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.
Click here to listen to: Arash Madani of Sportsnet on The Dugout with Brock Picken
Brock Picken speaks with Sportsnet Author Arash Madani about the Toronto Blue Jays current performance. They discuss the return of Brett Lawrie, the strikeout woes of Colby Rasmus & JP Arencibia, and pitching performances of numerous starters and relievers. Arash gives an insight into what to expect for the upcoming series’ against the Orioles, Yankees, and Red Sox.
Click here to listen to: The Dugout Show #10 – Recap Toronto Blue Jays 2013 Honda Home Opener
Brock Picken highlights the positives and negatives from the Toronto Blue Jays 2013 Honda Home Opener.
So the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays season is finally upon us.
The Jays played their first game of the season last night. And lost.
If you are one of the Blue Jays fans whining today about how disappointed you are, allow me to inform you of something important to recognize –
in a 162-game regular season, they’re going to lose games.
If we’re fortunate enough this year, the Jays will lose about 40% of their games (last year that would have been good enough to win the division).
A lot happened in last night’s game, both good and bad. I was lucky enough to be able to attend last night’s home opener, and I will break down both the positives and negatives.
- Rasmus looked uncomfortable at the plate. This is a season where he needs to get it together, or we’ll be seeing Gose sooner than expected. And I get it, it’s a long season and it takes some guys longer to get into a groove. But where some guys were making loud outs on hard-hit balls, Rasmus went down on strikes three times.
- Arencibia set a franchise record within the first two innings of the game. Unfortunately, it was for allowing three passed balls. This was then followed by ground balls that likely would have been double-plays. Arencibia looked good catching Dickey during the World Baseball Classic for team USA, so last night was likely an anomaly. However, don’t be surprised when by the end of the season Arencibia leads the majors in passed balls. If it’s tough to hit, it’s just as tough to catch.
- Dickey didn’t throw as many strikes as he usually can. His control was a bit off, and he admitted to not feeling as comfortable with his release point. He walked more in last night’s game than he did the entire Spring Training. He threw only 56% strikes, which needs to be higher. Having said that, with the potential fire-power in this Jays line-up, they typically should be able to recover from a 3 or 4 run deficit.
- Honda gave away a CRV last night to a fan. Then they took it away and gave it to another fan. To be honest, I’m still not sure what happened. The sound system was difficult to hear (at least in the 500 section), so I’m still a bit confused. The contest definitely could have been organized much better.
- And my final negative, on a more personal note, were the lousy Jays fans we happened to be sitting with in the 500 level. I don’t know why getting so drunk that you don’t even watch the game and throw things over the railing has become a thing, but it is these “fans” (in quotations because they are anything but true fans) that ruin the experience for the others, and make a bad name for Jays fans in general. So to you rotten people, I say please stay home next year. Oh, and this is my reaction to your disrespectful behaviour: (Click here to see what everyone thinks of you).
Ok, enough of the complaining. After all, as fans we have a lot to be excited about this year.
- The Jays hit the ball hard. Really hard. Unfortunately, it was right at guys wearing gloves. Cleveland fields a solid team and made some great plays. But most of the time, when you consistently hit the ball hard, good things happen.
- After serving up a HR, Dickey struck out the next two batters on straight strikes. It seemed that he was ticked at himself and was taking it out on the batters. I see this as a great channeling of anger. He has great control of his emotions, which is so important as a pitcher.
- Even though Santos gave up a big hit on his first pitch, he was able to work out of the jam without allowing any runs and looked strong. If he and Janssen can stay consistent throwing strong innings in the 8th and 9th, we may have our Ward-Henke combo we’ve been waiting so long for.
- Cecil looked terrific on the mound, and was hitting 93-94 mph on the radar gun (where the heck did that come from?!). When Brett Lawrie comes off the DL and it’s between Cecil and Jeffress to go back down, they may have a tougher decision with Cecil now throwing at an increased velocity. These tough decisions are good problems to have!
- From a design standpoint, the new 200 level concourse looks fantastic! It feels like the stadium has been opened up more, and it’s nice to have that large area functional again, and open to anyone who has a ticket (unless it’s rented out for a private function which it was last night).
Finally, I will close with how the evening began. Tom Cheek was honoured for winning the Ford C. Frick award. The largest Canadian flag I’ve ever seen draped the entire outfield for the National anthem, and Geddy Lee of Rush threw out the ceremonial first pitch (oh how Canadian!). Our season is full of hopes and dreams. And in baseball, anything can happen.
Click Here to Listen to: The Dugout Show #3 – Speed, Power, & a Rivalry
Host of the Dugout Brock Picken, & Guest Scott Mullen talk Toronto Blue Jays baseball. The speed of Jose Reyes, the question marks being Adam Lind & Colby Rasmus, and the rivalry between the Jays and Boston Red Sox as a result of the manner in which John Farrell left Toronto for his “dream job” in Boston.