My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
- The best line I heard about home plate umpire Vic Carapazza’s questionable strike zone that led to the ejections of Edwin Encarnacion, John Gibbons and Russell Martin in the Blue Jays’ 19-inning loss to the Cleveland Indians on Canada Day came from Sportsnet hockey blogger Steve Dangle. “Canada is the world’s second-largest land mass. The largest is Vic Carapazza’s strike zone,” he tweeted. Not surprisingly, Carapazza’s performance inspired a spoof Twitter account called “Carapazza’s Eyes.” The final tweet from Carapazza’s Eyes after Friday’s marathon contest read, “Finally I can close my eyes! Kidding! They’ve been closed for the last 6 hours!”
- Maple Ridge, B.C. native and Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Larry Walker even chimed in with his two cents on Carapazza’s performance on Canada Day. “Home sick today! But getting to watch Blue Jays game,” tweeted Walker “3 Jays ejected so far! Don’t blame them. Home plate is on wheels today! Bad ump!!”
- In case you missed it, the Blue Jays released Chad Jenkins on Friday. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound right-hander pitched parts of four seasons with the Blue Jays, but had only appeared in two major league games since 2014. A first-round pick in the 2009 MLB amateur draft, Jenkins had struggled in triple-A this season, posting a 5.16 ERA in 23 appearances.
- SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo reported on Monday that former Blue Jays reliever Steve Delabar has signed with the Hiroshima Carp of the Nippon Professional Baseball League. After being released by the Blue Jays in spring training, the 32-year-old righty posted a 6.75 ERA in seven appearances with the Cincinnati Reds in May before being designated for assignment. In all, Delabar has pitched in parts of six major league seasons with the Mariners (2011-12), Blue Jays (2012 to 2015) and Reds (2016).
- Fun Canadian Baseball Fact: Huntsville, Ont., native and Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer George Selkirk, who played right field for the New York Yankees after Babe Ruth, finished with a higher career on-base percentage (.400) in his nine major league seasons than teammate Joe DiMaggio (.398).
- Former Montreal Expo Moises Alou turns 50 today. The right-handed hitting outfielder, who’s the son of Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer, Felipe Alou, batted .292 and recorded 626 hits in 608 games with the Expos. His best campaign with the club came in the strike-shortened, 1994 campaign when he was batting .339 with 22 home runs before the season was cancelled. Following the 1996 season, he signed with the Florida Marlins and helped them win a World Series the following year. He later starred for the Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants and New York Mets. In all, he suited up for 1,942 big league games in 17 seasons and finished with a .303 batting average and 331 home runs.
- Last weekend, New Westminster, B.C., native Justin Morneau started taking practice for the Chicago White Sox and he’ll begin a minor league rehab stint this week in hopes of joining the big league club after the all-star break. Morneau, who signed a one-year, $1-million contract with the Sox on June 9, is attempting to come back from surgery on his left elbow that he underwent last December. When he returns, he’ll serve primarily as a designated hitter. The 34-year-old first baseman’s 2015 season was shortened by a neck injury and a recurrence of post-concussion symptoms, but when he returned in September, he hit .338 in 22 games for the Colorado Rockies. In parts of 13 big league seasons, Morneau has clubbed 241 home runs, which is the third-most by a Canadian behind Larry Walker (383) and Matt Stairs (265).
- What Blue Jays do you think will be selected to this year’s all-star game? A solid case could be made for several players, including Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion, Michael Saunders, Marco Estrada, Aaron Sanchez, J.A. Happ and Roberto Osuna. If I were a betting man, my money would be on Donaldson and Encarnacion. I think Estrada may also be selected, but given his sore back, I think the Blue Jays would prefer he rest over the break.
- Shortly after he was called up by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1968, 5-foot-5, shortstop Freddie Patek was asked by a reporter how it felt to be the shortest player in the major leagues. “A helluva lot better than being the shortest player in the minors,” he responded.
- This week’s trivia question: Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista was voted to start in the all-star game by the fans in four consecutive seasons, from 2011 to 2014. Prior to Bautista, who is the last Blue Jays player to be voted to start in the all-star game? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below. The first person to provide the correct answer will win a signed Tony Fernandez photo.