The Blue Jays have gotten out to an amazing start this season on the backs of a strong and surprising offensive output. Adam Lind leads the league in RBI’s at this point, and the Jays have hit the most homeruns in the majors to this point. Who would have thunked it??? Go Blue Jays! I’m a homer, I’ll admit it!
The pitching has, for most part, been solid behind a stellar bullpen. With the exception of Brandon League and B.J. Ryan, the other notables in the pen (i.e. Scott Downs, Jesse Carleson, Brian Tallet and Jason Frasor) have picked up where they left off last season as one of the best pen’s in the league. The starting pitching has surprising held their own despite some very high doubts coming into the season. Newcomers Ricky Romero and Scott Richmond both got wins in their starts, and Roy Halladay has started the season 2-0, with a win over 2008 questionable Cy Young choice Cliff Lee in Cleveland the other night.
Going into the opening week series against Detroit I got to opportunity to meet one of the better bloggers on MLB. The famous ‘Happy Youngster,’ a guy that has made somewhat of a name for himself catching balls in Milwaukee. He got 5 balls in Toronto, as the empty batting practice crowd gave him many opporitunities.
I wore my Paul Molitor Brewers jersey to honour a great Brewer/Blue Jay that spent so many years in Milwaukee and had a couple very valuable years in Toronto for a Blue Jay World Championship team in 1993.
After the game, me, Happy and my friend Charles took to Alice Fazooli’s (a nice restaurant near the Rogers Centre) on Adelaide Street in Toronto. (Bam! I want money!) We had a good time talking baseball, among other things. The highlights of the conversation included: border security, Teddy Higuera, the future fantasy value of Alicdes Escobar, Molitor and baseball’s caught during games. Charles showed his amazing baseball knowledge, and shared his story about the only time he got a ball at game. It was such a big moment for him; however, he unfortunately was obligated to give the ball he caught to a young man sitting near him. That is just one of those moments where you have to ‘suck it up.’ I’m sure he will get another one. My first ball was a foul ball hit off catcher Joe Oliver’s (then a Brewer) bat, pitched by Cleveland Indian Denis ‘El Presidente’ Martinez on a trip me and my dad took to Cleveland. I’ll never forget it, as there was a man next to me resentful that I caught it because he said he’d been going to Indian games for years and never a had a shot at catching a ball.
Other than that, the Blue Jays played absolutely amazing in the first two games of the season. Both games I was in attendence. Here are some photo highlights of those games.
Although Halladay didn’t pitch particularly well on Opening Day, he did get himself a win. Thus, here I am pointing to my Halladay jersey indicating that indeed – he is the man!!
I find it amusing that between pitching changes out three outfielders Vernon Wells, Travis Snider and Alex Rios observe the crowd. They try to get some amusment over a long and somewhat boring pitching change I guess.
You’ll notice in the corner of the outfield a bunch of paper airplanes. Opening day saw a lot those thrown on the field as usual, but a new one came out that I’ve never seen before: BASEBALLS! Some very disrespectful dummies through baseballs onto the field and almost caused the Jays to forfeit the game. They almost ruined my entire trip in the process. Sometimes those Toronto fans, if you can even call them fans, get on my nerves. Jim Leyland took his team off the field. You can’t blame him at all for doing it. You also can’t blame team President Paul Beeston for banning beer sales at the last game. It is just a very bad situation if you are a Jays fan. I hope this kind of thing stops, it makes me embarrassed.
A former Blue Jay was inducted into the Hall of Fame yesterday. If you are searching trying to find the name, it is Ricky Henderson. That makes four Blue Jays now in the Hall of Fame, the others being Paul Molitor, Dave Winfield and Phil Niekro. Pretty darn good for a club that came into being in 1977 if I do say so myself, better than the Mariners at least. Although these players together are ‘Blue Jay Hall of Famers,’ the other thing that they all have is common is they didn’t stay here that long. Ricky only played in Toronto for half a season plus the playoffs in 1993, Niekro’s great career ended in Toronto after the 1987 season, Winfield only stayed one year to help us win the World Series in 1992 and Molitor’s time in Toronto consisted of one World Series in 1993, a strike shorted year in 1994 and another year in 1995. Suffice to say, none of these players actually went into the Hall as a Blue Jay. This is another reason why the Jays should not trade Roy Halladay, although Roberto Alomar (arguably the greatest Jay ever) might have a shot before him.
I’ve drifted a bit, so back to Superman. If Jays fans can remember, Toronto and Oakland had a short-lived rivalry in the early 90’s. We met Oakland in the 1989 ALCS and the ALCS in 1992, winning one of those meetings (Alomar’s amazing homerun off Eckersly in 92 – Game 4 some might remember). Henderson was so good in those series, that Jays fans and broadcasters referred to him as ‘Superman.’ The Oakland ALCS win over the Jays in 1989 saw Henderson steal 8 bases against the Jays in 5 games. He won MVP for the series. The Jays, in particular, had gained a great respect for the athlete that he was. Hence the name, ‘Superman.’ I remember hating him, and being scared of him everytime he lead-off for the A’s. So what do you do with your enemies? Keep them even closer some might say. I commend modern GM mastermind Pat Gilick on pulling a trade-deadline manuver that brought Ricky to the Jays in 1993. He was definately one of the players that helped the Jays go back-to-back in 92-93, even though we made him move to right-field.
Alright, now for a funny Ricky Henderson story. My favorite was upon Ricky being reunited with John Olerud later in their playing careers with the New York Mets, Henderson said to Olerud: “I remember playing with a guy that always wore a helmet in Toronto?” Olerud, who did play with Ricky, and together with him won the World Series in 1993, always wore a helmet on the field-of-play for medical reasons. He couldn’t even look at Ricky with a straight face after he said that.