The Bullpen: Farrell wants to add Mottola as associate batting coach
VOLUME XIV, Sept. 10, 2012
The future of the position has already been shaped in places like St. Louis where for years the Cardinals have listed an associate hitting coach to go along with their primary batting coach. Other teams have copied the concept without handing out an official title, but if Jays’ manager John Farrell had his way, the Jays in 2013, would keep AAA-Las Vegas hitting coach Chad Mottola at the major league level to work with Dwayne Murphy on a daily basis . . . even if it helped one major-league hitter.
“We’ve talked about it internally,” Farrell admitted. “We’ve talked about how the structure would work. The fact, if this were to play out, the people involved (Murphy and Mottola) have a rapport, they have a relationship already from the major leagues to the Triple-A staff, spring training and the familiarity with one another. That’s paramount, because the message can’t be conflicting and yet everybody has individual strengths and in some cases, they complement one another.”
Every team in September has the ability to add one coach to the major-league staff. For the second consecutive year Mottola has been called up to help out Jays’ hitters in the final month. In 2011 he was in uniform during games. This year, the extra coach in uniform is Luis Rivera, but Mottola works pre-game on the field and in the cages with Murphy and the larger number of players.
“No one’s talked to me about it,” Mottola said Sunday. “It’s just one of those things as a hitting coach you tend to think any kind of person you can share ideas with as you sit there kind of rotting in the cage three hours a day. If you have anyone to bounce ideas off, he gets to see what you see every day rather than so many people who only get to see the results in the game.
“Everybody (on the staff) has ideas and they’re like, ‘Hey, do this.’ So you would actually have someone else down there that sees what you go through every day and kind of understands that it’s not as simple as, ‘Hey tell him to do this.’ That would make a difference.”
Mottola has been at Triple-A for three years and annually spends the first part of spring training at major-league camp. This year, it was even longer because Murphy had to return home to the West Coast for a death in the family. But the fact is, Mottola already knew most of the Jays players, anyway.
“I know a lot of these guys from playing with them, from having them in the minor leagues, as well as I know Murph from coaching next to him and playing for him in the minor leagues in Toronto,” Mottola said. “It’s one of those things where knowing the guys and having the base and them knowing me and being able to trust me makes a big difference. That trust is right away.”
There have been special projects that the organization has sent down to Vegas, guys that have worked daily down there with Mottola to build themselves back up to the point they can successfully return to the majors. Guys like Adam Lind, Travis Snider, Eric Thames and Anthony Gose. Mottola explains he’s not a miracle worker, even though some of the improvements have been dramatic.
“I actually enjoy when guys get sent back down, because what we’ve been preaching, they finally get to taste first-hand,” Mottola explained. “So they get to know the problems, know what they need to work on and come back to work on it. That’s rather than us having to convince them.
“The majority of times the guys have sped up everything (in the majors). The heart rate goes up and there’s no way to do it rather than go out and do it and it seems everybody comes back sped up. You come down there, there’s not as much pressure, not as much expectations out of yourself, so you can slow the game down and work on things. I always talk about investing stuff and work on the goal of getting back to where you want to be.”
Which is the majors. In fact, Mottola believes it’s much easier to make your point, to teach young hitters only after they have failed at the next level and realize that they do need your help.
“Absolutely, that’s when they kind of light up and I can say, ‘See, I told you so,’ ” Mottola said. “We get a few laughs out of the way then it’s let’s get to work. You see the guy’s hunger a lot more and the drive is a lot more after he’s failed and humbled a little bit.”
Farrell sees an additional view not as an intrusion on the batting coach’s territory, but instead likens it to the situation with the bullpen and pitching coaches on the other end of the spectrum.
“You’ve got 13 position players, normally, for one guy,” Farrell said. “There’s (already) a lot of cross-conversation with other coaches, myself, things that we’re seeing with Murph about individual players and yet that job is never done because while two or three guys may be going well, there’s two or three others that are probably not going well. That’s just how things flow, as we’ve all seen.
“I think it makes a lot of sense to even out the load and, let’s face it, even on the pitching side, certain guys will hear the same messages described by two different people and it may click, because the way one person says it instead of the other. This isn’t to be pointing the finger at anyone saying they’re not doing well, it’s just how do you provide the best resources for players to stay consistent.”
Mottola spoke, for example, about Gose who has been up and down twice, returning from Vegas this time looking like a new hitter, with more contact, more line drives and even one homer.
“We knew it was going to be taking time,” Mottola said of Gose. “We did some stuff in the cage that you’re starting to see now. It’s stuff we did throughout the year that he just wasn’t ready to do in a game yet. The game speeds up and we’d only be forming bad habits if we rushed it.
“So we got to the stance that he’s at now that we’ve actually been working at with him all year. But we felt if we brought it out in a game we’d be kind of going backwards, where we did it with a slow tempo in the cage the whole year until he was ready. He dictated at that time when he was ready.”
Any decision to promote Mottola may depend on the makeup of the coaching staff this off-season, whether any of the current coaches get managerial opportunities or if they can petition MLB for the right to carry one more body on the coaching staff. Either way the time is at hand and it’s a concept that Farrell has embraced. If and when it happens, Mottola knows he is ready to help.
BLUE JAYS WEEK . . . Sept. 4-9, 2012
GAMES: The Jays began to turn their on-field woes around even before they started to get healthier with the return of C J.P. Arencibia and 3B Brett Lawrie on Friday. After taking the final game from the Orioles on Wednesday with returned starter Brandon Morrow on the mound, but not getting the win, they travelled to Boston following an off-day and swept the Red Sox in front of three more sellouts. The Jays have won four straight, were 4-2 for the work-week and have won eight of the last 13. That’s far from playoff-type production, but good enough to likely avoid 90 losses.
There was some controversy about strategy and urgency on the part of the Jays, Saturday, a Fenway Park tempest in a Boston teapot, some of it perpetuated in the Star.
The Jays needed just one more out in the fifth with a 5-2 lead to earn a victory, if indeed the predicted rain moved in and washed out the contest. But not only did LH Aaron Laffey fail to retire the last batter, manager Farrell even sent pitching coach Bruce Walton out to the mound to talk to Laffey as the rain built up for a tsunami-like blast over the first base stands. The rain began and only got harder as Laffey threw two straight balls to Jacoby Ellsbury. The umpires threw up their hands and waved for the grounds crew and the field was covered with the possibility that, in the absence of that one final out, the whole thing would be washed out and replayed in its entirety on Sunday as a day-night doubleheader. Not good. Farrell explained his reasoning the following morning.
“Knowing that the rain was certainly in the forecast all night, the thing that really caught everybody by surprise even the meteorologists that we were getting reports from,” Farrell said. “They didn’t have any warning given to us when that sheet of rain came through, so, yeah, you’re looking for that final out in the fifth inning, but Mother Nature took care of things in her own way.
“They had been giving us the heads up that rain was coming. So when those popup showers were coming through, some a little bit more firm than others, they kept saying we were on the edge of this one band and if it hits us and glances by us we’ll have a gap, but if it stays on us we’re probably into a long one. So, we’re just at the whim of the most recent update.
“I know what you wrote and I know that you felt Laffey shouldn’t have been on the mound. I completely disagree with that. I sent Bruce out (for a visit) because we didn’t know the rain was coming and we bought time because Ellsbury was the last hitter Laffey was going to face — left on left. So (Brad) Lincoln was there for (Dustin) Pedroia, for (Cody) Ross for (Mauro) Gomez and for (Ryan) Lavarnway, so that’s why we wanted to make sure he had enough time to be ready. We were working on that 30-minute window. If you saw the reaction of (crew chief) Jeff Nelson. He called out the grounds crew. He had no idea this was coming through. And that’s why you saw the (umpire’s) reaction. We felt like once we started back up again, we had 30 minutes, and it ended up being 12.”
It was a very busy weekend for Farrell, especially Friday night, as a swarming 20-person contingent of Boston media crossed the field to grill Farrell on his thoughts abut potentially replacing the embattled Bobby Valentine in time for 2013. Farrell handed it with class, while being totally non-committal.
“I don’t know if you can fully anticipate anything,” Farrell said, with the ink-stained emissaries of Red Sox Nation hanging on every word.
“I understand that there’s articles written, there’s things that are out there, but I respect everyone involved. My focus is right here in this dugout in this uniform. You’re putting the cart way before the horse with (questions of a Jays’ extension). Like I said, my contract is through 2013. My approach, day in and day out doesn’t hinge on my (contract) status. My focus, my attention is today, right here.”
The offensive hero of the rainy Saturday night was young RF Anthony Gose, who had his first home run and drove in five runs, with two hits and a steal. The hero on Sunday as the Jays completed the sweep was 2B Omar Vizquel, with two sac-flies including the game-winnner in the ninth inning. Vizquel was playing his last game ever at Fenway Park which was one of the reasons Farrell wrote him into the lineup. Trivia? His first game in Boston was in 1989, a year before Gose was even born. Vizquel will be given every opportunity to get the three hits he needs to tie Babe Ruth on the all-time list and will likely play the final game at Camden Yards and at Yankee Stadium on the final road trip. “Whether it’s the baseball gods or what have you, he came up with two big at-bats, Farrell said. “There’s a few things that are in the near horizon for him as far as career numbers. How could you not pay that respect to a guy that’s had just a tremendous career. He’s closing in on Babe Ruth in terms of number of hits. I think it’s only fitting that as we go through this last stretch, the places that he’s played the most, whether it’s here in Boston or New York, Baltimore, he’ll be on the field.”
TRANSACTIONS: The Jays received more bad news on the medical front just three days after Jose Bautista underwent successful hand surgery in Cleveland. The impressive finish of LH J.A. Happ came to an abrupt end as an MRI showed a broken right foot that will be surgically repaired with two permanent screws inserted in a procedure later this week. He’s done for the year.
“It was definitely surprising,” Happ said in the hallway outside the Fenway Park clubhouse. “I was feeling something in there. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was, but I didn’t think that it would be broke. It could have been something that started small and maybe in New York got bigger. The initial break (off the mound) over there is when I felt it. It wasn’t the running (to first base) or hitting the bag.
“I feel fortunate that I did have the chance in the time here that I did have. Certainly frustrating. I feel like I’ve been throwing the ball well, so I definitely would love to have finished the season strong. Unfortunately this is the kind of hand I was dealt and I definitely look forward to going into spring. Hopefully I’ve made a good impression. I’m happy with it. I’d love to have kept going with it.”
Happ was replaced in the rotation by Laffey, who will continue to run out there every five or six days to make his own impression. The injury changed Jays’ plans dramatically. When the doubleheader comes up on the trip to Baltimore, the second game may be started by RH Chad Jenkins.
The Jays on Friday brought back Arencibia who had caught two games in a row for A-Dunedin in a playoff series, and Lawrie, who had played for A-Lansing in a loss in the Midwest League playoffs.
“It’s more than cool,” Arencibia said of being back with the major-league team. “It’s good to give the team a little boost and obviously Brett’s energy is a big boost. Hopefully we can get some things going in the right direction. If I do what I can do to help the team win, all those numbers are going to be there.
“Actually, my body feels the best. The break, when I got hurt all I could do was run. So I ran a lot, rode the bike really hard. I caught those two nine-inning games and my legs felt really better than they did when I was playing every day. My legs are fresh, my body feels good, other than that it’s just going out there and playing, but my body’s still in good playing shape.
DISABLED LIST: 1B David Cooper (back strain) aggravated his injury and has been shut down. The Jays have had 18 disablements this year. RH Dustin McGowan,RH Drew Hutchison,RH Sergio Santos, RH Robert Coello, LH Luis Perez, RH Jesse Litsch,RH Kyle Drabek, Bautista, Cooper and Happ are all out for the season.
If the Nationals don’t go on to win the World Series, then the fickle fingers of hate will be pointed at Nats GM Mike Rizzo for shutting down his ace starterStephen Strasburg in the middle of the pennant race, early in September. That’s ridiculous. Strasburg had Tommy John surgery in 2010 and has thrown just 68 and 24 innings the past two years heading into 2012. The kid is 24 years old and the Nats had already made the decision before the season that for his own future welfare they were going to shut him down when he reached somewhere between 160-180 innings. You don’t just change a well thought-out medically advised strategy because you happen to be in a race. There are 25 players on the Nationals and Strasburg is able to pitch just once every five days. If they in fact don’t seal the deal it won’t be because of the decision to shut down Strasburg. Critics are saying, “What if he gets hurt next year after you already shut him down?” The better question is “What if he got hurt this year when you didn’t shut him down, pitching down the stretch or in the post-season?” It’s the 24 and 68 innings that lead me to say to critics, just be quiet and let the Nats and agent Scott Boras do what’s best for their young superstar. I don’t like Boras, but he cares about his clients. Odds are the Nats won’t win it all. It’s their first time to the post-season, if they make it, and the atmosphere and pressure in October prefers post-season experience. I’m not a huge fan of Rizzo, after the Cole Hamels/Bryce Harper dustup. Those were clown quotes, bro’. But I admire him for sticking to his guns on Strasburg. Fans will never be happy but as long as they stay interested, that’s half the battle. And they are without a doubt still interested. The rest of the team will have to step up and no fingers should be pointed at the Nats.
MLB POWER RANKINGS – Sept. 10 (Last week’s ranking in parentheses)
1. Washington Nationals (3)
Not only did they go ahead and do it, they did it one start early with Strasburg
2. Texas Rangers (2)
Somehow these guys hung on all through Hamilton’s slide. Now he’s back and so are they
3. New York Yankees (4)
Teixeira’s head-first slide clearly safe, but umps say it was very close. Replay, anyone?
4. Baltimore Orioles (5)
The gum on the Yankees shoes, the corn in their teeth just won’t go away
5. San Francisco Giants (6)
Have rallied around one another post-Melky and still lead
6. Cincinnati Reds (1)
Votto is back and the Reds have levelled off. Arroyo priming for playoffs
7. Tampa Bay Rays (12)
Maddon tweeted after Bobby V. threw him under bus: Sorry late, pedicure ran long
8. Oakland A’s (7)
Lost Colon and lost McCarthy and relying only on youngsters
9. Atlanta Braves (10)
Chipper has love affair with New York. Has he been there in February?
10. Los Angeles Angels (11)
These guys look like they’re laying in the weeds ready to make their move
11. Chicago White Sox (9)
Ventura is far more of a calming influence for a young team than Ozzie
12. St. Louis Cardinals (15)
Chris Carpenter pitching some rehab but how much difference can he make
13. Detroit Tigers (8)
Who knows how to explain this talented roster not running away with it
14. Los Angeles Dodgers (13)
Kemp out for a few days with bruises from fence crash. Kershaw pushed back
15. Pittsburgh Pirates (14)
McCutchen strong MVP choice even if Pirates fall short
16. Philadelphia Phillies (18)
Phillies’ mini September surge will help them decide off-season moves
17. Arizona Diamondbacks (16)
Nice to see Aaron Hill bounce back to fifth in WAR among NL players
18. Seattle Mariners (17)
Played much better since future Hall-of-Famer Ichiro left
19. Milwaukee Brewers (19)
Even if Ryan Braun’s numbers are competitive, he won’t win MVP
20. New York Mets (20)
They should reward Wright and Dickey as a show of good faith
21. San Diego Padres (21)
Another couple of seasons before these guys make it to contender
22. Toronto Blue Jays (22)
Jays patsies have gone from Baltimore to Boston. Just don’t lose 90
23. Kansas City Royals (24)
This season is a hiccup for an organization almost ready to compete
24. Boston Red Sox (23)
Farrell easily survived the trip to Boston showing respect for Valentine
25. Minnesota Twins (26)
Twins better show a winter will to win and that means not trading Mauer
26. Miami Marlins (25)
Most disappointing team in NL because no excuses
27. Colorado Rockies (26)
Have had fewer highlights on TV than any team in baseball
