Posted tagged ‘canada’

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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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


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

Retro Blue Jays – Baseball and the Public Broadcaster

June 1, 2017

Posted by Pat French.

I don’t know who Pat French is, but I’m very glad this person created a YouTube account. It’s filled with dozens of retro Canadian sports clips; a portion of which come from CBC broadcasts. If you want to see old baseball promos, black-and-white clips from Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts or even an advertisement for the 1978 Commonwealth Games, make sure to spend some time on Pat’s account.

A previous “retro” post highlighted a couple of clips involving the CBC’s French language service, Radio-Canada. On the English side, the Mother Corp and the Blue Jays have crossed paths at various times. As a kid, I knew CBC was the network to turn to on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons for Speedy Muffler Blue Jays Baseball. Of course, during the NHL playoffs, that schedule was modified.

The public broadcaster aired games at three different points in Blue Jay history: Late 70s/early 80s, early 90s to early 2000s and a handful of games from 2008-2009. Here are some clips from those periods.

From 1977 – Explaining the role of the Third Base Coach.

Also from 1977 – Not sure who the pitcher and catcher are (could be Alan Ashby behind the plate). However, the hitter is the unmistakable Rusty Staub.

From 1978 – Ensuring both Canadian teams get equal screen time.

From 1992 – A pre-game intro featuring Ken Daniels (before he started doing play-by-play for the Detroit Red Wings), the legendary Don Chevrier and former Blue Jay Tommy Hutton. I always loved the opening graphic and theme song.

From 1994 – Can’t promote an upcoming broadcast without a smiling Joe Carter.

From 2000 – Ironically, no one in Quebec was apparently able to watch this Jays/Expos match.

From 2008 – When broadcasting in HD was still a novelty.

ER

Great. Just what the Blue Jays’ online community needs: Another article about the wave

May 22, 2017

I have never had any interest in posting an article about the wave. It was always a topic I would file under “much ado about nothing;” a label that also went to items such as the types of beer being offered at Skydome and the debatable quality of Buck Martinez. In fact, the only time DNJT has done anything related to the great wave debate was an early 2012 podcast episode.

Nevertheless, it does seem like it’s a prerequisite for Blue Jay bloggers and writers to post something about the wave. So in the case of DNJT, the cliché of “better late than never” applies.

Over the past years, there have been passionate statements about the wave. Examples can be found here, here and here.

I am neither pro-wave or anti-wave. There’s a time and place for it; and being at a baseball game should be a fun experience. It doesn’t usually bother me. 

But at a recent match I attended, I made an exception.

It was Friday, April 28. Despite leading 3-1 at one point, the Blue Jays wound up losing 7-4 to Tampa Bay, thanks to an ugly bullpen implosion.

For those who were unaware, it also happened to be “Drunk Idiot Night” at the ballpark. Anyone who pre-drank and showed up tanked was apparently given a ticket in the section my buddy and I were sitting in.

In all seriousness, it was some company’s staff social. Not the worst I’ve witnessed in 20+ years of going to games, but one can never expect proper baseball viewing etiquette to be followed.

Of course, there was the alpha male of the group, who felt it was necessary to scream about everything.

“Where’s my beer?!!!”
“I’m getting some food!!!!”
“You kids are the future!!!!”

If that wasn’t enough, he also turned out to be that fan who shouts at players, not to encourage them, but rather to put attention on him. Not​ surprisingly, he also left before the match ended.

Sure enough, several attempts were also made to get a wave going from my section. Alpha male led the way.

The worst attempt involved a inebriated spectator sitting right behind me. 

To set the scene, I was sitting in a double digit row. This spectator already had a few failed attempts under their hat. Then there was tap on my shoulder.

Spectator: “Hey. We’re doing the wave. You need to tell the people in front of you.”
Me: “You’re doing it wrong. If you want to start a wave, you need to go down to the first row, so everyone can see you. You might want to count down from five instead of 1-2-3.”
Spectator: “No! We are doing it here and you need to tell the people in front of you. Look! They’re on their phones!”
Me: “Don’t worry about about them. You just start and we’ll help.”
Spectator: “1-2-3…”

Yes, it was that kind of ridiculous; and suddenly, I was hating the wave for the very first time.

I hated the countdowns. I hated the visual that always captivated me. I hated the “woooo.” I hated that I still participated, albeit with very little enthusiasm. I hated that alpha male was relentless with his pursuit of getting the wave going. The guy actually went up to a nearby usher and demanded that this usher somehow communicate to the fans sitting below to help alpha male with his next attempt. Clearly, it just wasn’t enough for alpha male to be loud, obnoxious, drunk and the life of the pathetic-ass party.

Maybe this is about more than just the wave. Maybe this is really about my personality. Maybe I was letting the results on the field affect my mood and reaction to the activity in my section. After all, the bombs hit by Evan Longoria, Logan Morrison and Derek Norris that night left me feeling dejected and numb.

The great wave debate could last until this planet is sucked into a black hole. Fans can cry and moan as long as they want. The wave is not going anywhere. Fans will do it when a match is out of reach and some will do it at pivotal moments. For the record, I prefer the former over the ladder.

It’s pointless and selfish of me to give instructions about how and when to do the wave. Human beings are going to be human beings. So instead, I’ll leave this word of advice:

If you’re going to do the wave, do it right.

ER


Short, scribbled thoughts about the fugly start to the regular season

April 17, 2017

Wish I could tell you it will get better. But the truth is I can’t. There are few guarantees in baseball, so I can only hope for the best and be positive.

The Blue Jays will either figure it out or they won’t.

You can push as many panic buttons as possible. You can demand they fire Gibby. You can beg for Rowdy Tellez to be called up. You can curse Mark Shapiro and Russ Atkins for all entirety. You can refuse to purchase tickets. Just understand one thing: We have no control over the fate of the team. Like it or not, we have to let the process work itself out and show some – here’s a word you might not like – patience.

Gregg Zaun sometimes criticizes certain fans for wanting instant gratification. It’s a theory I subscribe to as well. We live in a society that values anything quick and aggressive, while discarding items that are slow and can’t instantly capture attention. Baseball clashes with this kind of society; in the game itself and with the length of the season. The adage of the regular season being a marathon and not a sprint certainly applies to the Jays’ situation.

The consensus couldn’t be clearer: There’s nothing fun about how this season has gone so far, especially after Sunday’s 11-4 dumpster fire loss to Baltimore. Greater concern is Aaron Sanchez’s blister problem and J.A. Happ’s elbow; issues that are incredibly alarming. Can’t forget the nightmarish offensive production either. So as much as it sucks – and it really does suck – there is nothing we can do, but to simply let things breathe. It might be painful, but it’s the right course of action.

If that won’t work for you, consider this: If the worst thing in your life is a 2-10 baseball team, then you have a pretty good life.

ER



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