Posts Tagged ‘sports’
Torontoist’s Stacey May Fowles reflects, in the aftermath of the Blue Jays’ Game 6 defeat, on her fandom.
There was a moment in last night’s Game Six, during the seventh inning, when Blue Jays centerfielder Kevin Pillar offered his sleeve to teammate Ben Revere to wipe the blood from his arm. Revere, or “Benny” as Jays manager John Gibbons adorably called him during an in-game interview, had just miraculously launched himself into the air against the wall in left field, robbing Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez of what would have been game-changing double. Revere tore the skin on his arm in the process, and as Pillar casually gestured to offer to help the left fielder with his injury, I thought, “This is exactly why I love baseball.”
All of a sudden I realized that the real reason I love baseball is because it lets me see people be good to each other.
This is no small realization. I have spent a great deal of time trying to figure out why exactly I care so much about this slow, silly, complicated game where men wear belts and literally run around in circles. I’ve tried to understand why it makes me feel all the intense feelings I do, why walking into a ballpark—any ballpark—has a unique capacity to clear out the buzzing in my head, to relieve me of anxiety, and to make me feel better about how truly terrible the world can be at times. I have thought about why I have so much affection for baseball because I feel like in some ways I owe it that consideration—this totally inexplicable thing that, at the risk of sounding extreme, came into my life and saved me. This thing that made so many things better when nothing else would.
And even though it felt devastating and unfair and not what Jays fans had all hoped for, I think last night’s eliminating loss to the Kansas City Royals finally gave me the very simple answer I needed. It finally made me understand. I really just want a place to see people be good to each other.
The 2015 Toronto Blue Jays were special. This is an undeniable fact, though trying to explain exactly why they’re special feels like an overwhelming task. Beyond their obvious athletic skills and achievements (I feel like I’ve seen Kevin Pillar fly a million times) there were dozens of tiny stories from these disparate men that filled our newsfeeds, that were passed around from fan to fan in the interest of attaching ourselves more and more to them with each passing day. There were surprising rookie ascents, solid veteran performances, and a trilingual journeyman first baseman who continually surprised. There were heart-warming sound bites of the appreciation they had for each other. There were even cute and colourful stories of popcorn in lockers, of team bathrobes and scooters, of affectionately assigned nicknames.
As I type, Game 6 of the American League championship between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Kansas City Royals is playing. It’s the bottom of the 7th inning and the score is 2:1 in favour of the Royals. Will the Blue Jays do it? Will they make it to Game 7 with a chance to win? Might the team win the World Series? All is unresolved.
Everyone who reads this blog likely knows I’m not a sports fan. I’ve found myself amused to be nonetheless caught up in this. The hopes of a city, or even a country, for a winning sports team are contagious. (Since the Expos left for Washington a decade ago, the Blue Jays have been alone in Canada.) A World Series victory would bring some much-needed joy to my city and country, I think.
Spacing Toronto’s Adam Bunch shares the sad story of Toronto’s first big baseball star, Ned “Cannonbale” Crane.
The bases were loaded. It was the bottom of the eight. This was it: first place was on the line. Toronto and Newark headed into that Saturday afternoon battling for the lead in the International League — along with the team in Jersey City. With only a couple of weeks left in the 1887 season, every win was vitally important. And with only an inning left in their second game of the day, Toronto was losing to Newark by three runs.
That’s when Ned “Cannonball” Crane came to the plate. He was the ace of the Toronto pitching staff; a giant of a man: big and tall and impossibly strong. He once threw a ball more than 400 feet — a world record; impressive even by today’s standards — and he could throw a ball faster than anybody else could, either. He was one of the game’s first big power pitchers. He combined the blistering speed of his fastball with a “deceptive drop ball” that baffled opposing hitters. It was a deadly combination. He won 33 games for Toronto that year — more than any other pitcher has ever won on any Toronto team.
And he could hit, too. Crane was one of the best hitters in the whole league that year. His .428 average is still considered to be the best batting average by a pitcher in professional baseball history. (If he’d hit that in the Majors, it would put him sixth on the all-time list for any position.) On the days when Crane wasn’t pitching, he was in the outfield or at second base so they could keep his bat in the line-up.
The impact of the Toronto Blue Jays’ actually entering the Major League Baseball championships versus the Texas Rangers, more than two decades after the Blue Jays’ 1992 victory, has been huge. The idea of having a potentially victorious sports Has struck me almost as disorienting, a real novelty. Others … blogTO’s photo feature of the “Blue Jays Nest” at Toronto City Hall where fans watch the games together, or Transit Toronto on the TTC service disruptions wrought by the thousands going to see the game. That the Blue Jays have not done well–well, I point you to Bruce Arthur’s Toronto Star article written after the first loss. (One more to go?)
Toronto waited 22 years for this. Well, not this, exactly. There was a moment where the first Toronto Blue Jays playoff game in over two decades appeared to morph from disappointment to disaster, a grease fire that spreads to the drapes. Things went wrong. Then more things. The roof was closed, for some stupid reason, but it felt like it was caving in.
“It’s not the end of the world,” said catcher Russell Martin, in French, after a 5-3 loss to the Texas Rangers in Game 1 of the best-of-five American League Division Series. “I can only speak for myself, but I’m ready for tomorrow already.”
Before anybody hyperventilates, this wasn’t fatal. It was just an awful way to play the first playoff baseball game in more than two decades in this town. That’s all.
“I know it’s there,” said ace David Price, who became the first pitcher in major-league history to lose his first six post-season starts, and admitted to some healthy, natural nerves. “I know it’s there. Hopefully (a win) comes in my next start. And if not, my next one, and my next one.”
There’s no guarantee Price will start another game for the Blue Jays, and that’s up to everyone else. Price just wasn’t very good: he hit three batters all season, and two on Thursday. He allowed home runs to the number eight and nine hitters in the Rangers lineup. He wasn’t an ace. It happens.