By HOWARD BERGER
TORONTO (Sep. 15) – The dictionary draws a bold line between the definition of a “fool” and the act of being “foolish.”
A fool is a “silly or stupid person.” A foolish individual “shows a lack of sense… [something that is] ill-conceived or unwise.”
Tim Leiweke could never be placed in the former category.
Not a man that brilliantly administered one of the largest sports conglomerates on the planet — Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) – in the capital of world entertainment, Los Angeles. Not a person that has more recently been Chief Executive Officer of a company – Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) – that owns one of the most profitable sports franchises on Earth, and the highest-valued of 30-such entities in the National Hockey League: the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Fools are not recruited for such roles.
There is also, however, a difference between intelligence and wisdom.
And that’s why Leiweke failed to realize that his candid remarks to a group of business students at Ryerson University on Friday would quickly spread through town. In the age of social media, there was no way Leiweke’s character homicide of an MLSE athlete with “off-the-chart” numbers, regardless of context, had a prayer of staying within the room. That the un-named athlete could instantly be narrowed to the Maple Leafs’ most talented player proved a glaring lack of wisdom by the CEO. While it’s true that Phil Kessel and Mark Messier will never be confused, Leiweke might have kept his opinion to himself – particularly on the eve of NHL training camp, knowing that some intrepid journalist will surely ask the laconic Leaf about his unmistakable inference.
TIM LEIWEKE HAS HAD BETTER MOMENTS THAN ON FRIDAY MORNING AT RYERSON.
Given that Leiweke is employed – for the time being – by a communications “partnership,” you might think that someone within the Bell-Rogers hierarchy would communicate his or her displeasure to the outgoing executive. Even if the athlete-in-question could not be identified by a simpleton (of which there are countless among us), Leiweke’s remark was unflattering to the company that pays his salary. Were he to be occupying his chair indefinitely, perhaps a finger-wag from George Cope and/or Guy Laurence would suffice. That Leiweke has made known his intention to depart MLSE by next summer – and may therefore not be as tactfully inclined – is somewhat of a red-flag.
Kessel, of course, didn’t deserve the shot.
As I’ve written numerous times, he gives the Maple Leafs everything in his arsenal – which is plenty. There’s not a lot more you can ask of a player. Leiweke inferring that Kessel is hardly a character magnet offered little insight. Toronto hockey fans have become well aware of their team’s individual and collective limitation. However accurate Leiweke’s premise may have been, no hardened Maple Leaf zealot needed a reminder. Particularly from within the marbled walls.
All it proved again is that an intelligent person can act like a fool.
WEEKEND THOUGHTS: I’ve read a couple of opinions, quite incredibly, that a fast start by the Maple Leafs will “silence the critics.” A fast start? There isn’t a professional team in the northern hemisphere that should be less evaluated by its record in the early months. Let’s try to remember that on Mar. 13 of last season, with 14 games to play, the Leafs were second in the Atlantic Division – one point up on Montreal and seven points up in the of wild-card playoff hunt. Still, the club managed to fold. After the first week of February in the 2011-12 season, Leafs were nine games over .500 and battling for home-ice in the playoffs. Then came a 5-17-3 debacle. How could a fan of the Blue and White be content with anything in the first week of November? Let’s retain a shred of sanity before the puck drops… The latest (and among the greatest) versions of the famed “Toronto Collapse” occurred in Calgary on Saturday night when the abominable Argonauts of the Canadian Football League spit up a 29-3 lead and lost 40-33 to the Stampeders. Our professional clubs are spectacularly consistent… After looking like a bad high school team in the NFL pre-season, the Buffalo Bills are 2–0 out of the gate – once again seducing their tormented fans. The Bills defense was terrific in a 29-10 rout of Miami Sunday afternoon at Orchard Park. But, football zealots in western New York undoubtedly remember 2008 and 2011. In ’08, the Bills were 5–1 after Week 7 and could win only two of their last ten games. In ’11, it was 5–2 after Week 8, then 1–8 the rest of the way. So, caution is likely to prevail amid the football excitement down the QEW…
THE BUFFALO BILLS DEFENSE MADE LIFE MISERABLE FOR MIAMI QUARTERBACK RYAN TANNEHILL SUNDAY AFTERNOON IN ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. BUFFALOBILLS.COM
Without Melky Cabrera and Brett Lawrie – arguably their two most indispensable players – the Toronto Blue Jays have done a respectable job of hanging around the playoff periphery in the American League this month. Sadly for the Jays, their season was lost by stumbling to 14 games under .500 (29–43) between June 7 and Aug. 29. The ball-club’s immediate future, however, is rather enticing. Barring unforeseen change, the starting rotation next year will feature reliable veterans R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle with the youthful, dynamic arms of Drew Hutchison, Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez. Another splendid prospect – lefty Daniel Norris – could enter the picture. Having followed the Jays since their inaugural season of 1977, it’s difficult for me to remember the club with as many pitching prospects at the same time. Even in their world championship years of 1992 and 1993, the Jays were compelled to add such veterans as Jack Morris, David Cone and Dave Stewart to the rotation. Prior to that, the team had fiddled with John Candelaria, Tom Candiotti and Phil Neikro. The current Blue Jays appear to be set up very nicely at the most important position in baseball… More of a mystery, looking at 2015, is the job of closer. Veteran Casey Janssen – nearly a sure thing before the All-Star break this season; completely unreliable since then – is a free agent and questionable to return. The perfect choice would be Sanchez. With his ability to pin-point the ball and move it around at 98 miles-an-hour, the kid would save 50 games a year. But, he is pegged for the rotation…
CORNERSTONES OF THE TORONTO BLUE JAYS YOUNG PITCHING ROTATION MARCUS STROMAN (LEFT) AND AARON SANCHEZ. NATIONAL POST PHOTO
More intrigue will follow lefty J.A. Happ, who has given Toronto lots of solid work as the No. 5 starter. The club holds a $6.7-million option on Happ for next year. It is well worth consideration, knowing how injuries always crop up… I couldn’t help but laugh during the eighth inning of the Blue Jays-Tampa Bay telecast on Sportsnet Sunday afternoon. Some red-headed kid seated in the front row down the right-field line brought his glove to the game, hoping to catch a foul ball. Just as any kid with the same seats would do. Lo and behold, a pop fly off the bat of Logan Forsythe twisted away from the foul line toward the edge of the stands. Instinctively, the kid – wearing sunglasses – followed the ball directly into his glove. It was one of the better defensive plays made in that part of the stadium on Sunday. At the same time, however, Blue Jays right-fielder Jose Bautista had his glove poised to catch the ball and make an out. As the play was being reviewed, TV analyst Pat Tabler wondered why a “home fan” wouldn’t move out of the way and allow the fielder undisturbed access. Nice thought by Tabler but if anyone can remember such a thing happening in the history of baseball, please tell me. And then call the Chicago Cubs office and ask about Steve Bartman. I can guarantee you that kid had no idea Bautista was anywhere near him as he squinted through darkened glasses and watched the souvenir into his glove. Only when the youngster looked up and saw Bautista complaining to the umpires did he realize his “mistake.” In the end, it was ruled he had marginally interfered; don’t forget, a player reaches into the stands at his own risk… If you have nothing else to do this week, count the number of media references to the “Super Bowl rematch” next Sunday between Denver and Seattle. And then remind yourself it is not a Super Bowl rematch but a regular season game between the clubs that played for the 2013 NFL championship. It becomes a Super Bowl rematch only if the Broncos and Seahawks are on the field in Glendale, Ariz. next Feb. 1…
NO, YOU WILL NOT SEE A RE-MATCH OF SUPER BOWL XLVIII (ABOVE) NEXT SUNDAY IN SEATTLE, BUT A REGULAR-SEASON GAME BETWEEN THE SEAHAWKS AND BRONCOS.
You almost never see a make-up penalty call in the NFL. But, the officials gave one to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. In the third quarter, the zebras somehow did not see Miami right-tackle Ja’Wuan James rise from his stance nearly one full count before the snap. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill completed a short pass. Two seconds after the ball was snapped again, a flag was in the air – Dolphins center Samson Satele getting nailed for a phantom hold. CBS announcers Tom McCarthy and Adam Archuleta were dying to call it a make-up penalty, but one of them stopped midway through his sentence. Better to be a good corporate partner… Unofficially, the Leafs were 174-0-0 during the summer on their in-house channel. Despite an extensive search, Leafs TV couldn’t find a single loss to replay… Great line earlier in the week from veteran Baltimore Sun baseball writer Peter Schmuck (yes, fellow Jews, that’s really his name). Chris Davis of the Orioles was suspended 25 games for substance abuse two days after the sordid Ray Rice video made international headlines. Wrote Schmuck: “The way things have gone this week, it would not be a tremendous surprise if news broke tomorrow that Francis Scott Key plagiarized The Star-Spangled Banner.” Indeed, the American lawyer and author that wrote lyrics to the U.S. national anthem was a native of Baltimore.
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