Good Morning Mr. Carter: A Conversation with Joe

Picture it: Toronto, 2017. It was Wednesday, April 5 at 9:47AM when I hit ‘send’ on my phone.

“Good morning Mr. Carter,” my message began. “…this is bananas for me to do, but when one of your heroes is following you on social media, you have to get a little crazy.”

You see, late last year, Joe Carter – yes, THAT Joe Carter – followed me back on Twitter. I don’t know why. I don’t question the actions of the few celebrity accounts who follow me, I simply check their profiles several times a day to see if the last thing I RT’d smartened them up. Somehow, despite my nonsense, Joseph Christopher Carter has continued to follow me. B-A-N-A-N-A-S, I say!

In my message I included the link to my inaugural ‘Black Girl • Blue Jays’ post, explained what I hoped to accomplish with this pet project of a blog, and asked if he’d be down to answer a few questions to help me kick-off the brand-new MLB season with a bang. Then, I sent it. I SENT IT TO JOE CARTER!

At 1:25PM of that very same Wednesday, my life changed forever:

“Hello Arianne. I would be more than happy to help you out.
You can just DM the questions to me and I will answer them.”

“SAY WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA…” has been coming out of my throat ever since. Joe Carter typed letters in an order that spelled my first name and HE WAS ‘MORE THAN HAPPY TO HELP’ ME OUT!

I had a couple wee cries in my office’s washroom, I’m not ashamed to admit it. I couldn’t concentrate for the rest of my life the day. I travelled home in a daze. Joe, Joe Carter, ‘Touch ’em all’ Joe, is sitting on the other side of the internet and is more than willing to help me out. I would take full advantage of this small window of time.

The clock struck 1:31AM, technically the morning of Thursday, April 6, and I hit ‘send’ one last time. My questions were with him now. I waited and worried and wondered if I’d imagined it.

Guys. I didn’t imagine a damn thing.

So without further adieu, I present to you my Q&A session with the 2x Silver Sluggin’, 5x All-Starrin’, back-to-back Toronto Blue Jays World Series winnin’, Mr. Joe Carter.

JCWS29 (Focus on Sports)

Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Me: As the subject of baseball folklore, are you truly aware of how iconic you are and will always be in Toronto sports?

Joe: I am definitely aware of the way I am viewed in Toronto. Every time I’m back in town the great fans always remind me of the love they have for me, and I am always letting them know how much love I have for them and how much I appreciate them.

Me: Hypothetical one for you: If you got the right pitch today, could you still hit a bomb out of a ballpark? I need to know!

Joe: Yea most definitely I could still hit it out of the ballpark now. The only problem I would have is getting around the bases if it didn’t go out of the ballpark.

Me: I subconsciously draw parallels from the current Blue Jays’ roster with previous years. For example: Tools (Troy Tulowitzki) is my present-day John Olerud. If you were to draw parallels from a couple of your former Jays’ teammates to our guys now, who would they be? (Parallels in personality or performance from what you’ve seen or experienced – totally your choice)

Joe: I look at Pillar and compare him to Roberto Alomar. Defensively they both have a flair for making the impossible possible. Joey Bats and myself would be a good comparison. He’s the big rbi and home run guy in the lineup just as my job was.

Me: Who made up your “squad” (your group of teammates/friends) during your time in Toronto? Were some of the guys like brothers to you and do you remain friends today?

Joe: The great things about playing on a team that is really good is that we all got along very well with each other. To be a good teammate you involve every one and that’s what we did. For me I still stay in contact with Devon White, Robbie Alomar.

Me: Deeper question here: did you deal with any prejudices or discrimination as a black man in the game? You obviously weren’t the only one in the game but as a sports fan, especially in the age of social media, I’ve seen firsthand how “fans” will turn on a not-so-great performance of a hometown player or a dominating player from a visiting team, and more-so when they’re a POC. Did that ever register for you while you were playing? If so, how did you stay the course and keep your focus?

Joe: As a black man in the game of baseball, I never experienced prejudices in the game. In Cleveland my last year in 1989 the fans resented me leaving via trade and I was booed heavily everytime I went back there. But all the booing really made me stronger and I used it as motivation to do even more.

Me: Toronto is constantly changing yet so much of it stays the same. What was poppin’ when you guys lived in the city? Where were the hot spots? I’m curious to see if any of them still exist.

Joe: 25 years ago Caribana was the big day in Toronto and today it is still big. The biggest difference I notice is all the new real estate downtown that has made Toronto one of the biggest and best cities around. Loved going to Marché Mövenpick restaurant – was a big hangout for the teams and I still frequent there when I’m in town.

Me: Which teams in the MLB have your attention this season?

Joe: I currently work* for Arizona DBacks and my attention is always on them. But I will always keep an eye on Toronto and see how they are doing.

Me: The Joe Carter Classic has been raising money for the Children’s Aid Foundation since 2010, are there any other organizations you work with or events you’re participating in that you’d like to mention?

Joe: I love my golf tournament and what it has become here in Toronto and how much it has helped The Children’s Aid Foundation. I have always been involved with kids and giving back to the community. We have the ability to help those who are in need and I will always continue to be a giver. To much is given much is expected.

RAPID-FIRE Qs:

  • Hats: Snapback or  Fitted
  • Jerseys: White  or Grey
  • Streets: Queen or  Yonge
  • Stadium Snacks: Popcorn  or Peanuts
  • Proper Name: Rogers Centre or  SkyDome for sure
  • Favourite Track from Drake’s “More Life” Playlist: Passionfruit  or Gyalchester

#29, The legendary Joe Carter doing me a favour shouting out this ‘little blog that will’ with a #BGBJ selfie. WHAT!!!

