16 chronicle.durhamcollege.ca February 27 - March 5, 2018 The Chronicle Sports Blue Jays stars ready for 2018 Teams inaugural Winter Fest has players in high spirits Conner McTague The Chronicle Toronto Blue Jays players are back in Dunedin, Fla. for spring training, as the team turns it focus to 2018 after a disappointing season. Coming off of two straight American League Championship Series appearances, expectations were high for the Jays in 2017. However, it was a season derailed by injuries and inconsistent play throughout the lineup, ultimately leading to a 76-86 record. One of those players who battled injuries is second baseman Devon Travis, who didn't play after June 4 following surgery to repair cartilage damage in his right knee, an issue he also dealt with during the 2016 ALCS. The 27-year-old struggled in April, but hit for an average of .364, an on-base percentage of.373, and a slugging percentage of .646 in May, prior to going down. Travis has been plagued by injuries throughout his three year career, playing 213 out of a possible 486 games. He calls it frustrating to be out of the lineup so much but says he's going into 2018 feeling the best he ever has. “I just can’t wait for the day Blue Jays' legends Paul Quantrill and Pat Hentgen play a game of 'Heads Up' at the team's first ever Winter Fest. where I don’t have to answer many questions about my health, " said Travis, at the team’s inaugural Winter Fest at the Rogers Centre in January. “I’m just excited to get to that point in my career.” Travis isn’t the only player looking to rebound, though. Pitcher Aaron Sanchez was limited to eight starts last season due to recurring blister issues on his throwing hand. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki missed 96 games due to quad and ankle injuries. The Jays made it a focus to improve their middle infield depth in wake of Travis’ and Tulowitzki’s durability woes by acquiring infielders Aledmys Diaz from the St. Louis Cardinals and Yangervis Solarte from the San Diego Padres. One of the few players who remained healthy last season is pitcher Marcus Stroman. Coming off a poor 2016, the right-hander rebounded in a big way in 2017 going 13-9 with a 3.09 ERA and 164 strikeouts in 201 innings while winning the Gold Glove for fielding prowess among pitchers. The 200-innings is a notable number for pitchers and those who can consistently reach it are considered among the game’s elite, which Stroman hopes to become. "I want to become one of the top two, three, four, five pitchers in the game. I want to be the best," he added with his usual confident demeanour. "And I think I will be one of the top, best pitchers in the game within the next few years. One hundred per cent. There's not a single doubt in my head." What's interesting about Stroman is he doesn't need to strike out 200 batters a season like Cleveland ace Corey Kluber to be effective. He is primarily a pitch-to-contact pitcher, evidenced by Fangraphs, which indicate 62 per cent of balls put into play off Stroman are hit on the ground. That number led all major league pitchers. Unlike a power pitcher like Photograph by Conner McTague Kluber, who averaged almost 12 strikeouts per nine innings a year ago, Stroman fanned just 7.4 batters per nine innings. Though Stroman said he wants to improve his strikeout numbers. Stroman, the player fans have come to love, gave an emphatic answer when asked if he should be the Jays’ opening day starter on March 29 against the New York Yankees at Rogers Centre, where they will also honour the late Roy Halladay, who died when his single engine plane crashed off the Gulf of Mexico on Nov. 7, 2017. "Absolutely, 100 per cent," he said. "I'll strike out (Aaron) Judge, (Giancarlo) Stanton, all of them. I ain't scared." Mossavat's experience has brought success to UOIT The 'Backs have seen their soccer program become a winning one Pierre Sanz The Chronicle Peyvand Mossavat has brought lots of success to UOIT since becoming coach of the Ridgebacks men’s and women’s soccer teams. But he’s also playing a role in the growth of local soccer among younger players. Mossavat, 47, spent his playing days in and around the Canadian Soccer League and National Professional Soccer League playing for the Toronto Olympians, Toronto Supra and more. He now coaches the UOIT Ridgebacks men’s and women’s teams and has been for the last six years. He has been named Ontario University Athletics (OUA) coach of the year four times and was named the USports coach of the year in 2016 after helping the UOIT women to their first ever OUA championship. The Ridgebacks clinched a bronze medal at nationals that same season. Mossavat also coached the Ryerson Rams and the