According to many people outside of Canada, the Blue Jays are not the most loved team in baseball. It’s starting to feel like every other week someone is spouting off, or throwing at, one of the Jays’ best players. I, like most Blue Jays fans, do not understand all of the hate. While I can understand that opposing players get frustrated with inflated international cell phone bills, Toronto still seems to be receiving a disproportionate amount of Major League Baseball’s vitriol. Most of the time, Blue Jay hate seems to be rooted in talk of disrespect, playing the game the right way and showing up opponents. But I have a hard time believing that Sam Dyson would throw the same shade at Mickey Mantle that he has at Jose Bautista.
In my opinion, all the criticism is just code for the underlying truth that the Blue Jays are good at baseball and appear to be excited and happy about it – an ethos that doesn’t sit well with some others around the league. It’s always important to know your enemy, so in case you’ve missed some of the more recent dust ups, here is a recap of current Blue Jay detractors, critics and haters throughout Major League Baseball:
Minnesota Twins – Joe Vavra/Phil Hughes
One of the more bizarre incidents of on-field feuding this season has to be Josh Donaldson’s clash with the Minnesota Twins. While grounding out in the first inning of a Saturday afternoon game, Donaldson ran down the first base line at a speed that was clocked by stadium radar guns at “not playing the game the right way.” This upset Twins’ bench coach Joe Vavra, who said something inflammatory to JD, laying waste to the reputation of the polite and friendly Midwesterner. The next day, when Donaldson took Twins starter Phil Hughes deep, he glared at Vavra as he crossed home plate. This led Phil Hughes to throw two pitches at Donaldson in the 6th inning, without being ejected from the game. After the game, Donaldson explained why both this situation and the Trial By Combat policy that Major League baseball adheres to is so maddeningly frustrating. The Twins dislike of the Blue Jays also proves that you don’t need to hit a franchise altering home run for someone to get irrationally offended. In my opinion, Twins pitchers should be more concerned with hitting 90 miles an hour instead of opposing players.
Texas Rangers – Rougned Odor
Oddly enough, the only person on this list to publicly declare their respect for Jose Bautista is the one who decided to punch him in the face. It seems as though Odor puts about as much thought into his on field actions as he does into his post game statements, deciding that slugging Bautista in the jaw was an adequate response to a late, but not dangerous, slide into second base – proving that you can’t spell Ranger without rage. Odor’s attack on Joey Bats, has made him public enemy number one in Toronto and the creator of a cottage industry’s worth of t-shirt and punch related memorabilia in Texas. The most recent chapter in the Jays-Rangers rivalry has anointed Texas as Toronto’s most hated rival and should provide plenty of fodder if the teams do happen to meet in the playoffs again this season.
Pete Rose – A Casino Somewhere
During last year’s postseason run, Doctor Pete Rose fired criticism at Josh Donaldson for leaving Game One of the ALDS after potentially sustaining a concussion; comments that indicated Rose himself may have sustained a serious head injury at some point. While his criticisms of Donaldson as a soft player make it abundantly clear that Rose knows nothing about head injuries or Donaldson’s style of play, Rose should know plenty about staying in games too long – just look at his final season as a player in 1986.
Baltimore Orioles – Darren O’Day
The longest standing Blue Jay rivalry is the Orioles/O’Day conflict that dates back to a time so long ago (2013) that Jose Bautista wasn’t even sporting his signature beard when the dispute began. The issues centred on a circular series of brush back pitches, celebrated home runs and outs, and retaliatory beanings between Jose Bautista and Darren O’Day. Blue Jay historians also note that the Bautista/O’Day rivalry marks the first usage of Jose’s now famous catchphrases “you’ll have to ask_____(player/manager/front office member/reporter) about that, not me”, and “I couldn’t care less what ____(opposing player/manager) thinks.”
Mike Wright – Norfolk Tides
The newest addition to the list is Mike Wright, the Orioles’ rookie Norfolk Tides pitcher who argued that Edwin Encarnacion is a less than stellar hitter, when stating “there’s a reason he’s hitting .240.” This was pronounced despite the fact that Edwin spent that very same Saturday afternoon grinding Wright and the rest of the O’s pitching staff into a fine pulp. With O’Day on the disabled list, perhaps Wright was trying to fill the antagonism void. Let’s hope for Wright’s sake that Oriole regulars Chris Davis, Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy, Ryan Flaherty, and Pedro Alvarez didn’t hear his disparaging comments about players who hit .240. I also can’t believe Mark Trumbo isn’t on that list.
John Farrell – Boston Red Sox
When someone breaks up with you, they usually have the tact not to mention they wanted to be with someone else all along. John Farrell didn’t give the Blue Jays and their fans the same courtesy. If leaving because you would rather manage a team with Dustin Pedroia on it wasn’t hard enough to swallow, Farrell made some comments that painted the Blue Jays’ front office in a less than positive light upon leaving. This was the very same front office that let him out of his contract to go and take the job he wanted all along. While most divorces involve the division of furniture, record collections or pets, this one saw the Blue Jays get Mike Aviles in the breakup. Be careful Boston, we wouldn’t want him to hurt you the same way he hurt us.
Goose Gossage – Wilton Grove Retirement Community
If you heard Gossage’s rant this winter, the one in which he calls Jose Bautista a “f—ing disgrace,” you were probably concerned for a man who had wandered away from his seniors tour just long enough to voice his displeasure with how the youths of today are ruining baseball. Jose Bautista knew as much, responding only that he was not going to get into it with him. Gossage was quickly reunited with his tour group and promptly offered a job in the Diamondbacks’ front office under Dave Stewart.
Kansas City Royals – Yordano Ventura
The stupidest thing about the Jays’ feud with Yordano Ventura is that it was born out of a game that he wasn’t even playing. After the Jays and Royals cleared benches on August 3rd of 2015, Ventura sent and then deleted a very critical tweet directed at Jose Bautista. Then, in the ALCS, he got bent out of sorts when Troy Tulowitzki asked for time too close to when Hurricane V wanted to deliver his next pitch. Ventura proceeded to stare Tulo down in little response. This was not Ventura’s first or last altercation with an opposing player or team. There’s an old expression that may be applicable here: If you run into an a—hole in the morning, you run into an a—hole. If you run into a—holes all day, maybe you’re the a—hole? After supposedly apologizing to Bautista about his comments, there have been reports about his intentions to hit Jose Bautista the next time he faces him; proving that he has learned absolutely nothing.
Adam Dunn – Retired Because he Doesn’t Like Baseball
You know, this one just might be on Toronto. Well, General Manager J.P. Ricciardi more specifically. Ricciardi famously called out Adam Dunn for “not even liking baseball all that much” – the 2008 equivalent of calling someone ‘low energy.’ Dunn responded by calling Ricciardi a clown, hilariously confirming with reporters that they could use the word clown if they liked. Sure, Adam Dunn is built more like Little John than your prototypical baseball player, having what my dad would describe as a ‘big middle,’ but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about baseball. Even a staunch Jays’ supporter like me would say J.P. was perhaps a little out of line on this one.
Since the Blue Jays emerged as a playoff and World Series contender over the past two years, the bad blood between Toronto and the rest of baseball has increased substantially. As annoying as it can be to hear yet another example of someone having a mostly made up problem with your favorite team, take solace in the fact that the Jays are good enough to take their revenge by winning games, and (hopefully) not throwing at people.
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