Tagged: World Baseball Classic

Roy Halladay is no longer a Blue Jay

My favorite player is now (not yet officially) a Phillie.  I’ve been preparing myself for this.  Now, I’m not going to do what everybody thinks that I am going to do … “AND JUST FLIP OUT” on this blog.  All I want to know is ‘who is coming to the Jays?’   Who is coming? 

Apparently, the Jays will be able to land prospects from both the Mariners and the Phillies in the three-way-deal.  The Mariners get LHP Cliff Lee from the Phillies, making up for the injury ‘bust’ that was LHP Erik Bedard.  Lee and King Felix should give the Mariners a pretty awesome rotation going into 2010.  

The names being thrown around are Phillipe Aumont (Canadian pitching prospect), Michael Taylor (a Top 50 minor league prospect) and some catcher that I’ve never heard of before Travis d’Arnaud (a very young catcher that spend last season in A-ball).  Though, we might not get any of these guys as nothing yet has been confirmed!  So don’t take my word on it all yet!

*UPDATE:  The players mentioned my not, in fact, be the players that are confirmed in the deal.  These guys have just been thrown out there.*  Strike everything I said about Aumont!  Apparently, a much better pitching prospect named Kyle Drabek is in the deal??  I’ve striked-out Aumont!  Taylor and Drabek in a deal for Halladay is more of what I expected would have come our way.     

Michael Taylor is 3-4 years older than Aumont, and d’Arnaud.  Despite this, he was selected in the same draft as both of them.  Funny how the draft can work out that way.  d’Arnaud and Aumont
were both first round picks, where Taylor was picked in the fifth
round.  What does that tell you?  That Aumont and d’Arnaud are probably
more intriging prospects right?  That is absolutely NOT the case! 
Taylor found his stride much earlier, hitting .330 and above, in both
single and double A ball the last two years.  Taylor got a whiff at AAA in the International League last season, and didn’t fair bad hitting .282 in 110 ABs.  Taylor hasn’t shown
outstanding power in the minors, however, he seems to be a dynamic
hitter that can also contribute with a high .On-Base Percentage.  MILB
ranks Taylor #20 overall for prospects currently in the minors.  He is
pretty much the ‘center-piece’ prospect in this deal, in my opinion.  The other two are more mid-level guys that might pan out.  Six foot six inches tall, Taylor looks to have the skills to play in the bigs.  If he doesn’t, man does he have a lot to live up to!!!!  The question with aquiring Taylor is are we getting the right guy?  Ranked #24 in the minors is another Philadelphia outfield prospect named Dominic Brown.  Current reports say the Jays could acquire either of them, whichever they prefer?  Brown is a younger player that might develop more fruitful than Taylor? 

Kyle Drabek is a young man that the Jays have coveted from the Phillies ever since the trade rumours started.  I know that he had an unbelievable season last year playing for AA Reading.  Drabek combined a 12-3 record with a 3.19 ERA between mid-A and AA ball (the majority of which was played in Reading).  He was the 18th overall pick in the 2006 Draft.  Minor League Baseball has him listed as the #26 prospect currently in the minors.  If he was only one spot lower, I could say the Jays got two players in the Top 25.  Darn!  Oh well, I’m happy the Jays got him because he does seem promising, and he was the front office’s ‘man’ throughout this whole thing!           

When I first saw Aumont pitch in the World Baseball Classic for Team Canada, I was very impressed with his arm.  The young man, who was an 11th overall selection in the 2007 draft, has MLB heat!  What he didn’t have, in my opinion, was great command.  He is still a young guy, but from what I saw, the command was very poor.  Command issues probably factored into Seattle converting Aumont into a minor-league-reliever for 2009.  I fear Aumont may only be catorgorized as a pitcher with ‘closer-potential.’  Not the worst thing, but not nearly as great as the expectations that were layed on him being #11 pick.  Regardless, the Jays get a strong arm, in Aumont, that can grow in the system.  If he is the one included in the deal? lol!  Too early to call at this point!

