My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
· Thanks to the baseball card above, every time I watch the Cleveland Indians play I feel like Bryn Smith is also somewhere in the team’s dugout. This is a 1982 Topps Future Stars card that features then Montreal Expos prospects Terry Francona (now Indians manager) and Brad Mills (now Indians bench coach). It seems fitting that the two longtime friends, who work side-by-side for the Tribe, share the same rookie card.
· Aside from the Montreal Expos connection, the Cleveland Indians also have three ex-Toronto Blue Jays – Edwin Encarnacion, Yan Gomes and Joe Smith – on their playoff roster. Reports indicate that the gruesome looking ankle injury that Encarnacion sustained in Game 2 of the American League Division Series against the New York Yankees on Friday is not as bad as initially feared. Francona told reporters on Saturday that Encarnacion is day-to-day with a sprained right ankle.
· Speaking of the New York Yankees, when their young slugger Aaron Judge belted a two-run home run in the American League Wild Card game against the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday, he became the eighth Yankee to homer in their first playoff game. According to High Heat Stats on Twitter, the first Yankee to do this was Huntsville, Ont., native and Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer George Selkirk on September 30, 1936.
· After his remarkable 2017 campaign, Etobicoke, Ont., native Joey Votto is being widely touted as a National League MVP candidate despite suiting up for the last-place Cincinnati Reds. If Votto is named MVP, he’ll become the first Canadian to capture two MVP awards at the major league level. For a summary of some of Votto’s outstanding 2017 stats, you can follow this link. Another impressive stat was shared by Hot Stove Stats on Twitter on Monday. Just three players have had seasons when they are 33 years old or older in which they have registered at least 175 hits, 130 walks and a .450 on-base percentage: Joey Votto (2017), Lou Gehrig (1936) and Babe Ruth (1930).
· Forty-four years ago today, Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Rusty Staub socked two home runs for the New York Mets to lead them to a 9-2 win over the Reds in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series. The Mets eventually won the series in five games, before losing to the Oakland A’s in seven games in the World Series.
· The last Montreal Expo plans to play on. According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Bartolo Colon would like to pitch for one more major league season. Set to turn 45 in May, Colon, who went 10-4 with a 3.31 ERA in 17 starts for the Expos in 2002, split 2017 between the Atlanta Braves and the Minnesota Twins and posted a combined 6.48 ERA in 143 innings. The 5-foot-11, 285-pound right-hander has 240 major league wins in 20 seasons.
· According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, new Marlins owner Derek Jeter has reportedly reached out to longtime team ambassadors and former Montreal Expos Andre Dawson and Tony Perez to offer them new roles with the club. The former Yankees shortstop was heavily criticized for reportedly ordering outgoing executive David Samson to dismiss Dawson and Perez, as well as franchise icons Jeff Conine and Jack McKeon, in late September.
· If you’re a Canadian baseball history buff (like me), mark November 18th and 19th on your calendar. Crackerjack Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame volunteer and longtime SABR member Andrew North has announced that the second annual Canadian Baseball History Symposium will take place at the St. Marys Golf & Country Club in St. Marys, Ont., on those dates. This year’s event, which will again be organized by North, will include presentations about 19th-century player Bob Addy and manager William Watkins, baseball and Canadian soldiers in World War I and the Chatham Coloured All-Stars. There will also be a pictorial history quiz based on images and a panel discussion of what defines being Canadian, and the consequences of that definition for baseball research. The registration fee is $60. To register, please email Andrew North at email@example.com.
· This week’s trivia question: I mentioned earlier that if Joey Votto wins his second National League MVP Award this year, he’ll become the first Canadian to win a major league MVP Award twice. Two other Canadians have won a major league MVP Award. Can you name them? The first person to provide the correct answer will win a 1982 Topps Rickey Henderson card and a 1983 Fleer Reggie Jackson card.
· The answer to last week’s trivia question (The Montreal Expos had 11 different managers in their 36-season existence. Two of those managers have been inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. Can you name them?) was Jim Fanning and Felipe Alou.