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The Blue Jays today announced their 2003 minor-league coaching staffs. You'll find a mix of new and familiar names on these lists. I'll be interested to see what Malave and Landreaux can do with what should be a far more talented Syracuse squad next year; some good results might get them a little major-league managerial buzz. Doubtless all you Expos fans remember Randy St. Claire, the team's Canuck protege of the early '80s. I'm sure he's a much better coach than he was a pitcher. :-)

In the lower minors, Von Joshua was a well-known name before joining the organization last year. Former Jays pitching coach Rick Langford has gone all the way down to Dunedin, where he'll have custody of some of the organization's most valuable young arms. And does anyone know how ex-Toronto trainer Tommy Craig wound up down in Auburn?

This item also serves as a reminder that two of the Jays' minor-league teams switched affiliates. The former AA Knoxville Smokies have moved north to New Haven to become the Ravens, while the Medicine Hat Blue Jays made a similar trip south to become the Appalachian League's Pulaski Jays.
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_Kent - Wednesday, November 20 2002 @ 12:04 PM EST (#102171) #
The rise and fall of Tommy Craig and Rick Langford illustrates that it's not just players who get categorized as big-leaguers or minor-leaguers -- for every one in the Show, there are dozens of coaches, trainers, groundskeepers, mascots and front-office personnel who are "so near, yet so far away." At least Craig and Langford survived the axe, so they must be doing something right.

You expect ripples throughout an organization when there's change at the top, but the Jays have created waves, to the dismay of some formerly comfortable employees. It's impossible to measure the impact of the non-player moves, but you know the meticulous Ricciardi isn't rebuilding the organization randomly; he wants everyone, at every level, to embrace the new Toronto philosophy.

The Knoxville-to-New Haven move was the Smokies' idea; they jumped at the chance to affiliate with St. Louis, since west Tennessee is part of the enormous Cardinals market. Nothing wrong with having your AA team closer to both Syracuse and the parent club. My guess is that Pulaski makes economic sense because Medicine Hat is so far away, but J.P. and his brain trust also may have considered the relative calibre of play in the different Rookie leagues, and decided on that basis.

Either way, it's a shame Canadian affiliates are fading away (the AAA Calgary Cannons moved to New Mexico, and the Ottawa Lynx are endangered.) I hope Fergie Jenkins' new Canadian Baseball League is well received, but it's going to be a tough sell in most cities. How about them San Juan Expos?
_Jordan - Wednesday, November 20 2002 @ 06:45 PM EST (#102172) #
Regarding Ottawa, there's a quote from Randy St. Clair in today's Sun that reflects the problems facing the franchise. Basically, he said that he couldn't understand why a city of Ottawa's size couldn't draw more than 5,000 people to a game. "They're going to lose their team," he said, "just like Montreal's going to lose theirs." He's right, and that really bugs me.

I sometimes think I'm the only Canadian who can't stand hockey. I don't mind the game so much if it's played well: then, it's simply brilliant athleticism and entertainment. But the way it's played these days -- the hacking, the stickwork, the obstruction, the goon mentality, the general classlessness -- I'd sooner have tickets to the ballet than to any NHL, Junior A or other hockey game in this country. (I hate ballet, by the way.)

No, what really bugs me about the game is how it's been elevated to the level of cultural touchstone. We've told ourselves for years that hockey is what we're best at (even though it's not), we've convinced ourselves it's the bond that defines us as a nation (even though thousands of new immigrants every year would politely disagree), and we've allowed ourselves to be sold anything and everything, from advertised goods to small-minded and defensive provincialism, if it comes with a skate attached to it.

And what I really hate about the Canadian obsession with hockey it is that no other sport in Canada has a fighting chance. The CFL has been on life-support for years, and judging from the league's recent actions, it's brain-dead. Pull the plug already. Baseball is losing ground rapidly, and in five years' time the Jays may be the sole professional baseball club in the country. Basketball died in Vancouver, and if not for Vince Carter, it would have died in Toronto by now too. People criticize Montreal for not supporting any team but its hockey club, but the fact is, that's the whole damn country in a nutshell: obsessed with a game that's decaying before our eyes, falling into disrepute, being perfected by other nations, and passing us by. I wonder when, or if, we'll ever collectively wake up from this self-induced stupor.

Okay, I'm calm now. The medication is taking effect. Sorry about the rant....
Craig B - Wednesday, November 20 2002 @ 07:53 PM EST (#102173) #
The CFL has been on life-support for years

Living in Ontario, you might think so, but the CFL is in better shape than it's been in 15 years. Their next TV contract is going to be very good, their numbers are excellent.

We need more all-Canadian sports leagues. Canadian teams in U.S. leagues are at such a competitive disadvantage that it makes it difficult to survive much less compete.

That said, the Blue Jays will do fine.
_Jordan - Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 09:05 AM EST (#102174) #
We need more all-Canadian sports leagues.

It figures that the morning after I post my rant about non-hockey sports floundering in Canada, along comes this news about the Canadian Baseball League. If this league does well and the Lynx do eventually fold, I hope they try setting up shop here in the NCR. I would buy tickets to that.
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