The Bullpen: Alex Anthopolous's worst deal
from Sept. 2/2013
There can be no mistaking Alex Anthopoulos’s enthusiasm for the job of Blue Jays’ general manager.
There’s also his desire to gather as much information as possible from other GMs and other baseball sources before making any player move, and his desire to always be truthful and direct with agents and his own employees, to communicate information one-on-one in timely fashion and without deceit. That’s all good, but thus far in four seasons at the helm, there have been, in hindsight, some questionable trades and, after all, isn’t that how most MLB GMs are judged?
Many fans will have their own opinions on what has been the diciest and least well thought-out Anthopoulos deal that has helped strip the upper levels of the Jays’ farm system. The obvious ones are the Marlins trade that kicked off the winter celebrations and the follow-up Mets’ deal for R.A. Dickey.
The Marlins deal, Nov. 17, got the ball rolling towards a January championship. In the opinion of Anthopoulos, if not for that Marlins trade, the Mets deal would never have occurred. Out of Miami, in a 12-player transaction, the Jays obtained starters Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle; shortstop Jose Reyes, utility star Emilio Bonifacio and catcher John Buck.
In return the Jays shipped the Fish a seven-man package, led by major leaguers Yunel Escobar (shortstop), Jeff Mathis (catcher), Adeiny Hechavarria (shortstop) and Henderson Alvarez (pitcher) along with prospects Jake Marisnick (outfielder), Justin Nicolino (pitcher) and Anthony Deslafani (pitcher). Marisnick is already in the majors and Nicolino was the A-Florida State League’s pitcher of the year.
Just 28 days later, the Jays obtained the Mets’ Cy Young Award winner, Dickey, plus personal catchers Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas in exchange for Buck, who had just been obtained from Miami, and three farmhands, Noah Syndergaard (pitcher), Travis D’Arnaud (catcher) and Wuilmer Becerra (outfielder).
Even if it has not worked out for the Jays as planned, at least these two trades had explainable, understandable purpose. At least these two trades had a logical direction towards putting a realistic winner on the field, filling specific needs (the most important may have been in causing a buzz regarding the Jays chances). There was Canada-wide euphoria for the remainder of the winter, leading to ticket purchases, plus new jerseys that flew off the shelves.
But the trade Anthopoulos made that will look worse and worse with time was with the Astros on July 20, 2012. He obtained J.A. Happ (LHP), Brandon Lyon (RHP) and David Carpenter (RHP) for Francisco Cordero (RHP), Ben Francisco (OF) and five, count ’em, five prospects — Carlos Perez (c), Asher Wojciechowski (RHP), Joe Musgrove (RHP), David Rollins (LHP) and Kevin Comer (RHP). This is becoming the worst deal AA has made, and what was he thinking?
You can perhaps understand that last July as the deadline neared, the Jays felt they had no need for either Cordero or Francisco and that, perhaps, if the Astros were willing to take them, then AA would reciprocate and take Lyon’s expiring contract and Carpenter’s potential.
However 10 days later, on the eve of the 2012 trade deadline, Anthopoulos made two more deals for strong-armed relievers, Steve Delabar from the M’s and Brad Lincoln from the Pirates. That negated any need to consider the older Lyon as a free agent. As for Carpenter, he ended up being the flesh-and-blood breathing player that accompanied John Farrell to the Red Sox for infielder Mike Aviles.
So, removing the four unwanted veterans from the Jays-Astros equation, what you end up with is Happ for the quintet of Perez, Wojciechowski, Musgrove, Rollins and Comer.
Recall that when the trade was made, the Jays had recently lost to injury the starting pitching trio of Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchison and Brandon Morrow and still believed they were in wild-card contention. Happ was a pitcher Anthopoulos was familiar with, having been discussed as a part of the Roy Halladay deal from the Phillies in 2010.
Anthopoulos was asked heading into the 2011 off-season whether he had targeted specific players in trade and what he envisioned for opening day. His response was that he had no priority list of targets.
A year after the Happ deal, the 30-year-old lefty has demonstrated that unless he makes some changes, he is a 5-6 inning, 95-105 pitch starter that can at best be described as a No. 5 starter or swingman in the tough AL East.
Now let’s balance that Happ scouting report against the minor-leaguers the Jays gave up. Here’s a look at how they’re doing this season, at what level, and how/when the Jays had obtained them:
Carlos Perez (C, 22, FA 2008): AA-AAA, 91 games, .271, 3HR, 37RBI, .689 OPS
Asher Wojciechowski (RHP, 24, 1st Rd 2010): AA-AAA, 11-8, 3.32 ERA, 160.0 IP, 131 SO
Joe Musgrove (RHP, 20, 1st Rd 2011): Rookie ball, 1-3, 4.41 ERA, 32 2/3 IP, 30SO
David Rollins(LHP, 23, 24th Rd 2011): A-AA-AAA, 9-8, 3.89 ERA, 136 1/3 IP, 137 SO
Kevin Comer (RHP, 21, 1st Rd 2011): A-, 2-5, 4.80 ERA, 45 IP, 43 SO
Blue Jays hitting coach Chad Mottola
It’s been a tough 2013 season on the field, a professional and personal grind for most Blue Jays hitters. We caught up with hitting coach Chad Mottola, who took over from Dwayne Murphy. He’s had some successes and failures, some satisfaction and frustration, and often with the exact same players. The 41-year-old former 1B/OF, selected fifth overall by the Reds in 1992, played just 59 games in the majors and 16 seasons in the minor leagues in 16 different cities. Mottola discussed his future, Brett Lawrie, the desire for an organization hitting philosophy, how outside influences enter the mix, the success of Ryan Goins and an aging Yankees roster that allows for games under three hours.
RICHARD GRIFFIN: As a hitting coach, you are teaching a discipline that is built around failure. It’s probably the most easily criticized role in baseball when things aren’t going well. How do you handle the fact that it is such a visible and difficult, results-oriented position?
CHAD MOTTOLA: Well, it also seems that everybody has a bit of advice from the outside, too. Whether it’s moms, dads, coaches, college, high school, so there’s that element too. So I kind of welcome it, rather than say, hey, I’m the only one that’s ever done this. So the best thing to do is to welcome all of the advice they have gotten their whole life and see if we can narrow it down.
RG: Even when you are working with someone day-to-day, that advice must keep coming. It’s like someone whispering through a fence just as you finish talking to your player and teaching your lesson. How do you handle the immediacy of the conflicting voices?
CM: Yeah, you feel that way sometimes. The guy comes in with a whole new idea the next day and you wonder where it came from, if he’s kind of fabricating it himself, which they do. They go home and think about ideas. They sit in front of mirrors and after a tough day, as a player, you kind of want the answers immediately. It’s one of those things that, kind of, my background my whole life, being with nine different organizations, being up and down from the major leagues, it’s kind of what has made me better at doing this, knowing the failures, that it’s part of it and just accepting it rather than fighting it.
RG: When you see one of your pupils turn things around like a Brett Lawrie, do you have to stay emotionally level because if you get too high or too low with each success and failure you’re likely not going to get any sleep?
CM: Yeah. It’s one of those things. The small rewards along the way are why I signed up for what I do. When I first became a coach I didn’t think I would enjoy the rewards as much as I did — getting the enjoyment out of seeing someone else succeed and knowing in this game, right around the corner is failure. And that’s why you have to enjoy the ups and keep building and building and be ready for when the tough times come and have the answers prepared. An example like Brett Lawrie, I don’t think this is where we’re going to end up, two or three years down the road, the stance he’s in or what he’s doing, but it’s a great building block that he’s having success in slowing the game down.
RG: Can you take the success of one of your pupils and pass it on to another like Anthony Gose, with a high leg kick, adjusting it and that sort of thing.
CM: Absolutely. It’s one of those things where it’s easy for Anthony at this level to sit back and I say, “I want you to watch this hitter from the other team today. I want you to watch this hitter. I want you to watch the way Jose Reyes works. I want you to watch the way Eddie Encarnacion studies pitchers.” It’s more...they don’t have to listen to my voice all the time. “Look at this guy, the reason why he’s had success. The reason, the way he approaches his business daily.” So it’s a little easier for me to sit back and just say “Follow that guy around today. Don’t listen to my voice today.”
RG: Is there truly such a thing as an organizational hitting philosophy. I mean they talk anout the Red Sox and the Yankees and patience. Or is it more dealing with individuals and as a GM you go out and accumulate that type of hitter when you’re looking for players.
CM: I think it’s something we’re working on here, too. When they say the Red Sox, the Yankees, they do it that way. And I think the best way to do it is individually. I don’t know if that makes much sense, but we have to get on the same page from the day the guy’s drafted till the big leagues, that way he understands when he steps in what his role is and what is expected of him at this (MLB) level.
RG: So when the Red Sox went out and signed free agents in the off season, it’s not haphazard. It’s that they look for a certain type of hitter? Because those aren’t players (they signed) that they had from draft day and were able to develop like you’re suggesting.
CM: From the outdside looking in, that’s what it seems to me. It seems they got that type of player and everybody, when they first did it, said they may have overpaid for those guys...which by numbers they may have. But you see the results they’re having over 162-game season, that sometimes behind the numbers there’s certain attitudes or personalities that show up over the long run.
RG: What does it say about this edition of the Yankees team that you guys could play three games in a series all under three hours?
CM: (laughs) Yeah, it’s the truth. That’s what happens as people age, they know they’ve got to sometimes cheat to get to the fastball. They don’t have as much confidence as in the past years that they can get deeper in the count and that’s something that everybody battles that people don’t realize. There’s reasons that people don’t get deep in the count sometimes and they don’t trust themselves that they can get to two strikes and get out of that hole.
RG: How is it that some players can handle the major leagues when their minor-league numbers were pedestrian, like a Ryan Goins?
CM: To me it’s all personalities and that’s what shows up in the (batter’s) box. Whether it’s in the big leagues or the minor leagues, you definitely see a different personality. And I got to see a lot of our guys in the minor leagues compared to the big leagues and some guys are different. And some guys, a few guys come up and slow the game down. A lot more guys come up and speed it up. And you see Ryan step in and actually, ‘OK, I’m here. Now I can enjoy it.’ And he’s actually slowed the game down, which happens rarely, but when it does it’s enjoyable to watch.
RG: You spent some time not as the hitting coach, but with the major league club in the past and at spring training. What are some of the major differences between being a minor-league hitting coach and with the big club.
CM: You see guys that when they’re down in the minor leagues they’re a little more willing to change stuff day-to-day because they know they’re not at the big prize, so the willingness to experiment down there is a little more open, where when you’re here you have to perform every day, so it’s more cutthroat. And I understand why. I don’t think it could be any different, but the major difference is that when you’re down there, they’re willing to try something for 20 at-bats and find out if it works and throw — what I call invest — four or five games, whereas here you don’t have the opportunity to do that. You have to perform. The team has to win every day and you don’t have the opportunity to change something for those 20 at-bats for those five games.
RG: Heading into the final month, everyone understands this has been a disappointing season overall for the Jays. Do you have any fear about your own position, about being a scapegoat, about your future because obviously you’ve given 100-percent every day that you’re out there, but is there any trepidation in your own mind?
CM: I mean I understand that this is a business. I know at the end of the day when I lay my head down at night — I’ve looked at film, I’ve talked to guys. I’ve learned personalities. I’ve worked as hard as I could. So, whatever happens . . . we didn’t perform the way that we should and I understand something’s got to be done, something’s got to happen. This is where I want to be, but whatever happens happens and at the end of the day, when you give it all you’ve got, you can live with decisions that are made.
BLUE JAYS CORNER
Current road trip
The Jays have begun a six-game, seven-day road trip to Arizona and Minnesota. The Diamondbacks and Twins are two of just four MLB franchises identified by the state they are in rather than by a city name. The others are Colorado and Texas.
The Jays, through Monday, are 12-22 in the last 34 road games since their 11-game win streak was snapped on June 24 in St. Petersburg, Florida. They are 28-41 overall on the road.
The Jays activated righthanders Dustin McGowan and Steve Delabar on the Sunday of Labour Day weekend to bring the active roster to 27 players, then following Monday’s win over the D’backs, GM Alex Anthopoulos announced the additions of five more players – RH Kyle Drabek, LH Ricky Romero, LH Luis Perez, RH Jeremy Jeffress and C Mike Nickeas. The roster now stands at 32 players — 18 pitchers and 14 position players.
The addition of Romero is somewhat of a surprise. The 28-year-old former staff ace had been optioned to Single-A Dunedin on March 26 and had been designated for assignment and removed from the roster mid-season, with no other team wanting to take on his contact that has two more guaranteed seasons and a buyout totalling $15.6 million.
Romero was 5-8 with a 5.78 ERA in 22 starts at AAA-Buffalo and 0-0, 1.29 ERA in one start at A-Dunedin. In an ill-fated April/May stint with the Jays, the former 2005 first round selection was 0-2 in two starts, with a 12.46 ERA, throwing 99 pitches in 4 1/3 innings. The indication had been that if he was not going to pitch in the rotation in Sept. that perhaps he would not be called back.
The week that was
(2-1 vs. Yankees; 2-1 vs. Royals; 1-0 vs. D’backs)
The Jays have tightened up the defence with the arrival of second baseman Ryan Goins and the highlight-reel emergence at third base of Brett Lawrie. That improved glovework has meant an improvement in the pitching staff that has carried the Jays to a 6-2 mark through Labour Day. Over the final 24 games, beginning Tuesday, the Jays need to be 10-14 to tie last year’s mark of 73 wins, or need to be 18-6 in order to battle back to the .500 mark. The former goal is more likely.
Highlights of the Yankees series: After collecting career hit No. 4,000 as a pro at Yankee Stadium against the Jays the week before, Ichiro was a big factor in the Jays’ 5-2 win in the series opener on Monday, leaping at a deep flyball by Edwin Encarnacion and dropping it leading to a three-run inning that snapped a 2-2 tie. The ball was a sacrifice fly, anyway, but was followed by an Adam Lind double and another sac-fly.
Game 2 of the series was another disappointing outing for LH J.A. Happ, who allowed four first-inning runs while facing veteran Andy Pettitte (who worked seven scoreless innings for the win). A Derek Jeter single and an Alfonso Soriano three-run homer provided the Yankes with a 4-0 lead before Happ had retured his first batter of the game. Sure he settled down, allowing just a solo blast by Soriano in his 14 outs in the game but the damage was already done.
The Jays bounced back for the series win in the finals, taking a 7-2 decision as the intriguing Todd Redmond bested Hiroki Kuroda in a surprise decision. The Jays scored four in the first and led 7-0 through three innings. The key play that broke it open in the first, following a two-run Brett Lawrie double. A strikeout by J.P. Arencibia would have ended the inning, but a passed ball by Chris Stewart compounded by a throiwng error that bounced off his back, down the right field line scored two more.
Highlights of the Royals series: The Jays welcomed the Royals and their new star second baseman Emilio Bonifacio. The Jays squeaked out a 3-2 win. New ace, Mark Buehrle tossed seven shutout innings and led 3-0, but the pesky Royals scored two against Brett Cecil in the eighth and Casey Janssen squeaked out of a jam for the save in the ninth. Ervin Santana was outstanding, but a two-run single in the first by Lind was the difference.
On Saturday, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey continued what seems like a new understanding of what it takes for him to pitch and win at the Rogers Centre. The Jays won 4-2, as Dickey allowed just a pair of runs in eight innings. The Jays scored three in the bottom of the eighth to earn him the victory.
The Jays in the eighth-inning rally took advantage of an error at shortstop then two bases-loaded walks to Lawrie and Rajai Davis by reliever Aaron Crow for the winning runs. The game ended with Chris Getz thrown out by Arencibia at second base representing the tying run.
On Sunday, the Jays were unable to complete the series sweep, losing 5-0 to a dominant Jame Shields. Once again Happ disappointed, throwing 86 pitches in four innings, allowing one in the first and four in the third inning, keyed by an unfortunate baseline interference by Reyes on what would have been the first out of Jarrod Dyson at third base. But Happ could not shut them down.
Highlights of the Diamondbacks opener at Chase Field: The Jays were led by Esmil Rogers, Edwin Encarnacion and a defence that turned a season high-tying four double plays including one behind Casey Janssen in the ninth to end the game with the tying run at the plate in a 4-1 victory over the Diamondbacks.
Rogers won his first start in his last 13 outings, since June 18 vs. the Rockies. He returned to throwing a moving two-seam fastball, inducing 11 groundballs, three flyballs and five strikeouts.
Encarnacion homered in the ninth to give the Jays a 4-0 lead. The two-run blast off of Brandon McCarthy meant that dating back to June of 2010, Encarnacion has six homers and 10 RBIs in his last four games at Chase Field, For his career vs. Arizona he has 10 homers and 23 RBIs in 81 ABs.
John McDonald’s incredible 2013 journey: When John McDonald was playing baseball in Toronto, establishing himself as one of the most popular Blue Jays players of this century, he always seemed well aware of his baseball mortality, that at some point he would reach his best-before date. He talked about returning at the end to play close to home in New England, where he grew up and went to college.
The Jays traded him to Arizona along with Aaron Hill two years ago for Kelly Johnson and unfortunately, even though he enjoyed the Valley of the Sun and making it to the playoffs in his first season there, he was getting farther away from home.
But this spring began a chain of events that would start to look eerily pre-ordained. The D’backs traded him to the Pirates in the spring. The Bucs turned him around to the Indians. The Tribe sent him to the Phillies and the Phils finally dealt him to the Red Sox, with Fenway Park 45 minutes from his home. McDonald did not play for the D’backs this year, so that only counts as four teams
“Sometimes things don’t work out,” McDonald said to reporters on Saturday. “I’ve made my way East on every team. I don’t know if this is baseball’s way of telling something. Obviously, I wish things had gone better this year. I wish I had swung the bat better. I can’t put my finger on why it hasn’t happened. In baseball, when you get the opportunity, you have to take advantage of it.”
As of Tuesday morning, Johnny Mac had yet to appear in a game for the Bosox, but when he does he will become the 11th player in major-league history (post-1900) to appear in a game for four different teams in the same season. Casper Wells has been with five organization in 2013, but he has only played for three of them. Coincidentally, when the Phils were in the 18th inning against Arizona on August 25, both Wells and McDonald were used as emergency pitchers for the Phils.
The last MLB player to appear for four teams in the same season was Jose Bautista in 2004, his rookie year with the O’s, Rays, Royals and Pirates. In fact, Bautista was with his fourth organization and in his 133rd major-league at-bat before he homered for the first time on May 13, 2006 vs. Scott Olson of the Marlins.
Others on the four-team/one-year list include: Dan Miceli (’03), Dave Martinez (’00), Dave Kingman (’77), Mike Kilkenny (’72), Wes Covington (’61), Ted Gray (’55), Paul Lehner (’51), Willis Hudlin (’40) and Frank Huelsman (1904).
Canada to the rescue? Two moves on the eve of the deadline for adding players to the post-season roster involved Canadian stars moving from also-rans to the heat of the NL Central and wildcard races. Former Brewers closer John Axford was obtained by the Cardinals as a setup man and Twins first baseman Justin Morneau was added by the Pirates to add a lefthanded bat as he heads towards free agency.
One thing is certain that with Etobicoke’s Joey Votto firmly established as an MVP candidate with the Reds, the NL Central has suddenly become a home for Canadians looking for a ring.
Down on the farm: The Jays’ minor-league system is a combined .500 following Bluefield having been swept two straight by Pulaski. The Single-A Lansing Lugnuts were 17 games below the break-even mark, while the best record was the Dominican Summer League entry at 12 above.
Still alive in the playoffs are Single-A Vancouver in the Northwest League and Single-A Dunedin, the first half winners in the Florida State League.
Triple-A Buffalo: Lost out on a wild-card spot but first year of Jays’ affiliation worked out well for Bisons’ ownership in terms of attendance and promotion.
Double-A New Hampshire: (68-72)
Single-A Dunedin: (63-68; 0-0) Blue Jays won the first half title then tanked in second.
Single-A Lansing: (61-78)
Single-A Vancouver: (39-36; 0-0) Clinched a playoff spot late vs. Everett.
Rookie ball Bluefield: (40-27; 0-2) Came back from dismal 2012 to make playoffs.
Rookie ball Gulf Coast Jays: (28-32)
Dominican Summer League Jays: (41-29)
THIS DATE IN BASEBALL HISTORY
Sept. 3: 1977 – Sadaharu Oh, the fabled Japanese slugger, slammed home run No. 756, passing Henry Aaron for the all-time pro record ... 1928 – Ty Cobb slammed a double off Bump Hadley of the Senators, hit No. 4,189. It was as a pinch-hitter for the Athletics and turned out to be the final safety of his career, setting a standard that Pete Rose would go on to break years later.
Sept. 4: 1993 – Jim Abbott, born without a right arm, tossed a no-hitter for the Yankees beating the Iundians 4-0 ... 1986 – Catcher Gary Carter of the Mets belted two homers in a 9-2 win over the Padres. The Kid had slammed three the night before and thus became the 11th player in MLB history with five homers in consecutive games ... 1916 – Hall-of-Famers Christy Mathewson and Mordecai “Three-Finger” Brown started against one another, the last career game for each man.
Sept. 5: 1979 -- Matt Keough of the A’s beat the Brewers 6-1 to run his record to 1-14. The righthander had lost the final four games of 1978 and fell one shy of the MLB mark of 19 straight losses.
Sept. 6: 1996 – Switch-hitting Eddie Murray slammed his 500th career homer in a game vs. Felipe Lira and the Tigers. He joined Willie Mays and Henry Aaron at the time as the only players with both 3,000 hits and 500 homers and the first switch-hitter ... 1995 – Cal Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s ironman record, playing in his 2,131st consecutive game. Coming out of the strike of ‘94, baseball needed a boost and Ripken as the game became official after five innings, jogged around the warning track to acknowledge the fans during a 22-minute standing ovation.
Sept. 7: 1993 – Outfielder Mark Whiten in the second game of a DH vs. the Reds, for the Cards, collected four homers and 12 RBIs in a 15-2 win. It was the most RBIs in any 4-homer game in history ... 1998 – Ken Griffey Jr. hit two homers against the O’s, giving him 50 for the season. He joins Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire at 50-plus, the first time in history three men have reached that total in the same season. Junior also joined McGwire and Babe Ruth with back-to-back 50-HR years.
Sept. 8: 1998 – Mark McGwire ripped a first-inning Steve Trachsel offering just inside the left field foul pole bouncing underneath the stands for HR No. 62 breaking the record of Roger Maris, keying a wild Busch Stadium celebration. Sammy Sosa of the visiting Cubs joined in the celebration ... 1985 – Pete Rose singled in the fifth off Reggie Patterson of the Cubs tying Ty Cobb with 4,191 base hits ... 1980 – Ferguson Jenkins is suspended indefinitely by commissioner Bowie Kuhn for his August 25 arrest for drug possession at the airport in Toronto. The suspension is later overturned by an arbitrator.
MLB POWER RANKINGS
This week, team, last week, start of spring
1. Boston Red Sox 2-16
2. Atlanta Braves 3-2
3. Los Angeles Dodgers 4-5
4. Detroit Tigers 5-7
5. Tampa Bay Rays 1-10
6. Oakland A’s 9-8
7. St. Louis Cardinals 7-13
8. Pittsburgh Pirates 6-28
9. Texas Rangers 8-6
10. Cincinnati Reds 12-9
11. Cleveland Indians 11-20
12. New York Yankees 15-14
13. Baltimore Orioles 10-11
14. Kansas City Royals 14-18
15. Washington Nationals 16-4
16. Arizona Diamondbacks 13-17
17. Los Angeles Angels 22-12
18. Philadelphia Phillies 18-15
19. New York Mets 19-27
20. Colorado Rockies 20-25
21. Toronto Blue Jays 27-3
22. Seattle Mariners 17-21
23. Minnesota Twins 23-26
24. San Diego Padres 21-23
25. San Francisco Giants 26-1
26. Milwaukee Brewers 24-22
27. Chicago Cubs 25-24
28. Miami Marlins 29-29
29. Chicago White Sox 28-19
30. Houston Astros 30-30
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
The baseball week consisted of a Blue Jays homestand which does not, of course, allow for much in the way of on the road news. However the past weekend was another story as the Minor Midget championships for the Ontario Baseball Association took place in Hamilton. I was in uniform as pitching coach for the Oakville A’s managed by Clark Rymal. Every year the OBAs at this level are staged in Hamilton with the umpires association in the Hammer contributing their services gratis.
The tourney took place at Mahoney Park, a two-diamond complex off QEW Niagara, with all-dirt infields and short outfield fences. As soon as I saw the fields, I flashed back to five years earlier when I led my own Minor Midgets into the same tournament. We gave up a grand slam to powerhouse Tecumseh, early on and trailed by seven runs, but we battled back and over the final two innings pulled to within a run and left the go-ahead runner at second base when the game ended.
Among the last nine outs, we had three different runners thrown out at the plate by Tecumseh outfielders, skipping throws off the fine, dirt, extremely fast infield to nail our runners. Even though our comeback fell a run short, I let third base coach Tyler Weech know that I would have done the same thing in sending the runners because that’s the way we play and you don’t change philosophies in mid-stream. The Tecumseh loss knocked us out after two wins. It was our second loss.
This year, the A’s had scrapped and overachieved to reach the round of 12 teams from across the province. On Friday we beat East York 13-4, losing our third baseman on a vicious collision in the baseline, as he required four stitches under the eye. Then on Saturday the A’s lost 6-4 to the Mississuga Majors, leaving the tying run on second at the end of the game. An hour later we played North Toronto, losing 4-1. With four outs to go, even though we were being no-hit, we managed to scrape and battle the go-ahead run to second base, trailing 2-1. It was not to be.
If that was not bad enough, when I got back to my car parked on a Hamilton neighbourhood street, the front driver’s side door was crushed and mangled by someone who had been turning around in a driveway and had backed into my door. Luckily the neighbours were out on a beautiful Sunday afternoon and the driver filed an accident report and left details on my windshield.
The note ended ... “sorry for the inconvenience.” Yeah, thanks a lot.