The Drumheller Mail - - CLASSIFIEDS -

This has to be the year for the Toronto Blue Jays. The Ma­jor League Base­ball sea­son opens Sun­day, April 3, and it could be now or never for the Jays, who caused the ex­cite­ment level in Canada to hit its peak ca­pac­ity last fall be­fore they lost in the Amer­i­can League cham­pi­onship se­ries to Kansas City. This sea­son is crit­i­cal for the Jays be­cause it’s likely to be the last cam­paign where they have the most po­tent 3-4-5 hit­ters in base­ball. Josh Don­ald­son (41 homers in 2015), Jose Bautista (40) and Ed­win En­car­na­cion (39) cre­ate night­mares for op­pos­ing pitch­ers, but it’s an even big­ger night­mare in the Jays’ front of­fice, where of­fi­cials have to fig­ure out how to pay all three of them. Don­ald­son is un­der con­tract fora­n­other two sea­sons, but vet­er­ans Bautista and En­car­na­cion are both play­ing this sea­son un­der ex­pir­ing con­tracts. It’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to imag­ine a sce­nario where new Jays’ GM Mark Shapiro will be able to sign them both — or even at­tempt it. One, maybe, but not both. That’s why it’s likely now or never in 2016 for the Blue Jays. Mean­while, mark down May 2 on your calendar, for that’s the day the Blue Jays play Texas Rangers for the first time. Bautista might want to wear some ex­tra pad­ding in that first game, be­cause base­ball tra­di­tion sug­gests he might be duck­ing to get out of the way of the first pitch he sees. Bautista, of course, made him­self a hero in Canada with the most ex­u­ber­ant and spec­tac­u­lar bat-flip in base­ball his­tory. It was the bat flip heard across the coun­try, if not the con­ti­nent. Cana­di­ans loved it. Tex­ans, es­pe­cially the Rangers, hated it. It was a clas­sic case of “show­ing up” a pitcher, but Bautista’s home-run blast off Sam Dyson, which brought the Jays back from a 3-2 deficit — man­u­fac­tured in part by a con­tro­ver­sial um­pir­ing de­ci­sion that went de­cid­edly against the Jays — oc­curred dur­ing such an emo­tional stage of the game that Bautista may not have even re­al­ized he was mak­ing the flip­pingest bat flip of all time. But he did. He elec­tri­fied Jays fans and a whole coun­try, for that mat­ter, but he in­fu­ri­ated the Rangers. The ‘get even’ game oc­curs May 2. Should be in­ter­est­ing. The per­fect situation, of course, is for Bautista to hit the deck af­ter Pitch 1, dust him­self off, and then send Pitch 2 into the strato­sphere, set­ting the stage for Bat Flip 2. Can hardly wait! • Omaha World-Her­ald’s Brad Dick­son: “Pey­ton Man­ning has of­fi­cially re­tired from the NFL. Eli Man­ning is grate­ful he can fi­nally get out from be­neath that 900-foot shadow.” • Nor­man Chad of the Wash­ing­ton Post, sug­gest­ing names from the sports world for po­ten­tial U.S. Pres­i­dents: “Roger Good­ell: Easy tran­si­tion from the sec­ond-most im­por­tant job on the globe to the most im­por­tant job on the globe, but there’s a pay cut.” And, “Den­nis Rod­man: Strong on de­fence. He can get Madonna to sing at the in­au­gu­ral ball. And he’s fast friends with the most feared man on the planet, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.” • Brad Dick­son again, af­ter Nick­elodeon picked Pa­tri­ots party boy Rob Gronkowski to host a new kids show: “Was Hugh Hefner un­avail­able?” • An­other one from Nor­man Chad, on LSU bas­ket­ball player Ben Sim­mons and his lack of at­ten­tion to aca­demics: “Se­ri­ously, if you gave him GPS, a photo of the cam­pus li­brary and sat him down on the li­brary steps with a li­brar­ian, he couldn’t find the li­brary.” • Dwight Perry of the Seat­tle Times: “An 80-year-old fan at a Philadel­phia Fly­ers game took off her bra and threw it on the ice to cel­e­brate a hat trick. Which might be as close as they come to get­ting a Cup this sea­son.” • Brad Dick­son again, af­ter police ar­rested ex-Cow­boys RB Joseph Ran­dle for the sixth time in 17 months: “That ties the record held by Otis on ‘ The Andy Grif­fith Show.’ ” • Com­edy writer Alex Kase­berg: “Peo­ple are ei­ther ex­cited about the NCAA tour­na­ment or obliv­i­ous. When I told a woman I had Gon­zaga fall­ing out of my brack­ets, she sug­gested I take Imod­ium.” • Jan­ice Hough of left­most­sports­babe.com: “Pete Rose is the lat­est to en­dorse Trump: The Don­ald is re­ally rack­ing up the fa­mous ath­letes who had a lot of col­li­sions with other play­ers and walls.” • RJ Cur­rie of sports­deke.com: “Johnny Manziel’s stats as the Browns QB: seven touch­downs, seven in­ter­cep­tions and seven fum­bles. Given Manziel’s fond­ness for Ve­gas, he’ll be happy he to­talled 21.” • Bud Shaw of the Cleve­land Plain Dealer: ”I’m re­fus­ing to call Johnny Manziel the Ed­sel of draft picks. Let’s be fair. The Ed­sel lasted three years.”

Bruce Pen­ton

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