My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
– Please send your thoughts and prayers to Toronto Blue Jays legend and 2008 Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Tony Fernandez who is in critical condition in hospital due to complications from a kidney disease. Fernandez has been fighting Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) for a few years now. PKD is a genetic disorder in which cyst clusters grow in the kidneys, causing the kidneys to enlarge and stop functioning over time. Hector Gomez, an MLB sports writer, reported on Saturday that Fernandez’s condition had improved mildly. He later shared this message from Fernandez’s wife, Clara.
-The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame will announce its 2020 induction class on Tuesday at 9 a.m. ET. I will post their press release on this site.
-Thank you to Tom Valcke for alerting me that Larry Walker will fittingly become the 333rd inductee into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown this summer. In case you don’t know, the Maple Ridge, B.C., native is obsessive about the No. 3. You can hear an explanation in the video below. Here’s hoping they allow him to speak at 3:33 p.m. on induction day.
–Scott Lauber of The Philadelphia Inquirer reported last Saturday that Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Nick Pivetta (Victoria, B.C.) decided to relocate to Los Angeles in October after a disappointing 2019 campaign. The 26-year-old Canadian, who posted a 5.38 ERA in 30 appearances – including 13 starts – for the Phillies last season, worked out with fellow big league hurlers Lucas Giolito, Max Fried, Jack Flaherty and Noah Syndergaard. “It wasn’t necessarily going the best way for me in 2019, and I wanted to make an adjustment that could help me separate myself,” Pivetta told Lauber. “Just surrounding myself with a lot of guys — same age, similar standpoints in the careers — I think it’s important to get around those guys, feed off each other, and do the things that they’ve had success with and mimic them and drive yourself in that same direction.” Pivetta met with Giolito and Fried every morning at 8 a.m. at the Mamba Sports Academy, the late Kobe Bryant’s facility, to begin their workouts. The article indicates that Pivetta has made significant adjustments to his mechanics heading into the 2020 season.
-With St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina now in the twilight of his big league career, there are many that suggest he will be worthy of induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. That’s why I found this tweet (click below) about free-agent catcher Russell Martin (Montreal, Que.) to be interesting. According to this tweet, Martin is just as worthy of a plaque in Cooperstown. In fact, the 36-year-old Canadian catcher’s fWAR (his Wins Above Replacement as calculated by advanced statistics site FanGraphs) and OPS are actually better than Molina’s.
-Ontario Blue Jays and Junior National Team alum Jordan Balazovic (Mississauga, Ont.) is the sole Canadian on MLB Pipeline’s list of top 100 prospects heading into the 2020 season. The 21-year-old right-hander is ranked 86th on the list. Balazovic enjoyed a breakout season in 2019, posting a combined 8-5 record and a 2.69 ERA, while striking out 129 batters in 93 2/3 innings in 19 games between class-A and class-A Advanced in the Minnesota Twins organization. For his efforts, he was named the Canadian Baseball Network’s minor league pitcher of the year. Selected by Twins veteran scout Walt Burrows (Brentwood Bay, B.C.) in the fifth round of the 2016 draft, Balazovic has pitched parts of four seasons in the Twins organization.
-Old-Time Baseball Photos on Twitter posted this aerial photo (click on link) of Maple Leaf Stadium in Toronto in 1947. It was located at the foot of Bathurst, south of Lakeshore Boulevard.
-Former Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Curtis Granderson announced his retirement on Friday after 16 major league seasons. A three-time all-star, he recorded 1,800 hits, belted 344 home runs and stole 153 bases in 2,057 games for the Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees, New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, Blue Jays, Milwaukee Brewers and Miami Marlins. I remember one baseball executive saying he wouldn’t be surprised if Granderson, who’s devoted to many charitable efforts, was president of the United States one day. I could get on board with that. Forget the statistics, Granderson was one of the greatest human beings ever in Major League Baseball. I’ll miss him. Baseball will miss him. Happy retirement to him! But I hope we haven’t seen the last of him in a leadership role.
-If you’re looking for a piece of Blue Jays’ history, former centre fielder Devon White is selling some of his awards through Heritage Auctions, including his 1991 Gold Glove Award and his 1992 and 1993 World Series trophies. I couldn’t help but notice that he’s selling his 1997 Marlins World Series ring, but not his Blue Jays rings from 1992 and 1993. You can check out the auction here.
-Happy 62nd Birthday to former Blue Jays player and current TV analyst Pat Tabler! Say what you want about his broadcasting skills – and I’ve been listening to his critics for years – the man could hit with the bases loaded. During his career with the bases full, he was 43-for-88, good for a .489 batting average. Of those 43 hits, two were home runs, six were doubles and three were triples.
-This week’s trivia question: In 2007, Curtis Granderson became one of only four players in major league history to register 20 home runs, 20 doubles, 20 triples and 20 stolen bases in the same season. Name one of the three other players to accomplish this. Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below. The first person with the correct answer will win a five-pack of Larry Walker Expos cards (Sorry, no rookie cards).
-The answer to last week’s trivia question (Who was the last Canadian outfielder to receive a National Baseball Hall of Fame vote from baseball writers before Larry Walker?) was Terry Puhl (Melville, Sask.) who received one vote in 1997.