Toronto Blue Jays


Gregg Zaun Fired by Rogers Sportsnet

Gregg Zaun will no longer be a part of Blue Jays telecasts. He was fired today. Rick Brace, President of Rogers Media, sent the following email to employees this afternoon.

This week, we received complaints from multiple employees at Sportsnet regarding inappropriate behaviour and comments by Gregg Zaun in the workplace. After investigating the matter, we decided to terminate his contract, effective immediately.

This type of behaviour completely contradicts our standards and our core values. We must all be held to the same standard - regardless of our position, our contributions or our status.

We believe in a professional workplace where all employees feel comfortable and respected. We believe in a culture where our employees share their feedback or our status.

We are grateful to the employees who spoke wth us and we will take every measure to protect their privacy.

If you have concerns related to inappropriate behaviour of any kind, I encourage you to talk to your manager, HR business partner, or phone our anonymous hotline.

Thank you for your ongoing support and commitment.

Rick

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Why Didn't Roy Halladay End Up Working With Blue Jays Minor Leaguers?

I have a great deal of respect for Bob Elliott. In fact, when he visited me eleven months ago, I let him become the first guest in 207 episodes to go beyond two hours. Elliott spent decades covering the Expos and Blue Jays and the players trusted him and confided in him. I wanted to hear as many stories as possible.

Bob Elliott and Me

Following the tragic death of Roy Halladay, Elliott wrote a great article about Roy for the Canadian Baseball Network. It included this nugget that caught my eye.

This off season he wanted to work with Blue Jays minor leaguers. He applied -- yes Roy Halladay was made to apply for a job with the Blue Jays -- with the high performance committee.

And then the decision whether to hire him was kicked upstairs.

The Jays did not hire him. Instead, he was re-hired by the Phillies to work with their young pitchers.

I read this and was left wondering why Roy Halladay didn't end up working with the Blue Jays' minor leaguers. There may be an excellent reason Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins took a pass on utilizing Roy's services, but I'd rather not speculate. I'd like to know.

I tweeted about my desire to know and was accused of piling on current management.

Admittedly, a few moves made by Shapiro and Atkins have me scratching my head, but I certainly have no interest in "piling on". Someone linked me to Andrew Stoeten's entry about the piling on but I still think it's absolutely fair to ask why the Blue Jays didn't want Roy Halladay working with their minor leaguers. Our loss was Philadelphia's gain, as you'll read in this Philadelphia Inquirer article.

Again, I don't know anything is rotten here, and I'm well aware knowing the truth won't bring Roy back, but my hope is that one of this city's fine sports journalists investigates the story and brings to light the truth.

I think we fans deserve to know.

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Roy Halladay, Dead at 40

Roy HalladayRoy Halladay was 40. He was the greatest starting pitcher in Blue Jays history and one of my all-time favourite players. If you search this site for the keyword "halladay" you will find dozens and dozens of entries about the man.

Roy

Here are a few of my favourites:

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Joey Bats: An Appreciation

When the Blue Jays acquired Jose Bautista from the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2008, I knew nothing about him. I remember thinking his last name reminded me of former Blue Jay shortstop Tony Batista who had a silly batting stance but plenty of power. In 2008, Bautista got into 21 games for the Jays, hitting three home runs.

Six Blue Jays hit more home runs than 28-year old Bautista in 2009: Hill, Lind, Barajas, Overbay, Wells and Rios. That's right, catcher Rod Barajas out slugged Joey Bats back in 2009. None of us saw 2010 coming.

To be honest, I initially resented Bautista. I grew up loving George Bell and took some comfort that he still held the franchise record for home runs in a season. Not even Carlos Delgado ever hit 47 homers in a season for the Jays, but here was Bautista, seemingly coming out of nowhere to set the new standard. Bautista's 2010 season was exceptional, but his 2011 season was even better.

Take a look at Bautista's numbers in 2010 and 2011. No Blue Jays batter has put together back-to-back seasons as stellar as these. He was the best player in baseball.

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Bautista would put up four more fantastic seasons, culminating in 2015's bat flip in that seventh inning of the ALDS against the Rangers. I can't tell you how many times I've re-watched this 7th inning and every time my heart flips with Joey's bat. It's the greatest Blue Jays moment since Joe touched 'em all in '93 and we'll have it forever.

batflip

I'm going to miss watching Joey Bats suit up for my Jays. He's the best Blue Jay of the past decade and, in my humble opinion, one of the five greatest Blue Jays of all-time.

Thank you, Jose.

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Never Tell Me the Odds

Despite my best efforts, my oldest never took to baseball. I knew I was in trouble during the pennant race of 2015 when he chose to watch a preseason Leafs game over a Jays game against the Yankees. He just doesn't love baseball the way I do.

In his 15 summers of life, he's probably seen about 15 games at the dome. He was there with me in 2008 when Gregg Zaun hit a walk-off grand slam, he was there last Thursday when Steve Pearce hit a walk-off grand slam and he was there today when Steve Pearce did it yet again.

