Finally…

5 12 2012

Great news in the baseball world. The late Tom Cheek, who had been the primary play-by-play voice for the Toronto Blue Jays, calling a total of 4,306 consecutive Jays games before cancer prematurely took him from us, has been named the 2013 Ford C. Frick Award recipient by the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown today.

This award has been a very long time coming. Including this year, he’d been nominated for the Frick Award for nine consecutive years. But the campaigning to have him honoured is now done, successfully.

The Ford C. Frick Award recognizes one’s contribution to baseball broadcasting, and Tom was one of the best, being with the Jays from their opening day in 1977.

Congratulations, Tom!

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My thoughts on the Blue Jays season opener yesterday…

6 04 2012

On Thursday, the Toronto Blue Jays opened their 2012 season with the first of three in Cleveland. It looked like the Jays were going to start off with a loss, having given up 4 runs in the 2nd inning, and were trailing by a score of 4-1 heading to the 9th inning.

Little did baseball fans know that they were in for a little history that day.

The Jays scored 3 runs to tie the game up 4-4, and they held the Indians scoreless in their half of the 9th. Going to extra innings.

Both teams had chances to put this game away sooner in the extra frames, but could not score – either by poor hitting or great pitching and defense – some of both at times!

The score remained 4-4 until the 16th inning, when J.P. Arencibia smacked a pitch into the stands in left field for a three-run home run to put the Jays ahead 7-4.

Heading to the bottom of the 16th, the plan was for Jays closer Sergio Santos to come on to pitch the full inning, and get a 3-run save. However, relief pitcher Luis Perez, who had pitched the past 3 2/3 innings, sprinted onto the field and crossed the baselines. Once he had done that, he was required to pitch to one batter before coming out of the game. Santos had to return to the bullpen and wait. Perez got the batter out and then made way for Santos, who did walk a batter, but got the job done, getting the last two outs without giving up a run. The Jays erased a 4-1 deficit, tied it up, and won 7-4 in 16 innings – the longest opening-day game in MLB history, in terms of innings played. The previous record was 15 innings, set twice: once in 1926, and repeated in 1960.

The plan had been for Santos to come in at the beginning of the inning and pitch the entire inning to earn the save. However, because he had to wait until the first batter had been put out by Perez, it turned out he only pitched 2/3 of an inning, and the rule for saves states that for a pitcher to qualify for a 3-run save, he must have pitched a full inning, closing out the game. Santos didn’t pitch the full inning as planned, so no save for him.

In the grand scheme of things, however, this was a great day for the Jays. They showed a “never say die” attitude, though they were trailing for most of the first 9 innings. They held the Indians off the scoreboard for the rest of the game, and came away with the victory in 16 innings. It was a great game to watch, and if the Jays show that kind of attitude the rest of the season, 2012 looks to be a great Jays season to follow. Pundits have predicted that the Blue Jays will likely end up with only some 85 wins for the season, but I think that if they keep the same “never say die” attitude that they showed Thursday, the Jays will end up still in a lot of games that, in past seasons, would have been written off early as losses – and may find themselves winning some of these close games!

Go Jays Go!





The latest Blue Jays happenings…

24 01 2012

A couple of Blue Jays events for you today:

It’s been confirmed by the Blue Jays that they have come to terms with arbitration-bound pitcher Brandon Morrow, on a 3-year deal worth $20 million, plus a club option for 2015, worth an additional $10 million. It turns out that when Morrow and the Jays submitted salary numbers recently, in preparation for the arbitration hearing, they were only $300,000 apart, and that looks to be the impetus to get a deal done. The fact that Morrow will be with the Jays for a longer term is a definite plus. Along with having Ricky Romero signed for the next few years as well, a good chunk of the Jays’ rotation is in good shape for a while.

Also yesterday, the Jays signed veteran shortstop Omar Vizquel to a minor league deal, with an invitation to spring training. Vizquel will compete with Mike McCoy and Luis Valbuena for the Jays’ utility-player position.

I think this is a great move for the Jays. If Vizquel succeeds in staying with the Jays come April, he will be a very positive influence on the entire Jays clubhouse, particularly with regular third baseman Brett Lawrie. In addition to regularly playing shortstop, Vizquel has spent about 90 games in the past three seasons playing at third, so he knows the position, and so, he could possibly fill in there for Lawrie every now and then.

Vizquel’s presence at spring training may also force McCoy and Valbuena to step up their own games, to the point of one of them earning the utility role. Either way, Vizquel will help make the Jays better in the weeks leading up to them making the move north to Toronto. Plus, being a minor league deal, the Jays are not taking a huge chance on this venture.

Someone commented to me that even if Vizquel is not successful in landing a position with the Jays, he’d be very good in a coaching role. I fully agree. That is something that I think the Jays should consider, if they decide to go with McCoy or Valbuena for the utility position. The Jays would do well to have a positive influence like Vizquel in the dugout.






Congratulations Pat Gillick!

6 12 2010

Earlier today, it was announced that Pat Gillick, former GM of the Toronto Blue Jays, and one of the architects behind the Blue Jays’ World Series years in 1992 and 1993, has been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 2011.

In addition to his years with the Blue Jays, Gillick also was involved in building the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners and the Philadelphia Phillies into contenders, and won a third World Series title in 2008 with the Phillies. In all, Gillick has spent nearly 50 years in baseball, 27 of them as a big league general manager.

Congratulations, Pat Gillick! A very deserving honour!

2011 could be a huge year for baseball in Canada. Gillick is in the Hall of Fame. Former Blue Jays 2B Roberto Alomar is expected to be chosen in January. Plus, two other awards handed out by the Hall of Fame will have their winners announced very soon, each with a notable Canadian as a potential honouree.

Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun is in the running for the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, which recognizes contributions to baseball writing. And the original play-by-play broadcaster for the Blue Jays, the late Tom Cheek, who has been nominated for the award for each of the past 7 years, is again being considered for the Ford C. Frick award, for excellence in baseball broadcasting.

I’ll announce the winners of those awards very soon.





Thank you, Cito Gaston, and good luck…

29 09 2010

It will be a bittersweet night for Toronto Blue Jays fans at the Rogers Centre tonight, as well as for outgoing Jays manager Cito Gaston.

After the season-ending road trip in Minnesota over the weekend, Cito will conclude his second tour of duty as the Jays skipper, and will take on an advisory role with the team as of next year. Tonight will be his final game at home as manager, and fittingly, the game is being called “Thank you, Cito” night, to celebrate his career with the club.

Granted, during Cito’s most recent turn in the dugout, the Jays did not see the playoffs. Indeed, the Jays did not take part in the postseason after their back-to-back World Championships in 1992-93. But the Jays have fared much better than had been predicted last spring. Regardless of what happens the rest of the way, they will finish with at least a .500 record, and I believe much of the credit for that has to go to Cito, who was also the skipper for the two World Series years.

This Canadian Press story, as published on TSN.ca, does a better job at detailing the kind of career that Cito has had, and what he’s done for the Jays and baseball in general, far better than I could ever hope to.

I join other Blue Jays fans at congratulating Cito Gaston on his work with the Jays, and wish him all the best.

Thank you, Cito – well done!





Future Hall Of Famer still thinks of Toronto as second home…

28 01 2010

Today’s Globe and Mail has a neat article (which you can see here) about former Toronto Blue Jay and future baseball Hall Of Famer Roberto Alomar.

It describes Alomar’s feelings about leaving Toronto – the city he describes as his second home – and how he gave the Blue Jays every opportunity to hang on to him by matching the offer made to him by the Baltimore Orioles. Unfortunately, the Jays, who were in a definite rebuilding mode, declined, and Alomar became an Oriole.

It is well known how Alomar just missed being elected to Cooperstown this year, his first year of eligibility. And in the article is a comment on how an incident between Alomar and umpire John Hirschbeck – an incident for which Hirschbeck has since forgiven Alomar and the two, in fact, have become friends – is the reason some of those responsible for electing players to the Hall Of Fame chose not to vote for Alomar this year.

Alomar is one of the best second basemen that the game of baseball has ever seen, and he deserved to be elected this year. It is a shame that an incident that the participants themselves have put behind them still became a factor in Alomar not getting into the Hall Of Fame this year.

But there is good news regarding Alomar in this piece. It mentions the upcoming induction of Alomar to the Canadian Baseball Hall Of Fame. That induction ceremony is in June.

Also, there are indications that Roberto may be rejoining the Blue Jays fraternity very soon. According to general manager Alex Anthopolous, Alomar is on a list of guest coaches who could be working with the Jays at spring training in February.

It would be really cool if Alomar, who’s expressed an interest in re-entering the game as an instructor, were to do so within the Blue Jays organization. The players in the organization would stand to learn a lot from one of the best in the game.

And fear not – it is, the article says, a “virtual lock” that Roberto Alomar will be inducted into the Hall Of Fame in 2011.