Rooting Against Someone is Gutless… and the Bat Flip Heard Around the World

Standard

Bat Flip Heard Around the World

There is an election going on here in Canada. On October 19th people will be electing a new government to run the country for the next four years. Conventional thinking usually means voting for someone who you believe is the right man (or woman) to represent your district or riding. But in recent years people are voting based on how much they hate a candidate regardless of the fact they are the best person for the job. This leads to terrible results especially in Toronto where no one outside of the Trinity-Spadina area believes in socialism but they continue to vote these people into office because, for whatever reason, they don’t like the conservative candidate. And look where the city is today. But the thinking is as long as someone like Rob Ford is not the Mayor of Toronto, they are willing to live with higher taxes and deteriorating conditions.

This kind of thinking is also rooted in sports. There is no one in Canada, outside of Montreal, who likes the Habs. All of them hate the Maple Leafs. I can understand if you could care less how well the Toronto Blue Jays are doing in the 2015 baseball playoffs. So why are you cheering for their demise? A former colleague of mine picked the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series. Now that the Cardinals have been eliminated, he is now going with the Chicago Cubs. Why? Because he hates the Blue Jays. Actually, he hates everything Toronto especially the Maple Leafs so in this case it is a matter of association than anything else. Someone I know hates Canadian tennis player Milos Raonic so much he routinely cheers on his opponents regardless of how bad that player is. That’s not a sports fan, that’s being gutless. In my opinion, they have no business being involved in sport.

The only reason I can come up with as to why some people think this way is this: they can’t handle the disappointment of their team or player losing. I realize no one likes to see their team lose but that’s part of being a sports fan. Believe me, I have been a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs for as long as since I have been alive. I don’t need to tell you how many Stanley Cups the team has won during that period. I mentioned the Cubs earlier. That team’s championship drought makes the Maple Leafs’ one an oasis. So can you imagine how they are feeling?

Supporting your team instead of constantly rooting against one has been proven to bring people together. No better example than the Blue Jays playoff run. Another is when a Canadian national team competes in international competition whether it is hockey, basketball, or baseball. I don’t know anyone in Canada who would cheer on Sweden or Russia unless they had lived in that country. So either get behind a team or get out of the way.

FLIPPING THE BIRD

The Jose Bautista bat flip in Game 5 of the American League Division Series has now become iconic. There have been impersonations, jokes, even a fan had the image tattooed on his leg. I would hazard to guess that there will be a statue of Bautista doing that bat flip outside Rogers Centre sometime in the future.

People who are up in arms about Bautista’s bat flip after he hit a monstrous go-ahead 3-run home run in that game should either chill or, better yet, get lost. In situations where your home run, goal, basket, or touchdown wins the game or the championship, you can’t help but show your emotions, especially when the Blue Jays have been getting a raw deal with the officiating during the ALDS. Compare that to a regular season game where a team is up by a double-digit margin and you show up your opponents the way Bautista did. That, like rooting against a team because you hate them, is also gutless.

Rangers reliever Sam Dyson was pretty pissed off with Bautista’s reaction. But Dyson seemed to have forgotten the fact that his team has gotten every call in every game in the series. And yet his team could not seal the deal. Show some respect, Sam. There is no crying in baseball.

Also see:

Lessons From the World Juniors
Are You Really a Habs Fan? Or Do You Just Hate the Leafs?
The Point Where Haters Become Worse than Those You Hate

Say Your Piece and Move On… Plus Thoughts on ALDS

Standard

Incompetence Not Intent

I don’t have to tell you how the umpiring of Vic Carapazza gave the win to the Texas Rangers in Game 2 of the American League Division Series. There was lots of reaction on social media from Blue Jays fans during and after last Friday’s game. A large majority were incensed of Carapazza’s inability to call a baseball game. There were also a number of bleeding hearts who looked the other way and instead criticized the Blue Jays for arguing about the calls. And they accuse people like me of blaming the victim.

Carapazza in that game showed what a complete idiot he was with his calling of balls and strikes. There are others like him in Major League Baseball but when this stuff happens in the playoffs, it gets magnified 10 times. Cardinals fans in 1985 would have loved it if Don Denkenger umpired his last game after his blown call in Game 6 of the World Series that year. If I was in Commissioner Rob Manfred’s shoes, umpires who clearly make mistakes in games (especially during the playoffs) would be sent down to the minors regardless of seniority, just like the players. They would never officiate another game in the Majors until they shape up.

