Sprague didn't play much after being called up—he had only 47 at bats—but he and two other Blue Jay reserves, outfielders Turner Ward and Derek Bell, started something called the Trenches, a silly little rally routine that has enlivened the Toronto bench. They lay a towel labeled TRENCHES on the top step of the dugout, near the bat rack. Bell, the loader, pulls out a bat belonging to a Blue Jay teammate who's about to hit. He passes the bat to Sprague, the exchanger. As the batter comes to the plate, the bat is handed to Ward, the shooter, who fires off an imaginary volley at the opposing pitcher. "If we need a big homer, like tonight," Ward said Sunday night, "I turn the bat around and make it a bazooka." The imaginary warfare may seem juvenile, but when one of the soldiers has to come into a game, his place is often taken by Toronto's 41-year-old star, Dave Winfield. "He's our commander in chief," says Sprague. As so often happens in battle, it was the guys in the trenches who won Game 2.
August 06, 2009
One day, I'll stop bitching about the AL East, and how it is the toughest division in baseball. Not today. But one day.
As my man Dean pointed out in the comments of my last post, with the Tampa Bay DEVIL Rays having won last night, to sweep a mini two-game set with the Boston Red Sox, the AL East is now home to three teams with 60 or more wins. The Yankees check in with 65, the Red Sox 62, and Tampa Bay 60.
Only one other American League team has hit the mark; the Los Angeles Angels (63). In the National League, three teams: the Los Angeles Dodgers (66), Philadelphia Phillies (60), and San Francisco Giants (60).
Three teams in the AL East. Four throughout the rest of Major League Baseball. Life is cruel. And home, the AL East, has been most unkind to Toronto this season, with the Jays having gone 12-24 against divisional opponents. All in all, it's amazing the Jays have won 51 games so far in 2009. (That's my way of saying J.P. Ricciardi has done a stand-up job with a payroll of only $80 million dollars.)
The Ultimate Flashback Friday
For one night, let's forget about this, another, clusterfuck of a season for our Toronto Blue Jays. Tomorrow night at the SkyDome, for no reason at all, because we don't need a reason, let's celebrate the 1992 and 1993 teams that ran the AL East; that did something truly special for the city of Toronto.
I'll be there. In my powder blue. Cheering wildly like I'm 10 and 11 years old again; like I was when Dave Winfield sent the ball down the left field line in 1992; like I was when Joe Carter's ball cleared the fence in 1993. Hell, I think I'm even going to hit up the autograph sessions.
Speaking of memories, I was actually talking to the boys about the '92 World Series, and Ed Sprague's 9th inning pinch-hit home run in game two vs. Atlanta. Looking back, what an absolutely monumental round tripper. The Jays had lost game one of the series, and were down 4-3 in game two, with only three outs to go. Cue the heroics. A walk to Derek Bell, and a bomb to left field by Sprague to silence the deep south. It came off of Braves closer Jeff Reardon who, according to the ever-trustworthy Wikipedia, was then baseball's all-time saves leader; 5-4 Toronto, the World Series tied at one, and heading to Canada for the first time ever in life. Huge.
Unfortunately, I can't embed Sprague's home run here on the blog, but you can watch it here. Take a minute to do so. Trust me, it'll give you goose bumps.
The salad days. Be there tomorrow night to relive them.
UPDATE: My man Johnny G mentioned the "Trenches" in the comments. I loved that shit. Sprague, Bell, and Turner Ward. Rudeys, all three of them. I did a quick search, and found this gem from the SI vault:
Makes you love Winfield even more, doesn't it?