Posted tagged ‘blue jays’

The 19-Inning Baseball Game

December 3, 2017

Six hours,
thirteen minutes,
nineteen innings.
Congratulations, baseball.
You broke me.

Patriotism was shining proudly
for the nation’s one hundred and forty-ninth birthday.
Red adorned the playing area, the uniforms and Buck Martinez’s blazer.

The umpire
was an enemy of the nation.
Casting out our very best,
as if he was the almighty lord
and the Blue Jays were Adam and Eve.

The match yielded just three runs,
including a Justin Smoak homerun,
which seemed to embrace suspended animation as it hung in the stale, closed-roof air.
It took will power and encouragement just for the ball to scrape over the leftfield wall.

Marching on
hour after hour, inning after inning.
Some have chosen to leave.

Evening plans be damned!
This is an experience you want to experience.
This might be your only chance to participate in a 14th inning stretch.

Hunger and exhaustion creep around you loudly;
and you wonder if Ryan Goins is actually warming up in the bullpen
or if it is just a hallucination.

It wasn’t.

The infielder threw a scoreless inning and landed on the disabled list for his efforts.
Darwin Barney was not as lucky,
surrendering the winning homerun.

19 innings.
Two runs for the opponents.
One solitary run for the home side.
And I was angry.

Angry at the result.
Angry at the ego-driven umpire.
Angry at the team.

I battled hunger and exhaustion for the shitty prize of a
disappointing defeat.

Pardon me
as I leave engrossed
in a bitter mood.

ER

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Roy Halladay: The Professional’s Professional

November 13, 2017

A wife lost her husband, two boys lost their father and we all lost an incredible role model and pitcher.

Obviously, this is a difficult article to write. Like you, I am still numb and devastated. Forget for a moment that he was a major league pitcher. We are grieving for a man who was only 40 years old; taken away so suddenly and horrifically. Painfully, we are reminded that life is not fair.

Roy Halladay was a Toronto Blue Jay. During a period of futility, he was one of the few bright spots. The Jays struggled in the standings, attendance fell and they had become an afterthought to some. It was a tough time, but at least we had Roy Halladay.

A lot of wonderful articles have been written about Doc’s impact. For me, I am reminded of an interview former U.S. President George W. Bush gave to Politico.com in 2008.

Bush – the one-time owner of the Texas Rangers – was asked about putting together a team if he were to hypothetically return to the sport and every player was available. The President’s number one choice for a pitcher: Roy Halladay.

The most powerful person on the planet (at the time) and the leader of the free world wanted our guy to be his ace hurler. That said something.

Halladay was a professional’s professional, with an inspiring rise to greatness. He started his big league career with a bang, fell apart and was sent down to A-ball. But he overcame the glaring setback with a hard work ethic and a flawless mentality.

As someone who chronically overthinks, I am envious of that “next pitch” mindset. The ability to block out the past, ignore any worry about the future and just focus on the moment at hand is hard to achieve. Roy Halladay achieved it and that’s why he was one of the best and will one day (hopefully) have a plaque in Cooperstown.

We must take as much time as we need to grieve. One day, the sadness we are all feeling right now will be replaced with happy memories. Until then, I join those on social media and call on the Blue Jays to retire Doc’s uniform number and add his name to the Level of Excellence.

More importantly, let’s remember that he was a son, a husband, a father, a teammate and a fan favourite. From all accounts, he was also an incredible human being. It was an honour to watch him apply his craft every five days.

May his memory be a blessing.

ER

I took all my thoughts and feelings about Jose Bautista, put them in a slow cooker and this was the result.

November 3, 2017

For as much as we criticize JP Ricciardi – and it is warranted – the former Blue Jay General Manager does deserve high praise for acquiring two of the biggest impact players in team history: Edwin Encarnacion and the subject of this article, Jose Bautista.

I was there on Sunday, September 24 and said goodbye to Joey Bats. No surprise, it was incredibly hard to hold back tears as he walked off the field, hugging his teammates and saluting the crowd. It was a beautiful send-off.

