My weekly opinions, observations and rants about some Canadian baseball stories (Please follow me on Twitter: @kevinglewsports):
God bless Cito Gaston. He was a successful manager in his own way, but Jays manager John Farrell employed more game strategy in Thursday’s opener than Gaston did in his 10-plus years as dugout boss.
I like to tell people that Jays lefty Brett Cecil is not struggling with velocity issues, he’s just channeling his inner Josh Towers.
By my unofficial count, there are 10 players still competing in the big leagues that once wore a Montreal Expos uniform. Brian Schneider (Phillies), Jamey Carroll (Twins), Nick Johnson (Orioles), Juan Rivera (Dodgers), Carl Pavano (Twins), Ted Lilly (Dodgers), Livan Hernandez (Braves), Jon Rauch (Mets), Guillermo Mota (Giants) and Geoff Blum (D-Backs) are the remaining former Expos.
Five more players – Cliff Lee (Phillies), Brandon Phillips (Reds), Jason Bay (Mets), Jake Westbrook (Cardinals) and Grady Sizemore (Indians, DL) – were drafted by the Expos or spent time in their minor league system.
If you spend any time around the Blue Jays, you realize how great an ambassador J.P. Arencibia is for the club. Not only does he slug Opening Day homers, he signs autographs, poses for photos, communicates with fans through social media and is patient with the media. Jose Bautista and Brett Lawrie may be the stars of this team, but Arencibia is fast becoming its heart and soul.
According to Baseball Canada, there are 15 Canadians on big league rosters to start the 2012 season. The Mets and Brewers lead the way with two Canadians each. Jason Bay (Trail, B.C.) and Mike Nickeas (Vancouver, B.C.) are with the Mets, while the Brewers boast John Axford (Port Dover, Ont.) and George Kottaras (Scarborough, Ont.).
Just how old is Omar Vizquel? Well, the future Hall of Famer, who will turn 45 on April 24, made his big league debut more than a month before the SkyDome opened in 1989.
I’m as guilty as anyone of over-hyping the virtues of Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie (Langley, B.C.), but even I thought it was ridiculous when a fan called into the FAN 590 morning show on Thursday and compared Lawrie to Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams.
I’m two decades late in reading Tom Cheek’s fascinating book “Road to Glory.” One nugget that I learned from the book is that when the Jays hired Hall of Fame hurler Early Wynn as Cheek’s partner in the radio booth in 1977, the club was also considering a then-unproven analyst named Tim McCarver.