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I told him the Jays were a desperate bunch, which is cheddar cheese to a puppy dog in
I told him the Jays were a desperate bunch, which is cheddar cheese to a puppy dog in devil-speak. Casey Cizikas Jersey . I gave him my hard sell. Cmon, buddy. Cmon, Sweet Lu. Our All Star-shortstop Jose Reyes, finally healthy, literally leads off the season by taking his first at bat, popping out, then proceeding to walk off the field and on to the disabled list. Maybe hes out for two weeks, maybe four months, maybe hes taking up painting. The team, left with a defence only Abbott and Costello could love, is even more desperate than when it was just known for jettisoning its best young talent for knuckleballers pushing 40 - he stopped me right there. He smiled deep and wide, his horns dewy with anticipation. He was ready to make a deal.Fine, I said. I will bypass my desires for fame or fortune or a game of wall ball with Lloyd Moseby and put my deal making skills to work for our boys in royal blue. So, fellow fan, you are welcome. Allow me to outline the exact details of how this season is going to go down (as hashed out between me and Mr. Three Prong, Son of Perdition).(Disclaimer: if you are planning to use this remarkably accurate information for gambling, I urge you to keep investing that extra money into lotto scratchers, lest we have a Back To The Future situation on our hands. APRIL (14-13 record, .519)The Jays whimper out of the gate, getting crushed on Opening Day, then lose 7 of 10, doing a bang-on impersonation of the mediocre team we thought they were. Thats when the cauldron bubbles and the thick smoke rolls in and the creepy carnival comes to town. What happens specifically? Maybe the entire Red Sox roster contracts syphilis. Maybe Derek Jeter becomes a clubhouse cancer in his final diva-tirade-filled season. Maybe Camden Yards becomes Marlo Stanfield turf. Maybe Tampa Bay management decides the empty cavern they play in would be better monetized by jai alai tournaments. Listen, I dont ask El Diablo how he gets stuff done, I just sit back and enjoy the results which Im assured come with no consequences. MAY (31-26, .544)Little known fact about devil-dealing: May is Buy One, Get One Free Month! Thats across the board, whether youre looking for life extension or to unravel the happiness of a sworn enemy. Why not do both?Truly, Beelzebub has little to do with the Blue Jay surge of May. The team plays a whopping 18 games at home, and with the city still suffering from an endless winter, the Rogers Centre roof is only opened once all month, a paralyzing condition visiting teams cannot physically handle (the technical term is "depression"). (Sidenote: I apologize for not asking The Crimson Sausage, Enemy Of Christ to improve the weather. The Cable Box on Blue Jay Way is the Bikram Yoga studio of stadiums.*) (*Bikram yoga is also known as hot yoga.**) (**Hot yoga is a thing you do when you are a 22-year-old girl or a thing you do when you are trying to impress a 22-year-old girl).JUNE (48-36, .571)Until mid-June, the league hadnt noticed the Jays ascension to the ranks of the privileged, largely because after twenty years spent ignoring someone, it is perfectly understandable that you might mistakenly walk past them in the hall and fail to notice the shotgun they are holding. But the Jays had now arrived, and their demands were going to be met, even if Barb in accounting didnt know their goddamn name. Josh Thole was gonna make sure you remember.We gotta give props to The Author Of All Sin, because he works the impossible this month. Jose Reyes is back in the lineup in time for his birthday (June 11) and his bobblehead day (June 8 for those fair weather fans planning to attend). To think, how many nasty critics said meaningful baseball would never be played in Toronto again in July?JULY (62-48, .564)With just a paltry nine home games on tap, our Blue Man Group must do their damage on the road, visiting Tampa Bay, New York and Boston. In a month-long celebration of Canada Day, our national baseball representatives do just that, proving Canadians to be fearless and capable. (Flipside: After witnessing the condition of our departing players hotel rooms, it is clear we Canucks may lack some respect for the environment. I believe the players call it, "doing it Harper-style").The All-Star break falls in July, an annual tradition typically partaken by Jose Bautista and a middle reliever nobody knew was on the team. 2014 proves to be no different despite being a dozen games over .500 at the break. Respect will have to be earned. FYI, did you wanna know who wins this years All-Star game, giving their respective League home field advantage in the World Series? Answer: NOBODY. Nobody [expletive] wins with a rule that stupid.AUGUST (79-57, .581)On August 11, Colby Rasmus turns 28. That same day, Melky Cabrera turns 30. The Prince Of Darkness promises me these achievements will be met and hes been totally standup so far.Playing every division rival at home this month, The Descendants of Alfredo Griffin enjoy their greatest month this century, forcing Vegas to recognize them as a team and set World Series odds. They are given 60-1 chances, though in metric it works out to a more sensible 18-1.