Fiddler's Facts: It's make-or-break time for Blue Jays

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The Toronto Blue Jays are at home for the next nine games with three-game sets against American League East rivals Tampa Bay, New York and Boston.

How they do should tell us if they are post-season bound as the second wild card or if it’s another case of “wait ’til next year.”

I don’t know what happened between the Jays management and centre-fielder Colby Rasmus but he has spent a lot of time watching good field, no hit Anthony Gose patrol the outfield. Rasmus is a 25-home run, 80-RBI type while Gose couldn’t hit a watermelon.

There’s also the continual use of Munenori Kawasaki at second base over two other infielders, especially Ryan Goins, who was sent to the Jays farm club in Buffalo.

In addition to the questionable lineup moves, the Jays refuse or cannot move runners over in obvious bunt situations.

Slugger Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind are now back in the lineup while third baseman Brett Lawrie should join the team during this homestand.

Toronto had 30 games remaining before Friday’s action and was four games out of a wild card spot. They must win each of the three series to stay in the post-season hunt, a longshot but not impossible.

Senior baseball

On the local baseball front, the Charlottetown Gaudet’s Auto Body Islanders are off due to this week’s Canadian championships in St. John, N.L.

Pitchers Brody McDonald and Jordan Stevenson have been added to the staff of the Chatham Ironmen as has catcher and Isles’ leading hitter Morgan MacLean.

The New Brunswick squad lost its opener 2-0 to Ontario but none of our guys played. In their second outing, the Ironmen pounded Alberta 14-2 in five innings and MacLean was behind the plate throughout and had an RBI.

Fast pitch nationals

On the local fast pitch softball front, the national senior and master men’s tournaments start in Charlottetown Tuesday at Central Fields.

Calling this tournament a national event without having Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba and New Brunswick in the competition maybe a little misleading, and it may sell more tickets, but what the heck? Same goes for the three-team masters (over 40) tournament.

P.E.I. will be represented by the John Brown Grille Fawcetts and they play their first game Tuesday at noon against British Columbia. The Coors Light Masters club’s tournament also will be played at Central Field.

Hockey

Congratulations to Charlottetown’s Kevin Devine who has been appointed to the director of player development position with the Buffalo Sabres.

This is a big, big job so all the best to Kevin, a hard-working guy and deserving of the position.

Thomas Casey and Robbie Howatt, who were outstanding last year in bantam AAA hockey playoffs on the Island, have been recruited and will be playing for Notre Dame, Sask., this winter. That’s a great opportunity for the boys, but a big loss for the city bantams.

Also, local hockey players are making noise on other fronts.

Dave Shellington posted rounds of 73, 79 and 70 to finish third in last week’s Atlantic mid-master championship at Bell Bay in Baddeck, N.S.

Tim Yorke, who plays out of Andersons Creek, fired rounds of 71, 72 and 70 to take top honours.

Sherri White, who plays out of Belvedere, won the senior ladies’ title with rounds of 80,84 and 80.

Hilliard Graves, his grandson and horse owner Wayne Ivany captured Wednesday’s horsemen’s title at Fox Meadow.

Tim Banks, who was general manager of the Summerside Western Caps and first hired Doug MacLean, had no problem on the Links at Crowbush Cove last Saturday as his team of Jerry LeBlanc, Devon Bruce and Thane Hansen easily captured The Onion.

The Onion, the Brian McGuire-inspired tournament, raises big bucks for palliative and hospice care.

Old No. 19 Alf Flanagan, one of the top senior players in the Maritimes in the 1960s and 1970s with Moncton and Charlottetown teams, and his wife Shirley will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary next Friday. Friends are getting together at 6 p.m. at the Charlottetown fire hall. I’m sure there will be a few hockey stories.

George Halliwell does more for minor hockey than anyone I know. Hockey skates and gear is expensive for any family, so George has been collecting hockey and ringette equipment and giving it to kids wanting to play from Tignish to Souris. So far, he has accumulated more than 100 pair of skates, pants, shoulder pads, shin pads at his CARI storage area. If you need equipment, call George at 902-626-7026 or email george.halliwell@

cmhapei.ca

Harness racing

Last Saturday’s Gold Cup and Saucer race was one of the most exciting and closest finishes in years as Wazzup Wazzup (James MacDonald) and Bigtown Hero (Brad Forward) battled from the head of the stretch to the wire to tie the track record of 1:50:4.

The race solidified the Gold Cup and Saucer as arguably the best harness racing event in North America. The race attracted a huge crowd in excess of 20,000 and I am sure most fans will be back this time next year.

I don’t know what the live handle was, but it was obvious as we jostled through the crowds Saturday the track needed more betting locations and many more experienced sellers both inside and outside the grandstand.

Long lines of betters were left with their money in their hands unable to wager and that really hurts, especially when you have them there and they want to spend their money. Nevertheless, it was a terrific card of racing and lets not kid ourselves, the big horses attract the big crowds.

Live harness racing continues tonight at the city track with another 12-dash card. The feature has from the rail out: Mcmaverick, Red Magician, Blue Meadow Willie, Eagle Jolt, Cheyenne Ford, Tempo Seelster, Say It Again Sam and Carrera Angel.

The national drivers competition is set for Tuesday at the city track and it will be a terrific card.

It will include the $25,000 Founders Cup Invitational and a $5,000 Builders Cup, honouring Doug Hill of Charlottetown and Eric Johnston of Summerside.

On a more sombre note, Charlie MacLellan from Cardigan was in attendance for the Gold Cup and Saucer race and I talked to him as he was sitting with Duke MacCallum. Sadly Charlie passed away suddenly Monday. Charlie missed very few races during the past 30 years and was one of our most loyal fans. To his wife Janet, sons Scott and Daniel and daughter Joanne (Sheidow), my condolences.

On the topic of the hot stables during Old Home Week, the Poulton boys had a great week and the driver on all occasions was Paul MacKenzie. He won with Tempo Seelster for Vince Poulton, with Cabo Pan Lucas for Scribes Poulton and Alan Walker and with IDK for the same duo.

Not since the mid-1960s, when the Poulton barn had invitational trotter The Sheik, Jolly Dick and Helen’s Dream, had they been this hot. Congrats to all concerned.

Fred MacDonald's column appears each

Saturday in The Guardian. He can be

reached at fiddlersfacts@hotmail.com.

Organizations: Toronto Blue Jays, American League East, Buffalo Sabres Summerside Western Caps

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Tampa Bay, New York New Brunswick Ontario Toronto Alberta Manitoba British Columbia Notre Dame Sask. Atlantic Bell Bay Baddeck Andersons Creek Belvedere Moncton Tignish North America Cheyenne The Guardian

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Recent comments

  • billy
    August 23, 2014 - 12:56

    Does Fred have ANY original thought when it comes to sports............this is an embarrassment from a sports point of view........nobody in the sports field cares about horse racing.........nobody.........

    • huh
      August 24, 2014 - 17:11

      An embarrassment? Yet the wager last week on the Gold Cup was $275,000, Billy. That seems to put some serious doubt on your post. What is YOUR original thinking?

  • Allan Younker
    August 23, 2014 - 04:42

    Lets be honest, the big horses draw the big crowd....now, in reality, its the aura of the "Gold Cup and Saucer" that draws the big crowd...80% of those in attendance wouldn't know the difference between a fast horse and a hole in the ground. I do agree with them needing more experienced and available pari-mutual staff though.