It was my third or fourth time down at the Rogers Centre with a media pass. I had somehow convinced theScore to let me try to rip off Craig Kilborn’s 5 Questions, but with baseball players, and the results were … awkward. Forget about a camera adding ten pounds. For me, it magnified how horribly unnatural and self-conscious I am.

My very first experience involved asking Aaron Hill a question about the Eric Clapton song Layla. We included it in the list of questions because in a Blue Jays player profile, the team’s second baseman at the time had said that it was his favorite song to play on guitar. In reality, he hadn’t even heard of it, and the segment only got worse from there.

Nevertheless, I soldiered on, and on this specific day, I approached fan-favorite, back up infielder John McDonald to answer questions about whose jock he’d least like to wear if he forgot his own (Rod Barajas).

Throughout these interviews — and I use that term so incredibly loosely — I was never really nervous. However, even approaching McDonald to ask him to play along with us for two minutes gave me trepidation. We were two years removed from 2007, when Johnny Mac was the team’s starting shortstop and his playing time was dwindling.

It seemed that every single year he was a part of the team, the season would start with someone else as the starting shortstop — Russ Adams, Royce Clayton, David Eckstein — but by season’s end, McDonald would be getting the majority of playing time. In 2009, Cito Gaston was in charge, and he had seemingly little use for a player whose batting numbers had more in common with a starting pitcher’s than a real Major League position player.

McDonald’s value was never found at the plate, and if it was found in his defense, it  was never so much above average as to justify a starting job. What made McDonald such a valuable player was that he was spectacular with his glove. There are few highlights more awe-inspiring on a baseball diamond than defensive ones, and if given the chance, McDonald would supply something amazing with every start he got.

By the time Blue Jays games got meaningless later in the year — and there were a lot of meaningless late August/September games then — the chance of seeing McDonald do something remarkable in the field was the only reason to buy a ticket and come to the game. Unfortunately, he wasn’t getting that chance anymore, and my reverence for the player — stirred by memories of his throwing runners out at first from his knees after a diving stab at the ball brought him closer to third base than second — seemed out of place.

He agreed to talk to us, and as my cameraman/producer began setting up, McDonald spotted the George Hamilton bronzed Pat Tabler walk by. McDonald politely excused himself for a minute, and spoke with Tabler within earshot. It seemed that the Blue Jays television analyst had brought a group of kids from a local hospital by the Dome the previous day. McDonald was asking Tabler if he had a way to get in touch with one of these kids. He explained that he was really touched by the child’s story, and he and his wife wanted to help him out in any way they could.

McDonald came back to talk to me, and actually apologized for interrupting the set up. I resisted the urge to hug him, began the segment by asking him about farts in the locker room and proceeded to feel like a tremendous asshole.

It’s rare that a cog in the wheel gets celebrated in baseball. The contribution of the gritty grinders isn’t as tangible as it is in basketball, hockey or football. Occasionally, a fan base is lucky enough to be brought a non-superstar player worth celebrating. For a group of supporters often maligned for the misguided targets of their scorn, the timing of their interactive wave, the douchey drunkenness of the 500 Level and a general ignorance of baseball, Blue Jays fans did extremely well to recognize McDonald as not only a player for whom to cheer, but also a person worth supporting.

As he winds down his career with the Los Angeles Angels — visiting Toronto this weekend — it’s worth remembering John McDonald, not only as a player who made it worthwhile to be a Blue Jays fan, but also as a person who you could be proud to know was on your favorite team.

Comments (351)

  1. Damn. Unravelling already.

  2. Feeling like yesterday.

  3. The ushers seem unusually clueless this year.
    I was wearing my red jays jersey, the one you see on Canada Day. An usher asked me where I got it from.
    Heard an usher tell a few patrons that Jays vs Angels is “interleague play”.
    And another staff asked an usher, mid-game, who the opponents are. You’d think they’d follow the team a bit, wouldn’t you?

    • I don’t even think you have to be a fan to know the answer to those questions. Weird.

