P.K. Subban, Taylor Hall, and the NHL Breaking the Internet

2014-15 Upper Deck - P.K. Subban

2014-15 Upper Deck – P.K. Subban

Well, today was an eventful day in the NHL.

Hell, it was an eventful 23 minutes or so.

You all know what happened. Taylor Hall got traded from Edmonton to New Jersey for Adam Larsson, P.K. Subban went from Montreal to Nashville for Shea Weber, and some kid from Unionville named Steven Stamkos re-signed with Tampa Bay for eight more years.

So, yes, some shit happened. The internet almost exploded, which is one of the more advanced things that the NHL has ever done.

Everywhere I turn, what I’m seeing are Oilers and Canadiens fans who are irate, rattled, upset… pick whatever words you want, they’re angry. Angry at the teams, angry at management, and just a few 50’s or Pilsners (depending on where you are) from burning Peter Chiarelli and Marc Bergevin dolls in effigy. Leaf fans will be fine, they’re a bit disappointed, but it’s refreshing for them to not be involved on the horrible end of trades for a change. The Shanaplan is here.

You know what? At first blush, I’d probably agree with the angry fans. However, there’s one thing to take out of today’s events as hockey fans:

We don’t know shit.

What do I mean? Read on, friend.

P.K. Subban was the face of the Montreal Canadiens. He’s just a couple years into a long-term deal, he’s smiled and been nothing but outwardly positive through some rough times, and of course he’s made those enormous donations to the Montreal Children’s Hospital. Fans love him, even though teammates sometimes seem to tire of his constant positivity and possibly his constant self-promotion and branding as well.

My initial take is that Subban was moved by Montreal because they’re choosing his coach (yikes) over him, and the safety of an NHL-friendly (read: safe) player like Shea Weber over Subban’s more volatile personality and style of play. This is even though Weber is entering the back end of his career but merely the front end of a huge contract.

However, there’s got to be more to this story. Whatever Montreal fans think about Marc Bergevin right now, National Hockey League GM’s don’t try to make trades that aren’t in the best interests of their teams. They just don’t. Montreal did not owe Nashville a favour of this magnitude, that’s not how it works.

Would I have traded P.K. Subban for Shea Weber? If they were the same age and had the same contract status, probably. Shea Weber is an incredible hockey player (so is Subban, obviously). Would I have made the trade on June 29, 2016? No way.

Maybe, just maybe, there’s a lot more to this than we know. Was Subban more trouble to the team than we’ve been led to believe? We’ve heard rumblings, of course, but we’ll probably never know, because we don’t know shit.

2012-13 O-Pee-Chee - Taylor Hall

2012-13 O-Pee-Chee – Taylor Hall

Now, as for the Edmonton Oilers, well, I can relate to their frustration, too. Being a Leaf fan for my entire life has ensured that I can relate to angry, frustrated fan bases and questionable management decisions better than almost anyone else on earth (save for the Chicago Cubs, pre-2004 Boston Red Sox, or pre-2016 Cleveland).

Taylor Hall wasn’t seen as the problem in Edmonton. I think there were a lot of folks who thought that the player to get moved for (horribly badly needed) help on the blueline wouldn’t be Hall. It would be Nugent-Hopkins, or Eberle, or even Yakupov, if someone would take him.

There were also a lot of people who thought that if Hall were to be moved, it would be for someone really, really good. Not a highly decent defenceman whose immediate scouting reports come through as “second pairing” and “maybe number two potential.” That might just be Oilers fans being delusional about Hall’s abilities, but the fact is, he’s an excellent player with a lot of years in front of him, and he wanted to be part of the solution.

But see, again, we don’t know shit.

There has to be more of a plan here, too. Peter Chiarelli didn’t go to Edmonton to enjoy the weather and put together a losing hockey team. They’ve done that for a while now. Pistol Pete went there to try to help the Oilers win again.

Trading Taylor Hall is just the first step, I’d suggest, in a series of moves that are about to happen over the next few days and weeks. This isn’t the one big move that’s going to fix what’s wrong with the Oilers. There’s a LOT more that needs to be done, because there are some serious problems going on.

Now, at the end of the day, I can completely understand the frustration that hockey fans in Montreal and Edmonton are feeling. I do not – repeat, NOT – have any sympathy for them, at all, but if I was in their shoes, I’d be pissed off, too.

All I’m saying is that there’s more going on than meets the eye, especially in Edmonton. There has to be. I really think that the next Oilers moves will make the Hall trade make at least a little bit more sense.

As for Subban, that trade might just be pure stupidity, short and long term, but who knows? Maybe they’ve looked into the numbers and they know that Weber will be the piece that gets them to the next level. I can’t see it being the case, but maybe Subban was doing more harm than good.

I’d say let’s not go crazy and wait it out for a few weeks to see what happens next, but judging by the internet today, all the crazy has already been unleashed, so such a warning would be pointless.

Let’s just remember, we really don’t know shit. Even when it all rolls out in the end, we still might not know shit.

Never forget that, and it’ll all be ok.

Jose Bautista, Contracts, and Spring Crazies

BAT. FLIP. WHAT. 2016 Topps - Jose Bautista

BAT. FLIP. WHAT.
2016 Topps – Jose Bautista

First of all – Spring Training, right? The Toronto Blue Jays have had their first few official workouts for pitchers, catchers, and whoever else wanted to be there. Of course, like everything else with the club since 2015 ended, things are not drama-free in Blue Jay land. We’re just a couple of days in, and we’ve already had the almost Jay Bruce trade, and now we’ve got this Jose Bautista stuff.

I’m sure you already know what happened with Jose. But, briefly: on day one, he got into a discussion with reporters about his contract (which expires after this year) and informed us all that he’d delivered his offer to the team, and that there would be no more hometown discounts, and no negotiations. Then, on day two, word leaked that the contract that he’s looking for from the team is in the five-year, $150-million range.

It doesn’t need to be said that fans are handling everything so far with their typical laid-back, well-thought out, intelligent approach, and nobody is going crazy about anything at all.

Now, there’s no way to know if the numbers reported by TSN’s Rick Westhead are accurate, but he’s probably got some decent sources, and a lot of times, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. If $150 million is the number, though, my initial reaction is that it’s just way too much money, and Jose can go flip bats at Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium or wherever else he wants to go. As a fan, it’ll hurt, but that’s life.

But then on the other hand, maybe he’s worth it. And if you take the five year, $65 million deal he signed after his breakout 2010 season and add it to five more years at $150 million, that works out to an average annual salary of $21.5 million. That’s reasonable for 10 years of Jose Bautista, right?

But here’s the problem. That’s not a fair average number to use. During the first five years of the deal, we have to remember, $13 million seemed like a steep price to pay for a relative unknown. Bautista had come out of nowhere to hit 54 home runs in 2010, and a long-term deal was a risk. Sure, it was a risk for the player, too, but I’d say it was more of a risk for the team who had no idea if he could come anywhere close to that number again.

HE DIDN'T EVEN HAVE A BEARD YET. 2010 Topps - Jose Bautista

HE DIDN’T EVEN HAVE A BEARD YET.
2010 Topps – Jose Bautista

Those first five years were in no way a hometown discount. If anything the club did the player a favour, hoping that his production would continue, and guaranteeing him some serious money at the same time. As we all know, the production did continue, but even the optimists were nervous about $65 million back then. Remember, we didn’t really know who this guy was. He didn’t even have a full-time beard yet, how could he be trusted?

As for the next five years, no matter the dollar figure, we’re not getting a guarantee of the Jose Bautista that we’ve gotten to know so well. He’ll be 36 years old when his next contract starts. Granted, he’s known to care of himself and is probably going to be productive for at least another few years, but $30 million a year productive? Yikes.

When it comes to the money, I’m just going to hope that the $150 million price tag has been exaggerated. I do think that there’s a little bit more than just playing ability on the table here. Bat flip in the ALDS aside, Bautista has been the face of the franchise for a number of years, and he’s done an awful lot of great things. I’m fine with overpaying a bit for a player’s twilight years when you take things like that into consideration. I just think overdoing it isn’t necessary, and I’ll tell you, Rogers won’t, either. They might go a bit higher than normal for Jose, but not much.

Now, the other item that I want to talk about is the fact that Bautista came right out on day one and started talking about his contract. I know, I know, he was asked about it, he didn’t just go Sean Avery and bring stuff up to be a dick. But part of me reacted by saying, really, Jose? Really? It’s day one and you’re telling the fan base that you’re not even going to negotiate with the team? I’m not sure I like it when I think about it that way. Unless he’s just trying to fuck with the crazies in the fan base – then, it’s pretty funny.

On the other hand, however, I respect the shit out of what Bautista did. He came right out and was (presumably) honest about the whole thing. As John Lott said, at least we’re not getting “false-hope lollipops” like the ones we got from David Price. If the Jays aren’t going to be able to re-sign him, at least we know where the player stands on the whole thing.

The bottom line is, no matter what happens with the expiring contracts of Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, it’s not like all of this should be a shock to us. We’re talking about a couple of players who aren’t getting any younger, and we’ve known for a while that this could happen. Take those two out of the lineup and there’s still a pretty solid core in place for the next few years.

And come on, 2016 is going to be amazing. Remember 2015? That was fun, right? And remember the starting pitcher on Opening Day in 2015? Let’s all settle down and enjoy a great year – even if it is the last with Jose and Edwin.

 

Mark Shapiro, David Price and Panic Buttons

2015Topps-DavidPrice

2015 Topps – David Price

We need to talk about the Toronto Blue Jays and this offseason of turmoil and change after one of the most magnificent rides in team history and the end of a long playoff drought. What we need to talk about is that we, as the fan base, need to collectively chill out and relax. Things won’t be the same, but they’re sure going to be alright.

It would be easy to run for the nearest panic button after the departure of beloved General Manager Alex Anthopoulos and the team’s failure to re-sign David Price, but hitting the panic button at this point would be about as effective as trying to find a cure for cancer by drinking a beer. Let’s have some patience here and use our beer-drinking for other things.

Now, 2015 sure was something special. As fans, die-hard or casual, none of us will ever forget the ride that the boys in blue took us on. The whole country got caught up in it, and it was a lot of fun. That said, 2015 may have been the pinnacle of this particular era in team history, and we may need to adjust our expectations going forward. Don’t worry though, that’s alright. It’s not going to be bad. It’s going to be about sustainability, and we’re going to like how it works out in the end.

Mark Shapiro and newly-minted GM Ross Atkins may have come to town from the fiery waters of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, a team known more for its failures than its successes (see: League, Major), but they’re going to be in a position now where they can finally work within the financial constraints of a real Major League Baseball team. See, according to The Baseball Cube, over the past three years, the Blue Jays have had a top ten payroll in the Majors, averaging roughly $40 million a season more than the Indians, who are always close to the bottom of the league, money-wise. And during that time, the team from Cleveland averaged 86 wins a season, and the team from Toronto averaged 83. Each made the playoffs once (granted, the Blue Jays made it to the ALCS and the Indians lost the AL Wild Card game, but you get the point). Pretty comparable.

Small sample size, you say? Fine. Going back ten years to 2006, the Blue Jays ran with an average payroll of $90 million a year, and the Indians averaged $72 million. In this sample, Cleveland averaged 79.5 wins a season while Toronto averaged 82. Again, pretty comparable, although the payroll numbers were closer. Let’s also remember that it’s not like the Anthopoulos regime was setting the world on fire since he took over as GM in 2009. There was legitimate concern until the middle of 2015 that the peak production years of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion were going to be wasted, and that Anthopoulos’ best efforts to get to the postseason would be for naught. Of course, that changed around August 1 of this year, but until then, there wasn’t a lot of hope.

Now, if you’ve ever been to a baseball game in Cleveland, you know that it’s a real baseball experience. It’s a beautiful ballpark that is playing a key role in the revitalization of a Rust Belt city that has been hit hard by a poor economy the past decade or so, but it’s a city with a ton of potential. Everywhere you go at Progressive Field, you know you’re there to watch a baseball game, and you know you’re in Cleveland. There’s a lot of civic pride on display, from the food offerings to the beer to the general ambience. A lot of that is credited to Shapiro and his team, and we all know that change in terms of the fan experience and the baseball experience is badly needed at the Rogers Centre (step one: rename it the Rogers SkyDome because it’s stupid not to).

Shapiro et al know that 2016 is a big deal for the Blue Jays, and that this group has a legitimate opportunity to do some really special things. They’re not going to fire sale this roster. They’re going to try to win with it, but they’re going to have one eye clearly focused on the future. They also know that spending $31 million a season on one pitcher (no matter how awesome and likeable he is) isn’t a wise decision, when you can fill in gaps with quality arms for a lot less, and lean on the young arms you’ve bred in your own system (Stroman, Sanchez, etc.) to step up in their development and play meaningful roles. Personally, I’ll take strength in numbers every single time over putting all of my eggs in one basket. There are a lot more than 220 innings in a baseball season.

2015 Topps - Josh Donaldson (All-Star)

2015 Topps – Josh Donaldson (All-Star)

Let’s also remember that in Cleveland, Shapiro and Atkins didn’t have a core in place like the Blue Jays have. Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin and Troy Tulowitzki are signed long-term, and those are some pretty incredible tools to start your management term with. Shapiro isn’t moving his family to Toronto to lose. He and Atkins, and whoever else they bring in, want to win baseball games, make playoff appearances, and win championships. They’re just going to do it within the realities that are imposed upon them.

