Mitch Marner is still elite, even if it doesn’t look that way

There has been a swell of vitriol growing around Mitchell Marner. Who could blame anyone for being frustrated that the team’s supposed best player is not living up to the expectations?
Especially when he basically set those expectations for himself with the very public contract negotiation where he was clearly demanding to be paid like a star — like his teammate, Auston Matthews, who is verifiably a star.
The problem with public negotiation is that it can be thrown back in your face when you’re not playing your best. The case that Marner and his agent, Darren Ferris, were making was so abundantly obvious that there wasn’t room for interpretation: they wanted what Matthews got.
While what’s past is in the past, and we have to remember that the player probably isn’t involved in everything the agent puts out there, Marner and the Leafs now have to live with the fact that he’s a $10M player, above the ranks of similar top tier wingers that signed around that time, like Sebastian Aho, Mikko Rantanen and Mark Stone.
Watching his uninspired play in the COVID lockdown series, where the Leafs technically didn’t make the playoffs, …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors: 3 biggest focus points for training camp

Toronto Raptors: 3 biggest focus points for training camp

Toronto Raptors training camp is right around the corner, meaning that Toronto’s goal to build for a stronger future can officially get kick-started. The 2021-22 season can go in one of several different directions, and getting off to a fast start is integral to this team succeeding in 2021. Toronto did manage to draft well, […]
Toronto Raptors: 3 biggest focus points for training camp – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

5 reasons the Toronto Raptors are must-watch TV this season

5 reasons the Toronto Raptors are must-watch TV this season

With the 2021-22 NBA Season right around the corner, the Toronto Raptors and their fanbase must be bursting with anticipation. Toronto did not make the playoffs in 2020-21, and they are not NBA title contenders this year, but that doesn’t mean that this season will be as cursed as last year’s Tampa exile. However, with […]
5 reasons the Toronto Raptors are must-watch TV this season – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Jason Mills / Raptors HQ

Is it time for the Maple Leafs to change their goal song?

Is it time for the Maple Leafs to change their goal song?

There’s been a lot of debate around the Maple Leafs’ goal song recently. Since the start of the 2018 season, Toronto has used ‘You Make My Dreams’ by Hall and Oates when the team scores. It’s a classic song that has been used in movies such as Step Brothers, and even Despicable Me 2.
Part of me agrees with the crowd who wants the song changed — it would be nice to hear something new. The other part of me disagrees and thinks with this being such a staple in hockey arenas, you can’t take it away.
It’s such an interesting debate because we have such a diverse fanbase, and everyone has their own opinions.
Some might want old-school rock, some might pick rap, and others may want to support the local musicians like Arkells, Shawn Mendes, Drake, or Justin Bieber. When picking a song for when the Leafs score, you cannot miss. It has to reach everyone in some sort of way or it just won’t work.
I thought Hall and Oates achieved that with this song, but after three years, people want something new.
Songs get old after a while and that’s okay. Again though, …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

José Berríos Finds Success with Mechanical Adjustment 

There is no way around it, José Berríos was in a slump. In three starts from August 12th to 24th, he had an 8.76 ERA in just 12.1 innings. He was only able to get through five innings once in that stretch, and that was the game in Washington where he removed himself due to fatigue. He couldn’t get through five against the Angels as they worked him for four walks and six runs. Then he only got through three against the White Sox as they got him for four runs. 

Walks were an issue for Berríos. Over this three game stretch he walked 5.11 batters per nine, which is well above his season average 2.35. That includes his start against Chicago where he didn’t walk anyone. It was safe to say he was having some control issues. Berríos’ sinker in particular was off in those starts. The sinker is a pitch that gets a ton of late life, so he front doors it to righties, starting it in the strike zone before it cuts out of the zone at the last moment. This gets a ton of swing and miss and induces weak contact. Then he can back door it to …

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Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation

Orelvis Martinez crushes homer in first High-A game, CJ Van Eyk twirls gem

There’s an increasing amount of hype building around the Toronto Blue Jays’ 19-year-old shortstop prospect Orelvis Martinez, who just made his High-A debut last night with the Vancouver Canadians.

It doesn’t appear that that hype is going to slow down anytime soon, as Martinez crushed his first homer as a member of the C’s in his first game last night.

He’s here and he’s perfect.
Orelvis Martinez hits his first @vancanadians homer – and 20th of the year – to make it 5-0 C’s.
Only took him *checks watch* 3 ABs…! pic.twitter.com/mhyrcbdesq
— Tyler Zickel (@tyler_zickel) August 4, 2021

Martinez has been playing with the Dunedin Blue Jays in low-A ball, but it quickly became apparent that he deserved a shot at the next level. Through 326 plate appearances, Martinez had a .279 batting average and an OPS of .942 to go along with 19 homers.
According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, “everyone was asking” Toronto for Martinez at the trade deadline, but the Jays elected to hang onto their number four ranked prospect.
In addition to Martinez’ stellar debut, another prospect who fans have been told to keep an eye on threw five shutout innings on the bump.
In …

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Author: David Quadrelli / Blue Jays Nation

Orelvis Martinez crushes homer in first High-A at bat, CJ Van Eyk twirls gem

There’s an increasing amount of hype building around the Toronto Blue Jays’ 19-year-old shortstop prospect Orelvis Martinez, who just made his High-A debut last night with the Vancouver Canadians.

