views from canada’s left coast

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Jays should give up and unload some veterans

The baseball non-waiver trade deadline is this Thursday, July 31st at 1pm pacific time. The Blue Jays going into tonight are one game above .500, 8.5 games back in the AL East and 7.5 games back in the wild card race. I think that the Jays are done for the year and should try to move some underperforming veterans for some young talent that might help them next year, or the year after.

All the trade talk surrounding the Blue Jays is about A.J. Burnett. In tonight’s game Burnett went 7 strong innings, giving up one run and striking out 10. Burnett has either been unhittable this season, or downright awful. At approximately $12 million per season Burnett is not too expensive for a number two pitcher, but he so far has never had an entire season where he performed up to expectations, though this season he is certainly coming close. I would still trade Burnett though if the offer was right. The Jays could use one or two younger arms in return, or a good shortstop or second base prospect. Aaron Hill is only very slowly recovering from post-concussion syndrome, he is lost for this season, and possibly for even longer, you just never know with concussions.

One name that never comes up, but could benefit a contending team is Scott Rolen. The Minnesota Twins are reportedly looking for a third baseman with Adrian Belte of the Mariners being the name that comes up most often. Both Beltre and Rolen are under contract for next year for similar money. Beltre is hitting a little better than Rolen this season, but Rolen arguably offers better defense. The Blue Jays might also be willing to part with Rolen for a lesser package than it would take to get Beltre. Marco Scutaro could take over at third base with Eckstein and John MacDonald getting more playing time at shortstop. I feel that Rolen has been a big bust this season and is not a very good long term option for the Jays at third base. If they could get back maybe on top notch prospect and a couple of lesser prospects then I would move Rolen in an instant.

Several lesser names on the Jays roster may get moved before the deadline. Eckstein’s name has come up often, though as a rental player with little upside he would not yield much in return. Even a lower level propsect would be a good enough return in my view though. Eckstein is not playing much in Toronto, he is a class act and deserves the chance to play more regularly somewhere else.

There has been some talk of Rod Barajas going to the Florida Marlins who are in desperate need of a catching upgrade. If I were the Jays I would want to hold onto Barajas and focus on signing him to an extension. The Jays have several catching prospects in their system with Robinson Diaz or J.P. Arrencibia expected to be the catcher of the future. Neither Diaz or Arrencibia seems ready for prime time next year though, so Barajas would be usefuly as a starter for next season and then in a platoon roll as one of the young catchers develops into starter status. It would be great if the Jays could move Greg Zaun, he is not getting much playing time with the Jays and like Eckstein he has always been a class act and deserves more playing time somewhere else. The problem with Zaun is that he is on the downside of a mediocre career and would probably not be considered an upgrade by many major league teams.

If the Jays truly want to unload and rebuild their farm system they could move some of the arms out of their bullpen. Brian Tallet was an option until today when he went on the 15 day disabled list. Scott Carlson would probably draw some attention as a very low cost lefty specialist. Jason Frasor has been decent this season and could be of help to many contenders. I would think that Scott Downs is untouchable, and B.J. Ryan is unlikely to move, largely because he still has two years left on his contract at very big money and the Jays do not have anyone else to take his place as closer. I would not worry about moving too many arms out of the Jays bullpen. Jeremy Accardo should be back before the end of this season, and Casey Janssen will hopefully be ready for the beginning of the 2009 season. Brandon League and Brian Wolfe have been decent this season. The Jays have a very deep, very cheap bullpen, even with the long-term injuries they have had this season.

I do not expect any big moves from the Blue Jays. I think that J.P. Ricciardi cannot give up on this season and have any hope of keeping his job. I also do not think that Ted Rogers would want Ricciardi dismantling the team and starting anew if he is only going to fire Ricciardi in the off-season. I think that Eckstein might go, and maybe someone from the bullpen, but that big names like Burnett and Rolen will stay put. Hopefully, Ricciardi will be gone early in the off-season and a new general manager will make a few moves to improve the underperforming, highly frustrating Blue Jays.

