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SIMMONS: Tulo worth every dollar the Blue Jays paid him to go away

Strictly as a business deal, the $38 million that Troy Tulowitzki will be paid for leaving the Blue Jays was a mandatory going away present for money well invested.

And if you do the math, the 2015 trade the Jays made for Tulowitzki — and the less-expensive deal for David Price — proved to be a financial home run for the Blue Jays, bringing in the most money in ticket sales and merchandising in team history over two and a half Major League seasons.

In 2014, before Tulowitzki was acquired to bring stability and purpose to the Jays infield, home attendance was 29,327 per game and the team was waffling.

In 2016, the carry-over year after the big deals were made by Alex Anthopoulos and the Jays went to the playoffs, attendance was 41,878 per game. The approximate difference in ticket revenue from before and after playoffs was $65 million. That’s not counting the huge merchandising sales the club over a 36-month period.

From the second half of 2015 to conclusion of the 2017 season, the Blue Jays did at least $220 million in additional business — and likely quite more than that — than they had done prior to the Tulowitzki deal.

One more aspect of the Tulowitzki trade and eventual release that worked out well for the Jays: None of the players they traded to Colorado turned out to be significant big leaguers.


Went to human resources Friday and asked for the Tulowitzki buyout. Nobody laughed. I did … In 2015, Jose Reyes made 13 errors playing shortstop for the Jays in just over half a season. The rest of the season, Tulowitzki made no errors … Blue Jays attendance last season was 28,707 per game, down 10,847 from the previous year — which is a drop of around $50 million in ticket sales. Even with Vladdy Guerrero Jr. coming to Toronto in late April, I suspect attendance drops again this coming summer … The Blue Jays scorecard from the Winter Meetings: Acquired no one of significance, signed no one of significance, traded for no one of significance … From the Joni Mitchell department of ‘you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone,’ we give you two games without Zach Hyman. The Leafs are a different team when he doesn’t play … This is how great the Tampa Bay Lightning are: They were 12-3 with Louis Domingue in goal when the great Andrei Vasilevskiy was out. Steve Yzerman may have picked a Stanley Cup season to leave his GM post with the Lightning … When Mike Babcock was first asked about a defence for a 2018 Olympic hockey team, he had Aaron Ekblad pencilled in as one of his six defenders. That’s how great Ekblad was early in his career. That was before concussions set him back. There are those who blame former Florida coach and GM Tommy Rowe for rushing Ekblad into the lineup and setting his development back accordingly.


The next step for Pascal Siakam — staying out of foul trouble. If he can do that, he’s close to being a big-time NBA player … I often wonder about officiating in the NHL and NBA, and umpiring in baseball. It has to be so difficult if so few can get it right. But none of that compares to the calamity that is current NFL officiating. Great football — maybe the most fun we’ve seen in years — is being trounced by horrible flag throwing … I was in the minority. I liked the trade when it happened. Call me crazy, but I still like the Shea Weber-for-P.K. Subban trade for both teams … If his name is Samoa Joe, why is he introduced as being from California? Shouldn’t he be from Samoa? After all, the Mongols were announced as being from Mongolia …. The Ken Hitchcock method: Little-known Mikko Koskinen has a 7-2 record with a goals against average below 1.75 and a save percentage of .966 since the Edmonton Oilers made the coaching change at the start of Grey Cup Week. That’s what he does … The two biggest stars in the Canadian Football League, Bo Levi Mitchell and Mike Reilly, have worked out for NFL teams in recent days. How disastrous a winter would be this for the CFL if both quarterbacks were to sign south of the border … John Carlson doesn’t get enough love for all he does for the Washington Capitals. He led all NHL defencemen in scoring last season, led last playoff season and is back in the lead again this year. And hardly anybody talks about him.


Cory Schneider was pulled Friday night in goal for New Jersey. He has not won a game since Dec. 27 of last year. For those keeping score, Bo Horvat, the draft pick given up in Lou Lamoriello’s deal for Schneider, has scored 27 goals for Vancouver since Schneider last won a regular-season game for the Devils … Freddy Gauthier, he of the great nickname, was a less-than-sterling first-round pick by the Leafs in 2013, but if you look at the ten players selected after him, only Andre Burakovsky and Shea Theodore have turned out to be relatively decent NHL players. So it wasn’t a huge miss. The top of that 2013 draft, though, is enormous — Nathan MacKinnon, Sasha Barkov, Seth Jones and Sean Monahan were in the top five picks. And Max Domi, now in Montreal, was a steal at 12 … Mitch Marner happened to be a great pick by the Leafs. Horvat was a great pick by Vancouver. Domi was a great pick at 12. Those Dale Hunter London Knights kids, rarely picked where they should be, seem to do just fine … The next goal Patrick Marleau scores will tie him with Rocket Richard. If that’s not reason to celebrate, what is? … Good to see Stefan Ptaszek back where he belongs, coaching football at McMaster University … I know at least one guy, and you probably know one too, who lost out on significant Survivor Pool money when the Miami Dolphins ran that crazy hook and ladder play to beat New England. And if it wasn’t that, how about losing because the Steelers’ kicker slipped on the terrible turf in Oakland? … The Flames are hot. The Oilers are hot. The Battle of Alberta, dormant for so many years, is back, baby!


