Jun 1, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; An empty BMO Field on the backdrop of the CN Tower and the rest of the Toronto skyline before the Toronto FC game against the Philadelphia Union at BMO Field - another big matchup in the world of Toronto sports! Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Sports: Weekly Mailbag for Sunday, August 10th, 2014

Every Sunday, we take the time to answer your questions. These questions can cover anything in the Toronto sports universe and we look forward to the challenge of answering them.

Here are the top questions for this week.

(As always, you can send your questions to: [email protected])


Q. Are the Toronto Blue Jays really guilty of rushing players back too early? If so, why are they doing this?

Tim, Whitby

JON: As much as it might appear that the Blue Jays are rushing players back, I don’t believe they are. Brett Lawrie is a good example, lasting just three innings in his first game back. If Lawrie wasn’t ready to be on the field, the team wouldn’t put him out there. They have too much invested in him to risk losing him to a more serious injury. The Blue Jays desperately need the bats of Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion back, as well, but they can’t risk bringing them back too soon and losing them again, possibly for a longer period of time. One thing I do think is important for the Blue Jays to evaluate in the off-season, though, is the training and medical staff, their programs, communication and evaluation processes. After three consecutive injury-plagued seasons, I think they really need to look hard at how players are preparing and being monitored.

SEAN: Yes… Well, sort of. Yes, Blue Jays players are coming back too quickly from injury. But no, management is not to blame. The rush to return seems to be coming from the players themselves. In the off-season, reporters suggested that Blue Jays players were willing to defer salary to sign Ervin Santana. At the trade deadline, clubhouse leaders like Jose Bautista and Casey Janssen pleaded for roster additions to make a playoff push. The Blue Jays players want to win so badly that they’ll give up salary and put Alex Anthopoulos in an awkward spot in the media to help this team. That’s how bad they want to win. If they’re willing to do those things, don’t you think the players are probably feeling pressure to return as quickly as they can from injury. Just ask Brett Lawrie if he’s aiming to be back in three weeks (short end of AA’s timetable to return from his oblique injury) or six weeks (the safer, never-gonna-happen end of the timetable).

Q. OMG! Jermain Defoe is out. Will this ruin the Toronto FC’s playoff chances, no? Help!

Meghan, Toronto

PAUL: If you told me before the season that Jermain Defoe would have missed a third of TFC’s games, I’ll admit I would have been concerned. With 11 goals in 15 games, there’s no denying the striker has been a success in Toronto.

However, a funny thing happened on the way to the Reds’ current position of third in the Eastern Conference – it turns out they’ve got quite a lot of depth in the squad. (Possibly illustrating how little research I did on this team entering the 2014 campaign.)

Look no further than yesterday’s crucial win against a Columbus Crew team engaged in their own fight to make the playoffs. Three goals, on the road no less, suggest TFC have enough firepower to make up for the loss of Defoe.

In particular, it’s important to note fellow designated player Gilberto is beginning to warm up, with three goals in his last four goals. Basically, this answer is my long-winded way of saying TFC will not have their playoff chances ruined by Defoe’s absence.

Q. Is the Anthony Coombs injury really that bad for the Toronto Argonauts? I mean, it’s not like he’s a key player or anything. You’re overstating its importance.

Alex, Brampton

PAUL: If, by reporting the news you consider this to be overstating its importance, then we stand guilty as accused! Sorry, maybe I’m being a little facetious there, but your question made me realize people will always interpret something as they see fit.

The truth is that it wasn’t so much about stating the importance of Anthony Coombs himself. It was more about his shoulder injury summing up what a nightmare the Double Blue have had this year with injuries.

First, the 100th Grey Cup MVP Chad Kackert retires before the season even starts. This has been swiftly followed by key injuries to the receiving core, in the shape of Chad Owens and John Barnes.

Now you add on the loss of Coombs, who was starting for injured slot back Andre Durie and it’s beginning to get a bit ridiculous now. Fortunately, the Argos play in the awful East Division, so I fully expect them to still make the playoffs.

Q. Why are you guys obsessed with the Toronto Maple Leafs? They suck and there are much better things in Toronto to cover like RoFo. Open your eyes, guys!

Matt, Milton

ANDREW: It’s not about how good a team is, it’s about how important a team is to the city. Think of every major Toronto sports team and imagine what it would be like if they won the championship. The Argos won in 2012 and there was a nice little celebration but nothing crazy. If the Leafs ever manage to win, it would be the biggest party in the city’s history. There’s a reason Forbes has the Leafs valued at more than the Raptors ($520 million) and Blue Jays ($610 million) put together and that’s because the Maple Leafs fan base is huge, so huge that they want to hear about the Leafs, even in the off-season.

JON: Hope springs eternal! One thing Toronto doesn’t lack is support for the Blue and White. In fact, this level of support, regardless of results, is exactly what inspires us to write about the Leafs. When there is no Stanley Cup parade (though the route is planned, I understand!), there is little else to do but dream about next year and evaluate what you have, or might have. I have to admit to being surprised by how much demand there is for Leafs stories, even in a summer that has seen the Blue Jays become contenders for the American League East title. There are, as you point out, many other things to cover in Toronto, but it seems like the Leafs, though not always the best team on the ice, are always a winner in print!

Q. I really appreciate your story on the Rogers Cup. Why is it so hard to find good stuff on the Rogers Cup and similar sporting events in Toronto? It seems like there’s a bias in favour of the big teams. Keep up the great coverage.

Kim, Toronto

WILL: Thanks, Kim. We pride ourselves on covering everything Toronto sports. Kevin wrote a great piece on the OVO Bounce basketball tournament last week and Ryan is always writing about hidden sports gems in Toronto. Check them out. You keep visiting our site and we’ll keep writing about sports in the city you love.


That’s it for this week. We’ll have more answers for you next week! There’s always something to discuss in the world of Toronto sports.

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