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July 28, 2008 Posted by | Sports | , , , , | Leave a comment

HSBC Celebration of Assholes

I just got back from the fireworks, they are still going on, I lasted about 15 minutes before I got too angry with the countless people with no regard whatsoever for the people around them. I was standing close to a group of teenage boys who were more concerned with their cell phones and smoking than they were with the fireworks.  They also seemed compelled to yell the word “fuck” quite a lot. Also earlier in the show there was another group of young people (probably in their late teens) who were not watching the show at all really but rather were listening to music on a boom box and dancing. It shocks me just how stupid and rude people can be.

I was standing there, watching the fireworks, getting increasingly annoyed and wondering how aggressive I could be in confronting any number of these idiots without getting myself into trouble. The sad reality is that it is nearly impossible to confront someone and backup your words with actions without getting into some sort of criminal trouble. I think that you should be excused from prosecution when you smack someone who you first asked very nicely to cease being a disruptive asshole, but this is not the way that our criminal justice system operates. If you hit someone who is being an obnoxious asshole you are still held to account.

Even further compounding my frustration was the large number of police standing about and doing nothing at all to encourage people in the crowd to be respectful of those around them. The police just all stand together at intersections, seemingly chatting amongst themselves, doing nothing to help with crowd control. I am just glad that I was down at the fireworks by myself, and not with family, it would be truly embarrassing to have children exposed to the kind of language and rude behaviour that is everywhere at the fireworks.

Just a little note, I was at the fireworks alone because I live about 2 minutes walk from English Bay. I have little to no interest in the fireworks but will usually walk down the street at about 9:50 PM to catch the show, there is really nothing else to do when the fireworks are on as they create so much noise.

It would be nice if the police would do more to control the crowd. Decent folks are subjected to a barrage of rude and disruptive behaviour and are unable to do anything about it. I understand fully that it would create chaos if people stood up for themselves and confronted all these assholes, perhaps even smacking a few of them around, but it would sure feel good to do it. Instead, I sit here, still angry, but not confronting anyone, instead I rant hopelessly to no one. Yay fireworks.

July 23, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

time to vote strategically

Today I was stopped outside the Safeway on Davie St. by an Adrianne Carr volunteer. Ms. Carr was standing close by, but her volunteer did a good job of defending the party and promoting Ms. Carr without having to rely on Carr herself to keep my attention. It is heartening to see Carr out with her volunteers chatting up citizens of the West End. Vancouver Centre is much larger than just the West End, but it is in this neighbourhood (my neighbourhood) that the Green Party needs to pick up most of its votes. The West End is generally the most progressive part of the riding.

While I am excited that Adrianne Carr is running for the Greens, and that Michael Byers will almost certainly be the NDP nominee, I am saddened that in the next election the only sane choice, in my view, for progressive voters is to swallow hard and vote for Hedy Fry and the Liberals. I have lived in the Vancouver Centre riding for 6 years, voted here twice, both times for the NDP, but next time around I cannot see how a vote for anyone but Hedy Fry makes much sense. Federally the Liberals and the Conservatives remain very close in the polls, the campaign will matter a great deal and either party could win. The Liberals need to win as many seats as possible, and losing Vancouver Centre would be a big blow to them. In both 2004 and 200y6 the Liberals were led by Paul Martin, who is in my view too conservative. Now with Stephane Dion at the helm, and a real chance of forming the next government, it is important for progressive minded Canadians to do what they can to make sure that Dion’s Liberals, and not Harper’s Conservatives, form the next government.

I am generally a proponent of voting for the candidate and or the party that you most want to vote for, and not voting strategically. I think that our electoral system is not democratic enough. If you vote for anyone but the winner you effectively get no representation. I have in the past chosen to vote for who I wanted and blame the electoral system for failing to properly represent my vote. In the past this has meant voting for the NDP even when I was certain that they had no chance of winning in my riding. Now however I will likely vote strategically and vote for a candidate that I would rather not support. It is important to end the reign of Stephen Harper. Issues like immigration reform, and potential censorship of Canadian film and television through discretionary tax credits are just two examples of underhanded and devious moves by the Conservatives to move Canada towards the right. Harper simply cannot be trusted and must go at the soonest possible opportunity. The only other party that has a chance at forming a government is the Liberals.