As I said earlier, I hadn’t read or heard about Travis d’Arnaud until today.  He was a first-round pick, so the Phillies must have seen something in him to pick him that high.  d’Arnaud had an average year in A-Ball last season, but did very well in (SS) short season ball.  Young catching prospect, but nothing to get crazy about at this point.

My Favorite All-Time Blue Jay is Roy Halladay   

So, I didn’t really flip out, or make this post unbearably depressing for both me and you.  I also didn’t mess up, using the name **** Erectus again.  That is good.

From here on, I willing be cheering for a team that I respect much less than before.  For me, Halladay gave the Jays an identity.  We had a dominant ‘ace’ that in years from now could easily be considered a ‘Hall of Famer’ in my opinion.  He was the envy of many teams, players and coaches.  For a team that has been struggling since 1993, it was a lone joy rooting for Halladay as he pitched, and watching win in ‘big games’ time and again.  He is truly a master on the mound.  His presence … regal.    

I envy the Phillies right now, because ‘the man’ (Halladay) is going to absolutely pulversive and obliterate National League hitters. 

I will end with a glimpse back to all the Photoshop work I’ve done on Roy Halladay over the years.

Thumbnail image for seabiscuit copy.jpg

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for CyHalladay copy.jpg 

thedoc copy.jpg
Roy copy.jpg
Thumbnail image for Doctor.jpg
doctor copy.jpg

What Really Grinds my Gears

Checking out one of my fantasy baseball teams today on ‘Yahoo Sports,’ I came across an article that struck a nerve with me.  I don’t usually write back, or comment on writer’s work, but I felt I needed to here.  For the purpose of this blog post, here is the entire article by Gordon Edes on ‘Yahoo Sports,’ followed by my comment in response:

Canadians not worked up over defeat

TORONTO – Canada has had its share of losses that have plunged the whole country into mourning. Going two and out in the World Baseball Classic wasn’t one of them.

When Wayne Gretzky was traded by the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings in 1988, for example, the front page of the tabloid Edmonton Sun wailed “99 Tears,” and politicians tried to have the trade nullified.

“Wayne Gretzky is a national symbol like the beaver,” said Nelson Riis, a prominent member of Parliament at the time. “How can we allow the sale of our national symbols … it’s like winter without snow.”

It still stings Canadians that they have hosted two Olympics, Montreal in the summer of 1976 and Calgary in the winter of 1988, and no one wearing the maple leaf has won a gold medal. TV ads here promoting the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver are hammering away at that theme, that this time a homegrown athlete will win gold.

But Canada being bounced from the WBC by Italy, even though the Canadians were the host team? It doesn’t quite qualify for a national hall of shame.

“WBC? Never heard of it,” said Jim from Toronto, hustling to catch the subway at Union Station on Tuesday, a mere 10-minute walk from the Rogers Centre, just an hour before Italy, 6-2 vanquisher of Canada, was routed 10-1 by Venezuela, which will join Team USA in advancing to the second round in Miami.

“Didn’t even know,” said Fred from Cornwall, Ontario, who was waiting for the train to Montreal.

“Too bad,” said David from Mississauga, a suburb of Ontario, admitting he hadn’t heard the outcome. “Hockey and baseball, those are the two North American sports, no? I guess baseball just isn’t meant to be played here in the winter. “

There were fewer people in the stands (12,411) watching Canada lose to the Italians than saw Team USA beat Venezuela the day before (13,094). The top story in the morning’s Toronto Globe and Mail was about hockey’s Montreal Canadiens firing coach Guy Carbonneau. The Toronto Sun led with the hometown Leafs losing to the Ottawa Senators. The TV stations showed highlights, but the baseball competed for time with world champion Russ Howard shattering his broom in anger during the nationally televised 2009 Brier Curling Championships in Calgary.

“You guys shouldn’t talk about that [expletive],” Howard chided reporters afterward when they asked about his using a broom like an axe. “That’s your problem. We’re out here with the best athletes in the world, and that’s what you worry about.”