28. Cleveland Indians (28)
Close Perez has figured out best route out of town. Rip ownership in press
29. Chicago Cubs (29)
Have too many round pegs and too many square holes
30. Houston Astros (30)
Will Roger Clemens please just retire before I change my mind on HoF
To add injury to insult, after Yankees’ 1B Mark Teixeira was called out on a blatantly wrong call at first base to end Saturday’s loss to the Orioles, he missed Sunday with an aggravated left calf and was to undergo an MRI on Monday to determine the extent of the injury. The calf had already cost him 10 games and it is feared he may miss the remainder of the season. While Yankees LH Andy Pettitte may be ready to return within a week to the rotation, there are concerns about a healthy LH CC Sabathia and his loss of velocity in his last outing. RF Nick Swisher stands to make big money in free agency this winter, but he extended his hitless streak to 28 at-bats on Sunday and if the Yankees fade out of the playoffs, that will not help his cause. “I’m just going through a little crazy spell right now,” Swisher told media. “As long as we’re winning, I’m not worried about what I’m doing.” Well they’re not winning . . . the Twins’ 1B Justin Morneau since ’09 has suffered two concussions, a fracture in his lower back, nerve damage in his neck and a wrist injury. On Sunday he slammed two homers to give him 19 for his season as the Twins won two in a row for the first time since August . . . Rangers’ C Mike Napoli has responded slowly to a strained left quadriceps, a tough injury for a catcher when it comes to squatting. Napoli is ready to play in the AA-Texas League playoffs for Frisco and could be back for the final two weeks . . . Rays CF B.J. Upton slammed three homers in a 6-0 victory over the Rangers on Sunday. RH James Shield tossed a 2-hitter, but the big game belonged to Upton who joined Jonny Gomes (’05) and Evan Longoria (’08) as the only Rays with three bombs in a game . . . Following a three-game sweep by the Angels, the Tigers head to Chicago and could tie for first place by wining three of four vs. the first place White Sox. The Tigers are 30-38 on the road and have lost 10 straight one-run games. CL Jose Valverde should cut down on his entrance dance and concentrate on shutting down games. RH Justin Verlander ended a streak of starts with 100-plus pitches at 80 straight with a 97-pitch effort on Saturday at Anaheim. JV allowed four in the first of a 6-inning effort, as his ERA rose to 2.91. Those are numbers that any team would love, but do not match his dominance of the Cy Young 2011 . . . the A’s are 37-30 on the road, with nine straight wins away from the Coliseum after sweeping the M’s in Seattle. The last time they won 10 in a row on the road was 2002 when they won 20 straight overall and Brad Pitt made a movie about it. RH Brandon McCarthy is still in hospital under close observation after suffering a fractured skull on a line drive to the mound. His Tweets are encouraging including, to paraphrase: “I can’t believe they give these Children’s Tylenol to kids.” . . . Canadian C George Kottaras has four homers and 13 RBIsin his past five games. He was signed by the A’s after being DFA by the Brewers . . . The Angels are making their expected move for the wild card. They are 15-3 over the last 18, with the five-man rotation posting a 2.91 ERA keyed by RH Zack Greinke. Between June 28 and Aug. 20, the rotation ERA was 5.71 while the team mark was 19-27. “The fact that some guys turned it around, the fact that Zack came in and is pitching to his capabilities gives us reason to be optimistic that we’re going to be able to play at a high level and hopefully play well enough to get into the playoffs,” embattled manager Mike Scioscia told Angels media. In Boston, Scioscia’s name is mentioned as a replacement for Bobby Valentine if it’s not John Farrel . . . The strained oblique seems to be the trendy injury of 2012. Chisox DH Adam Dunn tweaked his right oblique last Wednesday, missed the next three games on the weekend and may miss the entire four-game series vs. their closest pursuers the Tigers. The Jays’ former GM might add, ‘Yes, but does he really want to play?”. . . O’s RF Nick Markakis will have a plate put in his injured left thumb on Monday, the thumb that was broken by CC Sabathia in the recent Yankee series. The recovery time of six weeks may be shortened, according to MGR Buck Showalter.
