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The past has never felt so far

On Monday July 27, 2015, the Toronto Blue Jays were a middling baseball team in the midst of a 22-year postseason drought. They had just suffered a gut wrenching 6-5 walk-off loss in Seattle to drop to 50-50 on the season, 6.5 games back of first place and seemingly destined towards another dark October.

But then came crazy news, news that blew up Twitter and made Jays fans giddy. In four wild, spectacular, and mind-blowing days, GM Alex Anthopoulos swung for the fences and made four separate trades. Ben Revere and solid reliever Mark Lowe were great pick-ups, but the acquisition of two legitimate superstars had fans across the nation pinching themselves. Troy Tulowitzki and David Price! David Price and Troy Tulowitzki! What was happening??!?!?!?

Of course, Jays fans know the rest of the story. The team went on a 43-19 tear, won the AL East for the first time since 1993, and rolled all the way to Game 6 of the ALCS. It was the rebirth of baseball in Toronto. The Blue Jays were back on the MLB map, and seemed set to contend for years to come.

My-oh-my do those days seem very, very long ago. Price left that offseason, and after a return to the ALCS in 2016, the bottom fell out. Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Russell Martin, Troy Tulowitzki, R.A. Dickey, Josh Donaldson – gone, gone, gone. With Sunday’s trade of Marcus Stroman to the New York Mets, all that remains of those teams that promised so, so much are Justin Smoak, Aaron Sanchez, and Ryan Tepera (and who knows if Smoak and Sanchy will still be Blue Jays by the end of the week).

As a fanbase, Toronto loves to live in the past. Perhaps it’s in our nature to remember things fondly and not want to let go. Perhaps years of perpetual losing has conditioned us that good times are never ahead, only behind. For years, we all ignored what was happening in front us, instead letting our minds drift to the days of Doug Gilmour and Wendel Clark, Vince Carter and Chris Bosh, and Robbie Alomar and Joe Carter. Slowly, however, this has been changing. The Raptors are NBA Champions (!!!), the Leafs have a young core of Matthews and Marner, and the Jays…..well, then there’s the Jays.

Marcus Stroman was a rare player, one who was both a dominant force in today’s MLB, but also a bridge to the not-so-distant past. Who can forget when he tore his ACL in Spring Training but vowed to return during the year? Then he actually did come back, went 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA, and was on the mound for Game 5 in the ALDS, not to mention 2016’s AL Wild Card game. He might not have been a superstar, but he was to us. He pitched with emotion and he pitched with fire, and we loved it. It didn’t hurt that he loved us too – the fans, the city, the country.

While the major core of those playoff teams were already long gone, the trade of Stroman officially severs the ropes that bound us to the past. This team is now officially in the hands of the next generation. Vlad, Cavan, Lourdes, Danny, and Bo will have to step up and become the next Josh, Jose, Edwin, Russ, and Troy. Somebody, several bodies, will have to step up and become the next R.A., Mark, Marco, David, and, sadly, Marcus. One would have thought keeping Marcus would have already filled one of those empty slots.

But there’s no sense looking back, and no sense bemoaning management’s decisions.  We all ripped Masai when he dealt DeMar for Kawhi, but now we can call ourselves champions because of it.  Who knows if the two arms the Jays got back for Stroman will help propel Toronto back into October, but the cards have been played.

All that’s left to do is tip your cap to the man we all loved seeing on the mound and move forward.  2015 has never felt further away but better days are (hopefully) ahead.

Five Best Teams in 2015

Spring training is underway, so we are starting to get a pretty good look at the best teams in baseball for 2015. Anything can happen once the regular-season starts, but the 5 teams listed below should all be in playoff contention and looking for a World Series push. As of right now, these are the best 5 teams in the game.

Washington Nationals

When you look at Washington the last few years, it is hard to claim that they have not underachieved. They have plenty of talent that people enjoy in fantasy baseball leagues, but they have never made it past the National League Championship Series. They still have a fairly young roster, and adding Max Scherzer to the top of the rotation gives them a solid boost. Until they get over their postseason demons, this is just a really good team built for the regular season.

Los Angeles Angels

Injury issues for the pitching staff last year really put a damper on an otherwise great season. With some new arms to add to the mix, the Los Angeles Angels should be one of the best teams in the American League. They have Mike Trout leading the offense (and defense), and Albert Pujols is just one guy who brings playoff experience to the table.

St. Louis Cardinals

Much like the last few years, the Cardinals made a few subtle changes to bring back another World Series contender. They still have anchors on the team like Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright, but they infused some young blood in the lineup as well. This team has a chance to be winners in the National League Central yet again.

Seattle Mariners

Looking for a team to make a jump in 2015? Seattle barely missed the playoffs in 2015, so they decided to go out and add a few more pieces to a promising core. Nelson Cruz is coming off a very impressive season in fantasy baseball leagues, and he could be that extra bat they need to make the postseason for the 1st time in years.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers lost a few former All-Stars over the winter, but they replaced them with veterans who have championship experience as well as All-Star berths to their name. It was somewhat of a risky move, but management knows that they need to switch things up to break their World Series drought.

