Posted tagged ‘Pillar’

Not all heroes wear capes….but capes were given out at a game once

April 21, 2019

After he was traded to the San Francisco Giants, an old photo of Kevin Pillar popped into my mind:

It’s from July 2013; taken after watching my first-ever Buffalo Bisons game. There was a clean-shaven Pillar chatting with some of the spectators. I didn’t know much about him at the time. I remember noting how his name was similar to Kevin Millar. A few weeks later, he got called up and made his MLB debut with the Blue Jays.

At first, I wasn’t over the moon with Pillar. At best, he was a fourth outfielder. He also didn’t have a sparkling beginning in the big leagues. There was that unfortunate tete-a-tete he publicly had with John Gibbons that got him demoted to AAA in 2014. There was also that infamous injury he sustained during Spring Training in 2015 from sneezing.

But then he made that catch and everything changed.

That catch. Holy shit; that CATCH! What a career-defining moment!

The timing was perfect. The athleticism was incredible! A mere mortal would’ve accepted fate and watched the ball go over the wall. But Kevin Pillar wanted that baseball and summoned powers that went beyond normalcy. It made Josh Donaldson drop to his knees and the crowd explode. I hope Todd Redmond – who was on the mound at the time – bought him a very expensive dinner.

That catch wasn’t just something for a highlight reel. It completely changed the trajectory of Pillar’s career.

Remember, Michael Saunders was suppose to be the starting leftfielder in 2015; Dalton Pompey was suppose to start in centre. But then Saunders stepped on a sprinkler-head and Pompey unfortunately performed poorly. A door opened for Pillar, who took advantage of an opportunity and never looked back.

From there, he became an outfield specialist and a fan favourite. Countless times, we jumped out of our seats and applauded his defensive gems. Countless times, our jaws hit the floor. The man was a human vaccume for baseballs.

His offensive production was average, but he had his moments: Two homers off of Max Scherzer in 2015; the walk-off on Mother’s Day in 2017.

Pillar’s performance at the plate is also what seemed to divide the fanbase.

Like many teams, there are players who polarize fans. R.A. Dickey and Ryan Goins are recent examples. Pillar falls into this camp as well.

It’s another example of the two main differences amongst fans: Those who care only about results and those who recognize the importance of results, but also see things beyond a boxscore and standings. I wrote about this when I summed up RAD’s tenure with the Jays; passionate vs. compassionate.

It’s unnecessary to exhaust both sides; so a simple address instead.

To those who are pleased he’s not with the Jays anymore: Not all contributions come at the plate. Yes, he wasn’t a top-level hitter, but don’t tell me his defence wasn’t a strong contribution; especially in 2015 and 2016. A large chunk of fans love him and we are a sports community that cares about character as much as we care about results.

To those who are furious he’s not with the team anymore: You can’t deny evolution. It was blatantly obvious at the end of 2017 that the window of opportunity had closed. The Jays had to scorch the earth in order to create something that’s (hopefully) more sustainable and successful. I’m grateful for Pillar and Tulo and Martin and Donaldson and Joey Bats and everyone else who were part of 2015-16. But the team would be just as bad as they are now if those players were still on the roster; maybe even worse.

One other thing: When the trade was formally announced, I wondered how many would focus on his spectacular catches and how many would focus on the horrific incident that occurred in Atlanta in 2017; the homophobic slur Pillar shouted at pitcher Jason Motte.

Perhaps I wasn’t looking in the right places, but it seems as though it wasn’t addressed in any articles or tweets. Surprising since we live in a society that does not gloss over celebrity mistakes/errors and goes by the motto of “strike one and you’re out.”

That moment was ugly, disappointing and embarrassing. As much as we have all adored Pillar, we cannot ignore or purposely forget what happened. It is part of his narrative.

Having said that, it’s also important to note that he did take ownership of his error in judgement, apologized, served a suspension and has worked with organizations that promote acceptance. It is my hope that he will continue this work with San Francisco’s LGBT community.

When the Giants visit Skydome, it will only be a few weeks since the trade. However, it feels longer since the transaction occurred. Maybe it’s because we heard so many rumours that we already experienced his departure before it even happened. Nevertheless, I look forward to the video tribute and standing ovation.

