23
December
2019

p into the ballgame," Masterson said. "I think weve all had glimps

The Buffalo Bills wont be coming north this season. David West Jersey . The NFL club and Rogers Communications announced Wednesday theyve put the beleaguered Bills Toronto Series -- which features Buffalo playing exhibition and regular-season games at Rogers Centre -- on hold for at least a year. That means the team will play eight home games at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y., for the first time since 2007. "The plan is to postpone it for one year, regroup and determine whats the next best step," said Keith Pelley, the president of Rogers Communications media division. "Its not nullified right now, we have an agreement in place. "Anything is possible but thats not the plan. The plan is to take a step back and say, OK, the Series is having some challenges, the NFL is still big in Toronto, its still important to the Bills so whats the best way to move forward?" The decision comes a little more than a year after the Bills and Rogers agreed to renew the series for five years, though 2017 after the original five-year deal expired. A series-low gathering of 38,969 watched the Atlanta Falcons nip Buffalo 34-31 in overtime Dec. 1 at Rogers Centre, which can seat 54,000 spectators for football. The loss dropped the Bills regular-season record in Toronto to a dismal 1-5 -- and 0-4 in December -- since the start of the series in 08. Buffalo also sports the NFLs longest active post-season drought at 14 straight seasons. Bills president Russ Brandon said the atmosphere at Rogers Centre versus Atlanta figured in the clubs decision to take a step back. "I think thats a fair comment," Brandon told reporters in Orchard Park. "Obviously were trying to build a fan base north of the border and this year I would say it was a neutral crowd. "Some of that had to do with how we played over the last six years, (that) has really not been conducive to building a lot of fans that were NFL fans, but were trying to make them Bills fans. Were going to continue to try to do that through a variety of initiatives that we will be working with Rogers over the next year in a very robust sponsorship and partnership that we will have that will cater to fans above the border." Following the loss to Atlanta, Brandon publicly questioned whether his club loses its competitive edge playing in Toronto. Buffalo has often battled neutral crowds at its home away from home. Bills games at Rogers Centre routinely attract a mix of NFL fans who proudly don their team colours and cheer as loudly -- or sometimes louder -- for Buffalos opponent than the home team. In fact, several Falcons players were surprised at the support they received at Rogers Centre. "It didnt feel like we were in Canada," said Atlanta safety William Moore. "I even saw a No. 25 jersey (Moores number) out there." Whats more, playing in a domed facility robs the Bills of their biggest home advantage: The cold, windy conditions that are the norm in December at Ralph Wilson Stadium. "Were going to go through a detailed full analysis," Brandon said. "Were going to look at every aspect that if we do come back we have a more robust fan experience and try to create more of a home field advantage for us. "Right now that was not the situation. That was one of the reasons we want to get in to a lot of detail with our partners up there and see if that is viable moving forward." Brandons statement "if we do come back," prompted a followup question regarding whether the Bills mightve played their final game in Toronto. "What I said is that were going through a full evaluation process and well work with our partners," Brandon responded. The Bills Toronto Series was unveiled as an attempt to showcase Toronto as a viable NFL city. Rogers Communications Inc. paid US$78 million to stage eight games -- five regular season, three exhibition -- expecting southern Ontario fans to flock to Rogers Centre. But high-priced tickets -- initially averaging over $180 each, compared to roughly US$51 at Orchard Park --and struggling Bills teams combined to make it a tough sell. Tickets were reduced to roughly an average price of $99 to make the game more affordable but even that didnt result in a sellout. "Its always very difficult to change public opinion midway through a project," Pelley said. "Theres no hiding the fact the series did not get off to a rosy start. "It tough midway through to change that perception, hence the reason why we thought it would be a best to take a year off then re-launch it once weve thought that through." Series organizers have also struggled to find the right formula to re-create the NFL experience here. A huge attraction for many American football fans is arriving at the stadium hours before kickoff, setting up the barbecue to cook a variety of foods while throwing a football around in the parking lot or breaking down the upcoming game with friends over a cold beer. However, provincial laws make that impossible in Toronto. The creation of the series also fuelled speculation Toronto would be the landing spot for the Bills upon the death of Ralph Wilson Jr., the clubs 95-year-old owner. However, Brandon routinely stated the