Game 120 // Eighth Inning, Toronto // The Smoak Show

BOTTOM OF THE EIGHTH: BLUE JAYS 7 (3) – 4 YANKEES

 

The last words of yesterday’s post were these: “Baseball fun in Toronto is going nowhere.”

Flash forward a day. Again, Blue Jays vs. Yankees. Again, bottom of the 8th. Again, the Yankees bullpen breaking down, and the Jays coming back. The Rogers Centre going wild.

As the great Yogi Berra used to say:

It’s like déjà vu all over again.

 

  

An inning earlier, Justin Smoak hit a two-run shot to bring Toronto within one. 

He’s back up now, with the bases loaded.

Martin on third, Diaz on second, Donaldson on first, who was intentionally walked.

David Robertson on the mound.

Smoak steps in.

A flurry of Canadian baseball tweeters ready their fingers, keyboards across the country set to receive an near-identical set of inputs:

“Smoaaaak”

“Smoaak on the water”

“SMOAK BOMB!!”

A home-run cut, and he whiffs on a sinking changeup over the plate. Takes a fastball looking, over the middle. A foul, a foul, a foul. A ball, low.

Full count. Smoak steps out, and back in.

There’s a large advertisement behind home, on the backstop panel, for WestJet Vacations. BARBADOS, it says, in large white letters on a turquoise background. As if to capitalize on the misery of Canada’s baseball faithful, if this first weekend of play hadn’t turned out so dignified. If Pillar hadn’t stolen home, if the Jays hadn’t won, if games 1 through 4 on the year ended in pathetic inadequacy. The big money Yankees cackling back home over the border—nightmares of Stanton, of Judge, of Sanchez… each fan longing for the good old years of Playoff Jays.

The weather is miserable, still. It’s gray, it’s cold. It’s not Barbados. Indoors and winter-weary, with that ad staring you down each inning, peering into your misery, picking it apart, getting in your head.

 

 

BARBADOS, the sirens call. Just come to BARBADOS, they croon. There’s nothing here for you, in Toronto. Nothing good here, nothing—

Justin Smoak gets a 3-2 fastball.

It soars into the fifth row, dead centerfield. Grand slam. Jays up 7-4.

 

 

The foghorn blares. The Rogers Centre rejoices. These Yankees won’t be walking all over everyone. The AL East isn’t decided. Not yet. Not on Week 1.

Not when there’s Smoak. And where there’s Smoak, there’s…

A ballpark. Filled with energy, with beer, with smiles. A flight reservation, cancelled. Barbados—flung into the forgotten. Plane tickets ripped into confetti.

For how can anyone leave Toronto, when games like these are going on?

 

 

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