PHJOSHUA ON SPORTS – COLBY RASMUS, QUIET SUPERSTAR IN THE MAKING

“I just see the ball and run and try to catch it. I’ve been running and catching baseballs since I could walk…”

That’s what Toronto Blue Jay, Colby Rasmus told the Toronto Star and I know exactly what he means. I started playing when I was a little boy and loved the game right away.

“The more I think about it, the more it messes me up.”

That is how he finished the thought… and I know exactly what he means by that as well. I think we all do. Whether you are or were an athlete at any point in your life or not you have no doubt been in situations where the things that are supposed to be easy for you become terribly difficult.

Maybe it’s writer’s block or parallel parking or pouring the perfect beer, it doesn’t matter. Once you get all up in your own head, you’re screwed.

It can be hard to step back and realistically evaluate the expectations of professional athletes sometimes. To take a second and recognize that there is a lot of pressure that comes with doing your job in front of tens of thousands of people every night and hundreds of thousands or more on TV at the same time. And yes, pro athletes like Colby Rasmus make a lot of money to deal with that pressure and perform. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

If it was easy I would be doing it. [Read more…]

PHJOSHUA ON SPORTS – I DON’T CARE WHO YOU ARE, YOU CAN PLAY!

This has been a hard post to write. Hell, it’s been a hard post to think about writing. And it’s because I’m scared. Scared that I’m not going to get it right or capture my thoughts with the right words or really convey what I’m thinking or how I’m feeling.

Usually when I’m writing here it’s not that hard. But, this time is different.

It goes like this, I’m a straight dude that played a lot of sports when I was younger. I loved it and wouldn’t trade away those memories or experiences for anything in the world. In all of my experiences though one thing that I never went through was a teammate coming out.

Now that I’m a little bit older and I’m reading stories about young men who say that the hardest part about coming out was telling their teammates I start wondering what it would have been like to experience. I know that in the mid to late 90’s when I was most involved in team sports it was not a locker room environment that looked super enlightened. We were dumb teenage boys and nobody really worried about telling us to be any different. We made fun of each other. We encouraged toughness and manliness and discouraged and made fun of any signs of weakness, failure and anything that wasn’t macho and Alpha.

I would like to think that as a group we would have been welcoming and supporting and inviting to a teammate if they had come out and told us that they were gay. But I don’t know how it would have gone down.

Soccer player David Testo waited years to come out. And while I feel lucky to have spoken with him and written about it earlier this year, I wish I would have asked him about the environment when he was a kid. Did he ever think about coming out when he was younger? Was it kids like me that made him hold off? He told us that he believes we won’t see more athletes coming out until we see a more accepting society.

I would like to believe that the time is coming. That our youth are much more accepting and educated and ready to show the world that being a gay athlete is okay. Just like being a gay accountant or actor or waitress or CEO is okay.

It’s not right that it falls on our young people to lead us… but I think that’s how it is going to be.

I can only hope that stories being shared by young athletes like Scott Heggart will show us that things can change. And that campaigns like You Can Play (spearheaded by the Burke family) will show the mainstream that the time has come for everyone to feel invited and included.

I’m still scared that I haven’t said what I wanted to say. Or that my message isn’t clear.

When I was 15 I’m not sure I would have been strong enough to stand up for a gay teammate. And because of that I’m not sure it’s fair for me to ask every 15 year old out there to be strong and supportive and welcoming… but that’s what I’m doing. It’s what I’m asking of everyone, of every age.

If your goalie or second baseman or left D or point guard or quarterback is gay it doesn’t matter. They are still part of your team. We are all taught that your team is your family. And we all need to support our families.

Whether you are gay, straight, bi, unsure, or not ready to decide: If you can play, you can play.

PHJOSHUA ON SPORTS – FREE AGENT JOSHUA MURRAY NOW AVAILABLE

Baseball season is coming and I want to play!

Let me clear that up a little. Softball, I want to play softball in Toronto.

It’s been a few years since I was on the field but I believe that I still have a lot to offer to the right team.

Check the stats:

  • Age: 30
  • Bats: Right
  • Throws: Left
  • Height: 5 feet 11.5 inches
  • Weight: 170ish
  • Build: Athletic

What I Bring To The Table:

  • Wheels: That’s right, I can still get on my horse and get around the bases. Balls in the gap are triples.
  • A Canon: As a former pitcher I’ve got some juice in my left arm and I am happy to use it to get the ball in quick from the outfield or across the diamond from third to first.
  • IQ: I’ve been in love with baseball for 25 years and consider myself a student of the game. Situations have been played through my head over and over and over again.
  • Hard Line Drives: I’ve never been a big fly ball guy and I see that as a good thing. I use the whole field, keep the ball away from the defense and move people around the bases.
  • Passion: There is no place I would rather be than on the baseball diamond.
  • Enthusiasm: I am one of the most encouraging dudes you will ever see on the field. I high five and compliment and ass slap like it’s my mission.

Note: Since I’ve started working with a couple pretty awesome performance supplement companies (MuscleTech/Six Star Pro Nutrition) and quit the smoking I’ve started to work on getting back into great shape again with chin ups, pull up, push ups, running, etc. and great products. I’m gonna be something to see!

I’m not trying to brag or anything, but I think I would make a pretty bad-ass addition to any team in the city as an athletic outfielder or corner infielder.

If you would like to see my highlight reel I can ask my mom for the photo album from little league and I’ll scan the pics.

If you want to talk to my agent about having me try out or join your team leave a comment here or tweet at me.

More than anything I just want to be part of a team again. I want to feel the grass under my shoes and the bat in my hand and the ball in my glove. If you have a team that plays in Toronto or know someone that does please let me know.

