Tagged: Baseball

Edwin Encarnacion signs with Cleveland! This whole thing smells.

Toronto Blue Jays fans finally got the news they didn’t want to hear, that slugger Edwin Encarnacion signed with the Cleveland Indians — single-handedly improving the team that beat them for the league title. 

This, I say respectfully, is bull$#!t. Among other things, the Blue Jays’ offer of four years/$80 million guaranteed ended up being the best offer — certainly better than the three years guaranteed of $60 million offered by the Indians. So why did Edwin sign with Cleveland? Are the taxes so much higher living in Toronto?!

In all, the way this played out leaves a sour taste. I’m with Mike Wilner who tweeted “everybody screwed up” — and in my mind that includes Jays’ management, Encarnacion’s agent, and Encarnacion himself.

Merry Christmas, folks.

It’s World Series night – in Las Vegas. What, you thought I was talking about baseball?!

Yes, tonight from the Rio in Las Vegas the biggest event of the poker year begins: the “November Nine” final table of the World Series of Poker Main Event! 

Except, because of the presidential election this “November Nine” is starting one week early, in late October. As a result, it means this particular “World Series” is going up head to head against the “real” World Series at Wrigley Field, between the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Cubs.

Folks, you practically have to win a World Series of Poker bracelet to be able to afford World Series tickets in Chicago. These prices are outrageous.

Wow, what a 9th inning meltdown by the SF Giants against the Cubs

Jays win in 11 innings! Move over Joe, move over Jose, make way for Edwin Encarnacion!!

Thank you very much, Wi-Fi. That was the reason I was able to tune in to the three-run belt by Edwin Encarnacion in the 11th inning that won the wild-card game for the Blue Jays, 5-2. 

Now, it’s on to the rematch with Texas. Exactly the matchup we all wanted to see.

Update: In other news from the game, the entire city of Toronto has been humiliated by a beer-can throwing incident that happened in the seventh inning. A photo of the alleged suspect has been released by police.

A big day for baseball fans! Not to mention wrestling fans!

Who says baseball’s over? Premier 12 going on, plus winter league options for fans to follow

Some misguided baseball fans out there might still be suffering withdrawal symptoms now that the MLB season is over. 

This, my friends, is totally unnecessary. There is still plenty of baseball going on and lots of options if you’re a desperate baseball fan or, alternatively, simply sick of watching football or the NBA.

One of the main tournaments going on right at the moment is the Premier 12 over in Japan and Taiwan, where the 12 top baseball countries in the world gather to see who’s the best. It’s put on by the World Baseball Softball Confederation and runs until the 21st. Unfortunately, a lot of the games are on in the middle of the night, so be ready to either stay up late or watch replays online.

I understand Team Canada is there. Our local baseball player, pitcher Andrew Albers, is on the team and in fact was on in relief in a 5-1 win versus Cuba. So it’s worth following for that reason. Check it out.

If you can’t be bothered with that, the Winter Leagues are on and a lot of their games can be found live on Ustream or YouTube or other places. If you know Spanish, you can follow live streaming audio play by play from the local radio stations in these countries as well. In fact, there’s a station from Cuba on 1180 AM whose signal is so booming that it makes it all the way up here to frozen western Canada, and they have baseball games live.

So, here’s some of the baseball action still going:

My personal favourite is the LIDOM — the Dominican league, which has six teams. This is my favorite simply because the Blue Jays have had so many Dominicans on the roster over the years. Plus, the Dominican Republic seems like a fun country with plenty of beaches and lots of beer (based on what I see from the TV commercials during their games).

Another interesting one — the Cuban Serie Nacional de Beisbol, which has a number of teams going in a season that runs basically all winter. This website provides live coverage of that league and of Cuban baseball in general.

Two others I find interesting are the Venezuelan league, which looks really well organized based on the games I’ve seen on the Internet. As well there is the Liga Mexicana del Pacifico from everyone’s favourite country, Mexico. At least, it’s the favorite winter destination of a lot of people around here.

Puerto Rico also has a league, but it seems to only have four teams and I don’t follow them that closely.

So there you go! There’s no reason to go without baseball this “offseason”. Now, if you will excuse me, I am going back to watching Licey take on the Toros del Este in the Dominican League.

Postpone the funeral and start the party, the Toronto Blue Jays are in the ALCS!!

  
That was a crazy day of baseball today and it cost a whole lot of people a lot of productivity at work around here, they were all too busy watching the TV. 

Once Jose Bautista hit that three-run homer I kind of breathed easier and figured it would all turn out all right. That’s the Toronto Blue Jays team we expected to see.

The Blue Jays won the deciding fifth game 6-3, coming back from an 0-2 series deficit, and now face the KC-Houston winner of tonight’s game for the AL pennant. Great to see at least one of my favourite teams doing so well. The other one, not so good.

Other thing about today’s game that is notable — it is obvious Justin Trudeau is a big baseball fan, because there were Liberal ads all over the TV during the game.

Worst part of baseball playoffs: putting up with ignorant US TV commentators!!

  
Ever since the baseball postseason started there has been mounds of complaints from people in Canada about how the regular TV crew for the Toronto Blue Jays has been bumped to make room for these network feeds from the ‘States. Instead of getting Sportsnet announcers Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler, we’re getting the American broadcasts instead. 

Truth is, folks, that all the American teams are in the exact same boat as we are. Everyone’s local broadcasts and announcers are bumped, as the postseason games are on Fox, FS1, TBS, MLB Network or ESPN. 

All of North America is stuck with the national crews, not just Blue Jays fans. So quit feeling sorry for yourselves, as fans south of the border are just as disgusted.

The difference in the US, though, is those fans don’t have to deal with ignorant comments from the likes of Harold Reynolds, who infamously opened his mouth last night during the Jays-Rangers game three on FS1:

“We’re talking about foul balls in the stands up in Toronto and because there’s not a lot of people who grew up playing baseball in Canada, they’re not used to catching a lot of balls hit into the stands.”

Um, Harold, Canadians play baseball, too. We even beat your country this year at the Pan Am Games.

This reminds me of that time in Atlanta during the World Series when they flew the Canadian flag upside-down. Well, at least the Blue Jays won it all that year. 

One and done: the New York Yankees bite the dust as the baseball playoffs begin

Toronto Blue Jays fans have no need to worry about the New York Yankees any more. The slumping Yankees hosted the American League wild card playoff game tonight, and promptly lost to the Houston Astros 3-0. So just one game into baseball’s postseason, the Yankees are done — and after battling the Blue Jays so hard for the East division this season, it hardly seems fair.

This, my friends, is exactly why Blue Jays players were celebrating when they won the division last week — because it meant they avoided the wild-card game. The wild card game is an absolute crapshoot and Yankee fans found that out the hard way tonight.

Even the radio hosts are losing hope about the #Riders; today they talked BASEBALL on CKRM! 

 

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are 0-5, going on 0-6, going on 0-18. Now that quarterback Kevin Glenn is on the shelf for six weeks, everyone has lost hope except for the few die-hard optimists remaining. 

I noticed this afternoon that even the sports radio guys here in the province, the ones who normally devote 24/7 saturation coverage to the Riders and the CFL, are losing hope. Evidence of this happened today on 620 CKRM on the SportsCage show. I noticed they spent much of the show this afternoon discussing the Blue Jays’ big acquisition of David Price from the Tigers. They also talked about the local WMBL baseball team, the Regina Red Sox. 

A sports talk show in Saskatchewan talking about baseball? During CFL season, no less?! For most of the show? This, my friends, never happens here. 

Now granted, Rod Pedersen wasn’t on the SportsCage show today because he’ll be calling tomorrow’s game in Edmonton, but it still is a great example of how far the Riders have fallen.
Among fans, I notice a distinct change in mood this week. A couple of weeks ago when the problems started, everyone was freaking out and calling for people’s heads to roll, including coach Corey Chamblin’s. But there has been an eerie calm this week. I get the feeling people realize what a train wreck this campaign has become with all the injuries and problems, and that nothing can be done to save the ‘Riders season. People seem to be coming to terms with it all. Either that, or the fans are still in such a state of shock about how swift a fall it has been that they don’t know what to say anymore. 

As for the game against Edmonton on Friday the fans’ expectations couldn’t be lower. No one expects third-string QB Brett Smith to do much. 

I’ll likely tune in the game tomorrow, but I really ought to stick to baseball instead. In 2015, football season is simply depressing the heck out of me.

I am a happier person today because BASEBALL is BACK! #mlb

Vive les Blue Jays! Big O hosts baseball weekend in Montreal again

 

Officially, the season doesn’t start for real for a couple more days. But as far as I’m concerned baseball is back, with the Toronto Blue Jays taking on the Cincinnati Reds in two preseason games in Montreal. 

I plan to just sit here and watch the game on Sportsnet, while reading Jonah Keri’s book on the history of the Montreal Expos.

And again, just as was the case for the Big O series last year, attendance is expected to pack the place. This series has revived hopes of returning the Expos to Montreal. Personally, I hope it happens, one of these days. Being a baseball fan in Canada has just not been the same without the Expos around. 

Update: Been enjoying the game tonight on Sportsnet, but I notice announcer Buck Martinez has all too often had to interject on the broadcast to remind all those viewers looking for the Montreal Canadiens versus the New Jersey Devils that the hockey game is over on Sportsnet 360.

That, in a nutshell, explains why the Expos left Montreal to begin with. It’s because too many Montrealers, and too many Canadians, are too interested in hockey to care about Major League Baseball. (Hey, there’s a baseball game on, but why not watch hockey on the other channel instead?!)

I could go on ranting for an hour or so on that topic alone, but I think that is all from me for tonight. 

Sports rants: thoughts on two Texas auto races, plus the World Series TV ratings

I am wasting this snow-filled day at home watching sports on TV. After catching the end of the Aston Villa-Tottenham soccer game, I am now tuned to NFL and CFL football until the start of the auto races later today.

Yes, there are two big races going against one another this afternoon, and both are in Texas. One is the United States Grand Prix from Austin, while the other is the NASCAR Sprint Cup race from Fort Worth. USA Today did a whole piece on how these two Texas races are up against each other. Personally, I think this is terrible for the fans, especially the ones in Texas.

Seriously, there are race fans who would have wanted to attend both races, and there are 52 weeks of the year in which to avoid a conflict. But these organizers forgot to look at the calendar, and so, instead of attending both of these races on separate dates, the race fans in Texas must either pick one or the other. This is going to drive down the attendance at both races, in my view.

It also stinks for me because I finally have a free weekend to be able to watch auto racing, after I spent last weekend working, and after going to a Riders game the weekend before. But now I am going to have to pick which one of these races to watch live.

Well, I’m going to watch Formula 1, because I don’t get an opportunity to do enough of that anyway, but the glitz and glamor of F1 is more my style than what you get from these good ol’ boys, these deep Southerners, in NASCAR anyway. Besides, the F1 race should be over before the NASCAR one, so I should be able to catch that one, too.

Also, I should comment some more on the TV ratings for the World Series that just ended. I notice the usual “baseball is dying” stories are out there again, with the Daily Caller the latest to declare the sport unpopular and in decline, declaring the audience as too old.

In truth, Game Seven between the Royals and the Giants got a big audience, but admittedly, these sorts of ratings don’t happen for baseball very often. I know it absolutely drives baseball people crazy when some ordinary regular-season NFL game on a Sunday or Monday night gets better ratings than the World Series.

And yet, a lot of people who have written about this point to the fact that the regional TV ratings for baseball are excellent. This is exactly the problem. Lots of these writers are saying baseball has become too regional a sport: people care about their local area teams, but they couldn’t care less about most of the other teams.

Part of the problem is the national media, who seem to fawn over a small number of big-market teams, like the Yankees and Red Sox as a really good example. But you’d never know the Minnesota Twins or the Colorado Rockies existed based on the coverage they get. As for the San Francisco Giants, they are particularly ignored year in and year out by the national media because they’re on the West Coast and their games are too late to get on the nightly highlight shows. It’s a lazy excuse, but that is what’s happened with them.

As a result, no one knows who Madison Bumgarner is, and no one cares about the Giants, a team that’s won the World Series three of the last five years!

With the NFL, their whole TV approach is totally different, with their national TV deals aimed at having fans care about the entire league, not just the local team. It seems like every team in the league gets on national TV at least once, no matter how bad they are — including even the crummy Detroit Lions every year on Thanksgiving.

Because there’s coverage of pretty much every team, a SF-KC game in the NFL becomes one people will watch and care about. But in MLB, with their focus on regional TV deals, and with the national media focused mainly on the major market East Coast teams, the local fans will have already lost interest the moment their team was eliminated — so a SF-KC matchup in the World Series becomes one they don’t care much about.

It’s not just Major League Baseball that has this problem — the NHL has the exact same issue in the USA (though people in Canada will watch any hockey game anywhere, I notice.) Also, I notice it’s getting to be a real problem with the CFL where people seem to care only about their local teams (ie. Saskatchewan) but increasingly could care less about any of the others.

Anyway, it would really help baseball if there were more attempts to showcase the other teams in the league on a national basis. They need to step up their national presence in a bigger way than what they have been doing. MLB needs to do more to market and hype up the whole month of October similar to the NCAA’s approach to basketball’s “March Madness.” That seems like a good plan to me, because honestly, most people couldn’t name most of the players in March Madness. Yet they still watch, just because it’s the NCAA Tourney.

I think this is a strategy worth pursuing. Seriously, this year’s playoffs were excellent, and there is no reason baseball couldn’t do better with its ratings in the future. They might as well hype it up and try and get people more excited about it. Anyway, those are my thoughts, and that’s all for the moment.

Who says baseball is in decline? I’ll tell you who isn’t: folks in SF and KC

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The World Series is set for next Tuesday. At this time, I fully expect the usual articles in the press to appear about the “decline of baseball”.

We got these same stories around the All-Star Break and they are all a broken record about how nobody cares about baseball anymore and how nobody plays the game anymore, and how ratings are down and attendance is down, and how no one knows the names of the star players any more, all that bull. Here’s a typical example of that sentiment here.

Well, I can believe it if people in New York say they are less interested, because their teams aren’t in it! But ask fans in Kansas City, where the Royals just swept the Orioles to make the World Series for the first time in 29 years. Ask folks in San Francisco, where the Giants made the World Series on a three-run homer by Travis Ishikawa.

Even in St. Louis, where they just lost, interest in the baseball Cardinals is higher than it is for the NFL football Rams, who are apparently making noises about moving.

I would say interest is high in those three markets, at least. Honestly, it ought to have been, because these playoff games have been dynamite with plenty of extra-inning games and walk-off wins.

Frankly, I think there ought to be a rebuttal to all this negativism, because having been to ball games at various major-league stadiums in recent years, and having experienced the atmosphere there, I think there’s a lot of life left in the sport. I think the recent boom in brand-new stadiums in particular have revived a lot of interest, plus the new playoff format has made things a bit more competitive with more teams staying in the race longer. Around our area here in Saskatchewan, there was a lot of interest last year in pitcher Andrew Albers, a local product who made the Minnesota Twins. Because of that, there was more baseball interest here than there had been in a long time.

Albers went on to Korea this season, which leads into my next point, which is that baseball is very much alive and well with international audiences. Fans in South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Venezuela, in Caribbean countries such as Cuba and the Dominican Republic and elsewhere are very much interested in baseball and the major leagues.

I would also add that interest in the minor leagues is also pretty strong. And there seems to always be lots of interest in the Little League World Series when it airs on TV. So I think things are a lot better than some folks say it is. I’m guessing the real reason you see all these negative stories from people so down on baseball is simply to provide content for these web sites.

I’ve found this piece in Forbes which I think does a good job countering all this negative baloney about the supposed impending death of baseball, and you can read it here.

Toronto Blue Jays now have longest current non-playoff streak in MLB. I feel like putting a bag over my head

Bye bye Derek Jeter. Currently watching him say farewell to Yankee Stadium tonight

Instead of watching the NFL game or college football, I am tuned in right now to Derek Jeter’s final game at home at Yankee Stadium. Whether you were a Yankee fan or not, you have to respect Jeter not only for his play, but for the way he carried himself on and off the field.

You guys in the NFL might want to take note of that.

It is like baseball never left the Big O with the Blue Jays-Mets series there this weekend. Bring back les Expos!

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It is a big nostalgic weekend for Montreal baseball fans as Major League Baseball returns to Olympic Stadium. But it isn’t the Montreal Expos they are seeing, but the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Mets. And it isn’t a regular season game, but still the pre-season. These games do not count.

There is one more thing different — there are actually fans at the ballpark. Over 45,000 were there yesterday to see the Jays win, 5-4.

Still, they did their best to make it seem like an Expos game. They brought back the former Expos players including Warren Cromartie, who is leading this group trying to bring baseball back to Montreal. They also paid tribute to the late Gary Carter. Plus, they got to see their traditional rivals the Mets. So it was all good.