My mind is still open to being changed. I would like to be able to vote for Adrianne Carr or Michael Byers if their main opponent were a Conservative. I do not like Hedy Fry much and would rather not vote for her, but every Liberal MP will be of the utmost important in the next government. I will do what it takes to help put Canada back on the path of social justice and environmental leadership. Ms. Carr or Mr. Byers could change my mind, and I am sure that they could change the minds of many voters in Vancouver Centre, but it is going to be a tough sell.

July 22, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , | 6 Comments

Jason Krog? What the heck?

It seems as if Mike Gillis is now signing players in the hopes that someone will work out as a legitimate offenseive threat for an offensively challenged Canucks squad. Krog put up some great numbers in the AHL last year, but he has never managed to do much at the NHL level. Based on his 07/08 stats, Krog appears to be a setup man (39g, 73a, 112p), which is not what the Canucks really need, they need someone who can put the puck in the net. Krog is also small at 5’11” and 185 lbs. Maybe he will be able to be a productive member of the team, but he seems like another small centre with limited upside when the Canucks need a big, strong centre who will drive to the net.

At centre the Canucks now have Henrik Sedin, Kyle Wellwood (who could play wing), Pavol Demitra (he also plays wing), Ryan Kesler, and Ryan Johsnon, not exactly going to strike fear in the hearts of opposing defenders and goalies.

July 14, 2008 Posted by | Sports | , | Leave a comment

Hopefully Layton has a look at Laxer’s piece

I just read this piece by James Laxer from This Magazine. I found the article very interesting, and it expressed many ideas that I myself have been thinking about but not fully able to express or understand. I have generally been a supporter of the NDP, though I have not been active in the party. In 2006 I was torn about who to vote for. In Vancouver Centre, where I live, Hedy Fry and the Liberals have been in office since 1993, but lately their main electoral opposition has been from the NDP. I considered voting Liberal because I thought it was important to have as many Liberal MPs as possible given the strong chance that the Conservatives would win the election. Ultimately, however, I decided to vote for the NDP (I was more reluctant to do so in 2006 than I ordinarily would have been because Svend Robinson was the local candidate). I voted NDP because they were the party that cared most about the issue that I cared most about, electoral reform.

The NDP officially supports changing the way that Canadians elect the federal government. I feel that the first past the post system of electing MPs is not a very democratic way to select a government. I voted NDP, which ultimately meant little because they were easily defeated by the Liberals in my riding. I voted NDP because they support the policy that I most cared about. Having increased their seat total significantly, which presumably would increase their influence, the NDP went on to do absolutely nothing about electoral reform. I will not park my vote with the NDP again simply because they pay lip service to electoral reform. I am even beginning to wonder if the only way to actually bring about change is to buck up and join either the Liberals or the Conservatives. The NDP seems willing to talk up all sorts of ideas that will grab the attention of some voters, but when it comes time to really discuss those ideas in the House of Commons the NDP is not willing to rock any boats. Electoral reform probably does not register with very many Canadian voters, but then again Canadians are increasingly tuning out politics in general.

Like Laxer’s view, I think that the NDP needs to be more about ideas and less about winning as many votes as possible.  Electoral reform is an idea, that if properly implemented would lead to much greater influence for the NDP and other smallish parties in Canada. The NDP can, and should be a party about ideas. As long as you can get your ideas put into action, who really cares which party actually implements the policy. The NDP has never come remotely close to forming a federal government in Canada, and I am not sure why Jack Layton thinks that they can given 75 years of failure. What the NDP has done in the past, and continue to do, is put forward good ideas, and good policy that will inevitably get taken up by other political parties hoping to steal some NDP thunder. Get the ideas out there, get the ideas implemented, and who cares whether or not it means you win a few more percentage points, or a few more seats in the House.

