It is a little tough to be totally galvanized when you're looking to Mike Johnson — once cut by the Edmonton Cracker-Cats, for chrissakes — as your paradigm of hope.
Nevertheless, that roar at Rogers Centre — at least three OOLFers were in attendance — during Canada's sadistically close 6-5 loss to Team USA was awesome today. Canada hung in until the final out, when J.J. Putz got Jason Bay to fly out to right field on a 3-2 pitch.
It almost evoked what it was like in Toronto for an all-too-brief period in the early 1990s. The point is that generation who were tweens and teens during the Jays' salad days are moving — or were, before the R-word — into their prime earning years, and they're ready to redefine the often staid Toronto sports-watching experience.
Watching the game today, it became clear why it's bittersweet for Canadian footy fans, or maybe us nutters for university sports, when there is a halfway seminal moment. There is always that feeling that it's all a chimera, that soon the game will go back to being an afterthought among most casual fans. Fifty thousand people were there, including a healthy contingent of U.S. fans, which only adds to the atmosphere. It was tense throughout.
Anyway, there's not too much to add. Canada, considering it was saving Scott Richmond for a must-win game vs. the loser of tonight's Venezuela-Italy game, hung with Team USA better than a lot of people might have figured. As you know, Toronto's own Joey Votto was nails, going 4-for-5 with a homer and a run-scoring double that put Canada in position to tie the game in the ninth inning. Canada had Justin Morneau and Jason Bay coming up with the tying run 180 feet away and couldn't catch a break against the Americans' closer, J.J. Putz from the Seattle Mariners. Ooh, we almost had it.
Meantime, how about the Netherlands knocking off the Dominican Republic. Full marks go to Ron Rollins at Baseball Over Here, since he had the Dutch winning that game.
One last thing: Phillippe Aumont is all about speed. Filthy, nasty, bad-ass speed. He struck out Kevin Youkilis and Curtis Granderson with the bases loaded. Paraphrasing Kenny Powers in East Bound & Down, everyone wants a piece of Aumont's stuff, including Baseball America.
(One little Seamheady point: It was little amusing when Canada shortstop Chris Barnwell came up and Sportsnet's Sam Cosentino launched right into the party line that the Triple-A infielder was selected for his ability to get on base. Barnwell, who did on-base .375 in Triple-A one season, whiffed on three pitches vs. U.S starter Jake Peavy. Catcher Russ Martin ended up walking on a full count and eventually scoring the day's first run.)