What currently frightens me: Kawhi Leonard’s stare when he isn’t happy with a teammate … Raptors played without Kyle Lowry, the injured Jonas Valanciunas and half the game without Siakam on Friday night and were still a Fred VanVleet drive and a five-second violation away from beating Portland at home … Don’t know if I could do what Nick Nurse did this week. Don’t know if I’d have the personal strength to coach, travel cross-country and deal with my mother’s passing all at the very same time. Condolences to the Raptors coach to his family … A moment to savour: The post-game hug between Lowry and former Raptors assistant coach Rex Kalamian, now with the Los Angeles Clippers. A relationship defined in picture and not words …. Edwin Encarnacion hit 70 home runs and knocked in 214 in his two seasons in Cleveland. Kendrys Morales, his garage-sale replacement, hit 49 homers with 142 RBI taking over for the now traded Encarnacion … Bryce Harper didn’t even consider the $284 million Washington was offering him to stay with the Nationals. Imagine how much he’d get paid if he hadn’t struck out 169 times in 159 games last season … From the inside, Maple Leafs management has to be stunned by the progress made by rookie Rasmus Sandin as an 18-year-old playing defence in the American Hockey League. What impresses most about him, his composure and the way he thinks the game … Happy birthday to Donovan Bailey (51), Refrigerator Perry (56), Mo Vaughn (51), Orlando Franklin (31), Art Howe (72), Yanni Gourde (27) and Kaitlyn Lawes (30) … And hey, whatever became of Travis Henry?


Upon learning he had won the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s athlete of the year, Mikael Kingsbury did what most young people do these days: He went online to Google the award.

He saw names of previous winners like Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, Sidney Crosby and was astounded as he read on. He told Laura Armstrong of the Toronto Star that it was a “huge, huge honour” to be selected ahead of Connor McDavid, one of the finalists for the trophy.

“He’s an amazing athlete who is a role model for all Canadians,” Kingsbury said. “It’s quite something.”

It’s never easy picking an athlete of the year and it’s even more challenging to compare those who play professional team sports with those involved with individual sports and with those who participate at the Olympics.

Kingsbury wasn’t my choice to win the Lou Marsh, but that doesn’t make him a bad choice or the wrong choice.

He absolutely dominated his pursuit of moguls skiing and he was clearly best in the world at that event. And how do you argue against best in the world? I voted for McDavid because I viewed the way he played in the calendar year of 2018 to be world-best, where he scored at a pace not seen since 2007, when Crosby won the Lou Marsh.

To me, McDavid and Kingsbury represented a two-man race for the award — two best-in-the-world athletes. I didn’t view the other nominees, golfer Brooke Henderson, figure skater Kaetlyn Osmond or curler Kaitlyn Lawes (a puzzling choice?) as challengers for the award, but I suspect, not knowing the vote totals, that Henderson came close to winning.


First came the Stanley Cup and the summer of celebration. Now comes Alexander Ovechkin, at the age of 33, scoring at a pace in which he has never scored before.

Ovechkin may never catch Wayne Gretzky or even Gordie Howe on the all-time goal NHL scoring list, but his place as an all-time great scorer is more secure than it has ever been before.

He has 28 goals in 31 games this season, after missing out on 50 the past two years, and you can easily argue that his scoring statistics — goals only — are equal to or better than anything Gretzky managed.

Gretzky scored 894 goals at a time in which NHL teams were mostly scoring about 3.7 goals per game. Ovechkin has scored 635 goals in 1,034 games in an era in which teams are scoring around 2.6 goals per game. At this stage of his career, Ovechkin is scoring .614 goals per game and Gretzky finished his career scoring at .601 per game in a significantly higher scoring time.

Mike Bossy leads all NHL players in goals per game, .762, with his career, unfortunately, ending prematurely due to back issues. Wherever you happen to rank Ovechkin, now and in the future, we know this much: He is scoring more goals at a challenging time to score than anyone before him. He isn’t resting on his Stanley Cup laurels. He remains as unstoppable as ever.


It isn’t Harold Baines’ fault. Just as it wasn’t the fault of Clark Gillies or Bernie Federko when they were elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Politics, unfortunately, plays a part in these things. Far more than it should.

Due process got Baines elected, even if you question the process involved. He didn’t get much traction when he was on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot for years. He had a fine career, certainly nothing to apologize for, just nothing to consider him an all-time great. He could hit, not for a whole lot of power, didn’t play the field much, but had a fine and long career.

It needed second thought to get him to the Baseball Hall and a giant push from White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf.

Gillies got into the Hockey Hall, pushed by the late Bill Torrey. Federko got in pushed mostly from former St. Louis GM Emile Francis. You need an advocate like that when you’re not a slam-dunk, obvious choice.

The problem, though, is once Baines is in, just as Gillies and Federko know, there is always the question: If those guys are in, why not him? Why not Dwight Evans? Why not Dale Murphy? Later on, why not Carlos Delgado?

Why not Steve Larmer in hockey? Why not Jeremy Roenick? Why not Alexander Mogilny?

Every time a dubious choice is made, the Halls are cheapened and slightly damaged. The Baseball Hall never had this problem before it began its second thought process.

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