Betting Tips: Favourites for the 2014 World Series

Will the New York Yankees win the 2014 World Series with Joe Girardi at the helm or will the Los Angeles Dodgers or Detroit Tigers sneak ahead of them? It was just last week when the Boston Red Sox capped off a surprising season by lifting the World Series trophy, but it’s never too soon to look ahead to next year. The Red Sox are already one of the front runners to retain their title, placed at 9/1 odds by bookmakers. John Farrell’s team have a great chance, but it will be a tough ask to stop the Dodgers, who are as low as 7/1. But who could be the surprise team in the 2014 season?

The Blue Jays endured a difficult campaign last year, finishing at the bottom of the AL East despite lofty expectations. The team hit a lot of home runs (185), but injuries and pitching woes proved too much to overcome. Manager John Gibbons will be hoping Edwin Encarnacion mixed with the return of a fully healthy Jose Bautista and Jose Reyes, and hopefully some pitching help, can push Toronto to World Series glory. The bookmakers have the Blue Jays placed at 16/1, so having a gamble on them would not be the worst choice in the world.

Glancing at the World Series odds currently on offer might make you think you are in

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some strange casino. Admittedly Houston doesn’t have much of a chance of winning, but odds of 250/1 with some bookmakers are just crazy, especially considering that Boston went worst to first in 2013. In terms of favourites the odds are quite short. Detroit and St

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Louis Cardinals are each priced at 10/1 while the Yankees are priced a little longer at 14/1. Texas is currently sitting at 18/1, and you can find 20/1 on Baltimore and Cleveland.

Don’t despair. If you think that the bookmakers are being a bit mean with their top team odds, rather than betting on teams that have very little chance of winning you can always go over to an online casino like online casino for a game of Hot Shot and a chance to win some serious money. The game is built around a World Series theme but with symbols and balls as players. Bets start at just one cent and head on up all the way to $120 a spin for a real adrenaline ride. There are many features to keep you interested including a free spins feature with a potential $50,000 prize.

Blast From the Past – Damaso Garcia

If you’re a Blue Jays fan, and if you’re reading this I’m assuming you are, then second base has likely been on your mind the past several weeks.

First, there was the Robbie Alomar festivities.  The greatest second baseman in Blue Jays history, and also one of the greatest second baseman in the history of the game, was celebrated in back-to-back weeks.  Inducted into Cooperstown on July 24, he had his number retired by the Jays the following week. 

That was the good.

But the bad is when all of the festivities came to an end and fans realized that the days of a dominating second baseman are long gone.  We are now left with Aaron Hill.  To say that is shocking considering his breakout 2009 season.  An All-Star with 36 HR and 108 RBI, it looked like Hill was set to be the second coming of Alomar.  But he was bad last year, and somehow, believe it or not, he is even worse this year.

A .228 average.  A .591 OPS.  5 HR.  51 strikeouts and a ridiculous amount of pop-ups.  It has reached the point where his inclusion on the 2012 roster is in question.

But with all of this second base talk, from the good, to the bad, to the ugly, it is important to remember that while Alomar might be Jays greatest second baseman he wasn’t the first.  No, years before Robbie suited up for Blue Birds, Damaso Garcia was holding down 2B, and holding it down extremely well.

Garcia was acquired in 1979 from the Yankees and took over the Jays starting job in 1980.  

His .278 average, 50 run, 13 SB, 0.6 WAR season was good enough for 4th place in the Rookie of the Year voting, and also good enough to prove to Toronto that he was the real deal.  After a shortened 1981 season, Garcia came into his own in 1982 and took off.

He hit .310, stole 54 bases, had a .737 OPS, won a Silver Slugger award and finished 26th in MVP voting.  His 4.4 WAR was the highest by a Blue Jay hitter – by far (second best belonged to Buck Martinez at 1.5).  He made back-to-back All-Star teams in ’84 and ’85, helping the Jays reach the playoffs for the first time, where he hit four doubles in the seven game loss to Kansas City.

After the ’86 season the Jays traded Garcia to Atlanta, ending his seven year reign as Toronto’s second baseman.  His final career stats with the Jays were solid:

.288 average, .690 OPS, 32 HR, 194 SB, 5.9 WAR

Sadly – or awesomely depending on your point of view – Garcia is best remembered as the dude who lit his Jays uniform on fire.  It happened in 1986 after he went 0 for 4 in a game against Oakland.  Instead of taking extra batting practice, or switching bats, or changing his pre-game routine to break out of a slump, Damaso decided to burn his uniform in the clubhouse.  Insane.  Yet, hilarious.

He is also fondly remembered for a getting in a fist fight with teammate Cliff Johnson later that season.


He was a great second baseman on the field.

And I’d take him over Aaron Hill (wacky off-field persona and all)in a heartbeat.