When “curling” and “best athletes in the world” are used in the same sentence, it’s clear the Canadian perspective on the sporting universe diverges from the rest of the planet.

The Canadians in uniform took the loss to Italy harder than their fellow countrymen. Team Canada manager Ernie Whitt, the former big league catcher who has been involved with national teams for a decade, said this was one of the toughest losses he’d experienced.

“I’m really devastated,” said Cincinnati Reds outfielder Joey Votto, who had four hits in Canada’s 6-5 loss to Team USA in its first game, and doubled and walked against the Italians. “Sure it’s just a baseball game and everything, but when you do it for a living and you’re playing for your country … I was really excited for this tournament, and to leave after just two games, it’s going to take some time to recover.”

“There’s a lot of frustration,” said Minnesota Twins slugger Justin Morneau, who had four hits against Italy. “We came in and were expecting to take a step forward, and I feel like we took a little step back.”

It would be foolish, of course, to suggest that baseball is an afterthought in Canada, the country that sent Ferguson Jenkins to the Hall of Fame, produced one of the game’s most popular players of the ’90s in Larry Walker and has a brace of current stars in Russell Martin, Jason Bay and Matt Stairs, Morneau and Votto – all of whom played for Team Canada – and pitchers Jeff Francis, Rich Harden and Ryan Dempster, who didn’t.

But nonsupport cost Montreal the Expos after the 2004 season, and the days of the Blue Jays routinely drawing 50,000 a night during back-to-back world championship seasons in 1992 and 1993 are a distant memory.

Alex Besler, a student at the University of Toronto and baseball fan, bought a strip of tickets for all the games here, thinking the demand would be greater. More than 40,000 attended the Canada-USA opener, but interest dwindled thereafter.

“Unfortunately it wasn’t as big a deal as it should be,” said Besler, who didn’t think the tournament was marketed aggressively enough here. “The only people I could talk about the loss with were the people I came to the game with.

“But the tournament isn’t a big deal in the States, either, is it?”

Not yet, but that could change, as USA advances.

Besler wistfully expressed hope for a day when baseball matters again here.

“The Jays winning was before my time,” he said. “These last years, there’s been nothing, no hope, nothing. If we had signed Man-Ram, that would have put 5,000 more people in the seats

a night. But we didn’t.”

This is my HEATED response

(I understand where he is coming from, I just don’t like it)

You make sweeping categorizations of all Canadians in this article.  “When “curling” and “best athletes in the world” are used in the same sentence, it’s clear the Canadian perspective on the sporting universe diverges from the rest of the planet.”

Sure baseball isn’t the number #1 media topic here.  This is hockey country.  I’m sure if this tournament was played in North Carolina now, you’d see Duke and Tar Heel basketball everywhere instead of this.

Not all Canadians are ignorant, not all Americans are either.  People want to see a contending team, plain and simple.  We don’t have the greatest fans in the world, but we have fans.  Many of which may even have more knowledge than the American baseball-faithful. 

The presumption that baseball is an afterthought in this country I find ridiculous.  The catergorization of a whole country I find meaingless.

Hockey might not be #1 in the United States, but I’m not about to say that “all Americans don’t have a respect for hockey.”  There is a great respect for hockey in the U.S., even more so than in Canada in some respects. 

These catergorizations that writer’s make are meaningless and not well thought through.  I think that you are insulting the intelligence of your readers with articles like this.    

 

March 9th: Barbie’s Birthday Canada Loses

Here I am very disappointed with the way the World Baseball Classic turned out for Canada this year.  My hopes were extremely high for Canada making at least the next round in the this tournament.  It was a double elimination and we had the home field advantage.  It didn’t help us – two games and Canada was out.  I give credit to Italy going with predominately left-handed starters to attack the predominately left-handed hitting Canadian lineup.  The strategy worked for Italy, a team with not strong pitching by any means.  Italy held Canada to only two runs in the game.  We didn’t even get to see Blue Jay rotation hopeful Scott Richmond pitch in this tournament, as he was being saved for a later game that didn’t happen.  Canada hosting the WBC this year was too much excitement for me, it ended quickly and with disappointing failure.  Oh well, ‘we live to play another day!’ says the Toronto sports fan with nothing to cheer about in the last 15 years.  Not a total loss, I got to see some great baseball being played in my area and I will remember this for years to come.

