Originally posted on The 2-2 Pitch:
On Thursday, I drove to Canada.
My motivation was an invitation; Kevin Kennedy asked me if I wished to take part in a Minor League baseball two-broadcaster panel with Triple-A Buffalo Bisons voice Ben Wagner.
The setting was PITCH: Talks on Baseball, created by Kevin, and described on its website as “a new speaker series about baseball,” with the stated mission “to connect with the growing crowd of sophisticated baseball enthusiasts by facilitating informed and entertaining discussions on the game we love.” It’s a brilliant idea, and one that should spread to other baseball-loving cities as soon as possible. Get on that, Detroit.
This was the seventh and final PITCH talk of the season, with each one scheduled on a Blue Jays off day. No Jays game? Join “a very casual gathering of like-minded and very informed baseball enthusiasts” to talk baseball. (That description…
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So this happened yesterday (sort of):
“What happened?” you might be asking. Well, that’s my family in the cover image of the Twitter page of Toronto’s future mayor, John Tory. From left to right is my nephew Omar, niece Iman, Kahzmir (DS8) and my beautiful wife Minaz. Oh yeah, and beside her is Tory. :)
It’s kinda funny that they are on Tory’s page. Not that we don’t like him. He’s probably the most likeable guy running to be our mayor this October. He’s also smart, a dedicated public servant, and been successful in almost everything he has done in business.
Why is it funny? We probably would not have even thought of voting for Tory if he was running for the PC Party of Ontario. But as a mayoral candidate for the city of Toronto? Sure, why not?
The photo above and the one’s below were taken at the Taste of Lawrence Festival a few weeks ago in Scarborough.
And here’s the obligatory selfie….
As the Toronto Blue Jays start the second half of the 2014 season, I thought I would take a quick look at the various positions and players to see what where we are at and what we need to do to win the American League East.
First Base is currently being played by all-star player Jose Bautista. Adam Lind? He’s on the DL for the next little while after taking medical advice from his mother. Strange days. While he was playing, Lind was hitting the cover off the ball. Against righties mind you. Manager John Gibbons, understanding that Lind can’t hit lefties, has platooned him for most of the season with Edwin Encarnacion. Lind is currently hitting .320 but don’t expect him back until August.
DH/First Base. Edwin Encarnacion continues to assault the ball with his towering home runs. When he’s not injured. Yikes. Encarnacion sits at the break with 26 home runs.
Second Base. Started with Maicer Izturis. But he only played 11 games. Third baseman and all-Canadian Brett Lawrie has been playing there. But guess what? Injured. So the Jays got Steve Tolleson from Buffalo.
Shortstop is the oft injured Jose Reyes. But guess what? He’s not injured! Yay. While his range is not world class he’s been (while he’s not injured) a steady contributor for the Blue Jays at the top of the batting order. Currently, Reyes sits at 17 stolen bases.
Third base. See above for Lawrie. In the meantime, Juan Francisco has been….ok. In 71 games he has hit 14 home runs. Not bad. But he has also struck out 85 times. Not good.
Left field is currently being patrolled by Melky Cabrera. I can’t remember if he’s injured or not. Seriously, he’s not injured. His play, when you compare it to last year, is a 180 degree difference. He has 7 assists as a fielder and is a very capable second hitter in front of Toronto’s power hitters.
Center field is currently patrolled by Colby Rasmus. He’s not injured but he’s not even hitting .250. He does have 12 home runs but he also has over 70 strike outs. EVen Anthony Gose looks like a superstar when he has replaced Rasmus. And Gose is not hitting that much over the .250 line.
Right field has mostly been patrolled by Bautista (when he’s not injured or playing first/DH). His home runs might not be as high but he can still bang with the best of them. His hitting has actually gotten stronger as he’s using the entire field. Which is a benefit considering opposition teams play him to pull almost all the time.
Catching. Anything is better than JP Arencibia from last year. Where is JPA now? In the minors trying to play first base in the Texas Rangers system. Good grief.
The pitching corps has actually being a bright light for the Blue Jays. Mark Buehrle has been the ace of the staff. Buehrle sits at 10 wins with an amazing ERA of 2.64. Bright lights? Rookie Marcus Stroman and closer Casey Janssen.
Manager John Gibbons has been outstanding. That’s just my opinion. But look where the Blue Jays sit: In second place 4 games out of first. Now that’s pretty good. And so is this team. When they are healthy.
What do the Blue Jays have to do from here to win the division and play for the World Series?
- Get healthy and stay healthy.
- Get a top of the line pitcher.
- Get a star infielder.
Time for Alex Anthopoulos to step up to the plate.
One thing I learned from this year’s edition of the World Cup in Brazil is that my son emotionally invests in his team: Argentina. The South American nation became his favourite to win the World Cup when he completed an in-depth assignment on Argentina for his Grade Two class. So it was no surprise that he wept when Messi and his team lost to the hated side from Germany. He blamed the referee for cheating (not far off if you believe some internet sites) and Germany for taking away Argentina’s rightful place as the best soccer nation in the world.
Here’s what else we learned:
- Even with the latest in technology and the ubiquitous nature of TV and personal cameras, soccer players continue to “dive” and embellish injuries.
- The world is in LOVE with The Beautiful Game. I mean, in LOVE like an 8 year old loves Pokemon or a 3 year old loves Lightning McQueen.
- Canadians love the World Cup and the international game of soccer more so than their national or local teams. We can name more players on the (insert team foreign country) team than we can Team Canada or any of Canada’s MLS teams.
- The team from Germany is not just a good tactical team. They are a damn good soccer team.
- Soccer TV commentators don’t need a “colour” man. They can do both play-by-play and colour commentating.
- Canada needs to learn how to play soccer and unlearn how to play soccer like it’s another version of hockey. Until then, they are doomed to never make it to the World Cup Finals tournament.
- England continues to disappoint. Were they ever a good team?
- Everyone, including myself, is a soccer expert for at least one month every 4 years.
- Soccer fans like to use Twitter.
- I know soccer. Proof: