We’re two weeks into the season and Yankee fans have snapped

The New York Yankees are dead last in the American League East. Their fans are pissed.

After getting walked off by Bo Bichette and the Blue Jays on Wednesday afternoon, the Yanks went home with a forgettable 5-7 record. Next up, they faced the Tampa Bay Rays, another pesky divisional opponent that they need to beat in order to take control of the American League East.
That didn’t happen. The Rays took a 2-0 lead off of opener Nick Nelson and then a comedy of errors led to Luis Cessa allowing four runs, only one earned, in a disastrous fifth inning. The Yanks bats were able to get virtually nothing going off of Michael Wacha, and, by the time the eighth inning rolled around, their fans let the team know how they felt.

Fans at Yankee Stadium stopped play by throwing several baseballs into the outfield pic.twitter.com/VHof1Fc2vN
— Talkin’ Yanks (@TalkinYanks) April 17, 2021

Fans at Yankee Stadium are throwing baseballs onto the field.
Stop this nonsense and act like adults. pic.twitter.com/Mn8XvyBy7w
— Dillard Barnhart (@BarnHasSpoken) April 17, 2021

In the eighth inning, a collection of fans in the outfield starting launching balls on the …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Top KHL Free Agents in 2020-21

The 2nd best hockey league in the world just wrapped up their regular season, 60 Kontinental Hockey League games for teams in Russia, Finland, Belarus, Latvia, Kazakhstan, and China.
The usual suspects sit atop the league with CSKA Moskva and SKA St. Petersburg leading the West, Ak Bars Kazan and Avangard Omsk tops in the East. That’s not what concerns North American teams though, their focus is on poaching the talent that elevates teams to the top of the KHL. Artemi Panarin is the most impactful example, finishing in the top 20 in NHL scoring each season since signing with Chicago in 2015.
In the 5 years or so since Panarin came to North America there has been plenty of other skaters to sign out of the KHL. Not all of them met expectations, or even played a game in the NHL. Still, the opportunity to land an NHL contributor for under $1 million is a massive incentive to scout the KHL. If it takes three tries to land a player like Ilya Mikheyev, NHL clubs should be willing to take three swings.
Before the NHL season started I spent a lot of time watching KHL games and highlights, and narrowed down a list …

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Author: Earl Schwartz / The Leafs Nation

Staturday Weekly Column #10: What’s going on with John Tavares, and why?

As the Captain and one of the highest paid players in the league, a lot is expected of John Tavares. When he decided to join Toronto in the summer of 2018, it was a joyous day. Adding a top flight center to what was already an elite offense brought mouthwatering visions of having two 30-plus-scorers (good name for a new dating site) on one team. His first season in Toronto seemed a blessed one, scoring 47 goals in a nearly unstoppable combination with Mitch Marner.
In this season, Tavares hasn’t had the same punch to his play. With 6 goals and 17 points in 21 games, it’s not like he’s been terrible in a producing role. However, something seems to be up with his ability to be an impactful player that can change the game the way an Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and even William Nylander can.
The “What?” — Production Stats
We know that Tavares is billed, primarily, as a points-scoring forward. There’s some talk of his defensive ability as a center — we’ll talk about that misnomer later — but, primarily he’s a scorer. All stats in this section are from naturalstattrick.com, unless otherwise noted.
Production Rate
There’s …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

NHL announces enhanced COVID-19 protocols

The National Hockey League and its player association has announced a new set of COVID-19 measures aimed at enhances what’s already in place.

The league said they will be in place until at least Feb. 28 as they continue to monitor their implementation and effectiveness.
The measures, which were announced and took effect yesterday, will see more testing, stricter quarantines, better masking and the utilization of player tracking, amongst other things.
A pilot project utilizing data from the player tracking system has been launched to work to measure the manager and degree of interaction between players as an enhancement to the contact tracing process.
“The goal of this project is to more precisely determine which people should be considered for enhanced monitoring and/or quarantine based on close contact with potentially infected Players,” they said.
Additional POC testing for U.S.-based clubs 
Furthering current testing protocols, the league will be adding point of care rapid testing to be administered on game days to all players, club personnel and on-ice officials that work in or around the benches during games. If a positive test is returned, the individual will be immediately isolated per league protocols. The league said they are …

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Author: Zach Laing / The Leafs Nation

Cavan Biggio and Hitting High Velocity

Cavan Biggio has had an impressive start to his Major League career.

Over 159 games he has a 118 wRC+, 24 home runs, a 16.1% walk rate, a triple slash of .240/.368/.430 and has even stolen 20 bases without being caught. Putting it all together he’s been worth 3.8 wins above replacement. Defensively, the Blue Jays have turned him into a super utility type playing him all over the diamond.
However, despite Biggio’s impressive start, he has one major flaw that could potentially hold him back in the long-run. He hasn’t been able to hit fastballs. That has led to some thought that pitchers will start challenging him with fastballs, plummeting his walk rate and take away from his offensive strength. We saw Tampa Bay take advantage of this in the post-season.
Biggio saw 30 pitches over two playoff games, 23 of which were fastballs. Just five of those fastballs were less than 95 miles per hours. Biggio struck out six times in eight plate appearances, five of which came on fastballs. This obviously a small sample against a really strong pitching staff, but it highlighted a deeper issue for Biggio and why some think he may not last long in the big leagues.
Let’s get …

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Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation

