Who needs Jerry Sullivan's annual baseball quiz, which is more damaging to your brain than your freshman year of college? If you can correctly answer the following three questions, you know more about the game than most Americans. It doesn't mean you have an edge over Canadians, however.
Who is the Blue Jays general manager?
How long has he been on the job?
How do you spell his last name?
Why, it's Alex Anthopoulos, of course. The Montreal-born whiz kid has gone largely unnoticed despite making several major deals over three years. At 35, he's one of the bright young executives in the game. In a matter of weeks, he turned the big leagues on its ear and turned the Blue Jays into favorites in the American League East.
His latest blockbuster came Monday, when he acquired NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey from the Mets in a seven-player swap. The knuckleballer arrived after Anthopoulos raided the Marlins for Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson. All four were parts of salary purges in exchange for prospects.
Clearly, the Blue Jays looked around the AL East, saw weakness and struck when they had the opportunity. Toronto hasn't been to the playoffs since winning the World Series in 1993. The Jays have finished higher than third only once in that span, taking second behind the Yankees in 2006. They were fourth last year with a 73-89 record.
“We know we haven't won anything yet, we haven't done anything yet,” Anthopoulos told the Globe and Mail before the Dickey trade was completed. “We've made some trades and I understand it's always exciting when trades are made. But I don't know that anything's ever been won in the winter.”
The Angels and Tigers should be near the top in the AL. The A's always find a way to compete with their miniscule payroll. Toronto will be the team to beat in its division and could challenge for another pennant if enough snaps into place. It starts with the best rotation in the AL.
In no specific order, it includes Dickey, Buehrle, Johnson, Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow. Their pitchers have combined for 14 Opening Days starts, none by Dickey. Their rotation alone could produce five 15-game winners this season.
Toronto also signed Melky Cabrera, who was leading the NL in hitting when he was suspended last season. They already had power in the lineup with DH Edwin Encarcion. The Jays have a good prospect in third baseman Brett Lawrie, who batted .278 and had 20 homers and 20 stolen bases in 168 games over two seasons with Toronto.
The Yanks, who showed their age in the postseason, are short on pitching, high on payroll and tired of luxury taxes. They've paid $224.2 million in payroll penalties over the past decade. Alex Rodriguez, a mess in the playoffs, is injured. With A-Rod weighing down the roster and payroll, they're left reaching for temporary fixes.
Their odds of taking another crack at a title just grew longer.
Tampa Bay lost B.J. Upton in free agency and traded inning-eating starter James Shields to the Royals for prospects. The Orioles reached the postseason for the first time since 1997, but questions about their rotation make them look like a one-year wonder. The Red Sox, a dysfunctional mess en route to last place, have done little to improve.
With a little creativity and enough aggression, Anthopoulos put his team back in contention. What a concept. For years, the Blue Jays have been out of sight, out of mind, out of whack. Now, they're back on the radar, and their young general manager is making a name for himself.
Knicks look mighty good
The Knicks have struggled without Carmelo Anthony, but they're for real. If they can stay healthy, they could have their best team since the Patrick Ewing Era.
Anthony already was making a case for most valuable player before he sprained his knee and ankle in a nasty spill against the Lakers. Anthony was something to watch against the Lakers. He had 22 points in the first quarter and 26 in the first half before leaving with 30. The Knicks, 18-24 before Mike D'Antoni was fired last season, finished with an 18-6 mark under Mike Woodson. Obviously, it wasn't a fluke. They had the same record under Woodson this season.
Houston's win Monday was the first loss for the Knicks this season in Madison Square Garden and marked only the second home loss under Woodson. If the Knicks win 54 games this season – well within reach – Woodson will slip into the top 10 for coaching wins (72) in team history.
Only five coaches have won 100 games for the Knicks: Red Holzman (613), Joe Lapchick (326), Jeff Van Gundy (248), Pat Riley (223) and Hubie Brown (142).
Bode Miller's wife is a good sport, but she's not letting him completely off the hook after he nailed her with an errant tee shot during a golf outing. Pro volleyball player Morgan Miller posted a picture of herself on Twitter showing a deep gash over her left eye, which was swollen shut.