The Braves are seeing an offensive bump from two key players when they need it most. 2B Dan Uggla was 6-for-11 on the weekend vs., the Mets, while C Brian McCann snapped a 0-for-17 with a 4-for-5 Saturday and slammed his 20th HR on Sunday, the fifth straight season the all-star has reached that total. Hotshot rookie SS Andrelton Simmons broke a finger on June 8 with a head-first slide, but will rejoin the Braves in Milwaukee on Monday . . . An unusual stat provided by Elias is that Reds’ OF Jay Bruce with his 33rd home run became the first player with 20 HR as a rookie to improve his total each of the first five seasons in the majors . . . Nationals will start LH John Lannan in place of Stephen Strasburg on Sept. 12. Lannan, at one time, was a rising star in the Nats organization. He has a 2-0, 3.46 ERA this year... Dodgers stars CF Matt Kemp and LH Clayton Kershaw each had a cortisone shot on the weekend and is hoping to be back in the lineup on Tuesday. Kemp ran into the wall at Coors Field and had a shot in his injured right shoulder. Kershaw was bumped from a Sunday start and had a cortisone shot in his left hip. The Dodgers lost two of three to the Giants on the weekend and have lost ground to San Francisco in the division since the huge trade with the Red Sox. GM Ned Colletti who credits Brian Burke with teaching him a lot when he was GM of the nearby Ducks, is rumoured to be on the verge of signing an extension in Los Angeles . . . Pirates’ RF Travis Snider has missed the last four games and is likely to miss the three-game series against the Reds. An interesting pitching matchup was scheduled for Monday night in Cincinnati with Pirates LH Wandy Rodriguez facing Reds’ RH Mat Latos. Both pitchers were on Jays’ GM Alex Anthopoulos’s radar last winter, but he passed on them because the asking price was too high and he believed his starting depth was strong enough to bridge to the organization’s next generation . . . Cards’ RH Jake Westbrook strained, you guessed it, his left oblique on Saturday pitching to Brewers’ 3B Aramis Ramirez and has been scratched from his next start. Westbrook has twice missed six weeks this season due to the oblique problem. There was a thought RH Chris Carpenter was ready to step in, but his right shoulder is not quite ready. The Cards are sitting there in the second wild card spot but are treading water, finishing up a .500 home stand. In addition, 1B Lance Berkman left the team to have his repaired right knee checked out. He had a few at-bats since his return but may miss the rest of the year.
THIS WEEK IN BASEBALL HISTORY:
9/10/69 The Mets sweep the expansion Expos in a doubleheader to move into first place in September for the first in their history. They go on to win the World Series. You gotta believe . . . 9/10/74Lou Brock of the Cardinals records stolen bases 104-105 vs. the Phillies to tie and break Maury Wills’ single season record . . . 9/10/77 Blue Jays’ 3B Roy Howell collects five hits, two homers, two doubles and nine RBIs in a 19-3 win vs. the Yankees . . . 9/10/80 Bill Gullickson strikes out 18 Cubs to set a MLB rookie record . . . 9/11/80 Ron LeFlore and Rodney Scott each steal a base vs. the Cubs, No. 91 and No. 58 breaking the record for teammates set in 1974 by Lou Brock and Bake McBride of the Cards . . . 9/11/85 Pete Rose bangs out hit No. 4,192 to break Ty Cobb’s record. He does it against Eric Show of the Padres. To the day, 57 years earlier, Cobb played his final MLB game . . . 9/12/85 The great Carl Yastrzemski collects his 3,000th hit off Yankees RH Jim Beattie, now a pro scout with the Blue Jays . . . 9/13/09 Ty Cobb of the Tigers slams his ninth homer of the season to clinch the home run title. All nine of his homers were inside-the-park. Can you spell dead-ball-era . . . 9/13/65 Willie Mays hits his 500th career homer off Houston’s Don Nottebart . . . 9/13/71 Frank Robinson hits his 500th career off Detroit’s Fred Scherman . . . 9/13/91 A huge concrete chunk falls off the Olympic Stadium forcing the Expos, who were on the road already, to play the rest of the season on the road. They go 14-14 on the 28-game road trip . . . 9/14/87 Ernie Whitt hits three of the Jays 10 home runs against Baltimore an MLB record in an 18-3 win . . . 9/14/90 Ken Griffeys Sr. and Jr. homer back-to-back against Kirk McCaskill of the Angels, the only time it has ever happened . . . 9/15/38 Brothers Paul and Lloyd Waner homer back to back against Cliff Melton and the Giants . . . 9/15/63 Brothers Felipe, Matty and Jesus Alou play in the same Giants outfield, the only time it ever happened . . . . . . 9/16/87 Joe Carter of the Indians becomes the 19th player with a 30-30 season, stealing his 30th base in a loss to the M’s . . . 9/16/93 Dave Winfield collects his 3,000th hit as a member of the Twins against the A’s and Dennis Eckersley.
JAYS MINOR LEAGUE ROUNDUP
The Blue Jays’ eight farm teams combined for a 427-395 record.
