Monday, April 18, 2011
Bundle Up in Beantown!
The Blue Jays were in Boston last weekend for a four game series. They are winding down a road trip that has been satisfactory, although a little bumpy in Seattle. Any time you lose a game, after leading 7-0 in the latter stages……They will remember that on for a long time.
They ran up the steps of the dugout in Fenway only to find very nasty weather. Certainly not baseball weather. Even on the television screens, cuddled in our favourite blankets with a hot cup of cocoa, we could see the players’ breath. Pitchers were given special dispensation to blow (spit?) on their hands, while standing on the mound.
The game was not designed to be played in such conditions. We know that. That is why there is a dome in Toronto. There is also a retractable roof. We like that because we can go to the ballpark in the summer and bask in the great Canadian sun while watching the game. But we also know that if we have driven a couple of hundred kilometres to get to the stadium, there will be a game. No rain outs here.
Any team that plans to build a baseball park north of the Mason-Dixon Line must have a roof on the stadium. Plans must be submitted to Bud Selig for his approval. That will cut down on rain outs, and snow outs. It just makes sense.
Last Friday night, Brett Cecil did not have his overwhelming stuff. But he used what he had effectively, and picked up the win over the Red Sox. Jays fans were kept on the edge of their seats as there was a partial meltdown by the bullpen. But the Sox fell short by one run, and their record fell to 2-10.
As one of the teams that spend a considerable amount of money on its players, the Sox are not thrilled with failure. Their affable giant, “Big Papi” David Ortiz spoke about his concern before the game. Rarely do players speak about failure. Bobby Jenks has arrived in Boston from the Chicago White Sox. His comment: “When is it time to worry? I think we’re there now. To come back now, it’s going to take all year long.”
The Blue Jays have been hit with a rash of injuries already this season, and they were hoping to get a few things in place before facing the Yankees this week. The Bronx Bombers lead the division by a whisker ahead of the Jays. The Jays bolted from the gate to start the season, and are keeping pace with a .500 road trip.
New manager, John Farrell, has brought a refreshing change to the way of doing business on the field. The Jays are running the bases. They are stretching their leads, they are taking more risks. They lead the American League in stolen bases. They are playing exciting baseball.
Last year, they led the Major Leagues in home runs, led by the incomparable Jose Bautista. All Blue Jays fans enjoyed his exploits throughout the season. The rest of the team followed suit, swinging from their heels, on occasion, to bang out round trippers. It became infectious, and successful. But they did not win the division, and they knew that more was required.
So they are now running, with success. And they are receiving unexpected dividends from their bullpen. Time after time, at this early juncture in the season, the bullpen gate has been opened to usher in another successful stopper to the mound for the Jays. The best in the American League, at this point.
Alas, the best laid plans of mice and men can sometimes go array. The Red Sox decided enough was enough, and proceeded to bomb the Jays in the last three games of the series. Not a thing went right for the Jays. All went well for the Sox.
The Jays will try to get back on the winning track this week, starting with the Yankees Tuesday night. They certainly got schooled by the Sox, and there must be a few fragile egos at this time.
The dialogue in the Toronto papers will run along the lines of “It is still early in the season”, or “The Sox were due for a turn around”, or “We must be patient with all of the young players in the lineup”. All well and good, but the size of the Blue Jay faithful will dwindle if they continue to stumble.
A couple of wins against the Yankees would be the perfect tonic to get back to good health.
April 18, 2011