    • That’s why you stay in school kids.

    • Being an usher is a low paying part time job. I wouldn’t expect much more than a pulse.

      • But if you’re going to be an usher @ a ballpark wouldn’t you know something about baseball? Or get a low-paying part-time job somewhere else?

        I know I shouldn’t assume. When I volunteered @ the art gallery most people working there seemed to actively despise art. Made me pretty bitter.

  4. This teams Offense is so streaky. Just a bunch of all or nothing guys who go cold at the same time. It’s why even though by runs scored the numbers usually look good, realistically it’s a middling to bottom third O by AL standards. Very overrated.

  5. Stro’s chance to shine here.

  6. Why are we pitching Ibanez so carefully? he looks done as a hitter

  7. good god these popups…

  8. Now here’s a team that can afford to have a weak starter in the rotation when you can count on a Jered Weaver every time out.

    Dickey, Buehrle and Hutch have zero margin for error in this rotation. If they pitch poorly, shit will snowball badly.

    • Couldn’t you say the same about Buerhle? I mean, he is reliable.

    • sure dude, i’m sure this is how Weaver pitches every time out

    • Yeah, because Weaver has an ERA of 1.91… no wait, that’s Buehrle.

      Just stop with this reactionary bullshit.

      • Who is more likely to maintain their results? Neither will but what is the more probable scenario?

        Unfortunately, this rotation, bench and 2B spot will be the reasons why the Jays don’t compete. It’s not a big surprise but it shouldn’t be forgotten how the management and ownership bungled this team’s chances to do something this year.

        • You are certainly doing your part to not let us forget.

        • Jays starter WAR: 3.4
          Angels starter WAR: 2.9

          There’s really not much between them.

        • LOL, where was this shit when they won 5 games in a row? The Angels rotation
          is average. The Jays rotation is average.

          End of story.

          • If this Jays rotation ends up as “average” by the end of the season, I’d be thrilled. I have serious doubts about that happening though.

            • Can I have this week’s lotto numbers too, please?

              • Do you think it’s probable that the Jays rotation will be average given the current staff and talent of other internal options? Based on their talent, potential and recent past performance? I wouldn’t take that bet.

                It’s my prediction. I’m saying what I think is most PROBABLE. Not what WILL unquestionably happen. Don’t be stupid.

                • “Most probable” in your opinion.

                  Let’s just stop this, it’s meaningless. You’re clearly convinced the Jays are gonna lose a hundred games, so why bother?

                  • No, I think the Jays will win about 76-80 games. Sorry if I don’t enjoy mediocrity with the message that was sent with the moves the previous offseason.

                    • Nice strawman argument. Who said anything about enjoying mediocrity?

                      You’ve clearly made up your mind on the rotation being a disaster, despite them collectively performing as one of the top ten rotations in baseball 37 games in.

  9. Everything that went right versus the Phillies is going wrong versus the Angels. Some fugly baseball.

  10. Welcome to the NFL.

  11. Shit show in progress.

  12. We’ll always have Philly guys.

  13. well some bad fortune for Stroman with the Colby fuckup and the jam shot that would have been caught had Reyes not been holding the runner on at 2B, but then some of his execution was not great either.

    not finishing his slider and the command of his changeup has been shaky

    • Bad fortune for Stroman? 42 pitches in 1.2 innings with 6 hits and 4 ER is not bad fortune, it’s pitching that’s not quite ready for the bigs. It doesn’t mean Stroman is a shitshow, it means he’s not ready.

      • Half right…the other dude is right too…his line isnt actually as bad as it looks because of those things he mentioned. But he did start to leave the ball up again

      • way to make conclusions over a single appearance.

        i believe i said his execution wasn’t great, but when you give up a soft fly to your CF and you jam the next batter, the result should not be 2 men on and none out.

        • Yes. But he still threw 42 pitches in 1.2 which is not “bad fortune” it’s not ready. The “shitshow” comment wasn’t directed at you per se (sorry, bout that). It was more directed at the over reactionary slit your wrists comments that are sure to come.