I truly feel Kevin Pillar loved our city and many in this city loved him. Regardless of his personal statistics, he made a lasting impression. He’s gone, but will not be forgotten.

ER

PS: Check out my latest short story: The Heavenly Resurrection of the Montreal Expos

Advertisements

Take a moment, say your goodbyes

September 24, 2018

Ever watch The Bachelor/Bachelorette/Bachelor In Paradise?

When a contestant is “sent home,” Chris Harrison – the long-time host of the popular reality series – delivers a subtle command:

“Take a moment, say your goodbyes.”

As the Blue Jays prepare for the final week of a tumultuous regular season, perhaps it would be wise for all of us to take a moment and say our goodbyes.

The rebuild is well underway and there’s a strong chance that some familiar faces will not return next year.

By all accounts, John Gibbons will be formally relieved of his duties. Safe to assume the coaching staff will also be dismissed or reassigned.

And it won’t stop there.

Kevin Pillar could be playing for a different team next season. Same could be said about Marcus Stroman, Yangervis Solarte and Justin Smoak. Maybe some team would be willing to take a flyer on Kendrys Morales or Russell Martin and work something out with the Jays’ front office in regards to those contracts. I like Marco Estrada, but I would be surprised if he’s back next season.

That doesn’t mean such departures will actually occur. But with all the minor league talent that debuted this season, along with the talent we’ll see in 2019 (*cough* Vladdy Jr. *cough*), there isn’t enough space for everyone. Otherwise, the team won’t evolve.

It’s impossible to predict exactly who will stay and who will go. But one could certainly expect fewer pieces remaining from the teams of 2015-16 next year.

So if you’re heading to Skydome, Tropicana Field, the Boston Pizza at Front and John (where a lot of fans hang out, apparently) or watching/listening/following the final matches, take a moment and say your goodbyes.

It’s been one hell of a ride, but it’s now time to rebuild for (hopefully) something greater.

ER

There’s nothing to say about the Blue Jays’ outfield situation that hasn’t already been said. So I wrote an abstract(ish) poem instead

January 22, 2018

randalgrichukteoscarhernandezcurtisgrandersonkevinpillarzekecarerrastevepearcedaltonpompey

Shit. That outfield is crowded. 

New names
Familiar names
Free agent names
Pick your poison names

Some will lavish in the six
Others will be bound for Buffalo

Shit. That outfield is crowded.

ER


Re. Kevin Pillar’s actions last night

May 18, 2017

Obviously, I don’t know Kevin Pillar personally. But from what I’ve seen and heard, he’s a good person who carries himself well. Sadly, he did something last night that was very stupid and disappointing. 

He needs to be held accountable for his actions. The consequence should be a suspension and fine. I understand how it was “the heat of the moment” and frustration. We – as human beings – know what that feels like. Nevertheless, that is no excuse for a homophobic slur. 

In the meantime, Pillar has issued an apology; so has the team. It is a good step forward. 

What happened last night was regrettable. Fortunately, Pillar has acknowledged his error and owned up to it. I am sure he will accept a suspension, take any sensitive training that’s offered and make amends through charitable and community service endeavours. 

I am still glad he plays for the Blue Jays and hope the success he’s had continues. I also hope Pillar will learn from his poor decision and build from it in a positive manner. 

ER

The Center Fielder’s performance thus far

May 15, 2017

I really like this
new and augmented version
of Kevin Pillar

ER

Playoff Edition 1 (aka Episode 58)

October 8, 2015

The postseason has arrived and for the first time since 1993, the Blue Jays are part of the playoff picture.

Freelance writer Todd Devlin looks back at the 2015 regular season and previews the ALDS against Texas.

Episode 58 Direct MP3 Download

RSS Feed

image

Episode 52: Halfway Home

July 9, 2015

The all-star break is just around the corner. It’s a perfect time to assess all the highs and lows the Blue Jays have given us thus far.

April Whitzman joins DNJT to look back at the Jays’ first half.

Episode 52 Direct MP3 Download

RSS Feed

image

Why, yes. It is a good time for a break.


%d bloggers like this: