With the Blue Jays finally having won their first series of the year, and taken the first game of a set in New York, I thought it was time to reflect on one of the only reasons for optimism so far this season; the play and infectious attitude of one Marcus Stroman, who just so happened to celebrate his 26th birthday this week. Happy Birthday Marcus, from the staff and supporters of The Five Hundreds.
Mood in Song Form
Hopefully this Tuesday night game against the Yankees that I have been anticipating all day isn’t the high point of the week, or the season. It is currently 8-3 Yankees…
So lets focus in on Stroman! Yes, the play of arguably the Blue Jays 4th starter coming into the season has been the highlight of the season thus far. Stroman had a week that deserves to be broken down to fully understand how great it was.
Stroman vs. The Angels
Last Sunday the Jays were down in California playing the Angels and still trying to put it all together. Stroman took the ball on a Sunday afternoon looking for a big win. He provided a gem in a few ways. The short hand:
In the third inning Umpire Ramon De Jesus called Stro for a quick pitch (not coming set before throwing home). There was no one on base, so Stroman wasn’t required to come to a stop before the pitch, and the batter Calhoun was clearly standing in the batters box. It was a perplexing call that was clearly wrong (even though from a technical perspective a quick pitch results in a ball, which would have resulted in a walk given the 3-1 count, there was no indication this was a quick pitch).
Gibby did his part getting ejected, but it did Stroman little help as Calhoun scored the first run of the game. Talk about getting kicked when you are down. Stroman continued to battle while getting no run support from the lineup. At one point he mowed down 12 consecutive Angel batters.
Finally in the 8th inning the Jays bats came to life, scoring 4 runs for Stroman who came back out for the 9th. Just to keep up good form, Ramon De Jesus decided to call time on a pitch that was already half way to home… just another example of Stroman having an umpire make a call against him largely because of the enthusiasm he displays while playing the game.
After getting a 4 strike out and finishing a complete game victory, Stroman celebrated with Russell Martin and showed a level of emotion that lead to his next opponent of the week… Gregg Zaun.
Stroman vs. Zaun
Zaun decided to use his national spotlight to criticize Stroman’s celebration of his complete game win. That’s right, Mr. gaudy three-piece suit himself elected to come at Stroman for being “unsportsmanlike” “flashy, showboating” “ruin(ing) a perfectly good day”. He even said “For people like me, it just ruins a perfectly good day. I just don’t get it. There’s a certain way to behave on a Major League Baseball field, and there are ways not to do it.”
Wow Zaun, wow. Imagine that, an old crotchety former player criticizing a current stud for not playing the game and living up to the standards set by his forefathers, and the previous legends of the game. Heaven forbid Stroman doesn’t live up to the ethical standard of an athlete like Zaun, who is known to have failed a drug test for steroids during his playing days. I guess that pales in comparison to celebrating a great day with your teammates in Zaun’s book. Not to mention the subtle racial undertones in these type of comments that seem to be repeatedly thrown Stroman’s way, while not being put on other fiery young players in the league like Bryce Harper or Noah Syndergaard.
But you know what? Stroman doesn’t need me to defend him in the face of Gregg Zaun. That’s because Stroman is the type of person that gets fired up about the way he plays (how dare he have fun and excite a fan base….) and isn’t afraid to voice what he thinks publically either. Over the next two days, Stroman took to twitter and “liked” tweets from Jays fans who were properly questioning and mocking Gregg Zaun’s comments and intentions. Stroman publically roasted Zaun for two days without uttering a single quotable word. Something I hope fits in with Gregg Zaun’s code. Some examples:
Stroman 10 Zaun 0
Stroman vs. St Louis
Fast forward two days later, and Stroman is helping the team win another way.
As a pinch hitter in the 11th inning, Stro ripped his first hit (a double) and scored the game winning run. Maybe Zaun should ask the dugout and Stro’s teammates what they think about him and his exuberance. Every pitcher on the roster watched with delight when he got the hit, and the whole team celebrated when he crossed home plate and entered the dugout. Tough week to criticize a guy….even Gibby got in on the fun:
In his next start out Stroman went 7.1 innings of 2 run ball in a game that the Jays went on to lose, but no fault of their young stud. Stroman has two complete games, a game winning run scored, and an ERA under 3 after the first month of the season. If his play continues like this, his preseason World Baseball Classic performance will be seen as the start of his comeback campaign, and maybe if we are lucky the beginning of the end of Gregg Zaun on our television.
Final Score Stroman 12 Zaun 0
Other Blue Jays notes:
The Coghlan leaping slide over Molina and into home was a play of the year candidate, and a moment that will remain in Jays’ fans memories long after we have blocked out all of the errors and ugly swings JD’s injury has brought us at 3rd base. Also, I never heard it mentioned on the broadcast, but Coghlan definitely missed tagging third base on his way towards home.
Marco Estrada continues to dominate and pitch far above expectations and pay grade. While this is fantastic, what I like even more about Marco is his chosen warm up song on game days. The soft-spoken mild mannered Estrada chooses to warm up every game to the Drowning Pool song “Bodies”. Never in a million years would I have believed that 16 years after this song came out I would start to enjoy hearing it on a weekly basis. I guess what I am trying to say is that there may still be hope for Crazy Town’s Butterfly.
Gibby continues to be fantastic. After Jays radio questioned his lineup prior to the win over the Yankees on Monday, Gibby phoned in to the post game show pretending to be "John from the Bronx" and dapped himself up while speaking in the third person. Tonight Gibby again made a nice move as he put the slumping Pearce in the lineup who went 4 for 4 with two home runs. Long live Gibby.
Since we started this post, Aaron Judge has hit 2 homeruns, the Yankees have 5 in the game and the Jays are on their way to a New York rubber match tomorrow. Here is to hoping tomorrow is a better day, and the Jays are able to start chipping away at their deficit in the AL East. Luckily we have Stroman on the mound.