I don't really want to talk about big events that happened this season- like homophobia eye black, or depressing seasons from supposed staff aces coming off a solid year, Farrell moving to Boston or more injuries. I don't even want to talk about Jose Bautista's amazing thighs. I'm just going to mention a few things that I'll always remember about 2012.
Edwin Encarnacion: Making Me Look Like a Genius since 2012
It's ironic that amongst the wreck of 2012, the sad sack of 2011's first half blossomed into an offensive force. Encarnacion was easily the most consistent bat in the Jays lineup, and I shudder to think what this season would've been like without him. His .280 (AVG) .941 (OPS), 42 homers (third after Cabrera and Hamilton), 110 RBIs looks good on anyone's resume, and he played a pretty decent first base.
At the start of the season, I participated in a blog round table discussion for the National Post, and I predicted that Encarnacion would have a break out year, proving that sometimes I'm right.
Fast Twitch Hustle
photo by James_in_to. Notice the Red Bull. That can was later crushed on his forehead. Probably.
He threw his helmet to the ground, got himself suspended and labelled a hot head and some of the sheen of his wondrous debut wore off. Well, Brett, if you walk a little more and hit a few more extra base hits next season, I suspect you'd be nice and shiny for the fan base again in 2013. Lawrie also jumped into the camera bay at Yankee Stadium, which is a six foot drop down into hard concrete, witnessed a shooting at the Eaton's Centre and met a certain tall, curly haired blogger. I'll let you figure out which one was more traumatic.
As frustrated as I was with the left field situation this season, there were moments where Rajai Davis made me like him. Mostly because if I didn't like this,
I should never watch this game again. Ever. It's just bananas.
Plays at the plate are some of the most exciting plays in the game. I just love the anticipation of on line throw and the catcher bracing for a hard hit. On August 31st, the Jays had two of them. Jeff Mathis took two hard hits to save runs, the latter one saved the whole game. Casey Janssen almost made out with him.
And this one to save the game. A picture of Elliot Johnson's face should be shown to young ball players to show them why sliding on your face is not a good idea.
One of my favourite players to emerge out of this season is Darren Oliver. His 2.10 ERA out of the bull pen is surpassed only by the supreme coolness he demonstrated, extreme to the point of badass-ery.
It was evident to Alex Anthopoulos as early as spring training just who he had signed.
“Darren Oliver is one of the classiest human beings you’ll meet in the game, and here he is, almost like a king on his throne, there in the back storage room,” Anthopoulos said. “And you’ve got Luis Perez sitting there in a chair, asking Darren about counts and how to set hitters up, what they would do with certain hitters in the league."
“You’ve got a 26-year-old Latin kid, doesn’t speak great English but he speaks enough, and you’ve got Darren Oliver getting a haircut, and they’re talking about the game, talking baseball. I loved it.”
In John Lott's August 17th piece for the Post , Ricky Romero describes approaching Oliver. "The other day, Ricky Romero asked Darren Oliver for advice. After three fine seasons, Romero is having an awful time in his fourth. This is Oliver’s 19th season, and he is 41 years old, so Romero thought he might offer some insights about how to escape a long slump.
There, Romero found a media guide in which Oliver had highlighted two years from his own career as a starting pitcher. In both years, Oliver’s ERA was over 6.00.
“And he’s like, ‘It happens. It happens to the best,’ ” Romero recalled. “He said, ‘I know you’re a competitor and you’re a winner and you want to do so well. But it happens to all of us.’ ”
My favourite part of that is that it seems like Oliver knew Romero was coming to say him, and prepared in advance. Black Magic is....magic.
If Oliver calls it a career, I'll be sad. But it was a joy to watch him trot from the pen to the second base line and walk the rest of the way in the 2012 season.
I don't remember if I mentioned this when it happened, but in May I won a baseball from David Price that was signed by every member of the Rays starting rotation. James Shields has the only legible signature, but luckily they all put their numbers next to their signatures. They also signed remarkably small for boys with big hands holding ball point pens.
I won this ball because I correctly guessed that the wad of gum in the picture Price tweeted contained 35 pieces of gum. The ball was mailed from Tampa to my house in a little square box and the ball currently lives in a Ziploc bag, awaiting a more auspicious home.
Here is the Cut 4 blog post, in which Price calls me a young lady, which made me smile. I don't know why, as that's what I am. "Some bitch from Toronto" would just be harsh.
But Jered Weaver never sent me no damn signed baseball.
The Bloggeroo Turned Five
Yes, Hum and Chuck turned five. Which means I've been writing through two GMs and three managers, and still no playoffs. The neatest things about turning five is that I figured out that Tao of Stieb started his blog on the exact same day as I did. We were both inspired by B.J. Ryan's mysterious back injury that later required Tommy John surgery. Good times.