Leafs place Aaron Dell and Jason Spezza on waivers

It raised eyebrows around the league when the Leafs decided to keep Aaron Dell on their opening night roster as their third goaltender, mostly because the Leafs were only able to carry one extra player on their active roster due to salary cap limitations. Keeping a third goaltender left the Leafs with next to no roster flexibility, as Alexander Barabanov (aside from Ilya Mikheyev) was the only player that could be sent to the taxi squad without having to clear waivers.
The Leafs made that move prior to their game against Ottawa on Saturday night, recalling rookie forward Nick Robertson for his NHL regular season debut. Unfortunately for Robertson and the Leafs, he suffered a knee injury in the first period and is expected to miss some time pending the results of an MRI scheduled for Sunday.
In order to receive an emergency recall exemption for a player with a cap hit of $1 million or less, the Leafs would have first had to play a game with just 17 skaters. As a result, the Leafs were forced to create the flexibility to recall reinforcements from the taxi squad by placing Aaron Dell and Jason Spezza on Sunday’s waiver wire.

Aaron …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

A stalemate between DJ LeMahieu and the Yankees has the Blue Jays back in the mix

After back-to-back seasons in the conversation for American League Most Valuable Player, DJ LeMahieu wants to get paid.

It seems he also specifically wants to be paid by the Yankees and, unfortunately for LeMahieu, the team is skeptical to do so.
According to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports, LeMahieu and the Yankees are locked in a stalemate and the player is fed up with it, so he’s going to re-engage in talks with other teams who have previously shown interest in signing him, such as the Blue Jays, Dodgers, and Mets.
There was a report back in December that came out of New York in which it was suggested that the Blue Jays “desperately” wanted to sign LeMahieu, but that really seemed like his camp using Toronto as a bargaining chip against the Yankees.
Creating a bidding war between two teams, division rivals nonetheless, is a great way to drive up your asking price. I would imagine this is the same thing and LeMahieu’s end goal here is to get the Yankees to cave.
Reports indicate that LeMahieu wants $100 million over five years while the Yankees only want to go as high as $75 million over four years. Logic …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Watch Vlad Jr. smash his first two homers of the Dominican Winter League season

Thin Vlad’s Dominican Winter League season got off to a ho-hum start earlier this week. Through a couple of games, Vlad went two-for-eight with an error at third base.

But, on Friday morning, Vlad woke up and decided enough was enough and that he was going to kick the shit out of some baseballs. Let’s watch!
Check out Vlad’s first homer, which is honestly one of the hardest-hit balls I’ve ever seen. The sound that thing made, my goodness. Note the little bat flip and the subsequent slow trot around the bases.

Vladamir Guerrero Jr. weight loss tour is going well as he just absolutely destroyed this home run pic.twitter.com/Eybn9w8gyG
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) December 11, 2020

And then there’s this second one. My title of ‘watch Vlad hit these two homers’ is a bit disingenuous because you can’t really watch the second one. You just see the ball leaving the park but, for whatever reason, the broadcast didn’t pick up his swing.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. just hit his second home run of the night but the broadcast missed the swing pic.twitter.com/pEIg0TssXa
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) December 12, 2020

Hitting …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Forbes has the Maple Leafs as the NHL’s second-most valuable franchise in 2020

There are a handful of teams around the league having a difficult time financially right now. The Toronto Maple Leafs are not one of them.

According to Forbes, the Leafs are the NHL’s second-most valuable team in 2020, with a franchise value estimated at $1.5 billion and an operating income listed at $56.3 million. Only the New York Rangers, who are reportedly worth $1.65 billion, are ranked higher than the Leafs, while three other Original Six franchises, the Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks, and Boston Bruins, round off the list of billion-dollar franchises.
Elsewhere around the league, smaller teams are struggling to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly half of the league, again, according to Forbes, lost money this season. Of course, some teams like the Arizona Coyotes, have been bleeding cash for years, but the pandemic forcing the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs to neutral, fanless locations wiped a tremendous amount of revenue for many.
Apparently, the St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals, the 2019 and 2018 Stanley Cup champions respectively, pulled in over $20 million in revenue from tickets, concession, and merchandise sales during their runs. The Tampa Bay Lightning, who won this summer’s Stanley Cup, saw none of that and ultimately posted an $11 million operating loss.

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Author: Cam Lewis / The Leafs Nation

The Toronto Six will be playing hockey soon!

FINALLY! The National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) announced a plan to play out its 2021 season, and the Isobel Cup. The new season will start on January 23rd. I can’t wait to see what the Toronto Six twitter page will meme about now!

The National Women’s Hockey League today announced a plan to play the upcoming season and 2021 Isobel Cup Playoffs at the 1980 Rink-Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, NY
PRESS RELEASE: https://t.co/EWlz31m8wY pic.twitter.com/QyCKGCKQ0K
— NWHL (@NWHL) November 25, 2020

This season will see the first EVER action from the new Toronto Six hockey club, Toronto’s newest professional hockey franchise.
In order to protect the players and staff against COVID-19, the season will be compressed and done in a bubble. The teams will each play each other once, followed by a playoff qualification round to determine seeding, followed by a 4 team Isobel Cup playoff. The Isobel Cup game will be played on February 5th, 2021.
The following additional measures are being taken, as per the announcement:
The teams will arrive separately in Lake Placid in a staggered schedule on Jan. 21 and 22. Beginning Jan. 23, they will each play five games (one against each …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation