Monday, 15 April 2013

Jays win! Snapshots from Jackie Robinson Day.

Edwin Encarnacion on Jackie Robinson Day
On what quickly became a tragic Monday, the Blue Jays played the Chicago White Sox. I arrived at the stadium blissfully unaware of what had happened in Boston, as I had been buried in an archive all day, but quickly became aware of the tragedy. Terrible. Sad. I will leave it at that.

Today was also Jackie Robinson day. All the players, coaches, ball boys and umpire wore the number 42 to honour Jackie Robinson breaking the colour barrier in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers. His number is now retired across major league baseball. (except for Mariano Rivera, who was grandfathered in, when he retires this year no one will ever wear 42 again).

As a historical researcher, I feel inclined to add a historical tidbit about Jackie Robinson. Did you know that his middle name is Roosevelt, a name he went by his entire childhood?
Yup, in the 1920 and 1930 census, Jackie got enumerated as Roosevelt.

11 year old Jackie Robinson in 1930.

For this game, I had unusually good seats so I took tons of pictures, but because the players weren't wearing their actual numbers it will be hard to reuse the pictures later. So I thought I would just put them here.

Mark Buerhle pitched into the sixth for a quality start

Mark Buerhle was better. He pitched 6.1 innings, gave up 9 hits and two runs. Both runs came in the first inning. He got himself out of jams, the defense backed him up and his ERA dipped below 7. This is the Buerhle we've been waiting for.

Edwin Encarnacion, umpire and Colby Rasmus

Edwin Encarnacion went 3-4, with 3 singles and Colby Rasmus went 1-3 with a double and a walk (and two strikeouts).

Dwayne Murphy stands with Colby Rasmus.

Colby Rasmus stands on first after taking a walk to load the bases

Adam Lind had an awesome night, going 2-3 with a walk. This is the Adam Lind I want to see every night.

 And of course, we can't forget about Munenori Kawasaki. The emergency short stop, who everyone, including me, seems to love. He's a pretty easy just to love. What with the quirks, the bowing, the dancing, the RBIs and the triples.  Kawasaki bagged a triple in the bottom of the fourth, and by the bottom of the eighth the stadium was chanting "Kaw-As-Aki." I'm sure things won't always be so rosy, but I hope the Jays keep him for awhile. I like the spirit he brings.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

The Start of the Season

Remember the off-season? Remember how everyone had such high expectations? Remember when suddenly everyone became a Blue Jays fan? Remember when everyone bought a flex pass because they would get first crack at post-season tickets?

It`s April 13. Ten games into the season. The Blue Jays are 4-6 and at the very bottom of the Al East. Our 2012 Cy Young winner is 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA. Most of those with brand new hats, a flex pass and who were thinking about where they would be on the World Series parade route have ankles that hurt just as much as Jose Reyes. The thing about bandwagons: people jump off them. The thing about baseball; not everything happens they way you want it to. Ask a Cubs fan. They could certainly enlighten you.

The Blue Jays began the season in a bad way. The starting pitchers didn't perform, the bats were cold, the bullpen was overstretched.

A photographic rendering of the start of the season
The Blue Jays get creamed 13-0 by the Red Sox, 11-1 by the Tigers. Josh Johnson has the shortest start to his career. The long reliever position becomes a revolving door.

Bitch Please
 And the bandwagonners began to jump. There was whining and bitching. Pleas to trade Colby Rasmus and bring up Anthony Gose. The plans to bring back the World Series trophy to Canada suddenly stopped. People got angry. They boo-ed RA Dickey. Fans ran onto the field. People thought paper airplanes were more appealing than baseball. Fans threw pizza, beer cans and pompoms. Everyone generally acted like the World Series had been guaranteed from the get go. Just because you have a stacked team, doesn't mean you should act like New York Yankees fans. This is Toronto! Did anyone really think it would be that easy?

Brighter days. The corporate machine of the Blue Jays plots their own Canadian World Series win.
 Then last night. Things finally seemed to be blowing in the right direction. J.A Happ wasn't pitching particularly well, but he was getting run support! Singles, doubles, advances on errors! The Blue Jays were winning!! Then one of the two players who have been performing consistently amazing (Jose Reyes)

                                            (for bonus points, the other player is J.P Arencebia).

 Who reminded everyone of the great possibilities, whose smile can surely light up a room, did SOMETHING to his ankle sliding into second base after a two run single, and he was removed from the field in tears. And even the most hard core fans started crying with him. Because suddenly their future stretched out before them, and in this vision, Mike McCoy is playing short stop and the ace has an ERA over 7.

Who me?

How will we go on without Jose Reyes? He's the light in the club house, the wind beneath their wings, and he makes Edwin belly laugh during batting practice.

 Life will go on. It's baseball. Injuries happen, slow starts, complete flubs and plummeting aces. Yes, it won't quite be the same without Reyes, but he will be back.

And in the meantime, the Jays still have a line up that includes Melky Cabrera, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Colby Rasmus, JP Arencebia and (very soon) Brett Lawrie.

It's only April. And the Blue Jays might not win the World Series. But it's too early to say.

It's going to be okay.