Monday, June 24, 2013


Toronto Blue Jays-June, 2013

In a remarkable series of fortuitous events, the Toronto Blue Jays have climbed right back into the fight for a championship, and could emerge as World Series Champions.


Their recent winning streak has captured the hearts of Blue Jay fans, and has allowed the band wagon fans to hop back on, for a while, at least. They packed the Rogers Centre last weekend, for the sweep of the Orioles. Baltimore is expected to stay in the hunt for the rest of this season, along with all of the other teams in the Eastern Division: Yankees, Red Sox, and Tampa Bay Rays.


My crew got to the stadium just before the gates opened, and received fine Blue Jay towels. We are heading back for the Canada Day game on July First, and each will receive a Blue Jay cap as a gift. Not too shabby at all. Mind you, you must arrive early, as these items are limited, usually to the first 20 000 fans who arrive.


As I have said before, it is always critical to arrive at the ball park, arena, stadium, etc., as soon as the doors are open. If it is your first trip to a particular venue, you should spend a little time acquainting yourself with the place: find the best food, and the coldest beverages, at the very least.


I stood in on a little pre-game banter with Buck Showalter, the Manager of the Baltimore Orioles. I have always had great respect for Showalter. He is a very clever baseball guy, and is currently in his 15th season as a Manager at the Major League level. He began in the Majors at the helm of the Yankees in 1992, stayed for five years, then moved on to Arizona and Texas, before arriving in Baltimore in 2010.


                                                               Buck Showalter
When asked about playing in Toronto, he pointed out one real advantage: “First of all, you never have to play a double header, because you will never get rained out. You don’t have to readjust your schedule because of the weather.” He also chatted about other baseball information, concluded his chat, and introduced himself to me. I told him I was from Eastern Ontario. “I remember days when I was in the old New York-Penn League. There was a team from St. Catharines, and another in Three Rivers, Quebec. We played there in April.” He looked up and added, “We could have used the dome!”


                                                         Batting Coach Jim Presley
Coaches and players gather around the home plate area during batting practice. I had met Jim Presley in Spring Training, and we talked hitting at that time. “Hitting today is all about fitness and diet,” he told me. “All this business of working out and weight training just started when I was playing.”


Chris Davis completed his first full season last year in Baltimore. A power hitter, he had 33 home runs last year. He hit a pair of towering blasts into the Florida sun. “It’s a good thing there’s no wind today,” one of his teammates commented. “The ball is sure carrying well!” There is always plenty of chirping on the field, especially in the spring. And, after all there are 162 games in the regular season, leaving plenty of opportunity for idle chatter.


I asked Presley to compare hitters of yesteryear with today’s sluggers. “There were a few of the old guys who could hit the way the young guys hit today. One name that comes to mind is Jim Rice.”


Davis was excused from batting practice on Sunday. He had a couple of hits, arising his .336 average that he took into the game. He leads the American League with 27 home runs, and has 69 runs batted in. As a team, the Orioles have hit more home runs than any other; however, their pitching staff has allowed more home runs than any other team. Edwin Encarnacion and Colby Rasmus each had a round tripper to add to the Jays’ total. The Jays won 13-5.


There are still good seats for the series against the Tigers this weekend. See you there!


James Hurst

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