The Scott Rintoul Show
Shi Davidi discusses the Blue Jays off-season so far
December 18 2019
TORONTO – Tanner Roark played on five different minor-league teams across two different organizations, along with an independent and a winter ball club, before debuting with the Washington Nationals on Aug. 7, 2013. Five years of reliability for the Nationals followed before a two-stop year with the Cincinnati Reds and Oakland Athletics set him up for free agency.
Able to pick his next destination for the first time, the 33-year-old right-hander from Wilmington, Ill., wanted some stability and some good catchers to work with, finding both with the Toronto Blue Jays, who formally announced his $24-million, two-year deal Wednesday.
The way they pursued him helped tip the scales, he said during a conference call with media.
“They were the first ones to initiate contact with me. Right off the bat, they were really interested. So I knew that they wanted me and I talked to the pitching coach, Pete (Walker), and the bullpen coach, Matt Buschmann, we had a great conversation. Talked to Walker for like 25 minutes, that’s the first time I’ve ever talked to him,” said Roark. “They knew what they wanted and they wanted me and it’s exciting to have someone want you like that.”
Roark joins trade acquisition Chase Anderson as a stability post in a Blue Jays rotation that, at minimum, will feature legitimate major-league pitching after a miserable 2019 season best encapsulated by Charlie Montoyo’s memorable description of an opener and a guy ahead of one of many TBA days.
Japanese righty Shun Yamaguchi, who agreed to a two-year deal worth slightly more than six million with the potential for up in excess of a million more per season in incentives, is another possibility to start, although he could potentially be used as an opener, bulk-pitcher or leverage reliever, too.
Along with incumbent rotation candidates Matt Shoemaker, Trent Thornton and Ryan Borucki, the Blue Jays should now be able to give their young core of position players a chance in most games.
They continue to seek higher-end impact for the rotation – the bidding for Hyun-Jin Ryu, believed to be pushing past $80 million over four years, may end up outside their comfort level – and an internal debate now is whether to bite the bullet now, or wait for a shot at Trevor Bauer or James Paxton in free agency next fall.
David Price is one possibility on the trade market right now, while underperforming teams looking to escape big contracts may present a fresh set of options ahead of the next July 31 trade deadline, too.
Ben Nicholson-Smith is Sportsnet’s baseball editor. Arden Zwelling is a senior writer. Together, they bring you the most in-depth Blue Jays podcast in the league, covering off all the latest news with opinion and analysis, as well as interviews with other insiders and team members.
Roark’s steadiness opens up all kinds of possibilities for the Blue Jays, who in addition to wanting to present a more watchable product on the field, also sought to protect their young arms from overexposure. He’s made at least 30 starts and logged a minimum of 165.1 innings in five of the past six years, and having him take the ball every five days should make Montoyo’s life easier.
The dependability that has become his calling card is no accident.
“I think what keeps me on the field is I work hard,” said Roark. “It can be a long, arduous season, repetitive, travel-wise, all that stuff, and the mental part of it can just crush you. Working hard and doing what you need to do to prepare yourself for every fifth day, that’s the biggest thing. The stuff in between the starts is the real work and the fifth day is the actual enjoyment of it all, of what all the work that you put in those previous four days rewards you with, the start to go out there and hopefully kick some butt.”
The Scott Rintoul Show
Shi Davidi discusses the Blue Jays off-season so far
December 18 2019
Doing it in the American League East will present a new challenge, one Roark both embraced and played down, saying, “keep the ball out of the air I guess is the big thing – because often they go out for a home run.”
“Just make your pitches.”
That’s a pretty sound mantra for any division and his experience and path to the majors should serve both him and his young teammates well. Roark joked about being one of the oldest players on the roster now, but he’s eager to share his knowledge when called for.
“I was a late bloomer of some excitement, some five and a half years in the minor-leagues, and the biggest thing was the mental part,” he said. “I knew I could always make it to the big leagues and be a big-leaguer and having the underdog mentality I’ve had my whole entire career – underrated, not getting the most respect – has made me mentally tougher and stronger. Going through tough times is what got me to armour my mind to get through big situations and not let the name on the back of the jersey or the front of the jersey bother me or get in my head. …
“Especially with the young core group of guys coming up and what we have at the big-league level, give them some knowledge, teach them some things, answer any questions that they want to know,” Roark added later. “I’m here for them.”
A while back, I had a job in a movie theatre. The theatre at the foot of an atrium in an open-plan tower. We plebs could look up at the offices and hallways above, where the corporation’s big wigs worked.
The biggest wig in our world would often lean over a balcony and stare down at us, like a gargoyle in pinstripes. If you were caught loafing, a call would be made and you’d hear about it.
One day, there was a commotion from several floors above – a lot of screaming and banging. The biggest wig had been fired. His reaction was to go back to his office and barricade himself inside it.
The banging was security kicking in the door. The screaming was him being dragged to the elevators. It was a different time.
But the lesson therein is timeless. Nobody likes being canned. But people in charge take it particularly hard.
Right now, 2½ months into Hockey Canada’s sex-abuse scandal, we’re at the barricade stage.
In any other country, this would be over now. Through a combination of popular outrage and political panic, the Hockey Canada edifice would have been burned to the ground.
But in this country we continue to believe shame will do the job for us. That the people in charge of this world-class gong show will get the message and slink off home.
But Hockey Canada’s leadership is not operating on Canadian rules. They’re pulling from the American handbook on how to survive a scandal. Shamelessness is a prerequisite.
Their first job was deflecting.
In terms of an absolute defence, the deflecting’s gone about as well as a guy trying to push off bullets by waving his hands around. But it bought time. The men in charge knew they could count on Ottawa to a) quickly promise to take decisive action and b) take absolutely forever to decide what that decisive action looks like.
Deflecting has another virtue – it dilutes outrage. No matter how awful, people can only read about a story for so long without becoming bored. And there’s always a fresh outrage to divert us.
This week, Hockey Canada hired someone to head an investigation into the workings of Hockey Canada. You could’ve written out this person’s CV long before the name was made public – retired judge, history of public service, member of the new Family Compact, etc.
Finding people is not hard. There are a whole bunch of them out there twiddling their thumbs, itching for someone to stick a microphone in front of them.
But after two months of withering pressure, Hockey Canada is just now figuring out who will set up the Slack group to discuss how to begin discussing their problems. Let me guess that if they’d been bleeding cash instead, organizing some sort of working committee would have taken two hours.
But this is how you do it, American-style. Pretend it’s a live broadcast with screen time to fill before commercials – stretch. Continue talking about nothing. Don’t stop speaking. It’s the silence that kills.
While you’re stretching, keep your eye on the horizon. That’s where the sports are. If you can make it to sports, you might be okay. The same people who wanted your head paraded in the town square yesterday might be distracted by a waving flag.
On Tuesday, the world junior hockey championship begins in Edmonton. Over the weekend, there will be a barrage of publicity about the tournament that launched a thousand official denials. We’ll rehash the particulars of this ugly affair and assess where we’re at. This column is part of that.
By Tuesday, the usual outlets will be talking about hockey. How’s Canada’s top line measuring up? Where’s the United States at? Whither the Olympic team?
This is how you erect a modern, media barricade.
Having seen a million of these things go down in recent years, you know you’re not going to talk your way out of your problem.
Bottom-line: You were in positions of authority at a public institution when something abhorrent happened. The integrity of that institution cannot be maintained if you continue to lead it.
This is obvious. But in our rush to definitively nail someone, anyone, we have skidded past the obvious. Now we’re all deep in the weeds, hacking away.
Uncovering the minutiae about who said what to whom at what board meeting may absorb reporters and politicians, but it only serves Hockey Canada’s current leadership.
While we’re Inspector Clouseau-ing this thing, we’re also avoiding the clear end point. The longer we spend doing that, the more likely it is that these fish all get off the hook.
This was the goal all along. Deflect, get to the world juniors, hope that Team Canada wins and that everyone is too exhausted by the end of it to keep taking pops at you. By the time your judge wraps up his report – let me guess ‘Mistakes were made but there is a clear plan forward’ – maybe you’ll have successfully run your gauntlet.
It’s not a plan, as such. As with Hockey Canada’s in-camera board meetings, nobody’s written it down. It’s instinctive process based on observation. In scandals as in sports, the mission is getting through today.
It’s not going to work. That’s also obvious. No matter what the eventual report says, it will reignite outrage.
The names of the players involved in the two alleged assaults will come out, probably during the NHL season. That will reignite outrage.
At any moment, the alleged victims could make fulsome public declarations. That will reignite outrage.
Any way you go, the outrage is going to leak out again. The only way to contain it is to blow this down to the foundations. Eventually, everyone’s going to realize that.
Really, all that’s being decided now is how you want to get to the elevators – walking under your own power, or being dragged there screaming by the rest of Canada.
Nadal cited that the reason to abandon the Canadian Open was a result of an abundance of caution regarding injury concerns.
“From the vacation days and my subsequent return to training, everything has gone well these weeks. Four days ago, I also started training my serve and yesterday, after training, I had a little discomfort that was still there today.
We have decided not to travel to Montreal and continue with the training sessions without forcing ourselves. I sincerely thank the tournament director, Eugene, and his entire team for the understanding and support they have always shown me, and today was no exception.
I hope to play again in Montreal, a tournament that I love and that I have won five times in front of an audience that has always welcomed me with great affection. I have no choice but to be prudent at this point and think about health,” said the Spaniard.
Last month, Nadal was forced to withdraw from his Wimbledon semifinal against Nick Kyrgios due to an abdominal injury.
Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic has also withdrawn from the Canadian Open as his status as unvaccinated against COVID-19 means he cannot enter the country.
Djokovic is also unlikely to play at the US Open after organizers said they would respect the American government rules over travel for unvaccinated players as the United States (US) requires non-citizens to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter.
“Per the Grand Slam Rule Book, all eligible players are automatically entered into the men’s and women’s singles main draw fields based on ranking 42 days prior to the first Monday of the event.
The US Open does not have a vaccination mandate in place for players, but it will respect the US government’s position regarding travel into the country for unvaccinated non-US citizens,” read a statement from the US Open which is set to take place in New York from the 29th of August to the 11th of September, 2022.
Nevertheless, Novak Djokovic will be joining Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray to play for Team Europe in the Laver Cup.
The event, which pits six European players against six from Team World over three days, will take place in London between 23 and 25 September 2022.
“It’s the only (event) where you play in a team with guys you are normally competing against. To be joining Rafa, Roger and Andy, three of my biggest all-time rivals, it’s going to be a truly unique moment in the history of our sport,” said Djokovic.
RED DEER, Alta. — Canada scored early and often and also stayed out of the penalty box en route to a 4-1 victory over Sweden in the gold-medal final of the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
Tanner Howe, Ethan Gauthier, Calum Ritchie and Brayden Yager scored for the Canadians, who held period leads of 2-1 and 3-1 at the Peavey Mart Centrium on Saturday. Riley Heidt also chipped in with two assists for the champions.
Hugo Pettersson scored for Sweden, who were outshot 36-26. Each team received eight minutes in penalties.
Canada had beaten Sweden 3-0 on Aug. 3.
“Three weeks ago, we put this roster together and I felt right away this was a tight group,” said head coach Stephane Julien. “It’s not easy when you have this much talent, but everyone accepted their role and I’m so happy for them.”
The win is Canada’s first gold medal since 2018, the last time this tournament was held in Canada.
“I’m so happy for this group,” added Julien. “They haven’t had it easy in their careers the last two years with the pandemic, but now they have this, a gold medal and something they are going to remember for the rest of their career.”
Canada advanced to the final with a 4-1 win over Finland, while Sweden defeated Czechia 6-2. Finland beat Czechia 3-1 in Saturday’s bronze-medal final.
The Hlinka Gretzky Cup will shift to Europe in 2023, returning to Breclav and Piestany, Czechia for the first time since 2021.
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