Recently there have been calls for a police investigation into the matter. If you saw the game on TV, you could see that Carapazza called pitches differently when Marcus Stroman was on the mound. While you can accuse Carapazza of being incompetent, intent is entirely different. Unless there is evidence to the contrary, I don’t believe Carapazza’s actions were intentional. This reminds me of former NBA referee Tim Donaghy who was convicted in 2007 of fixing NBA games especially during the playoffs. To make the case for intent you have to provide motive like connections to individuals with a history of criminal activity. That maybe difficult to prove. But we’ve seen it before where evidence will come from out of nowhere and implicate people.

The Blue Jays players did what they were suppose to do in that situation. Express their opinion and then go back to the dugout. To Carapazza’s credit, he didn’t eject any Blue Jays players or Manager John Gibbons out of the game. He seemed to have a thick skin, unlike many of his colleagues during the regular season. It will be interesting to see how Blue Jays fans at Rogers Centre react when they see Carapazza patrol 3rd base in Game 5.

Frankly, Carapazza isn’t worth wasting our time. I like to point out other people’s faults. But I’m also one who doesn’t hold a grudge or beat a dead horse. So let me call off the dogs and say move on, people. We have bigger fish to fry. I know Carapazza owes us one but there will be a time and place where he will answer to us. Right now, the Blue Jays have a series to win and our focus should be on that.

SERIES TIED

Before I go, how about those Blue Jays? The American League Division Series is now tied at 2-2 after winning the two games in Arlington. The series goes down to a 5th and deciding game on Wednesday with Stroman starting for the Blue Jays. As I’ve been saying all along, the team must play flawless defense and stay patient when batting if they intend to go far in the playoffs. They didn’t do that during the first two games in Toronto. Everything is going so well for us that I bet the Rangers are calling Taylor Swift’s people to see if they can stage a snap concert at Rogers Centre the night before.

Also see:

A Missed Opportunity for the Blue Jays
Only Losers Look for Someone to Blame
Video Review: The Ultimate Blown Call

Everyone Loves an Outcast

Standard

Everyone Loves an Outcast

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2015 playoff-bound Toronto Blue Jays.

Normally, and ideally, championship teams are built on talent that is homegrown and developed within their organization. But as you see below, nearly everyone in the Blue Jays starting lineup and the rotation are all made up of players from other organizations.

Ben Revere (Philadelphia/Minnesota)
Josh Donaldson (Oakland/Chicago Cubs)
Jose Bautista (Pittsburgh/Kansas City/Tampa Bay…)
Edwin Encarnacion (Cincinnati)
Troy Tulowitzki (Colorado)
Justin Smoak (Seattle/Texas)
Russell Martin (Pittsburgh/NY Yankees/LA  Dodgers)
Ryan Goins
Kevin Pillar

David Price (Detroit)
Marco Estrada (Milwaukee)
RA Dickey (New York Mets/Minnesota/Seattle…)
Mark Buehrle (Miami/White Sox)
Marcus Stroman

Then you add Chris Colabello (Minnesota) and Dioner Navarro (Chicago Cubs/Tampa Bay/LA Dodgers…) on the bench and Mark Lowe (Seattle/Texas/Cleveland…) and LaTroy Hawkins (Colorado/Houston/Milwaukee…) in the bullpen, and you got a championship team that broke a 22-year playoff drought.

Don’t lump the Blue Jays with the likes of the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox who go out and buy their players through free agency. What the Blue Jays have done is get players that no other team wants. In other words, this is a team built on outcasts. Bautista, Encarnacion, Smoak, and Dickey certainly fit that criteria. If you go through a roster of a professional sports team you will normally see three or four players that were either cut or traded by other teams. Over half of this Blue Jays team is made up of those types of players.

Add to it, fans have embraced these players like family, especially Donaldson who will soon be named as this year’s American League Most Valuable Player. These moves are a credit to General Manager Alex Anthopoulos. He and his management team dug through all the sand that is the 29 other Major League Baseball teams to find little gold nuggets. It is their ability to take these unwanted pieces and turn them into a winner is what made this team special.

The Blue Jays are not the only sports team in Toronto that has benefitted from getting players from other organizations. Kyle Lowry has flourished since he joined the Raptors and Joffery Lupul has been a solid contributor since becoming a Leaf.

It is an unusual way to build a championship team. But if the Blue Jays win the World Series, you can thank the outcasts for getting this team there.

Also see:

Two Views on the Valencia Move and the Importance of Role Players in Sport
The Blue Jays Should Get A-Rod
Surprised by the Blue Jays’ Success? You Shouldn’t Be