Posted tagged ‘mlb’

Spring Training Haikus: The “Tradition” Continues

February 11, 2019

construction begins
at the spring training complex
where the earth is scorched

the new manager
leads a rebuilding roster
with future promise

fans want young Vladdy
to address his potential
and answer the hype

where does Travis fit
in a packed middle infield
with many options

pitching has questions
mixed with low expectations
and hopes for good health

ER

PS: Here’s another round of Dimsum Stories.

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Silent Siblings: A Baseball Microstory

January 28, 2019

Dinner was painfully awkward.

Such was the case with the Johnson brothers. They had nothing in common except for baseball.

Roger was the league’s best manager. Steve was a long-time umpire.

They reluctantly met, ordered and sat silently.

A young sports reporter out with his colleagues noticed the Johnsons and asked why they weren’t speaking.

“Wait for it,” answered one of the veteran scribes.

Eventually, Roger broke the silence.

“Can’t believe you threw me out,” said Roger. “That third strike was way outside!”

“It caught the corner and you deserved what you got,” replied Steve.

The young reporter instantly understood.

ER

Damn! I was selfishly hoping the Blue Jays wouldn’t trade Russell Martin

January 14, 2019

I know that’s ridiculous; possibly idiotic. But part of me was hoping Russell would be kept for the sole purpose of mentoring Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire; similar to the role Curtis Granderson played in 2018.

Of course, that would be a very expensive mentor. Given that Mark Shapiro and Russ Atkins are scorching the Earth as part of the rebuilding process, it makes sense to get something in return for Martin. After all, the Jays are paying his salary, despite the trade. I’m sure the front office also doesn’t want a repeat of the Josh Donaldson saga. Martin probably wants to actually play as well.

I have no interest in the numbers. That’s for the insiders, pundits and professional bloggers to crunch. When I think of Russell Martin, the first words that come to mind are confidence and professionalism.

Sitting in the left field seats gave me the opportunity to watch him prepare for a match. I was transfixed by him running from the dugout to the outfield in full catching gear. He’d go through his drills before working with that day’s starter. It’s hard to articulate, but I never had to worry about what was happening behind the plate.

I spent the last few days thinking of my favourite Russell Martin memories. That homerun against the Yankees in late 2015 will probably be his defining moment with the team.

It was Yom Kippur that day. My family and I were breaking our fast at a relative’s house. Normally, we’d sit around the living room chatting. Not this time.

The majority of us gathered in front of the TV. The atmosphere was incredibly tense; but when Russell connected, we all exploded in jubilation! Of course, we weren’t the only ones: “RUSSELL! RUSSELL! RUSSELL! RUSSELL!”

Other moments come to mind:

– The errant throw in game five of the 2015 ALDS that almost flushed a magical season down the toilet; followed by his thanking the heavens for Jose Bautista’s iconic bat flip homerun.

– The hot streak he went on in August 2016 when the rest of the team was struggling.

– Game three of the 2016 ALDS; a first inning dinger, followed by the fielder’s choice that ultimately led to the Donaldson Dash.

Now his career has come full circle as he heads back to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He deserves a chance to play for a contender. Hopefully, he’ll help L.A. finally get over that hump. Having a chance to catch Clayton Kershaw is also a nice bonus.

Maybe it was his connection to Ontario and Quebec. Maybe it was because he’s just a few weeks older than me. Maybe it was using “Courage” as one of his walk-up songs. I’m just thrilled Russell Martin spent four seasons with the Jays. Worth every penny; even the ones that will cover his 2019 season.

ER

If I was an upstanding member of the BBWAA and allowed to submit a hall of fame ballot…

December 26, 2018

Pretty sure I got the original “ballot” photo from MLB’s Twitter account. The e-highlighter…..that’s all me.

Look, I don’t have time to pour over pages of data. I also have no interest in explaining myself. The names I selected are based on memories, feelings, emotions, bias and a little bit of Baseball-Reference.com. There’s also this picture I took inside the Baseball Hall of Fame when my friend and I visited Cooperstown in 2012. It justifies certain players being elected.

