Toronto Blue Jays: The Return of Brett Lawrie


Toronto Blue Jays: The Return of Brett Lawrie

The red-hot Toronto Blue Jays had a day off Monday– and one could say it was well-earned. Their last two series’ have been sweeps over teams above them in the standings, the Minnesota Twins and the New York Yankees (in the process, Minnesota has been pushed down below them).

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A pessimist would opine that a hot team doesn’t want time off. However, no one will dispute the Blue Jays deserved their day off.

On their day off, in theory they should be preparing to welcome the Oakland Athletics to town. Oakland is a team who, despite making a strong World Series bid last season, were quickly dismissed by the Kansas City Royals in the postseason.

This season has been a nightmare and “Billy-ball” has not worked out in the least. Oakland sits at 51-62 and is 10 games back of division leaders Houston (and at the start of the year, the majority would have expected the opposite).

This series is a letdown (lookover) spot for the Jays, so they must figure out how to avoid that and continue their ascent up the standings in hot-pursuit of the first-place Yankees. In other words, not looking over or letting down.

Jun 6, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Brett Lawrie reacts as the ball clears the wall after hitting a fifth-inning home run against St. Louis Cardinals at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

One thing that will help, is the return of former Blue Jays third-baseman Brett Lawrie, a polarizing Canadian son, a player equally loved and hated by the masses. This will be Lawrie’s first time at Rogers Centre as a visiting player.

On November 28th of last year, Alex Anthopoulos dealt Lawrie to Oakland with a few other prospects, in exchange for third-baseman Josh Donaldson. At the time, most fans were stunned.

Lawrie was the lifeblood of the Jays, the brash Canadian boy whose passion was admired by fans – although disdained by some. I was pumped for Donaldson, but at the same time I didn’t want to let go of Brett.

I justified the move to myself by saying Lawrie was always injured anyway (he’s only played more than 107 games once in his five-year career– more than 125, never) and Donaldson, man, wasn’t he an MVP candidate just a few years back? Yes sir, he was a candidate in 2013 and he was an All-Star in 2014.

As this season has progressed, most of Lawrie’s Blue Jays’ fans have relented and saluted Anthopoulos’ thievery, with Donaldson turning in an MVP-calibre season (I’m not the first to suggest this…) and the Jays occupying a playoff spot as of right now. Donaldson is hitting nearly .300, ranks second in the Majors with 31 homers, and leads the league in RBIs with 83, as a hitter in the two-slot.

(On Monday, Donaldson named co-American League Player of the Week for last week, hittung .385, with five home runs, eight RBIs and nine runs.)

Lawrie’s splits? Not near as impressive – .268 / 10 / 45 . This deal = steal!

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But the question has been raised of how Lawrie will be regarded by Jays’ fans? Historically, people may boo since now that he’s left, they’re winning.

Call it coincidence, call it whatever… it’s just fact. People may boo for a myriad of reasons – some of them are valid, some of them are bull-remnants.

It seems I am in the minority of this thinking, but I think Jays’ fans will cheer. Probably loudly. In today’s world, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a standing ovation for Lawrie (first at-bat… called it!).

Why, you ask? Fans will remember the good times and not the bad ones. Fans will remember his first at-bat, where Lawrie recorded his first hit (and RBI) and not his melancholy .264 average as a Blue Jay.

Fans will remember his second game at Rogers Centre and his first hit there (a grand slam!) and not all of the strikeouts (234). Fans will remember his tenacity, his love for the game and not his games missed. Fans will remember all of the acrobatic plays he made at third-base and not all of his errors.

Fans loved Lawrie. They loved his exuberance. The girls loved his looks. The young crowd loved his tattoos and his passion.

Fans, cheer for Lawrie. Cheer for his time here. Cheer for his nationality (and no doubt that we’re Canadian will help the concept of cheering rather than booing). Cheer for his passion and his desire to win. These elements deserve a cheer!

And, if you didn’t like his passion, then cheer for the trade that brought Donaldson to Toronto and has in-part pushed the Jays to a playoff position and into serious contenders for the first time in 20-plus years. All of the reasons listed above deserve a clap!

Cheer for the fact that the Jays are close right now! I know Lawrie didn’t directly play a starring role in the Jays’ ascent to relevancy this season, but maybe he should land a best-supporting role.

Even if it’s misplaced, that deserves an ovation!

Next: Be afraid American League, the Blue Jays are coming