In case you think walk-off grand slams are common in Blue Jays history, let me tell you there have been exactly three since my son was born. There have only ever been four, the first being a 1988 walk-off by George Bell. Somehow, against all odds, my son has seen all three Blue Jays walk-off grand slams in his lifetime.

And he's done so by only attending about 15 games. Whip out your calculators and figure out the odds on that one. It hurts my brain to think about it.

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That Was a Fun Two Years

At the end of April, I wrote that the Blue Jays were in trouble but not done yet. It was easy to say we were toast after that horrific start, but there was plenty of time to right the ship that had made two consecutive playoff appearances. To quote a man who recently dropped by to kick out the jams, it was early.

It's now late July and we're almost at the point two years ago when AA made a series of moves to propel the hype train out of the station. Today, our Jays are 44-52, better than only the White Sox and Athletics in the American League. Too many games resemble the 19-1 debacle I attended, or last night's 13-3 loss in Cleveland. This team is not very good.

I've got some great memories from the past two years, which reminded me of the early 90s when everyone in this city was on the Blue Jays bandwagon. We had the bat flip, Edwin's wildcard walk-off and this. After a couple of decades in the wilderness, Jays fever returned and it was glorious.

But now, it's time to blow it up. I'm in favour of completely rebuilding this team Maple Leafs style, and building a contender from the farm up.

It's time to scorch the earth.

scorched_earth

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Witnessing that 19-1 Debacle

I remember catching the Jays vs. Cleveland many years ago and watching our boys in blue get trounced. I think it was 14-0, but I can't remember exactly. All I know is that up until yesterday it was the worst Jays defeat I had ever witnessed live.

My oldest daughter and I had great seats for yesterday's game. The day started wonderfully, with a great ride along the waterfront trail and the dome opening before first pitch. The Jays were trying to take 3 of 4 from the powerhouse Astros as they head into the all-star break. By the end of the second inning, it was clear that was not to be.

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In fact, it was 19-0 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Had Ezequiel Carrera not homered, it would have been the worst shutout loss in franchise history. But Zeke went deep and it ended up just being the worst loss I'd ever witnessed live.

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Truth be told, because I was there with my daughter in fantastic seats, it was great fun. We even got serious air time coming out of a break on Sportsnet. Someone on Twitter was kind enough to share the footage with me. Clearly I was enjoying the tunes!

We were one of the few to stick around for the final out and now we have a great story to share. During our ride home, we wondered if that all really happened. Did the Jays really just lose by 18 runs? Did we really see it all unfold before our eyes?

CN Tower

I'm still not certain it actually happened...

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Exhibition Stadium Bases Memorialized at Exhibition Place

I loved going to Blue Jays games at Exhibition Stadium. Some called it the mistake by the lake, but to me it was where my Jays played and that was everything. George, Damaso, Ernie, Jesse, Lloyd, Dave, Alfredo, Tony, Willie, Rance... so many memories.

At the precise spots where the bases used to be, they've put cement markers. I think this is very cool. Even though it's a parking lot now, it's neat being able to see where our Blue Jays played before the dome.

I biked over today to snap some pictures and step on home plate.

Me touching home plate

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1st Base

2nd Base

3rd Base

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Jays in Trouble, But Not Done Yet

The Jays just took two out of three against the Rays and are now 8-17. That's a .320 winning percentage. That's not good.

I wouldn't bet my own money on the Jays making the playoffs this year, but there's hope. In 1989, back when I wouldn't miss a single inning, my beloved Blue Jays were 12-24 when they fired manager Jimy Williams and gave the job to Cito Gaston. 12-24 is a .333 winning percentage. We ended up winning the AL East that year.

It won't be easy, but there is precedent in Blue Jays history, and that was before there were wild cards. We no longer have to win the AL East to make the playoffs.

mookie

The '89 Blue Jays were a good team that needed a spark. The 2017 Blue Jays aren't that different from the 2015 and 2016 teams that made the ALCS, and as bodies return from the DL and bats warm up, you just never know.

Stranger things have happened.

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The Cosmic Ballet of Toronto's Big 3 Pro Sports Teams

Despite frustrating me for three quarters, the Raptors actually won in Milwaukee yesterday to tie their first round series with the Bucks at 2 games apiece. They should advance to the second round, although nothing is a surety when this team is in the playoffs. They're rather unpredictable, hence the frustration.

Tonight I'll be glued to the Leafs game as we try to win at home to force a game seven with the President's Trophy winning Capitals. What a series this has been... four games have been decided in OT and the other was decided by a single goal. The Leafs are hanging with the big boys and it's been thrilling.

Meanwhile, the Blue Jays are in Anaheim so I've been waking up to find out how we've done. We lost last night, lowering our record to 4-13. That's a .235 winning percentage. That's bad... very, very bad.

The past two years the Jays and Leafs were flipped. The Jays were thrilling, advancing to two ALCS. The Leafs were junk. They've essentially switched spots on the Toronto pro sports spectrum.

One day, all three teams will be competitive. It's never happened before, but hope springs eternal. In the meantime, I'm just glad we've had two out of three in the playoffs the past few years. It sure beats how things looked a mere five years ago.

And two out of three ain't bad.

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