But What Do I Know? … Mike Flanagan, Brett Lawrie, John Axford

My weekly opinions, observations and rants about some Canadian baseball stories (Please follow me on Twitter: @kevinglewsports):

 No one will ever truly know what drove former Blue Jay Mike Flanagan to take his own life last Wednesday, but it’s clear that he had a profound impact on his teammates. Both Tom Henke and Todd Stottlemyre considered him a friend and a mentor. And who can forget that gutsy, 11-inning performance against the Tigers on the second last day of the 1987 campaign? Condolences go out to his wife, Alex, and three daughters at this difficult time.

 Just to be clear about where I stand on Brett Lawrie: I’m not saying he’s going to be the greatest Blue Jay ever. My contention is that there’s a good chance he’ll become the most popular Blue Jay ever. And judging by the turnout for his autograph signing at the Eaton Centre last week, he’s well on his way. Here’s a link to an article about the event: http://www.thestar.com/sports/baseball/mlb/bluejays/article/1045416

 If I’m Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos, my off-season priority is landing a topnotch outfield coach. Eric Thames is the most recent in a long list of Jays outfielders that has looked lost defensively over the past couple of seasons.

 The battle for the 2011 Tip O’Neill Award (an honour handed out annually by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame to the top Canadian player) has turned into a two-horse race between Reds’ first baseman Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.) and Brewers closer John Axford (Simcoe, Ont.). Votto has followed up his 2010 MVP season by hitting .325 with 26 homers and 87 RBIs. He also leads the National League with a .440 on-base percentage. The mustachioed Axford has a league-leading 40 saves for Milwaukee and boasts a 2.30 ERA.

 Speaking of Axford, shouldn’t he get some Cy Young votes?

 Russell Martin’s five-for-five performance against the A’s last Thursday, included two home runs, a double, two singles, three runs and six RBIs. Although, I don’t know of any way to verify this, his 12 total bases are likely the most that any Canadian has ever recorded in a single game.

 Thanks to Nick Diunte, who writes about baseball history for Examiner.com, for sharing his story about former Negro League great Curly Williams, who passed away last week at age 86. Though best known for his seven-season stint in the Negro Leagues, Williams also played 10 years in Canada primarily in Lloydminster. You can read the article here: http://www.examiner.com/baseball-history-in-national/curly-williams-was-a-beacon-for-negro-league-baseball

 Scott Crawford, director of operations at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, recently shared with me that Tayl0r Green (Comox, B.C.), who was called up by the Brewers on August 26, is the 25th Canadian to appear in the big leagues this year. The 24-year-old third baseman was hitting .336 with 22 homers and 88 RBIs in 120 games with Triple-A Nashville this season.

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8 thoughts on “But What Do I Know? … Mike Flanagan, Brett Lawrie, John Axford

  1. Kevin-the Hall of Fame received Axford’s jersey from his 40th save today! It’s one of the tighest races ever for the Tip in my mind.

    Time to bring in legendary OF Terry Puhl or Devon White to help the Jays!

  2. How ’bout keeping it all in the family when it comes to mentoring outfield play?

    Bring Jesse Barfield or Devon White back to show these talented, yet inefficient outfielders how the pasture should be patrolled.

  3. The Tip should go to the Ax-Man for the simple fact that he is the only man in the game who LOOKS like he could have been teammates with Mr. O’Neill!

  4. It turns out that Martin’s 12 total bases last Thursday was not a Canadian record. Thanks again to Scott Crawford at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for providing the following list of the most total bases in a single game by Canadians:

    Total Bases
    Larry Walker 14 25-Jun 2004
    Larry Walker 13 28-Apr 1999
    Larry Walker 13 5-Apr 1997
    Russell Martin 12 25-Aug 2011
    Joey Votto 12 7-May 2008
    Justin Morneau 12 6-Jul 2007

  5. Great point about the outfielder coach.
    I never thought about it until you brought it up but I think they could use someone to help smooth out the rough spots and there have been quite a few adventures out there.

  6. I remember Flanagan’s game in that 1987 final weekend. Despite the way the Jays lost, Flanagan’s performance was heroic.

    At one point I thought the Lawrie hype was overblown, he could still be Rob Butler the Second for all we know, but probably not. I’ve just had to listen to so much propaganda this year; about how great Drabek was pitching, how Reyes was better than his record, how Cecil is “coming around” and how Luis Perez and Carlos Villanueva are the second coming. The only truth-tellers around are Zaun, Ashby and Bob McCown these days.

  7. Why do we not hear from hitting coach Murphy from the Toronto Blue Jays? They did a segment with him earlier in the year and he was entertainiing and informative.

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