Tag Archives: Baseball

#PitchTalks turn One – Episode #13

I don’t know if PitchTalks creator, Kevin Kennedy, know this or not but this monthly event has quickly become the must attend event for sports fans (not just baseball) across the Greater Toronto Area. For me, it’s the highlight of my month.

Alexis Brudnicki and Scott Crawford

Scott Crawford is the Director of Operations for the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in St. Mary’s, Ontario. Alexis Brudnicki is the lead writer for the Canadian Baseball Network and former statistician for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Alexis Brudnicki, Ashley Stephenson and Autumn Mills

Ashley Stephenson (a full-time teacher) has been a member of the Canadian women’s baseball team since 2004 and has already participated in five world championships. Autumn Mills (a full-time policewoman) has been with the team since 2005, primarily as a pitcher.

PitchTalks: Pre-Spring Training Edition

Last night, Toronto’s baseball faithful enjoyed one of the most entertaining editions of Pitch Talks to date.

Alexis Brudnicki shared her deep insights and knowledge about Canadian International Baseball. I always appreciate the early speakers and panelists. Most of the time they bring a new and fresh perspective on the sport.

alexis brudnicki | pitchtalks | karimkanji

Alex Seixeiro and Scott Cullen shared their thoughts on the upcmoing fantasy baseball season. I’m not a huge fantasy player. However, there were tons of people in attendance who had their nerd caps on. It was an amazing sight to behold.

alex seixeiro and scott cullen | fantasy baseball | pitchtalks | karim kanji

Finally we had the pre-season Blue Jays banter with Scott MacArthur, Mike Wilner, Jamie Campbell and Gregg Zaun. And this panel DID NOT disappoint. Zaun, in fact, stole the show. He shared stories of his time with the Baltimore Orioles (getting put in his place by Cal Ripkin Jr.), Florida Marlins (World Series champs) and Toronto Blue Jays (helping JP Arencibia learn to become a major league catcher). Zaun was uncensored and in the mood to share with fans of the best sport in the world.

gregg zaun | pitch talks | karim kanji

If you’re a fan of baseball in Toronto (or Canada for that matter) then Pitch Talks is the place to be. What are you waiting for?!

Here are some more photos from last night:


 

#PitchTalks: The Winter Meetings Edition

If you are a hardcore baseball fan living in the Greater Toronto Area then you were probably in attendance last night at the latest Pitch Talks event. Hosted by Kevin Kennedy at the Culture, Art, Media & Education Centre in Toronto, last night’s event featured a short Blue Jays film by Cashew Mirman Videos as well as the Canadian premiere of the Dock Ellis story: No No: A Dockumentary.

Kicking off the festivities was a round table panel discussing the latest Blue Jays move this winter featuring: Megan Robinson (Sportsnet Fan590), Ben Nicholson-Smith (Sportsnet), Shi Davidi (Sportsnet) and Drew Fairservice (NOT Sportsnet – Fangraphs).

Below is a Storify’d summary of the event:

The state of the Toronto Blue Jays at the halfway point (2014)

 

Bautista, Dickey, and Encarnacion
Bautista, Dickey, and Encarnacion

As the Toronto Blue Jays start the second half of the 2014 season, I thought I would take a quick look at the various positions and players to see what where we are at and what we need to do to win the American League East.

First Base is currently being played by all-star player Jose Bautista. Adam Lind? He’s on the DL for the next little while after taking medical advice from his mother. Strange days. While he was playing, Lind was hitting the cover off the ball. Against righties mind you. Manager John Gibbons, understanding that Lind can’t hit lefties, has platooned him for most of the season with Edwin Encarnacion. Lind is currently hitting .320 but don’t expect him back until August.

DH/First Base. Edwin Encarnacion continues to assault the ball with his towering home runs. When he’s not injured. Yikes. Encarnacion sits at the break with 26 home runs.

Second Base. Started with Maicer Izturis. But he only played 11 games. Third baseman and all-Canadian Brett Lawrie has been playing there. But guess what? Injured. So the Jays got Steve Tolleson from Buffalo.