York Lions prior to accepting the head coach role at UOIT. “I joined UOIT because they supported my philosophy and shared the same vision as me. They were able to understand what it takes to be successful,” said Mossavat. He also coached the Canadian women’s national team in 2015 and 2017 at the Summer Universiade, an international university sports and cultural event in Gwangiu, South Korea and Taipei, Taiwan. Along with coaching at university level, Mossavat also helps out in the community and recently took on the academy director role at DeRo United Futbol Academy in Oshawa. DeRo Academy is owned by former Toronto FC player Dwayne DeRosario and was formed to helps young kids in the community grow as players and people. “I was always quite interested in coaching,” said Mossavat. “I always wanted to give back in a way and I think there was always a teacher in me and I think teaching and coaching goes hand in hand.” He has coached for about 30 years now and has seen soccer grow. He said the game has become faster and more tactical, with different formations and play. He says while the game is changing, it is important as a coach to grow with it. “Well, you’re always as a coach evolving because the game is evolving,” said Mossavat. “You have to be able to change and grow and it has impacted me because I am always trying to educate myself more.” Mossavat says great things are happening in the local soccer community. He says UOIT and Durham College are growing and will be adding new soccer fields in the next few years. At DeRo academy, he oversees the recruitment of promising young players. “I recently took on the academy director role at DeRo United Academy here in Oshawa to help grow local soccer within the community,” he said. At UOIT, Mossavat says success for the organization has come down to the players buying into his philosophy. “I contribute part of our success at UOIT to the great people around me,” he said. “Great players have bought into our vision and they work hard every day to make our vision come true.” Mossavat says he sees himself coaching for at least the next 10 years but even after his coaching career ends, he says soccer will always be his passion.
Sports chronicle.durhamcollege.ca February 27 - March 5, 2018 The Chronicle 17 A storied franchise with no fan support Success usually brings fans, but not for the Whitby Dunlops hockey team Conner McTague The Chronicle The Whitby Dunlops have a long legacy of winning – including a World Championship – but the owner and president, Ian Young is confused and asking, where are the fans? It isn’t because of a losing culture. The Dunlops have always posted a winning percentage above .630 in their history, and they’ve been a competitive team since day one, too. The team has a storied history. The Dunlops won the Allan Cup in 1957 and 1959 (which goes to the top senior amateur men’s team in Canada), and the 1958 World Championship in Oslo, Norway. The ’58 squad was inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 1997 for its accomplishment. Young became aware of the Dunlops when he arrived in Oshawa to play goal for the junior Generals in the 1963. “When I was coming in to see the town of Whitby, I saw the sign on Brock Street that said ‘Home of the World Champion Dunlops’ so my feelings for this team and its history goes a long ways back,” Young said. The team folded in 1960, but after a long hiatus returned for the 2004-05 season after Steve Cardwell, Mike Laing and the late former mayor of Whitby, Marcel Whitby Dunlops owner, Ian Young, wants to know why the team gets no fan support while playing winning hockey. Brunelle, campaigned to town council for re-entry of the team to senior hockey. The current version of the Dunlops is a senior team (no longer eligible for junior hockey) and play in the five-team Allan Cup league. The other teams are Dundas, Stoney Creek, Hamilton and Brantford. The Dunlops have posted a .700 winning percentage through their first 20 games this season, going 14-6-0. The steady stream of winning, however, isn’t translating to a strong fan base at their home arena, the Iroquois Park Sports Centre. “The problem is we’ve always had a first-rate hockey team, but we get no support, we have no support from the fans, very small crowds and we don’t get many benefits from the Town of Whitby either,” Young said. Young also said three years ago, the directorship of the team had decided to fold the team due to low attendance, “but because of my relationship with the team I couldn’t let it happen, so I bought the team. So for the last three years I’ve owned the Dunlops.” According to the Allan cup hockey website the team draws an average of 153 fans a game, and