October 24, 2015

A note on the Jays and baseball

The Kansas City Royals are going to the World Series after defeating the Blue Jays 4-3 on Friday (Central time). The time zone difference between local Eastern time and Japan meant I was dual tasking, as usual, to view the game’s progress in real time. In this case, it was a Saturday morning and we were watching Lady M’s kindergarten sports day events under autumn blue skies, 28 degrees. I periodically checked the score with ESPN Gamecast on the sly. Felt disappointed when the Jays fell after a memorable game 6, ending their season. It was a phenomenal final game to the ALCS. The Jays had an exciting run since the All-star break. KC was just a bit better and they deserved to win. But man oh man the journey was terrific—what an entertaining season.

Munenori Kawasaki, who personifies the 'likeability' of the 2015 Blue Jays team. Photo courtesy of Huffington Post
On the Blue Jays
In fall 1992, I was in Kingston, Ontario, and like so many wanted to get a ticket to the ALCS and then the World Series. I settled for the games broadcast on CTV instead. In 1993, I was in Halifax, watching many games on a big screen TV, nursing a Keith’s and cursing the Phillies. Fast forward 22 years, I sip my ice coffee and catch the game highlights on my PC at home. The 2015 Blue Jays were simply great fun to watch and track, right from the beginning of the season. Now that their season has ended it’s time to just appreciate it all. I enjoyed the spectacle and the drama, even half a planet away, and without seeing a single full game. I lived on Baseball Tonight highlights and whatever I could find on YouTube. It’s enough. Thus endeth my mash note to the Blue Jays.

Baseball propels me through the summer months. It’s background noise to camping, mornings watching ESPN Gamecast (and remembering the glory days of endless free time and NBC’s Game of the Week with Bob Costas), and shooting the breeze with a few other fans at the office. It adds a texture to the summer days that I have come to greatly appreciate and savor. When commuting I listen to the BlueJaysTalk podcast hosted by Mike Wilner. It keeps me in touch with regular folks in Canada, with their opening “How’s it going, Mike?” remarks, his sometimes-terse reply, other callers’ oddball rants, polite cracks, and general musings on the games. I could go through the finer elements that keep my interest: the rookie/veteran player stories; pitching; double plays and all the intricate mechanics of the game—even the business element. The link to long, drawn out afternoons and summer breezes has hooked me since my mid-teens, and as a non-player to boot. Read W.P. Kinsella and you’ll see why. It’s really the artists' take on the game– Roger Angell, George Will, Roger Kahn, hell even Ron Luciano (umpire)--and their writing that hooked me. Ken Burns’ PBS series on the game visually burnished the attractions of the game, too. So I guess you can say that as a Canuck hockey is in my heart, but baseball seems to have occupied my head.

2015: Lucky Charm
I enjoy watching Japanese pro baseball games and this season I attended the most games ever. I saw five Nippon Pro Baseball (NPB) games in three different stadiums this year. Of the five games I saw, the team I was rooting for won four, so my attending enabled an 80% win ratio! This statistic doesn’t make me Bill James, but it did make me a lucky charm this year.
See you in February…
Courtesy of John Lehmann/Globe & Mail

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