 and Buster Posey–easily the best catcher of this decade–at #9.

I just remember at the time I got this jersey, the Jays were in flux. Bautista and Encarnacion were just starting to breakout, the bullpen was headlined by Casey Janssen and the fans were being sold on the youth of Rasmus, Brett Lawrie, JP Arencibia and Travis Snider. For me it was a coin flip decision between Rasmus or a Ricky Romero.

I sometimes wear this jersey to the bar because–like the Luke Schenn–I don’t care if I spill a drink on it. I still get the odd guy yelling “Who the fuck buys a Colby Rasmus jersey?” at me. Who the fuck indeed.

Jerseys around the internet

I don’t have a tonne to take on this week. I plan to get out a blog within the week power ranking the new NHL third jerseys. Speaking of the third jerseys how those Coyotes throwbacks?

If you look closely the Coyotes actually cheaped-out on giving Biz Nasty an authentic Adidas sweater and hooked him up with a replica jersey. He’s a team employee on the media side and one of the most beloved the players in franchise history but they couldn’t shell out that extra $100 bill? I was going to make a joke about the NHL having the team on a strict budget…but apparently they actually have an owner now? Andrew Barroway? I couldn’t care less about this team.

If you want to show off a sweet jersey (like one time in class I saw a guy with a Florida Gulf Coast Chris Sale jersey), or want to put a buddy with a jersey-buying problem on blast, be sure to send your submissions to me over Twitter @twaind4 

 

 

Where do the Red Sox stack up against recent 100 win teams?

Last night the Boston Red Sox won their 100th game of the season. This is Boston’s fourth 100 win season in franchise history. The next best team in the MLB this year is the Astros with 92 wins (who also will likely eclipse 100 wins). Boston is tearing up the league and they still have 16 games to play. We are witnessing one of the best regular seasons of all time. That’s why I’ve decided to take a look at where the Sox place in among the last ten teams to win 100 games in the regular season.

10. 2008 Los Angeles Angels (100-62)

This team benefited immensely from playing the bulk of their schedule against a weak AL West division where the 79-83 Texas Rangers were the next best team. Of the last ten 100 game winning squads, the 2008 Angels had the worst run differential of +68 and only made it to the AL Divisional series in the 2008 playoffs. Read more

Ujiri swings for the fences in Kawhi for Derozan swap

 

It’s been quite some time when the Toronto Raptors were the talk of an NBA offseason. This has been an absolute whirlwind so I’m just going to try and unpack my thoughts on here and see how I feel about the trade.

Why trade for 1 year of Kawhi Leonard?

The last NBA team to win the championship without having a top 10 player on their roster was the 2004 Detroit Pistons. The Pistons were not only an anomaly for that little piece of trivia, but they are one of the few modern NBA champions to build a starting unit consisting of five All-Star calibre players (Tayshaun Prince is the only one of the five to not make an All-Star team but his four all defensive second-team nods should give him a pass). You know… until this year’s Warriors…

When talking of Raptors championship aspirations these Pistons teams were kind of held up as a blueprint for how they could eventually topple the Warriors in the Finals (I think?). Well as constructed yesterday, the Raptors had two All-Stars in Lowry and Derozan, the ghost of Serge Ibaka, dinosaur center Jonas Valancunias and budding 3-and-D weapon OG Anonoby. While they supported that starting 5 with a very young and productive bench, this team clearly had a ceiling. A ceiling which was well below NBA champions and if that isn’t the end-goal then what the hell are we doing.

At his best Kawhi is a top-five player in the league that can dominate on both sides of the court. In my mind nobody in the league is as great of an option as the number 1 one shutdown defender on one side of the court while being a reliable scoring option on the other side of the court. Pairing Kawhi with Lowry and whichever young players remain when the dust settles raises the team’s ceiling immensely. The Raptors had one of the best benches in the NBA last year but if you can flip some depth for a legitimate star then you have to do it.

That being said trading for Kawhi Leonard is clearly a risk.

Kawhi has his warts

Now he could bounce for Los Angeles or New York in a year. Kawhi could be a diva from day one and refuse to listen to the Raptors brass. Some are suggesting that he might not be the same player as he was pre-injury. The doubters have a point in saying that the asking price is very hefty considering all of these red flags. But at a certain point you have to stop treading water and start to swim. Let’s just hope this trade doesn’t sink the Raptors.

