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Every year at work we have a silent auction for charity. Most of the prizes are gift certificates from local companies looking to get some cheap advertising. This year it seems someone has opened a line to the Toronto Blue Jays. Lots of cool Jays gear is available and even a couple of signed balls. For those unaware, I have what can only be described as an addiction at this point:

Now the fun part.

Three of the balls are signed by unidentified team personnel. The organizer of the auction didn't even bother to ask who signed. Based on my existing stash, I was quickly able to narrow that list down to just one. That's right, one mystery ball remains. I'm hoping someone out there knows who signed this ball:

I apologize in advance for the shitty focus on that pic. It's all I got. Only adds to the mystique n'est-ce pas? Throw in what looks to be a question mark as the second number and you got yourself a genuine autograph stumper. I can honestly say I'm not even sure if that picture needs to be flipped. I think it's right side up but can't be 100% certain.

Here's what we know:

1) The number 1 is part of the two digit number.

The only Blue Jays that wore a number in the teens this year were:

Edwin Encarnacion 10
Rajai Davis 11
Brett Lawrie 13
Corey Patterson 16
Mike McCoy 18
Jose Bautista 19

The only other Blue Jays that wore a number with the number 1 in it were:

Darin Mastroianni 1
Dwayne Murphy 21
Jesse Litsch 51
Alex Andreopoulos 61

Did I miss anyone? Maybe someone changed numbers in season or was traded away perhaps?

2) It's not Brett Lawrie unless he totally changed his signature, which is completely possible I guess. This is his signature from a few years back.

I'd really like to figure this out before I drop a couple of bucks down on a bid. Does anyone know who signed the mystery ball?


Exclusive BP Footage: d'Arnaud and McDade

Happy day after the baseball season, gang. We feel your pain. Surely, it has been a while since we've seen Toronto baseball action or any of our favorite prospects on the field. However, just to brighten your first day of the official 2011-2012 off-season, 1BlueJaysWay is bringing you some exclusive batting practice footage of two top Blue Jays prospects.

Travis d'Arnaud, the Double-A Eastern League MVP batting .311 with 21 homeruns and 71 RBI in 114 games during the 2011 season. Acquired from the Phillies in the Roy Halladay trade, d'Arnaud projects to be an impact player at the big league level. The 22-year-old California native led his New Hampshire Fisher Cats club to the EL championship.

McDade, a 22-year-old first baseman, was a force this year for the Fisher Cats as well. The 6-foot-1-inch 260-pound slugger posted a .281 average with 16 HR and 74 RBI. Time will tell what the ceiling is for McDade, but the future looks bright for this 2011 EL All-Star.

Check out some video of Travis and Mike slugging away at some pregame offerings in the media player below.


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Wilbur Donald AKA The Don AKA Wak Wakamatsu

 This story is based on true events

We decided to look into the past of our bench coach and what we found was nothing short of shocking.

The Don was born in small town USA to a Japanese father and Italian mother. Learning early on in his life that nothing is given to you for free and that if you really wanted something, you have to take it and have the mess dealt with later. He spent his childhood running from his dynamic heritage, just trying to fit in with the crowd. It wasn't till high school in the Bay area, where he was a 3 sport star that he began to realize that life is based on pain.

His first love, like any red blooded American, was football. But he was told he was too small to continue on with his childhood dream of being in the NFL. This angered The Don. And he in turn responded by having his critics "taken care of" by his crew. Looking back, we can say without question that this is the point in time where his reign of terror began.

Having his dreams taken away from him so early on in his life changed him as a man and he decided the focus on baseball. He walked into the recruitment office of Arizona State University curiously wearing a long trench coat even though it was a typically hot summer day and calmly declared himself a worthy recipient of a full scholarship. He was told again that he was too small and that he was welcome to try his luck as a walk on. This angered The Don. He stood up, pulled out a vintage Tommy Gun and asked the recruiter if he would reconsider. Thankfully, no blood was shed that day.

He played well enough to be drafted by the Yankees of New York with the last pick in the entire 1984 Amateur Draft. Excited by the very thought of being able to bring his crew to the birthplace of gangsterism but knowing in his heart that they were not ready for the big time just yet, he returned to ASU to complete his degree. It proved to be a wise decision and he was selected in the 11th round of the 1985 draft by the Cincinnati Reds. The signing bonus he received was spent on establishing a marine import export business and a trash removal service.

