Baseball Sports

The MLB Regular Season is almost here, and here’s why you should be excited

New rules, new names, and new teams for star players.

The Texas Rangers capped off the 2023 Major League Baseball (MLB) season winning their first World Series in franchise history. The offseason that followed would end up changing the image of how the league now looks going into the 2024 regular season.

Prior to the 2023 season, the MLB unveiled a groundbreaking new rule called the pitch clock. The implementation of the pitch clock gave pitchers 15 seconds between pitches when no runners were on base, and 20 seconds when there were runners on base. In 2024, the plan is to speed the pace of play up even more. 

One of the new rules approved by the league is to trim the pitch clock with runners on base from 20 seconds to 18 this season. On top of this, the amount of visits a coach is allowed to visit the pitching mound in a game will be reduced from five to four. As was the goal last season, the league hopes that these rule changes will reduce stoppages in play and give fans a more exciting product on the field.

Along with these rule changes coming in 2024, there will be no shortage of rookies featured on their respective teams’ opening day lineups. In the batter’s box, the number-two ranked prospect in all of baseball, Jackson Chourio, won his spot on the opening day roster for the Milwaukee Brewers. The 20-year-old put up outstanding numbers last year for the Brewers’ minor league affiliate, posting 91 runs batted in while ending the season with a .282 batting average in 128 games. 

Other notable rookie batters to look out for in 2024 include third baseman Junior Caminero, centre fielder Evan Carter, and left fielder Wyatt Langford. These three batters have all officially made their teams’ opening day lineups.

On the mound, the most notable name to keep an eye out for is2023 first overall pick Paul Skenes. While it has not yet been determined whether he will make the Pittsburgh Pirates’ opening day roster, the 21-year-old flamethrower will more than likely reach the major league field in 2024. Skenes has topped out his pitch velocity at an impressive 102 mph during spring training, most notably striking out the MLB’s top-ranked prospect Jackson Holliday.

Lastly, let’s look at the offseason trades and signings. Not often does a major sports league see its cover athlete get traded or signed elsewhere during an offseason, but Shohei Ohtani did just that this past winter. The reigning American League MVP is moving across Los Angeles from the Angels to the Dodgers. With Ohtani being added to the mix with the 2020 World Series champion Dodgers, the team also added top Japanese pitching prospect Yoshinobu Yamamoto, five-time 20-home run hitter Teoscar Hernandez, and 3.89 career earned-run-average pitcher Tyler Glasnow. The Dodgers have all the components of a star-studded team in 2024.

Three-time all-star and former Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes was also on the move this offseason. He will become the top pitcher in the Baltimore Orioles’ rotation this season as the team looks to make a deep playoff run come November.

Lastly, the New York Yankees completed a blockbuster trade with the San Diego Padres to receive Juan Soto—the 25-year-old outfielder who is already a four-time Silver Slugger, three-time all star and World Series champion. Soto will be added to the lethal batting lineup for the Yankees, hitting alongside star players Aaron Judge, Anthony Rizzo, and Giancarlo Stanton.

Though the regular season featured two games on March 20 and 21 during the Seoul Series, the official date for opening day will be on March 28. When the teams hit the field for the first time, fans will be treated to the addition of new rules, rookies starting their major league careers, and all stars starting a new chapter on their new teams. This season has the ingredients for a very exciting summer of baseball. Time will tell which team comes out on top in November.

Our season predictions:

Exciting team to watch this season: With the additions of pitcher Jordan Hicks, third baseman Matt Chapman, and outfielder Jorge Soler, the San Francisco Giants come into 2024 looking like a much more complete team with a high-powered offence and a deep pitching rotation.

Underrated team to watch this season: Look out for the Kansas City Royals. The team has a good combination between rookie and veteran talent, the Royals could be a sneaky pick for a playoff spot in the American League Central Division this season.

World Series champion: There are plenty of teams that are in a ‘win now’ window across the major league. The Braves are coming off a historic season before losing to the Phillies in the playoffs. The Dodgers have loaded up over the offseason. Yet, the team that still shows an immense amount of potential is the Texas Rangers. They now have a World Series under their belt, they have up and coming talent across their lineup in Evan Carter and Wyatt Langford, and still have a very competitive pitching rotation led by Nathan Eovaldi. They are our pick to win it all in 2024.

Baseball Sports

Baseball United gets off the ground with inaugural draft

Former MLB names included in an initial crop of players.

Dubai-based Baseball United held their inaugural player draft on Oct. 24. Of the first 32 selections, 29 of the total selections were former Major League Baseball players, according to the league. That’s a 45 per cent ratio.

The league currently consists of four teams: the Mumbai Cobras, Karachi Monarchs, Dubai Wolves, and Abu Dhabi Falcons. It is the first-ever professional baseball league in the Middle East. “Our mission is to inspire one billion new fans to fall in love with baseball,” the Baseball United website reads.

The league was founded in July 2022 with hall-of-famers Barry Larkin and Mariano Rivera forming the initial ownership group. Former shortstop Elvis Andrus joined ownership in April 2023 and former first baseman Ryan Howard joined the group in Sept. 2023. Former players Adrian Beltre and Felix Hernandez soon followed suit.

The first overall selection by the Mumbai Cobras was pitcher Karan Patel, who was drafted in the seventh round—200th overall—of the 2019 MLB draft by the Chicago White Sox. He was the first player of Indian descent drafted into the MLB. His father is from Mumbai.

Notable former MLB players such as Didi Gregorius, Pablo Sandoval, Robinson Canó, Andrelton Simmons and Bartolo Colón were also drafted into the league. There were players from 25 different countries selected in the draft, including three players from Canada.

“Putting players on teams makes everything much more real for everyone involved,” Chairman and CEO of Baseball United Kash Shaikh said about the draft. “We have All-Stars, former top draft picks and a mix of veterans and younger guys to help carry the game across the world. I’m very happy for all our players.”

The league is quickly growing in popularity. Its official Instagram account already has over 59,000 followers and that number is only growing. The league will debut with its All-Star Showcase on Nov. 24 and 25. As of now, it is unclear if the showcase will be televised or streamed, but it will be a two-game series between two all-star teams at Dubai International Stadium.


Who will be the American and National Leagues’ MLB MVPs in 2023?

With the regular season over, the debate is on for who should win the two MLB league MVPs.

After each Major League Baseball (MLB) season, fans debate over who is most deserving to win their respective league’s MVP title. Why is this such a hot topic of conversation? 

The MLB consists of two leagues—the American League (AL) and the National League (NL). The MLB selects two writers from each team’s city to submit a ballot on who they think should win MVP in each league. Once the votes are tallied and the two players are selected, the winners will go down in history with the greats, including the likes of Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson.

This MLB season was a special one on the topic of MVP candidates.

In the NL, baseball fans witnessed an outstanding season from Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts. Betts finished top five in the MLB in hits, runs batted in (RBI), walks, runs scored and batting average— the amount of hits a batter gets in a season divided by the number of their at bats.

He also led the MLB in a new statistic that analysts like to use to weigh the skill of players called wins above replacement (WAR), the estimated amount of wins the player added to their team’s record in a season. Betts, who finished with 8.4 WAR, took home NL player of the month honours in August, hitting 11 home runs in 29 games.

While Betts’ season was one to remember, it is hard to overlook one of the most talented offences of all time, the Atlanta Braves—led by first baseman Matt Olson and right-fielder Ronald Acuña Jr., who formed a dangerous one-two punch all season long. 

Olson put up his career’s best numbers by far this year, hitting 54 home runs and 139 RBI, leading the MLB in both categories. He also played all 162 games during the regular season—only one other MLB player accomplished that this year. To top off his impressive season, Olson was one of the nine NL nominees for the Hank Aaron Award, granted to the best offensive player in each league. With a season like this, he has a good shot at winning league MVP, but with the talent across the NL this season, it is certainly not a run away.

Meanwhile, Acuña Jr. had one of the best offensive years in MLB history. Acuña Jr. became the first player in MLB history to hit 40 home runs (41 total) and steal 70 bases (73 total) in the same season. To put this into perspective, the next closest player to this performance never got over 50 stolen bases. Acuña Jr., the three-time 2023 NL player of the month winner, finished the year top five in almost every category one can think of and managed to get on base 42 per cent of all plate appearances. Acuña Jr.’s historic year was simply remarkable and is one that should secure him the NL MVP in 2023.

Like in the NL, the AL had no shortage of skill. Texas Rangers shortstop Corey Seager put together a nice year, leading the AL in doubles and finishing top five in various categories. With a 6.9 WAR in 2023, Seager helped carry his team from 68 wins in 2022 to 90 wins and a playoff berth in 2023. The all-star had a very good year and will be essential to his team’s success in the playoffs.

Despite Seager putting up a personal best year in the statistics department, it does not seem to be a close race between him and the batter/pitcher hybrid who is considered to many as the best all-around player of all time, Shohei Ohtani. Before being shut down late in the season due to injuries, Ohtani finished with a phenomenal 10 WAR to lead the MLB. Not only did Ohtani lead the AL in many of the major offensive statistical categories, but he also had a very solid year on the mound. In 2023, Ohtani won 10 of the 15 games he pitched in, threw a complete-game shut-out, and was the only batter in the MLB to pitch as a starter.

Had the 2022 AL MVP Aaron Judge not sustained the foot injury that kept him on the sideline for two months, we may be having a different discussion about who should win MVP. But with these statistics, especially with 27 games missed, Ohtani could be the clear winner for AL MVP in 2023.

The 2023 season will go down in MLB history as one of the most entertaining to watch. With the playoffs underway, time will tell who wins their respective leagues’ MVP award. Once the World Series concludes, the winners will be announced. World Series Championship or not, Ronald Acuña Jr. and Shohei Ohtani should be making some space in their trophy cabinets.


At least consider watching baseball this season

The new rules announced for the 2023 season might just make the game more exciting

Baseball fans aren’t known to be receptive to rule changes within their sport, and I am usually no different. That is, until I heard about the new rules announced for the 2023 season.

From the start of spring training, players have had to get used to bigger bases, restrictions on defensive shifts, and a pitch clock. While it has been a learning curve, these rules promise to quicken the pace of action and encourage defensive plays.

The new pitch clock is undoubtedly the biggest change. From now on, pitchers will have up to 15 seconds to throw the ball if the bases are empty, and 20 if there is a runner on base. There will also be a 30-second timer between batters. If the batter violates the time limit, they get a strike. If it’s the pitcher, the batter gets a ball.

This new rule may make games shorter — and believe me, most spectators would appreciate that — but most importantly, it will make the action unfold quicker. It will definitely make the experience more enjoyable and engaging for fans.

The pitcher will now also have only three attempts to throw to first base to get a runner out. If the third attempt fails, the runner gets to advance a base. Because of the limit, stealing bases might become a more common occurrence.

The pitch clock and new defensive shift restrictions will also favour batting averages and the athletic plays that baseball players are known for. 

The defensive shift restrictions entail that the four infielders must be within the diamond when the pitch is thrown. Two players must be on either side of second base, which means they cannot switch sides based on where the batter aims most.

Because of this, batting averages are likely to go up and more runners will be on bases, giving infielders more opportunities for defensive plays. It will also encourage singles and on-field action.

Ironically, this change brings back traditional infielder alignments and the plays that tended to happen before infielders started placing themselves wherever they are more likely to catch the ball.

Meanwhile, the square bases will go from being 15 inches wide to 18. Some argue that this will create more stealing, but the MLB mainly wanted to make stealing and base-running safer.

Luckily, players have all of spring to train and adjust to these new rules and prepare for the regular season. These changes guarantee an exciting 2023 season and a new era in baseball. I can’t wait to tune in to the home openers, and I hope you will too.


Baseball is a family affair: a peek into the lives of Tyler and Ryan Bawart

The Stingers’ baseball veterans have baseball running in their veins

If two brothers playing for the same team in competitive baseball isn’t uncommon enough, twins who pitch and catch on the same team are as rare as someone hitting more than 60 home runs in a season.

The Concordia Stingers is the lucky team for whom Tyler and Ryan Bawart play. Born and raised in Vaudreuil, both twins are now second-year finance majors at Concordia. It’s also their second year playing for the Stingers’ baseball team.

Growing up watching their father play baseball, the twins developed a passion for the sport.  

“Our dad was a very big fan of baseball, and he got us started very early,” Tyler remembered fondly. “As soon as we could hold a bat, throw a ball, hold a glove, he got us started to play.” 

Their father coached them until his passing in 2017. However, the brothers continued to play and carried his passion with just as much fervour. 

Ryan and Tyler have been playing for 16 years, ever since tee-ball. Both of them are fans of the MLB and have gone to countless games.

“Every spring break when we were kids, we’d go to Florida, and we’d watch the spring training games. That got us a lot into it as well,” said Ryan.

Ryan and Tyler’s family owned a condo 20 minutes away from where the Pittsburgh Pirates played their spring training games.

“Every time we’d go there, we’d probably go to like three to five games a year. When we were younger, we used to run to get players’ autographs,” added Tyler.

Their dad taught them both to pitch and hit when they were young. However, when Ryan started having arm problems around the age of 12, he assumed the position of catcher. He remained able to bat however, so he focused more on that skill. He also continued catching his brother’s pitches.

This role later became permanent when Ryan joined an AA pee-wee team that was in need of a catcher.

The twins played for the Montreal Baseball Academy when they were in college at John Abbott. They currently play for the LaSalle Cardinals during the summer and continue to be a solid duo when it comes to defence. To them, their dynamic feels natural and comfortable.

“It’s fun to have the chemistry that we have. I’ve been pitching to Ryan for almost 10 years now, so I consider him almost like my personal catcher,” Tyler said. “Every time I pitch, I like to have him catch me. Especially when it comes to pitch calling, I’m very comfortable with what he calls. Compared to other catchers, I have better chemistry with him so I’m more comfortable pitching.”

But in the past few years, Ryan hasn’t been catching as much and took on becoming a  shortstop, a position he prefers.

“I usually only catch when Tyler pitches,” he said. “With Concordia however, I started catching a little more because we don’t have many catchers. I like catching Tyler the most, I feel comfortable catching him and I trust him. I know his pitches really well and I think we have a good connection,” Ryan said.

The brothers plan on finishing their majors while playing baseball for Concordia. 

As for the junior league they’re a part of during the summer: at 21 years of age, their stay is close to an end. Next year, they’ll be moving on to the senior league where they’ll need to go through a draft. However, the fact that the senior teams are far from their home in Vaudreuil makes them doubt whether they’ll decide to move up the ranks.

In the end, it doesn’t stop Ryan and Tyler from being optimistic about what the future holds for them. They know they aren’t ready to let go of baseball just yet. If they aren’t able to continue playing together, they will keep on training as a pair.


Aaron Judge should be number one

MLB steroid scandals continue to overshadow raw talent

On Sept. 28, New York Yankees hitter Aaron Judge made history by hitting his 61st home run of the season against the Toronto Blue Jays, passing Babe Ruth and tying Roger Maris on the list of home runs per season in Major League Baseball (MLB). Judge is now ranking first in the American League for that record and fourth overall in MLB history.

The amazing achievement by the 2017 rookie of the year has been widely celebrated by MLB and fans of the game, and rightfully so, as 61-year-old records don’t get beaten every day. However, his new record brings back a dark past in baseball history that unfortunately eclipses Judge’s natural and exceptional athleticism.

Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Barry Bonds are the only three players to have hit more home runs in a single season than Judge (66, 70, and 73 respectively). What do they all have in common? According to MLB reports, all of them are intimately tied to the baseball steroid scandal era.

Steroids were laughably common in MLB before 2002, when the first instance of drug testing became mandatory for players over spring training. A thorough investigation of the usage of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) among MLB players, known as the Mitchell report concretized the issue when over a hundred players were exposed for their cheating, including Bonds. The sport took a massive blow and people who were once childhood heroes retreated into the darkness. As a sport, baseball was seen almost as fake as the WWE.

Fortunately, today it’s picking back up, but traces of the steroid era linger in the record books.

Even if it is certain that all three aforementioned players tested positive for steroids, their names still figure ahead of Judge’s and Maris’s in record lists, and no asterisks could compensate for the horrific act of cheating. It might be a strong word but it is justifiable and accurate, even if many athletes used steroids at the time.

Now, for clarification, the use of steroids by Sosa, McGwire and Bonds hasn’t given them the hand-eye coordination needed to hit a ball going over 90 mph, but it did give them more strength, a necessity if you ever want to hit over 60 home runs. Therefore, it did impact their performance.

Sports should be about raw and natural human prowess. Using PEDs should never be tolerated, and keeping the records of Bonds, Sosa, and McGwire justifies and downplays the gravity of using PEDs as professional athletes. At least they’re nowhere near the baseball Hall of Fame, so we can find some solace in that.

However, the issue remains that it takes away from the true heroes, the ones who don’t need the crutch of steroids to beat records. Standing at 6’7” and weighing 282 lbs, Judge’s body is made to hit consecutive home runs. He has also never been associated with any PEDs and it’s utterly sad that we have to give him credit for that.

It’s his name that should be at the top of the single-season home run record. The best sport to be represented by athletes like him and his name should stick around, and not in fourth place. I wish him a 62nd home run, and I wish him the Triple Crown. Now, excuse me while I go knock on wood.

Author’s note: Aaron Judge remarkably hit his 62nd home run on Oct. 4, officially passing Roger Maris and setting the new American League single-season home run record.


A whole new ball game for the Concordia Stingers

A bright future lies ahead for the baseball team.

After a season-opening 6-3 win against the McGill Redbirds on Sept. 6 at Pierre Elliot Trudeau Park, the Concordia Stingers and their head coach Howie Schwartz are optimistic about their upcoming season and their future in varsity baseball.

This year, the Stingers will be competing against teams from the Ontario University Athletics (OUA), as well as other Quebec universities who are trying out for a potential new league for the 2023-24 season with the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ).

“We have four teams now: Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, McGill, Concordia, and University of Montreal. Bishop’s is going to be available next year, and then we’ll have an official league. We’re playing those three teams unofficially on a sixteen-game schedule and in the OUA on a sixteen-game schedule,” said Schwartz.

The coach also expressed a lot of satisfaction and confidence in his team, which is mostly made up of rookies.

“Our team is just much stronger defensively. We’ve had three games so far and our defence has picked up considerably from last year. I still want to see some improvement with our hitting, but even [that] has strengthened.”

Out of a roster of 40, only about 12 are returning from the 2021-22 season. However, Schwartz noticed that the rookies have been acclimating nicely to the program. Due to his heavy recruitment efforts in the off-season, some of those recruits came from as far as B.C. to play for the Stingers.

Catcher Mack Lake, a first-year student in economics from B.C., said he wanted to stay in Canada to play baseball in university. His first meeting with Schwartz cemented his decision to come to Concordia.

“Howie was just wonderful. Talking to him was really nice and I felt like he wanted me to come,” said Lake, a baseball player for almost a decade.

“Most of all, on the mound, we have a much stronger and deep pitching staff, and, at this level, pitching is going to make a difference. I’m very pleased with our pitchers this year,” continued Schwartz.

Against McGill, such a bullpen was beneficial to the team. Due to a rotation of five talented pitchers, the Redbirds’ batting lineup could never get used to any one of them. But that same bullpen will be stretched thinner as they prepare for an intense week ahead.

The Stingers will be facing the Redbirds for the third time this season on Sept. 20.

“They’re surely going to be ready for us. They don’t like losing to us and we don’t like losing to them,” said Schwartz with a chuckle.

On Sept. 12, the Stingers played an exhibition game against the John Abbott College Islanders that resulted in a 10-8 win for Concordia. The Stingers will be headed to Trois-Rivières for an exhibition double-header against Collège Laflèche on Saturday, while their next league double-header will take place on Sunday in Ottawa against Carleton University.


The Blue Jays make key additions to their roster

The team adds George Springer to its roster

Toronto Blue Jays General Manager Ross Atkins has been mostly quiet for the first two months of the Major League Baseball (MLB) offseason. However, he stepped up big time in the past few weeks, signing outfielder George Springer from the free agency market.

Springer signed for six years and US$150 million, which represents a franchise record contract for the Blue Jays. The team’s newest acquisition is a three-time all-star player and the 2017 World Series Most Valuable Player (MVP). The 31-year-old played all his previous seasons with the Houston Astros.

Springer hit 39 home runs in 122 games in 2019, followed by 14 in a shortened 51-game season last year. He hit four home runs in each of his last three postseasons.

In addition to Springer, Atkins added closer Kirby Yates and pitcher Tyler Chatwood to the team. Both should add good depth to a young lineup in need of more experience.

Yates played for four teams before signing a one-year contract with the Blue Jays. He had a career-high 12 home runs in 2017. Chatwood has even more experience, having started in 2011. Despite being a pitcher, he has three seasons with 14 home runs or more, and a career-high of 20, also in 2017.

Such additions to a group that already has rising players like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette should please fans. The team might not be a World Series contender for 2021, but the future’s getting brighter for the franchise.

The Blue Jays are playing a tough division that includes World Series finalists Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees. The Blue Jays finished with a 32-28 record last year, and were eliminated by the Rays in the first round of the postseason. It will be interesting to see how they do with the new acquisitions this season.


Graphic by Rose-Marie Dion


A first in four years for the Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays qualified for the postseason for the first time since 2016

The world of sports has been shaken by COVID-19. Major League Baseball (MLB), 2020–21 was shortened to a 60-game season, which forced the league to modify its postseason format.

Compared to what would normally be 10 teams in normal seasons, this year’s MLB postseason allows 16 teams to compete for the title. With a 32-28 record, the Toronto Blue Jays took the eighth and last spot in the American League and qualified for the wild-card series round.

Even if their last World Series championship dates back to 1993, the Blue Jays have given their fans many great memories during their recent postseason appearances. From Jose Bautista’s bat flip in 2015 to being one series away from playing in the World Series in 2016, the MLB’s only Canadian team always seems to find a way to stand out.

Despite having given sports leagues many organizational and scheduling problems, the pandemic seems to have been oddly helpful for Canadian teams. In hockey, six Canadian teams qualified for this year’s National Hockey League (NHL) playoffs, including the Montreal Canadiens, who were ranked 24th out of 31 teams in the NHL when the season was stopped in March.

The Habs were the 24th and last team to enter this year’s unique NHL playoff format, despite their 31-31-9 record. For the Blue Jays, the situation was pretty similar, as they took advantage of a reduced schedule to win just enough games to punch their ticket into the postseason.

Final thoughts:

Win or not, the postseason is always a great opportunity for players to gain experience and learn. COVID-19 has no doubt been a worldwide problem, but every positive moment and vibe created must be embraced, and the Blue Jays making the postseason is definitely one of them.


Graphic by Rose-Marie Dion


Colour Commentary: The MLB missed the mark on the Astros cheating scandal

On Nov. 12, 2019, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich came out with a damning report that the Houston Astros illicitly stole signs during the 2017 and 2018 Major League Baseball seasons.

Mike Fiers, a former Astros pitcher, said that the Astros had an intricate system which involved a centre-field camera that gave a feed to someone behind the Astros’ dugout at their home stadium. Then, a member of the Astros organization would hit a garbage can to signal what pitch would be coming based on the sign the opposing catcher gave to the pitcher.

On Jan. 13, 2020, Rob Manfred, the commissioner of the MLB confirmed the allegations against the Astros. The trashcan method was only used during the 2017 season, the same season that the Astros claimed their first World Series Championship in the franchise’s history.

Manfred then threw the hammer down on the Astros, fining them $5 million USD, suspending their manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for the entirety of the 2020 season, and forcing them to forfeit their first and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021. Moments after Manfred confirmed the allegations, the Astros’ owner Jim Crane fired both Hinch and Luhnow.

The punishment is undoubtedly harsh, but was it enough?

Well, the short answer is no.

The players were all given immunity by the MLB because of their cooperation with the investigation. Even if Manfred were to suspend some of the players, it is technically on the manager to make them aware of the rules. So the case of suspending them becomes one of legality, not morality. They knew what they were doing was wrong, however if an arbitrator were to get involved with the MLB Players Association, there would be enough of a case in favour of the Astros’ players to absolve them of all wrongdoing.

What about the championship though? That is an organizational feat, not just one by the players. This is where I feel like the MLB missed the mark.

The MLB had no problem cancelling the 1994 postseason, but for whatever reason they have a problem with stripping the Astros of a tainted title. Sign stealing has been around forever, and the counter argument to it is “create better signs,” but that becomes moot when a team is illegally videoing the opposition.

Baseball is a sport that polices itself. I’m sure some players will be hit by pitches, but at the end of the day they’ll still have their rings on their fingers and a banner hanging at Minute Maid Park.


Preseason baseball reminds Montreal of past love

Mayor Plante supports a project to bring a team back, but with no public money

As the Toronto Blue Jays concluded their preseason at the Olympic Stadium on March 26, Montreal once again showed why the MLB has a future in Quebec.

The crowd of 22,502 fans witnessed the Blue Jays defeat the Milwaukee Brewers 2-0. The game was a great defensive and pitching battle, and in the bottom of the seventh inning with the bases loaded, second baseman Eric Sogard’s single scored Toronto’s only two runs.

Mayor Valérie Plante poses with a signed Expos cap following a press conference. Photo by Ben Fraser.

In the grand scheme of the game, the score served only as the backdrop to the ever-increasing interest in professional baseball’s return to the city. While the attendance was relatively low compared to past games, the game was on a Tuesday night, with the Canadiens playing at the Bell Centre at the same time.

Both games in the Olympic Stadium demonstrated Montreal’s love for baseball. During a spectacular opening ceremony that showcased the past, appearances were made by former Expos Javier Vasquez, Quebec-born pitcher Dennis Boucher, all-time Expos wins leader Steve Rogers, and former manager Felipe Alou.

“It’s always great to be back here with former players and teammates and people that I haven’t seen for years,” said Steve Rogers, who pitched for the Expos from 1973 to 1985. “This is the real deal. You can start to translate the interest in Montreal [to] the ability to support a team. It’s really remarkable.”

The ceremony also featured appearances from local amateur baseball organizations. Since the Blue Jays began their annual series at the Olympic stadium in 2014, the MLB has noticed this passion. A group of investors led by businessman Stephen Bronfman has expressed interest in building a new stadium for the team at the Peel Basin.

Mayor Valérie Plante was thrilled to see the games were a success. “People know I’m not the most knowledgeable person about baseball with its scoring and historic players, but I’m passionate about sports, and I understand sports’ role in people’s lives,” said Plante in a press conference during Tuesday’s game.

Plante and the city will support the ongoing project to get a team back to Montreal, so long as it is privately funded. “Now the groups aren’t asking for a cent, so we’re going to support them, as long as Montrealers don’t give money directly,” she added.    

With another successful trip, the Blue Jays now move on to the regular season, and baseball fans in Montreal are left wondering; are serious strides going to be made to bringing baseball back to Montreal? Until then, many Montrealers will be cheering for the Blue Jays, and waiting to cheer for their Expos once again.

Main photo by Ben Fraser


Roy Halladay was a role model for Canadian pitchers

Former Blue Jay goes into Hall of Fame as one of the greatest in franchise history

The 2019 Baseball Hall of Fame class was announced on Jan. 22. Among the legendary names that will be inducted in Cooperstown, New York in July, one name stands out to Canadian baseball fans.

The late Roy “Doc” Halladay (1977-2017) spent 11 of his 15 full seasons as a Toronto Blue Jay, winning 148 games. He also won a Cy Young Award as the American League’s best pitcher in 2003. He made an impact whether he was playing or not.

Jackson Morgan, a pitcher for the Concordia Stingers baseball team, looked up to Halladay. “He was a huge role model for me growing up,” Morgan said. “What made him a role model wasn’t necessarily his performance, but his [behaviour] on and off the field.”

On the field, Halladay was known for an assortment of pitches, and his command of the strike zone was one of his most notable skills. Growing up playing baseball, Morgan learned how to create more movement on his pitches by watching Halladay play. “I can remember watching him dominate and thinking to myself: ‘If I was a batter, I’d be helpless as well,’” Morgan said.

Halladay’s impact on Canadian baseball fans is in the same scope as former Blue Jays Joe Carter, Jimmy Key and fellow Hall of Fame member Roberto Alomar, who were the Blue Jays’s first stars. Danny Gallagher, a former reporter who covered the Montreal Expos, believes Halladay is one of the most successful Blue Jays of all-time. Like Morgan, Gallagher also believes Halladay had an impact on youth players in the country.
The Blue Jays weren’t a good team from 1998 to 2009, when Halladay was pitching for them. The Jays never made the playoffs, despite masterful performances from Halladay. Morgan wished that Halladay would have seen some better chances to win.

“I only wish they had a better supporting cast for Doc during his tenure with the Jays,” Morgan said. Halladay only played playoff baseball twice, in 2010 and in 2011, as a player for the Philadelphia Phillies. There, he continued to dominate, and in 2010 against the Cincinnati Reds, he became only the second pitcher after Don Larsen in 1956 to throw a no-hitter in the playoffs.   
Players inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame choose which of their former team’s logos is inscribed on the cap of their plaque. Halladay’s family requested to not have a logo on his plaque. Despite this, Gallagher said he will be forever linked with Toronto baseball.

“The Blue Jays will always consider Doc one of the greats in franchise history,” Gallagher said. Even without the Blue Jays logo on Halladay’s plaque, his legacy as a Blue Jay will remain on the minds of all Canadian baseball fans.

The same was echoed by Morgan, as what he saw from Halladay’s play as a young baseball player will be forever remembered. “His legacy will live on forever. I’m thankful he played for a Canadian team and young Canadian pitchers like myself had exposure to such an influential and important baseball figure,” Morgan said.

Main graphic by @spooky_soda.

Exit mobile version