Toronto Blue Jays


Watching the Blue Jays on Facebook

The Blue Jays game against the Kansas City Royals is taking place at the dome right now, but it's not on Sportsnet. This game is a Facebook exclusive.

I thought I'd check it out, so I logged into Facebook and searched for "Blue Jays". Lo and behold, there was a link to watch the live feed from the game.

On my laptop, there are these icons that fly up from the bottom on the right side. There's also this live chat on the right that's super annoying. (Update: If you click the icon to go "fullscreen", the icons and chat disappear - and I just discovered "quiet mode" which seems to do the trick.) Here's how the game looked, with those aforementioned icons, when I wasn't "fullscreen" or in "quiet mode".

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Luckily, I have Chromecast, and that's how I watch Netflix and CraveTV and YouTube and every other form of streaming video. So I put the game on my TV via Chromecast and the annoying chat and flying icons disappeared. Much better.

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Not the most fluid stream, however. It's a little pixelated for my liking, and there's a slight lag now and then. I don't ask for much, but a clear HD image without buffering is rather important. I don't experience the lag when I watch on the laptop, just when I Chromecast it to the big screen.

The commenters aren't great, either. One guy just asked how it is we don't have an ice storm every winter "considering it's minus 100 every day". Of course, this may be because I'm not used to them. They don't really call the game, they just sort of chat while you watch the game. Change of this magnitude can be jarring.

When projected on my TV via Chromecast, the "LIVE 60K" overlay is right over the score chyron, which makes no sense at all. On my laptop, it was in the top left corner, where there's no interference.

It's not awful, but there are some wrinkles to iron out. I certainly wouldn't pay for this experience. Only one more Facebook exclusive game to go.

Go Jays Go!

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Ben Wagner and Dan Shulman Calling Jays Games on the Radio this Summer

When Jerry Howarth announced his retirement from calling play-by-play for Blue Jays games on the radio, we had a spirited discussion about who would replace him. Click over and read the comments for a refresher. I stated that Dan Shulman was in the city and the ideal replacement, and if he wanted the gig, it was his for the taking.

Today, Rogers announced that Buffalo Bisons play-by-play man Ben Wagner and Dan Shulman are replacing Jerry Howarth. Mike Wilner continues to be a part of the broadcast team and will host Blue Jays Talk throughout the 2018 season.

Dan Shulman is also getting his own podcast, because why not?! Everyone else has one! Dan, if you're out there, it's time for you to appear on Toronto Mike'd.

Now let's play ball...

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Stuck at 11

It's an interesting coincidence that both the Blue Jays and Raptors have strung together multiple win streaks of 11 games but never 12. I believe the Jays have hit 11 at least five times now and I know the Raptors have reached 11 at least twice. When I have time, I'll try and find precise numbers.

With the Raps loss today to halt their streak at 11, here's the longest winning streaks in franchise history for each of Toronto's main five professional sports teams.

Raptors - 11
Blue Jays - 11
Maple Leafs - 10
Argos - 10
TFC - 6

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Jerry Howarth Retires After 36 Seasons Calling Blue Jays Games

Jerry Howarth has announced that he's retiring as Blue Jays radio play-by-play broadcaster after 36 seasons. I have no personal memories of Jays games on the radio before Jerry, as I only started listening during the summer of '83. Jerry joined Tom Cheek in 1981.

I've written about my blue transistor radio. In the summers, I listened to 1430 CJCL which was carrying Blue Jays games called by Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth. I'd fall asleep to their voices, or Scott Ferguson's Out of Town Scoreboard. I'd often wake up to "The Music of Your Life" before heading on over to Tom Rivers on 680 CFTR.

Thank you Jerry for 36 great years. Saturday afternoon barbecues with the Jays game on the radio won't ever quite be the same. Coincidentally, with Keegan Matheson over for an episode of Toronto Mike'd, I played some old Jays songs featuring Tom and Jerry just yesterday. Here's one such classic. Enjoy.

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MLSE Buys the Argonauts - Are the Blue Jays Next?

In a surprise announcement, MLSE is the proud new owner of the Toronto Argonauts. It was previously owned by the Kilmer Group (Larry Tanenbaum) and Bell Canada, but now it's owned by the Kilmer Group, Bell Canada, and Rogers. The Argos join the Maple Leafs, Raptors, TFC and Marlies as MLSE properties.

My initial thoughts are that this is very good for the Argos. Let's face it, the Argos and CFL were all but ignored by Rogers properties like Sportsnet and The Fan 590, and now they'll get more exposure on those key sports channels. It will also help the Argos to have the weight of MLSE's sports marketing expertise behind them. I envision Argos tickets bundled with Maple Leafs playoff tickets and the like. The Argos need to draw better at BMO Field and this will help.

My next thoughts are of the Blue Jays. David Shoalts one explained the accounting advantages if Rogers owned 37.5% of the Blue Jays as opposed to the current 100%. If MLSE were to purchase the Blue Jays from Rogers, they'd have a monopoly on all major Toronto sports franchises. I don't know if this is a good thing or not.

The sale is expected to close in January 2018.

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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.

joeybats

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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