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.