Tagged: tom cheek

Blue Jays Greats Interview Highlight Reel

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.

 

Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony 2013

2013 Induction Ceremony

2013 Induction Ceremony

If you are a baseball fan living in Ontario and haven’t been to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, do yourself a favour and check it out. The quiet little town of St Marys, situated an hour west of Kitchener is a picturesque place with quaint shops, century old homes, and large maple and cherry trees.

Early Saturday morning of the induction weekend, I had the opportunity to interview all of the inductees (Click Here To Listen To The Podcast), including Shirley Cheek, widow to the late Tom Cheek, who was also inducted.

Sitting down and chatting with Tim Raines, he shared his opinion on what makes a good leadoff man, and how the game has changed today.

Hall of Famer Tim Raines

Montreal Expos Speedster Tim Raines

Shirley Cheek shared with me that Tom had dreamed of being a broadcaster from the age of seven. He used to take a recorder to games and practice calling play-by-play. Tom Cheek called 4,306 consecutive Blue Jays games, before taking a day off for his father’s funeral in 2004. Tom passed away in 2005 from brain cancer. For an in-depth look at Tom Cheek’s career, read John Lott’s article here.

Shirley Cheek, wife to the late Tom Cheek

Shirley Cheek, wife to the late Tom Cheek

Rob Ducey, the only Canadian-born inductee of the group, was polite (as Canadians stereotypically are), soft-spoken, and had a great story about his first day in the big leagues, and some advice that George Bell had for him.

Former Blue Jay & Expo Rob Ducey

Former Blue Jay & Expo Rob Ducey

In 1987 he was the AL MVP, the only Toronto Blue Jays to have ever won the award. He had a big swing, and an even bigger personality, which still holds true today. George Bell claims that he can’t quite remember all the details from his 12 seasons in the MLB, but once you get him talking, it becomes apparent that he still has some very detailed memories from his career. This larger-than-life hall of famer was a lot of fun to spend time with.

1987 AL MVP George Bell

1987 AL MVP George Bell

INDUCTION CEREMONY

Following the national anthems being sung by none other than critically acclaimed singer and actor Michael Burgess, Canadian sports announcer and emcee for the day, Rod Black took to the mic and immediately warmed the crowd:

Rod didn’t stop there (it must have been the Red Bull). He delivered a witty and hilarious speech on what it means to be Canadian:

Rod Black, Hall of Fame Inductees, Cito Gaston, Tom Henke

Rod Black, Hall of Fame Inductees, Cito Gaston, Tom Henke

Following the ceremony, my wife and I headed off to the museum to look at the baseball memorabilia.

Induction Ceremony Bats

Induction Ceremony Bats

Tom Cheek Induction Ceremony Plaque

Tom Cheek Induction Ceremony Plaque

1940's Pitching Machine

1940’s Pitching Machine

Jackie Robinson Memorabilia

Jackie Robinson Memorabilia

My Wife Marta with the home plate Joe Carter crossed following his 1993 World Series winning walk-off home run.

My Wife Marta with the home plate Joe Carter crossed following his 1993 World Series winning walk-off home run.

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.

 

Toronto Blue Jays 2013 Home Opener

Jose Bautista

2013 Toronto Blue Jays Home Opener (via Globalnews.ca)

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.

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.

Positives:

  • 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).

Rogers Centre new seating

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.

The Dugout – Show #5 – Al Coombs 1290 CJBK London Radio: Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame

Al Coombs talks Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame

Al Coombs & Brock Picken talk Blue Jays Baseball.

Click Here to Listen To: The Dugout Show #5 – Al Coombs on The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame

Brock Picken & Al Coombs from 1290 CJBK London Talk Radio talk Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, American League East expectations for 2013, no-hitters that weren’t, and wild Toronto Blue Jays predictions.

Listen to Al’s London Radio Show: Click Here

Subscribe to The Dugout on iTunes: http://bit.ly/DUGOUTiTunes

Top 10 Reasons to Love the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays

Lawrie, Rasmus, & Bautista.

The 2013 Toronto Blue Jays are the team to beat.

Outside my window, it’s cold and dark. There’s two feet of snow on the ground. It’s the kind of day that makes you want to just stay inside.

It’s this time of year when the lack of sunshine and vitamin D can start to get to you. Our cold, Canadian winters can get you down. But I am not down today…

Because baseball starts tomorrow!

And I for one will be watching the Blue Jays take on the reigning AL Champs, Detroit Tigers.

I can’t remember being this amped up so early in the year. I watched a few spring training games last year, but wasn’t as excited as I am now.

Here are the top 10 reasons why I am so excited, and why I am already in love with this 2013 Toronto Blue Jays team.

  1. Alex Anthopoulos is putting his (Rogers’s) money where his mouth is. We all had our doubts about A.A. (he was/is the youngest GM in Jays franchise history). And prior to A.A. there was the whole getting promised the moon by Ricciardi, who promptly gave Wells and Rios MASSIVE contracts, then kept using the term “building for next year” to the point where hearing that caused every Jays fan to feel sick to their stomach. But then in one (or three or four) foul swoop, A.A. pulled off what is arguably the biggest (and most talked about) off-season in Blue Jays history. No more building for next year. THIS IS next year. Anthopoulos has made it clear the time is now. And quite possibly for the next few years to come. The man has some serious swagger. He OOZES confidence. And I love him for it. It’s about damn time that Jays fans can have confidence in their GM to build a winning team. 
  2. R.A. Dickey – Toronto has a new Hero. So why is an entire city excited about a 38-yr-old pitcher? It could be that we have the reigning CY Young Award winner, who by the way throws devastating knuckleballs, and who also happens to be an articulate and caring human being (what a refreshing combination!). Dickey shared some of his darkest secrets in his book “Wherever I Wind Up”. It’s a must read. I finished it in a few days. He also spent time this past winter in India with a charity that fights child sex trafficking, which is a true testament to the incredible human being that he is.  
  3. Jose Can You See? We have Jose “Mr. Triples” Reyes, and Jose “Mr. HR” Bautista (neither to be confused with Jose “Mr. Steroids” Canseco). Speed and power. Wow.
  4. Melky “Mr Controversy” Cabrera. The Jays aren’t completely without controversy. Which I like. Isn’t being Canadian supposed to equate to “being nice”? Yes, but even Brett Lawrie is more bad-ass than good-boy, so what do you expect? Plus controversy can be good. It puts butts in seats. And even if Melky produces 3/4 of what he did last year (which was likely chemically enhanced), at $16M over 2 years he’s still a bargain. And the Jays finally have a regular left fielder. A.A. does it again.
  5. Two Times Lucky? Doesn’t everyone deserve a second chance? A.A. believes Gibby does. And really, what’s not to like about the guy? Sure, he’s a bit rough around the edges (just ask Ted Lilly), but most importantly he commands respect from his players. Respect is HUGE. Without it the machine breaks down. You can be certain there’s no LOLLYGAGGING on Gibby’s watch.
  6. No Holes in that Rotation. The pitching rotation 1 through 5, is arguably the best in the majors. Romero may still be a question mark (hey, who isn’t at this point?), but I think that with some of the pressure off of him to be an “Ace”, he’ll settle into his spot nicely. When you break it down, the rotation is scary good. They can alternate between lefty – righty. One day you’re going to see speed, the next, junk. And CY Young calibre Knuckleballs. Finally, you have two veterans (Dickey & Buehrle) to lead by example for the younger guys. You also have no-hit/perfect game potential (Morrow – almost & Buehrle). All that mixed together into one well-oiled machine is virtually unstoppable.
  7. Induction of a Blue Jays Legend. Tom Cheek was recently awarded the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence. He was the voice of Blue Jays baseball for 4,306 regular season games IN A ROW (+ 41 postseason games). Those numbers don’t even include preseason games, which he also broadcast. The man had a set of iron vocal cords. Sadly, Tom passed away in 2005 from cancer. Cheek will be inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame on June 29 at St Marys, and will be honoured at the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Awards Presentation on Saturday, July 27 in Cooperstown.
  8. Familiar Faces. With so many familiar faces around, every day will feel like a reunion. Dirk Hayhurst is back as the co-host of baseball central, and will fill in occasionally for newest member of the broadcast team, Jack Morris! Paul Quantrill joined the organization as a consultant, and of course Pat Hentgen is returning as the Jays bullpen coach. What’s with all the former pitchers sticking around?
  9. Two Dark Horses. It might seem unusual to bring on two older players who don’t have great stats. But what numbers don’t show, are mentorship and leadership. That’s exactly what Blanco & DeRosa will bring to the team (and more specifically, to Arencibia & Thole, and Lawrie respectively).
  10. This City is Ready for a Championship. Toronto has been dying for a championship team for quite some time now. The Leafs  haven’t done it since ’67. The Raptors haven’t done it at all and still have a long way to go. Even though the Argos are the current Grey Cup Champs…the city just doesn’t seem to get behind them. The Jays last won in 1993 as the second half of the championship repeat. The city was electric back then. And now suddenly the Jays are on everyone’s radar. Vegas has them on 8-1 odds as World Series Champs for 2013 (they were 100-1 odds at the end of the 2012 season). Do you feel the electricity in the air? Big things are happening. It’s time. Toronto’s ready. And there’s still two feet of snow on the ground.