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  Sun, September 5, 2004


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Elliott on baseball column
Mussina should button it
By BOB ELLIOTT, TORONTO SUN

So, Mike Mussina had to wait 15 minutes before last Sunday's game began.

Soooo what!

Mussina was a complainer at Stanford, with the Baltimore Orioles and he's running true to form with the New York Yankees.

After last Sunday's 6-4 loss to the Jays, his loss, Mussina moaned that the moving, pre-game ceremony honouring Jays broadcaster Tom Cheek had lasted too long. Never mind Mike that Cheek's streak of 4,306 games ended when his father, Tom, the Battle of Midway war hero, passed away on June 3.

Or that Cheek was out of the booth because he underwent an operation to remove a cancerous brain tumor on his 65th birthday, 10 days after his father's death.

Let's run with Mussina's claim that the Cheek ceremony threw the pitcher off his game and see if it has any legs.

Did he walk four in the first? Did he allow six runs?

No, Mussina allowed a lead-off homer to Reed Johnson and was so messed up because of the delay he took a 2-1 lead into the seventh.

After Carlos Delgado tied it with a homer, Gabe Gross, Johnson and Orlando Hudson each singled in runs. Toss in a Yankees error and the Jays put up five runs.

So, that 15-minute delay bothered him, but not between the lead-off homer and Delgado's drive? Surrrrre.

That's the funny thing about delays ... you never know when the after-effects kick in.

We remember Ed Sprague telling us that Mussina wasn't regarded as a good teammate with the Stanford Cardinal.

We remember Mussina with the Orioles taking a 2-1 lead over the Yankees into the eighth in Game 3 of the 1996 American League Championship Series.

With two out, Derek Jeter doubled to right, Bernie Williams singled to left, Tino Martinez doubled and Cecil Fielder homered ... all in a span of five pitches or so.

"Why didn't you go to the mound for a visit, to try and slow things down?" a reporter asked O's manager Davey Johnson.

"Me? Go to the mound? With Mike Mussina pitching? I don't think that that is allowed," shot back Johnson.

And then there was that all-star game furor in 1993 at Camden Yards, when Mussina started warming up on his own in the ninth, which led to death threats toward Jays manager Cito Gaston.

Gaston and Fielder, meanwhile, were seated up close as part of the Cheek ceremony, orchestrated by Howard Starkman, Jays director of special projects.

They came to praise their good friend Cheek.

Seeing Mussina exit was a delayed bonus.

CANUCKS GETTING DEALS

NO VISAS, no problem. Despite the fact Canadians can't be signed to 2004 contracts, lots of cash is flowing around.

A cap on all work visas by the U.S. Congress has restricted foreigners from gaining employment south of the border.

The Cincinnati Reds signed lefty Philippe-Alexandre Valiquette of St. Laurent, Que., a seventh round pick in June, to a 2005 contract, giving him a $290,000 US signing bonus.

Also, the Milwaukee Brewers signed righty Alexandre Periard of St-Eustache, Que., a 16th-rounder, giving him a $234,000 bonus. Both pitched for Les Ailes Du Quebec, which recently won the Canada Cup in Thunder Bay.

Righty Craig Langille of Bedford, N.S., the top high schooler selected, went in the seventh round and received a $107,000 bonus from the Brewers. Six of the top eight Canadians drafted have signed.

FALL BALL

Led by Team Canada's clean-up hitter, Pete LaForest, three Canadians are among those named to the Arizona Fall League roster. LaForest is hitting .225 with seven homers and 31 RBI at triple-A Durham (Devil Rays). The other two are former first rounders: Adam Loewen of Surrey, B.C., who is a combined 4-7 with a 4.33 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 93 1/3 innings at single-A Fredrick and Delmarva (Orioles), and Cambridge first baseman Scott Thorman, who is hitting .264 with 14 homers and 76 RBI at double-A Greenville and single-A Myrtle Beach (Braves).

ARE YOU KIDDING ME

Trailing the Leaside Maple Leafs 4-1 in the bottom of the seventh, the Northumberland Whiskey Jacks scored three to draw even in the Greater Toronto playoffs. Northumberland won in the 25th inning as Gord Kelly pitched 18 scoreless innings of relief.

FORMER BLUE JAYS A SWEET ROSTER

AN OFT-PLAYED game is comparing a current team to one composed of former players.

The measuring stick to decide which is better certainly isn't scientific and doesn't allow for salary dumps, but it is a way of comparing losses and gains.

The latest to suggest comparing the current Jays roster to the All-Ex Jays team still active in the majors is Hollywood producer Joe Bodolai, who worked for the Jays in their expansion years.

Bodolai picked the All-Ex team and we chose whether the departed is better than what remains.

All Ex-Blue Jays Team vs. the 2004 Jays:

C: Mike Matheny, Benito Santiago; Jays: Gregg Zaun. Advantage: Ex's.

1B: John Olerud. Jays: Carlos Delgado. Advantage: Jays.

2B: Roberto Alomar, Miguel Cairo, Jeff Kent; Jays: Orlando Hudson. Advantage: Jays.

SS: Cesar Izturis, Mike Young, Alex Gonzalez, Tomas Perez, Felipe Lopez; Jays: Chris Gomez and Chris Woodward. Advantage: Ex's.

3B: Casey Blake, Tony Batista; Jays: Eric Hinske, Advantage: Ex's.

OF: Shawn Green, Shannon Stewart, Jose Cruz, Jayson Werth; Jays: Reed Johnson, Vernon Wells, Alex Rios. Advantage: Ex's.

DH: Josh Phelps; Jays: Frank Catalanotto. Edge: Jays.

Starters: Roger Clemens, Chris Carpenter, Al Leiter, David Wells, Kelvim Escobar, Esteban Loaiza, Cory Lidle; Mark Hendrickson; Jays: Ted Lilly, Miguel Batista, David Bush, Josh Towers. Advantage: Ex's.

Relievers: Paul Quantrill, Brandon Lyon, Billy Koch; Jays: Jason Frasor, Vinnie Chulk, Justin Speier; Advantage: Jays.

CONGRATS

Welcome back to the respected Scott Ferguson, now at CFRB as well as Global-TV.

BOY NAMED SHEA

Each time Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves comes to the plate at Shea Stadium he's greeted by taunts of "Lar-ry, Lar-ry." So, when his son was born, it was a surprise when he named him Shea Logan Jones. Jones said he'd picked Shea, whether it was a boy or girl, because of his N.Y. numbers. In the four previous seasons, Jones is a .306 hitter at Shea with eight homers and 19 RBI.

ROGER CLEMENS: EX-JAY OF THE WEEK

ROGER CLEMENS just keeps rolling along, even if the Houston Astros are not.

The Philadelphia Phillies, the Chicago Cubs, the Seattle Mariners, the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Blue Jays and the Astros are some of the bigger disappointments this season.

Yet, Clemens came out of retirement and hasn't missed a step. He improved to 15-6 after beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-6 last night.

Clemens pitched 6 2/3 innings, fanned five and knocked in a run to raise his batting average to .190.

So, Clemens is our ex-Jay player of the week. Again.