Outside the Erin Mills Town Centre, the effects of the polar vortex were evident – endless mounds of snow and blistering, frigid winds made for an uncomfortable walk from the car. But inside the mall, on this Saturday, Jan 18th, 2014, over 1,000 excited baseball fans gathered with warmer thoughts on their minds. They anxiously awaited the arrival of some of their favourite Blue Jays players, for their last stop on the Winter Tour.
Some fans arrived as early as 9:00 am for the 2:00 pm event. Over 700 fans were able to meet and get autographs from Esmil Rogers, Todd Redmond, Brandon Morrow, Dustin McGowan, and fan favourite, Colby Rasmus. Hundreds more were turned away, as the line of fans endlessly snaked through the crowded mall.
Having just avoided salary arbitration the day prior by inking a one-year, $7 million deal, Rasmus seemed relaxed as we chatted. But the topic of conversation wasn’t about money. I was more interested in re-hashing the past, where during the 2013 season, Colby found himself in a major league match-up more rare than a perfect game, batting against his younger brother Cory, who in the game at Toronto on May 27th took the mound in the 7th inning for the Atlanta Braves. The Blue Jays centre fielder got the better of his brother in the at-bat, taking him opposite-field for a double.
Colby mentioned that Cory had given him some hitting tips – suggestions for his swing a couple of days prior to their possible match-up. While inevitably with brothers there will always be competition, the modest Rasmus simply stated that “it was a crazy time”, but when I asked about the dialogue with Cory after the game, he said there really wasn’t any since he’s not the kind to rub it in. Cory has since been moved to the Angels organization, and there is a possibility of a re-match this season, as the Jays will face LA for a 4-game home set in May, and again for a 3-game set on the road in July. Colby remarked,“a few guys have been talking about it. John Gibbons joked about it saying we might get another brother-brother match-up”.
The Mississauga location marked the end of the Jays Winter Tour, which stayed within Ontario this year, having gone cross-country the previous year. Mal Romanin, Manager of Baseball Information and Stephen Brooks, Senior VP, Business Operations for the Jays were both on site, overseeing the successful event. Toronto pitchers and catchers have their first spring training workout in just under three weeks. Even though the snow seems like it may never melt, baseball is in the air.
Blue Jays Trades & Off-Season Moves. Brock & Kyle discuss that, the 2013 World Series recap, and more.
It took some serious consideration before I clicked publish, re-reading and re-naming the title of this post several times. Boston was the one team I didn’t want to see win. After all, John Farrell who had left the Jays for his “dream job” was now hoisting the World Series trophy above his head. Yes, Toronto had a miserably disappointing season. But as a baseball fan, this was one of the more exciting World Series I can remember in years. A good friend of mine said he wished the series would go 14 games. I wondered, would Papi’s injuries have gotten the better of him by then, or would he have been hitting 26-for-32?
The Red Sox showed us several things this year. They showed us how powerful a team can be when they function together. They showed us what the proper leadership can foster (I’m talking about Big Papi, not Farrell…ok, maybe Farrell as well). They showed us how an entire city can rally together to overcome adversity (Boston Strong). And they showed us that they can grow some kick-ass beards. Seriously, how can you not be impressed by this?
How about us Toronto fans take away a few positives from this Boston Championship win? Who in Toronto didn’t want to see John MacDonald and Brian Butterfield get a World Series ring? I know, they’re wearing the wrong uniforms…I digress.
At the end of a LONG 162-game season, a select and fortunate group of players get to play baseball in October. Likely already nursing injuries, some of the ones who can grit their teeth and bare the pain for one more month can be elevated to baseball hero status (even if only for one game). Few become legend. Papi took it to a whole new level. Call him an icon. Call him a beast. He was in a zone even he had never experienced (though he joked that he did it all season long). Papi was the definition of do what I say, and lead by example (it’s rare that both of those happen together). He was a leader through words, and actions. Think it was coincidental that moments after Papi’s game-4 pep-talk in the dugout, that Johnny Gomes hit a home-run which would prove to be the game-winner (and likely the turning point in the series)? Perhaps, but I think if you ask any of the Boston players what impact Papi had on the team morale, energy, and composure, I’m sure you would receive a unanimous answer.
Putting things in perspective, Boston had the season Toronto expected/dreamed of having. The storybook, worst-to-first, against all odds, in the face of adversity kind of season. And as much as you can envy or hate them for it, I have to give credit where credit is due. Thank you Boston for giving us baseball fans a World Series to remember. Never have we experienced one like it (possibly the only thing it was missing was a hidden-ball trick, although the Cards had already been burned by it earlier in the season). Thank you for being gracious winners (and not peeing in the opposing teams pool). And thank you for showing Toronto that worst-to-first is possible. After all, spring training is only 115 days away…
It’s no secret that the Blue Jays have had horrible pitching problems this season. And that may be the biggest understatement I’ve ever made. It’s been painful to watch, especially since there were so many expectations for this team in 2013. While they still aren’t out of a playoff spot mathematically, it’s highly unlikely the jays will be playing October baseball. Again, a huge understatement. I just don’t see the point of being so negative…although you wouldn’t think so if you listen to today’s show. But there is a silver lining…I did find something positive to talk about. Click above to take a listen for 20 minutes.
Click here to listen to: Brock Picken interview Carlos Delgado, Roberto Alomar, Cito Gaston, Duane Ward, and many more.
Carlos Delgado was named to the Toronto Blue Jays Level of Excellence on Sunday, September 21st, 2013. So how did he celebrate? By hosting a training camp the following day at the Rogers Centre, in support of his Extra Bases Foundation, which strives to “improve the quality of life of people in need”. Joining Carlos, was a well-recognizable group of former Blue Jays greats.
Listen to the interviews that Brock Picken conducted with:
- Carlos Delgado
- Roberto Alomar
- Cito Gaston
- Shawn Green
- Duane Ward
- George Bell
- Juan Guzman
- Alex Gonzalez
- Candy Maldonado
- Lloyd Moseby
- Tony Fernandez
Click here to listen to: Brock Picken talk about the All Star Game with The Fan 590’s Jeff Sammut
Brock Picken discusses the 2013 HR Derby and All Star game with Sportsnet FAN 590’s Jeff Sammut.
They discuss the significance of the game in determining the home field advantage for the World Series, Mariano Rivera’s 13th (and last) All-Star appearance, and the four Jays appearing in the mid-summer classic, including the story-book selection of Steve Delabar.
Follow Jeff Sammut on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jeffsammut590
Click here to listen to: Brock Picken discuss the Blue Jays 11-game win streak
The Toronto Blue Jays are finally playing like the team everyone was hoping for at the beginning of the season. 11 straight wins ties a franchise record. Can the Jays keep the streak going? Do they now have more of a realistic shot at the playoffs? Will they be a buyer at the trade deadline? Is Bautista the leader they need him to be? Brock discusses this and more in this episode.