Saturday, 2 April 2016

Exciting news!!

Hi everyone! Thanks for reading my blog (especially those of you directed here from the Globe and Mail interview I got to do!)

This season, I'll be a regular contributor to Blue Jays From Away, which began as a blog about the Jays' minor league system, but I've joined to add some writing about the big club. I'll be doing weekly-or-so recaps, with the odd opinion or long-form piece thrown in. They'll also be syndicated on the Canadian Baseball Network site, which is pretty cool!! My first three articles are already up - they include two pieces about what the players were up to in the offseason, and a fun one about Buck Martinez!

Here's where you can find the list of everything I've written for Jays From Away.

Because this role is new to me, I'm not sure exactly what kind of things I'll be doing on this site, but I still may keep up with the sillier things or player profiles from time to time. Thank you so much to everyone who has read my stuff regularly, and especially to those of you who've taken the time to say nice things about my writing!

I look forward to writing more regularly about my beloved Blue Jays for all of you! Thanks for reading, and Go Jays Go!

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Controversies: Goose Gossage is a Cranky Old Man

Pictured: a disgrace to the game FREAKING LEGEND
The sides: Former Yankee pitcher Goose Gossage vs. Jose Bautista and anyone else who likes celebrating.

The background: Today in 'who the heck asked you' news, someone made the very unwise decision to sit down Goose Gossage and let him talk about what he thinks of modern baseball. And, surprise surprise, he thought it was going in the toilet. He also hates nerds, for some reason (as a self-professed nerd, I'm very insulted) but we'll get to that later.

One specific target of his ire - again, no surprise - was our very own Jose Bautista.
Here's that part of the interview:
"Bautista is an [expletive] disgrace to the game. He's embarrassing to all the Latin players, whoever played before him. Throwing his bat and acting like a fool, like all those guys in Toronto."
You can read the rest here, if you feel like tormenting your eyeballs. I'll wait.

My two cents: Obviously, as I have sworn to go to my grave defending Jose, I'm not the most impartial person on this. But I have a couple points to make.

One: Did he ask any of said Latin players what they think about all of this? I feel like if they're really that embarrassed by Bautista, they'd be able to speak for themselves, but that's just me.

Two: I don't know if he noticed, but the majority of the guys 'acting like fools' in Toronto are white. Josh Donaldson is no gentleman when he's fired up, and just today Troy Tulowitzki sent his bat cartwheeling after a walk. But none of them are mentioned by name in this tirade as being an embarrassment, etc., etc.
FYI, Goose: your racism is showing.

Three: I don't even understand where this came from. The random singling-out and attacking of Bautista seems way out of left field, and it's about something that wasn't even recent. Before today, Bautista hasn't played in a game since October. And since Gossage played in the 70s and 80s, he and his team have absolutely nothing to do with Bautista. At least Rangers pitcher Sam Dyson (while still a jerk) made comments about something that was relevant to himself, and has basically been quiet about it since.

Four: It's fascinating that Gossage is a proponent of injuring human beings on purpose (you know, an actual crime) but gets all riled up about someone being good at something and acknowledging they're good at it. Did he ever celebrate winning a game? Ever? In his life? This is not rhetorical, I am genuinely curious.

It also should be noted that no one should be surprised by any of this crap, he played for the Yankees for a good chunk of his career. They hate fun.

But the thing that confuses me is, he hates nerds, and the people he's mad at about 'ruining' baseball are the exact opposites of your stereotypical meek, wimpy 'nerds' - they're joyful, loud, and proud of themselves. And damn good at what they do. So who the hell do you want playing, Goose? Who does that leave? Aggressive idiots?
Oh... Nevermind. Kid was right about that last part.

The Backlash: Everyone who felt the need to respond did it in the most polite way possible - how's that for professionalism?

First, Yoneis Cespedes, who isn't a Blue Jay but was also mentioned at some point in the rant as being a disgrace because he also celebrates by flipping his bat, said he didn't know who Gossage was. He did, however, ask "He's a pitcher, right?", which should tell you everything you need to know about how tired this argument has gotten.

Then, brand-new Blue Jays catcher Tony Sanchez worked his way into my heart with the following tweets:


Russell Martin, per Barry Davis, said "I don't think we're too concerned about what Goose Gossage is thinking. Even though we respect what he's done for the game.", which is Canadian for "You were a good player but the words you're saying are stupid and you should shut up."
Image result for the high road sign
When Russell Martin goes home at night, he turns left at this sign. 
Russell, because he's the best, then went on to defend his teammate, saying "Jose is one of the best competitors I've ever played with. I enjoy how he goes about his business. He's a warrior out there."

And lastly, Bautista, well-spoken as ever, had this to say:
"He’s entitled to his opinion. I don’t agree with him whatsoever, but I’m not going to try to pick fights with people. They say what’s on their mind. If he had a reason to believe that, I would love to hear that, but I’ve never talked to him. I don’t know him. Whatever reason or agenda he’s on is fine with me. I’m not going to start picking a fight, let alone with a Hall of Famer."
(I took that last part to mean he'll wait until he's retired before releasing his true feelings. Hell hath no fury like a ticked-off Joey Bats).

Elsewhere on the Internet: It can't possibly be coincidental that Gossage's rant was made public on the same day as this excellent article about Bryce Harper was published. In it, he discusses how baseball needs to be more exciting, and basically says that people should be able to take credit for their accomplishments and not hate others for celebrating.

Bautista also had the following to say about Harper's article:

He's exactly right - joy is every bit as much of a human emotion as anger or aggression. And baseball players are human. (Goose, by the way, said stats nerds are taking the 'human element' out of baseball, but I bet he would fail to see the irony in that statement).

Now, the crusty old white-guy guard of baseball (*cough* Gregg Zaun) has long had a distaste for Harper because he acknowledges his own talent, can be seen as lazy, and apparently has a neck that one can't possibly be blamed for throttling. But the one thing I've never heard about him is that he 'celebrates too much'. And he's often credited with being 'a damn good ballplayer' in spite of those other perceived flaws. The talent comes first. But somehow Bautista has a temper/attitude/ego which 'ruin' watching him as a player. So it's interesting to see how those same guys will justify shitting on Jose while praising stuff about Harper. Ya know, since the two of them are on the same side of the issue.

Someone on Twitter took this opportunity to remind everyone that white-guy Mickey Mantle pretty much perfected the bat flip, and he came well before Goose's time.
But sure. Keep blaming all those pesky Latin players.

Someone else pointed out that Gossage shouldn't be in the HoF in the first place.

Also there's this, from (former pitcher) Dirk Hayhurst:
The Winners: Basically anyone listed above who's being classy or hilarious.

Jose Bautista is going to continue being amazing at the game of baseball no matter what anyone says, and so is Bryce Harper. Russell Martin and Tony Sanchez win too, because they get to be on the Blue Jays with Bautista, and they've made me love them today.

The Losers: Any baseballs that get pitched to Bautista after he thinks about this whole thing. Also the pitchers who threw said baseballs, the teams said pitchers play for, the fans of said teams... You get the picture.


All told, Jose and the Blue Jays took down the Yankees today 11-4 which, although it's a meaningless game, feels like some sweet, sweet, karma.
(Credit)
And you know what, Mr. Gossage, if you don't like the way baseball is being played anymore? You can kindly stop watching. I think we'll be just fine without you.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

The 2015 Season in Music

It's no secret that I love music, and it's no secret that music and sports montages go hand-in-hand.
Here are a few of the songs that I can't help but associate with the team this season. If you have any more suggestions for songs I could add, leave them in the comments!

Artist: Imagine Dragons
Title: 'I Bet My Life'
Reason: This track was used around the beginning of the season in a Sportsnet ad that prominently featured Josh Donaldson staring directly into the camera without blinking. While that image was a little creepy, there's no doubt that the booming chorus of the song fit perfectly with the slew of JD homers that also were featured in it. Plus, if we're going for symbolism, the 'life' of Toronto fans' hope this season rested squarely on Donaldson's shoulders at the time these promos aired.



Artist: American Authors
Title: 'Go Big or Go Home'
Reason: Much like the one above, this song was used in a mid-season commercial that included, among other people, Drew Hutchison. Unlike the one above, I hadn't heard this one as frequently prior to seeing it featured in the ads, so it stuck much more definitively as 'Hey, that's the song from the Blue Jays commercial'. I thought it was kind of clever using this song's chorus, because the Blue Jays' offense often chose the secret third option: going big and then going home (plate). See what I did there? Wordplay.


Artist: Pitbull ft. Ne-Yo
Title: 'Time of Our Lives'
Reason: This is the first song on this list that's here because I associate it with a single player. For the majority of the season, this was Kevin Pillar's walk-up song, and so it always reminded me of him. I really like this song, even though I'm not a fan of Pitbull I thought it was incredibly catchy from the first moment I heard it. It's likely my favourite of the players' walk-up songs.
This is also one of the walk-up songs that can be the most clearly heard when you're watching a game on TV, probably because of the high-pitched chorus. There were a few times that I heard it come on the radio and I had an instant of excitement mixed with slight trepidation - until I remembered where I was, and that hearing the song did not mean Pillar would not be stepping up to bat. I like Kevin, I admire his work ethic, and I truly believe he 'works his ass off' as the song says. Here's an awesome video I found, set to this song, of some of his best plays from 2014 and earlier this season. He looks so young in some of the older footage!



Artist: Sam Roberts Band
Title: 'We're All In This Together'
Reason: This song was used in snippets in one commercial, and then when they used it on Canada Day for a montage of the team, I completely fell in love with that idea. I'm a huge Sam Roberts fan, so I already knew the song, plus they're Canadian so that's an added bonus, but the way the song title blends so perfectly with the #ComeTogether slogan, and the fans being brought together by the team is just a match made in music heaven.
The chorus embodies the Jays' playoff momentum since the trade deadline, particularly the line "We may never be the same again/Keep it moving don't stop/Keep it moving just go, go, GO!" It's an energetic, confident tune that just makes you feel in anticipation of... Something. And if that something happens to be the playoffs...
I really wish I could find that epic montage they used for Canada Day, but since it doesn't seem to live on the Internet, here's the original music video:


Update: Yeah I was mad that the Internet was bereft of a Blue Jays montage set to this song, so I made my own. See it below, with its super-outdated thumbnail:



Artist: Drake
Song: Pick a Drake song, pick literally any Drake song.
Reason: He represents Toronto, and especially the young players, (who all seem to be fans of his) so well. Seriously, at one point there were 3 or 4 guys in the lineup that had various songs by him as their walk-up music. David Price was a fan, too, he tweeted Drake lyrics all the time even before we traded for him. And then a whole bunch of the players went to OVO fest together! Drew Storen might have been on to something when he assumed that liking Drake was a prerequisite for being a Blue Jay...

Here are the two most relevant ones: Back to Back because it came out right in the middle of the season and the single's cover art references the Blue Jays back to back WS championships in '92 and '93.

Miss Me because of the line 'gone for surgery but now I'm back again' pretty much sums up the triumphant return of Marcus Stroman. (Which is definitely why Stro used it as his walkup song).


Honorable mention goes to Hotline Bling because that one was all over the place right around the playoffs and it's just the funniest thing ever.

Artist: Aloe Blacc
Song: I'm The Man
Reason: Tulo. He's the man. This is his walkup song. Nuff said.



Artist: The late, great Johnny Cash
Song: God's Gonna Cut You Down
Reason: This video. This amazing video. This video is one of the best baseball-related things I've ever seen on Youtube.
If only the song was longer so we could fit in every single home run from the entire season.


Bonus reason: After the Jays recently acquired Drew Storen, it was discovered that this just so happens to be his warmup song. It's a match made in musical baseball heaven.

Artist: AC/DC
Song: Thunderstruck
Reason: Another viral video is my reason for this, it was put together by another creative genius on Youtube as a promo for the Jays making the playoffs. In terms of sports montages, this is about as high-caliber as it gets. Much like in the video above, the cracking of bats is set perfectly with the beat of the song, and the powerful shots of lightning outside the Dome are so damn dramatic I get chills whenever I watch it. Josh Donaldson may bring the rain, this video brings the actual thunder.



Artist: Taylor Swift(ish)
Song: Blank Space(ish)
Reason: This one is a little out of left field, but let me explain: The sign of a good parody is that it gets so ingrained in your head that you can't tell the difference between it and the original lyrics. And that's exactly what Adam Jesin did with his Blue Jays song 'First Place'. Now, every time I hear the original I immediately think of this beauty. IT'S SO DAMN CATCHY!


(And then I get sad because it makes me think of AA and David Price... COME ON ALEX ROLL THE DICE!)

Artist: Hedley
Song: Hello
Reason: Another entry by a Canadian group on this list, because some brilliant person over in the Rogers marketing department chose this track to be in a fan commercial for the Blue Jays that ran during the playoffs. I remember sitting in my basement during Game 3 of the ALDS, when I heard these remarkably prescient lyrics:
It gets better don’t ever lose hope
Never giving up
Not the end of the show
I’m not scared
Don’t let go
Don’t say goodbye
Just say hello


Somehow I knew we weren't done just yet.
And while it's true that the remainder of the song has nothing to do with baseball, that part always makes me smile.



Artist: Blue Swede
Song: Hooked on a Feeling
Reason: Last but not least on this list, the song that became our anthem throughout September and the playoffs. I don't know whose idea it was to play this during the 8th inning at Jays games (or when exactly the tradition started) but I sure as hell hope they keep doing it, and I also hope it keeps being such good luck. If it becomes the Blue Jays equivalent of 'Sweet Caroline' I am more than fine with that. I love a good sing-along, and the energy in the Dome when they play this one is so much fun. In fact, I associate this tune so much with our boys in blue that I was watching Reservior Dogs recently, and this song was in it, and I just started laughing.


Also there's this wicked dramatic commercial they used it for (I definitely clapped along with the song every time it was on TV, much to the annoyance of my family and roommates). This is the kind of video montage that deserves awards. 



Are there any songs that you associate with this season that I might have missed? Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, 16 January 2016

I miss you, baseball

This is a phrase many of us have said, out loud, or tweeted, over the last few cold months.
But I really miss baseball.

I know we've been so busy freaking out over the exciting moments that happened in the playoffs - the spectacular catches, the shutdown pitching, and of course the mother of all batflips. Yeah, it would be great to get to see those again (like, say, in the World Series, perhaps?) but I miss the little things, too.

I miss having my favourite show on TV for three hours a day, every day, without fail.
I miss laughing over the reaction shots of players celebrating in the dugout.

I miss checking every day to see what the lineup will be.
I miss that rush of excitement I get with the first pitch of the game.

I miss that crack of light that appears on the field when the roof starts opening at the Dome.
I miss the smell of popcorn and beer and peanuts and hot dogs.

I miss being a part of a group that cheers together as one.
I even miss the long bus ride to Toronto, and lining up to get in.

I miss the collective holding of breath that happens when bat makes contact with ball.
I miss the silly handshakes and pats on the back after a home run.

I miss the triumph of a well-timed strikeout.
I miss the intense look on Russell Martin's face after he throws out a runner.

I miss the satisfying 'snap' the ball makes in the catcher's glove when the batter misses.
I miss the casual catching of a popup to end an inning.

I miss the team that likes its runs like it likes its grapes - in bunches.
I miss the on-field high-fives at the end of a win.

I miss the sun being in everyone's eyes.
I miss the surprise RBIs from the bottom of the lineup.

I miss seeing the colour blue and it making me smile.
I miss Chris Colabello falling asleep in the dugout because Smoak's playing first again.

I miss everyone's eyeblack getting all smeary by the end of the game.
I miss Tulo's silly-looking sunglasses that he somehow manages to pull off.

I miss Jose Bautista taking every possible opportunity to stretch.
I miss cheering when someone slides into a base and is ruled 'safe' on a close call.

I miss that little blue oven mitt Pillar wears on his hand.
I miss the dumping of Gatorade to celebrate.

I miss the daily updates on the ever-changing status of Josh Donaldson's hair.
I miss surprise comebacks and late-inning walkoffs.

I miss the smoothly-turned double-plays.
I miss Roberto Osuna pointing to the sky after he ends the game.

I miss the unusual things that leave us all scratching our heads.
I miss Marcus Stroman proving all his doubters wrong.

I miss the replays that let us admire incredible plays from every angle.
I miss Gibby making smart choices but also being really nonchalant about it.

I miss feeling incredibly proud of people I've never met.
I miss their happiness becoming our happiness, their frustration ours too.


I miss all the moments that make up nine innings times one hundred and sixty-two games of pure joy.

Hurry back, baseball. I miss you.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Know your Jays: Kevin Pillar


I'm not going to lie, this is one of the profiles I've been looking most forward to writing. Ever since he jumped into the wall at Camden Yards making a catch on the 4th day of the season, I knew this dude was something special.

Here are but a small sample of the Pillar-related texts I've sent and received over the course of the season:
(Those are all from my buddy Jeff, he's a Pillar fan too)

Does he have Twitter: Yes, he does. And Instagram! Sometimes he reaches near-Josh-Donaldson levels of sassy on his Twitter, and I love it. The Instagram use isn't so frequent, saved mainly for off-days or cute photos with his wife.

Irrelevant Fact(s): He's a sock enthusiast. I am also a sock enthusiast. I applaud his enthusiasm toward socks.

His Wikipedia page is also the first thing that comes up (after the home site) when I type 'wiki' into the address bar on my browser. Is that weird? I don't know what I keep needing to look up...
I asked my dad the other day who his favourite current Blue Jay was, and without even pausing to think he said 'Kevin Pillar, probably'. This was unexpected, because my dad usually loves the power hitters, and Pillar is many things, but he is not a masher. My mom also likes him (and more importantly, knows who he is). He's very popular in my household.

Best Quotes: (When asked if he can fly) "Yes, I can... For a very short amount of time"

(When a reporter compared the Blue Jays to the Royals, in terms of how they never give up)
"We both wear blue also."

What he's good at: Catching ALL THE THINGS!!!
I swear, he must have some kind of baseball magnet (or vacuum?) in his glove. If he hadn't near-missed a catch a few times, I might suspect he was a wizard. (Or maybe he missed those balls to throw us off the scent... hmmm)
But seriously. Even the things he's done while ATTEMPTING to glove a ball - climbing the CF wall in Anaheim and nearly flipping headfirst over it - are amazing feats of acrobatics and strength. Colby Rasmus has got nothing on him.
Also baserunning. Damn, he's fast. The speed definitely helps in the outfield while running to get a ball, but it's most obvious on the basepaths. There have been a few times where a lesser person would have been thrown out at first base on a simple grounder, but Pillar managed to beat the ball to the base. He's been FLYING into bases and home with the help of his 'oven mitt' hand protector. When he does opt to go feetfirst, he slides rather gracefully too, I might add.

What he's not so good at: Obeying the laws of gravity. Teehee.

He can be a bit of a streaky hitter at times. He was great in June and then in July just kind of... lost it. To his credit, he got much more consistent towards the end of the season!

Sometimes he also swings at things he shouldn't. I remember one time there was a pitch so far inside that it was almost at the edge of the PitchTracker box... And he swung at it. Somehow. In fact, he must have been backing away from the ball while swinging at it, otherwise it would have hit him. I don't know how that happened.
(I'm allowed to make fun, because he's my fave and also I have the following in my Twitter bio)
I even noticed this interesting little bit of shade-throwing in a game program. On a page where they give a sample inning to instruct you on how to keep score:
Embedded image permalink
They have him down as 'KS', which indicates that he struck out swinging. OOH THE SHADE!!

I developed a little saying as a result of this poor habit - "That's so far out of the zone, even Kevin Pillar would know that's a ball!" (Feel free to use this the next time you're mad at an umpire).

He also just can't avoid running into things/people sometimes (it's a good thing the OF walls are padded). September 12th at Yankee Stadium will heretofore be referred to as 'the Chincident' which we're all OK with joking about only now that Tulo has healed. That day spawned not one, but two, Kevin Pillar's Chin parody Twitter accounts.
And then there was this bizarre collision in the final home game of the season which maybe isn't even a bad thing, because the ball was caught and nobody got hurt, but I know we all cringed - somehow Ben Revere caught the ball and Pillar caught his glove? How does that happen?? (I shouldn't even be questioning this, we all know he's a wizard).

Adding to the craziness was the fact that Josh Donaldson got stepped on by the runner, then was helped up by the umpire, who he gave a friendly pat on the back. This is a hell of a video.

2015 Season highlights: In June, in the first game of what became an 11-game win streak, he hit two home runs off of Nationals ace Max Scherzer. Yes, that Max Scherzer. The one with two no-hitters this season. This was the first two-HR game of not only Pillar's MLB career, but his entire life.
I bet Scherzer's happy they don't play in the same division.
His speedy little feet stole a lot of bases - 25, to be exact - this year. In fact, for the three days between the departure of Jose Reyes and the arrival of Ben Revere, Pillar had the most stolen bases of anyone on the team. He also had a remarkable success rate when stealing, only being caught four times.

I don't know how he avoids all those tags, but it must be some combination of speed and sneakiness. Maybe his oven-mitt sliding thing is lucky? For example, the following video - in which he was called out, but then ruled safe on replay. My favourite part of this is how the other team left the field and he just stayed put at second, like a one-man protest. 'I'm not out! You all need to get back out here!' The announcers found this amusing as well.


There's also, of course, the insanely high number of highlight-reel catches he's made. He was on the MLB highlight shows week after week. Usually near the top of the list, too.

There was little of this:
And some of this:
A pinch of that:
And, of course, one of my favourite plays, and my favourite Buck Martinez call, EVER.
Just bonkers.