AAA-Las Vegas (79-64) ended the season missing the playoffs but with the fifth best record in the 16-team PCL. In four seasons at Las Vegas, the Jays affiliate was a combined 287-288.
AA-New Hampshire (61-81) ended the EL season in last place.
A-Dunedin (78-55) posted the best record in the FSL’s North Division and second overall. The Jays lost the first round playoff series to Lakeland. MGR Mike Redmond was named to the FSL all-stars.
A-Lansing (82-55) posted the best overall record in the Midwest League. They lost a first round series to Ft. Wayne.
A-Vancouver (46-30) beat Everett Aquasox in two games the first round and then went to a Game 3 with Boise on Sunday for the league championship, winning 12-9 with a seven-run outburst in the eighth, overcoming a 7-5 deficit. Kellen Sweeney and Balbino Fuenmayor each had two-run singles, while Art Charles slammed a two-run triple, all in the big inning. It was the second straight Northwest League championship for the Canadians.
A-Bluefield (29-37) finished last in their division.
Rk-Gulf Coast Blue Jays (22-38).
Rk-Dominican Summer League (30-35)
ONE FOR THE ROAD:
The lowlight for the Jays this past week was the rain pouring down on the exposed Rogers Centre field on Tuesday night with Carlos Villanueva claiming to be discombobulated by the mud building up on the mound as he tried to silence the Orioles. The embarrassing incident was a microcosm of an absurdly unusual Jays season. But following the Thursday off-day, things calmed down and got better as they went to Boston to take on their new patsies the Red Sox. So how come the two nights of rain, with wet field and over three hours of combined rain delay on Friday and Saturday didn’t cause the same public stir and contempt as 15 minutes of rain in Toronto. Oh yeah, the Jays have a roof.
The Tuesday RC game started with the roof closed after an entire day of rain. Someone opened up the lid inexplicably in the third inning to reveal dark rain clouds scudding across the twilight sky. Uh-oh was the immediate response. Then the rain starting and with the roof mechanisms turning wonky, oh yeah, I’m sure someone got in big trouble for that gaffe that was heard round the sports world.
In any case, it was while sitting in the press box on Saturday at Fenway waiting out the rain delay that I was forced to question my life’s work, thanks to my daughter Shannon, writing from Guelph University. On behalf of organizers, she tweeted out a congratulatory note to a group of students and volunteers at Guelph of which she was a member. Apparently, 2,000 volunteers on behalf of the Better Planet Project packaged 315,000 emergency relief meals in one hour to be sent to Mauritania in west Africa, a country devastated by drought. Meanwhile there I was just worried about whether Aaron Laffey could go back out to face the Sox after a 58-minute rain delay. In any case I’m over it now.
I flew to Boston on Porter, a really easy way to travel from Billy Bishop Airport. Boston is such a cool city. Too bad Fenway’s such a dump. The visitors clubhouse is the smallest in the AL and the Jays now have 35 players in uniform — because they can. You just want to get your interviews and get out of the shoebox of a dressing area. But sometimes it’s not that easy, especially after games when there’s more traffic than the DVP at rush hour. A brief description. There is a big concrete column right in the middle of the room with a big screen TV on one side with a couple of nauga-hide sofas. On the other side there’s two picnic tables, with players eating their post-game meals about three steps from the showers. The clubbies used to set out the post-game food spread right next to the column, where waiting media had been known to accidentally back into a tray full of chalupas and that all within 10 steps of the huge shower area. Naked lunch? It seemed in those days everything that was laid out for the players to eat, with hot showers nearby, ended up steamed, including, of course, the players who couldn’t wait for the media to leave. They call Fenway “The Most Beloved Ballpark in Baseball.”
Staying at a hotel across the Charles River in Cambridge on the campus of MIT, I journeyed back home following Sunday’s game, dropped my briefcase, took my MacBook and a notepad finding a place called the Cambridge Brewing Company (CBC, a local brewpub) where I caught the end of the 49ers-Packers game on TV. Ordered a chicken Caesar salad and a couple of locally brewed ambers, grabbed a bootlegger sized jug of the delicious ale from the CBC big fridge for the road and headed back to the room for some more work on The Bullpen.
Life is good.