Through tragedy comes opportunity.
Joe Siddall is the newest member of the Sportsnet broadcast team, taking the booth alongside longtime play-by-play man Jerry Howarth. Joe recently had lost his young son Kevin to cancer, and when Jerry reached out via email to express his condolences, an opportunity presented itself, almost by accident.
Joe said in an email reply to Jerry, “I look forward to seeing you in Detroit…or maybe I’ll see you in the broadcast booth one day”.
Not even really knowing why he typed those words, suddenly he was looking at a reply from Jerry that read, “How about right now?”.
The rest as they say is history, and now Blue Jays fans have the perspective from a former catcher in the broadcast booth alongside Jerry, replacing former pitcher Jack Morris who has returned to his hometown of Minnesota to broadcast Twins games this season.
So why is it former catchers make the best broadcasters and managers?
I’m sure there are figures that might show my broad statement is exactly that, but I choose not to ignore that Mike Scioscia and Joe Torre had successful playing careers behind the plate before becoming managers. Tim McCarver and Bob Uecker are broadcast favourites of many, who also spent time behind the plate. Heck, even Crash Davis at the end of Bull Durham was considering a managing gig with a minor league team.
I asked Siddall what he thought the reason was. Drawing on experience from his own catching career, he mentioned that his manager Felipe Alou liked having him around because “it was like having another coach on the field”. It either comes naturally, or catchers are trained to make note of opposing hitters strengths and weaknesses, in addition to keeping track of their own pitchers. Essentially, it is a management role in itself.
So what does this former catcher think of the Blue Jays current pitching situation?
Follow Joe Siddall on Twitter: @SiddallJoe
At roughly this point in time one year ago, Toronto baseball fans were excited.
Way too excited.
Following a series of moves and acquisitions, Alex Anthopoulos had put together a group of players that immediately moved everyone’s perception of the Blue Jays from a struggling franchise to not just a playoff contender, but a favourite to win the World Series. ESPN’s Dan Shulman wasn’t fooled. I discussed the Blue Jays collapse with Dan last year, you can find that interview here.
Oh how excited we all were.
Ticket sales were up. Merchandise sales were drastically up. New, royal-blue caps became very noticible throughout Toronto streets, bars, and of course Rogers Centre. Spring training was a media frenzy, with much focus being on the two biggest names Anthopoulos had acquired, being Reyes and Dickey. Suddenly, it was cool to be a Blue Jays fan again.
And then the Toronto Blue Jays won the 2013 World Series, we all held hands and sang Kumbaya, THE END.
…sorry, where was I? I must have been daydreaming again…
Obviously we all know how 2013 really ended for the Jays, and I find it painful and pointless drudging up the past. However, we can all learn something from history. The past gives us something to measure progress against. And progress is what the Jays could use, having come off a 74-win season (sorry, sometimes I rub salt in my own wounds).
Fast-forward to Spring training 2014. This off-season has been drastically different for Toronto. The addition of Dioner Navarro as AA’s only significant off-season acquirement pales in comparison to what he did last year. And as a result, the Blue Jays are now flying somewhat under the radar.
Florida is quieter this year, as far as the Jays are concerned. I spoke with Sportsnet’s Jamie Campbell, who said that there are significantly less reporters covering the Blue Jays this spring training. He also said it’s a welcome change for the players, considering the circus they dealt with last year. To listen to the entire interview with Jamie, click here.
Does less media mean fewer expectations?
Hardly. This is almost the same team fans were ecstatic about last year. Only healthy…so far. Think about this scenario: Brett Lawrie, Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, and R.A. Dickey stay healthy for the majority of the season. Let that sink in. Now feel the warmth of the Florida sun across your face as your smile grows bigger. Let us consider one more scenario: Brandon Morrow and J.A. Happ also stay healthy. Suddenly the rotation doesn’t look so bad, does it? I know, there were so many big-name starters available this off-season, of which Toronto acquired none. But perhaps they didn’t need to. At the 2014 State of the Franchise, Anthopoulos suggested it might be a possibility to add another starter late spring. That possibility seems to be slipping away. Jamie Campbell doesn’t see it as a concern. He and I discussed the expectations from Toronto fans regarding acquiring Ervin Santana, but he pointed out that Ervin has been battling injuries. Combine that with Ervin’s expectation of a $50 Million commitment, and suddenly Toronto’s current options seem somewhat more attractive. Waiting in the wings are a handful of hungry pitchers, with a significantly smaller price tag. Toronto also had a very dominant bullpen last season. Delabar and Cecil both had All-Star worthy performances through the first-half. And who doesn’t like a fairy-tale/David-vs-Goliath style story that could be Marcus Stroman?
Yes, I know I just painted a very colourful picture with a rather optimistic brush. What can I say? I bleed blue.
But “worst-to-first” isn’t an impossibility. Ask Boston, they know all too well (jeez that still stings, doesn’t it Toronto?)
So get excited again.
Why not? It’s baseball season.
Anything can, and usually does happen.
For more on Toronto’s current pitching situation, listen to my interview here with Sportsnet’s Jamie Campbell. We also discuss the home plate collision rule change by Major League Baseball, which should prove to make for some interesting calls this season!
Follow Jamie Campbell on Twitter: @SNETCampbell
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
I am excited and honoured to have TheBlueJaysDugout.com make the Top 50 MLB Blogs Latest Leaders List for the second month straight (#36 March, #26 April 2013).
This past April has been a memorable one, as I have been so fortunate to have done some terrific podcasts:
- Dan Shulman, ESPN: http://bit.ly/18kJYCd
- Arash Madani, Sportsnet Author: http://bit.ly/ZKvmXP
- Jeff Sammut, Sportsnet Host: http://bit.ly/JeffSammut590
- April Whitzman, MLB Fan Cave Jays Rep: http://bit.ly/ZW5lvL
Thank you for your support in listening, liking, sharing, and spreading the word!
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 #7 – Sportsnet Broadcaster Jamie Campbell talks Blue Jays Baseball
Brock Picken talks with Sportsnet Broadcaster Jamie Campbell from Dunedin Florida, where he is covering the Toronto Blue Jays spring training. They discuss R.A. Dickey and who will be catching him, as well as Emilio Bonifacio’s throwing issues, and Jose Bautista‘s early display of home runs and if the wrist is at all a concern. They also discuss the possible return of Dustin McGowan to pitch out of the bullpen, whether or not to expect to see Adam Loewen get any playing time, and what could become of Adam Lind if he doesn’t have as good a season as he is having this spring. Finally, they discuss the manner in which John Farrell left for Boston, and what Farrell should expect upon his return to Toronto for the Blue Jays vs Red Sox series starting April 5, 2013.
Click Here to Listen to: The Dugout Show #4 – Jays Pitching Greats & Closer Duel
Host of the Dugout Brock Picken, & Guest Scott Mullen talk Toronto Blue Jays baseball. Jack Morris joins Sportsnet as a broadcaster. Paul Quantrill named as a Jays consultant. Pat Hentgen returns as the Bullpen manager. And the Jays have yet to determine who their official closer will be: Casey Janssen or Sergio Santos?