Anyway, this will likely be my last post for 2018. If you have a chance, check out this collection of microstories I wrote for Ari Shapiro’s website. I hope you had a great holiday season and wish you the very best in 2019! Thanks for putting up with me. 😉

ER

Rejoice!!! $1 hot dogs are coming to Skydome in 2019 and we shouldn’t be wieners about it

December 17, 2018

Recently, the Blue Jays announced their promotions schedule for the upcoming season. There are shirts, hats, collectibles and theme nights. But there was one promotion that had me relishing in excitement: Loonie Dogs Night

At the first Tuesday home game of every month, fans can purchase hot dogs for the low price of $1. There is one stipulation: You can only buy a maximum of four hot dogs. Not sure how they’ll enforce that, unless there’s a bratwurst version of the AGCO.

Not surprisingly, nobody is doing cartwheels. I’m sure some automatically hate the promotion because it comes from an office led by Mark Shaprio. If AA and Paul Beeston were still here and came up with the idea, there’d probably be a parade in their honour.

But I’m getting off topic.

Honestly, I LOVE the idea for the sheer nostalgia. When I was a kid, the hot dogs at Skydome were 99¢ and footlongs were $1.99. How could anyone not take advantage of that?! To help advertise the prices, the jumbotron would play a video of two hot dogs dancing to a mashup of bagpipes and techno music. It left quite the impression on me. If the marketing team was hoping Loonie Dogs Night would reach certain Xennials on an emotional level, then I guess I’m a real sucker.

Besides, I don’t need to remind you about the exorbitant fees for certain food items at the ball park. To their credit though, the Jays don’t have the most expensive hot dogs in MLB. Still, it does seem ridiculous paying $4-$5 for something that won’t rock your world. We’re talking about hot dogs after all.

Funny enough, I actually won’t be able to take advantage of this promotion. None of the games I plan on attending in 2019 occur on Tuesdays. But I wouldn’t label this as sad irony. I’ll still have my favourite vendor at the corner of Front and John. For $2.50, you get a hot dog that’s bigger than anything sold inside the stadium, grilled with a phenomenal amount of attention and detail. Worth every penny.

Nevertheless, if you find yourself at the first Tuesday home game of the month, have one dog (or four) for me.

ER

Retro Blue Jays – The Best and Worst from ’79

November 29, 2018

Posted by xtHabs789

Based on record alone, 1979 was a hideous season for the Blue Jays.

The team managed to win just 53 games, finishing dead last in the AL East; 50.5 games behind division-winner Baltimore. According to Baseball-Reference.com, the ’79 Jays hold the club record for lowest winning percentage (.327) over a 162-game schedule.

Meanwhile, the Montreal Expos were a stark contrast. They finished the ’79 season with a sparkling record of 95-65, narrowly missing the NL East title by two games.

The vast distance between the two Canadian teams was well-illustrated in this report for the CBC program, NEWSMAGAZINE.

It highlights the nuances of baseball; even touches on the volatile political situation in Quebec at the time. Regardless, reporter Mark Philips conveys the excitement at Olympic Stadium and the subdued atmosphere at Exhibition Stadium.

All the Expo clips are positive; players are flashing big grins. There’s even a small part dedicated to the legendary Bill “Spaceman” Lee.

Different appearance with the Blue Jay clips. They’re mostly negative with beleaguered faces, nicely captured by then-Manager Roy Hartsfield trying to find something nice to say about his team. A valiant effort was also made by then-President Peter Bavasi with his message of “selling entertainment; not a win-loss record.”

If anything, this feature reminds us of a time when the Expos were “Canada’s Team,” while the Jays were simply a punchline.

The metaphoric tide was not even close to turning.

ER

Eovaldi

November 19, 2018

The Red Sox needed Nathan Eovaldi
a day before his start
So he threw six heroic innings
plus one bad pitch
ending the historic match
as the east coast said “Good morning”
and the west coast said “Goodnight”

Walking off the field
dejected, upset
He hears the opponents celebrating and
thousands of joyous screams inside Dodger Stadium.

Pounds of salt on a fresh wound

His teammates show their appreciation
Not a single player or coach leaves the dugout
They know he didn’t lose the game
They lost the game for him.

ER


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