Joey Votto’s comments about Canadian Baseball and the Toronto Blue Jays did not go over well among fans north of the border.
It is rare for Joey Votto to be in the spotlight in a negative way, but that’s where he found himself earlier this week for comments he made on Yahoo! Sports MLB Podcast. When asked about James Paxton‘s no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Canadian was rather candid about his thoughts on his countrymen’s accomplishment.
"“As far as Toronto, and Canadian baseball, and the country of Canada, and (James Paxton) being Canadian, I don’t care at all,” Votto said. “(Paxton), or the Jays, or Canada, in general, may disagree with that, but I really couldn’t give a rat’s ass about that.”"
Now the 34-year-old did go on to say he was happy for Paxton, because throwing a no-hitter is worth celebrating. However, he just doesn’t see it as a big moment in Canadian baseball history like everybody else.
What caught many off guard, was not just what Votto said, but the way he said it. There was clearly some frustration and brutal honesty
This was a big contrast as to how Paxton celebrated the accomplishment. He showed off the tattoo of the Maple Leaf on his right arm, as he took in the moment.
"“Of all places, to do it in Toronto, it’s pretty amazing,” said Paxton. “The fans were great. They were giving me some trouble in the seventh inning, but once I got past that, they started kind of cheering me on. It was cool.”"
Even before Votto made his remarks he prefaced them by saying, “People are not going to love what I’m going to say.” He knew there was going to be some issue with what he said, but probably didn’t expect as much outrage as it got.
Ian Hunter defended the comments made by Votto, because he thinks there more to do with his current situation rather than what he thinks about Canadian Baseball. Hunter said:
"“Losing on a consistent basis has to take its toll on a player the calibre of Votto, who at age 34, is still one of the preeminent players in the National League. He sounds like somebody frustrated and let down by his organization. He doesn’t sound like someone who has a beef with baseball in Canada, but that’s what it came across as.”"
Along with that, Hunter shares a similar position that I have on this situation. Votto seems to be tired about talking about his native land, because he probably gets frustrated by all the questions about Canada.
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That’s why he wrote an apology on Canadian Baseball Network , because he understands his recognition gets elevated in part by his status as a Canadian. The Lou Marsh Award is not an easy one to win and he’s earned it on a couple of occasions, something he notes in his apology.
What bothers me about this whole situation is why Votto would say those things, given how much work he has done in partnership with Baseball Canada. Even the director of the national team, Greg Hamilton, told Bob McCown he was sympathetic towards his fellow countryman.
Heck, even Brendan Shanahan gave his thoughts on the situation.
Some people have a right to be angry. Particularly anybody who may have worked with Votto, got to where they are with Baseball Canada and are proud supporters of Canadian baseball.
It certainly struck a nerve, because Votto probably wants to be known for what he accomplishes in the MLB with the Cincinnati Reds, not just because he’s a good Canadian player.
Votto’s comments won’t undo all the work, because I know the next chance he gets to play for Canada he’ll do it with pride. That’s what shouldn’t be forgotten and that’s what is great about this country, we usually don’t.