My weekly opinions, observations and rants about some Canadian baseball stories:
Funeral services were held yesterday for Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Ron Piché in Laval, Quebec. Hall president Tom Valcke reported that Piche would be buried in his honourary Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame blazer. Piché, who pitched for parts of six seasons in the big leagues and later worked for the Expos, passed away on February 3 of complications from cancer. “Ron was a class guy who never had a bad thing to say about anyone, and nor did anyone ever have a bad thing to say about him,” said Valcke.
Woodie Fryman, another member of the Montreal Expos family, passed away on February 4. The former Expos left-hander, who was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame in 1995, died at his home in Ewing, Ky., at age 70. For the past six years, he had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. Fryman enjoyed two stints with the Expos (1975-76, 1978 to 1983) and was the Expos Player of the Year in 1976. In total, he pitched in 18 big league seasons and won 141 games.
The Jays would have a better chance of landing Michael Young if Vernon Wells was still with the club. Wells and Young are best friends. Young, who has demanded a trade out of Texas and has three years and $48 million left on his contract, is unlikely to land in Toronto, and this may not be a bad thing. Young was one of the worst defensive third basemen in baseball in 2010 and though still a dangerous hitter, his production has declined in recent years.
I’m re-reading Stephen Brunt’s excellent 1996 book, Diamond Dreams: 20 Years of Blue Jays Baseball. I had forgotten that in the spring of 1977 that the Yankees were willing to trade a young left-hander named Ron Guidry to the Jays for Bill Singer. Pat Gillick was ready to make the deal, but Jays president Peter Bavasi vetoed the transaction. Bavasi wanted some star power on the Opening Day roster and Singer, a big league veteran at the time, was one of the club’s only recognizable names.
I know I’m five years late on this, but do yourself a favour and listen to Ryne Sandberg’s Hall of Fame speech. “Respect the game above all else” is the central theme of his oratory. The cynic in me usually scoffs at former players who feel the game was better in the “good ole days,” but Sandberg’s speech is powerful and poignant. Who knew that the soft-spoken Sandberg was such a masterful speaker? You can watch it here: http://is.gd/W2mZtW