July 8, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , | 1 Comment

Morrison’s exit a good thing

The Canucks have now officially lost the old core of their team with Brendan Morrison signing with the Anaheim Ducks. I think that the Ducks gave Morrison too much money, and I am not convinced that he is still capable of playing at the level of a second line centre. I am not convinced that he was ever really that good, or if he just benefited from playing with Naslund and Bertuzzi in their primes. I am not overly thrilled that the Canucks have lost Naslund and Morrison and replaced them with Kyle Wellwood and Steve Bernier, but mabey there is a silver lining is this giant shit cloud.

Even when the Canucks were one of the league’s top teams they never managed to go anywhere in the playoffs. We now basically have a new team, almost everyone on the team now was not around back when the Canucks were tearing up the league. There is a new core to the team, and hopefully a new direction. The Canucks have not gone with a youth movement since, well since as long as I can remember, which goes back about 15 years. Upfront the Canucks will have the Sedins, Bernier, Wellwood, Pyatt, Raymond, Kessler, Burrows, Johnson, Hordichuck, Cowan, Pettinger, and maybe Grabner and Shannon.

The Sedins really are first line type players. They end up in the top 30 in scoring every year, and whoever ends up playing with them will be able to put up 20-35 goals. Kessler and Burrows make up two thirds of a great third line that can shut down other top lines and still score a few goals. Maybe Pyatt fits in on the third line, maybe Pettinger. The fourth line should be Johnson, Hordichuk, and Cowan, which makes for a very scrappy, yet disciplined fourth line. The problem spot is on the second line. A potential second line is Wellwood, Raymond, and Grabner, which could be very explosive. Grabner had a decent season last year with the Moose (22g, 22a). Raymond showed that he was ready to bust out at the NHL level. Wellwood has something to prove to himself and the rest of the league, so you would think that he would be playing with everything he’s got.

I am trying to find some positive way to spin Mike Gillis’ lack of action this off season. The Canucks still have a very strong defence, and one of the best goalies in the league. The Sedins are still very good players, and Bernier could be a great fit with them. Kessler and Burrows make up one of the better third lines in the league. The second line is a work in progress, but it is not like the Canucks had any secondary scoring to work with last year either.

July 8, 2008 Posted by | Sports | , | Leave a comment

make that “Indecisive, Stupid Mike” instead of “Mad Mike”

Now that Markus Naslund has signed with the New York Rangers (2 years, $8 million dollars) the Vancouver Canucks are left with essentially no options but to improve their offense via a trade. Even if Mats Sundin decides to accept Vancouver’s ludicrous offer he will not turn the team around on his own. Sundin will need someone to play alongside him, and Vancouver currently has no one that can do that. Mason Raymond should continue to develop but I would not want to count on him to be a top six forward just yet.  Michael Grabber might also be able to crack the lineup this year, but definitely not as one of the Canucks top scoring players. Naslund would have fit nicely with Sundin, but Naslund wisely moved on to greener pastures.

The Canucks waited too long in pursuing players other than Sundin. I am not sure if they really had much of a chance with most players out there, but guys like Miroslav Satan, Ruslan Fedotenko, Michael Ryder, Brian Rolston, and Kristian Huselius all would have added some offence without breaking the bank. I do not think that anyone in this free agent crop is really all that great, but Vancouver needs some help, and so far all Gillis has done is retool his fourth line.  I think that Hordichuk is a good pickup, his muscle will be helpful, but we will not need any tough guys to protect a team that is made up entirely of third and fourth line grinders.

I think that the Canucks do have enough defensive depth that they can make a significant trade. Ohlund, Salo, and Mitchell would all likely yield something in return, and they could even package one of them with Bieksa or Edler if they were after some real offensive help. They would then have to sign someone else to play defense, but they could go with pretty much anyone (Mike Weaver, Aaron Miller, or someone of their ilk).

The worst possible thing that could happen now is that Sundin takes the Canucks offer and we struggle through another season and miss the playoffs.  Sundin is not the answer on his own. He is a point per game player, and is more of a setup guy than a goal scorer.  The Canucks have no finishers, at all. They need two or three offensive players to step in, not just Mats Sundin. Maybe Gillis has a plan after all. It could be that the offer to Sundin was just to make it seem like Vancouver was trying to improve the team. Maybe Gillis intends to give some young guys a chance to prove themselves this year, and then spend big next year when hopefully there is more available on the free agent market.

