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Blue Jays take ALDS over Rangers with dramatic Game 5 win at Rogers Centre

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Oct 14th, 2015

The Toronto Blue Jays are off to the American League Championship Series after a wild win over the Texas Rangers.

Jose Bautista hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning to lift the Jays to an emotional 6-3 victory in Game 5 of the AL Division Series.

Bautista’s bomb off reliever Sam Dyson capped a four-run seventh for the Jays after Texas took a 3-2 lead with a controversial run at the top of the inning.

Toronto catcher Russell Martin attempted to throw the ball back to pitcher Aaron Sanchez, but the ball struck the bat of Shin Soo-Choo and rolled down the third-base line,allowing Rougned Odor to score from third.

The run stood after a lengthy review, and fans responded by throwing garbage and beer cans on to the field.

That was just a taste of the drama-filled game that saw excellent pitching from starters Marcus Stroman and Cole Hamels, two bench-clearing confrontations and a five-out save by Jays closer Roberto Osuna.

Toronto will next play the winner of tonight’s ALDS Game 5 between Kansas City and Houston.

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Blue Jays’ post-season run helps them close in on Maple Leafs’ online popularity

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Oct 14th, 2015

The Toronto Blue Jays’ success on the field is helping them online.

Toronto’s surge into Major League Baseball’s post-season and performance in the American League Division Series has seen the Blue Jays’ popularity explode, with the team’s official Twitter account gaining over 350,000 followers in the past 10 weeks and putting them over one million total followers.

“We do see these kinds of spikes in sports around a team or athlete when they’re winning,” said Christopher Doyle, director of media partnerships for Twitter Canada. “We see it in the Stanley Cup playoffs. A couple of seasons ago the Montreal Canadiens saw a surge in Twitter followers and almost caught up to the Maple Leafs, at that point, because of their playoff run.

“A playoff run can really galvanize a fanbase.”

The Toronto Maple Leafs remain the most popular Canadian sports franchise on Twitter, but may soon fall to the Blue Jays. The Maple Leafs had 1,034,103 followers and the Blue Jays had 1,030,844 as of Tuesday night — a difference of just 3,259 — ahead of Game 5 of the ALDS between the Blue Jays and Texas Rangers on Wednesday afternoon.

Live events often drive an account’s popularity, with Wednesday’s big game against Texas likely putting the Blue Jays ahead of their Toronto neighbours by the end of the day.

“We see huge peaks in conversation around key moments,” said Doyle. “We pulled the top moments from (Toronto’s 14-inning loss to Texas on Friday). There was 2,200 tweets per minute when the final pitch was thrown when the Rangers won. The second largest peak was when Josh Donaldson homered in the bottom of the first at 1,200 tweets per minute.”

Doyle adds that the million-follower mark is a an excellent gauge of a team’s popularity. Of Canada’s seven NHL teams, only Toronto is in the seven-digit range. The Blue Jays are one of only four MLB teams over a million, joining the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies.

The Blue Jays have several advantages that have helped power them to new heights on social media. As the only MLB team in Canada, they can draw on baseball fans from across the country to engage with them on social media instead of just relying on fans in the Greater Toronto Area. Star players like pitchers David Price and Marcus Stroman and sluggers Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista are also very active on Twitter, driving the Blue Jays’ popularity.

Mike Naraine, a part-time faculty member and PhD candidate in sport management at the University of Ottawa who specializes in social media, believes that this reflects a change in how fans experience sports.

“We’ve moved as a sport society away from just one-on-one engagement. You know, I pay $100 for a ticket, I sit up in the stands, and I watch the product on the field or in the arena,” said Naraine. “Now it’s a society where I’m engaging and interacting on multiple levels, whether it’s with the dual screen — my television and my tablet or my smartphone — or I’m able to interact even when I’m not watching the game and not physically in the brick-and-mortar building.

“I’m able to log on and interact with other fans while I’m still doing other things in my every day life.”

Sporting events are the best example of how Twitter and other social networks have become forums for discussion, but other live events effect online behaviour as well.

