April 2, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 97  

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Outside the Western gates

By James Hayes
Gazette Staff

Below are the highlights in the world of professional sports over the past week:

The Major League Baseball regular season kicked off this week in Tokyo, with the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Devil Rays clashing in a pair of games.

Shockingly, the Yankees lost their season opener to the Rays 8-3, but came back the following day to spank Tampa 12-1. Matsui homered in his return, and was named the MVP. The Tokyo Dome erupted when Godzilla came to the plate. The regular season kicks off for the remaining MLB teams next week.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are jostling for a playoff position in the NHL’s ultra-tough Northeast Division and Eastern Conference. The Leafs are currently two points back of the Boston Bruins for the lead in the Northeast and No. 2 playoff seed.

In further news, Owen Nolan suffered a knee injury in a game earlier in the week against the Ottawa Senators. Nolan’s leg buckled when he attempted a hit on Brian Smolinski. He is out for at least three weeks, after which time he will be re-evaluated. Nolan’s absence from the fast-approaching playoffs could be costly for the Buds.

New York Giants’ wide receiver Amani Toomer signed a five-year contract extension with the team. Toomer, a former Michigan Wolverine, has been a productive 1,000 yard machine since joining the Giants and should provide a consistent target for quarterback Kerry Collins to throw to.

This past week has seen swirling speculation involving Toronto Raptors general manager Glen Grunwald and head coach Kevin O’Neill. This resulted in Grunwald being fired Thursday morning. Jack McCloskey will step in as interim GM. Earlier this week, Toronto media sources reported that both men’s jobs were in jeopardy following a disappointing campaign for the Raptors. The Raptors, who sit three-and-a-half games back of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, have had somewhat steady production from star Vince Carter, yet his production hasn’t translated in the win column. It seems O’Neill will remain on the hot-seat for the rest of the season, especially if the Raps don’t make the postseason.



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