Remembering Tony Fernandez

Posted February 17, 2020 by The Hek
Categories: Articles, Blue Jays

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Tony Fernandez had four separate stints with the Blue Jays. I was too young to witness his first tenure with the team. However, I clearly remember the remaining three.

The Jays reacquired Fernandez in June 1993 after Dick Schofield sustained a season-ending injury.

Fernandez’s return seemed to be a spark that helped turn things around. They struggled in the early part of that season. Fortunately, they straightened out before capturing their second straight World Series title. Fernandez played a role in that.

His 1999 season really sticks out in my mind. 37-years-old and an incredible .877 OPS!

I was fortunate enough to be at Skydome one Sunday afternoon and witnessed him nearly hit for the cycle against Montreal. From my perch in the 100s – right field foul territory, to be specific – I can recall the majestic flight of a ball he sent into the Expos’ bullpen. Along with Shawn Green, he would ultimately receive a well-deserved trip to the All-Star Game.

From an aesthetic point – and I don’t know why this caught my attention – I always loved how his last name and number were displayed on the back of the uniform. Something about a long last name on top of a thin “1” was mesmerizing.

It’s easy to see why he’s on the Level of Excellence: Single-season leader in games played (1986), at-bats (1986) and triples (1990); all-time team leader in hits, as well as singles and triples. Appeared in more matches than any other Blue Jay; five-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove winner.

He was one of the best to ever wear a Jays uniform. From all accounts, he was also a great individual.

Gone way too soon, but will never be forgotten.

May his memory be a blessing.

ER

Spring Training Haikus: Now spanning two decades (sort of)

Posted February 10, 2020 by The Hek
Categories: Baseball Poetry Project, Blue Jays

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strarting rotation
has some new faces and arms
allowing for depth

important question:
who is the centre fielder?
maybe teoscar?

many options at
the designated hitter
spot to consider

giles shall anchor
the bullpen, along with a
cast of characters

the young stars arrive
with higher expectations
and a stronger bond

ER

Retro Blue Jays – The Pre-Jays Shop Days

Posted January 29, 2020 by The Hek
Categories: Blue Jays, Retro

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Posted by The W/O/C Archive.

Want an old-school Jays hat? Maybe you need a sweatshirt or desire that sweet new powder blue jersey. You simply head to JaysShop.ca (you’re welcome, Mr. Shapiro), click a few times, enter your credit card info and you’ll have your item(s) within a few days.

Wasn’t always like that.

Behold this 1986 commercial for “The Blue Jays Locker.” I’m guessing this was the 80s version of their team store. Catalogues and phone orders were the way to go.

The items – including the highlighted nylon shell jacket – speak for themselves; but having Rance Mulliniks, Lloyd Moseby and George Bell performing a little promotional skit is the real treat.

Also – and please correct me if I’m wrong – the individual doing the voiceover is former PA announcer Murray Elldon.

ER

Friday Night on Front Street: A Baseball Microstory

Posted January 16, 2020 by The Hek
Categories: Baseball Microstories, Blue Jays

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He’s made the pilgrimage for nearly 30 years. Probably could walk the path backwards and blindfolded:

Exit Union Station, walk along Front Street, turn left at John Street, up the stairs and over the bridge. Hello Skydome! Enjoy the game.

The weather is a warm tonic. It’s providing something he badly needs: A chance to take a breath.

The city was busy and his life was no exception. Anxiety and painful memories were far too prevalent. He needed a break. Baseball was that break.

So he walks, inhales the metropolitan air and begins to observe the people and their stories.

ER

Happy Holidays! Why do I put up with this “Jays Twitter” crap?

Posted December 22, 2019 by The Hek
Categories: Articles, Blue Jays

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2019 was an ugly year for the Blue Jays, but not for what happened on the field.

We knew what to expect from this team. It was a season of development and debuts. There were many losses, with a few good moments sprinkled in.

However, the real ugliness occurred online; specifically, “Jays Twitter.”

Twitter as a whole has become an ugly place. Everyone is viciously fighting for their opinions to dominate the masses. Anyone with a blue checkmark – and it seems like everyone is verified these days – is telling me how to think, how to feel, who I should fight, why I should fight, what happens if I don’t fight and that I’m a horrible person if I think differently or choose to stay silent.

It’s upsetting, stressful and overwhelming. I just can’t give myself to EVERY SINGLE CAUSE. I’m sorry.

I blame America’s toxic political climate for the ugliness I see on social media. Even worse is that this toxicity has seeped into all walks of life, including a sub-group like Jays Twitter.

Truthfully, Jays Twitter really pissed me off this year. It was a land of unnecessary anger, gross impatience and brutal divisiveness. I’ve never expected everyone to get along and sing “Kumbaya,” but it seems there were more temper tantrums than ever before.

My timeline was dominated by the anti-Shapiro crowd and other glass-half-empty types. It was the same non-stop messages:

THE CORPORATE OWNERS ARE CHEAP AND DON’T CARE ABOUT WINNING!

MARK SHAPIRO IS RUINING THE BLUE JAYS!

THE STADIUM IS TRASH!

JAYS NEED TO SPEND BILLIONS ON FREE AGENTS!

RUSS ATKINS IS SHAPIRO’S PUPPET, INCOMPETENT, FULL OF SHIT AND HAS TERRIBLE PUBLIC RELATIONS SKILLS!

FIRE EVERYONE AND BRING BACK THE MAGIC FROM 2015-16!

Nobody wants to embrace the pain. Nobody wants to be patient. Nobody wants to focus on the exciting potential surrounding the young core. Nobody wants to let things to grow organically. Nobody wants to let the story play out. Nobody wants to acknowledge that the window of opportunity closed at the end of 2016. Nobody wants to move on. Nobody constructively criticizes.

