Posted tagged ‘canada’

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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No Confidence: A Baseball Microstory

May 10, 2018

Those fucking nerves tear my stomach apart.

What did Dr. Garcia say? Take several breaths? Remember, it’s just baseball; not life-or-death?

I’ve solicited advice. Yet every time….every damn time the manager calls on me, I want to disappear.

Use to be the best closer in baseball. Simply unstoppable. Then I made a fatal mistake: Threw one bad pitch and fucked up the World Series. Since then, my confidence has been estranged.

It is life-or-death. The stadium is full of demons and they’re all watching me.

Maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll have a heart attack before I reach the mound.

ER

31 items I reflected on and scribbled down (metaphorically, of course).

May 3, 2018

Yes, this post was inspired by Elliot Friedman’s 31 Thoughts. Mr. Friedman, if you or the legal team at Rogers is reading this, please don’t sue me. 😓

  1. Hell of a start for the Blue Jays. Given my low expectations for the season, it has been a pleasant surprise so far. April 2017 was like a meal at some sketchy diner that results in food poisoning. April 2018 felt like a meal at a sketchy diner that turns out to be the best kept secret in the city.
  2. Of course, things haven’t been great since they swept the Royals. Regardless, finishing April with a winning record is still a decent achievement when compared to 2017.
  3. Yes, it is early. And yes, I vividly remember the great run the 2009 Jays were on before everything nosedived in late May. I suggest we just enjoy what they’re doing now and deal with whatever happens when it happens.
  4. Yangervis Solarte has some power!!! Was not expecting that.
  5. Yangervis Solarte can dance!!! Was not expecting that.
  6. Not surprised with Randal Grichuk’s poor start. Wasn’t blow away with his St. Louis numbers. Maybe the slump is partially due to getting accustomed to a new team, division and stadium. Maybe it’s not. Fingers crossed he turns it around soon.
  7. Teoscar doesn’t want to go back to Buffalo. Fans don’t want to him sent back to Buffalo. In fact, if the Jays do option him back to the Bisons, it wouldn’t shock me if a giant roadblock is suddenly erected somewhere along on the QEW.
  8. Good to see the Humboldt Broncos’ logo displayed on the backstop a few weeks ago.
  9. I enjoyed hearing Josh Thole on the radio broadcasts. He wasn’t polished, but a part of me liked that. I’m still irritated about the way certain fans treated him.
  10. I like the bullpen. I like it a lot.
  11. John Axford was shaky at first, but has straightened out nicely. Very pleased to see this.
  12. Luke Maile came up with some big swings in April. Every time it occurred, I thought of this 2017 tweet from Andy Arias.
  13. If I was in the stands, I would’ve happily joined in on the standing ovation for Ryan Goins. Come @ me. I dare you.
  14. My friend and I had tickets for Monday, April 16. As you know, the match was cancelled due to falling ice. As annoying as it was – I was already en route when the game was formally cancelled – it was the right decision. A huge amount of gratitude to the stadium personnel who worked feverishly to try to get the game in, especially to the staff that went on the roof.
  15. The doubleheader on April 17 was the third such occurence in Skydome history. I was aware of the first one that took place in 1989. However, I have no recollection of the one in 2001 – October 5 against Cleveland, according to Baseball -Reference.com. It’s strange because I was at the final home game of 2001, which took place a couple of days later. Given that all this took place three weeks after 9/11, baseball was the last thing on everyone’s mind at the time.
  16. Overall, the rotation has been so-so. But they have given the team a chance to win, which is what any of us would want. With that in mind….
  17. No, I’m not worried about Stro. He’ll figure it out.
  18. No, I’m not worried about Devon. He’ll also figure it out.
  19. You know things aren’t terrible when you don’t see a lot of “Bring up Vladdy and Bo” tweets. Of course….it is early 😝
  20. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone complain about the wave yet.
  21. The Braves visit Toronto, June 19-20. Wouldn’t shock me if those games are sold out.
  22. Coming up with 31 talking points is hard. How does Friedman do this all the time?
  23. The weather sucked.
  24. Games on Facebook: Meh.
  25. Five-minute condensed games on Facebook: 👍👍👍
  26. I like Skydome’s new “value” menu.
  27. Recently, Mike Wilner posted a photo of a mantra Curtis Granderson wrote inside his hat: “Don’t think. Have fun.” Two simple sentences, four words. One profound point made.
  28. Speaking of Granderson….can I add my name to the list of fans who are grateful he’s on the team?
  29. Shoutout to my favourite hot dog vendor: Ted’s Gourmet, at the corner of Front and John.
  30. Wishing the very best to Danny Farquhar. Speedy and successful recovery.
  31. #TorontoStrong #HumboldtStrong

ER

Why stop at pitchers? Let’s put everything on a pace-of-play clock! 

February 7, 2018

Oh, that Commissioner Manfred and his persistent pursuit of the pace-of-play paradigm.

It seems he’s intending to have a pitch clock, as well as limits on mound visits. Rest assured, Manfred isn’t going to stop until he get what he wants. Players are on board? Doesn’t matter to him. Implemented in 2018 or pushed to 2019 or beyond? Doesn’t matter.

Debating the merits of such a change is pointless. The traditionalists/purists will lock in and say pitch clocks will ruin the integrity of the game. The contemporaries will argue that it will speed up the game, benefiting casual fans and TV audiences.

So if this does actually happen, why is Manfred just focusing on pitchers? Why not go all in and institute a pace-of-play clock on EVERYTHING?

Think about it:

  • The anthem must be finished in two minutes (four for both anthems). If it goes longer, the home side loses three ABs.
  • All pre-game ceremonies must be completed in five minutes or less. Anything longer will result in the cancellation of any hot dog/peanut/ex-President/condiment race occurring that day.
  • All concession sales must be completed within 90 seconds or it’s free.
  • Third base coaches can only flash one signal to the hitter. If they try to sneak a second signal, the hitter is assessed a strike.
  • Seventh inning stretch must be completed in three minutes or fans leaving the match get free peanuts or crackerjacks.

Ridiculous? Absolutely. But so is debating about changes to the game. Baseball has evolved over decades and it shouldn’t be be surprising if some fans accept changes under protest. You can be for or against evolution; but make no mistake: evolution occurs whether we like it not. It’s kind of out of our control.

Damn. This post took a dark turn.

ER

Retro Blue Jays – Le Lanceur, Jack Morris

December 28, 2017

Posted by ICI Radio-Canada Ontario.

Here are two archived clips about the 1992 Blue Jays from the CBC’s French language service.

The first clip is a season-in-review, while the second one is a news report on game three of the 1992 World Series.

Game three was incredibly significant, as it marked the first time the World Series was played outside the United States. It was also the first match after the Canadian flag was infamously hung upside down during game two’s pregame ceremonies.


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The search that yielded the two videos was inspired by Jack Morris being elected to the Hall of Fame and Matt English’s real-time Twitter account of the ’93 Jays. But as I watched and reflected on the clips, I was also reminded of a memory from 25 years ago.

New Year’s Eve 1992 was spent in Montreal. Nine-year-old me found out that RDS – the French equivalent of TSN – was airing a condensed version of game six. So while everyone was partying, my butt was in front of the TV and didn’t move until Mike Timlin fielded Otis Nixon’s bunt and tossed it over to Joe Carter.

BTW….I hope you had a great holiday season. All the best in 2018! 

ER

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

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


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