It doesn’t appear that that hype is going to slow down anytime soon, as Martinez crushed his first homer as a member of the C’s in his first game last night.

He’s here and he’s perfect.
Orelvis Martinez hits his first @vancanadians homer – and 20th of the year – to make it 5-0 C’s.
Only took him *checks watch* 3 ABs…! pic.twitter.com/mhyrcbdesq
— Tyler Zickel (@tyler_zickel) August 4, 2021

Martinez has been playing with the Dunedin Blue Jays in low-A ball, but it quickly became apparent that he deserved a shot at the next level. Through 326 plate appearances, Martinez had a .279 batting average and an OPS of .942 to go along with 19 homers.
According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, “everyone was asking” Toronto for Martinez at the trade deadline, but the Jays elected to hang onto their number four ranked prospect.
In addition to Martinez’ stellar debut, another prospect who fans have been told to keep an eye on threw five shutout innings on the bump.
In …

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Author: David Quadrelli / Blue Jays Nation

Report: Leafs signing winger Nick Ritchie to a two-year deal

Rumors have been swirling around the Leafs and Nick Ritchie since before free agency even opened and it appears there was some traction there. On Saturday morning, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reported that the Leafs have come to terms with Ritchie on a two-year contract that will carry an AAV of $2.5 million.

Hearing Nick Ritchie to TOR. Sounds like 2x$2.5M
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 31, 2021

Ritchie, 25, was drafted 10th overall by the Anaheim Ducks in the 2014 NHL Draft and played 287 regular season games for the organization across five seasons before being traded to the Boston Bruins in February of 2020. He played all 56 games for Boston in the abbreviated 2020-21 season, recording a career-high 15 goals while adding 11 assists.

The big-bodied winger will add some secondary scoring to Toronto’s forward group, as well as a physical edge. His 102 hits in 2020-21 would have led the Leafs forward group by a mile as the departed Zach Hyman led last year with just 69 hits. Ritchie isn’t shy about dropping the gloves either, having already done so nine times in his young career, including three bouts last season.

Nick Ritchie and Garnet Hathaway drop the gloves. pic.twitter.com/VgfO2N4H93
— Conor …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

This is not the “Last Dance”

One of my favourite analysts around the Toronto Maple Leafs is Chris Johnston. I don’t ever want to disparage him or put any negative light on his ability as a reporter and analyst. Especially since we both hail from Cobourg, ON.
That said, today he said something that I believe is a very slightly misguided sentiment about the state of this Toronto Maple Leafs team. The tweet from Chris is below:

Judging by this quote from Kyle Dubas today, the 2021-22 Maple Leafs season will take on a “Last Dance” kind of vibe.
The vision isn’t changing.
It’s now or never for results. pic.twitter.com/FKspBo43Pl
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) July 22, 2021

In case this reference isn’t one you get, Netflix recently produced a docu-series called “The Last Dance” about Michael Jordan’s journey with the Chicago Bulls, and specifically around his final season before the owner was planning to blow everything up with a Scottie Pippen trade and not renewing Phil Jackson’s contract. It was really well done, if a bit biased towards MJ.
And while Chris Johnston walked back the reference, I’m not one to let a reference to one of the greatest sports …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

Rowdy Tellez has been traded to the Brewers for pitcher Trevor Richards

We’ll no longer be Getting Rowdy around these parts.

Ken Rosenthal reported on Tuesday that Rowdy Tellez has been dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for right-handed pitcher Trevor Richards.
It really looked like Rowdy had figured things out at the plate in 2020. He slashed an impressive .283/.346/.540 line, clubbed eight dingers, and had a solid 11-to-20 walk-to-strikeout rate. The key for Rowdy was cutting down on swinging at pitches outside of the zone.
That said, this was only a 35-game sample size, so it was far from certain if Rowdy was just on a heater, much like the one he had when he debuted in 2018, or if it was actually him figuring it out.
In 50 games with the Blue Jays this season, Rowdy posted a paltry .209/.272/.338 slash line with nine walks and a whopping 33 strikeouts. Without any positional versatility and a cold bat, he ultimately lost his spot on the 26-man roster and wound up in Triple-A.
Coming back to Toronto will be another much-needed relief pitcher. Trevor Richards started his career with the Marlins, was sent to Tampa Bay in the Nick Anderson deal in 2019, and was sent to Milwaukee a couple of months ago in the …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation