Monday, July 9, 2012

Hammerin' Jose Almost Pulled it Off

Jose Bautista at 2012 Home Run Derby
credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images
I got quite a late jump on my blog tonight because I was watching Jose Bautista of the Jays in the Home Run Derby in Kansas City. After kind of a rough first-time showing last year (he hit four in the first round and didn't advance) the 2-time reigning Major League home run champ blasted eleven on his first go around this year. He still needed a "swing-off" against Mark Trumbo after only hitting two in the second round, but he won that handily and advanced to the finals against Prince Fielder, ultimately losing 12-7 but putting on a great show in the process. All Jose does it hit homers. Many other guys hit them farther, many hit them higher, many spray them all over the field. Jose just hits more of them than anyone else and is again leading the majors this year, becoming the first man ever to lead the major leagues in home runs at three consecutive All-Star breaks. He will start for the American League for the second year in a row, so at least he's starting to get the respect he deserves around baseball.

Jays' "Rookie Leaguers" enjoying the Home Run Derby

I've enjoyed the Home Run Derby quite a bit in the past, but recently it just seems to drag on forever. There are so many more commercials than in years gone by - likely because it used to be a cable exclusive and now it's gone mainstream - and even the commentators stop paying attention somewhere in the second round. Heck, even some of the homers didn't ever show up on television because the cameras were focusing on something irrelevant. But I'm pretty sure the kids from the Blue Jays Baseball Academy's Rookie League that were in Kansas City for the MLB Jr. RBI Tournament were not bored at all. Judging from the tweets on the Jays Care Foundation feed the guys were having a whale of a time hanging out with Joe Carter and Tony Gwynn, attending instructional clinics and playing against some of the teams from the States in "friendly" matches.

Three lucky young people chosen to shag flies tonight
One of the lucky lads even got to shag fly balls tonight during the Home Run Derby and I think all of the kids will come onto the field tomorrow night before the actual All-Star Game gets underway. Because the kids in the Jays' Baseball Academy Rookie League program are predominantly quite new to the sport, most of the training time is normally spent on improving skill sets and there isn't a lot of "game action" experience for most of the players. The week they are spending in Kansas City is opening up a whole new world for them and the enthusiasm and joy they will be bringing back to Canada from this experience will likely spread like wildfire throughout the program. In that way, more than just these dozen young men from Toronto (no girls went this time around) will be incredibly enriched by this trip to Missouri.

It's been a pretty important, satisfying and successful few days for the people in charge of the Jays' Baseball Academy. Congratulations to all for a terrific step forward for their program.


  1. I really enjoy the "crack" of the bat when they hit a homer - you can usually tell which ones are going to deliver just by that amazing sound!

    1. You sure can. Remember that really long, extra-inning, 1-0 win by the Jays over the Red Sox that we went to last year? We sat behind home plate and not that far up; over the course of the game there had been quite a few balls hit pretty hard but we could tell they weren't going out until Brett Lawrie hit the game-winner to centre field? We knew that was gone the moment he hit it because it sounded incredible.

      It sounds even better when you're the one hitting it, too. :)


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