Shortstop is the oft injured Jose Reyes. But guess what? He’s not injured! Yay. While his range is not world class he’s been (while he’s not injured) a steady contributor for the Blue Jays at the top of the batting order. Currently, Reyes sits at 17 stolen bases.

Third base. See above for Lawrie. In the meantime, Juan Francisco has been….ok. In 71 games he has hit 14 home runs. Not bad. But he has also struck out 85 times. Not good.

Left field is currently being patrolled by Melky Cabrera. I can’t remember if he’s injured or not. Seriously, he’s not injured. His play, when you compare it to last year, is a 180 degree difference. He has 7 assists as a fielder and is a very capable second hitter in front of Toronto’s power hitters.

Center field is currently patrolled by Colby Rasmus. He’s not injured but he’s not even hitting .250. He does have 12 home runs but he also has over 70 strike outs. EVen Anthony Gose looks like a superstar when he has replaced Rasmus. And Gose is not hitting that much over the .250 line.

Right field has mostly been patrolled by Bautista (when he’s not injured or playing first/DH). His home runs might not be as high but he can still bang with the best of them. His hitting has actually gotten stronger as he’s using the entire field. Which is a benefit considering opposition teams play him to pull almost all the time.

Catching. Anything is better than JP Arencibia from last year. Where is JPA now? In the minors trying to play first base in the Texas Rangers system. Good grief.

The pitching corps has actually being a bright light for the Blue Jays. Mark Buehrle has been the ace of the staff. Buehrle sits at 10 wins with an amazing ERA of 2.64. Bright lights? Rookie Marcus Stroman and closer Casey Janssen.

Manager John Gibbons has been outstanding. That’s just my opinion. But look where the Blue Jays sit: In second place 4 games out of first. Now that’s pretty good. And so is this team. When they are healthy.

What do the Blue Jays have to do from here to win the division and play for the World Series?

  1. Get healthy and stay healthy.
  2. Get a top of the line pitcher.
  3. Get a star infielder.

Time for Alex Anthopoulos to step up to the plate.

 

 

#FollowFriday – @PitchTalks

Pitch Talks - TED Talks with grass stains
Pitch Talks – TED Talks with grass stains

Think TED Talks with grass stains.

That is the message that greets you when you visit PitchTalks.ca. And you WILL visit that website. It’s one of the best new things on the internet today.

If you’re a baseball fan, this site is for you.

If you’re a sports fan, this site is for you.

If you’re a Toronto sports media fan, this site is for you.

And if you want to attend a PitchTalks go to the next one.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_byT4yQdNXM?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

#TBT – Xinzhuang Baseball Court, New Taipei City

Toronto is baseball crazy at the moment with the Toronto Blue Jays doing well in the American League East this year. So far. However, baseball is not the sole domain of North America. It’s huge in Asia. Specifically, Taiwan.

I was in Taipei earlier this spring and got the chance to go to a baseball game between the Elephants and Monkeys. As my son would say, “Go Primates!”

The game was pretty good. However, it was the atmosphere that I enjoyed the most. No one is drunk although they serve beer. It’s a family atmosphere even though the crowd is split between the rival teams. And the crowd is generally very well behaved even though the entire stadium is singing, clapping and cheering throughout the game. It’s amazing!

Here are some photos inside and outside the stadium.

 

 

Best Baseball Podcasts

A friend of mine was bemoaning the state of sports radio in Toronto when I suggested that he look at podcasts as his source of sports talk “radio”. He’s a hockey and baseball fan. I can’t help with hockey because I’m only a fan every 4 years (hello Olympics!). So here are my favourite baseball podcasts:

And there are only two worth your time. And they are both brought to you by the same folks who brought to you the best damn sports mobile app of all time: The Score.

Drunk Jays Fans

Otherwise known as DJF, this podcast and blog provides everything a Toronto Blue Jays fan could ask for. The writers of the blog also provide everything you don’t want to hear such as why the Jays suck this year. Answer: Too many crap players. Writers Andrew StoetenDustin ParkesDrew Fairservice, and Scott Lewis provide amazing analysis that most writers and sportscasters ignore because of timelines, word count or just plain ignorance about the sport of baseball.