If the Canucks want to win a Stanley Cup the time is now.  Roberto Luongo is one of the best goalies in the league, if not the best. He has two years left on his contract, and if Vancouver has not won a cup by then, or at least been deep in the playoffs, I cannot see Luongo resigning with Vancouver. Right now Vancouver is wasting the talent of their best player, and maybe the best player that they have ever had.

July 3, 2008 Posted by | Sports | , , , | Leave a comment

game on in Vancouver Centre

Michael Byers, a professor of political science (they say international law in most places but according to his UBC bio he is teaching law related political science classes, not classes in the faculty of law) is running for the NDP nomination in Vancouver Centre. I wrote previously that the NDP and the Conservatives should both try to find strong candidates for Vancouver Centre as it could be a three or four way race. Michael Byers must have been thinking the same thing.

I read about Byers intentions on Paul Wells’ blog, which is probably a bad sign for Byers. I must admit that I had never heard of Byers before reading about him today, and Wells does not have much good to say about the man. Regardless though, Wells seems to think that Byers will garner some attention in Vancouver Centre, and he is probably right.

One thing that concerns me as the battle takes shape in Vancouver Centre, is that there is no queer candidate  yet in the race.  That could change if Lorne Mayencourt decides to run for the Conservatives, but that is not seeming very likely as time passes by. I should not assume that Michael Byers is in fact heterosexual, I do not know anything about the man, but if he is queer he should make it known quickly if he wants to attract queer voters.

I have been living in the Vancouver Centre riding for about six years now, spanning two elections.  In 2004 and 2006 I voted NDP (in 2004 because I liked Kennedy Stewart, and in 2006 very reluctantly because I could hardly stand Svend Robinson). This time around I am not likely to vote for the NDP. If the race is close, as I expect it will be, then I will likely vote Liberal, not because I like Hedy Fry, but because Canada needs someone other than Stephen Harper leading the country. Every Liberal victory will be very important in the next election.

I am also less inclined to vote NDP now then I was in the past. I am disappointed that the NDP will not support any part of Dion’s Green Shift. I am particularly upset with the BC NDP for opposing BC’s carbon tax. I also support Canada’s mission in Afghanistan.  I do not think that Canada should make an indefinite troop commitment to the mission, but I do think that we are playing an important role there and we cannot just up and leave when there is still so much work to do there.

Regardless, I am excited that there are now at least 3 strong candidates in Vancouver Centre.  Hedy Fry has been around for too long, but that highlights just how strong her base support is in the riding.  She has also always been a tireless crusader for queer causes even when it was not widely popular to do so. Adrianne Carr running for the Green Party brings a fairly high profile as former leader of the BC Green Party, and as deputy leader of the federal Greens.  Michael Byers seems to have the intellectual make up to make a significant contribution to the political debate in Vancouver Centre, and the country as a whole. The Conservatives should put the hard sell on Lorne Mayencourt to run for them. It is possible that the race could be a close four way battle, but even if it is not, a candidate like Mayencourt might take a slice of Hedy Fry’s vote and enable Byers or Carr to win the seat.

July 3, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mike Gillis is the new “Mad Mike”

I was very excited to wake up today, not just because it is Canada Day, but also because it is free agent day in the NHL. I had to make sure that I was actually awake when I saw that the Vancouver Canucks under new GM Mike Gillis have apparently offered Mats Sundin a 2-year deal worth $20 million dollars. I am not sure exactly how bonuses factor into the salary cap, but I do know that they definitely count against the cap, just maybe not all at once.  Regardless, the Canucks have about $20 million in cap space, and they are trying to blow half of that on Mats Sundin.

Sundin is a good player, no longer great, but still very good. Look at his numbers lately though, he has about the same production as Daniel Sedin. If the Canucks are able to get David Backes on the offer sheet they signed him to, and Sundin signs with them, they would have about $7.5 million left to spend.  The Canucks need more than just Mats Sundin and David Backes to turn this team into a real contender.