Personally, I hope they find a way to bring it back there full time. This is the tenth anniversary of the year baseball left Montreal and the 20th anniversary year of the infamous players strike that wiped out the chances of the Best Team in Baseball that season. All they needed there is a good team and a good stadium, and a good owner, and that would have gone a long way to solving all their problems, but it never happened.

I think folks in Montreal realize what they let slip away, all these years later, and hopefully something tangible will come of all these preseason games and maybe the ball will get rolling on the effort to bring a team back.

If it makes Montreal fans any better, Toronto doesn’t have a team, either. (Ha ha ha, that is supposed to be a joke.) It sure looks like it will be another frustrating season for us Blue Jays fans again.

Guess what, folks, the Major League Baseball season started today… In Australia?!

Yes, it is true, Arizona plays the LA Dodgers at the Sydney Cricket Grounds.Story here. Well, I guess it makes sense for baseball to come back, since it is officially spring, but playing baseball in Sydney is like playing Aussie Rules Football in New York.

I thought this was just exhibition baseball when I saw this on TV but no, it’s actual regular season baseball. It counts. And they had played another game earlier this morning, so technically, we are two games into the season.

As an aside, Australia seems to be in the news a lot lately, particularly with respect to that Malaysia Airlines plane search.

THIS SORRY SEASON FOR THE TORONTO BLUE JAYS ENDS THIS WEEKEND

toronto-blue-jays-logoThis weekend, the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays season, long since tossed in the trash, will finally be shipped to the landfill at the waste management facility.

We are seeing a few stories about members of the Blue Jays organization making comments to the effect that they’ve let down the fans. General manager Alex Anthopolous spoke of feeling guilty about not delivering for the passionate fan base. Pitcher R.A. Dickey tweeted comments saying the fans deserve better.

I’m thinking — wow, what a stark contrast to what we got from the Saskatchewan Roughriders, particularly from their broadcasters, the last few years.  Back in that disastrous 2011 season when there were empty seats late in the season, we got a lot of preaching from on high about how Riders fans were not hanging in when the going got tough, and that by not showing up they were not being real fans. Even this year, we’re getting this lecturing about how fans shouldn’t ever boo the team or any of the lousy play they happen to see on the field. That’s not being a true fan, they say.

You’re not getting this sort of nonsense from the Blue Jays because they know that we, their loyal fans, are right to be disgusted. It’s been 20 seasons of failure now for the Blue Jays. Given that record, the Blue Jays are fortunate to have any paying customers left, and they know it.

Anyway, it’s good they are acknowledging fans deserve better and aren’t giving us a “not real fans” line of baloney like others are doing.

Some have debated whether the Blue Jays ought to go even further and issue a full-fledged apology, as the Toronto Raptors and the Toronto Maple Leafs have famously done. Jays broadcaster Mike Wilner doesn’t seem to think so, and frankly I agree with him.

It’s not as if the Blue Jays didn’t make an effort to make the deals needed.  They tried turning things around by fleecing the Miami Marlins in the off-season, and all that did was decimate the Marlins — it had no impact on the fortunes of the Blue Jays in the end. The pitchers pitched like bums, and there were injuries as well.

That’s the way it goes, sometimes. It’s not as if they weren’t trying.

To be honest with you I don’t see what apologizing is going to do, anyway. These other Toronto teams went and issued their useless apologies, but it wasn’t as if they ended up winning any titles, and in the end winning is really all that matters. The Blue Jays don’t owe fans any apology. But they do owe us a winner.

BASEBALL!!!!!!!

CHEER UP CANADIAN SPORTS FANS, 2012 HAS BEEN A GREAT BASEBALL SEASON

In the wake of all this NHL lockout talk here in frozen Canada, it’s easy to overlook the fact that there are other sports going on. Like BASEBALL, which has seen three teams from Canada win their league titles in the past week:

You had the Vancouver Canadians win their second straight title in the Northwest League;

You had the Quebec Capitales win their fourth straight title in the Can-Am League;

And on Friday night the Winnipeg Goldeyes won the title in the American Association!

That’s more league titles in one year than all the NHL teams in Canada put together have won in the last two decades.

Oh, and to top it all off, guess which team has the best record in all of major league baseball right now? THAT’S RIGHT, folks…

… the Montreal Expos.

What, they moved to Washington, D.C.!? When did that happen?!

I guess three out of four ain’t bad, anyway. (They should’ve built that stadium, folks.)