The Bullpen: Blue Jays fans should never forget the Expos and baseball in Montreal
VOLUME XIII, Sept. 4, 2012
On Sunday, Section 240 of the Rogers Centre hosted a rollicking reunion of fans and friends of the Montreal Expos, organized by a Montreal radio personality named Matt Ross. A movement called ExposNation includes a Facebook page, Twitter accounts, YouTube video tributes, a high-profile spokesman in Warren Cromartie and a dream to bring major-league baseball back to Montreal.
Highlights of the afternoon were many, as the Jays were being trounced by the Rays. Not having to cover the game itself, I joined the group for seven innings. There were 160-plus Expos supporters, waving Youppi! dolls, chanting “Let’s Go Expos” singing the “Happy Wanderer” with the Val-de-ree, val-de-raa chorus and wearing authentic Expos paraphernalia, some of which was 30-40 years old.
They chanted ex-Expos infielder Tom Foley’s name, the current Rays’ third-base coach until he turned and waved like Yankees bleacher creatures. But the days’ highlight was sitting for two hours with Jim Fanning, the first GM of the Expos and the only manager to take them to a post-season.
The Expos won the second half of the 1981 strike season, beating the Phillies in the Division Series in five games, then reaching Game 5 of the NLCS, losing to the Dodgers on a Rick Monday home run in the ninth inning at home. That moment is still an open wound for Expos fans.
Bringing major-league baseball back to Montreal is a noble, if likely fruitless cause, but remains emotional for those old enough to recall the glory days of the franchise from 1969-94. Cro and I had spoken passionately about the fate of the Expos, following the Gary Carter memorial in February in Florida. Cro had returned several times to Montreal for various fundraisers after the Expos left and was appalled that there was so little recognition that major-league baseball ever existed in Montreal.
The fear of many, now, is that after a few years, after older Expos fans are no longer around that the history of the franchise will fade into the mists of time like the St. Louis Browns, who moved to Baltimore in 1954. The goal of the new movement is to eventually earn another MLB franchise like Kansas City replaced the A’s wth the Royals, like Seattle replaced the Pilots with the M’s, like New York replaced the Giants with the Mets, like Milwaukee replaced the Braves with the Brewers.
They need a new stadium, they need solid ownership, they likely need to start with a Double-A or Triple-A franchise and they need a new, younger, open-minded MLB commissioner.
The Expos are underrated. There are definite eras of Expos history. From 1969-71 it was the birth of a franchise, the era of Le Grand Orange. From 1972-76 was Phase II, an expression coined by current Jays’ senior advisor Mel Didier, then the Expos’ scouting and farm director. After that it was 1977-82, the building of a great young team, the Glory Years of contending at Olympic Stadium. In 1977 the Expos had three Hall-of-Famers in the lineup, Tony Perez, Carter and Andre Dawson.
During those year at the new ballpark, built for the ’76 Olympics, despite all its baseball shortcomings, despite the U.S. ridicule to which it was subjected — roof that wouldn’t retract, giant rips in the Kevlar, fires on the roof, collapses due to snow, too windy to close the roof, big chunks of cement falling off side of park — there was a huge and loyal fanbase. Consider that in an era when the NL only counted actual people in the ballpark, the Expos were headed for 2.8 to 3 million in attendance in ’81 when the strike hit. That spike in attendance covered the years from ’79 until the end of ’82 and resumed again in the early ’90s as the Expos rebuilt through scouting and player development.
The Expos made a huge mistake with fans following the disappointment of 1982, as the Cardinals beat them out then won the division and the World Series. They hired Bill Virdon as manager and sucked the air out of the stadium, reverting to a station-to-station style of play and putting a dour face on a franchise long known for its joie de vivre and aggressive play. When Buck Rodgers was hired in 1986, the franchise began to reassert itself into the heart and soul of the city.
Then came the early ’90s. When Felipe Alou took over from Tom Runnells, accompanied by a feisty French Canadian wife, two young Canadian children, family roots in Laval and a folksy philosophy that always related baseball problems to life its own self. The city fell in love again.
In 1994, the Expos had pulled away from the Braves with a tremendous post all-star surge that carried them to the best record in baseball at the time the strike hit on Aug. 9. GM Kevin Malone and Alou held a spirited post-game meeting in the visitors’ clubhouse at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. They told the players to stay in shape and stay close to their phones. Alou told his players, “This will be a short strike and we are going to win the World Series.” The rest, of course, is history.
By March of 1995, I had already left the Expos to join The Star on Jan. 31. Sitting in the stands at Municipal Stadium in West Palm Beach with Expos’ owner Claude Brochu, we watched Expos’ replacement players try to impress fans with hustle and heart. It was not working. The strike was still a month from being settled by arbitrator Sonia Sotomayor, now a Supreme Court Justice.
Brochu said: “It’s simple. Either we get a salary cap and full revenue sharing, or the Expos will cease to exist in a few years.” It was at that moment that I knew the die was cast. Everything with the Expos from the moment the strike was settled — without a cap or full revenue sharing — was geared towards moving the franchise. Washington and northern Virginia were always the prime candidates. The names constantly changed on the potential ownership groups, but the Expos were always the prize.
It took 10 more seasons. It took Brochu being ousted because other minority owners felt he was intent on moving the franchise. It took Jeffrey Loria taking over with the approval of baseball, using ownership of the Expos as a foot in the door to owning the Marlins, not giving a rat’s ass about making the Expos viable in Montreal. It took a vote for contraction of the Expos and the Twins that the Jays disgracefully voted “Yes” on instead of at least asking to abstain. It took Twins fans and Minnesota government making contraction impossible, saving the Expos but giving MLB a huge headache.
It seems they had already promised Loria his dreamed of ownership of the Marlins while the Expos were still alive and kicking. It seems they had already promised Marlins owner John Henry ownership of the Red Sox. That domino theory left the Expos up a creek without an owner.
The solution? On the fly, MLB paid Loria for the Expos so he could buy the Marlins. Henry went to Boston. Then as owners of the Expos, MLB successfully went about running the franchise into the ground, playing a bunch of games in Puerto Rico while denigrating the Olympic Stadium as unsuitable for baseball. The MLB ownership patted Expos fans on the head, said all the right things then took the franchise to Washington D.C. blaming the fans for apathy. Very fist-clenchingly sad.
Good luck to Cromartie, Ross and the other organizers of ExposNation. If the San Francisco Bay Area can support two major league franchises, then so can Canada.
BLUE JAYS WEEK (Aug. 27-Sept. 2, 2012)
GAMES: The Jays started to turn things around, perhaps with the clubhouse realization that Jose Bautista was lost for the season and that Brandon Morrow was back for the final six weeks to offer a needed boost to the starting rotation. The Jays travelled to the Bronx after losing a pair in Baltimore and took two of three from the Yankees for the first series win since July 26-28 vs. the Tigers, exactly one month between series wins. They then came home, winning the first two vs. the Rays, before Tampa Bay rebounded to win the final two and earn a series split.
Two of the club’s July acquisitions before the trade deadline have started to come up big. LHP J.A. Happ bested CC Sabathia on Wednesday, after out-pitching Justin Verlander for 7 1/3 innings in Detroit with no decision in his previous start. That game marked the first time a Jays starter had pitched into the eighth inning since Morrow did it on June 6 at Chicago. It was Happ’s second win vs. the Yankees since he was acquired. Only two other left-handers have been able to record two wins in a season vs. the Yankees in 2011-12. Those are Jon Lester of the Red Sox and David Price of the Rays, pretty good company for Happ. The other Jays’ addition who has started to pay off beyond expectations is Steve Delabar, who has fanned 29 batters in 16 1/3 innings through Sunday as a reliable setup man, able to pitch multiple innings in game-winning situations. Delabar was acquired from the M’s for Eric Thames at the July 31 deadline. Delabar has a steel plate and nine metal screws in his right elbow that will not be going anywhere anytime soon. Delabar came with a propensity to giving up the long ball, especially to right-handers. Working with coaches Bruce Walton and Pete Walker, Delabar has been going primarily with his 96 mph fastball and a devastating splitter that has increased his effectiveness against both right and left-handed hitters. He has closer-type stuff.
As for the starters, joining Happ with quality starts for the week were Morrow vs. the Rays and the sturdy and reliable RHP Carlos Villanueva, whose future with the Jays is in doubt because he is a free agent at the end of the year. Villanueva is making his case to be a full-time starter, while the Jays seem to consider him the ultimate swingman. Villanueva will be seeking a contract as a starter. The two views may not come together to be able to keep him with the Jays. He would be a solid No. 5 starter, if the Jays were thinking about adding a couple of upper rotation pitchers through trade or free agency. The Jays were 4-3 vs. the Yankees and Rays, the first winning week since July.
The best offensive show of the week was by SS Yunel Escobar who returned from a two-day paternity leave for the birth of a child in Miami, with a fresh outlook. Facing the Yankees on Wednesday, Escobar went 4-for-5 with three doubles and a home run, driving in five runs. The 5 RBIs tied his personal high for the third time, the first since 2010. He has 11 games of 4-hits in his career. The three doubles tied his high set on May 31, 2009 at Arizona as a member of the Braves. The four extra-base hits for Escobar were a first for him, and also the first time for an opposing player against New York since Garret Anderson of the Angels on Aug. 21, 2007. The last Blue Jay to record four extra-base hits vs. the Yanks was Damaso Garcia on June 27, 1986 — four doubles at Yankee Stadium.
TRANSACTIONS: The Jays have come to grips with the fact that Bautista is gone for the year. He saw Dr. Thomas (Moonlight) Graham in Cleveland and was set to undergo surgery on Tuesday to repair and stabilize a sheath that holds the tendon in his left wrist. From here on out, we will call the procedure Sammy Fuld surgery. The Rays’ outfielder is believed to be the first to have that surgery and successfully return to play 100 per cent healthy. Bautista spoke to Fuld on the phone when the surgical option was offered. Fuld spoke to the Toronto media on the first day the Rays visited the Rogers Centre on Thursday. The recovery time to resume baseball activities is 3-4 months and to return to playing is around six months, meaning Bautista is expected to be ready for spring training 2013. Don’t expect any more all-star game home run derbys in his future.
Injured C J.P. Arencibia, recovering from a broken right hand, is back playing games on a rehab option in Florida and could rejoin the Jays around Sept. 10. When that happens, the Jays will have Arencibia, plus Jeff Mathis, signed to a two-year extension plus an option, and Yorvit Torrealba, on an expiring contract set to become a free agent. The Jays will not rush Arencibia back, nor give him too heavy a workload, but they would like to make sure that he is healthy before the season ends.
RHP Jason Frasor has overcome the right forearm strain that put him on the DL. Frasor recognized the early signs of the same thing that sent him to two Tommy John surgeries earlier in his career and shut himself down. He was able to rest and rehab and rejoins the Jays for the final month.
DISABLED LIST: 3B Brett Lawrie (oblique) has resumed baseball activities, with no timeline set for a return to the Jays. 1B David Cooper (back strain) will serve out his DL time and then be activated on Sept. 7. The Jays have had 17 disablements this year, 12 of which are still ongoing. RHP Dustin McGowan and RHP Drew Hutchison are out for the year, as are RHP Sergio Santos, RHP Robert Coello, LHP Luis Perez, RHP Jesse Litsch and RHP Kyle Drabek.
I was driving in my car listening to an all-sports radio report this week, when a statement from someone in NHL ownership set me off on a rant, sending me careening across three lanes of highway, striking me as a condescending, smug, self-righteous piece of pap that took me back to the worst memories of the devastating 1981 and 1994 baseball strikes when I was part of MLB management and baseball was staring down a confident union chief named Donald Fehr in a high stakes game of chicken. The NHL statement that offended me that day, because I had also heard it during the early parts of the two aforementioned baseball strikes, went something like this: “This will not be a long work stoppage. As soon as the players’ wives realize that the money’s not coming in and their lifestyles will change and no more shopping, they will put pressure on their husbands and they’ll be back to work.” What a total load of chauvinist crap. I say that with passion because I recall people in Expos’ ownership quietly pointing to guys like the club’s young third baseman Sean Berry in ’94 and in the previous strike in ’81 to a young pitcher named Steve Rogers and smugly using the same questionable line of logic. Here’s a lesson learned from history. Fehr, during his time with the MLBPA never lost in any head-to-head showdown with baseball ownership. He never gave back what his players had already won. The major-league players were united behind their union in those strikes as in no other sport, because he included them in all aspects of the negotiation. Seeing Fehr marching in and out of sessions with Gary Bettman and ownership accompanied by Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Steve Stamkos and other superstars underlines the resolve of the players not to give back. There will be a season because Fehr has a date and a bottom line in mind. The final solution will be on the players’ terms, even if there publicly seems to be some compromise. Fehr has the final outcome already in mind and in the end it will be a tap in for the players with a bone for the owners. Fehr was proud of what he accomplished in baseball, but he is also proud of the fact that there has not been a work stoppage in baseball since ’94 and, despite that, the value of franchises and the salaries of players have both continued to rise with remarkable consistency. Hockey seems to be using the struggling franchises as a human shield to protect the profits of the haves. Fehr will be part of the solution.
MLB POWER RANKINGS (Last week’s ranking in parentheses)
1. Cincinnati Reds (3)
Maybe Aroldis Chapman should be getting support for Cy Young and MVP
2. Texas Rangers (4)
This is going to be a three-team dogfight in final month
3. Washington Nationals (2)
The Strasburg debate takes young players minds off reality of where they are
4. New York Yankees (1)
There are guys in Monument Park with more range than left side of Yankee infield
5. Baltimore Orioles (10)
Crazy that Labour Day weekend series at Yankee Stadium was for first place
6. San Francisco Giants (7)
If Giants hang on over Dodgers, Buster Posey for MVP
7. Oakland A’s (13)
Other than fact Billy Beane thinks managers don’t matter, Bob Melvin should win award
8. Detroit Tigers (9)
The Tigers seem intimidating and relentless in division and wild-card
9. Chicago White Sox (6)
If not Melvin, rookie skipper Robin Ventura building a case for manager-of-the-year
10. Atlanta Braves (11)
Last time Reed Johnson and Eric Hinske were teammates — they lost
11. Los Angeles Angels (14)
Is the Halos rotation coming out of its post all-star funk?
12. Tampa Bay Rays (5)
Someone has to step up and give these guys enough offence to earn a wild-card
13. Los Angeles Dodgers (8)
This is the likeliest team in the NL to put a long win streak together
14. Pittsburgh Pirates (12)
The Bucs are an improving team year-by-year under Clint Hurdle. Wait until next year
15. St. Louis Cardinals (15)
Loss of Rafael Furcal is not going to help their wild-card chances
16. Arizona Diamondbacks (16)
Snakes gave indication of what they thought of chances with trade of Stephen Drew
17. Seattle Mariners (17)
There is no doubt that Felix Hernandez should be AL Cy winner
18. Philadelphia Phillies (21)
Story of Jays’ ’02 draft pick and 32-year-old rookie C Erik Kratz is good one
19. Milwaukee Brewers (20)
Brewers prepping for strong finish with no pressure of post-season
20. New York Mets (18)
This has been tumultuous season for Mets with ownership woes
21. San Diego Padres (22)
The Pads may take a jump to the next level in ’13 and still not make post-season
22. Toronto Blue Jays (24)
Jays are just prepping to go from worst to first next year – right?
23. Boston Red Sox (19)
By the end of the year, Bobby Valentine will be showing up at gametime
24. Kansas City Royals (23)
Have too many leadoff hitters and not enough mid-order guys
25. Miami Marlins (25)
Okay this team was built for new stadium then they dumped payroll??
26. Minnesota Twins (27)
So why would they trade Joe Mauer. He’s the reason they got new park
27. Colorado Rockies (26)
To paraphrase Dumb and Dumber. “John Denver was full of spit.”
28. Cleveland Indians (28)
Too many chiefs and not enough Indians — that can play
29. Chicago Cubs (29)
Theo Epstein protege GMs hold down rankings 21, 23 and 29. Good work
30. Houston Astros (30)
It’s looking more and more like one last dance for Roger the Kodger
Usually when an owner and a GM make an unexpected trip to join their team on the road, it’s the sign of something imminent with a sitting manager. So when Red Sox owner John Henry and GM Ben Cherington flew to Seattle and joined the team, it fuelled much speculation on the immediate future of MGR Bobby Valentine. They insist it is merely a “fact-finding” trip and that Bobby V will at least finish the season at the helm. The manager and the owner had breakfast together. “What do you think, we talked about art? Liverpool?” Valentine told reporters pre-game on Sunday. “We talked about baseball and our team, obviously. Things that he’s concerned about, and things that I deal with. To any of you that are sorry I didn’t get fired, I’m sorry that you’re sorry.” If they wanted someone that was opposite to Terry Francona, they got him. The most inspiring part of 2B Dustin Pedroia meeting and mingling with the Petaluma (CA) Little Leaguers that reached the World Series championship game is that the Red Sox infielder was the same size as many of them. Pedroia banged out his 1,000th career hit in Seattle vs. LH Jason Vargas. It was his 833rd game. Only five other Bosox players reached 1,000 quicker: Nomar Garciaparra, Wade Boggs, Johnny Pesky, Ted Williams and Jim Rice . . . The concern with the A’s as they head into the final month is the experience of their pitching staff and will they hit a wall, especially after the loss of veteran starter RHP Bartolo Colon. On Monday, young LHP Tommy Milone had his shortest outing of the year, allowing 10 hits in 3+ innings . . . The Angels beat the A’s on Monday and have six games vs. their division rivals in the next nine games. RH Jered Weaver is still sore after being hit in the right shoulder by a liner drive on Sunday. He is set to start on Friday but will be re-evaluated daily . . . The White Sox lucked out when DH Adam Dunn missed just two games with a strained right oblique. He returned on Monday and is batting .206 with 38 home runs . . . Little remembered fact about the late actor Michael Clarke Duncan is that he narrated the 2005 White Sox World Series championship video. As such, GM Ken Williams offered condolences at the passing of his friend and a huge Chisox fan . . . A nice story took place in Chicago on Monday when Twins INF Jamey Carroll celebrated his 10-year anniversary of service time, maxing out any pension benefits. Carroll broke in with the Expos at Wrigley Field on Sept. 11, 2002 at 28 years old and dreamed of making a long career of it. “I just remember when I first got called up and thinking, ‘Wow, I’ll be 38 if I ever make it 10 years,’ ” Carroll said. “Honest to God, I’ll tell you, I would have bet everything I had — not that I owned anything at that time — that that wouldn’t be the case, and here we are.” Especially for fringe guys, 10 years’ service time is always a big moment. Recall INF John McDonald celebrated in May 2010 and got teary-eyed . . . For the Yankees, 3B Alex Rodriguez returned to the lineup in Tampa. He was the DH and was 1-for-4. The Yankees have lost nine of 13 games. 2B Robinson Cano strained his hip trying to field a groundball through the hole at the Trop but is hoping not to miss any time. 1B Mark Teixeira (left calf) took batting practice on the field but will not plasy in a game until MGR Joe Girardi is sure that he can run full speed without pain.
The Nats are making big news by sticking to their guns on the RHP Stephen Strasburgshutdown plan. He is slated to make two more starts on Friday and Sept. 12 and then that’s it, according to GM Mike Rizzo and MGR Davey Johnson. Think about the impact in the clubhouse if the Nats are in the playoffs, reach the NLCS after one round and the Nats decide to allow Strasburg to re-join the team. What a boost inside the clubhouse? Is that a possibility? We’ll see . . . For the Reds, 1B Joey Votto has not played since July 15, but is activated as of Tuesday. He was 0-for-3 in one rehab start at AAA-Louisville but is not a slam dunk to return to the Reds’ lineup right away. Votto had left knee arthroscopy on July 17 and again on Aug. 10 . . . When RF Jose Bautista signed his five-year contract with the Jays’ GM Alex Anthopoulos admitted the contract was modelled after 2B Dan Uggla with the Braves. On Sunday, Uggla was told by MGR Fredi Gonzalez he may not play much anymore as Martin Prado has become the regular. “He didn’t really explain anything to me,” Uggla said. “He just kind of said, ‘We’ve got to make a change. I don’t know how much playing time you’re going to get the next 29 days.” Uggla has three years remaining on his deal. RHP Kris Medlen began the year in the Braves’ bullpen rehabbing from Tommy John performed in August 2010. He is now down the stretch an integral part of the Braves revamped rotation. Interesting because Jays’ manager John Farrell used Medlen as an example of how his team could possibly handle the return of RHP Kyle Drabek or RHP Drew Hutchison when they are ready to return next year . . . The Marlins have already decided to go with the six-man rotation the rest of the way so MGR Ozzie Guillen can get a look at a couple of their younger arms heading to the off-season. It’s a move Farrell and the Jays have talked about and will make after the off-days that surround the Red Sox series next weekend . . . Hurricane Isaac forced the Marlins’ AAA team the New Orleans Zephyrs to move a series to Round Rock (Tex) and to cancel the final four games of the series as the National Guard used their ballpark as a headquarters . . . Phils’ MGR Charlie Manuel was forced to bench SS Jimmy Rollins for lackadaisical play last week. He returned to the lineup and clubbed his 17th homer Monday. Rollins need one hit to reach 2,000 career, joining Mike Schmidt, Richie Ashburn and Ed Delahanty as the only Phillies at that level.
THIS WEEK IN BASEBALL HISTORY:
9/3/28 The great Ty Cobb records the final of his 4,189 career hits for the A’s vs. the Senators’ starter Bump Hadley . . . 9/4/16 Future Hall-of-Famers Christy Mathewson and Mordecai (Three Finger) Brown end their careers by facing each other in a 10-8 win for Mathewson . . . 9/4/85 Gary Carter homered twice vs. the Padres in a 9-2 win, giving the Mets’ catcher five homers in two consecutive games, the 11th major-leaguer to accomplish the feat . . . 9/4/93 In one of the most popular no-hitters ever, LHP Jim Abbott blanks the Indians 4-0 for the first Yankees no-hitter in 10 years. Abbott was born without a right hand and overcame all odds to reach the majors . . . 9/5/71 Sensational Astros’ rookie J.R. Richard strikes out 15 Giants in his MLB debut, tying a record set by Karl Spooner . . . 9/6/1888 The Indianapolis Hoosiers play a night game using gas-lights. Nobody can see. The idea is dropped . . . 9/6/95 In a seminal moment for baseball coming out of the great strike of ’94, the Bird of Steel, Cal Ripken, Jr. plays his 2,131st consecutive game, breaking the mark of Lou Gehrig. The game is stopped after 4 1/2 innings when it becomes official. The crowd’s response with a 22-minute ovation and Ripken’s dramatics in hitting a homer make it the most memorable game ever called by ESPN’s broadcast team of Chris Berman and Buck Martinez . . . 9/7/93 Cards’ slugger Mark Whiten in the second game of a DH vs. the Reds, slammed four homers and drove in 12 runs. He is the first player to accomplish both feats in the same game . . . 9/8/72 Cubs’ RHPFerguson Jenkins beats the Phillies recording 20 wins for the sixth straight season . . . 9/8/85 Reds’ manager Pete Rose singles in his first two at-bats vs. the Cubs to tie Cobb with 4,191 career hits . . . 9/8/88Bart Giamatti, who will later ban Pete Rose from baseball for life, is elected commissioner . . . 9/8/98 Mark McGwire of the Cards slams his 62nd home run off the Cubs’ Steve Trachsel, with the commissioner and members of Roger Maris’s family in attendance. At the time, this is regarded, along with Ripken’s streak, as the moment that saves baseball post-strike . . . 9/9 Four no-hitters have been recorded on this date, George Davis (1914 Braves), Dick Fowler (1945 A’s), Rex Barney (1948 Dodgers) and Sandy Koufax (1965 Dodgers).
BIRTHDAYS: 9/3 Dave Berg 42, Eddie Stanky 96; 9/4 Mike Piazza 44, Doyle Alexander 62, Frank White 62, Ken “Hawk” Harrelson 71; 9/5 Rod Barajas 37, Candy Maldonado 52, Gil Patterson 57, Bill Mazeroski 76; 9/6 Vince DiMaggio 100; 9/9 Joey Hamilton 42, Tom Foley 53.
JAYS MINOR LEAGUE ROUNDUP
AAA-Las Vegas (78-64) ended the season missing the playoffs but with ther fifth best record in the 16 team PCL. SS Adeiny Hechavarria was named to the PCL all-star team with a .312 average, 78 runs, six homers and 63 RBIs. The Jays had nine players and 11 pitchers that played in Vegas and in the majors . . . AA-New Hampshire (61-80) ended the Eastern League season in last place. RHP Deck McGuire was 5-15 with a 5.88 ERA. RH Yohan Pino was 10-7, with a 3.25 ERA in 21 starts with a 1.07 WHIP. CF Jake Marisnick, struggled early at AA but raised his average to .228 with 14 steals in 54 games . . . A-Dunedin (36-30; 78-55) are getting prepared for the playoffs as the FSL first half division champs. MGR Mike Redmond was named to the FSL all-stars. LF Marcus Knecht hit .210, but with 31 doubles, five triples and 13 homers, with 59 RBIs. The young Canadian slugger had 50 walks and 146 Ks. C J.P. Arencibia was 1-for-5 with a double. RHP Casey Lawrence (9-6, 3.63), RHP Marcus Walden (9-2, 2.85), LHP Sean Nolin (9-0, 2.19) and LHP Egan Smith (8-7, 3.49) were the top starters . . . A-Lansing (35-32; 82-54) are headed to the post-season. LF Kevin Pillar hit .322 with five homers, 57 RBIs and 35 steals. 1B Kevin Patterson hit .245 with 19 homers and 79 RBIs. The top four starters, aged 19-22, RHP Aaron Sanchez, LHP Justin Nicolino, RHP Noah Syndergaard and RHP Anthony DeSclafani combined for a 37-17 record and 430 strikeouts in 441 1/3 innings . . . A-Vancouver (24-15; 46-30) travelled to Yakima and clinched the division. The C’s began a best of three series vs. the Everett Aquasox with a 1-0 win on Monday. It was a five-pitcher shutout started by RHP Alberto Osuna who tossed three no-hit innings with three walks and three Ks. The C’s scored the winning run in the eighth as 3B Kellen Sweeney singled to drive home SS Jorge Flores who had doubled. The winner was RHP Will Browning with a save for RHP Andrew Sikula . . . A-Bluefield (29-37) CF D.J. Davis, selected 17th overall in June ’12, hit .340 in 12 games with six steals . . . Rk-Blue Jays (22-38) ended the season.
ONE FOR THE ROAD:
I must admit that of all the regular season road trips that I’ve made in covering baseball for the Star for 17 years, this past week starting in Detroit and then ending up in the Bronx, may have been the most unusual. I have no one to blame but myself . . . and my desire, of course, to be the best father I can be — goals that sometimes are at logistical odds. I had picked up a rental car that I drove to Detroit and back last week and then kept for the New York portion of the road trip. Why? It seemed like a good idea at the time. On Friday morning, as those readers of last week’s Bullpen will remember, I helped move my son into residence in Albany, N.Y. at the College of St. Rose. Looking at a map, it seemed easier to drive from Albany to NYC for the Jays series against the Yankees than to drive back to Toronto and fly back to The Big Apple. In any case, my 22-year-old daughter Shannon came with me to New York to visit her grandfather, who spends his summers, at 89 years old, in Garden City on Long Island. On Monday morning, Shannon and I took the Long Island Railroad into the city, leaving the car in Garden City parked in his driveway. Following three solid games by the Jays, including a win by J.A. Happ on Wednesday afternoon, giving them two of three, it was time to get home. Starting at 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday here is a chronology of the homeward-bound odyssey: Subway from Yankee Stadium to the hotel, to meet Shannon. Walk to Penn Station and LIRR train to Garden City. Taxi to my dad’s home. Drive starting at 8:36 p.m. up I-87, west on I-90, through Lewiston, N.Y. and home at 4:44 a.m. Nice.