After all of this amazing defense, it's really a disappointment he didn't win the Gold Glove. Kevin Kiermaier was definitely amazing and definitely deserving, but if he won the platinum glove, shouldn't that automatically mean the runner-up (Pillar) gets the gold one?! Don't be greedy with the hardware, KK...
This especially irks me considering Pillar was more impressive by FAR than either the LF or RF Gold Glove winners, just judging by the time (~2 months) he spent in left field - and center is tougher than either of those positions. I kind of wish they'd revert to the 3-overall outfield GGs, rather than one per position. That's how they do it in the All-Star Game, after all!

At least unlike certain OTHER incredibly talented AL East center-fielders named Kevin, KP is not afraid of things that fly. In fact, he is one.
(Sorry, Kiermaier)
However, Pillar was not left completely empty-handed, as he did win the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year award. Which is a decent consolation prize, I guess.

Why I love him: See above. He's kind of amazing. I'm in awe every time I watch him play, every time his feet leave the turf. Even his near-misses are spectacular - and in a bizarre twist, they're more surprising than the catches he does make.
In terms of 'wow' factor, he's everything you could possibly want in the outfield - he defies gravity, he crashes into the wall or the ground or whatever's in his way, but he bounces right back up. It's almost as though he's made of rubber.
Here's a great idea for a mattress ad - just remove the ground at the bottom and he's sleeping. #NapTogether
He's also ridiculously dry and sarcastic in interviews. Sarcastic Pillar is just my absolute favourite. There was that one time he asked Barry Davis "Do you know what time the game is tomorrow?" Or that other time he pretended to teach Barry Davis how to catch a fly ball. He's always down to do something on TV - Sportsnet even gave him his own special!

I don't know why, but I'm really fond of the way he runs. He seems to step so lightly. I've never seen anyone else run like that. And he always has the high socks!! Love the socks.

Everyone else loves him too! Look at what my favourite wordsmith R.A. Dickey had to say about him: "He amazes out there, he’s such a hard-nosed player and sells out and you can never fault his effort. Even when he dives for balls and misses them, they’re balls you think nobody has a shot at and he barely misses them. He’s special, I’m glad he’s on our team, he’s saved us a whole bunch of runs that’s for sure." That's high praise! 
Kevin thanked him by giving his hair a beer-bath. 
Another thing I really love and admire about him is his ability to keep his calm. Now we all remember that little hissy fit he had in the dugout in 2014 after getting pulled from a game, which ultimately resulted in his demotion to Buffalo. Well whatever he did there must have worked, because he's been Mr. Zen, nearly impossible to rattle since then.

There have been a few times he's been called out on a strike he shouldn't have been (this is a very rare occurrence, see above about how often he swings at stuff) and is frustrated but keeps his cool. I remember a couple instances (here is one if you want to watch it) where the umpire issued a questionable strike call and seemed like he was trying to bait him, but rather than yelling, KP just went 'come on man' and shrugged at him and shook his head in an 'I'm so very disappointed' way. I'm willing to admit that was more restraint than I would've had.

And look how polite he is when people are rude to him on Twitter!!! This is just one of many examples. I love it so much. A lesser person would have insulted back, or just ignored it, but it seems Kevin's motto might be 'kill them with optimism'!
Off-field antics: During spring training, our boy suffered a sneeze so powerful that it caused him to strain an oblique muscle. Yeouch. It's such an odd injury that Jimmy Fallon even made a joke about it.
After this, of course, you kind of can't help but make light of the situation, so that's exactly what he did, making this fabulous shirt that he would then wear to do interviews:
That's quite the tan/hair combination he's got going here.
His celebrations are always fun to watch, especially with his best buddies, Ryan Goins and Chris Colabello.
Swing your partner round and round...
LOOK AT ALL THIS JOY!!!! 
Speaking of Goins, they've done a whole bunch of super-adorable publicity things together this year, many of which involve children. This one in particular was filmed in my hometown, and no one told me. Boo.

And I'm pretty sure he REALLY likes hugging people.

HUGS! I like hugs. I'm jealous. 

Fictional/cartoon character he most resembles: Pick a superhero, pick literally any superhero.
First there was that meme last year where he was photoshopped onto Captain America, which was pretty awesome. Then between all his wall-climbing and diving and running, comparisons have been drawn with Spiderman, Superman, and even The Flash. I'll let you decide. But I'll say this: He looks damn good with a cape.
It's a bird! It's a plane! It's SUPER-KEVIN!!! 
BONUS: Here are a ton of hilarious Pillar memes that I've found throughout the season, which I find delightfully amusing and can't get enough of. (I have no idea who to credit for any of them, so if they're yours and you want credit, leave a comment and I will do so k thanks bye)

I would buy this on a shirt. 
(OK this one isn't a meme, but we all need a little more Dancing Pillar in our lives!)
Whoever did this to his Wikipedia page is my hero. 
(GIFs and cape photo from the Blue Jay Hunter)

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

I made a montage! (And I learned some stuff)

As anyone who knows me knows, I love a good montage. Music + rapidly edited clips of sports people doing sports stuff = an incredibly happy Emily.

I know everyone and his brother has probably created some kind of highlight reel for the Blue Jays this season, but one of the best ones I ever saw was one they showed before the Canada Day game at the SkyDome - it was set to 'We're All In This Together' by Sam Roberts Band (also Canadian!), which is one of my favourite songs, and has a message that really encompasses the energy and the message of this season.

I couldn't find that video anywhere online, and it would have only contained the first 3 months of the season anyways (pre-Tulo & Revere & Price) so I, like any sane person, decided to make own!

One week, a few late nights, and several sticky notes full of scribbles later, voila!
(I didn't choose the thumbnail, but I love that it's Mark Lowe petting Ben Revere's face. It makes me giggle)

A few things I should point out: It's only moments from the REGULAR season. Before anyone gets grumpy about it missing Bautista's bat flip, I did that on purpose, because there were already too many great moments in the regular season to cram into a 5-minute song, I didn't have space for any from the playoffs. One of Donaldson's walkoffs almost didn't make the cut. (And besides, I wanted to end on a happy note, celebrating the AL East title). I might make another video if I feel like it but, ya know, school comes first and all that.

I think I accidentally favoured some of my personal favourite players. Oopsie. Hopefully, if you're a Martin/Travis/Pillar/Goins fan too, you'll like it! I did throw Danny Valencia in there once or twice even though he's no longer a Jay.

I sneakily included a few 'audio easter eggs', bits where the song synced up perfectly with the content of the video. Let me know in the comments if you think you spotted any!

I also realize, since this is the first video I've ever edited, there are a few glitches. For some reason, the program I used, once I converted it to a video file, many of the clips got extended or shifted a few seconds beyond where I thought I'd clipped them (the narration too). As a result, some of them show a few frames of the next shot (if I cut right before a shot change in the original video, which thankfully I didn't do too often) or an extra half-word on the narration. Not sure how to fix that, although I did go back and try a couple times.

I'm also well aware that there are several moments that I would have liked to include but didn't. There may be a Part 2 in the works at some point.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Curses!

Today is Friday the 13th, which naturally brings out the superstitious person in all of us. Baseball is a pretty darn superstitious sport in and of itself, so I thought I would revisit a couple of the 'curses' that supposedly led to the Blue Jays not winning the World Series this year (and maybe one that helped them?).

First and foremost, I don't really believe in curses *knocks on wood*. Other than the power that they can have over the people who DO believe in them, there's no evidence to prove these things are real. The only supernatural reason the Jays didn't get to the World Series is the Royals' devil magic. Helped out by a little lying bearded brat, and a crappy 9th-inning strike zone.
Huh, I really thought I'd be over that by now. Moving on...

First and foremost, there's the Taylor Swift curse. You know, the one that says every team whose stadium she gave a concert in started doing badly after she left town. Like the Nats, the Padres, and the Astros (although the Padres were at .481 and in fourth place in their division before she played in San Diego, so they shouldn't even count), some Jays fans got worried that her playing at the Dome would cost them.

I already addressed this:

But it should be noted that in 1989 the Jays lost in the ALCS, to the team that went on to win the World Series (just like every team we've ever lost to in the ALCS) so who knows?

The Jays might have 'lucked' out here, because her concerts in Toronto came in October, pretty much at the very end of the regular season, when they'd already clinched. They won the game in Tampa that occurred simultaneously with her concert on October 2nd, then lost the late-afternoon game prior to her concert the next day, then were thoroughly embarrassed by the Rays the day after that.

And then came the playoffs. One theory is that she doesn't curse the team so much as she curses the stadium, so here's how that played out: The Jays were 3-3 in home games in the postseason, and 2-3 in away games. So much for that.

The jury's still out, but just to be safe, Taylor, the next time you're in Toronto - please play at the ACC.