I think extending the offer sheet to David Backes was a smart move on Gillis’ part.  The Mats Sundin offer is completely crazy though.  Sundin is a point per game player who is a better setup guy than a goal scorer. The Canucks do not really have anyone to play with Sundin unless they think that Kyle Wellwood will have a complete turn around this season.

I hope that Sundin rejects the Canucks offer (I think that Sundin would much rather stay on the East Coast). What the offer to Sundin could do is show other free agents that the Canucks are very serious about bringing in some new people. Maybe more people will listen to the Canucks after seeing the big offer that they made to Sundin.  If Sundin does accept the Canucks offer then forget about contending seriously for the next two years.  There are too many holes on the team this year, and the Sedins are only under contract for one more season.  The Sundin money is the money that would be needed to resign the Sedins.  Maybe Gillis is planning on making some trades if Sundin signs with the Canucks. We can only hope that Mike Gillis has a detailed plan for the team, because if he does not, Vancouver Canucks fans could be in a for a rocky couple of years.

July 1, 2008 Posted by | Sports | , , , | Leave a comment

luckier than most

I sit here writing this post while watching The Sopranos.  I am on season 6, part 1, episode 6, the one where Vito Spatafore is found out to be gay.  It has made me think about what it was like, and is like for me being a gay male.

I am from Kelowna, BC, born and raised, left when I was 20 years old.  I came out to my parents when I was 17. Coming out was both good and bad.  My Mom and my Sister were both very good about it.  They both loved me unconditionally, they thought it meant little to nothing that I was gay.  My Father on the other hand left a great deal to be desired.  I had always gotten along well with my Dad. He is pretty easy going. He taught me about sports and I really took to it, we have always been able to talk because of our mutual love of sports.  When I came out to him he was very upset.  We yelled at each other a lot, said some nasty things to each other, we had never really fought before that.  It was a tough time for me, tough for the family, and my Mom in particular because she was battling breast cancer at the time.

Ultimately though, coming out has been a good experience for me.  My Dad and I fought, and did not really address my sexuality for years to come.  He has still not come around completely, he only grudgingly brings up my partner of 8 years (the same person I was with when I came out to my Dad). Why I right this is not to complain about my coming out, but to reflect on how relatively easy it is to come out in Canada compared to most of the world. My experience was mostly positive, I had my issues, but ultimately I still have a family that loves me, my partner, and my friends.  In most of the world coming out is still not an option.  You live with your sexuality as a secret in most of the world if you are queer.

Tony Soprano just said “Frankly, I think they go about in pity for themselves.” Referring of course to homosexuals.  As horrible as it might sound, I think that he is right in many ways. I got about in pity for myself all the time.  My family has been relatively supportive, but if I were straight things would be very different. I have to constantly let people know that I am gay, it is always assumed that you are straight. But really, I am lucky. I have a wonderful partner, I live in a great gay friendly neighbourhood in Vancouver, I have a strong education and I am set to have a strong career. I am in a sense lucky to be gay as well, without this trait I would be a middle class, white, male, conservative lawyer. Being gay makes me all of those things but conservative.  My sexuality, and my experience of coming out gives me perspective.

I am luckier that most people in this world, due largely to the fact that I was born in Canada. I am luckier than most gay people as well, both globally, and within Canada. Yet I do go around in pity for myself a lot of the time. There is a lot to be learned from Tony Soprano, I know that I have learned a lot. Gay people need to constantly remind themselves that a lot of the prejudice they face comes not from hatred, but from confusion or inexperience. My Dad was very angry when I came out, he said very hurtful things, but I was essentially the first gay person that he knew, he could just not process that his son was gay. I gave him some slack, and he has proven that with time, anyone can come to understand and accept.

Today is Canada Day. I am a proud Canadian, as proud as they get if you ask me. This country has allowed me to be completely open about my sexuality, to love my partner completely, fully, and openly, and at the same time achieve what anyone else in this society can achieve. I love this country, and it loves me, and for that I am truly blessed.

July 1, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment