God Is Great

One. One is the magic number now.

My early life as a Blue Jays fan is a little hazy, and I can’t exactly nail down exactly when I really got into it.

I do remember very clearly that my dad used to watch a lot of Blue Jays games back in the early 90’s when they were turning the corner to become eventual back to back champions, and I remember watching a lot of baseball with him at the time. And like many kids that grow up in an immigrant family, that represented a good majority of my childhood bonding time with my father – watching baseball games together on the couch in the living room, mostly in silence, except to complain when the other team scored a run or if he disagreed with something the manager did.

I don’t remember much about the 1992 team, and I didn’t watch Roberto Alomar hit that game-tying home run off Eckersley in Game 4 of the ALCS.

I remember my dad once groaned when he watched Cito Gaston call for Alfredo Griffin to come into a game – either to pinch hit or as a defensive replacement, I can’t recall. When I asked why he was unhappy, he told me it was because Alfredo Griffin wasn’t very good, and in yet another entry in a long history of unsuccessful attempts to make my father proud, I spitefully exclaimed “Alfredo Griffin is stupid!” I remember very clearly that my dad turned to chastise me for saying that, and he looked me in the eye and carefully explained that Alfredo Griffin was just a bad baseball player, and that wasn’t a reflection of Alfredo Griffin as a human being.

And I remember it was something that really stuck with me for over two decades, about the difficult of empathy, and how a baseball player is more than just a batting average and fielding percentage.

And then I remember reading Moneyball in university which taught me to look at baseball players as on-base percentage and Defensive Runs Saved and whatever possible metrics out there that the market undervalues…both supporting and contradicting my father’s life lessons to me.

I remember how the names of the players in the batting lineup spelled out “WAMCO” which amused me to no end, and may possibly have influenced other things in my life. I remember how my favourite player John Olerud always wore a batting helmet, even when playing defense on the field and how odd and quirky that was, which made him even cooler.

I don’t remember ever learning as a kid that he did that as a precaution because he had a brain aneurysm. Which maybe is good because that might have freaked me out.

I remember my dad yelling at my brother and I to wake up and come into the master bedroom where he was watching Paul Molitor face off against Mitch Williams in the 9th inning in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series. And after a single and a Joe Carter home run, all three of us were jumping on the bed, not all of us truly understanding exactly what had happened.

I don’t remember watching too many more Blue Jays games with my dad afterward. The 1994 strike probably bummed everyone out, I had to concentrate more on math homework, and my dad got busier with work. But I was hooked now although over the years that followed, I only remember bits. Carlos Delgado, Shawn Green, and Jose Cruz Jr emerged and Pat Hentgen was still cruising along. But when Roger Clemens came to town I think I was a bit busy with the demands of junior high and forgot about baseball for a while. Not completely – I still remember flashes of funny names like Shannon Stewart and Woody Williams – but the team wasn’t very exciting anymore and for whatever reason guys like Raul Mondesi, Jose Cansco, and David Wells just didn’t resonate in the same way.

I remember I got way into baseball again in high school. But I don’t remember why. Maybe it was just another thing my burgeoning internet addiction seized, another plate of empty facts and data I could cram into my face to justify another minute or two on that sweet new DSL connection. I remember staying up late in December 2003 to read about a trade for Justin Speier from Colorado, and pouring over all the stats that were available online. I remember this very clearly because I was more interested in where Alex Rodriguez was going to be traded. And when I went on vacation, I left Toronto thinking he was going to be traded to the Red Sox and being angry about it, but happy at least that it wasn’t going to be the hated Yankees that got him. And how absolutely hopeless it felt to have these two insane baseball juggernauts outspend their way to the division title and wildcard spot every single year, and thinking we would never make the playoffs again.

And I remember how funny it was when I landed in Hong Kong, I learned that he had been traded to New York instead.

I remember getting really into the Blue Jays again during university, no doubt mainly just as a distraction from assignments and studying. We went to a lot of games, when the team was showing promise again. In 2003 Roy Halladay won the Cy Young award, Carlos Delgado finished second in MVP voting, and Vernon Wells finished eighth. I also remember a whole decade of will-they-won’t-they-beat-the-Yankees teasing from all sorts of various teams followed after, that never seemed to be able to put together a decent offense and rotation in the same season. And then there was 2013 and I remember taking a picture of the newspaper headlines when the trades for RA Dickey and Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson happened…alongside headlines that Elmo was caught up in a sex scandal. I remember writing a ton of words about it (the trade, not Elmo). I remember how badly it sucked that Josh Johnson cratered and blew that whole thing apart. I don’t really remember when I heard about it, but I think he’s undergoing this third Tommy John surgery now, which is really too bad. I remember being crushed that the shitty Tampa Bay Rays leapfrogged everyone and made it to the World Series, and later even having the Orioles celebrate their AL East clinching victory on the SkyDome turf. I remember watching the Kansas City Royals and the Pittsburgh Pirates end their long 20+ year playoff droughts in recent seasons and how happy the entire world was for them and their fans.

I remember feeling quite unhappy about how the Blue Jays had moved up on the list to become the team with the longest playoff drought in major professional sports. I remember feeling like someone punched me in the stomach when I learned that the Blue Jays’ top starter Marcus Stroman had blew his knee out doing bunt fielding drills, how the starting left fielder Michael Saunders blew his knee out stepping on a sprinkler, and how the starting second baseman Maicer Izturis blew his knee out falling down the dugout steps.

I don’t remember too much of all of it, but a lot of stuff has happened since. The team underachieved for a while, fell way behind the Yankees, went on an 11-game win streak or two, traded for some more players, and Marcus Stroman is back.

The Blue Jays are on the verge of clinching their first AL East division title in over 20 years. In Baltimore right now, Marcus Stroman pitching in a 10-1 game in the bottom of the 7th inning.

Doesn’t really matter what happens after this – I have a feeling I’ll remember today for a long time to come.

Right-hander Marcus Stroman (3-0, 1.89 ERA) will make his fourth start of the year when the Blue Jays and O’s continue their four-game series Tuesday at 7:05 PM ET.

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Destined to fight the world's evil, The WAMBAG endures massive battles involving impossible stunts, races on horse-pulled carriages, and the desecration of enchanting medieval castles (all done with dizzying computer graphics). Not only does the eye candy keep on coming, the tongue-in-cheek writing and deep Transylvanian accents perfect the film with a dose of dark humor.

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