TORONTO - The silence of Sidney Crosby speaks volumes about his much-speculated-about condition.
The longer Crosby goes without publicly addressing his medical situation, the more there will be educated guessing and hypothesis put forth about his recovery from head trauma.
It is eight months since Crosby was injured and the hope was that a rest of this length would have him ready to compete in the coming National Hockey League season. Concussions that affect performance for that length of time can often be career altering, if not career ending. For every Patrice Bergeron, who slowly finds his way back to form, there are too many like Marc Savard, who do not.
No one knows what Crosby is feeling outside his tight inner circle. No one really knows how far along he is, or how far away from any kind of meaningful return. And to date, he’s not choosing to say anything.
So we wait and we wonder, not knowing if the best player in hockey will ever be the best player again. He probably wonders the same thing himself. This is a most uneasy summer for the NHL and the face of its game.
This and that
The back-to-back 50 home run seasons will not happen for Jose Bautista. But consider his dominance nonetheless: Since the beginning of last season, Bautista’s 91 home runs lead all of baseball. The powerful Prince Fielder is 31 homers behind him, with the closest to Bautista being Albert Pujols with 73 homers and Mark Teixeira with 68. The crazy Bautista stat of this season: He had 20 home runs by the end of May. He’s hit 17 since ... Every time you want to take the Blue Jays seriously, they lose a home series to a team they have no business losing to: This season, they’ve lost home series to Houston, Kansas City, Oakland and Pittsburgh. If they can’t start beating up on baseball’s softies, they’ll never contend ... Brandon Morrow won five games in July and looked like a No. 1 starting pitcher. But in the other four months of the season, he had just four wins ... I don’t know anyone who isn’t cheering for a Dustin McGowan comeback. But he will be 30 next season and he’s pitched 31 only innings this year, so a meaningful major-league comeback has to be more hope than anything realistic ... So much is impressive about Brett Lawrie, but having eight multi-hit games in his first 20 big league starts tops my list.
Hear and there
The Maple Leafs are all excited about adding Tim Connolly, John-Michael Liles and potentially Matthew Lombardi to their lineup this season. I would tend to share their excitement if all three of them hadn’t been let go or given away by their previous teams with little in return to show for them ... The tweet of the week indicated that Brendan Shanahan, the new NHL disciple of discipline, had been suspended by each of the previous four men who held his job ... The fact the United States Olympic Committee has chosen not to bid on the 2020 Summer Olympics means there won’t be a Summer Games in North America until at least 2024, which would 28 years since the Games in Atlanta ... Is this the weekend that Carolina wishes it had another name for its NHL team? ... I don’t know about you, but if I had Drew Doughty on my team, I’d do everything to make sure he was signed, happy, and ready to lead my Los Angeles Kings team. The last thing I’d want is to drag my franchise player through the negotiating mud all summer with no contract agreed to with three weeks until training camp ... Can’t believe it’s minor hockey time again. Teams all over the province are getting back on the ice these days. Where did summer go?
Scene and heard
Now that the lovely Minka Kelly is no longer the girlfriend, shouldn’t some entrepreneur be promoting a Girlfriends of Derek Jeter calendar? With Kelly, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel. Tyra Banks and Vanessa Minnillo, and all those months, I’d buy one ... Bet you didn’t know that before former NBA player Javaris Crittenden was involved with Gilbert Arenas, and before he was wanted on murder charges, he was straight-A student and rewarded with membership in the Future Business Leaders of America club ... Truth in numbers: When A.J. Burnett starts for the New York Yankees, they are a .444 ball team. When anyone else starts, they play at a .647 clip ... When last we checked in with Swaggerville, home of the CFL’s best team and a great name for a soap opera, the wife of the head coach, Tina LaPolice, was tweeting uncomplimentary things about Hamilton receiver, Dave Stala — if calling someone a “hacky sack boy” is complimentary — much to the chagrin of the traditionally dull head coach, Paul LaPolice. If you’re a Seinfeld addict, you may be familiar with the Summer of George. This is the Summer of Swaggerville.
And another thing
Watched an old CFL game with Doug Flutie quarterbacking the B.C. Lions on ESPN Classic Canada the other night. Forgot how much better he was than anyone else on the field. Sometimes you need an old tape to remind you that he played quarterback in the CFL at a level beyond anyone before him or since ... Time was, the goal of the Canadian broadcaster was to find work in Toronto. Now, the opposite is occurring, with the superb Dennis Beyak leaving the Maple Leafs radio gig for an apparent spot with the Winnipeg Jets, while John Bartlett is leaving his Marlies post for the prestigious radio play-by-play job of the Montreal Canadiens ... You should be happy to know that Bryant McKinnie, offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens, is doing well on his diet. He’s down to 370 pounds ... The Sunday Fact You Can’t Live Without: Ron Artest was unable to change his name to Metta World Peace because, of, get this, unpaid parking tickets ... A question for our friends at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment: Has anyone studied how it is that the Philadelphia Union, second year in MLS, is a playoff team with one loss in 12 home games, while Toronto FC meanders around aimlessly after five hapless seasons ... Happy birthday to Andy Bathgate (79), Lou Piniella (68), Shania Twain (46), Tom Fitzgerald (43), Ron Guidry (61) and Pierre Turgeon (42) ... And hey, whatever became of Doug Carpenter?
If Rodgers isn't the best ...
Aaron Rodgers has entered the special place where Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have been all by themselves for several NFL seasons.
The discussion asking: Who is the best quarterback in football now has a third candidate for the debate. Rodgers was superb a year ago in leading the Green Bay Packers to the Super Bowl and, watching him play in the pre-season is watching a quarterback whose time has come. You can see that with the best of them — how the game seems to slow down for them. How they understand when and what to do with the football.
It’s taken a while, this is his seventh season, but Rodgers, at 27, has every quality you would want in a big time quarterback. He can move, he can throw, he can dissect a defence. If he isn’t the best quarterback in football right now, he will be that soon.
Come back to the CFL where you belong, Fantuz
Why don’t the Chicago Bears do the decent thing and just release Andy Fantuz? It’s not as if they’re using him in any meaningful way.
It’s not like they’re giving the former CFL star a real opportunity to make their team — or even that they believe in him.
On Monday night, in a one-sided pre-season loss against the New York Giants, Fantuz entered the game in the fourth quarter with three minutes to play. He ran a few patterns, caught one short pass and, when the Bears got into the red zone, they removed him from the lineup.
By any definition, in any sport, that’s garbage time. If the CFL all-star Fantuz isn’t considered good enough to get considerable second-half playing time, then he’s wasting his time with the Bears as they are they wasting his.
Best thing for Fantuz: A return to the CFL, where he can — and does — make a difference.
An odd love affair for Jays fans
On the short list of the most beloved Toronto athletes, there will always be a place for John McDonald. As a career utility infielder without much of a bat, McDonald somehow found a way into the hearts of Jays’ fans, just by being the everyman shortstop who showed up, rolled up his sleeves, asked what needed to be fixed and got the job done.
His popularity, at times, has been a mystery, even to those he played with and for. But the emotion from the public was genuine. Strange, the way this city can be, fawning all over a McDonald, yet distant in a way from all the brilliant years of Carlos Delgado. We love effort. We love try guys. We love professional athletes with humility.
The assumption is McDonald will return to Toronto next season as a free agent, back in his familiar perch, back in the only city in major league baseball that would consider him a hero.