The Toronto Blue Jays have generally been frustrating to watch this year.
The team seems to lack direction from the top, as evidenced by the ridiculous trading of Marcus Stroman who was signed through 2020 on a team desperate for pitching, but then hung on to Justin Smoak who can’t factor into the future of the franchise and clogs the position which Rowdy Tellez should be given every opportunity to inherit.
But, even in a year of frustration there are periods of pure joy in baseball, and that has been the case the last couple of weeks as Bo Bichette is finally up with the big club. It’s been long overdue that he was given his major league debut, and his performance on arrival shows he was more than ready.
Bichette has set a club record for hits in a debut, getting on base in nine straight. In those nine games he had 10 extra base hits, a major league record for those in a nine-game span to start a career.
A double on Aug. 7, gave him two-baggers in eight straight games, setting a new Jays career mark.
Add in that he is batting over .400, showing moxie on the base paths with some speed, and you have a debut that stands out in the annals of Jays history.
It is the debut fans hoped for from Vladimir Guerrero Jr., but that we didn’t get, although he too is showing signs at the plate with his batting average now in the respectable zone.
Guerrero is still an adventure at third base, with too many errors, but that can be cleaned up, as Rafael Devers has shown in Boston, being far better with the glove in 2019, than a season ago.
Mix in Lourdes Gurriel Jr. becoming a stand out in left field and on the offensive side of things the Jays are at least showing promise.
Last week was also interesting as an illustration of how some countries can excel at one sport, and another sport is relatively unknown, even when it comes to international play.
The World Junior (Indoor Men’s) Lacrosse Championship is being held in Ontario at present. As might be expected Canada is a heavy favourite in the six team affair.
On the men’s level, that world championship coming up in B.C. in a few weeks, Canada has never failed to take the title.
The Junior championship, in its second season is expected to go the same way, and after tuning into game one at www.laxsportsnetwork.com and watching Canada trounce Australia 24-4, it is easy to see why expectations are high.
Interestingly Quinn Ingalls of Moose Jaw had a great game for Canada, including four goals.
Other Saskatchewan players on the roster are goaltender Laine Hruska of Warman, and on defence Wyatt Haux of Estevan.
The same night as I watched the lacrosse game, I received a notification Canada was playing France at the Men’s Youth (U19) World Handball Championship. The game was played earlier in the day, but posted to YouTube for convenient late night viewing.
In Europe team handball is on a level with basketball, and in some countries, Iceland coming to mind, is actually a bigger sport.
In North America it is sadly little-known and as a result much under-appreciated.
So as you might expect the Canadian team did not fare well against France losing 44-14.
What I did find interesting in watching the two games back-to-back is how in one sport Canada simply dominates and in another we barely have it on the radar. It shows how some sports become ingrained in a country’s cultural make-up, and other sports struggle to find a toehold.