Toronto Blue Jays: A Guide for the Part Time Fan Week 4

By Matt Antaya

Baseball game postponed due to snow. That’s not a headline you should have to read in the springtime. But hey, since the Jays are still lingering atop the AL East, we’re willing to take the good with the bad. 

If you caught the series in Baltimore, you know we managed to win two of three games. 60% of the time we win every time. Then there was the snowball series in Minnesota. Luckily players came dressed for the occasion. Canada’s team, eh?

It’s also worth noting that Tuesday was ‘Jackie Robinson Day’. Major League Baseball holds ceremonies every April 15th to commemorate Robinson’s historic first game in 1947. During that day’s games, all players wear Robinson’s famed #42 on their jerseys. It’s a great day to watch a game with a friend who knows nothing about baseball – or history for that matter. We recommend next year that you include their jersey number when referring to every player – such as “Oh, he’s great, that #42 Brett Lawrie!” And then wait to see how long before they notice EVERYONE is wearing #42. When they do, just act like there’s nothing weird at all. That’s just baseball. 

Tricking your dumb friends aside, the Jays did lose a couple players to injury in recent days. Both Adam Lind and Colby Rasmus are nursing issues the team describes as ‘not serious’ – lower back tightness and hamstring tightness, respectively. They’re listed day to day, though the team is being cautious. But more significant (if not outright baffling?) is Maicer Izturis’ season-ending knee injury – a torn ligament suffered while tripping down the steps of the dugout. We’d crack a joke here if we weren’t so upset.

Switching gears to good news, we should expect to see Jose Reyes return this weekend in Cleveland. Jose has been in Florida this past week, playing rehab games with the Single-A Dunedin Blue Jays. Both his enthusiasm and his offensive production have been sorely missed.

Insider Stuff
One of the quieter acquisitions over the winter was the hiring of new hitting coach Kevin Seitzer. A former All-Star player Kevin brings years of professional experience and brag-worthy career stats to the job. This should prove helpful when trying to tutor players, be it barely-groomed rookies or veterans who need to break old habits. Thus far, Kevin has preached more “situational hitting” concepts – meaning players should approach an at-bat differently depending on circumstances such as the opposing pitcher, the score, the inning, whether there are runners on base, etc. And though this is Toronto’s third hitting coach in as many years, the players truly seem on board with the new approach and early results seem promising. Nothing says success like results. Except the word success.

Buzzword of the Week: “Waivers”
Have you ever heard that a player “needs to clear waivers?” Or heard that a player “is out of options?” Though the answer is sometimes complicated, it’s really just the details that can get mind numbing. The basic idea is relatively easy to understand.

In order for a player on a major league team to be ‘sent down’ to a minor league team, he must pass through ‘”waivers” (the name is derived from the fact that the major league team has “waived” his contract). At this point, any other major league team may ‘claim’ the player, pay the waiving team a waiver fee, and assume the player’s contract, as is. If more than one team attempts to claim the player, preference is given to the team with the worst win/loss record. If after three business days nobody has claimed the player, he is said to have “cleared waivers,” and the team who waived him is safe to assign him to one of their minor league teams. Make sense? Need more air quotes? No problem.

Where it gets complicated is… well, everywhere else. For instance, young players have three “option years” where they can be moved between major and minor league teams an unlimited number of times without passing through waivers. When a player is “out of options,” it means that these three years have expired, and the team is likely afraid that if they try to move the player to the minors, another team might claim him. Meanwhile older players, specifically players that have at least five years of major league “service time,” can refuse to be sent to the minors. If a player refuses a minor league assignment, the team has little choice but to arrange a trade or release him – meaning the player is released from his contractual obligations, but still collects the money he was guaranteed. This might sound like a great deal, but if it’s come to the point that a team is willing to pay you to go away, your star-studded career probably “isn’t going where you thought it was.” (Okay, so that last one didn’t need quotation marks, but we were on a role and feeling it – Rule #1: never stop the hot hand.)

So what have you learned?
Despite having to fight off the snow and a division rival, the Jays continue their frist-place run in the AL East. As they do each April 15th, MLB celebrated Jackie Robinson Day and every player wore his jersey number, #42. We can expect to see shortstop Jose Reyes back this weekend, though infielder Maicer Izturis is lost for the season due to a freakish fall in the dugout (still not funny – yet). Former All-Star Kevin Seitzer has been a great addition to the team’s coaching staff. And finally, next time you hear that a player must clear waivers because he’s out of options, you can feel good knowing you’re part of the inside crowd who actually understands what that means. Until then, we’ll be back here next Friday for another fun-filled look at the best damn (and only) ball club north of the border.

#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)

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