I get that fans are upset with Rogers for not spending more right this very second. We all poured money into that organization through buying tickets, merchandise, and drinking wildly overpriced beer in fairly large quantities. We know that Rogers paid over $5 billion for the NHL rights, so we know they’ve got money, but in a catch-22, they needed that deal to be able to make money. In addition, our investment as fans was really only a few months long, you’ll remember. I would bet that Rogers wants to make sure the money they’ll have rolling in from their baseball team is sustainable before they start spending it. If they start averaging 3-3.5 million fans a year, maybe they’ll spend more. It’s possible, but I don’t blame them for waiting it out a bit. Not everyone who bought tickets in 2015 was a die-hard fan, and they won’t all be back.

At the end of the day, I’m going to say we should give this new regime a chance, and a really good chance at that – let’s keep those panic buttons on the back burner for a while. 2015 was great, for sure, but it was no endpoint.

Everything is going to be alright, and we won’t need these for a while:

Ain’t nobody got time for panic buttons.

George Bell, Josh Donaldson, MVP’s, and Purple Butts

Today, Josh Donaldson was named the American League Most Valuable Player, making him the first Toronto Blue Jay to win the award since George Bell in 1987. I decided to share a few quick facts about each of these great players, to help give us all a better understanding of two of the most significant players in team history.

There are some similarities, some differences, but overall, you’ve got some dudes that can do baseball things really well and cause some shit at the same time.

1987 Fleer - George Bell

1987 Fleer – George Bell

George Bell, 1987 AL MVP:

1. Was called Jorge Bell until about 1985.
2. Feuded mightily with Jimy “One M” Williams when the manager tried to make him a Designated Hitter against his will.
3. Apparently had a purple butt that he wanted fans to kiss.
4. Was a 5.0 WAR player in 1987, his AL MVP year.
5. Stolen from the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1980 Rule 5 Draft

2015 Topps - Josh Donaldson

2015 Topps – Josh Donaldson

Josh Donaldson, 2015 AL MVP:

1. Played the majority of his games at catcher until 2011
2. Became a legend when he said, “this isn’t the try league, this is the get it done league. Eventually, they’re gonna find people who’ll get it done.”
3. Apparently wanted the Anaheim California Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, or whatever they’re called, to suck his cock.
4. Was an 8.8 WAR player in 2015, his (first) AL MVP year.
5. Stolen from the Oakland Athletics for a Canadian fellow with a lot of tattoos and some other stuff.

There, now you know.

Knocking Hockey Hall of Famers Down a Peg or Two

There’s a lot of talk today about the class of 2015 being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame tonight. And sure, it’s a great group. Among NHL stars Sergei Fedorov, Phil Housley, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Chris Pronger, there is US National Team star Angela Ruggiero as well as builders Peter Karmanos and Bill Hay.

All are clearly deserving inductees, but I’m not here for that. I’m here to knock them down a peg or two.

1997-98 Score - Sergei Fedorov

1997-98 Score – Sergei Fedorov

Sergei Fedorov: I’m not sure celebrating a Stanley Cup win with the Detroit Red Wings is reason enough for that shirt, and those pants, even if it was their first title in 42 years. Hall of Famer yes, Fashion Icon no.

1992-93 Score - Phil Housley

1992-93 Score – Phil Housley

Phil Housley: The Gretzky Jofa is a legendary classic. The one that Housley sports here, even on his way to 97 points, was a disgrace to the game. You can be better, Phil.

1991-92 7th Inning Sketch - Chris Pronger

1991-92 7th Inning Sketch – Chris Pronger

Chris Pronger: Someone on the Peterborough Petes’ staff was clearly angry at Chris in 1991-92, which is why they gave him the biggest helmet and visor combo they could find, like ever. Tough to make a 6-6 guy look tiny, but they found a way.

1991-92 O-Pee-Chee Premier - Nicklas Lidstrom

1991-92 O-Pee-Chee Premier – Nicklas Lidstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom: I actually don’t think it’s possible to make fun of Nicklas Lidstrom. I’m not even mad at him for being Swedish, or playing for the Empire of Evil in Detroit his whole career. Let’s just appreciate this Red Wings retro jersey from before the time when retro jerseys were cool.

Congratulations to the inductees.