A lot has been written about his tenure. Lists have been compiled and opinions have been shared. It’s hard to add something to an already large pile. But Bautista had affected many and here’s what his impact meant to me:

One of my earliest memories of him is from June 2009. The Blue Jays were playing the Phillies and Bautista teamed up with Aaron Hill to hit back-to-back homeruns. As I watched him round the bases from my seat in the 500s, I observed the unique occurrence.

“Look at that,” I thought to myself. “Bautista, the backup utility player, hit a homerun. That’s something you don’t see everyday.”

Shortly a year later, Bautista bombs were going off regularly.

To understand the importance of Bautista’s 54-homer campaign in 2010, one needs to remember the mood around Skydome at the time.

Things were looking bleak; very bleak. The team had practically hit rock bottom. Actually, if there was a level below “rock bottom,” the Jays were there.

A frustrating 2009 season ended with three straight losses to Baltimore and reports of a mutiny against Cito Gaston. AA took over general managing duties and in his first offseason, traded franchise icon Roy Halladay to Philadelphia.

The calendar changed to 2010 and “Hustle+Heart” was used to soften the blow of uncertainty. The playoff drought was going to continue with no end in sight. Making matters worse, the team was averaging around 10,000 fans early in the season. The sight of a stadium only 20% full was hollow and made some wonder if this was the beginning of the end.

But then Bautista started to hit homeruns and we all took notice. Suddenly, amongst the scorched ruin, a small, glowing spark emerged. Jose was that small, glowing spark.

Suddenly, the fate of the team wasn’t a concern anymore. There was hope. There was promise; all thanks to that glowing spark. Sure, the Jays were far from a playoff contender; but at least we could turn on the television or go to a game and say, “I can’t wait to see what Jose is going to do tonight.” He brought excitement when things were looking bleak.

2010 was also weird year for me. I guess one could call it a quarter life crisis. Certain doors closed and others opened. Through out it all was the stinging feeling of life not going the way I expected it go. In my head, I was failing at life.

So when I saw that former back-up utility player – whose arrival to the team in 2008 brought an unenthusiastic “meh” from the fan base – become a superstar slugger, I invested every ounce of passion and emotion. I was at the ground floor of something special and unlike other important moments and players of Blue Jay lore, I was not going to take it for granted.

One Friday evening, I was at Skydome for a match between the Jays and Cleveland. The weather was perfect that night. My friend and I sat in the 500s, behind home plate – one of my favourite sports to watch a game.

Midway through the match, the Jays loaded the bases and Jose – already in the midst of his incredible season – came to the plate. There were about 19,000 fans in attendance and excitement began to grow.

“I hope he hits a grand slam,” I thought to myself. “Please, I need this.”

Then he connected for – I believe – his 36th homerun of the season. The crowd erupted! 19,000 fans sounding like 50,000 fans and I was one of them. I wasn’t thinking about my struggles and failures. I was smiling and feeling lucky that I was there and part of the experience. No anger or fear for the rest of the night. Maybe things will be okay.

I am grateful for Joey Bats because he gave me an escape.

From there, it all came together: Edwin’s rise to stardom, the big trades, the arrival of Stroman, Sanchez and Osuna, Donaldson’s MVP season. Yes, there were setbacks; but the prize of two exciting playoff runs was worth the pain.

The batflip will always maintain it’s iconic status in Canadian sports mythology. The image of Bautista sending his bat to another galaxy will sit in the same category as Paul Henderson’s Summit Series goal in 1972, Sydney Crosby’s golden goal and of course, Joe Carter’s World Series winning blast.

This chapter of Blue Jays history began when AA became the General Manager. However, the epicentre of the story revolves around Jose Bautista.

Without Joey Bats, every moment and feeling never occurs. Just imagine what things would look like. All it took was a minor league catcher, an adjustment to his swing and some good fortune.

Evolution caught up to Bautista the past two seasons. So since it’s likely the end, I thank him for everything he did for the team and the city.

If the Blue Jays ultimately win the World Series in the next ten years, Jose Bautista would obviously not get a ring. However, he will have played an integral role in the journey.

All the best, Mr. Bats.

ER

Summing up the 2017 Blue Jays with a haiku poem I wrote at 4am

October 1, 2017

Things did not go well
because there were plenty of
inconsistencies

ER


Retro Blue Jays – Hit the showers, Jimmy

September 14, 2017

Posted by Travis Doucette and Retrontario.

