Bulls & Bears: Maple Leafs impress, Blue Jays disappoint

 

Tom Mayenknecht hosts The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and TSN Radio, where he regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of sports business. He reviews the major winners and losers of the past week every Saturday

 
 
 
 
Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and the TSN Radio network, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.
 
 

Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and the TSN Radio network, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.

Photograph by: Vancouver Sun graphics, .

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VANCOUVER — Sorting out the major winners and losers of this week — with a bottom-line twist — in the world of sports:

BULLS OF THE WEEK

It has been a good week for Mike Babcock, Brendan Shanahan and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Babcock’s reported eight-year, $50-million contract makes him easily the highest-paid head coach in the National Hockey League and sixth richest in all of North American pro and college sport. It’s a ridiculous amount of money, of course, but since it doesn’t count against the salary cap, it’s not as silly as overspending on an underachieving $6.25-million free agent player.

In one fell swoop, the hiring gives the Maple Leafs the credibility they haven’t had since the days of the late Pat Quinn and Pat Burns. That’s why the biggest winner outside of Babcock himself is team president Shanahan, who parlayed his own player-coach relationship with the former 10-year Detroit bench boss — and the endlessly deep pockets of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment — into a big win for a franchise that is coming off one of its worst seasons in history. Having Babcock in tow will change the way current players and potential free agents view Toronto and it should go a long way to improving a locker-room culture that had gone hopelessly toxic this past season.

Big honourable mentions go to Sidney Crosby, who became the ninth player to add an IIHF World Hockey Championship to Olympic gold and a Stanley Cup, and to the Toronto Argonauts, who were purchased by Bell and Larry Tannenbaum of MLSE. Crosby and an unusually strong Team Canada roster set an IIHF TV record, drawing an average audience of 1.5 million to TSN for Sunday’s gold-medal win. The sale of the Argos is good for the team — which is no longer the only sports franchise in Toronto without telecom and media company connections — and for the CFL, which is closer to normalcy with David Braley now focused on ownership of one team, his B.C. Lions.

BEARS OF THE WEEK

If there is a poster child for failed expectations — along with the importance of balance in general and pitching in particular — it’s this year’s edition of the Toronto Blue Jays. For the third straight season, the Jays are trending in the wrong direction and are certainly flying south of what was expected after yet another round of marquee acquisitions during the off-season.

They’re not only in last place in the American League East, they’ve fallen into the bottom third of Major League Baseball attendance. One-quarter of the way through its home schedule, Toronto is averaging 25,105 fans per game; only 51 per cent of capacity. That puts the Jays in 22nd place in MLB attendance and barely on target for two million fans in what was meant to be a make or break season for GM Alex Anthopoulos and manager John Gibbons.

They’re not the Tampa Bay Rays (30th at 15,330 per game), but their bearish start — on the field and at the box office — is well behind the goal of three million for the season and the four million of their glory years in 1992 and 1993. The only good news: It’s still early and the AL East appears in the dictionary beside mediocrity again this year.

Tom Mayenknecht is host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and TSN Radio, where he regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of sports business. He reviews the major winners and losers of the past week every Saturday in The Vancouver Sun.

 
 
 
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Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and the TSN Radio network, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.
 

Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and the TSN Radio network, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.

Photograph by: Vancouver Sun graphics, .

 
Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and the TSN Radio network, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.
Manny Pacquiao gestures to the crowd after losing to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in their welterweight unification championship bout on May 2, 2015 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Floyd Mayweather Jr., and Manny Pacquiao (R) fight in a welterweight unification bout on May 2, 2015 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. (R), and Manny Pacquiao fight in a welterweight unification bout on May 2, 2015 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. throws a right at Manny Pacquiao during their welterweight unification championship bout on May 2, 2015 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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