The bright spot of my day was celebrating Barbie’s 50th birthday with my girlfriend (aka Barbie’s #1 fan).  Here are some pictures and captions from the event:

  
Thumbnail image for Barb.JPG  

Here is the long awaited Cake picture.  She made it into a Barbie tower cake and clothed Barbie in icing (no one had the nerve to lick it off). 


Lisabarbie.JPGHere is the lovely creator of the cake.  It was a Banana ripple inside, with rosebuds chocalates surrounding the cake.  The icing was also delicious.  She actually stuck a whole Barbie inside of the cake. 
 

Barb2.JPG

Here I am with the creator of the wonderful Barbie Cake.  I’m wearing my Cooperstown Collection hat backwords because there are a lot of cool old logos on it.  I got the hat at the Hall of Fame, when I visited there two summers ago.  You can also tell that I haven’t seen the sun in about 6 months, darn Canada climate.  

BarbShell.JPG

This is hilarious!!  Here is my girlfriend with her favorite Barbie doll, that is similar to way she is with her dogs.  Shell B, her dog, apparently seems to be sniffing the toy dog’s but.  Shell B cracks me up, she is a sweet and funny dog!       

Three Ballgames, a Muesum and a Cake

Baseball is just around the cornor and things are starting to get exciting in ‘the world of me.’  ‘The world of me’ has an exciting month scheduled ahead of him (isn’t it fun talking the third person?  I’d be a great quote if I was an athlete!).  As it stands now, my month of March and early April is lining up like this:

March 7th, 2009:  Team U.S.A. versus Team Canada in the Round Robin World Baseball Classic play at the Rogers Centre.  Earlier in the month, I got field level seats to the game for my birthday.  Me and my younger are going to the game.  From previous entries, you may have noticed that I’ve been anticipating this game for since at least November.  I know this sounds a little feminine, but I have already picked out an outfit and accessories for the game.  I will be wearing a Team Canada official Olymipic sweater, while waving a mini Canada flag in the right hand and wearing my Rawlings baseball glove in the left.  Where is Doc Brown to take me to the future??!!!  I cannot wait for this game!

March 9th, 2009: This day is Barbie’s 50th birthday!  Like I could make this entry any more girly?  Seriously, my girlfriend is as excited for this day as I am about March 7th.  She is even making Barbie a cake for the occasion.  Something tells me that once Barbie is through with the cake there will be some leftovers.  My girlfriend always makes some pretty amazing baked goods, so I can look forward to that! 

March 11th, 2009:  The final game of the WBC round robin at Rogers Centre will be going on at 6:30pm.  I’m attending the game with my friend Charles.  This is a wild card.  I don’t know who will be playing in the game?  I’m hoping that it won’t be Italy versus Venezuela, but you never know?  Even if it is, the game will still be fun to watch.  I watched almost every WBC game on TV last time around.

March 14th, 2009:  Private tour of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Mary’s, Ontario.  This is something that I have been wanting to do for a long time, and I am going with my girlfriend Lisa.  Canada’s contribution to baseball history is celebrated here.  St. Mary’s is a quaint little town with a Cooperstown feel.  I hope to become more knowlegable on Canadian Baseball History and take a lot of good pictures.  (Some interesting facts about the CBHOF:  Cito, Joe Carter and many Blue Jays have been honoured there, the Brooklyn Dodger’s top farm team was located in Montreal for many years, Jackie Robinson played his first pro game in Montreal and Tommy Lasorda played most his career there.   They were both honoured into the CBHOF).

Monday April 6th, 2009: I got tickets to Opening Day!!!  Ya!  I love opening day in Toronto, and I am going there with Lisa.  The place is usually crowded, and I am sitting field level.  The Jays take on the Tigers, two teams nobody is expecting a lot from this season.  That may be a mistake, both the Tigers and Jays have talented clubs and sometimes you never what might happen throughout the course of the season?  Likely I’m going to witness another Doc Halladay start!!  That means likely the Jays will win!  This may be the season! (cross-fingers, say a prayer)  I do that every year.   

Three ballgames, a muesum and a cake!  Let’s do this!  Competitive baseball is coming with the WBC.  I can’t wait! 

300x250_MLBTV_WBC copy.jpg               

Justin Morneau Team Canada … World Baseball Classic … Can You Dig IT???!!!!

Today, Justin Morneau was the first official name added to Team Canada’s World Baseball Classic roster.  I don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty excited for the event that will partially take place in Toronto (i.e. first round games).  With Morneau on the _41397418_baseball_416.jpgteam, ‘Big Ern’ former Blue Jay catcher and current Blue Jay bench coach Ernie Whitt coaching the team and Jason Bay likely to follow, Team Canada looks to be strong going into the tournament.

In the last World Baseball Classic, it was incredibly obvious that only a few teams were taking the tournament seriously, notably Cuba and Japan.  Team U.S.A better have gotten a wake up call with their poor performance in the prior event.  Their lack of enthusiasm, however, created a touching Canadian patriotic moment for me in the last WBC. Canada was actually able to beat Team U.S.A on the arm of the once promising Baltimore Oriole prospect Adam Loewen.  He pitched shutout baseball against the likes of Vernon Wells and Mark Teixeira, to name but a few.  It was a monumental victory for baseball in Canada.  I thought that it would take at least 10 more games before Canada would beat the U.S., but it didn’t, it happened so quick.  Adam Loewen will never be forgotten as the man that made it happen. 

Where is Adam Loewen now you might ask?  Well, he has given up on pitching altogether.  He is now in the process of converting into an outfielder in the Blue Jays farm system – a la Rick Ankiel.  He wasn’t exactly the likeliest of players that would achieve this; however, no matter what becomes of him, he is a legend in my mind for winning that game.

Hopefully, this year Canada will have a pitching core that will feature Rich Harden, Ryan Dempster, Erik Bedard, Jeff Francis, Scott Richmond and Eric Gagne to go along with the runner-up MVP (seems like he is always in the running for it, if not winning it) Justin Morneau.  That may be hoping a little too much.

March 7th, mark it on your calendar, if you already haven’t.  This will be the next meeting of Canada versus the U.S.A. in the WBC.  Hopefully I can go, and hopefully Canada will put up a good showing.  Team U.S.A has to be the odds on favorite to win every time, every game practically.  This time around, I would like to see them playing with as much pride, and passion for the game as the Japanese and Cubans did last time around.

I agree with many that argue the WBC is a suspect indicator of a nation’s talent in baseball.  Their reasons are valid.  They include:  1. Baseball is a marathon that cannot be determined by single games (i.e. series of games are needed) 2. The fact that the tournament is situated in March, when most MLB players are cold and not in ‘prime’ playing form 3. Some nation’s pro leagues do situate themselves to be in ‘prime’ playing form by the time of the event and that gives them an unfair advantage 4. This is one I hate personally!!  Motivations are suspect because players are concerned with their contracts, team loyalities and risking injury.

Number four is valid.  It is just a shame that money can have so much power over things that are great.  With all that being said, it is still a tournament, there are teams taking it seriously and there are still bragging rights for the victor.  As a fan, I make it my duty to throw all those negatives away, and give credit, where credit is due.  The Japanese unloaded their best on the baseball world three years ago.  They had great pitching and played scrappy, disciplined baseball.  You can’t understate the way they played.  You just can’t!  They gave great regard to the tournament, they love and play the game passionately, they played hard, they won and they deserved it!  They also deserve to be called the ‘world’s greatest nation at playing the game of baseball.’  Can a team deny them of that this year?  I think they can, but will they?  I can’t wait to see.