(For those of you uncomfortable with how fashioned this season is by Oh Wicked One, Im not saying you have to worship the Father Of All Lies, Founder Of Murder. Im just saying, if youre a ball fan, you should probably send him a card. Maybe bath salts. Nothing fancy).SEPTEMBER (93-69, .574)A peculiar month of scheduling down the home stretch. Sensibly, the Jays visit every division rivals park. Oddly, they play the Chicago Cubs for an unknown reason my sources tell me may have involved money and bad judgement.2014 ends in a dog fight -- a climax of tension and emotion and games that are still a little too long -- all in the service of the Jays holding on for their first playoff appearance ever (in the lives of the children whose aging fathers drag them to the games). We did it! Were number 4 or 5!And there you have it: 93 wins. 1 wild card spot. 0 logical discrepancies. Is it getting hot in here?Gallays Poll #5Lets say we dont know what we know. With how many wins doth the Blue Jays finish?A) <70 -- I am familiar with the team. The win total will be commensurate with the talent level.B) 70-81 -- I dont pay much attention to the baseballs but have read a few headlines.C) 82-89 -- I rarely hear about the Jays anymore. Is Kelly Gruber still with the team?D) 90+ -- I dont understand how baseball works. Robin Lehner Jersey . Bradley is one of eight players selected to the team who also played in this years World Cup in Brazil. The MLS all-stars will compete against German giants Bayern Munich in Portland on Aug. Pat LaFontaine Jersey .C. -- Al Jefferson said he feels like hes playing the best basketball of his 10-year NBA career. . -- Two-time AL Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana agreed Tuesday to a minor league contract with the Baltimore Orioles as he tries to come back from the second major operation on his left shoulder.VANCOUVER -- Once the Chicago Blackhawks got rolling, there was little the Vancouver Canucks could do to stop a team determined to get back to its winning ways. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad each had a goal and an assist in the second period Wednesday as Chicagos quick-strike offence turned a 2-0 deficit into a 4-2 lead in a span of 7:41 to snap a four-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over Vancouver. "We kind of lost ourselves there a little bit in the second period. It turned into a little bit of a track meet," said Canucks assistant coach Mike Sullivan. "It wasnt from a lack of chances on our part. We had a 4-on-2 and 3-on-1 that we dont convert, then shortly thereafter one ends up in our net." Marian Hossa had the other goal for Chicago (33-10-13), while Saad added an empty netter late. Corey Crawford made 29 saves to get the win. "Theyre a good team. They havent won a couple of Stanley Cups for no reason," said Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, who finished with 36 saves. "Its disappointing being up 2-0 and losing the lead so quickly like that. "Weve got to play 60 minutes against teams like that. For the majority of the game I thought we played really well but we had a little bit of a lapse and its game over." The Blackhawks four goals in that 7:31 barrage -- which came on just five shots -- helped end Chicagos recent 0-2-2 run. "They had a few chances early in the game and they kept on pressing," said Luongo. "Once they got one I felt like it deflated our team and they kept scoring." With the victory, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville passed Dick Irvin to move into the sole possession of third place on the all-time NHL coaching wins list with 693 as Chicago improved to 10-1-3 in the second game of back to backs this season. "Im fortunate and happy with the places Ive been," said Quenneville. "Took a little while to get this last one, but certainly its been fun and well keep pushing forward." Chris Higgins and Tom Sestito had the goals for Vancouver (27-19-9), which dropped its second straight. The Canucks hold down the final wild card spot in the Western Conference, but the ninth-place Phoenix Coyotes are three points back with two games in hand. Vancouver is 2-3-0 in the absence of suspended head coach John Tortorella, who will sit out one more game after he tried to get into the Calgary Flames locker-room after that infamous line brawl on Jan. 18. The