The DJF podcast is just as delightful. However, be careful. The content is NSFW so wear a headset if you listen to it at work or at home around kids. One thing you will notice is two things: Firstly, the crew are not shills for the team or ownership. Which means they tell it like it is. Secondly, they always provide insightful analysis no matter the colour of their language. So it’s both entertaining and educational.

Screen Shot 2013-08-27 at 9.35.38 AM

Getting Blanked

My favourite part of this baseball blog is the My Approach series by Drew Fairservice. If this is all the baseball you read then you will be 1000 times smarter than anyone else you listen to in Toronto sports radio – never mind your baseball drinking buddies. Drew has interviewed a dozen or so of the top baseball stars of today asking them about their approach to the game. He sometimes interjects the interview with thoughtful analysis backed up by stats and videos. You will be hard pressed to find better baseball writing anywhere else.

The Getting Blanked podcast is the best baseball podcast around. These guys know their baseball and can talk about it just as well as they can write about it. Expect analysis of breakout players, Mike Trout, the most underrated players, Mike Trout, thoughts on stats and moneyball and even everyone’s favourite player, Mike Trout. Oh, expect to hear the boys trashing Toronto’s baseball beat writers and radio hosts for being lazy…and stuff. If you want to be a well rounded and knowledgeable baseball fan, then the podcast and the blog are a must. And the bumper music they play is outstanding too!

Beware of Bullshit from Conferences

I’m not usually one to post such a negative title. But I want to make sure that you’re all aware of what is happening out there.

I attend many conferences.  I find value in the education and in the networking. More often than not I will meet someone or a group of people that will end up becoming valuable associates, good friends or even clients (although this rarely happens – but one never knows). And I will always attend and promote conferences.

However, something has been happening recently that I need to direct your attention to it.

In the social media and communications world – which I live and work in – there are many so called facts that people use to promote the value of social media or even why (expensive) tools or services should be purchased and used.  What’s the big deal with this? Nothing. If it’s true. But a whole lot is wrong if false examples are used to illustrate the point.

This first came to my attention on a panel I sat on discussing social media. It was hosted by a young professional network. The lie: United Airlines lost market share, market value and revenues as a result of United Breaks Guitar. Many articles have been written assuming that United lost money. The facts are far from clear but I stand to be corrected.

The latest was from a conference I attended last week hosted by a company which was recently purchased by SalesForce. The lie? That in recent history the team that has won the World Series in baseball has had more singles (than any other type of hit) than everyone else. The point was to tell people to be satisfied with hitting singles in life rather than swinging for the fences (dream small versus dreaming big).  Fair enough. But the fact of the matter is that the story used to illustrate the point is 100% incorrect.

According to my numbers (I had someone who works in stats on a daily basis help me out – the “fact” sounded fishy to me), since 2000, only 2 teams with most singles overall have won the World Series: The 2012 Giants and 10 years earlier, the 2002 Angels.

Sigh. I don’t know how many Tweets and ReTweets the original statement received. I do know it filled my timeline.

My suggestion: Before taking any action on what you hear at conferences, do your own research. And don’t be afraid to call the bullshitters out.

End of rant.

Why I do what I do.

Image representing Boris Wertz as depicted in ...
Image via CrunchBase

I love Toronto.  And not just the Blue Jays baseball team or the CN Tower.  I mean what makes Toronto, well, Toronto.

Her people.  Especially those people who are making things happen.  Whether it be community activists like the folks at the Toronto Green Community or the start-up/tech space that I have been involved in for the past couple of years.

Earlier today, I had the opportunity to chat with Canadian entrepreneur, angel investor and venture capitalist Boris Wertz.  He appeared as my guest on The XConnect Show.  It was our 19th episode and the first time we had a live audience.

The reason we invited a select audience was because our team knew that many people in the start-up space would love the opportunity to listen and learn from Boris.  So we had about 10 guests sit in on the session.

Before our taping I introduced Boris to every member of the studio audience.  And that made me feel happy and proud.  Happy that I could do it and proud that I had the chance to do it.

What made me more happier was receiving an email from one friend a few minutes ago who apologized for leaving without talking to me so he could share with Boris a cab ride across the city.

No need to apologize.

It’s why I do what I do.