And that’s it, friends. Short and sweet and real and mine. I reside somewhere in the clouds now. The honour I feel inside will remain unmatched until the end of my days. I will keep this photo FOREVER. Put it on m’tombstone, yo! ❤

One last thing for those of you who have never seen one of the most magical pieces of championship footage: PLEASE watch his walk-off 3-run home run that solidified the Blue Jays as repeat World Series champs. The voice you hear is Tom Cheek; I’ve watched this a milli times and never not cry. Best, best, best.

*Joe Carter is currently the Special Assistant to General Manager Dave Stewart, of the Arizona Diamondbacks. As of April 10, 2017, the Dbacks are leading the National League West 6-2.

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#BGBJ

 

The Trop Is The Hellmouth

The Toronto Blue Jays 2017 record sits at 1-5. We’ve lost five of the six games we’ve played since the season opener on April 3. I know. I KNOW. This ain’t ideal and not remotely how any fan wants their team to come out of the gate. Now, let’s get into some real talk (I’ll keep this short.):

This is NOTHING new for the Jays. I don’t have the stats but I know the beginning of every season has everyone functioning at 11, and when they don’t meet our excitement, the claws come out and everyone sucks and everything is terrible and all decisions are wrong and we’re out of playoff contention. [EDIT: Blue Jays begin season 1-5 for 2nd time in franchise history, 1st time since 2004. Source// The Score) <—still ain’t worried!

There are still 156 regular season games to go. We’re, what, 3.7% of the way through the season?

(I don’t know, I’m not Alan from The Hangover to figure this out – just go with me on this.)

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We are down but, in now way are we out. We haven’t even really begun. We have a good team. We have a better team than I anticipated having coming out of the off-season. Losing Edwin, as a personal blow to my emotions as a fan, and the roster I’ve grown accustomed to. And I can’t lie, change suuuuucks especially when it’s someone I deemed a “load-bearing wall” in the Blue Jays line-up’s infrastructure. But I LOVE what I’m seeing from Salty (Jarrod Saltalamacchia), Mo (Kendrys Morales), and Pearce (Steve Pearce). Pillar (Kevin Pillar) is still swing-happy but he’ll cool out – he always does. Tools (Troy Tulowitzki) is my main man, as anyone who knows me personally or on social media knows, and I’m happy he snapped back into what he does best last season. Today’s game, he was super-sloppy and this is an anomaly for him. Plus, the Trop is the hellmouth, it’s not an excuse, it’s just a fact and that’s all I’m gonna say ’bout it.

Our team is stacked like the inside of Scrooge McDuck’s vault. We have all the pieces PLUS extras – we just gotta put it together. This sounds basic but it’s true and you know I’m right.

I’m really writing this to get my own thoughts out because I’m always looked at as this hopelessly optimistic fangirl and this may be rooted in complete fact BUT I’m also someone who can count. And we’ve played six games, NONE of which were at home. And teams don’t like us when we’re at home.

So here’s to, probably, one of our most exciting seasons. I promise you, the team’s got us…so we need to have our boys’ backs, ya?

#LetsRise

STAY TUNED FOR A SPECIAL HOME-OPENER #BGBJ POST ON TUESDAY. 

Post-Season Education

There’s nothing like your team making the post-season. After 162 regular games, it comes down to three separate series to determine who reigns supreme until the next season begins.

Hey y’all, I’m Arianne –  a single, 35 year old woman who lives and works in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Baseball is my favourite thing in this world; probs not the typical narrative I give off when you look at me. Sure, I have a ton of interests but aside from music, baseball takes up so much of my energy. I cannot pinpoint how the outcome of a Toronto Blue Jays game can affect my mental health but there’s a correlation I’m hoping to find as I do this exercise. In the meantime, this likkle labour of love, this project I have wanted to start for so long, is happening now!

The tunnel vision I possessed when I originally came up with this idea demobilized me completely. I didn’t even know where to begin or how to accurately scope the amount of work needed. I wasn’t even quite sure of where to start! With the playoffs in full tilt, my Blue Jays squeezing my heart with every loss in the American League Championship Series (ALCS), I’ve broken down my needs and wants into achievable goals; I’m more excited than ever! To become a Blue Jays historian, I’ll have to deep-dive into all aspects of the game. So over the course of however-long-it-takes, I’m putting myself through MLB College majoring in the Toronto Blue Jays, with a minor in General National Pastime studies. I couldn’t afford a post-secondary education like most of my peers had out of high school, but I can create a post-season curriculum for myself. It’s never too late, am-I-right? I have a feeling my end goal will shift as I learn more but I’m just going to jump in and see what happens.

I’m using this space to combine all the things I love: reading, fashion, writing, and my love of this game. I’ll track my learnings, challenge opinions, destroy the myths, ask questions, churn out all the stats I’ve committed to memory, provide book reviews of the great resources found in Toronto’s libraries, discover an unarguable formula of a player’s skill-to-hotness ratio, show you how I make all my sportswear work for everyday events…you know, the important things.

I’m using this space to combine all the things I love: reading, fashion, writing, and my love of this game. 

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Who’s on your back? I’m repping #2 Troy Tulowitzki (Toronto Blue Jays Shortstop)

For those who love the game, I welcome respectful discourse and hope you can teach me all the things I won’t find in these books. For those of you who just love me, I hope this remains entertaining even if you could care less about sports.

So… let’s (let’s!) play (play!) ball (ball!)