Posted tagged ‘sports’

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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Roy Halladay: The Professional’s Professional

November 13, 2017

A wife lost her husband, two boys lost their father and we all lost an incredible role model and pitcher.

Obviously, this is a difficult article to write. Like you, I am still numb and devastated. Forget for a moment that he was a major league pitcher. We are grieving for a man who was only 40 years old; taken away so suddenly and horrifically. Painfully, we are reminded that life is not fair.

Roy Halladay was a Toronto Blue Jay. During a period of futility, he was one of the few bright spots. The Jays struggled in the standings, attendance fell and they had become an afterthought to some. It was a tough time, but at least we had Roy Halladay.

A lot of wonderful articles have been written about Doc’s impact. For me, I am reminded of anΒ interview former U.S. President George W. Bush gave to Politico.com in 2008.

Bush – the one-time owner of the Texas Rangers – was asked about putting together a team if he were to hypothetically return to the sport and every player was available. The President’s number one choice for a pitcher: Roy Halladay.

The most powerful person on the planet (at the time) and the leader of the free world wanted our guy to be his ace hurler. That said something.

Halladay was a professional’s professional, with an inspiring rise to greatness. He started his big league career with a bang, fell apart and was sent down to A-ball. But he overcame the glaring setback with a hard work ethic and a flawless mentality.

As someone who chronically overthinks, I am envious of that “next pitch” mindset. The ability to block out the past, ignore any worry about the future and just focus on the moment at hand is hard to achieve. Roy Halladay achieved it and that’s why he was one of the best and will one day (hopefully) have a plaque in Cooperstown.

We must take as much time as we need to grieve. One day, the sadness we are all feeling right now will be replaced with happy memories. Until then, I join those on social media and call on the Blue Jays to retire Doc’s uniform number and add his name to the Level of Excellence.

More importantly, let’s remember that he was a son, a husband, a father, a teammate and a fan favourite. From all accounts, he was also an incredible human being. It was an honour to watch him apply his craft every five days.

May his memory be a blessing.

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

Short, scribbled final thoughts about the 2017 World Series

November 2, 2017

Mazel Tov to the Houston Astros! Finally – after 56 seaons – a World Series parade will be held in their city.

Granted, it doesn’t even compare to when the Chicago Cubs ended their 108-year-old drought. However, that doesn’t mean it’s any less significant. This championship not only belongs to the 2017 team, but also to the countless players who wore an Astros uniform in the past. Today, I’m thinking about Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman (my childhood/era) and many others . My hope is that they are enjoying this moment as much as Verlander, Altuve, Springer, Keuchel and the rest of the current roster.

Not too long ago, things were bleak for the Astros. They were one of the worst teams and very beatable; unless – it seemed – they hosted the Blue Jays at Minute Maid Park. But all that misery and pain allowed them to draft and cultivate young talent with tons of potential. As luck would have it, all that young talent achieved its potential and developed into the best team in baseball. The Astros redefined the meaning of a blue print and have reset the example of building a winning ball team.

At the end of every World Series, I always like to search the winning team’s roster for former Blue Jay players and coaches. This year, an extra congrats goes to Francisco Liriano; traded to Houston back in July for Teoscar Hernandez and Nori Aoki. Liriano started the season getting blown out by Tampa Bay, but ended things on a much more positive note.

Despite playing for the losing side, a tip of cap also goes to Brandon Morrow. It was wonderful seeing him healthy again and making a significant impact for the Dodgers. Here’s hoping he continues to build from a mostly successful 2017 performance.

ER

World Series Prediction/Guess

October 24, 2017

My desire for a Cubs-Astros World Series unravelled last week. Wasn’t surprised Los Angeles won the National League Pennant. What was shocking was how the Dodgers captured the title: Victory by technical knockout. 

Houston showed us the true meaning of home field advantage. The Yankees didn’t stand a chance playing three games with the magical pinstripes and four with their dull, grey road uniforms. 

So we have an old-school NL West matchup for the World Series. Good fortune will fall upon the Houston Astros and it will occur in six games. 

I’m sure you have seen the 2014 Sports Illustrated cover that declared Houston would be victorious in 2017. Back in 2012, I wrote a piece about the Astros for TheGoodPoint.com. At the time, fans of the team were furious. On top of poor performances on the field, there was a significant contingent of fans unhappy that Houston was moving to the American League. It was also the Astros’ 50th anniversary. 

Amazing how things can change πŸ˜‰

Enjoy the World Series!

ER


ALCS/NLCS Guesses

October 13, 2017

All my American League guesses were wrong. However, all my National League guesses were correct. 

As someone who was born and raised under AL rules, I’m perplexed by this outcome. 

Anyway…

Houston over New York in six games.
Chicago over Los Angeles in seven games
.

ER

ALDS/NLDS Guesses

October 5, 2017

So I was right about Arizona, but wrong about Minnesota. The two matches definitely put the WILD in WILD Card. Thrilling for hitters; cruel to starting pitchers.

Anyway…

Boston over Houston in 5
Cleveland over New York in 5
Chicago over Washington in 4
Los Angeles over Arizona in 5

ER



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