This All-Star break couldn’t come fast enough.
The story after the Blue Jays dropped three of four games to the Boston Red Sox over the course of the weekend wasn’t starting pitching and their inability to get deep into games, it wasn’t the plethora of defensive miscues made over the four days, it wasn’t even the two grand slams the Red Sox hit. It was Marcus Stroman’s apparent spat with Sportsnet reporter Arash Madani.
Toward the end of his scrum after his start, in which he went five innings allowing four runs on five hits, after all the typical game-related queries had been posed, Stroman was asked by Arash Madani about his time with the Blue Jays’ rookie ball team, the Vancouver Canadians, for a feature piece for the TV network.
Stroman politely declined to answer with the cameras and microphones rolling.
Madani: “Just wondering for you, stepping on the field at Nat Bailey Stadium for the first time, what did that mean to you and your career?”
Stroman: “We just lost to the Boston Red Sox. I don’t think that’s relevant at all right now.”
The scrum wrapped up immediately after and Stroman walked away. But moments later, outside the visitor’s clubhouse at Fenway Park, which is steps away from a public area where some fans were still filing out from the afternoon game, Stroman began an angry rant that was directed at the Sportsnet reporter.
Stroman was fuming that the query about his time with the Canadians – back in 2012 — had been posed after the team had “just lost to the Boston Red Sox,” he yelled in front of the gathered media and other team staff members still congregating in the area.
His tirade escalated from there. He shouted “We’re fucking terrible,” along with other obscenities about the team and its losing state.
No disrespect to Arash Madani, who is a professional working for the largest sports media outlet in this country, but in the middle of a horrific season for both the right hander and his team, I don’t think there was any way Stroman was going to give anything more than a canned answer after giving up three earned runs in five innings to end his first half with a 5.86 ERA.
If Marcus Stroman was as even-keeled and down to earth as we want him to be, maybe Marcus Stroman doesn’t become Marcus Stroman and our days are spent stressing over another starter in the Blue Jays rotation. The reason why we loved him a few years ago was because he was this brash and cocky, ultimately leading him to major league success. I don’t think we can just pick and choose to validate who he is just because of where things are in the standings, even though it’s human nature to do so. We know he can be rough around the edges, and it’s easy to argue that the team should punt him when things aren’t going well, especially before a trade deadline that promises to look like a clearance sale on Blue Jays.
But as delusional as he can be, he sure as hell isn’t a liar, going as far as calling this team “fucking terrible” multiple times in that post-scrum tirade. Just checking the leaderboard, Stroman said it a handful of times, according to the reports, whereas I’ve said it fifteen times over the course of this weekend just to my dog. The most important part of that quote is that he included the word “we,” meaning that everybody, Stroman himself included, hasn’t had the best first half of the season.
Stroman calling the team that he plays for fucking terrible is a weird thing to be offended about, because they kind of are? I don’t even need to bring numbers into this, can you tell me more than one feared Blue Jays hitter right now? The outlook of the team is so bad that for a while, poor Justin Smoak didn’t get anything to swing at. All up and down the diamond, you see a bunch of stats that wouldn’t look bad if this was the first week of April, and not the final game before the All-Star break. Speaking of which, aside from J.A. Happ and Justin Smoak, who’s currently one of the best in a crop of underwhelming AL first basemen, who else could you seriously consider sending to those festivities that wouldn’t be just out of sheer disrespect to that player’s career? Yeah, the Blue Jays are fucking terrible right now, and it would be extremely alarming if Marcus Stroman, or any other Blue Jay for that matter didn’t think that. It’s good that a guy that can’t possibly hide his feelings is upset by a season like this. Like him or hate him, one constant with the erratic Stroman is that he’ll always let you know how he’s feeling.
Does 6 have a short fuse and blew up prematurely when a short, canned answer probably would have sufficed? Sure. Is he a bit too much of a character both on and off the field? Also yes, but he’s an athlete, and the overwhelming majority of people playing for a ton of money are like that. You don’t get to a point where people are hurling wads of cash at you just by keeping a low profile. Marcus Stroman will be loved when the Jays are doing well and despised during these times, because, for some reason, people usually don’t care for a big personality when the team isn’t going well. I mean, remember the reaction that some of the fanbase had last season when Jose Bautista was rumbling towards the Blue Jays single season strikeout record.
One more thing that we have to understand, even with all the sometimes warranted hate – and believe me, there’s nothing wrong with being rubbed the wrong way by him – is that a lot of these Blue Jays players came up and were a big part of the 2015 and 2016 teams. To them, this is their first real extended taste of pointless baseball. Last year may have felt like an anomaly, but this year probably seems bleak. Yeah, we get to look forward to the kids of tomorrow, but these guys have to sit here while the roof continues to cave in and wonder if they’ll have the same home in two months. And even though I’ll happily take their salary to shoulder that burden for them, I don’t think you want anybody playing for your team that isn’t at least bothered by that type of thing.
He’s since posted on Twitter about this entire thing. He’s young, outspoken, and passionate. I often roll my eyes at the things that he does, but he’s Marcus Stroman. This is who he is, and this is why he became a household name in this country.
Marcus Stroman and his astronomical ERA will be fine, eventually. So will the Blue Jays. Unfortunately, we’re only just past the halfway point of the season, and we still have a lot more of this whole terrible baseball thing to stomach.