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1996 Journals

September 6, 1996

I hope all of you Blue Jay fans out there haven't been reading the newspaper lately because things have not been going too well for us. We were playing great a couple of weeks ago, and then all of the sudden we forgot how to score runs. Yesterday we finally snapped a five-game losing streak with a 6-0 win over the Royals. We don't deserve all of the blame for our lack of offense, however. We had to face a bunch of tough pitchers in a row: Kevin Tapani, Wilson Alvarez, Alex Fernandez, Tim Belcher, and Kevin Appier. That crew was definitely a major reason for our difficulties. Hopefully our win last night will help us get back on track.

You might think it's hard to get motivated to play when we are already out of the pennant race. Actually, it's very easy to get excited about affecting other teams' chances. We play most of our remaining games against contenders (New York and Baltimore). How can you not get excited about battling against these two teams?

Many of you probably wonder what we do on the few days off that we have. Well, today is a perfect example. I slept until about 11:00 AM (we had a late game last night), and then I made myself a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios. Then, I did some laundry and made a few business calls. At about 1:30, I grabbed some lunch with a couple of other players on the team. Finally, I rushed home to pack my suitcase for our short trip to New York, and then jumped on the team bus to the airport. It was definitely not much of a day off!

We rarely get days off to do what we want because we use those days to travel. When we do get a true day off, it goes by so fast it's hard to really get anything done.

I've read some of the letters you have been sending me, and many of you comment on my beard. I guess I should talk a little bit about it (not that it's of any importance!).

During the all-star break, I went fishing up in North Carolina (in the mountains). Because I was feeling like an outdoorsman, I didn't bother to shave for a few days. I had planned on shaving after the next game, but I got a couple of hits. Things kept on going well for me, and now I'm walking around with an itchy, scraggly beard (I guess I'm a little superstitious!).

By the way, I do appreciate all of the messages you have been sending me. I'll try to answer as many of them as I can. So don't hesitate to comment on whatever's on your mind.



September 18, 1996

This past week has been filled with losses for the Jays. In fact, it's been tough for Captain Video (that's the nickname for the guy who organizes all of our personal and team videos) to make highlites of our games. We were only able to take one out of three from Texas, and one out of four from New York. Even though these are two of the best teams in the league, we still should have been able to at least win three or four of these games.

The one game that would have been especially nice to win was the one that Pat Hentgen pitched. He was going for his 18th win of the season and threw a great ballgame. He only gave up three runs, but our lineup came up short with just one run. Hopefully we'll be able to give him some offense for his last few starts because he deserves to be a 20 game winner.

After playing against two likely playoff teams this past week, I got a chance to speculate on the post-season. I think that all four American League teams in the playoffs will have a fairly even chance of winning, which can result in a very exciting month of October. In my opinion, the best team in the hunt is Texas because they have a great lineup and solid defense. Their biggest question mark is the depth of their bullpen, but they do have some good arms to rely on in their rotation.

Cleveland is also tough. I feel that their team last year had better chemistry and a little better lineup, but they do have the experience and the talent to go all the way.

The other two teams that will probably make it are New York and Baltimore (7 of our last 12 games are against Baltimore, so hopefully we can damper their plans!). These two teams are similar in the sense that they both have tremendous lineups full of veteran players. They also both have talented pitching staffs who need to stay healthy and consistent in order to win.

New York, who has a great bullpen, will be tough to beat as long as their starters can hold up. Baltimore has pretty solid starting pitching, but their bullpen isn't quite as strong. They need to rely more on hot bats to win.

Once again, I thank you for listening to what I have to say. I would love to read about your opinions on the pennant races, so feel free to send me messages. I better go now so I don't miss the team bus to our game today!


October 7, 1996

It's been a while since any of you have heard from me, so I better apologize. I wrote a journal about a week ago, but I somehow got it lost in transmission. These computers are tough to figure out! All this time I thought it was posted because I haven't had time to get online. I've spent the past ten days trying to transfer my life from Toronto to California. Now that things are settling down, I finally have the time to write.

The phantom journal that I wrote a week ago (which of course none of you were able to read!) was about what players do in the off-season. Everyone has different hobbies of course, but there is one thing that everyone likes to do: RELAX. After playing 162 games (or even more for those who go to the playoffs), it feels great to unwind.

Players who are married and have families really look forward to spending lots of time with them. A ton of players enjoy golfing, fishing, and/or hunting. I plan on playing more golf than I used to, and I might even fish a little bit (I'm definitely not a hunter). I just like to do things outside.

Some guys play winter ball in Latin America some where (Venezuela, Mexico, Dominican Republic, or Puerto Rico). I played in Venezuela a couple of years ago. It was a great experience, but this year I plan on spending time with friends and family here in California.

After a couple of weeks I'm going to start working out for next year. I plan on running quite a bit, lifting weights, and practicing baseball. One new thing I'm going to get into is a martial art. I'm thinking about taking Tai Chi. It is something I've always found really interesting.

Getting back to baseball, I enjoyed watching the first round of playoffs. There have been some good games, and I think they are going to keep getting better. The Yankees and Orioles have a good rivalry from this season, so that will be fun to watch. Out of all of the stadiums I played in this year, Yankee Stadium and Camden Yards had the loudest fans (nothing compares to Yankee Stadium, it's unbelievable). There will definitely be home field advantages for both teams, but you never know what's going to happen.

I would talk about the NLCS, but I don't know those teams too well. No matter what happens, I'm sure it will be exciting and great to watch. I think I'm about out of stuff to say, so I better sign off (I hope I send this journal to the right place this time!).

See you later


October 23 1996

I have been having a great time watching the first five games of the World Series. Sometimes people are surprised to hear we as players like to watch the games. I have seen all the games on TV. It's actually been a fun series to watch, although of course I'd rather be playing that watching.

I have faced the Yankees a bunch of times over my career and I am not surprised at all that they have come back from almost the dead. They have been coming back like that all year. They have a very good lineup -- not one that matches Cleveland or Baltimore or even Texas overall, probably, but one that gets the timely hits with runners on base. That game where the Yankees came back from the 6-0 hole was amazing. I guess I view three keys to the Yankees turning the series around:

Leyritz hitting that monster home run Bernie Williams getting back in the groove and David Cone stepping up big in that game three outing.

Leyritz really swung the series around with his hit. I really think the long layoff affected the Yankees hitters. Williams especially. I know that for me, when I have even a three-day layoff at the All Star Game, it takes a while to get back in the groove after not playing for that long. The Yankees had like a week off, and I know that must have been tough.

People ask me if I think the Yankees bullpen is as big a factor in their success as everyone thinks. Actually, I think that is pretty accurate. I faced Wetteland like three times this year and I thought he was pretty tough. The Yankees bullpen is so deep that other teams know in their mind that if the Yankees are in the game, they are going to be tough to beat. I think the Braves know that.

The other thing people ask me about are the Yankees fans. I know from playing out there -- they are by far the loudest fans in the league. They can have 15,000 fans in the stadium and you think based on the noise that it is a full house. The crowd will definitely be a factor. The fans will be on fire. (Hopefully not literally).

Anyway, Athlete Direct asked me to make a prediction, so I will say Yankees in 7. The Braves are sending out a guy who might be the best pitcher ever, so I think Atlanta might take it. But in Game 7, my old teammate David Cone is starting, and I think Cone in Yankee Stadium in a game seven will be very tough. I know from playing with David that he thrives on big games like that, like all the good pitchers. He will be hoping for the Yankees to win in game six, I'm sure, but he'll be looking forward to pitching game 7 if it comes down to it.

Personally, I have been taking it easy and enjoying the time off out in southern California.

Enjoy the rest of the World Series.