Saturday, August 17, 2013


Tennis and Baseball on a Sunday Afternoon. 




Within a matter of thirty seconds, my Canadian pride was wounded on two separate occasions last Sunday.


First of all, Milos Raonic from Thornhill, the best Canadian tennis player ever to lace up a pair of tennis shoes, lost in straight sets to Rafael Nadal. Nadal hails from Spain, and has been at the forefront of tennis for many years. Raonic moved into the top ten of the men’s tennis ranks for the first time in his career.


Raonic defeated another Canadian, Vasek Pospisil from Vancouver, in the semi-final, another historic moment. That has never happened before.


Expectations are high for these young Canadian players. Raonic has a remarkably strong serve, and at one point it clocked 237 kph! Now you see it, now it’s my point! With a strong net game, he will do well. There is a lot of wear and tear in tennis, and we have yet to discover how well he will be able endure the tough grind on the pro circuit.


They interviewed an old Canadian, Bob Bedard, during the match. He was careful to point out that he also played in the Canadian men’s final, but that the circumstances were entirely different. None of the top pros at that time played in the Canadian Open. It was an amateur event.


Nadal was most respectful after the match. One interviewer intimated that the match was just a warm up for the U. S. Open, starting in a couple of weeks. Nadal chastised him for the remark. He said that the Canadian event was equally important to him, that he loved playing in Montreal. He called the match “amazing”, and felt that he had played excellent tennis.


Certainly experience was a factor in the outcome. Nadal has likely hit a few more million balls than Raonic. With experience comes the ability to anticipate well. Nadal often moved to where Raonic was going to hit the ball, rather than chasing. And when he did have to move quickly, he got to ball. Final result? 6-2, 6-2.


Less than twenty seconds later, I watched Jose Reyes ground out to second base for the final out in the ninth inning, as the Toronto Blue Jays fell to the Oakland Athletics. The Jays had been given ample opportunity to bury the A’s, because the Oakland pitchers had trouble locating home plate. They walked more than ten Jays in the game, and most of them were left on base.


You realize of course that Pat Tabler and Buck Martinez were not happy about the Jays’ squandering opportunities. They are both very experienced ball players, and have a wealth of baseball knowledge to share with the viewers. What drives me crazy, and leads me on occasion to mute the sound, is that they are constantly predicting what is about to happen in the game. They often guess at pitches, predicting types and locations. They manage the game from the broadcast booth, rather than letting the game play out on its own. I don’t mind it when they criticize stupidity. But it often comes down to simple judgement, and they are not always correct.


There are many reasons why the Jays are in the basement this year, and it requires a little patience to remain faithful. But I know that fans in the Quinte area enjoy the Jays, and travel by the busload to the Rogers Centre for the games.


There will be a host of prospects entering the fray come September, rekindling an interest in the Blue Birds. In that group, there will be duds and studs. You make the call!



James Hurst

August 12, 2013.

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