Canucks have been held to two goals or fewer in nine of their last 10 games and have just four wins in 15 outings. "We have to fight through this," said Canucks forward Daniel Sedin, whose goal-scoring drought is now at 14 games. "Weve got to believe in what we do out there and start making plays -- I think thats the main thing. When we have the puck I think were too passive. "I think when we have the puck we have to start believing in what were doing." Things were looking good for the home side early in the second period after Sestito doubled the Canucks 1-0 lead with his fifth of the season at 2:44. But the Blackhawks fifth-ranked power play finally made a breakthrough against the leagues No. 3 penalty kill when Hossa finished off a pretty tic-tac-toe passing sequence for his 23rd at 6:30. Chicago then tied things 3:39 later when Saad scored his 15th of the season on a nice deflection. A couple of Luongos Canadian Olympic teammates then conspired to give the Blackhawks a lead they wouldnt surrender. Toews scored his 18th at 10:47 before Sharp rounded out the blitz at 14:27 when he wired a shot farside for his 27th. "Thhey had a few chances early in the game and they kept on pressing," said Luongo. Mike Bossy Jersey. "Once they got one I felt like it deflated our team and they kept scoring." Vancouver had a chance to get back in the game later in the period, but the leagues 29th-ranked power play, which entered the night on a dismal 2-for-36 run, failed to generate anything. Needing a big third, the Canucks were unable to find a way past Crawford on another man advantage midway through the period as Toews sprawled on the goal-line to keep Higgins effort out. Saad then iced it with 38 seconds left into an empty net. "I think guys are discouraged," said Sullivan. "Weve hit a bump in the road here and weve got to try and dig ourselves out of it. For me, theres no sense putting your head down and shrugging your shoulders. This is an unforgiving league." The Blackhawks grabbed sole possession of first in the Central Division with the victory and sit second in the conference. "Things went smoothly for us the first part of the season and going through what were going through right now is when you find out about everyone," said Quenneville. "(I) still think that stretch hasnt been bad, but it feels so much better when you have that type of effort and get a result as well." With the Canucks set to begin a five-game road trip on Friday night that will take them into the Olympic break, players from both teams heading to the Games in Sochi, Russia, were honoured before the opening faceoff. Fans at Rogers Arena were just settling into their seats after the national anthems when Higgins opened the scoring just 16 seconds into the first. Canucks forward Ryan Kesler shovelled a puck towards the Chicago goal that Higgins sent through Crawfords five-hole for his 15th goal of the season and third in the four games. "Getting scored on the first shift is never a good feeling but we knew that wasnt going to be the difference," said Toews. "We had a great momentum swing in the second scoring four goals like that. It was huge for us." After taking that early punch, the Blackhawks carried the play for much of the rest of the period but couldnt find a way past Luongo or his posts. Blackhawks defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson saw his shot from the point deflect off a stick and hit the crossbar before Hossa also found iron moments later. "Im sure (the teams confidence) is not at an all-time high," said Sullivan. "The greatest thing about confidence is its fleeting. You can get it back just as quick as you lose it. It all starts with a good shift and it grows from there. Weve got to get that snowball going." NOTES: Canucks defenceman Christopher Tanev was added to Vancouvers sick bay prior to the game, missing his first game of the season with an upper-body injury. Also on the shelf at the moment is captain Henrik Sedin, who missed his fourth straight game, while fellow forward Mike Santorelli sat out his sixth straight contest. ... Before the game, a banner honouring both the mens and womens hockey gold medals at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver was unveiled in the rafters at Rogers Arena. Hall of Fame defenceman Scott Niedermayer -- who captained Canadas gold-winning mens team in 2010 -- and former womens national team member Tessa Bonhomme, who also won gold four years ago, performed the ceremonial faceoff before the game. ... The Canucks five-game road trip will take them to Winnipeg, Detroit, Boston, Montreal and Toronto. ... Vancouvers next home game is Feb. 26 against the St. Louis Blues. ... The Blackhawks continue their six-game pre-Olympic road trip on Saturday in San Jose. 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