Now, If only this baseball superstar, Canada’s Bo Jackson, was going into the Hockey Hall of Fame too:

1990 Score - Eric Lindros

1990 Score – Eric Lindros

Winfield Wanted Noise, Edwin Wants Calm: The 2015 Toronto Blue Jays

1989 Fleer - Toronto Blue Jays

1989 Fleer – Toronto Blue Jays

That was fun, wasn’t it?

The 2015 Toronto Blue Jays took us on a ride that we haven’t experienced as Blue Jays fans – or Toronto sports fans in general – in a long time. Way too long, really. Even though some of us had grown up with some decent teams in Toronto, 1993 was a generation ago now, and our kids will see 1993 like we saw 1967 – except standard definition rather than black and white.

I’m not even sure we knew how to handle it anymore, all the stress and anxiety, the scheduling conflicts with our real lives and forced conversations with bandwagon jumpers in our social circles, but I think we’ve learned that winning is something we can get used to again as adults.

2015 sure didn’t start the way we wanted, when Marcus Stroman came down off that mound in Dunedin and tore his ACL. He said he’d pitch again this year, but we didn’t really believe him. It all looked lost from the start.

The season didn’t end the way we wanted, either, because by the time they’d made it to the playoffs, we’d decided that wasn’t enough. We wanted it all. Six games in the ALCS wasn’t a World Series title, and we wanted that.

But, you can’t always get what you want, they say, and the part between the beginning and the end sure was a lot of fun. When the sting of the loss to Kansas City fades, we’ll look back on 2015 with a lot of pride.

Above all else, even when we’ve forgotten all the details, there will always be Jose Bautista’s bat flipping, pitcher-staring, beer-throwing ridiculousness against Texas in the ALDS. Dave Bidini put it absolutely perfectly on his one45everyday site about how that moment was the one Toronto needed when he said this:

“Toronto hasn’t had many Jose’s. We’ve had gentle Mats Sundin and salt of the earth Wendel and the Robbie Alomar’s wattage. We’ve had wordless Roy Halliday and good guy Tim Horton and the ghost of Dave Keon. We’ve never had an angry vengeful superstar; at least no one as angry or jilted as Jose Bautista is and will be evermore.”

2015 Topps Heritage - Jose Bautista

2015 Topps Heritage – Jose Bautista

He’s completely right. That’s the face of this team, and that’s who we are now. We’re going to be the team that nobody likes. We’re not the feel-good Chicago Cubs or the everyman Kansas City Royals. We’re arrogant and angry and obnoxious, we yell a lot and wear our blue hats everywhere we travel with this team. We need to stop throwing stuff on our plastic grass field, but we know that now. In 1992, Winfield wanted noise, but in 2015, Edwin told us to calm down. It’s different here now. Toronto the Good maybe still, but also Toronto the Rowdy.

It sure does suck at the moment, though, right? It doesn’t feel good to lose, although you’d think we’d be used to it by now. But at the end of the day, when you really think about it, 2015 was absolutely good enough, for the Toronto Blue Jays, and us as their fans. But it was only good enough if there is more to come. There has to be more to come. 2015 can’t just be a blip on the radar. It has to be the start of some consistent winning.

Sure, it’s a bit sappy, but I’m going to close with a quote by Tom Boswell from Ken Burns’ Baseball documentary – because really, let’s be honest. I’m just going to miss watching these guys play.

“I’ve always thought that the six months during the baseball season, there was something in the day that wasn’t there the other six months in winter. It was not that you had to listen to the game, but that you could if you needed it.”

Apparently there’s a hockey season starting now. I’m going to try to get excited about it until pitchers and catchers report in February.

The Chicago Cubs, Back to the Future and Blue Pyjamas

Well, a lot of what I believed in came crashing down around me today. See, today was the day Marty McFly got to the future in Back to the Future Part 2. It’s now October 21, 2015. We don’t have hoverboards. We don’t have flying cars. We don’t have self-drying jackets or self-tightening shoes or fax machines in every room of our houses… which is the one thing I was really counting on. Above all else, the Chicago Cubs will not win the 2015 World Series, so the predictions of Robert Zemeckis et al were just hollow and empty.

I’m left alone in the dark, shattered, wondering what it all means, and I lost a lot betting on the Cubbies. That Gray’s Sports Almanac is full of shit.