It appears the hot water supply at Exhibition Stadium was worth bragging about.

Here are a couple of Ontario Hydro commercials featuring the Blue Jays. Based on the sleeve patches, it appears the ads were filmed mostly in 1984 (Thank you, Mr. Creamer).

The first commercial features three Blue Jay hurlers – Jim Gott, Roy Lee Jackson and Jimmy Key – soaking their troubles away.

The second one shows the Jays laying into a team of scrubs. Willie Upshaw delivers the knock out punch with a homerun that makes its way to Nathan Philips Square.

Not sure if that’s even geographically possible.

 

ER

Can we PLEASE stop dissecting Roberto Osuna’s struggles?

September 7, 2017

Trying to figure out why Roberto Osuna has struggled carries no benefit whatsoever. 

Barring a biblical comeback, the Blue Jays are not making the playoffs. Therefore, everything from now until the end of the regular season is a moot point. So why bother making a big deal about the blown saves? 

I am not an expert, nor do I have access to the clubhouse. Maybe he’s tired and that would be completely understandable. He’s done more the past three seasons then some players have done in an entire career. He warrants a chance to figure things out and clearly deserves a break once the season finishes. Don’t forget that the Jays have played an additional month in back-to-back seasons. That’s a lot of extra baseball. 

That doesn’t necessarily mean to ignore the issue. But to worry about it now when everything is fait accompli is pointless. If the struggles continue into the 2018 season, than we can start having discussions. 

So until then, kindly cool it. You’re only wasting oxygen. Shit happens and we all go through slumps. 

Seriously, just leave the poor guy alone.

ER

Seriously, you all need to cool it with the mean tweets directed at Sportsnet personalities

August 20, 2017

If there’s one thing that irks me about my fellow Blue Jay fans, it would be how they get upset over the smallest, off-the-field things. Now I’m not 100% innocent myself, but there are certain causes that have been taken up on Twitter and Facebook that have me perplexed. One popular cause is the constant bashing of Sportsnet reporters and broadcasters.

Every day, it seems I always come across nasty comments such as…

“Buck and Tabby are the worst.”
“Zaun’s an idiot.”
“Wilner’s a schill for Rogers.”
“[On-field reporter] is boring.”

Sorry, I just don’t understand why the quality of these personalities is so damn important. They bode no affect on the team’s performance, nor do they heavily influence my decision on how I  consume Jays content.

Now there’s nothing wrong with poking a little fun at the expense of the people on the mic and in front of the camera. Remember “Buck Blunders?” Does that still exist? However, the stuff I’ve seen lately is over the top and malicious.

Now before this post gets too preachy, here are four items to consider before you decide to rip a SNET personality:

1. If [insert personality’s name] was really terrible, he/she wouldn’t have a job with Sportsnet. Lets be serious: The producers don’t base their hiring decisions on a game of darts.

2. Any commentary is just one person’s opinion. It is not, nor will it ever be gospel. So when Gregg Zaun says something, either agree or disagree and then move on. There’s no reason to lose it online.

3. If you don’t like Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler, then just watch the opponents’ broadcast, press the mute button or listen to the radio broadcast. Are they as good as Vin Scully or – for local flavour – Don Chevrier? Of course not and that’s perfectly fine. The quality of Buck and Tabby is not a top priority and I really don’t understand why some focus on this obsession. By the way, ever notice how everyone craps on the TV broadcast, but there’s never one positive comment made about the radio broadcast? I haven’t listened to every radio team in MLB, but I have heard a few and Jerry Howarth, Mike Wilner and Joe Siddal stand above them.

4. Be honest: How much venom is rooted in jealousy? Admit it! You resent the fact that – for example – Wilner’s job is cooler than yours. I have no problem admitting I’m jealous of him. Wilner’s paid to live and breathe baseball. It’s natural to feel a little resentful when someone has the dream career and you’re stuck with a job that isn’t as satisfying. We’re human beings after all.

Of course, hiding behind an avatar is like liquid courage. So I’m not expecting anyone to stop this kind of behaviour. It’s just irritating when fans complain about irrelevant off-field things.

Then again, perhaps I should just press the mute button.

ER


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