Posted tagged ‘2015’

Damn! I was selfishly hoping the Blue Jays wouldn’t trade Russell Martin

January 14, 2019

I know that’s ridiculous; possibly idiotic. But part of me was hoping Russell would be kept for the sole purpose of mentoring Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire; similar to the role Curtis Granderson played in 2018.

Of course, that would be a very expensive mentor. Given that Mark Shapiro and Russ Atkins are scorching the Earth as part of the rebuilding process, it makes sense to get something in return for Martin. After all, the Jays are paying his salary, despite the trade. I’m sure the front office also doesn’t want a repeat of the Josh Donaldson saga. Martin probably wants to actually play as well.

I have no interest in the numbers. That’s for the insiders, pundits and professional bloggers to crunch. When I think of Russell Martin, the first words that come to mind are confidence and professionalism.

Sitting in the left field seats gave me the opportunity to watch him prepare for a match. I was transfixed by him running from the dugout to the outfield in full catching gear. He’d go through his drills before working with that day’s starter. It’s hard to articulate, but I never had to worry about what was happening behind the plate.

I spent the last few days thinking of my favourite Russell Martin memories. That homerun against the Yankees in late 2015 will probably be his defining moment with the team.

It was Yom Kippur that day. My family and I were breaking our fast at a relative’s house. Normally, we’d sit around the living room chatting. Not this time.

The majority of us gathered in front of the TV. The atmosphere was incredibly tense; but when Russell connected, we all exploded in jubilation! Of course, we weren’t the only ones: “RUSSELL! RUSSELL! RUSSELL! RUSSELL!”

Other moments come to mind:

– The errant throw in game five of the 2015 ALDS that almost flushed a magical season down the toilet; followed by his thanking the heavens for Jose Bautista’s iconic bat flip homerun.

– The hot streak he went on in August 2016 when the rest of the team was struggling.

– Game three of the 2016 ALDS; a first inning dinger, followed by the fielder’s choice that ultimately led to the Donaldson Dash.

Now his career has come full circle as he heads back to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He deserves a chance to play for a contender. Hopefully, he’ll help L.A. finally get over that hump. Having a chance to catch Clayton Kershaw is also a nice bonus.

Maybe it was his connection to Ontario and Quebec. Maybe it was because he’s just a few weeks older than me. Maybe it was using “Courage” as one of his walk-up songs. I’m just thrilled Russell Martin spent four seasons with the Jays. Worth every penny; even the ones that will cover his 2019 season.

ER

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Troy Tulowitzki was the turning point and worth every penny, gosh darn it!

December 11, 2018

So I wasn’t surprised Tulo was released. Mark Shapiro and Russ Atkins are forging their own path, even if it means scorched earth and paying a 34-year-old $38 million over the next few seasons to not show up to Dunedin.

Whatever. I’d still pull the trigger on that trade.

Tulo’s arrival midway through 2015 – along with David Price’s arrival a few days later – was the turning point. His mere presence gave the Jays an incredible boost. Before the trade, the team was hanging by a thread. Tulo put on the uniform and that Jays team took off like a rocket!

Not going to get into his numbers or the injuries. I’m perfectly content with the 2015-16 playoff banners and the memories.

If you’re into the whole “what has he done latley” argument, that’s cool. You’re entitled to feel that way. I just prefer to put more heart and emotion into my fandom.

Thank you, Tulo.

ER

Josh Donaldson: He brought the rain and it was magical AF

September 3, 2018

Josh Donaldson’s tenure with the Blue Jays was a blessing. The events surrounding his departure really, really, REALLY suck. However, this is not as tragic as some have made it out to be.

Josh Donaldson was not going to finish 2018 in a Jays uniform. I made peace with this notion well before the season started. Unless the team was a legit contender for the second wild card spot, this was it for the Bringer of Rain.

I prayed he would be traded during the off-season. Prayed the Jays would get a king’s ransom in exchange. I get why they waited for the middle of the regular season – contending teams would be increasingly desperate to land Donaldson’s services and therefore, empty their shelevs of young, developing talent.

Of course, that didn’t happen. Josh gingerly walked off the field in May, never to return wearing a Jays uniform; his value drastically fell.

Who’s to blame? Nobody.

Donaldson didn’t intend to miss a significant chunk of the season. Mark Shapiro, Russ Atkins and the rest of front office didn’t anticipate something like this to happen, nor would they want it to happen.

Of course, social media is more than happy to point fingers.

On social media, Shapiro and Atkins have screwed up everything!!!! Some have claimed they have set the team back by decades. Others have filed a non-confidence motion. Heck, if Shapiro and Atkins saved 1000 orphans from a towering inferno, they’d still be villanized.

So let’s take a breath.