“It’s the same here in Canada during the federal leaders’ debates,” said Doyle. “We were tracking the data exactly the way we are now with the Blue Jays. You see these huge spikes around key moments in the debates. You see the leaders being talked about more on Twitter just as players in baseball are talked about more during the game.”

The Blue Jays are closing in on several American teams in other sports. The Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks are the top NHL team with 1.12 million followers, with the Maple Leafs second. The Yankees are the most popular baseball team and the New England Patriots have more followers than any other NFL team, with both at 1.51 million.

The NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers are the most popular professional sports team in North America at 4.49 million Twitter followers, while soccer club Real Madrid is the most popular team worldwide, with 17.3 million followers, nearly six times more than the population of the city of Madrid.

Blue Jays fans petition MLB to open Rogers Centre roof for Game 5

Sportsnet | posted Wednesday, Oct 14th, 2015

Despite winning two straight road games in Texas to even up the ALDS, a handful of Toronto Blue Jays’ fans still have a bone to pick to with MLB.

On a petition website, called change.org, a Blue Jays fan under the alias of Ace The Bird created a petition for MLB commissioner Rob Manfred called #OpentheDome, which called for the league to open the Rogers Centre roof in Toronto for Game 5.

In a letter to Manfred, Ace the Bird wrote:

“Weather permitting, the Toronto Blue Jays should be allowed to play with the roof of their stadium open.

In 2015’s regular season, the Blue Jays won 38 times and lost 14 when the dome was open. When it was closed, they won 11 and lost 14. Let’s give them all the support we can and get the dome opened up for Wednesday!

As of 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday, more than 20,680 people had joined the petition.

While the effort is honourable, it remains highly unlikely that Manfred or MLB, who have the final decision on the status of the Rogers Centre roof, will change their stance on the matter, which was closed for the first two games of the ALDS.

According to the forecast, it will be mainly cloudy and windy on Wednesday and a high of 14 C by the time the game kicks off at 4 p.m. However, there is a slight chance of showers.

680 NEWS meteorologist Jill Taylor said the temperature will fall to 10 C by the end of the game. At that temperature, roof mechanics could be an issue. Then, if it rains, there’s no drainage system in place.

Blue Jays’ Stroman ready for Game 5 start against Rangers

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Oct 14th, 2015

There’s no room for doubt in Marcus Stroman’s mind.

The 24-year-old will start for the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday in Game 5 of the American League Division Series against the Texas Rangers, which gets underway at 4 p.m.

Stroman, who missed the majority of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, is very sure of himself headed in to the biggest game of his young career.

“I would say I’m confident. Some people may call it cocky. It is what it is,” said the five-foot-eight Stroman on Tuesday afternoon. “It’s something that my dad kind of raised me with, a huge chip on my shoulder. I’m not scared to say that, I’m extremely confident. That’s something that I pride myself on, that’s the reason I’m at where I’m at.

“Something my father kind of raised me on. He always told me I’m going to be the smallest guy in the room so I have to be the most confident and that’s something that I kind of pitch with today.”

That self-confidence has not gone unnoticed by his teammates in Toronto. Manager John Gibbons loves Stroman’s attitude and is pleased to put the pitcher in the decisive game of the best-of-five ALDS.

“His parents did a tremendous job with him,” said Gibbons. “He’s smart, intelligent, he’s got everything going. But he’s cocky. He’s one of those guys, you know, you think OK, he believes he can do it but let’s see it.”

Stroman exceeded all expectations and returned to the Blue Jays’ starting rotation in early September after injuring his knee at spring training. He won all four games he started in September with 18 strikeouts and a 1.67 earned-run average. He was solid in his only post-season start, giving up four runs – three earned – and striking out five over seven innings of work in Toronto’s 6-4, 14-inning loss in Game 2.

He said that being put in this kind of situation, with the Blue Jays’ season on the line, is exactly what he used to motivate himself during his rehabilitation process at Duke University in North Carolina.

“Obviously it’s a perfect situation that kind of played out in my head,” said Stroman at a news conference in the bowels of Rogers Centre. “And it’s happening, and I mean, I get the chills even just thinking about being in the position that I am now, just coming from where I came.

“I’m so ready and just thankful for everybody in my corner who’s helped me along the way.”

Blue Jays first baseman Chris Colabello, who befriended Stroman in the minor leagues, loves the energy the young pitcher brings to the mound.

“Stro just exudes greatness, confidence, belief, whatever word you want to use to describe him, he’s all of that,” said Colabello. “Watching him pitch brings energy to the fans, brings energy to us. He is who he is for a reason.”

Left-hander Cole Hamels gets the start for Texas on Wednesday and is the opposite of Stroman in terms of experience. The 2008 World Series MVP has started in 14 post-season games with a 7-4 record, 83 strikeouts and a 3.08 ERA. Thursday will be Stroman’s second career post-season start.

“His record and resume kind of speaks for itself,” said Stroman of Hamels. “He’s special, he’s an elite talent, he’s done it in the playoffs. He’s proven and he’s nasty, he’s got some unbelievable stuff as a lefty. So it’s going to be a battle the whole game for us.

“Our guys are going to have to step in the box, and really grind out some tough at-bats. And I’m going to have to do everything in my power to keep their lineups in check.”

Gibbons said ace David Price is “not here to be abused” and that he wouldn’t count on the star lefty being available for Game 5 at Rogers Centre. Price, who was Toronto’s Game 1 starter, was used as a reliever in Game 4’s 8-4 victory on Monday, coming in after knuckleballer R.A. Dickey pitched 4 2/3 innings.

Without Price, Aaron Loup would be the only left-hander available out of the bullpen. Loup, however, is away from the Blue Jays right now as he attends to a personal matter.

“It’s a family matter, it’s a delicate thing for us to even talk about it,” said general manager Alex Anthopoulos. “We’re there to support him with whatever he needs.”

What to expect when you’re electing: A voter’s election guide

Meagan Campbell | posted Tuesday, Oct 13th, 2015

1. How to register

If you were mailed a burgundy slip from Elections Canada with your name on it, you’re automatically registered to vote. If you think it disappeared in the recycling bin, you will still be registered, but you should call or go to your local Elections Canada office to confirm. If you didn’t receive a slip, you can register by calling or going to the office with proof of your name and current address. Make sure to bring the correct proof.

2. Where to vote

Your local polling station is listed on your voter registration card, that white and burgundy slip from Elections Canada that came in your mail. If you didn’t get one, skip to tip number 5.

3. When to vote

To avoid the lines on Oct. 19, you can vote in the advanced polls between Oct. 9 and 12.  The operating hours of the advanced polls are stated on your voter registration card, or can be found at the Voter Information Service.

The operating hours on Oct. 19 vary by region:

  • Newfoundland, Atlantic, Central Time (other than Saskatchewan): 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
  • Eastern Time: 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
  • Saskatchewan Time: 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Mountain Time: 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Pacific Time: 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

4. Everyone’s special

Any day before Oct. 19, anybody can vote through a special ballot. You can do this at your local Elections Canada office or by calling the office to arrange a mail-in ballot or home pick-up option. This will be necessary for people who are travelling during the election or have physical disabilities preventing them from going to their polling stations.

5. What to bring

You’ll need to prove your address and name. You can bring your driver’s licence or two of the following: health card, passport, debit card, credit card or a bank statement, one of which must state your current address. There are dozens of other acceptable pieces of I.D. For a full list, visit the Elections Canada website.

Also, bring a friend to the polling station; voter turnout was a meagre 61 per cent in the last election.

6. Whom to vote for

Read about your local candidates on their websites or call their campaign offices to find out about chances to meet them. For a description of the parties’ overall platforms, read the Maclean’s election issues primers or transcripts of this year’s federal leaders’ debates, including  the Maclean’s debatethe Globe debatethe Munk debate, and the first French language debate.

7. Results!

Elections Canada will begin posting preliminary results on its website at 7 p.m. Eastern Time and will continue posting throughout the evening. Between Oct. 20 and 26, electoral officers will validate the ballots and post final results on the website as they become available.

As for your lawn signs, you can return them to your candidate’s campaign office, or, in most cases, call the office to have them picked up.

Welcome to the world: Toronto Zoo giant panda gives birth to two cubs

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Oct 13th, 2015

The Toronto Zoo has announced a Canadian first – the birth of two giant panda cubs.

Er Shun, the Zoo’s female giant panda, gave birth to her first cub at 3:31 a.m. on Tuesday. The newborn weighed 187.7 grams. The second cub was born at 3:44 a.m., weighing 115 grams.

It may take several months before Zoo officials can determine the cubs’ sex.

“The tiny cubs are very vulnerable at this size, so the next several hours and days will be critical to their survival,” Zoo officials said in a release.

The cubs will remain in the giant panda house’s maternity area for several months.

Two giant panda cubs in an incubator at the Toronto Zoo. HANDOUT
Two giant panda cubs in an incubator at the Toronto Zoo. HANDOUT

“Er Shun is demonstrating excellent maternal instincts and began cleaning and cradling the first cub soon after its birth,” the Zoo said.

Cubs are born blind and weigh only 0.08 to 0.2 kilograms, and about the size of a stick of butter. They are pink in colour with short sparse white hair, and are one-900th the size of their mother.

The Zoo has not yet determined the father of the babies.

With files from CityNews.ca

Blue Jays win Game 4 in Texas, set up winner-take-all in Toronto

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Oct 12th, 2015

After twice being on the brink of playoff extinction, the Blue Jays are now one win away from the American League Championship Series.

Backed by early Josh Donaldson, Chris Colabello and Kevin Pillar home runs, R.A. Dickey and David Price combined for 7 2/3 innings as Toronto defeated the Texas Rangers 8-4 to tie their AL Division Series at two games apiece.

The deciding Game 5 goes Wednesday at the Rogers Centre, with hope of a happy ending for Toronto’s first foray into the playoffs in 22 years. The home team has yet to win in the series.

Price relieved Dickey with two outs in the fifth and the Jays leading 7-1, meaning Marcus Stroman will likely start Wednesday in what could be a rematch of Game 2 against Cole Hamels.

Price threw 50 pitches over three innings, giving up three runs on six hits with two strikeouts. Aaron Sanchez and Roberto Osuna finished it off for the Jays.

“Sometimes the best way to win games is to not let teams back into it,” said Toronto manager John Gibbons when asked why he turned to Price out of the bullpen. “I told Price if we get you up (in the bullpen) you’re going in.”

“(Brett) Cecil down, (Aaron) Loup out today, it was hard for me to do, but I thought that was the best way to win the game.”

Toronto outhit Texas 12-11.

It marked the first time the Blue Jays have hit three homers in a post-season game. The team had nine two-homer games.

Toronto led the majors with 232 homers during the regular season.

Playboy to end publishing fully nude female photos: report

The Associated Press | posted Monday, Oct 12th, 2015

Playboy will no longer publish photos of nude women as part of a redesign of the decades-old magazine, according to a news report Monday.

Executives for the magazine company told The New York Times that the change will take place in March 2016.

The paper reported that the print edition of Playboy will still feature women in provocative poses, but they will no longer be fully nude.

Playboy editor Cory Jones contacted founder and current editor in chief Hugh Hefner recently about dropping nude photos from the print edition and he agreed, the Times reported.

The change represents a major shift for the magazine, which broke new ground when Hefner created it and featured Marilyn Monroe on its debut cover in 1953.

But officials acknowledge that Playboy has been witnessing widespread changes. “You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it’s just passe at this juncture,” said Scott Flanders, the company’s chief executive.

The Times reported that Playboy‘s print circulation, once measured in millions, is now about 800,000, according to Alliance for Audited Media.

The move marks the latest step away from depictions of full nudity, which were banned from the magazine’s website last August.

Previous efforts to revamp Playboy have never quite stuck. But this time, as the magazine seeks to compete with younger outlets, Flanders said it sought to answer a key question: “if you take nudity out, what’s left?”

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