Sunday, March 06, 2011

Wishing Blue Jays Major League prospect Darin Mastroianni good luck

I've been a baseball fan for a long time. My first team was the New York Mets and I'm just old enough to have really enjoyed watching the Miracle Mets win the 1969 World Series. I remember it well. Having moved to Toronto many years ago, I've become a serious Blue Jays fan and recall fondly the '92 and '93 Series wins.

A special treat for me this year is that the son of a grade-school friend is competing for a spot with the Blue Jays. His name is Darin Mastroianni and, according to his bio, he's a speedy outfielder who played Double A ball last year and was called up to join the 40-man roster last fall and is now in Florida trying to make the team.

The truth is that his father, Paul, and I knew each other when we were between 5 and 10 years old, then went to different junior high schools before going to the same high school. But by then we didn't know each other anymore and never really reconnected. No matter. I remember Paul well and am very excited for him that his son has a real shot at making it with a major league team -- my team, in fact.

If Darin is half as decent a fellow as his dad, he is fully deserving of whatever success comes his way.

Obviously all of these young men playing in a major league setting have family histories and usually fairly conventional life stories -- with the exception of their prodigious athletic talent. It just seems interesting to have had brief contact with the bloodline of a prospective major leaguer more than 20 years before he was born. Maybe that just means I'm getting old.

Anyway, I'm pulling for Darin and wish him well. It would be a blast to watch him play at the SkyDome this season. 

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)


Forget politics. Baseball's back! Spring Training is in full swing, fantasy fanatics such as myself are preparing for upcoming drafts, and, well, it means better weather is coming. And with the full sports package, I can see pretty much every game this year, every game of every team. Awesome. For all the problems with Major League baseball -- revenue and salary inequality between big and small markets, the steroid era, being a Jays fan and having to play in the same division as the Yanks and Sox -- I just love the game.

Like R.K., I was not a Jays fan at first. I grew up in Montreal and loved the Expos. Even after living in New Jersey, near Boston, and then in Toronto, I remained loyal. I went to all the Jays-Expos games here in Toronto whey they played interleague. But when the Expos moved to Washington, that was it. There was no way I was staying with them. And so it made sense to switch to the Jays, and while it's been a tough stretch these past several years since the switch, I'm really excited going into this year.

No, they're not a playoff team, not yet, but they seem to be on the right track under the leadership of GM Alex Anthopoulos. They have a few key veterans, including big-time slugger Jose Bautista, but they're a team of young hopefully-soon-to-be stars, and I have high hopes that they'll make a huge leap in the right direction this year. I'm not sure if Mastroianni will make the team out of Spring Training, but he's one of the bright young players in the system, and, like R.K., I wish him well.

I would just note, sadly, that it's not SkyDome anymore, it's the Rogers Centre. I do wish it were otherwise. And we really do need an old-fashioned baseball-only stadium in this city, preferably down by the water. As for Rogers, one of Canada's main communications companies, owning the team, well, let's just way I do wish that were otherwise too. But we have to take what we can get, and, for now, Rogers does seem willing to let the baseball people run the show. What we need is some salary cap sanity in the league, and that, combined with the strength of the Canadian dollar, would go a long way towards equalizing the playing field with the big spenders.

Now can we play ball already?! I've been waiting all winter for this. 

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