Tag Archives: Brett Lawrie

So you’re saying there’s a chance…

Ricky Romero’s start against the New York Mets could be a big opportunity for the Jays to get back into the winning ways many fans expect from the squad.

STRADER: I would hate to say that Stephen Brunt stole my thunder, ‘cause really, he’s a messiah of sports writing, and I’m, well, a pretender. But he stole my thunder.

I was going to write about how it’s time to see what John Farrell is made of. After Lawrie’s blow up (I don’t think doing it is right, and I certainly think it’s a suspension, but I’m willing to admit I would have thrown the helmet right at Miller…) it became clear to me that it is time for the Jays to calm down.

Umps are petty.

They have too much power.

And for all we know, they don’t face much retribution either, outside of a well-thrown beer.

With the team facing five series in a row against winning clubs, I thought, oh man, this isn’t good. The first one is the Yankees, and it’s Drabek and Hutchison pitching. This could get ugly.

They could pitch well for their respective ages and experience levels, and the squad could still be looking at five losses in a row going into the Mets series – interleague always seems to be a tornado for the Jays – and oh man, the stories would begin about Lawrie disappointing the team, the young staff showing it’s true colours, yadda yadda yadda…

So it was time for Bautista to take a bad call, for Escobar to stop waving at where he believes the running lane is, for Encarnacion to just get punched out.

Shut up and play ball boys. You’re better than that.

And then Drabek goes out and shows why he was such a highly touted prospect.

Hello Yankees. Here’s my nasty sinker. Deal with it.

8-1, you have to be kidding me.

Now, there’s a chance.

A chance that this run against winning squads and first place squads could result in a turnaround for the record, and the standings. Bautista could keep hitting bombs. Tweaks to the lineup could continue to work out.

Can someone please write about how good D’Arnaud is again? ‘Cause everytime it happens, Arencibia goes medieval on the baseball…

And there’s a chance.

This time, I think it falls on Romero.

Hutchison is still so young, so inexperienced, that to expect a Yankee sweep tonight, a win from him – even though he gets lucky and draws Phil Hughes instead of the tilted hat killer – would be asinine. The Yanks are the Yanks. They’re resilient.

A win by the Jays tonight, like so many things with this team this season, has to be considered gravy.

But tomorrow Romero will go against the Mets. Romero has a chance to get this team back on a good train. Dominate, and open up the weekend for Morrow, Alvarez and Drabek again, who will more than likely give us a chance to win when they toe the rubber.

There’s a chance tonight could be 9-1, but don’t listen to the happy voices today, who will immediately be angry voices again tomorrow if it is, set the brim of your cap low, remember that you’re Ricky Damn Romero, and attack.

We need you.

And then there’s a chance.

I’m also emboldened by one other thing. Lawrie is appealing, and it will be heard by the league.

So there’s another chance.

I believe the league made a statement when they handed him four games.

Ok kid, like the genius words of Chris Rock describing OJ Simpson, I wouldn’t have done it, but I understand.

Now, with the appeal, they can make another statement.

What Lawrie did was wrong. But take a game off of his appeal, and you’re also acknowledging that what Miller did was equally as wrong. Major League Baseball can’t punish umpires for bad calls. We can’t have replay for balls and strikes. Managers would begin arguing everything they disagreed with. It’s the nature of competition, and the human umpire is part of the beauty of baseball.

But just like everyone who will scream for a guy to lose his job when he’s hitting .160, Miller didn’t do his job. I don’t care about code, or circumstance.

His job is simple. He is to be an impartial judge to an entire game. No matter his personal feelings.

Getting plunked is part of the code. But it has consequences.

Not stealing a bag in a blowout is part of the code. Do it, and it has consequences.

What Miller did was deliberate. It was intentional.

I acknowledge as a fan of the game that umpires cannot be punished.

But give Lawrie back one game, and there’s a chance Major League Baseball acknowledges, that they understand.

 

 

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Hey Lawrie, let’s refocus that intensity. You also deserve a suspension.

Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie is looking at some form of suspension after a temper tantrum over two poorly called strikes against him in the bottom of the ninth resulting in his ejection.
photo from Toronto Star

LIVINGSTONE: The Jays have looked like a team who left its defense at home the last three games. Seven errors in three losses resulting in nine unearned runs – six coming in the 7-1 loss to the Rays Monday night and three again Tuesday night, on four errors, against the divisional rivals.

The frustration seemed to boil over Tuesday night for a team determined to compete, but coming up short defensively. Bright side? The Jays have turned 50 double plays in 37 games according to mlb.com, six more than the Baltimore Orioles. Sadly, however, they’ve committed 41 errors in 38 games (37 in 37, but tack on the four from Tuesday night and there you have it). That’s anything short of good. They lead the league in errors and the fielding – both infield and outfield – has been a big part of the Jays struggles. Let’s not forget the seven blown saves so far this season – but defense wins championships, or at least plays a huge part of it, and the Jays certainly aren’t playing in the field like contenders.

But that’s neither here nor there. What really needs to be said in this post is with respect to Brett Lawrie. Jays fans young and old alike love this kid for his high energy approach and league-leading level of intensity. He plays every game like it’s a game seven in the World Series. Fans love it – even fans from other teams can appreciate his youthful energy. He brings something to the game that isn’t seen in many organizations and it’s a breath of fresh air (cliched?) for a club – and a fan base – dying to be relevant again.

But he went too far Tuesday night when he threw one of the biggest temper tantrum’s seen in recent memory. Down a run in the bottom of the ninth, Lawrie came up to bat with one out. With a 3-1 count, closer Fernando Rodney threw what looked like – and even someone sitting in the 500-level at the Skydome could see it was – ball four and made his move for first. Home plate umpire Bill Miller wasn’t having it and called it a strike. Visibly frustrated by the call, Lawrie stepped back in and took what looked to be ball five high and outside.

Lawrie made two steps toward first before Miller called strike three throwing Lawrie into a fit of rage. He went straight at Miller and in the process, slammed his helmet at the feet of the umpire, bouncing it off the side of his leg. Miller looked stunned by the move and Lawrie continued to scream every obscenity in the book at the veteran umpire. It took coach Brian Butterfield to keep Lawrie from getting back into Miller’s face. Mere minutes after and about fifty f-bombs later, Manager John Farrell was ejected.

Don’t get me wrong: Lawrie had every right to be upset about the two terrible calls made by Miller. They dictated how the end of the game would go, and in a 4-3 game, it was far from over. It seems Miller took Lawrie’s initial move to first personal, like he was showing up the seasoned ump.

Sportsnet baseball guru Mike Wilner said something to this effect in the post-game show on FAN590 and I would agree. Miller made it about him.

Even if that fifth ball, high and outside, had ended up in the dirt three feet in front of the plate, Miller would’ve called it a strike. Lawrie’s reaction, however, was completely uncalled for. The frustration didn’t have to be such a spectacle. Argue the strikes, get tossed, curse at the umpire, but the reaction was that of a guy who needs to figure out how to get his emotions in check. At 21, Lawrie has a long way to go before he matures and it certainly showed Tuesday night.

Last year, Yadier Molina, catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, got five games for bumping an umpire over a bad call. If Lawrie gets less than 10 games, I’d be surprised. It could end up being more, as Wilner pointed out, if the league disciplinarian determines Lawrie was intentional in hitting Miller with his helmet.

Lawrie deserves to be suspended and I hope that kind of embarrassing display doesn’t happen again. That’s not what the Jays are about. Sure, the passion and intensity is there, but it needs to be channeled into making quality plays on the field, picking good pitches to hit and then hitting the cover off the ball.

The opportunity for the Jays to be contenders is in their grasp. Discipline and focus is going to get them into the playoffs. They need to find it quick.

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The Sensational Six

Brett Lawrie capped off an epic, rollercoaster game on Tuesday night against the Texas Rangers with a ninth inning walk-off home run. The Sensational Six loved it.
John E. Sokolowski-US PRESSWIRE

LIVINGSTONE: They heckled the drunk frat boys in our section. They gambled on who would get the first hit. They mused about whether or not the bunt Colby Rasmus laid down was a call from the dugout or his own decision.

They are the Sensational Six.

Sitting in two groups of three, one row in front of the other, the six elderly women – and if I’m guessing all in their early sixties – make it out to a dozen games a year as a group. During the early innings of Tuesday’s game  against the Texas Rangers – somewhere in the inning when pitcher Drew Hutchison gave up five runs, I noticed the woman sitting in front of me keeping an official score sheet, marking down every hit, out, walk, run and strikeout. The fact she was keeping the card made me smile. It’s always nice to see people coming out to enjoy the game rather than drink beer and take their shirts off in the seventh inning during the stretch (more on that later).

When Kelly Johnson hit the three-run shot in the bottom of three, followed by a towering shot from a struggling Jose Bautista, I noticed another sheet two rows down with the other trio of women, who I later found out are all from the area and have been coming to games since the early days of professional baseball in Toronto. The sheet, with The Sensational Six neatly scrawled along the top of the page – had a series of columns with players names penciled in for first hit of the game, first homerun, first double, etc. The sensational six was betting on game stats to make it a game within a game. The betting wasn’t for money, but for large gummies they had in a container with them. Sure, minor in nature, but the fact it brought a feeling of competitiveness and excitement to their experience – one of what is about a dozen a year.

While the game was surely one of the most exciting of the season – Lawrie’s laser beam walk-off in the bottom of nine was incredible to watch – it was watching these women analyze the game, talk about the sloppy play of Yunel Escobar as of late, Kelly Johnson’s love-hate relationship at the plate and in the field – at times – and the inability of the Jays bullpen to close out games (blown save number 56 last night). They truly loved the game and were there to take in the beauty of the sport.

Oh, the frat party. Speckled in the crowd – I swear we somehow got every drunk 19-year-old in the stadium in our section – groups of guys, and one lone idiot with his embarrassed girlfriend, were loud, obnoxious and obscene. It takes a lot to offend me, but these guys and the language used toward the Rangers players could have easily spoiled the night. I understand people come to the games to have fun, drink beers, experience the game the way they want to, but sometimes it goes too far.

Last night reminded me of opening night and the debauchery that went on, especially when a group of five guys sitting three rows in front of us to the right took off their shirts and began waving them like towels. I could smell them from my seat, no joke. It wasn’t pleasant. When the game was getting on into the ninth, one of the ladies started telling a couple extremely loud fans to shut up. I admired the women for their love of the game. Young and old alike, the game makes us all feel like a kid in the school yard, playing for the World Series championship. They wanted to enjoy the game and not put up with the sauced fans. Fair enough.

When Francisco Cordero blew the game with two outs in the ninth by giving up three straight singles to centerfield, I asked the women who bet on the Jays blowing the save opportunity. One of the sensational six chimed in and said, ‘hell we all would’ve picked it’. When Lind hit into a double play with none out early in the game, a sense of frustration bellowed from the women, one yelling ‘why didn’t you bunt? You can’t hit the ball!’ She wasn’t saying anything we already didn’t know, but it sure made me laugh.

So, Brett Lawrie. Kid has energy. You could sense it all over the stadium after he made the last out in the ninth to take it to the bottom, you could feel it. He wanted to end the game. And he did it in the classic, soon-to-be legendary Brett Lawrie way. When the ball hit the top of the outfield wall to end the game, the ladies were jumping for joy. It was like the World Series trophy was coming back to Canada for the first time in two decades. While the drunken buffoons jumped for joy – more likely because they were hammered – the ladies reveled in an exciting, likely to be one of the best games of the young Jays season.

I hope I’m lucky enough to have the sensational six sitting in front of me at a future game. Maybe I’ll get in on the betting with them. I do love gummies.

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