Posted tagged ‘Jose Bautista’

Screw the glass-half-empty crowd! I’m actually looking forward to the 2019 Blue Jays

March 27, 2019

Happy Opening Day!

Despite the current state of affairs, the start of the regular season is exciting. Things are fresh, the canvass is blank and the typical clichés are being prepped.

I’m not afraid of a losing season. I’m not afraid of low attendance numbers. I’m not afraid of the pain. Been there, done all that.

The Jays are what they are. If you rather watch something else, that’s fine. You can view 2019 as a lost season. I’m viewing it as a season of development.

Regardless of the final outcome, my goal is to look at the positive aspects.

Worst case scenario: They lose 90-100 games. That only means they get early dibs on the undrafted pool in 2020. Raw, young talent is never a guarantee, but nothing in life is. Besides, the Houston Astros lost 100+ games three seasons in a row. A few years after that, they won the World Series.

Best case scenario (and my preferred outcome): The 2019 team performs to a level similar to the 2010/2011 clubs.

Remember how fun those teams were?

You had Jose Bautista turning into a superstar slugger and all these young players with potential, who also loved to interact with fans on social media.

The 2010-11 Jays were far from a playoff contender and played sub .500 baseball; but they gave us hope and an incentive to tune in or purchase a ticket. That’s how I hope fans will ultimately view the 2019 team and beyond.

I would also like to see the following:

  1. Vladdy gets called up – when ready – and puts up strong numbers…..obviously.
  2. Youngsters like Jansen, Borucki, Gurriel and Hernandez, continue to show improvements. Not asking for Murderers’ Row; just want to see growth and development.
  3. Veterans like Smoak and Morales have productive outputs, making them valuable as the trade deadline approaches.

Think of it this way:

Imagine going to watch a movie with friends. The film you’re about to see is a generic, mass produced Hollywood story. It’s clearly not going to win an Oscar and won’t make any kind of must-see list. So you go in with very low expectations.

Then you watch the movie and despite its flaws, it was actually entertaining!

It happened to me when I watched Hostage and Sahara.

So as ridiculous as this will sound, the best way to deal with the 2019 Jays is to have low expectations.

Expect to them lose 162 games. Expect them to get blown out every match. Expect them to be worse than the Bad News Bears.

By setting the bar low and taping pillows all over your body, any amount of victories will be happily welcomed. You might even find yourself saying “It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.”

Hey…I’m just trying to help. You can complain about the pain or embrace it. The choice is yours.

ER

Return of the Right Fielder

July 10, 2018

The epicenter of the resurgence returned home as a visitor.

Odd seeing him wear the uniform of the Metropolitans.

Standing on the field where he blossomed, there are standing ovations and video tributes.

All richley deserved.

I smile at the memories, but feel sadness when he pulls out a defensive alignment card.

It’s not the same club he once played for.

It isn’t the same group that captivated the nation.

This is evolution.

This is a team in transition.

He is getting older and that means I am getting older.

So I cling to the memories and wonder if he does the same.

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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