Jose Bautista is sitting at 46 homers on the season. The Blue Jays face the Tampa Bay Rays at 2:07 this afternoon, so George Bell's single-season Jays home run record could fall over the next several hours.
A few weeks ago, I asked Jose Bautista to slow the fuck down. Ten year old Mike's favourite ball player in the world was #11, George Bell. Every morning I'd grab a copy of the Toronto Star, head straight for the Jays boxscore and see the line for G. Bell. Of course, that wasn't necessary, because I didn't miss an inning of Blue Jays baseball. If I wasn't watching on television, I was listening to Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth call the game on 1430 CJCL.
I realize now, with 20 games to play, that Bell's record will inevitably belong to Bautista. In fact, Bautista's going to soar past 47, and will become the first Blue Jay to hit 50 in a season. And that's okay. Really. It's time I grow up.
For years and years I've rooted against Blue Jays who have approached 47 dingers in a season. The main threats were Jose Canseco and Carlos Delgado. I did this because I somehow believed I could retain a slice of that sweet innocence if Bell's record remained unbroken. I realize now that's ridiculous, and it's time for Bell's record to fall, for today's ten year old Jays fans, for my 8-year old son, for the die-hard fans who weren't alive when Bell was MVP.
Jose Bautista has taught me a great deal this season. He taught me to let go of the past, to live for the present and that everybody has to grow up sometime.
Good luck, Jose. And George... thanks for 23 years in the Jays record book, and for a life-long passionate love affair with the beautiful game of baseball.