The Blue Jays are rebuilding. It has been evident for a while. Whether you like it or not, they are a team in transition. Keeping Josh Donaldson would be counter-productive. A player of his caliber and age – if healthy, obviously – would naturally yield younger, developing talent. It’s not a perfect formula, but it only makes sense to collect several “prospects” in exchange for Donaldson and hope some – if not all – live up to their full potential.

The only mistake Shapiro and Atkins made was not trading Donaldson before the season. An error that defines the concept of hindsight.

Here’s something else to consider: Do you really believe Donaldson wanted to be a Blue Jay after 2018?

Think about it. He’s in his early 30s and about to become a free agent. He wants to win now. He expects to win now. Why would he stay in Toronto and endure a rebuild that doesn’t have a definitive timeline? Donaldson has earned the right to play for whoever he wants; so the Jays might as well get something for him, even if it’s unfortunately not a king’s ransom.

While Donaldson and Atkins have both paid the appropriate amount of lip service post-trade, we may never know what actually happened behind the proverbial closed doors. Maybe there were diagreements. Maybe feelings were hurt.

There will be some who desperately need to know what occurred for their own agendas. But for me….I just don’t give a damn.

When I think about Josh Donaldson, I won’t think about his departure. I’ll think of the man who told the world that this was the “get it done league.”

I’ll think of the man who dove into the first few rows at Tropicana Field to catch a foul ball.

I’ll think of the man who crushed a walk-off home run at the final home game of the 2015 season, sending the crowd into a frenzy; including yours truly from my right field seat in the 200s.

I’ll think of the man who knocked in the tying run in game five of the 2015 ALDS, setting the stage for Jose Bautista’s iconic bat flip.

I’ll think of the man – who I witnessed from my perch in section 525 – dive gracefully across home plate, clinching game three and an ALDS series sweep in 2016.

Damn right his name should be added to the level of excellence. He was the American League’s most valuable player in 2015. The only other Blue Jay who won AL MVP is already on the LOE.

Josh Donaldson was the glue, the missing piece, the magic tonic. He brought the rain and it was MAGICAL! His unfortunate departure will never overshadow his impact.

I really hope things work out for him in Cleveland and of course, with the Blue Jays’ long-term plan. Seeing a popular player get traded is never pleasant.

Just remember: It’s going to be okay.

ER

Scribbled Thoughts: The Jumble Edition

January 21, 2016

As usual, my mind is all over the place. Please bare with me.

In the summer of 2012, my friend and I went on a baseball road trip. We visited Cleveland, Pittsburgh and then made the pilgrimage to Cooperstown. I must have taken hundreds of photos inside the Baseball Hall of Fame. This was one of them:

PEDs notice at Baseball Hall of Fame

I don’t know if this sign is still displayed. But given the recent announcement of the 2016 induction class and the subsequent debate about certain players and PED use, I wanted to share it with you.

I have no interest, nor the energy to add my two cents to the topic. It’s a complicated and conflicting mess. But every time I look at this photo, I wonder if the Hall of Fame is/was preparing a path for players like Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds in case they were ever inducted. It’s a way of saying that players like Clemens and Bonds are Hall of Famers, but given their alleged use of PEDs, one should take their accomplishments with a “grain of salt.”

***

I started having visions of Yoenis Cespedes wearing a Jays uniform last week. They increased after CJ Nitkowski suggested Toronto as a possible destination for the Cuban outfielder on MLB Network Radio.

It seems crazy, but why not flip Dalton Pompey or another young player for some pitching help and then sign Cespedes? Think of the bat and that cannon of an arm.

And yes, I will seek help if the visions continue 😉

***

I caught Dean Blundell and Jon Morosi discussing Josh Donaldson’s arbitration case a couple of days ago. Both felt this “issue” could damage the AL MVP’s relationship with the Blue Jays’ front office, negatively affecting any chances for a possible long-term deal.

They may have a point or they were fear-mongering. Either way, it stressed the hell out of me.

Regardless of the outcome of the arbitration case, Donaldson will earn over $11 million this season, as some articles have noted. That’s a lot more than what I (maybe you too) will bring in this year. So do we really need to make a big deal about this? Isn’t this nothing more than the business of baseball? Will Josh really get pissed about this (I’d like to think not)? Isn’t this more about Donaldson’s agents simply looking out for their client? Would their be the same reaction to this story if AA was still the GM?

Maybe I should stop fanning the flames.

***

I’ve read and listened to a lot of comments about the Blue Jays since game six of the ALCS. Sometimes, I can’t tell if they won the AL East or finished last.

***

There’s something about Aaron Sanchez that caught my attention when he was in town for the Winter Tour. Maybe it was the confidence or the additional 25 pounds. But after watching him, I have this feeling he’s going to blossom this year. Perhaps he’ll surprise us in 2016; the same way Pillar, Osuna and Estrada did in 2015. And just imagine – for a moment – what it will be like if both Sanchez and Marcus Stroman excel to a higher level. Who needs David Price, am I right??? 😉

Meanwhile, I’d love to know what Aaron’s diet was like in the offseason. When I heard about the 25 pounds, I was intrigued and hungry.

