Around The Bases – Your trip around the world in sports for March 1, 2019

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The daily sports news cycle is crazier than ever. Don't have the stamina to keep up to speed? Around The Bases is your daily morning destination to stay in the know on the biggest stories in both local and professional sports. We’ll start at first base with an intriguing story or event, and bring you home with a must-read story in the North Peace sports scene.

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First Base - Blue Jays sign Bucholz, Norris

The Toronto Blue Jays continue to give us signs that this is going to be a rough, losing season to sit through. The latest evidence is their signings of pitchers Clay Bucholz and Bud Norris, to presumably fight for the final rotation spot. Both have had success earlier in their careers, but those days are gone. Still, Bucholz was 7-2 with a 2.01 ERA in 16 games with Arizona last year, which sounds pretty good, but I am clinging to my skepticism. 

Second Base - Jason Witten suddenly returns to NFL

The news that broke yesterday of Jason Witten leaving the Monday Night Football broadcast to return to football was as surprising as you'll hear in the sports world. After a one-year retirement from playing football, Witten will once again be the tight end for the Dallas Cowboys, at 36 years old, making $3.5 million. This could work out for the Cowboys — Witten had 63 catches for 580 yards in 2017, but he's been away from the game for a year, and two years are older, and those numbers will probably be down. The interesting thing is that we don't know why he left the ESPN job. Did all the criticism finally get to him, or was he fired? Either way, I guess I can't blame him, though I am in the rare camp that wanted to see him stick it out on TV and eventually become good. 

Third Base - Tavares booed heavily in return to Long Island

John Tavares played his first game at Nassau Coliseum yesterday since joining the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the results was just how I predicted yesterday in this column. Tavares was booed heavily, even booed during his video presentation, and Garret Sparks didn't pick up the slack, and the Leafs lost 6-1. The Islanders fans were ready for this game and brought the energy — the first half of the game was really fun to watch, and it seemed Tavares came to play early as well, but in the end, the environment and Sparks was too much to overcome. Some will say the Islanders fans were classless, but that's just how these things go. Tavares knew what would happen, and he'll get over it, and in five years the Islanders fans will too. 

Home Base - Bryce Harper signs largest contract in MLB history

It finally happened — Bryce Harper signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies yesterday, the largest total money contract in MLB history. It took a long time — the season starts in a month — but in the end, Harper got the contract everyone said he would two years ago. While the money is alarming, because of the term, it's not the most ever annually. The real reason this deal seems questionable is that it's for 13 years, which will take Harper to his age-39 season. There are no opt-outs and Harper has a full no-trade clause, so if his play goes downhill, it will be hard for the Phillies to move him. There's also that part about Harper being overrated as a player, but there will be time to talk about that in a couple years. For now, it could be nice having the Phillies be relevant again, and a divisional battle between them and the Atlanta Braves would be refreshing and new. 

Around the Bases runs Monday through Friday. If you have a news tip or story to share, email Dillon Giancola at sports@ahnfsj.ca

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