Posted tagged ‘2016’

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

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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

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…


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