Of easy signings and a weird date for home runs
The best news for the Maple Leafs with the signing of yet another goaltender, this time Finn Jussi Rynnas, is that all it costs them is money -- and they have no shortage of that.
He didn’t cost them a draft choice, which means the Leafs can direct whatever picks they have this time at the other necessities, and he provides depth at a vital position, even though he is likely to start off with the Marlies. If the plan goes according to the early estimates, and J.S. Giguere is attractive to someone at the trade deadline, a year from now the Leafs will have two cost-efficient young goalies in tandem, with Jonas Gustavsson having had a pretty good taste of the NHL by that time. And if he struggles, Rynnas will get his opportunity.
In any sport, you win when you have a lot of good players. He still needs to prove himself an NHL-calibre goalie, but even if he doesn’t, all they’re out will be the dollars.
I’m always in favour of this kind of signing, like the one the Blue Jays did with the Cuban shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, a player scouted and pursued to some degree by other clubs. When there’s no significant cost beyond money, and when he doesn’t roadblock another prospect by taking away playing time, there’s no real down side to this kind of addition.
Switching gears completely, make sure to scan the boxscores for Friday night’s ball games and look to see if there’s anyone hitting his first major league home run tonight. It might mean something.
That’s because April 23 has a bit of a strange history concerning first taters. On this date in 1939, Ted Williams hit his first career home run. That would be the first of 521.
On April 23, 1954, Henry Aaron hit his first career home run. Another 754 would follow.
Two years before that, on April 23, 1952, Hall of Fame relief pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm won his first game as a pitcher and also hit his first home run. The difference in Hoyt’s case? In a career that lasted through 1972, he never hit another home run.
You couldn’t make this stuff up.