1981 Topps - Ivan DeJesus

1981 Topps – Ivan DeJesus

Like anyone else, I usually try to find the silver lining in the dark clouds. That silver lining is the baby blue pyjamas that the Cubs wore in the early 1980’s. The best part about these pyjamas is how high you can wear the pants. You can see here how Ivan DeJesus is doing everything he can to pull those elastic waist paints up to his nipples, just like Grandpa would. Another silver lining is that in January 1982, DeJesus would be traded by the Cubs to the Phillies for Larry Bowa and some kid named Ryne Sandberg. I guess that turned out alright.

Bottom line is it’s good to see the Cubs back on the map of successful teams in baseball. They’re being built well and they’re going to be around for a while this time, I think. And I’m rarely wrong.

Brendan Shanahan, New Jersey, Toronto, and Useless Facts

1988-89 O-Pee-Chee - Brendan Shanahan

1988-89 O-Pee-Chee – Brendan Shanahan

2009-10 O-Pee-Chee - Brendan Shanahan

2009-10 O-Pee-Chee – Brendan Shanahan

In light of today’s announcement regarding the Toronto Maple Leafs, I thought we’d look at a little Now and Then of the man, Brendan Shanahan, who just hired the man who drafted him, Lou Lamoriello.

Shanahan began (in 1987-88) and ended (in 2008-09) his career with the New Jersey Devils. Even though there were four other stops in between, the connection is obvious.

A few things to note about Shanahan’s career between the bookends above:

-His signing with St. Louis as a free agent led to Scott Stevens being awarded to the Devils as compensation… that turned out pretty well for Lamoriello, I’d say.
-He was one of the first Canadian members of the Triple Gold Club after his Olympic gold medal win in 2002
-His request for a trade out of Hartford led to Paul Coffey being traded to the Whalers, where he played all of 20 games, which is more than he played for either the Boston Bruins (18) or Chicago Blackhawks (10). Useless fact, sure, but why else are you here?

We’ll see how this goes for the Leafs this season, but who wouldn’t pay money to be a fly on the wall for some of those conversations between Shanahan, Lamoriello and Mike Babcock? This is going to be fun.

Pete Vuckovich, Moustaches and Underrated Franchise Legends

1986 Topps - Pete Vuckovich

1986 Topps – Pete Vuckovich

In exciting news, pitchers and catchers reported for the Toronto Blue Jays today, February 22… along with the Minnesota Twins, they were the last team to report to Spring Training.  Which means the injuries to their pitching staff will take place just slightly later than all the other teams.  That counts as win number one, I’d say.

Now, speaking of Blue Jays pitchers, we need to talk about someone important.  He is the man who saved the first win in Toronto Blue Jays history – you might recall a snow covered plastic field and a win over the Chicago White Sox (the team that let him go in the Expansion Draft) – and who also pitched the first shutout in Jays history, a 12-strikeout masterpiece over the Baltimore Orioles.  I’ll bet there aren’t a ton of guys with stats like that.  His name is Pete Vuckovich.

Vuckovich, now a Special Assistant to the GM with the Seattle Mariners, despite his contributions to Blue Jays history, should be most famous for his facial hair, and slightly less famous for his regular hair.  He perpetuated the former image of “Toronto the Good” with his clean-cut, preppy image during his brief time in Toronto, but later, blew that shit out of the water when he decided to look like he did on the card above, a little bit in St. Louis, and then a lot with the Milwaukee Brewers.  Put the moustache, the bowl-cut mullet, and the “I’m going to kill you with a hammer” facial expression together and you’ve got yourself a legend.

Maybe a team that went 54-107 in their first season should have tried to keep this guy for another year or two, even if they didn’t know he’d end up with the moustache.

Russell Martin, Ernie Whitt’s Moustache, and Canadianness

2012 Topps - Russell Martin

2012 Topps – Russell Martin

So, the Toronto Blue Jays have signed a Canadian catcher to a five year contract worth about eleventy billion dollars.  His name is Russell Martin and he does not usually have a moustache.  He is pretty good at baseball, but I think they signed him because they thought it would be easier to just sign a Canadian catcher rather than spend years trying to convert one.

1986 O-Pee-Chee - Ernie Whitt

1986 O-Pee-Chee – Ernie Whitt

Let me explain.  They used to have a catcher named Ernie Whitt.  Ernie Whitt definitely had a moustache.  He may have, in fact, been born with one.  By 1989, he was also the last player to play for the Blue Jays that started when they first took flight (see what I did there?) in 1977.

An internet search leaves things a bit murky as to whether Whitt actually ever became a citizen, but the Blue Jays fought the good fight for years, and eventually Whitt was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009.  Citizenship or not, mission accomplished.

Also, moustache accomplished.