With a new manager and a break to reboot Blue Jays ready for crunch time
BOSTON – At 93 games in, the Blue Jays are well past the half-way point of their 2022 schedule, still looking to reach full throttle. With an all-star break providing an opportunity to exhale, however, the unofficial second half launches here on Friday. It begins with new manager John Schneider and the rest of the Jays facing the Red Sox in a three-game series at historic Fenway Park. While not exactly a mathematical midway, the series serves up an opportunity for the Jays to vault into an extended run the likes they have only hinted at during the first portion of the season.
TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays clubhouse had a different vibe on Saturday morning. Instead of some quiet country music or baseball highlights playing on the spacious room's TVs, a DJ was performing a set featuring house music and classic rap and R&B tracks from the late 1990s. © Provided by The Canadian Press
Although the clubhouse has an impressive sound system, usually deployed with a fog machine after big wins, interim Blue Jays manager John Schneider decided to shake things up ahead of their matinee against the visiting Detroit Tigers. He asked DJ Ray, a local Toronto performer, to set up his equipment in the middle of the clubhouse and play music to get the Blue Jays hyped for the third game of their four-game series.
SIMMONS SUNDAY: Blue Jays pitcher Alek Manoah is his own kind of star
He couldn’t be more different — Alek Manoah from Dave Stieb, from the late Roy Halladay, from the greatest starting pitchers ever developed by the Blue Jays. Manoah oozes personality along with pitching poise. He wants the ball, the headlines, the show, everything that goes with being a major-league star. He has demonstrated that since arriving in Toronto a year ago, and he gave a peak to the rest of the baseball world on Tuesday night at the All-Star Game, pitching and broadcasting an inning, smiling his way through his three strikeouts, all at the very same time.
"That was the first I've ever seen that," said starting pitcher Ross Stripling after Toronto's 5-3 win over Detroit. "He worked hard for a long time. I mean, he was there from like 11 a.m. to when we took the field and just jamming.
"There was one point where I was the only one in the locker room and he was just over there having a good time."
Infielder Cavan Biggio said it was a surprise to have more upbeat music pumping on what would normally be a quiet morning, but not at all surprising knowing his manager.
"That's kind of how the way John Schneider operates," said Biggio, who first played for Schneider on the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Toronto's double-A affiliate. "Playing for him in the minor leagues coming up it's always been, about keeping the vibes high and, you know, keeping the tensions low."
Success of Blue Jays’ platoon bats altering trade deadline approach
MLB’s trade season is fun for baseball fans, who get a chance to furiously speculate where their favourite players might end up or who their beloved teams might deal for as the Aug. 2 trade deadline approaches. As it turns out, players like to play arm-chair general manager, too. “All those conversations start to leak into the locker room, weight room, dugout, and stuff,” said Toronto Blue Jays starter Ross Stripling. “We're just saying, ‘WhatAs it turns out, players like to play arm-chair general manager, too.
Biggio said he didn't make any requests to DJ Ray, but Blue Jays outfielder George Springer was seen dancing down one of the clubhouse's hallways.
"Springer never stops dancing," said Biggio with a smile. "You put on any music, anywhere, and he's dancing."
Schneider told the players a few days in advance that DJ Ray would be coming. Although Schneider didn't personally put in any requests — he has his own sound system in his office — he wanted the players to make the most of the change of pace.
"I think it's fun to break things up and he can take requests, he can do his own thing," said Schneider. "I like to keep it light and the guys like it. I think it's pretty cool."
Schneider did not think the performances would become a regularly occurring event in the Blue Jays clubhouse, unless Toronto scored a big win over Detroit on Saturday afternoon.
"Unless we score 28 today, have 30 hits," said a laughing Schneider as Eve and Gwen Stefani's "Let Me Blow Ya Mind" floated into his office from the clubhouse. "It's just something to break up the day in, day out.
"Y'know, day game after night game. We're just having a little bit of fun with it."
Stripling wasn't sure if the Blue Jays would do it again but noted that DJ Ray's record speaks for itself.
"We got the win so he's 1-0," said Stripling.
DJ Ray was not available for comment.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 30, 2022.
John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press
SIMMONS SUNDAY: The NFL wants the book to be thrown at Deshaun Watson .
The National Football League turned to a decorated judge, Sue L. Robinson, an expert in dispute resolution, to deal with the nasty Deshaun Watson situation. They thought, who better to deal with a mess like this one than a woman who had been a United States district judge. Until the decision came down, which was a contradiction of sorts — her words blasted Watson but her suspension only called for six games. That caused the NFL head office to freak out. Followed almost immediately by an appeal. Now they’ve turned to another decorated lawyer, former New Jersey Attorney General, Peter C.