The next 4 years of his life were spent going from city to city on the East coast under the guise of being a baseball player. In fact, the sole purpose of his time spent there was to establish connections. You see, his power base was the West Coast and he knew he needed to diversify his portfolio.

Then the unthinkable happened. The Reds released him without what he felt was just cause. This angered The Don. A few cryptic phone calls to his now hardened crew was all it took and they quickly descended on the city of Cincinnati. His instructions were simple. Destroy everything. A week of violence ensued not comparable to anything ever seen before. It was quickly deemed in the press as: The Week of the Wak. (pronounced WOK)

Mercifully the Chicago White Sox came calling in need of a catcher. This pleased The Don. Feeling somewhat better, he called off the bloodshed and told his crew to head up to the Windy City. He felt they were now ready to make their mark on the place that was made famous by his great grandfather, second removed, none other than Al Capone himself.

In 1990 he was promoted to the AAA level Vancouver Canadians. He was instructed to head up to BC and that he would need to bring a bigger glove with him. Confused by the request, he interpreted it as a threat. Hearing about these "crazy canucks" and the way they operated, he felt panic set in for the first and only time of his life. Another series of cryptic phone calls went out to the crew and they were told to no less than triple their numbers in response nationwide. Knowing that setting up shop in a new country would be difficult, he decided it was best to lay low at first. He turned over the command of his empire to his most trusted right hand man Antonio "The Fist" Russo.

While in Canada he quickly realized that things worked very different. The tactics that he knew all to well were largely ineffective on these fun loving, friendly people. He decided it was best to hire a body guard just to be safe. His criteria for the job was simple: you must be a ninja and you must have extensive knowledge of the lucrative drug trade. After a couple of weeks of interviews he finally found his man, Takashi Takahashi, and gave him the nickname Taki out of necessity. 

For the next year and a bit, he and Taki became very close. They shared valuable insight to each other on how their respective businesses operated as well as various techniques they used on how to get their way. Word got back to the crew in Chicago and they were somewhat perplexed. Who was this new guy and why was he not introduced to them? A large bounty was placed on Taki's head but due to his schooling in the arts of ninja, it was never able to be collected.

In early May 1991 he got the phone call he had been waiting his whole life for. It was Publishers Clearing House letting him know he was a finalist for the grand prize. Disgusted that someone was able to find him while he was laying low in Canada, he decided to force the issue. He walked into his manager's office wearing the same trench coat that he used to get his way previously in Arizona and demanded a promotion to the big leagues. His manager disagreed, telling him he wasn't ready. This angered The Don. He stood up, pulled out a samurai sword which he had now mastered thanks to Taki's teachings and asked his skipper to reconsider. Thankfully, no blood was shed that day.

He made his MLB debut on May 22, 1991. What should have been a joyous occasion was marred with the distrust that had built between his bodyguard and his crew. They were unable to accept the new guy due to his inability to speak Italian. This angered The Don. He decided to send his crew and Taki to Sea World with the instructions not to return until their differences were resolved. The plan worked well and with his henchmen now all finally on the same page, he was able to turn his full attention to trying to hit and catch big league pitching.

18 games, 7 hits and a .226 average later he was granted free agency. That's right, he was gonna get paid and he was gonna sign close to home. The Dodgers seemed like a great fit and he signed with them. Only problem was he didn't get the back up job and he was sent to New Mexico. This angered The Don. Not because the money in the big leagues was so much better, he had the import export thing on the side, but more because he was looking forward to playing in front of his family. He called them and told them to get out of Cali. Mercifully they refused. The Don decided instead to use his well oiled drug trade machine to harm the people of California. Shortly thereafter medical marijuana became the norm and we all know how that turned out.

He spent the next five years toiling in the Minor Leagues for the Dodgers, Rangers, Indians, Mariners and Brewers. He had already tasted the glory that was the big leagues and was desperate to return. At each stop he attempted to strong arm the organization into promoting him to the big club with terrible results. As you can imagine threats are not an effective way to get what you want. Unfortunately The Don knew no other way. He was forced to hang up his playing cleats at age 33 but steadfastly refused to give up the Tommy Gun.