Everyone wants immediate satisfaction. Everyone wants the Jays to spend lavishly on free agents. Everyone is looking for the smallest crumb to use against the front office. Everyone wants to run Shapiro out of town. Everyone scoffs at everything Shapiro says. Everyone wants Atkins to serve everything to them on a silver platter, brush their teeth and wipe their asses. Everyone suddenly cares about optics and how a message is delivered. Everyone is mad because they took 2015-16 for granted. Everyone wants to declare failure before failure occurs. Everyone is sarcastic and acts like a total jerk when rendering judgements. Everyone gets upset over things that are out of their control.

I see all the nastiness and it takes so much energy not to lash out. It makes me wonder why I’m still on Twitter and why I keep this blog alive.

Seriously, what’s the fucking point?

I’m just one Jays-themed Twitter account posting in a far over-crowded pool of Jays-themed accounts.

I’ve never earned a single cent from doing DNJT and I’d be shocked if any money came my way. DNJT is a moped driving next to giant SUVs like Jays Journal, Bluebird Banter and Blue Jays Nation; not to mention the mainstream media juggernauts.

I thought about pulling the plug more than ever this year. I don’t need the negativity. I don’t need to waste my time on a glorified hobby.

But I can’t do it.

I can’t pull the trigger.

I can’t kill @thehek or DNJT because I’ve always wanted to be more than just a fan. I can’t pull the trigger because it would sever the last thread to a dream that’s been dead for a long time and I’m too stubborn to acknowledge it.

So, I have to live it.

People will always be upset and vent on Twitter. That’s their prerogative. It was happening well before 2015-16. Besides, I’ve had my moments too.

It reminds me of an episode of Gilmore Girls when Luke Danes (Scott Patterson) – after months of frustration – has this epiphany about his rebellious nephew, Jess (Milo Ventimiglia). He realizes that Jess is not going to change his behaviour and any forced attempts to do so are futile. This allows Luke to achieve a sense of calm and peace.

Perhaps that’s the state of mind I should aim for.

Jays Twitter, you are what you are and despite my frustration, I can’t change that. There’s no point in getting angry about something that’s out of my control. I’ll have my opinions; you’ll have yours.

Look, we all want the same thing. Some of us are a little more patient than others. Some of us are a little more optimistic than others. Some of us are assholes. Some of us aren’t.

We can analyze stats and contracts to death. In the end, everything settles on one idea: Things will work out or they won’t.

You have to accept it. I have to accept it.

I guess that’s my cliched New Year’s resolution. Perhaps a “New Decade” resolution.

Speaking of which, I do wish you and your family the very best this holiday season. As always, thank you for taking the time to check out my blog. I really do appreciate it.

2020 will mark the eighth year (and ninth baseball season) of DNJT. You can expect the usual stuff. I’ve also been toying with the idea of rebooting the podcast. However, that will be a long-term project.

Here’s hoping 2020 will be a little better than 2019, on and off the field. After all, spring training is just a few weeks away.

ER

UPDATE: A few hours after I published this post, Hyun-Jin Ryu signed a four-year deal with the Jays. I’m happy! Annoyed with my personal timing, but happy nonetheless. More importantly, Jays Twitter is happy……for now.

Let’s pretend I’m a card-carrying member of the BBWAA

Posted December 5, 2019 by The Hek
Categories: Articles, Baseball, Blue Jays

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Sometimes, it’s fun to do a little role-playing.

Nothing like acting out a fantasy and spicing things up. Life’s hard as it is; so indulge me as I get imaginative.

Let’s pretend I’m a long-standing member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and I have an enticing hall-of-fame ballot.

Photo: @MLB

What did you think I meant? Get your mind out of the gutter 😕

As was the case last year, I have no interest in explaining myself. The names I selected are based on memories, feelings, emotions, bias and a little bit of Baseball-Reference.com.

My votes go to…

  • Larry Walker 🇨🇦
  • Derek Jeter
  • Roger Clemens
  • Barry Bonds
  • Omar Vizquel
  • Todd Helton
  • Manny Ramirez
  • Scott Rolen
  • Gary Sheffield
  • Sammy Sosa
  • Cliff Lee
  • Jeff Kent
  • Jason Giambi

Frankly, I don’t care about who’s elected, as long as Larry Walker is one of them. He deserves to be there.

We’ll find out soon.

ER

Retro Blue Jays – Stieb and Whitt Tour EPCOT

Posted November 20, 2019 by The Hek
Categories: Blue Jays, Retro

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Posted by Retronario.

Where to begin…where to begin…

I guess I’ll make something up:

It’s the early 80s. A bunch of Disney executives are sitting in a room. They wonder how they can get Canadians to visit the brand-new EPCOT Center.

Someone suggests a celebrity endorsement. Another person suggests using a couple of athletes. Suddenly, the most experienced executive in the room pounds his fist on the table and jumps up.

“Jiminy Cricket, I’ve got it!” he shouts. “Let’s get a couple of Blue Jays and give them a tour of EPCOT. We’ll film the whole thing and air it on Canadian television.”

Everyone agrees and high-fives each other. They spend the rest of the day eating pizza and smoking weed.

A little over the top, but I’m sure that’s how it all came together; except for the weed part.

Anyway…

Dave Stieb and Ernie Whitt, along with Catherine Swing, tour EPCOT Center. The popular Blue Jay battery try in the vain to act natural and recite their lines as if they’re off the cuff. Their performance gets an ‘A’ for effort. Nevertheless, the awkwardness is hilarious!

In addition, there are cameos from Bobby Cox and Fergie Olver.

Could you envision the current team doing something like this? Just imagine…Vladdy and Bo touring the Magic Kingdom or Hollywood Studios. 😝

ER


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