In the famous words of every umpire ever, “Play Ball!”

PHJOSHUA ON SPORTS: SELECTION SUNDAY – MARCH MADNESS IS HERE!

It’s here! Selection Sunday has arrived March Madness is finally here!

Okay, so we won’t actually get the selections and final rankings and pairings and brackets until later today and then the play-in games don’t start until Tuesday in Dayton, OH… but it’s here!

In fact, it’s so here that I’ve already posted the 3rd annual March Madness Widow Survival Guide over on my blog. This year we’ve got a list of 5 suggestions to help those of you who may feel a sense of abandonment or suffer from a lack of attention during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Have a look.

I know that I am (by far) the most excited member of the photojunkie.ca family right now. I may be the only excited member of the family to be completely honest. But I DON’T CARE. It’s such an amazing time of year with upsets and Cinderellas and heartbreak and comebacks and young men sweating blood for a shot at glory. This is by far my favorite single elimination sports tournament of the year. The Super Bowl may be a big game, but as a tournament, it doesn’t touch March Madness.

Now, if you’re going to pay even a little bit of attention this year you’re going to need a team to cheer for. There are 68 teams at the start of this thing, so you will have a lot of options.
[Read more…]

The Play-Offs Are Coming – MLB Changes The Wild Card!

The play-offs are coming, the play-offs are coming! Get your hashtag ready!

It’s here, it’s here.
It happened, it happened.
It’s coming, it’s coming.
I’m so excited!

It was announced last week that Major League Baseball will be adding a 2nd Wild Card team to the playoff system this season. That’s HUGE news. Especially in markets like Toronto.

Here’s how it breaks down (unless I’m totally misunderstanding everything) – the 3 division winners in each league continue to move to the play-offs as per usual. The best 2nd place team becomes the 1st Wild Card team AND the new wrinkle, the former Wild Card runner-up now becomes the 2nd Wild Card team.

This is the kind of thing that baseball fans in Toronto have been dreaming about for years. Hell, I’ve been writing about it for years and even proposed my own changes here on the blog on October 7, 2009 “Reviewing My Would Be Changes To The MLB Play-Offs”.

However, none of that matters now (other than the fact that my idea is still brilliant) as we are finally moving forward! Baseball isn’t the worst at change… but they certainly aren’t the best either. And this is change. And it could be the start of even more change!

Here’s what things would look like based on the 2011 end of season standings. The division winners are numbered 1, 2 and 3 based on record and the existing Wild Card team is marked as number 4. All 8 existing play-off teams are highlighted in yellow.

The new Wild Card team is marked with the number 5 and highlighted in red.

It goes like this. The new Wild Card teams (Boston and Atlanta) would play the existing Wild Card teams (Tampa and St. Louis) in a 1 GAME PLAY-OFF to see who moves on to the next round. That game will be hosted by the 1st Wild Card team and will be crazy exciting.

So, what does this mean for the Blue Jays?

It means that the time is now to capitalize on young talent, an increasing budget and the energy and buzz that is surrounding the team.

If the play-offs weren’t already the “real” goal for the head office in 2012, they better be now. If they were waiting to make a move because it didn’t really make sense… it makes more sense now.

I know that by my own graphic and evidence the 2011 Blue Jays weren’t really close to being that 2nd Wild Card team… but we weren’t as far off as the Orioles, Padres, Marlins or Astros.

Spring Training is always a great time of optimism and hope for baseball fans. And now there is one more thing to be excited about.

The Play-Offs!

PHJOSHUA ON SPORTS: SPRING IS COMING, THE OPENING DAY COUNTDOWN

My friends, we are only 6 weeks away from the start of another baseball season and I am getting more and more excited every day. Just yesterday while Rannie and I were looking for hockey pucks at SportChek (I’m sure he’ll tell you more about that later) I made him stop so I could look at Blue Jays t-shirts and hats. And that’s not the half of it.

A week ago Friday I went down to the Rogers Centre to pay my phone bill and stop at the box office to get myself an early 30th birthday present… but when I got to the window at 2pm to buy a pair of opening day tickets I was given the worst (and best) news ever – the game was already sold out.

It’s bad news because I want to go to that game! I really want to go.

It’s good news because it means that there will be 50,000+ people at the Rogers Centre on April 9, 2012 to watch the home town Blue Jays take on the Boston Red Sox at 7:07pm.

Needless to say, I was a little broken hearted. I’ve only been to 1 opening day and that was 7 years ago when the Red Sox came to town and Slash played the national anthems (that was awesome) and the Trailer Park Boys threw out the first pitch (not quite as awesome) and I paid $70 each to a scalper for 2 seats in the 9th row of the 100 level halfway down the 1st baseline.

I love the things that a new baseball season brings. I’ve written and talked about that fact a billion times. But one of the things that I’m most excited about is that my friends want to come to games with me. Rannie and I hit one game together in the 1st row last summer and I would love to take him again (I’m going to turn him into a huge sports fan over time) and teach him more about the game and players that I love.

6 weeks can seem like an eternity or almost nothing. My gut tells me that for me it will feel like both.

ps. I didn’t get that hat, so if you wanted to surprise me I wear either a 7 ⅛ or 7 ¼ full back.

pps. I will gladly go and sit with any of you at a baseball game. Let me know when you want to hit the stadium and we will try to make it happen. Whether you are from Toronto or will be visiting, whether you are a Blue Jays fan or happen to root for your own home team, I would be totally into it.

Thanks again to the Blue Jays for giving us pictures of Ricky Romero and JP Arencibia and the rest of the boys of summer at spring training. See more at the bluejays.com spring training album.

Talk to you soon kids.

Remember, March Madness is coming…