NFL club was merely broadening its regional base to include Canadas largest city and generate additional revenue. Brandon said the Bills must take ownership for their role in the series struggles. "I think its been a roller-coaster from the standpoint of just the losses," he said. "Thats on us. "Some of the initiatives Rogers has worked through on their end have improved, but obviously this past year was disappointing with that neutral crowd that we had there, to say the least. I think there have been positives. As I mentioned earlier, the biggest positive has been the influx of fans back here at Ralph Wilson Stadium." Now the question remains whether the Bills can sell out eight home games in 2014. "Obviously last year we had to really work for our sellouts, understandably so," Brandon said. "Thats something that were willing to take on, that challenge. "We have very passionate fans and tremendous fans, but we have to really work to sell tickets here as weve discussed in the past. Were not satisfied until every seat in this building is sold. Thats always the No. 1 initiative and really the foundation of how we run our business." Mark Jackson Jersey . Snedekers best result so far this year is a tie for eighth place at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March. He sits 113th in FedEx Cup standings and has dropped to 31st in world rankings — not the results expected from a player ranked fourth in the world only two years ago. Derrick McKey Jersey .J. -- The New Jersey Devils are so bad in shootouts, coach Pete DeBoer doesnt mind seeing his team take chances in the five-minute overtime. https://www.cheappacers.com/ . Or take a relaxing vacation somewhere warm. Brayden Schenn and Scott Hartnell scored, Ray Emery stopped 32 shots and the Flyers beat the Calgary Flames 2-1 on Saturday for their fourth straight victory.The Toronto Blue Jays will attempt to bounce back, as they begin a three-game set against Cleveland with the struggling Justin Masterson on the mound for the Indians. The Blue Jays lost both installments of their double-header with the Twins on Thursday, falling 7-0 in the early game before suffering a 9-5 setback in the second matchup. Toronto went into the eighth inning of the second half of the doubleheader holding a 5-3 advantage, but the Twins responded with a six-run surge in the bottom part of the inning that put the game out of reach. Torontos bullpen had been one of its major strengths this season, however three relievers combined to walk a franchise-record eight batters and throw three wild pitches in the costly eighth inning on Thursday. "We just couldnt throw strikes, we didnt pitch very good all series," manager John Gibbons said after the game. "Its cold, OK, but you know what? Its cold for both sides, and if youre ever going to get to October in the playoffs, its going to be cold. We didnt pitch very well. We were in a position to win that one and we coughed it up." Jose Bautista belted a solo shot and scored twice for the Blue Jays, who went 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base. Bautista is pacing the club with six homers, 11 RBI and 14 runs scored, while Melky Cabrera is batting a team-best .301. Torontos poor performance pit it two games back of the AL East-leading Yankees. The Blue Jays will look to bounce back with right-hander Drew Hutchison on the hill. Although he held the Orioles scoreless for six innings in his last appearance, Hutchison took a no-decision due to a lack of run support. He wwill face Masterson, who was expecting to be Clevelands ace once again after recording a team-high 14 wins during a 2013 run to the playoffs. James Edwards Jersey. However, 2014 has been a different story for Masterson and the Indians, who rank 25th in the MLB in ERA (4.35) and 22nd in quality starts with six. Masterson was lucky to avoid a losing decision in his last appearance as he surrendered six runs (five earned) while walking five in just 4 2/3 innings of work versus the White Sox. Masterson seems to believe its only a matter of time before Clevelands starting staff gets back on track. "We just havent been able to get deep into the ballgame," Masterson said. "I think weve all had glimpses of great things, and then weve kind of gotten unraveled ever so slightly as weve gone along. Again, and you look at it, too, been some tough breaks for other guys. You look at certain plays that go this way or that way and it could be a lot different story." The Tribe were defeated, 7-5, by Detroit on Thursday to conclude their seven- game road swing. Clevelands offense was impressive in the setback. Michael Brantley hit a two-run homer and added a two-run single, while Lonnie Chisenhall went 4-for-4 and David Murphy knocked in Clevelands other run. Chisenhall raised his average to .522 after 23 at-bats in the loss. Jason Kipnis was ejected in the third inning for arguing balls and strikes with the bases loaded for the final out of the third inning. The five Cleveland batters who have faced the 23-year old Hutchison in the past have gone a combined 8-for-13 with one walk against him. The Indians are 3-3 in six games at Progressive Field in 2014. ' ' '



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