The brotherhood of the travelling Jays hats: Part 2 – Tulo and Price

When it comes to ballpark attractions, Edgar’s Cantina at Safeco Field might be the best party going.

As part of our brotherhood of the travelling Jays hats series, my buddy Evan and I are trying to visit every Major League Baseball stadium in our lifetime.

This summer we decided to go to Safeco, a place we have already been, but we made an exception to our tour to watch the Toronto Blue Jays play.

The MLB finally got their scheduling right and stuck the Seattle Mariners and Jays series over a weekend, so that masses of people from B.C. and Alta. could make the trip down.

Last year the series was Monday to Wednesday and we were unable to attend.

But the timing of the trip was still a bit off, for a different reason.

With the trade deadline looming over the Mariners-Jays series in late July, I was dreaming that the Jays would acquire a front-of-the-rotation pitcher so I didn’t have to pay money to watch R.A. Dickey pitch.

An injury bumped up Dickey’s start a day earlier, so I avoided donating my money to support his fraudulent career.

What transpired the week after our trip blew my mind.

My first assignment back was to cover Game 5 of the Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League final between the Vernon Tigers and Kamloops Venom.

I always turn my phone off when conducting postgame interviews to avoid interruptions.

I wish I left my phone on this time.

Exiting the arena, I turned my phone back on and it began twerking with texts and missed calls more violently than Miley Cyrus at the MVA’s.

THE JAYS TRADED FOR TROY TULOWITZKI!!!!! 

THE JAYS TRADED FOR TULOWITZKI!!!!! 

Tulowitzki has been the best hitting shortstop in the bigs and a gold glove defender, when healthy.

It wasn’t their most desired area of improvement, but when you have a shot at getting the best shortstop in the game and he is under contract for six more years, you gotta take it.

The Jays sent over a lot in return for Tulo.

They were able to shed their degrading shortstop Jose Reyes and had to deal two restaurant-quality pitching prospects in Jeff Hoffman and Miguel Castro to the Colorado Rockies.

Every analyst is predicting Hoffman to be a stud and future ace for whatever rotation he pitches for.

Hoffman would have been the top player selected in the 2014 draft, but fell to the Jays at the ninth spot because of his Tommy John surgery. He just started pitching for the Jays in A/AA ball when he was dealt.

Castro broke spring training with the Jays and was their closer for part of the season. At 6-foot-5, 190 pounds, he can light up the radar gun at 98 and 99.

He struggled with command and keeping the ball in the ballpark and was shortly sent down to the Buffalo Bisons in AAA.

The Rockies added pieces their farm system to compliment top pitching prospects Jon Gray and Mike Nikorak.

This process of dumping elite prospects for MLB-ready talent began in 2012 with the trades with the Jays made with the Marlins and Mets. The vision has taken longer to come to fruition, so GM of the Blue Jays, Alex Anthopoulos, kept the trend going in hopes of producing a playoff team for the first time since 1993.

In my mind, I still needed them to trade for a starting pitcher to further justify the Tulo deal.

And they did, in a big way, by trading for David Price.

I remember waking up, seeing alerts and tweets on my phone about the Jays and their interest in Price. Twitter had my attention for the rest of the morning.

Once I got into work, the buzz around Price and the Jays began to grow.

Thank goodness I wasn’t on deadline, because I was pretending to work while refreshing my Twitter feed following Price’s progress.

For the past two seasons, the Jays have swung and missed at acquiring a variety of pitchers. I fully expected him to go elsewhere.

But they Jays somehow pulled it off.

And then I stopped breathing.

I still can’t believe it.

David FREAKIN’ Price, is now a Blue Jay!!

Price is an unrestricted free agent this summer and is expected to demand a contract anywhere from 20 to 30 million dollars over five to seven years. The Jays organization cowers in fear of contracts of that magnitude, so it is widely believed he is just a rental.

The players they shipped to the Detroit Tigers for Price weren’t nearly as coveted as the prospects in the Tulo deal.

The biggest chip was Daniel Norris, a young left-handed starting pitcher who, just like Castro, broke camp with the Jays and was sent to the minors shortly after the season started.

I’m not a big fan of Norris’ mechanics, his velocity is already down from 95 to 91 and he doesn’t locate well enough to get batters out.

The Jays later added Ben Revere, who led the National League in hits last season and is a great defender, LaTroy Hawkins and Mark Lowe, right-handed relievers strengthening the Jays bullpen.

In one week, the Jays added five players and lost a combined 11 players and prospects.

Anthopoulos didn’t sleep much during the Tulo-Price times, but it might have saved his job.

The Jays HAVE TO make the playoffs this year. There is no way they can afford to miss the playoffs when you possess arguably the games best third basemen, shortstop, DH, catcher, right fielder and pitcher.

They gutted their farm system for a final push to the postseason and it sounds like they have the fans’ approval. If a franchise wants to be relevant and taken seriously, you have to make the playoffs more than once every 20 or so years.

The Jays had four areas of improvement heading into the deadline and the crushed them all out of the park.

They needed an ace, an improvement at shortstop, an answer in left field and a quality right handed reliever to bridge the gap to the eighth and ninth inning. These were moves the Jays had to make.

It’s really sucks the Jays didn’t have this revamped roster a week earlier in Seattle. This might be my favourite Jays team ever assembled.

Regardless of who was donning the blue and white, the trip to Seattle was still a riot.

If you were listening on the radio, or just walking by the stadium, the constant roar from Jays fans would have sounded like the game was in Toronto and not Seattle. The crowd had to be 80 per cent Jays fans.

It was insane.

We went to all three games and burnt both ends of the candle all weekend long.

We woke up early Friday to drive down to Seattle to make it for batting practice. We arrived in enough time and started drinking the second we got out of the car at the hotel.

Friday’s game was a blur. Jays lost 5-2.

We woke up early for the 1:00 p.m. start on Saturday and had we were crushing tall boys before I brushed my teeth.

When I mix adrenaline with alcohol, I get taken to the next level and become a loud human being.

Watching the Jays live is exhilarating. They are my favourite team in any sport. I have been in love with this team before Joe Carter hit that blast in 1993.

Needless to say, that weekend was one of the highlights of my summer.

Maybe I can go without the five ounces of tequila at 10 a.m. next time.

What made the trip extra special was seeing hoards of friends from different corners of B.C. and Alta. flocking to the stadium. No matter turned I looked, I bumped into an old friend from years past. It was a great reunion trip.

Edgar’s Cantina was the place to be on Saturday. We were firing it up pretty big with a lengthy beer snake going and the Jays actually won.

Following their 1-2 series in Seattle, the Jays set a record with the highest run differential and the worst record at 95+ runs, while sitting 50-50.

With the best batting lineup in the MLB and one of the best pitchers in the MLB, I think that this will be the season the 22-year playoff drought ends.

Go Jays.

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