Tagged: baseball

Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame 2013 Inductee Interviews – Tim Raines, Shirley Cheek, Rob Ducey, & George Bell

Tom Cheek Induction Ceremony Plaque

Tom Cheek Induction Ceremony Plaque

Click here to listen to: Brock Picken interview Tim Raines, Shirley Cheek, Rob Ducey, & George Bell

Brock Picken talks with 2013 Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees at the Induction Ceremony in St Marys.

Tim Raines talks about what it takes to be a great lead off man, and the significance of his 808 stolen bases.

Shirley Cheek talks about Tom’s passion and dedication to the game, and what it would mean to him to be inducted.

Rob Ducey talks about his time in the big leagues, and as a rookie some “choice advice” George Bell gave him.

George Bell talks about his memories during his days with the Blue Jays, and his 1987 MVP season.

Click here to read my blog post about the day.

 

Blue Jays Tie Franchise Record 11 Wins In A Row

Toronto Blue Jays Win Again

Jays Tie Franchise Record 11-Straight Wins

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.

 

MLB To Suspend 20 Players For PED Use

Melky Cabrera Jays

Melky to receive further suspension?

ESPN has reported that the MLB will likely be suspending 20 players for PED use, in connection with the Biogenesis of America Clinic.

Yes, it would appear as though the proverbial crap is about to hit the fan. For some players, perhaps a second time?

That’s a lot of excrement coming into contact with numerous electrical oscillating air-distribution devices.

It would appear as though baseball is a very dirty sport. Half of those guys should be putting on rain gear and running for cover. But this is kind of old news.

After all, Jose Canseco started throwing giant poop-bombs into airplane propeller-sized fans about eight years ago when he came clean (see what I did there?) by publishing a book for the entire world, claiming to be the “Steroid King”. In great detail he explained how he first became a much better ball player by using PED’s, then started introducing and in some cases administering steroids (see “injecting players in the buttocks”) to his teammates.

Fast-forward to 2013, and we could potentially be looking at the largest drug-related suspension not just in baseball, but in all of North American professional sports.

The notable names on the list are: New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez and Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun.  Melky Cabrera, Yasmani Grandal, Bartolo Colon, Nelson Cruz, Francisco Cervelli, Cesar Puello, Jesus Montero, Jhonny Peralta, Fernando Martinez, Everth Cabrera, Fautini de los Santos and Jordan Norberto.

Braun and A-Rod could be facing a 100-game suspension for a second offence (for connection with the Miami-based clinic’s owner Tony Bosch, and for denying the use of PED’s). A-Rod hasn’t played yet this season, having had hip surgery in the off season. His estimated return date would have been around the all-star break. No word yet on what Melky Cabrera could be facing, as his arrival to Toronto this Spring Training was surrounded with the controversy of having come off a 50-game suspension last August for PED use.

Click here to see the ESPN report

Sportscaster Matt Devlin Talks Jays Pitching, NY’s Mariano Rivera, & A Lesson From Tom Cheek

Toronto Broadcaster Matt Devlin

Sportscaster Matt Devlin

Click here to listen to: Brock Picken talk with Sportscaster Matt Devlin on The Dugout: Jays Pitching, Mariano Rivera, & Tom Cheek.

As a sports fan in Toronto, if you are familiar with listening to Matt Devlin it’s likely from Toronto Raptors games. But recently Devlin had the opportunity to fill in for Buck Martinez, doing play-by-play for the Toronto Blue Jays, which we discussed. No stranger to baseball, Devlin grew up in New York and gained a great deal of broadcasting experience calling high school and minor league baseball games. In this episode of The Dugout, Matt shared some fun stories about working closely with the New York Yankees. We discussed the dominance of NY reliever Mariano Rivera, as well as the entire Yankee team through the 90’s. We discussed the current situation of the Jays pitching staff, and what the chances are for Toronto making the playoffs this year. Devlin also shared a special story about a lesson the late and great broadcaster, Tom Cheek shared with him earlier in his career.

Devlin will be back broadcasting some Jays games again in July!

Connect with Matt Devlin on Twitter.

 

Meeting Jesse Barfield – My Most Embarrassing Moment as a Fan

Jesse Barfield Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays Jesse Barfield

For many kids, when you fall in love with the game of baseball you have your favourite players, and maybe even a hero. Growing up a Blue Jays fan in the 80’s, you could pretty much take your pick from the roster for great players. My favourite was Jesse Barfield.

Jesse was a gold glove winner (’86 & ’87), an All-Star in 1986, and had a heck of an arm from right field. He was an exciting player to watch, he hit big home runs, and had charisma (today we’d call that swagger).

This past summer (2012) my younger brother Kyle and I had an opportunity to meet Bell, Moseby, and Barfield at an autograph signing at the Eaton Centre in Toronto. I wanted to think of something special to have signed by arguably the best outfield the Jays have ever had, and after much deliberation, decided on a program from 1985:

Blue Jays Drive of '85

The Drive of ’85

You see, it had to be something much more special than a baseball card (although I love my autographed Pat Borders card) or a baseball hat (although I love my autographed Joe Carter hat). As I was going through my various Blue Jays collectibles, I came across something unique and special. It was a baseball card in a plastic holder, from a Jays-Yankees game, Sept. 17th, 1990. The case reads “I helped break the Major League attendance record”. I started reminiscing about the game, and remembered it well (surprising since I was only 10 years old when I attended that game). I remembered sitting down the third base line in the 100-level (tickets were only $15 then!). I remember much of my family attending. And I had a distinct memory of Jesse Barfield hitting a home run that game…while wearing a Yankee uniform (he had been traded the season prior). I checked online, and sure enough my memory served correctly. While I still had my mind set on having the program signed, I decided to bring the ticket along anyway (as well as a few baseball cards – more on this later).