it’s disappointing because this has been what Young feels, their most competitive season. By comparison, the Brantford Blast lead the league with an average 907 fans per game. The league averages 264 fans per game. It’s disheartening for the players to come out onto the ice and see a sparse crowd while they work so hard to win, he says. “We are the only team in the league who doesn’t pay our players, but they’re still so determined,” said Young. The players have full-time jobs, and families, but are still Photograph by Conner McTague dedicated to the hockey club and Young says when fans come up to him at games, they always tell him about how enjoyable the team is to watch. Young says he wants to pay his players, but the $200,000 in expenses per year with no fan support makes it difficult. It's going to cause the team to be under review at years end, he said. It doesn’t seem to him like anything will work at this point. Does he think bringing home a championship would draw fans in and increase support? “I can’t see it happening, I wish it would.” A 48-team FIFA World Cup would ruin the sport It would make for a complicated tournament Pierre Sanz Expanding the FIFA World Cup to 48 teams would be terrible for the world’s most watched sports tournament. Nick Hilton, of spectator. co.uk, and Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated, think there will be a huge imbalance in quality of play and soccer fans should be worried because of the number of inferior teams that will be in the tournament. Groups of 3 teams, penalty shootouts in the group stage and a lot of uncompetitive teams is what will be coming to the World Cup in 2026. This will make the tournament boring and complicated. In January 2017, FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s bid to have a 48-team World Cup was approved, which means the tournament will have 16 new teams. FIFA has a tough decision on how to share these 16 spots between 6 continents. Europe is the top continent in the world and has 13 countries going to the World Cup, with that number expected to be 16 or 17 by 2026, which will cause controversy from other continents. Having groups of 3 teams in a soccer tournament is unheard of and as a result, will be very difficult to schedule. In Euro 2016, the tournament was expanded to 24 teams and teams went into games to tie, not to win. More than half of the teams in the tournament advanced to the knockout stages because of the best third rule, which saw Portugal win the tournament without even winning a game in the group stage. The same problem will be coming to the World Cup now as the top 2 out of 3 teams from 16 groups will advance, which means 32 out of 48 teams will advance to the knockout stage. That number of teams advancing to the knockout round is another fault in the new system: an extra knockout round. The World Cup has had 32 teams in the groups and goes to a round of 16. With this new format, the first knockout round will have as many teams as the current tournament has from the start. The expansion also means lots of bad teams will qualify for the knockout rounds. This is just to add more games to the tournament for money, not to better the level of play according to FIFA researchers. This is happening for financial reasons. According to FIFA researchers, FIFA will make 20 per cent more in revenue adding up to $6.5 billion during the 2026 World Cup. The upcoming 2018 World Cup is projected to make $5.56 billion. What’s more, there is also talk of adding penalty shootouts to the group stage. There are lots of questions over how it would work and how teams would be given points in this process. Shootouts are a knockout round thing, adding them to the group stage is a strange idea. When thinking about the expanded tournament and how many good teams will be in the World Cup, it is thought there will be a good tournament. But if Europe has 16-17 slots for the tournament and 27 of the top 47 nations in the world are from Europe, it means 10 of the best 47 nations in the world won’t be attending the tournament. South America have the best level of qualifying for the World Cup, it is the most competitive in the world, just look at the recent qualifying process. But with the expansion in teams, 7 out of 10 nations from South America would be going to the tournament. This would mean the level of play and competitiveness will drop. Many teams will rest star players late in qualifying which is bad for attendances. FIFA should not expand to the current format. From 24 teams to 32 teams and now to 48 teams, every few decades FIFA adds more and more teams and sooner or later the world’s most entertaining and most watched sports event will be ruined.