The next and last curse is the Sports Illustrated Cover Curse. This one is far more well-established and documented (heck, it even has its own Wikipedia page) and is one of those stories where there are just SO many coincidences that even skeptics are scratching their heads. But it can't be that powerful, or else all athletes would refuse to appear on the cover, right? Right?!

Still, when this cover was released, for the October 17th issue, I was more giddy-excited than apprehensive. I mean look at all their smiling faces! They look like the cast of a sitcom! (A sitcom I would totally watch, by the way). Gibby's even got that 'They're zany, but what can I do about it' shrug down pat.
At the beginning of the ALDS, they lost two games and everyone was ready to 'blame the curse!' But then they turned it around, won three in a row and took the ALDS crown. That seems pretty un-curse-like to me. Obviously, they lost in the next round to the aforementioned Royals, but it's not like they got swept. Aside from losing, there's not much to be said for this curse.

And then I did some thinking about the individuals on the cover, and I realized the curse may have affected each of them individually, in more minor ways. And I got some MAJOR goosebumps. Let's break it down:

David Price: This guy seems to have his own personal curse, in that he's never won a postseason game he's started. Three times this year that happened, despite a strong beginning in ALCS Game 2. He pitched well most of the time, but never got enough run support. He also gave up three times as many runs as RA Dickey did in ALDS Game 4, in fewer innings. (That's more of a compliment to Dickey than it is an indictment of Price). Also, in that very Wikipedia article, I found that this (sorry for the tiny text):

Russell Martin: He had a minor slump at the plate in the postseason, and didn't hit a single home run (surprising, considering just about every other Jays player did). But the most obvious symbol of his curse was 'the throw that launched a thousand beer cans' in ALDS game 5, a.k.a. his return toss to Aaron Sanchez that somehow managed to find Shin-Soo Choo's bat and roll away, allowing Roughned Odor to score and causing mass hysteria at the Dome. It was the flukiest of all flukes, something nobody on either team or the umpiring staff had ever seen before.
Here he is discussing that very moment:

Troy Tulowitzki: Tulo also had an issue with the umpires and with Odor (maybe Odor himself is a curse, hmmm...) because he was the one who laid down the tag in the 14th inning of Game 2 that was reviewed, and somehow still ruled safe. If the out was called properly, it would have ended the inning - but instead, Odor and another run scored, leading to the Jays losing that game. 

Tulo also was involved in a debacle with Sam Dyson in the 5th game of that very series (keep your hands to yourself, Dyson!) and got bizarrely ejected for no apparent reason from ALCS in game 3. 
Now you might think Jose Bautista was immune from the curse, being that he probably had the best postseason out of anyone - hitting 4 homers, including the one that brought the house down and sealed the ALDS. But he, Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion - the remaining fellows on the cover - all were removed from games with minor injuries, 3 of the 4 Jays players this happened to (Brett Cecil being the 4th). In game 1 of the ALDS, Bautista felt a tightness in his hamstring that prevented him from taking the field in the ninth inning. 

Donaldson was the final out in the last game of the ALCS, down by 1 and unable to drive in the man on 3rd. As mentioned earlier, he was also pulled from ALDS game 1 for fear of a possible concussion after he slid into 2nd base and smacked his head off Roughned Odor's knee (damnit Odor!) 
Ouch.
Encarnacion suffered another sprained finger during the first game of the ALCS that caused his swing to become painful, prompting him leaving the game early. 

The only Jays player missing from this cover that possibly had an even worse postseason was Ryan Goins, who went 0-for-18 in his first 5 games. And then there was that time that he didn't catch a pop-up in RF in Kansas City... Stupid ghosts. 
I should note that, aside from that bloop, he was spectacular defensively all postseason long, and totally redeemed himself at the plate afterwards (including with a home run!). Good for you, Go-Go! 

There may have also been some awesome sort of magic working in the Jays' favour - such as this tweet from the governor of Texas that seemed to have jinxed not one, but both of the teams mentioned. The Jays won the 4th game of the series that very night in Texas, and then all the errors in Inning 7 of Game 5... well, you know the rest. 
Still, the SI curse is kind of spooky, and in terms of the MLB it didn't even stop with the Blue Jays this year. They featured Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy prior to the World Series, after he'd hit a crazy number of home runs in consecutive games - and then he made a bunch of errors and didn't hit a single homer in the WS. 

But the photo shoot for the Jays' cover did gift us with this gem, so it can't be all bad, right?