ER

One Hell of a Year

December 31, 2015

Where to begin…

My wife and I are at a game in late May. Mark Buehrle pitched well, but got little run support. The Jays would end up losing to Seattle that day.

Around the seventh inning, I made my way to the washrooms. As I waited in line, a couple of fans were discussing the team’s performance. They were the type of fans that jump to conclusions. The ones Mike Wilner would describe as “chicken littles.”

These fans were convinced the Jays were well on their way to another disappointing season.

“They’re done,” one fan told the other. “They can’t hit or do anything right. Pitching is terrible. They’re finished.”

I guess I could have reminded them there were four months left in the season, roughly translating to about 100 games. I could’ve said something colloquial like “anything is possible” or “anything can happen” or “chill the f*** out.” But I had no interest in debating with the stubborn fans.

Fortunately, they were wrong. Very, very wrong.

Instead, my hopes and prayers came true.

This team was somewhere between contender and another unsuccessful season. Then the late-July trades occurred and everything changed.

Something happened when Troy Tulowitzki and David Price became Blue Jays; stimuli that caused an incredible response. The Jays went from a good team to a dominate force. It was refreshing, memorable and simply fun to watch.

I can’t even describe the feeling. The city was excited. The country was electrified. For me, the confidence the Jays gave us was something that had been missing for years.

Down a few runs? No big deal. They would still win. Going to Yankee Stadium for a weekend series? They took charge without fear. Donaldson at the plate? Hope you were paying attention because something special was likely about to happen. Ditto for Joey Bats and Edwin.

Then there were the playoffs. I’m still recovering from the wild ride. Just a few days ago, Sportsnet aired a review of the season and included the seventh inning of game five. I knew what was going to happen; and yet, my heart was still racing.

Now the year is coming to an end. There’s a new President, a new General Manager and a few additions and subtractions. Certain fans – here come the chicken littles – have forgotten about the success that occurred in 2015. Some have even acted like 2016 will be a disaster, despite the fact that a single pitch hasn’t even been thrown.

Of course, it pisses me off; but there’ll always be those who are patient and calm and those who jump to conclusions. I won’t let the negativity ruin the incredible run the Jays went on.

I got to watch my favourite team end a 22-year drought and engage in playoff baseball; and I got to watch it live for the very first time.

There’s no way to know what will happen next season and I’m fine with that. Bring on 2016!

ER

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Epic moments at the ballpark.

Short, Scribbled Thoughts on AA

October 30, 2015

Now that everything has been fleshed out and digested…

My first memory of Alex occurs in the summer of 2009. It was – if memory serves – during a weekend series at Tropicana Field. Alan Ashby had taken a few days off, so Jerry Howarth invited AA to sit in on a couple of broadcasts. The young assistant GM (at the time) sounded confident and wasn’t shy behind the mic. Looking back, this was a primer for what was to come.

When this current chapter of Blue Jays history is written, the starting point – or ground zero – revolves around two individuals: Jose Bautista and Alex Anthopoulos.

AA had a talent for keeping things quiet. That’s what made most of his moves so Earth-shattering. They just popped out of nowhere, giving him that ninja persona as Mr. Wilner once described it. Nobody saw the trade with the Marlins coming; ditto for Josh Donaldson, Tulo and David Price (though I was praying for that trade for a year!). Nobody expected fan favourites like Brett Lawrie to get dealt either.

He wasn’t perfect and there are certainly moves that haven’t/didn’t/aren’t working out as well as we hoped. But in the end, he successfully put together a team that produced a playoff appearance for the first time in over two decades. The 2015 AL East banner will fly from the rafters and AA played a role in making that happen. That’s what makes his departure so shocking.

Based on the information I’ve gathered and heard what was said (and not said), there came a point in the last few weeks when AA decided his ability to do his job became compromised. It’s a sad and upsetting end.

I’m not in the mood for pointing fingers or blaming people. Nevertheless, I’m disappointed with how things turned out yesterday. The timing is terrible and sends a bad message. Yes, a new President coming in tends to lead to changes; but the way things were conducted stings.

So now Mark Shapiro has the task of fixing this little PR mess. People are unhappy right now. Not the best way to start a tenure; though we don’t know what exactly happened and will likely never know.

Of course, if the Jays continue to succeed on the field, all of this becomes a moot point.

ER

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Playoff Edition 4 (aka Episode 61, aka Season Finale)

October 27, 2015

Despite losing the ALCS to Kansas City, the Blue Jays had one hell of a season!

Joanna Cornish of Humandchuck.com joins DNJT to take one last look at the 2015 team.

Episode 61 Direct MP3 Download

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Hats off to the Jays and their fans!


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