 

It’s well worth the risk

At the end of the day I’m all in on this trade. Sometimes you have to give up Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez to get Roberto Alomar. Without Lebron in the East it looked to be an arms race versus the up-and-coming Sixers and Celtics. But now the forever comfortable regular season Raptors of old have a legitimate claim at the NBA Finals.

While Kawhi might be a tough re-sign, keep in mind that a year ago people were already fitting Paul George for his Lakers jersey and when all was said and done George re-upped with the Thunder. Toronto is a hell of alot better of a city than Oklahoma.

Next year there’s no question that the Raptors will be better than last year. Kawhi for Demar is a huge upgrade and that’s not even a slight on DeRozan. Peak Kawhi is just that good. What is kind of lost in the trade is the fact that the Raps also picked up Danny Green who has shot a lifetime .395 from 3 and has suited up for 100 playoff games with the Spurs. With the additions of Green and Kawhi and the subtraction of Poeltl, the Raptors have an unbelievably versatile group who could see a bunch of their athletic wingers and forwards slide across three positions. This is a fun looking team who should now be the favourites in the East.

And if all else fails this move helps to kick start a rebuild that some people were calling for a year ago. If Kawhi walks then Toronto could finally just blow the entire thing up to get a shot at drafting lottery calibre players. I can’t stress enough that you can’t win without a superstar and this move more than anything else shows that the Raptors are going to make it happen whether it is now or down the road. A core of Lowry and DeRozan could clearly only take you so far.

Demar Derozan: The Quintessential Toronto Raptor

Now what shouldn’t be lost in this is that Demar Derozan has been a star both on and off the court for the city of Toronto. While at their peaks you can argue that Carter and Bosh were more effective players, Demar has worked his ass off since day one to be–in my mind–the face of this Raptors franchise.

Vince and Bosh each forced their way out of Toronto in situations that just were not handled well, but as time has worn on the nostalgia goggles have made the duo out to be champions for the city of Toronto.

When Derozan’s free agency hit in the summer of 2016, many thought he would bolt to his hometown LA Lakers. But he had built a home here in Canada and felt that the Raptors had some unfinished business (the money also didn’t hurt).

When all is said and done Derozan is Toronto’s franchise leader in games played, minutes played and points while making four all-star game appearances and two all-league teams. In my mind he is the best the franchise has had and it’ll be tough to see him go.

Bonus: THE BOYS ARE BACK

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Just watch. Pop is going to have this Gay-Derozan tandem popping like nobody ever knew was possible. Giddy up

 

For Leafs fans: A look at the last ten 25th Overall picks

This is Kyle Dubas’ first draft at the helm of the Toronto Maple Leafs warship. Toronto has the 25th overall pick, and as the following list will show you, this range of the draft is incredibly hit or miss. If the Leafs are going to make the jump from first round playoff fodder to full-blown contender, they will have to hit on these picks in order to give their core of Matthews, Marner and Nylander a solid and affordable supporting cast.

2017 Ryan Poehling, Montreal

Poehling was the youngest player in the NCAA when the Habs took him in last year’s draft. It seemed like a weird pick at the time, but the center from St. Cloud State had an excellent 2017-18 that saw him score 31 points in 36 college games as well as center the US’s top line at the World Juniors. April’s Hockey News “Future Watch” has him ranked as  the 37th best prospect in hockey and Montreal’s top prospect.  Read more

Breaking down the 2018 Hart Trophy Finalists

Tonight is the NHL Awards ceremony in Las Vegas and, while I’m sure people are itching for some Lady Byng talk, the Hart Trophy for the league’s MVP usually garners the most interest. This year you will be shocked to not see a Crosby, Malkin or McDavid (actually I’m really surprised to not see a McDavid) on the finalist list for the award. All three of the 2018 candidates have never been a finalist for the award before and all three have an equally legitimate claim to win the thing. In what should be the most open race for the MVP in years, here’s the case for Taylor Hall, Anze Kopitar and Nathan MacKinnon to each win the Hart.

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