“I'm not feeling so hot,” she said via Twitter
If you don't mind gore, the photo can be found at http://instagram.com/p/TKWS0bJFhX/. She followed up with more tweets, such as:
“”Still can't see out off [sic] my left eye but I am getting feeling back in my face.”
“Just got back from the doctors. Vision jumped from 20/400 to 20/40 in two days” #elated
Who paid the bill?
The University of Cincinnati barely had time to introduce Tommy Tuberville as its new football coach before going into damage control over his departure from Texas Tech.
Offensive lineman Devonte Danzy told Texas Tech-related website 247Sports.com that he was having dinner with Tuberville and his assistants on a recruiting trip when Tuberville inexplicably disappeared. He didn't say goodbye to his assistant coaches or thank the recruits for coming. He also didn't attend a tour the next day.
Danzy eventually realized why.
“The waitress brought our food out, and we thought [Tuberville] went to the bathroom, but he never came back to dinner,” he said. “The next thing I know, the next day, he made an announcement that he's going to Cincinnati. ... It was crazy how he just got up and left out of nowhere and left people in the dark and in the shadow.”
Cincinnati released a statement claiming Danzy didn't have his story straight.
“There was no contact between Coach Tuberville and Cincinnati prior to Saturday morning,” the statement said. “Coach said he was at dinner, talked with everyone, and went home.”
If the school's statement is accurate, Cincy first spoke with Tuberville on Saturday morning, he accepted the job almost immediately, made travel plans and was in town for a news conference later in the day.
Sure, it's possible. It's also possible he accepted the job at the restaurant, walked out the door and stiffed his guests.
The Cowboys are seeking the right balance that can satisfy late practice squad player Jerry Brown's mother and support defensive tackle Josh Brent without looking inconsiderate toward drunk driving.
Brent was on the sideline Sunday for part of the Cowboys' win over Pittsburgh but decided to leave upon realizing his presence made people uncomfortable. CBS commentator Boomer Esiason called Brent standing on the sideline “disgraceful.'' Brent was charged with intoxication manslaughter following a car accident that killed Brown.
“Football players are an example,'' Esiason said, “and Josh Brent is the worst of those examples.”
One person who wasn't offended was Brown's mother, Stacey Jackson. She still considers Brent a family friend and has asked the Cowboys to support him. Brent's teammates invited him to stand on the sideline without telling coach Jason Garrett or owner Jerry Jones.
“Nobody in this organization stands up here and says, 'We condone drunk driving.' That's not what we're saying,'' Garrett said. “We're supporting a member of our family who made a mistake he's going to have to live with for the rest of his life. We want to help him in any way that we can.”
11 – Losses in 14 games this season for the Lakers when Kobe Bryant scores 30 points or more.
1,037 – Yards rushing by Vikings running back Adrian Peterson over his past six games, leaving him 294 yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season record of 2,105.
942 – Yards per game passing by Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez over his past six contests, leaving him on the bench in favor of Greg McIlroy.
• Mike Eruzione is placing his game-worn jersey from the 1980 U.S. hockey team up for auction. Eruzione said he doesn't need the money; he wants to help his daughter and grandchild. The minimum bid is expected to be $1 million, but some believe it will fetch considerably more. He's selling other items but keeping his gold medal.
• The Eagles agreed to pay defensive tackle Mike Patterson his full $300,000 salary after initially placing him on the non-football injury list with pneumonia. It would have saved them $150,000, a pittance. The backlash was so severe after the move that they reworked his deal to pay him the rest. The price of poor taste would have been higher.
• Clarence-based New Buffalo Shirt Factory is selling T-shirts outlining its views concerning, and making a few bucks from, the NHL lockout. It reads “They Got The Gold Mine ... We Got The Shaft” along with the words “No Hockey League”.
Be sure to watch Bucky Gleason and Jerry Sullivan on the “Bucky & Sully” show at 10 a.m. Friday at buffalonews.com.