Posted tagged ‘canada’

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

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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

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


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