Sunday, April 15, 2007

MLB - Detroit Tigers/Toronto Blue Jays Box Score Friday April 13, 2007 - Yahoo! Sports

MLB - Detroit Tigers/Toronto Blue Jays Box Score Friday April 13, 2007 - Yahoo! Sports

I know I keep blogging about baseball, but is there anything that Roy Halladay can't do? Many pitchers don't make it through 6 innings on 107 pitches, but the unlicensed doctor from Denver went all 10 innings last night. There's something very comforting about watching Halladay pitch.

Last night, he allowed six hits, no walks and, reminiscent of Ty Cobb claiming that "any idiot can hit home runs", settled for two strikeouts so that he could last ten innings. Meanwhile, A.J. Burnett has already thrown 51 pitches through 3 innings this afternoon.

Friday, April 13, 2007

"It's just a j-o-b," said the only major leaguer I've ever met of his 51 years in professional baseball. He couldn't believe that I was so in awe of his 49 big-league at-bats, nor could he believe that I would remember that the Tigers beat the Padres in 5 games to win the 1984 World Series, even though he was the Padres' hitting coach at the time. "I don't like fans," he said, because a fan, after all, is just a fanatic. If he ever reads this, I figure he'll be dismayed that I took the liberty of researching his brief career in the majors: a batting average of .286 and one home run over three short stints with the White Sox from 1962-66.

Nonetheless, Deacon Jones did indulge me enough to discuss facing Satchel Paige, batting in front of Roberto Clemente in winter ball, receiving a compliment from Mickey Mantle and a life-changing workout with Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers. Despite his instructions to the contrary, I can't put into words how special it was to meet someone who had not only spent the last half century in the sport, but rubbed shoulders, however briefly, with the long-gone legends of the past.

"What is it about baseball that you like?" he asked, demanding "an intelligent answer". I stammered something about watching because I enjoyed it, but the question was provocative enough that I didn't have an answer until sometime this evening. I enjoy watching baseball because it's hard to use a thin cylinder to hit a ball moving at 150 kilometres per hour. It's very hard, in fact. Baseball is rare amongst human endeavours in that immortality awaits anyone who suceeds in two out of every five attempts. I watch baseball because it's hard to throw a curveball that drops from the shoulders to the knees in less than the span of an instant. More than anything, though, I watch baseball because it's fun.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

"

It's probably best that Mr. Burns got those ringers. He wanted Honus Wagner to play third base, but he was really a shortstop. I was probably nine when I was first saw this, but I was thrilled to hear the names of Cap Anson, one of the greatest hitters of the postbellum period, and Mordecai 'Three Finger' Brown, who nonetheless managed to pitch his way to a career 2.06 ERA. Brown also pitched for the 1908 World Series champion Chicago Cubs. He went 29-9 with a 1.47 ERA, finishing 27 of his 31 starts and blanking opponents in nine of them.

Thanks to the Dead Ball Era, one of those quaint charms of turn-of-the-century America, he allowed one home run all year. The vaunted Tinkers-to-Evers-to-Chance infield behind him combined for eight. Overpaid ringers and team psychologists may have worked well for Mr. Burns, but the Cubs have since gone on to lose seven World Series. Given that the last time they made the World Series was about a month after the end of World War II, maybe it's best that the Cubs exhume Anson and Brown along with Reconstruction-era slugger Ned Williamson, Ernie Banks, Mark Grace and even Greg Maddux.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Running Mania :: View topic - Official Headphone rule in US

April 7 can be a very cold day in Toronto. Thirty years ago, a snowy April 7 was the backdrop for the first major league baseball game ever played in Toronto as the local Blue Jays met the Chicago White Sox. Wearing the powder blue uniforms that have since been consigned to the realm of nostalgia, Doug Ault hit two of his 17 career home runs and the Jays won 9-5. The first pitch was thrown by veteran Bill Singer, who is perhaps the standard-bearer for all the accomplished free agent pitchers who have beached themselves on the north shore of Lake Ontario. Singer was a former 20-game winner and the first reliever to record a save, but he would only win two games that year and retire afterwards. The Blue Jays themselves would only win 54 games that year, but would, of course, go on to win two championships and then sign Erik Hanson, Joey Hamilton, and A.J. Burnett.

On this particular April 7, I went and ran the aforementioned Spring Run-Off 8k in High Park. The temperature dipped to -6 and unless I've eaten one too many Oatmeal To Go bars, I could've sworn we ran the first kilometre being sprinkled by snow as fine as anything. I've always thought that I may as well stand still at the start of every race I run, since everyone ranging from Thomas Omwenga (2:10 marathoner and eventual winner in 24:23) to a husky oaf wearing a heavy windbreaker and an Ottawa Senators tuque loped ahead of me. I briefly thought of asking him about the outcome of last night's Leafs game but didn't, which is good because the Leafs didn't play.

At any rate, I lost the tomfoolers after about one mile and strode to 15:33 halfway through the tearfully hilly course. Making my move on the back half of the course, I redeemed last year's performance by finishing 36th in 30:55. Actually, finishing wouldn't be as appropriate a description as 'bumbling across the finish line like a caricature of myself'.

I was 31 spots and roughly one mile out of the money, so I had to improvise as best as I could. I helped myself to six bagels and four bananas to complement the eight-kilometre buffet of pain.

Friday, April 06, 2007

I'm still unsure of how to react to the proposal, seemingly realistic, to convert the Canada Malting Company plant at the foot of Bathurst Street to a museum of Toronto's history. In a way, there is no better place to tell the untold stories of this city than the malt plant. Just about everyone in the city, I'm willing to wager, has been past this building and yet very few are aware of it.

Closed for roughly 20 years, the malt plant sits as a foreboding monument to the inhuman, hyper-industrial past of our lakeshore. Jeff Chapman wrote that it is "like the wreck of the Titanic" and he has the horrifying tales to back it up. Its entrails are doors that lead a dozen storeys below, storeys-high holes in the floor where ducts used to be and rusting, haunting machinery that equally invites death.

I can never go by the malt plant without a shudder, just like the towering Hearn generating station, its sister in the eastern port lands. Their stories are ones I'm compelled to tell over and over and over. I would love to see something, anything less spine-chilling replace the malt plant, but the time warp of its rusting wreckage begs for forgiveness. Someday, I suppose, I'll be able to point to a shiny glass building and tell people that a creaky, hulking behemoth once tottered in that space. At least we'll always have the mercury-infested eastern port lands.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Only the pros play under the lights. The rest of us do what we can, at the mercy of the sun. Consider, for example, the Chicago Cubs, the loveable losers of the north side, who will today begin their 99th season since they last won a championship. The Cubs have long had a pathological aversion to evening games, preferring instead to play their home games under the sun at Wrigley Field.

A chance to play at night, accompanied by floodlights, is nothing to sneeze at. The closest I've come is this workout in October. The lights, however, were really just streetlights.

On Friday, however, I had a prodigal moment of the sort an ailing Robert Redford had when he actually destroyed those same lights during batting practice. Evening had given way to dusk and dusk itself had faded into night, but the streetlights along Bathurst illuminated the track enough to let me find my way. I was still running in circles at Central Tech. A rhythm develops after some time on the track, the sort which I can't describe except to say that turns feel smoother, laps feel shorter and, if you run fast enough, the entire track becomes your domain.

I had decided to sprint the last lap of six kilometre repeats. I don't remember much about the lap. I remember moving my legs as fast as I could and I remember gasping for air, but that's about all. At the end, my watch displayed 75 seconds, a shock that only exacerbated my own tortured breathing and mental haze. The only thing missing was a musical theme by Randy Newman.