From 1997 to 2000 he decided to try his hand at coaching. He had learned little about the game in his time as a player but he was well versed in intimidation and used this to mold the young impressionable minds that he was trusted to lead. Quickly he was labelled as the furthest thing from players coach. It was The Don's way or.....you didn't want to find out. This method seemed to work better in the low Minors and in 1998 he was named Manager of the Year for the California league. It was nice being so close to home and the results reflected that.

In 2003, the Texas Rangers came calling and offered the bench coach gig. The Don was excited to get the opportunity to wear a big league uniform again. He was more excited with the opportunity to bring his empire to the border state. His trusted aids, The Fist and Taki, had been effectively working together for quite some time. It brought him great joy to have his entire heritage covered in just two men.

In 2007 he was demoted to third base coach. Confused by this injustice, The Don decided to confront his new boss Ron Washington. He quickly figured out Wash had a little habit that he could easily exploit. Over the course of the season he also learned that Wash had absolutely no fucking clue how to manage a bullpen and if the Rangers won a game, it was in spite of their manager. The Don refused to work for such a man and parlayed his insider info into a letter of recommendation. Like so many times before, he headed home to Cali, this time to coach for the Oakland A`s.

On November 19, 2008 he was given the job he felt he had earned long ago. The Seattle Mariners needed a new field manager and The Don nailed the interview. This time he refrained from wearing his trench coat and instead decided to draw on his wealth of coaching and playing experience. The calculated move worked out and he was named the skipper. A party was in order. And what a party is was.

Once the 2009 season began it became clear that the 61 - 101 record from the 2008 season was not going to be repeated. A dubious record in which for the first time in MLB history a team with a 100 million dollar payroll lost a hundred games. The Don was able to quickly change the culture in Seattle. Under his leadership the Mariners were able to finish the year, his first as manager, with an 85 - 77 record. He was named to the All Star team in St. Louis as a coach. Basically he kicked some AL West ass.

Something changed that off season. The Don began drinking his own Kool Aid, a big no no. He seemed to take his foot off the gas pedal and during spring training he let his players decided whether or not they wanted to participate in stretching exercises. Naturally this resulted in many injuries as the season wore on. By the time early August came around his team resembled a C level mixed slo pitch team and he was fired. This angered the Don. As you can probably guess by now, this is never a good thing. He gathered up the crew and headed off to the Middle East of all places. Authorities have no idea what transpired next. This and only this part of his story remains a mystery.

He resurfaced sometime in November. The Toronto Blue Jays were a team in flux. They needed a solid bench coach to compliment their newly minted rookie manager and The Don's name was at the top of everyone's list. He drew on his first hand knowledge of the Canadian people to woo the GM and President of the ball club. It was an easy decision to hire The Don. His primary duties were to make the team's many catching prospects into viable big league players. J.P. Arencibia was the first to benefit from The Don's teachings. His message to J.P. was simple. Hit bombs, fuck OBP and get some part of your body in front of the God damn ball while blocking it. In time, the message began to set in.

Constant rumors surround The Don's current employment. Many teams think he has what it takes to manage in the big leagues. And they might be right. But few in the game remain that are aware of the rein of terror that follows this man where ever he goes. We here at 1BJW debated on whether to bring this story to light and are deathly scared of the consequences associated with doing so.


Gomes Reflects on Success, Wants More

Yan Gomes knows the Blue Jays are fully stocked with strong young catching talent, but that won't stop him from striving to achieve his dream of reaching the big leagues. Currently assigned to the Phoenix Desert Dogs, Gomes welcomes the chance to play against the tough Arizona Fall League competition, to improve his game.

Gomes discribed the AFL assignment as an honor. He is pleased to be among the small group of players representing the Toronto organization in the off-season league and feels that facing some solid talent from other leagues might help to improve his game.

"It's a chance to up your game. Everybody's out here looking to do good and show off a bit, so I am looking forward to getting my playing time against great pitchers and great players," Gomes stated.

Off to somewhat of a slow start, through 6 games played for the Desert Dogs, Gomes has gone 3-for-17 (.176 avg) with 1 RBI.