Kyle and I lined up on Yonge street, and just made it inside the Jays Shop before they stopped letting people in. Now here’s the important thing to remember about this story: there was a very strict rule about having ONE autograph per player. It totally makes sense, they want to get through as many fans as possible.

The guys were sitting behind tables, George Bell signing first. We made small talk, but George was already talking to the other guys about getting some Chinese food afterwards. My brother followed me, and pulled a clock out of his bag to get signed. Bell seemed impressed with the clock.

The Shaker was next. We talked golf a bit. He was quiet and polite, as you would expect Moseby to be.

Then I got to Barfield. He signed the program and we started chatting. I pulled out the ticket and started talking about the game. His eyes lit up, and he said “I remember that game, I hit a home run off Stottlemyre”. He then commented that he got nothing to hit the rest of the game (I checked online, sure enough he had four walks that game). Jesse said “take that ticket out of the case, let me sign it for you”.

Jays Yanks 1990

Jays Major League Attendance Record Breaking Game 1990

Now, all I had to do was say thank you and walk away. I had already exceeded the autograph quota. Had a great conversation with a Jays All-Star. My favourite player. But obviously I didn’t just walk away. Otherwise there wouldn’t be an embarrassing story here, would there?

Remember those baseball cards I mentioned? At this point I thought it would be a good idea to pull them out. But not to get signed. I had to ask Jesse if he had really said what was quoted on the back of the card. Ok, let me back-track a bit.

When I was in Grade one, I started collecting baseball cards. My mom’s friend’s husband (are you still following?) was a local firefighter. In the mid 1980’s, the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs teamed up with the Toronto Star and a couple other organizations to produce Blue Jays cards. And on the back of the cards, were fire safety tips incorporating baseball terms. And they were REALLY CHEESY. For example: FIRE SAFETY TIP – Lloyd Moseby says: “Don’t foul your outlets by using too many extension cords.” George Bell says: “Don’t get caught out in left field. Be sure you plan your escape.” And my favourite, Jesse Barfield says: “Be defensive against fire…And win a gold glove.” What? There’s no way Jesse said that. I wanted to ask him if he actually said that. I mean, it was only 26 years ago. Of course he would remember. Really, I just wanted to tease him a bit. I mean, we were practically best buddies at this point…

Only, as I started to read the quote on the back of the card, three things happened:

1. My brother who had patiently been waiting his turn, put the clock down in front of Jesse, who said “Wow that’s a really cool clock man”. Instantly distracted and now not listening.

2. George Bell started yelling at Jesse, “Dude you’re holding up the line! It’s lunch time. Hurry up Jesse!”

3. A lady with a clip board (yes, a clip board!) stepped in towards me and said, “Sorry sir, it’s a one-autograph maximum. I’m going to have to ask you to move along.”

I immediately looked like the crazy dude who brought his entire baseball collection to get signed. And it doesn’t matter what you say, or what your intentions are. When a woman with a clip board asks you to “move along”, you instantly look like a doofus. I think when I asked Jesse if he had “actually said that?”, his response was “I don’t know man”. He clearly hadn’t even heard what the crazy guy with the baseball cards was muttering about.

Jesse Barfield

Jesse Barfield

Fire Safety Tip

Fire Safety Tip

My brother’s clock that everyone loved. I must admit, it’s a pretty awesome clock.

What time is it? Time to play baseball!

What time is it? Time to play baseball!

I’m not sure what the moral of the story is here. Maybe you can tell me what you think it is. I just hope that one day I get to chat with Jesse again, this time while holding a microphone and doing an interview. Maybe I’ll even ask him for some fire safety tips. Besides, I’ve discovered people pay way more attention to you when you hold a mic…but you’re not even reading this now are you? You’re still busy looking at that damn clock.

Bleacher Report’s Tim Mackay – Are the Jays a World Series-Calibre Team? – The Dugout Show #16

Tim Mackay Blue Jays

Tim Mackay of Bleacher Report Talks Blue Jays

Click here to listen to: The Dugout Show #16: Bleacher Report’s Tim Mackay

Tim Mackay, two-time #2 Blue Jays Top Writer (April, May 2012) for the Bleacher Report joins Brock Picken on The Dugout, to talk about what the statistical make-up of a World Championship team looks like, based on 8 key criteria, as written about by Zachary Rymer. They also discussed the current situation of the AL East, touching on key points of focus for the Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, and Rays.

In mid-April, Tim took an in-depth look at the criteria for the World Championship statistical requirements as laid out by Rymer, and applied the Blue Jays current squad to see if they have “what it takes”.

While some criteria are as simple as having starters who can log high innings or rack up the K’s, there are also more in-depth requirements taking a look at some of the lesser known stats to the average baseball fan, such as a pitcher’s WPA and a fielder’s WAR.

Take a listen, as Tim discusses what criteria the Jays will likely meet, what they’re going to struggle to hit, and what’s a toss-up.

To read Tim’s article discussed in this podcast, click here.

Follow Tim on Twitter.