Posted tagged ‘2016’

So I intended to write a well thought-out piece about Edwin Encarnacion signing with Cleveland…

December 31, 2016

…but then life got in the way. So I’ll just say this:

Truth is we’ll never know what happened during negotiations. All we have is speculation. I also can’t take anything the Jays and Paul Kinzer have said at face value. 

Looking back, I wish Mark Shapiro and Russ Atkins were a little more patient and showed leanency. This wasn’t a subpar player; this was an integral part of the Jays’ lineup. They owed it to Edwin to not rush him and just caught things off. Yes, this is the business part of baseball, but the situation warranted a little flexibility.

In turn, I wish Kinzer focused more on his client’s needs than manipulating the process through the media. Did he honestly think stiring the emotions of the fan base would influence Shapiro and Atkins? He portrayed Edwin as a figure devastated by the fact he wasn’t coming back to Toronto. If the Jays weren’t part of the equation, then the Earth would be scorched. 

But again, it’s all based on speculation.

Now we have to move on and get use to Edwin playing for the Tribe. It is my hope that when we look back at Edwin’s illustrious time in Toronto, we fondly remember the great moments on the field and view his departure as a minor footnote.

May the parrot walk on forever. 

ER

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Short, scribbled thoughts about Brett Cecil

November 21, 2016

I guess my earliest memory of Brett Cecil would have been around 2007-2008. All the bloggers were writing about two specific “prospects” in the Jays’ system: Cecil and Travis Snider.

He debuted in 2009 with a shaved head and wearing fancy sports goggles. There were some teachable moments.

There was a match against the Yankees where he threw a ball out of play, but forgot to call ‘time out.’ New York, being such savy veterans, took advantage.

Another time, he entered the dugout after a bad performance. It prompted Cito Gaston to walk over to the young hurler and have a heart-to-heart. Cito was calm and father-like with his message. It was critical, but also encouraging. It was something Cecil needed to hear.

Surley lost amongst the discussion of Cecil’s departure would be his strong 2010 performance. He started 28 games, posting a 15-7 record, with a 4.22 ERA and 1.326 WHIP. Had it not been for Jose Bautista’s incredible offensive outburst that season, Cecil would’ve been the best part of 2010.

However, things fell apart in 2011-2012. Cecil pitched poorly and it clearly affected him. Countless times he left a poor performance and threw a tantrum. Things were smashed and tossed, with plenty of profanity. I attended one of his starts in 2011 that didn’t go well. I followed him back to the dugout on the jumbotron. As soon as he started venting his frustrations, the screen quickly cut away to a video. It was as if the Skydome control room wasn’t familiar with Cecil’s tantrums, which had unfortunately became his calling card.

Ultimately, he was sent down to AA New Hampshire. It wasn’t as bad of a demotion as one would think. At the time, the Jays’ AAA affiliate was in the offence-friendly Pacific Coast League. It only made sense for Cecil to pitch with the Fishercats, where the results wouldn’t be skewed.

But things turned around in 2013 when Cecil successfully reinvented himself as a reliever. He had a sparkling 2.83 ERA and 1.104 WHIP. It was a performance that earned an appearance at the All-Star game. In a season that was ripe with unfulfilled promise and disappointment, Cecil and fellow reliever Steve Delabar were the lone bright stars.

While Delabar was unable to match his 2013 performance, Cecil has maintained his course. Yes, he had moments of imperfection. However, when things mattered the most, Cecil got the job done. Never forget the strong finishes he posted in 2015 and this past season.

Now he’s off to pitch for the St. Louis Cardinals. I’m sad and disappointed to see him leave, but I certainly wish him the very best. I’m grateful not only  for what he did wearing a Blue Jay uniform, but to also witness him go from a young man full of emotion and blossom into a mature and professional veteran. His development happened right in front of us.

My lasting memory of Brett Cecil was after game three of the 2016 ALDS. Amongst the incredible euphoria, Cecil was on the field with his three little children and wife, Jennifer. As the celebration went on, Cecil lined up his children for a family photo. It was a wonderful moment and he couldn’t have picked a better setting.

ER


The Chicago Cubs picked one hell of a way to end their 108-year-old World Series drought. 

October 30, 2016

Two years ago, the Cubs visited Toronto for a three-game series and were soundly swept by the Blue Jays. I was at one of those matches and watched Chicago get completely out-played. Drew Hutchison led the way, while the offence came from several sources. As I left the stadium that night, it never occurred to me that the Cubs would be at the top of the mountain in a mere 24 months. 

Since the final out was recorded, I’ve been thinking about Ernie Banks, Ron Santo and Harry Caray. I’ve been thinking about all the Cub fans who lived thier entire lives without ever seeing them win the World Series. I’ve been thinking about all the former Cub players who are still with us; players like Fergie Jenkins, Ryne Sandberg, Sammy Sosa and Kerry Wood. I’ve been thinking about Steve Bartman and wondering if this championship brought him some closure and inner peace.

I’m fortunate to have watched some of my favourite teams – including the Jays – win championships. It’s impossible to fathom what cheering for a team that has been known as “the loveable losers” feels like. For generations of Cub fans, baseball is clearly more than just stats and standings. 

There are a few things I will recall when looking back at the 2016 World Series. There’s David Ross who couldn’t have picked a better way to retire. In addition, I will never forget the images of people honouring their deceased relatives who were Cub fans. Whether it was writing messages on the walls of Wrigley Field or visiting cemeteries, these acts re-defined passion and what baseball means to people. Never forget the man who sat next to his father’s tombstone and listened to game 7, fulfilling a promise made years ago. 

That’s powerful. 

So congrats to the Cubs and thier fans! I sincerely hope you all continue to savour this great victory. And an extra congrats to these former Blue Jay players on Chicago’s roster and coaching staff: Muninori Kawasaki, Henry Blanco, Eric Hinske and Dave Martinez. 

It has to be nice knowing there’s no longer a need to wait until next year. 

ER


Episode 78 [Season Finale]: Highs, Lows and a Postseason Appearance

October 23, 2016

This year marked the 40th anniversary season of Blue Jays baseball, which turned out to be more than just a historic milestone.

Brendan Panikkar of BaseballHotCorner.com looks back at the 2016 Jays and what the off-season could entail.

Episode 78 Direct MP3 Download

…or…

***Thanks for listening to the fifth season of DNJT! Enjoy the World Series and the off-season.***

Short, scribbled postmortem thoughts

October 20, 2016

When AA left, some expected the worst.

When Shapiro and Atkins took over, some expected the worst.

When David Price signed with Boston, some expected the worst.

When JA Happ resigned with the Jays, some expected the worst.

When the season got off to a bad start, some expected the worst.

When the Jays had a bad September, some expected the worst.

All these “issues” were suppose to undermine the Blue Jays’ success, making 2015 a one-hit wonder. Despite all these “issues,” they still managed to have a winning record, make the playoffs and provide another thrilling October.

So…is it April yet?

ER


Playoff Edition 6 (aka Episode 77)

October 16, 2016

After a thrilling ALDS sweep of the Texas Rangers, the Blue Jays find themselves down 2-0 to the Cleveland Indians.

Jenn Smith of BP Toronto and Today’s Knuckleball discusses the first two games of the American League Championship Series.

Episode 77 Direct MP3 Download

…or…

Playoff Edition 5 (aka Episode 76)

October 8, 2016

The Blue Jays are one win away from advancing to the American League Championship Series. Victory on Sunday would cap a very exciting week.

Rick Dacosta of Jays6ixside.com looks back at the Wild Card match and the first two games of the ALDS.

Episode 76 Direct MP3 Download

…or…


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