As if we even needed it, yesterday’s performance by Jose Bautista against the Tampa Bay Rays provided a reminder that we should never, ever, count him out. I’m not sure which aspect was more impressive: the two home runs, going four for four, or the fact he accounted for all of the Blue Jays scoring.
In any event, it seemed like a good excuse to show five of our favourite Bautista home runs from his time with the Blue Jays:
1) 50TH HOME RUN
This was indeed a special moment, when Bautista hit his 50th home run during a 1-0 win in 2010 against the Mainers. What made it even more impressive was that it was one of only two hits Felix Hernandez (who was on his way to winning the AL CY Young award) gave up that day.
It’s just a shame more people weren’t there to see it. Ironically, in years to come, there will be at least 50,000 people who claimed they were at the Rogers Centre that day to witness the event.
2) OPENING DAY 2011
Entering 2011, fans wondered if the previous season was a one-off, never to be repeated, magical campaign for Bautista. However, he picked up right where he left off in 2010, hitting a home run on opening day in a 13-3 win against the Twins.
3) THREE HOME RUN PERFORMANCE
This was the moment when we realised beyond all doubt that Bautista’s previous 54 home run campaign was not a fluke. In fact, he made it look almost too easy, blasting three homers in another rout of the Twins.
4) BAUTISTA VS HALLADAY
Most Blue Jays fans were crestfallen when Roy Halladay left, mostly because he was one of the few consistent bright spots on the team. However, the great thing about sports is that there is always someone else just around the corner for you to cheer for.
Nowhere was this more evident than when Halladay returned to the Rogers Centre in July 2011 to face Bautista, who managed to hit a solo home run in the 4th inning. (Of course, we’ll conveniently gloss over the fact Halladay went on to throw a complete game in a 5-3 victory.)
5) FIRST HOME RUN OF 2013
Coming into 2013, there were concerns about if Bautista was fully recovered from the wrist injury that affected his previous season. Would he be able to retain the violent swing that characterised his hitting style?
Fortunately, down 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth, during the second game of the season against the Indians, Bautista soon dispelled any worries, with his first home run of the year.
There’s no denying Toronto sports fans have a reputation for booing athletes who previously played in their city. Some deserve it (Chris Bosh), some don’t (Lyle Overbay) and others, we need to just let it go after nine years. (Vince Carter.)
In any event, we shouldn’t be too surprised that Blue Jays fans have been booing Yunel Escobar, who is currently in town with the Rays for a three-game series.
The question is, does he actually deserve to be booed? In all honesty, yes and no. Here’s why:
1) HIS TALENT
There’s no denying Escobar has superior talent. However, for every highlight reel clip created, he has just as many ‘brain-fart’ moments. (That’s the technical term in case you’re wondering.)
For example, the clip above displayed Escobar’s power at its best, as he blasted a grand-slam home run for the Blue Jays. However, one of the more common complaints usually associated with his time in Toronto, was how he didn’t take full advantage of his explosive hitting power.
2) HIS CELEBRATION ON VICTORIA DAY
After hitting a two-run homer on Monday against the Blue Jays, Escobar pounded his chest with his right fist and flashed his arms wide in a safe sign as he crossed home plate.
On the one side, maybe you shouldn’t be acting like this after all the problems you caused in Toronto last season. In fact, maybe Escobar shouldn’t be doing this at all, given his reputation in general. (Remember how relieved the Braves were to get rid of him when he was traded to the Blue Jays?)
However, sport is all about emotion. Be honest, if you were getting booed by 30,000 people every time you came to bat, wouldn’t you want to respond in kind? (I’m afraid I live by the motto that two wrongs do make a right.)
3) SIGNING AUTOGRAPHS
Despite everything that’s happened, isn’t it nice that Escobar still takes the time to sign autographs for the fans? Seems like a generous and stand-up thing to do, despite getting booed by the fans.
On the other hand, it’s pretty much part of the unwritten job description for a professional athlete. In fact, who does Escobar think he is, arrogantly going around offering his autograph to everyone? (Yes, that’s right. We’re only at number three and I’m already struggling to come up with decent reasons.)
4) THE HOMOPHOBIC SLUR
This was pretty much the straw that broke the camel’s back, leading to Escobar leaving town and becoming the main reason/excuse for fans in Toronto to boo him. But was the intent of the message as sinister as a lot of people believe?
Call me an idiot, naïve, or whatever the hell you want, but I reckon this was a cultural mistake. I genuinely think Escobar has grown up in the type of environment where this type of language is used (and accepted) regularly.
I refuse to believe he fully appreciated how much of a backlash this would cause. Also, as has been pointed out before, it is almost like the guy was being thrown under the bus to distract the fans from a season that turned into a disaster after the All-Star break. Are you really telling me no one from the Blue Jays saw the message before the players stepped out onto the field?
However, this still remains as the toughest one to defend on Escobar’s behalf. There are no circumstances when gay slurs should be used in professional sports. With the possible exception of any scenario where the two athletes involved in a slanging match are both gay. In that case, it’s just ironic.
So there you have it, four reasons why Blue Jays fans should and shouldn’t boo Escobar. I won’t hold my breath as to which scenario is likely to be more prominent during todays game at the Rogers Centre…….
Although the Blue Jays lost 4-3 to the Rays last night (including Kelly Johnson, who predictably followed the lead of other former Jays players, by hitting a solo home run), one of the bright spots was Steve Delabar. The pitcher came in for one inning and didn’t give up any runs or hits.
However, the fact Delabar is even pitching at all, is pretty astounding in itself. Look no further than the tattoo on his right elbow in the picture above, which covers a surgery scar.
In 2009, while playing for the Brockton Rox of the Canadian-American Association, Delabar suffered a fractured right elbow. The injury was so bad, he had to have a steel plate and nine screws embedded into his elbow to stabilize it during surgery.
When you look at that x-ray, the fact the former Seattle Mariner has a fastball that averages in the mid-nineties, is phenomenal. It’s just a pity other pitchers on the Jays staff haven’t responded as well to surgery.
(Not that I’m naming names or anything………….Dustin McGowan!)
Just when it looked like the Blue Jays were finally turning their season around, they run into the Yankees. I’m not sure which is worse: the Blue Jays failing to meet expectations or the Yankees getting the job done with the likes of Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay.
Anyway, I think Jays fans need cheering up, so how about some photo’s of Mark DeRosa’s wife, former fashion model Heidi Miller? Yes, I thought you might like that. (Don’t say I don’t do anything for you.)
I have to admit, I thoroughly enjoyed doing the ‘research’ for this article. In fact, I wish it was Mark DeRosa who had retired from his profession instead of his wife.
It’s always good to see athletes take their profession seriously. While the Blue Jays don’t play today, J. P. Arencibia still went into work to get some stretching exercises done.
In the process, the catcher also proved to women that it is possible for guys to multitask, also getting his morning coffee in. While I personally think it’s madness to drink coffee on a day like this, at least it shows Arencibia’s transition to the Canadian lifestyle is almost complete.
Due to the Blue Jays 4-3 road trip, it appears that things are finally starting to turn around for the better. It’s amazing how a win, especially a 12-4 thrashing of John Farrell’s Red Sox, can make everyone look at the team in a more positive frame of mind.
In that respect, Brett Lawrie has received a lot of criticism on twitter lately; some fair, some not so much*. However, recent events hopefully have people looking at his ‘hyper-active, demented puppy dog eager to please his owner’ routine as a good thing.
* Hey, if nothing else, regardless of his less than average play this season, Lawrie’s on course to set a career high for home runs. (Just trying to be optimistic!)
Even a conversation with the third baseman can become animated, as evidenced by these photos from the visitors dugout yesterday at Fenway park:
To be fair, Lawrie looks pretty calm in that first shot, which I suppose is actually the abnormality when considering the Canadian’s energetic personality. Maybe he’s being reflective about his recent relationship with the lovely Paige Brendel.
Okay, now he’s warming up. I’m guessing Lawrie’s cupping his hand to describe what he was drinking during the story he’s telling the ever-enthusiastic Brandon Morrow. At least I assume that’s what he’s re-enacting, given how blurred his hand is.
And finally, I would normally say a picture speaks a thousand words. However, after the recent confusion over the images of Elisha Cuthbert and April Reimer, I feel it’s my duty to say I assume Lawrie is gesturing as to how much the Red Sox stink.
As the Blue Jays struggle to even get back to .500, yesterday’s 3-2 victory against the Red Sox was a welcome relief after losing three straight. Jose Bautista celebrated the win by going out for dinner in Boston and taking the time to pose for a photo with a local couple:
You can tell you’re in Boston because there’s no airs and graces, hence why the other guy didn’t even bother to stand up for the picture. Either that or he has that arrogant sense of self importance you normal associate with Boston sports fans.
I guess we’ll find out how justified it is today, after the Blue Jays complete their series against the Red Sox and the Leafs play the Bruins in game 6.