Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Let's bring this city to life, to light, tonight

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John Axford has seen a lot over his 10-year Major League career. Drafted twice without signing, traded, designated for assignment (twice) before totaling more than 140 career saves, including one season where he received Cy Young and MVP votes, all came before he found his way onto the team he cheered for as a kid growing up in Port Dover, Ontario, the Toronto Blue Jays.

He’s onto his nineth different big league teams and has called more than 400 different players his teammate. One of those teammates and Axford’s biggest mentor, Trevor Hoffman, was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, this weekend.

The day before Hoffman’s bust was unveiled, Axford achieved something his teammate in Milwaukee never did during his 18-year career: Axford started a big league game after 537 consecutive appearances out of the bullpen, throwing three perfect innings against the White Sox in Chicago.

Stepping in for the Blue Jays after they traded starter JA Happ to the Yankees, this wasn’t just another day at the office for the big right-hander. “I tried to hide as many smiles as I could,” Axford admitted post-game.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

I'm a Stone, Baby You're a Feather

The purple prose comes free and easy when Vladimir Guerrero Jr is the subject. It comes as easily to prospect watchers and scouts as it does to those interested in the human condition.

Comparisons to Hall of Famers, triple crown winners and perennial MVP candidates slip right off the ends of fingers and end up on the pages of venerable publications with better things to do than inject helium into any teen capable of running into a few wayward heaters. Caution long thrown to the wind, the message is clear: this is the one you dream on.

Vlad Jr makes it easy. The praise from wizened eyes comes as easily as the game comes to the game’s top prospect, a player with as bright a future as any to ascend through the Blue Jays ranks. It comes as easily as power to the opposite field and an innate knowledge of the strike zone comes to the youngest player currently in the double-A Eastern League. It comes with the same ease with which Guerrero brings the bathead to the baseball. Fastball or offspeed, any quadrant of the zone, they get barrelled all the same. Like it’s nothing because, to him, it is nothing.