Ranked behind such stud backstops as J.P. Arencibia and Travis d'Arnaud, with Carlos Perez and A.J. Jimenez on the rise, Gomes doesn't wish to get lost in the shuffle. The 24-year-old Brazilian born prospect wants to seize every opportunity he can.

In 79 games for the Double-A Eastern League champion New Hampshire Fisher Cats in 2011, Gomes posted a .250/.317/.464 line with 13 homeruns and 51 RBI. Gomes, a 10th round draft choice by Toronto in 2009, also spent some time with the Triple-A Las Vegas 51's, appearing in 4 games with them.

The 6-foot-2-inch 215-pounder feels the brief time playing up one level was beneficial to his game as he moves forward.

"I got to experience the next level and go from Double-A to Triple-A," Gomes said. "It was kind of like a sneak peak at what's up there. There are a lot of veterans with experience (in the Pacific Coast League). I feel like I did pretty good, even though my stats (3-for-14) may not show it, but I felt pretty comfortable up there, so that's definitely a good thing."

While he's excited to be playing in the AFL this autumn and grateful for the opportunity to play at Triple-A for a short spell, the highlight of the year for Gomes was certainly helping the Fisher Cats lock down their third ever EL title. As far as Gomes is concerned, there's nothing greater than sharing that level of success with all of your teammates.

"It was such a great year (with the Fisher Cats). With that team camaraderie, everybody did good and that just helped everyone out. We all fed off of each other and it was definitely a great experience all around for everybody and we all value the success we had."

For updates, stats, insight and more, be sure to follow 1BlueJaysWay on Twitter by clicking HERE.


d'Arnaud Recovering From Surgery

Top Blue Jays prospect Travis d'Arnaud underwent surgery on his left thumb on Monday. While competing for Team USA, the 22-year-old felt a pop after "catching a ball wrong". Diagnosed with a ligament tear in his thumb, d'Arnaud required surgery to repair the problem.

According to d'Arnaud, who was acquired by Toronto in the December 2009 trade that sent All-Star Roy Halladay to Philadelphia, he will be in a cast for one month. Following the removal of the cast and further evaluation, doctors have told d'Arnaud that one month of rehab work will be necessary before he can resume baseball activities.

As the Eastern League's most valuable player, the California native, d'Arnaud, led the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats to the EL championship this past season, as he posted a .311 batting average with 33 doubles, 21 homeruns and 78 RBI.

d'Arnaud does not feel this setback will effect his 2012 season in the least. The team expects him back at full strength in plenty of time for the start of spring traning in February.


Be sure to follow 1BlueJaysWay on Twitter by clicking HERE.



This is a text I sent our boy Jay - a ridiculously huge Phillies supporter - the eve before the winner take all Game 5 NLDS showdown involving former Blue Jay hero Roy Halladay and oft under appreciated Blue Jay Chris Carpenter. 

It's not often I get these "visions" that pop into my head. They seem to be exclusive to sport and normally involve a huge underdog. The last one I can recall was way back in 2007.

My friends and I made the trip down to Columbus, Ohio for UFC 68. The main event featured heavyweight champ Tim Sylvia against Randy Couture. The Natural had been out of the fight game for a while and this was his comeback fight. Nobody in the world gave Randy a chance. Tim was at least a half foot taller and out weighted him by 50 pounds. Plus he was the reigning and defending champion.

As we made our way on foot to the stadium to watch the fight, I asked everyone in our party who they thought was going to win the main event. To a man, they all took the champ.

I told them about my "vision", which was a decisive Couture victory. Not only that but I mentioned that it was going to last all five and end in unanimous decision. I was laughed at. Repeatedly.

Since then, I have been waiting patiently for another one of these "visions" to come. I guess anyone can pick a huge underdog and be right, especially when it's a legit 50/50 bet. But the clarity and detail to which I was able to predict the result of that fight left my friends speechless.

Back to the Cards/Phillies match up.

Not exactly sure when this "vision" came. I believe it was that awkward time when lying in bed just before you fall asleep. I'll admit, this one was a little less detailed than the previous one. But I did see a gem and I did see the number 3.


The next time I get one of these "visions", I'm pulling out the wallet.