      • Maybe the rest of the team should be asking Lind for his notes on Weaver.

  14. Mike Wilner ‏@Wilnerness590 1m

    #Bluejays go in order again. Yesterday, Skaggs retired 21 in a row. Today, Weaver has retired 15 of 16. #Jays down 7-1 to the 7th.


    • It’s ugly but ehhh, you just gotta trust the lineup. It’s really good and slumps will happen.

      It’s going to be painful seeing/hearing the idiot casual fans after this game. “Why do they always have to swing for the fences?” and “They should bunt more and have productive outs”. We all know it’s coming.

  15. Sure glad I didn’t pay $50+ to go watch this garbage in a concrete dome today! Couldn’t believe my eyes when I woke up this morning to a Chris Getz DFA. Is AA running a fantasy baseball team or a MLB club? The amount of ridiculous moves made and not made for that matter is beyond hilarious.

    Should be a great summer of meaningless baseball after the next 4 series are over. Indians, Rangers, Red Sox, A’s. Jays pitching, as everyone knew during the offseason, has no chance in holding up. It’s fucking disgusting.

  16. Lose three straight after winning 5 straight. Embarrassing.

    • I would take that if we repeated that all season long. .625 win %.

    • I’m not sure I understand this comment. You’d rather they _didn’t_ win 5 straight before this?

      I love how anything positive can instantly be spun into a negative by some people.

      • Losing three straight after the winning streak. I thought that was pretty obvious and that’s what I’m upset about. I’m not expecting the Jays to just keep winning, but I’d like to see them continuing to challenge series. It doesn’t get any easier tomorrow with Wilson on the mound and being swept after the streak would be pretty deflating.

    • Going 5-3 over 8 games sounds pretty okay to me. Unless you’re implying that the ordering of results actually matters.

      • You have a point, and you got me back down to earth on my frustration. Seriously, thanks Bob.

  17. Might be time to post the “AA might be terrible” piece after his awful offseason

  18. Where has the offense gone? Again, the teams reliance on the home run is exposed. They arent facing bad pitchers but the names in the lineup have to get the job done.

    • Or maybe it’s unreasonable to expect them to hit so well every game, especially vs a really good pitcher like Weaver.

      The offense is the last thing that is wrong with this team. It’s ok to harp about this team but you probably should look elsewhere on the roster for that.

  19. Amen zaun

    • What did he say? This game forced me to go do other things.

      • The team really struggles to score runs without hitting homers. Also, they really struggle against top starters because of this.

        • They really struggled against Hamels, Lee and Burnett eh?

          Zaun’s an idiot.

          • “Zaun’s an idiot.”

            I think that’s a good final takeaway for everyone.

          • I’m no fan of Zaun, but he does have a point. Yes, the Jays did win against 3 top quality pitchers but relied completely on the homer.

            I love the long ball, but they haven’t had too many games where they won without it.

            • They scored like 80% of their runs via the homer in that philly series. I dont always agree with zaun but hes bang on about this

              • So they scored 30+ runs in four games against some pretty strong pitching, but somehow those runs don’t count as much because a lot of them came from dingers?

                They’ve driven in the third most runs in the entire damn league, but it’s not good because they should’ve been less efficient about it?

                Do you realize how ridiculous this sounds?

                • Its not a matter of efficiency. All im saying is jays struggle to score without hitting homers. They are an all or nothing team at the moment and you cant dispute that.

                  • the problem is that fact is meaningless

                  • Making stuff up and then adding “you can’t dispute it” at the end doesn’t make it indisputable, it just makes you a moron.

                  • You’ve got to be doing something right if you have the 3rd most runs (187) and the 2nd most HRs (50). Keep in mind good pitching beats good hitting.

                    • Well except when it doesn’t.

                      See Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and AJ Burnett in the past week.

              • “They scored like 80% of their runs via the homer in that philly series. I dont always agree with zaun but hes bang on about this”

                How fucking thick are you? Should they stop running at 3rd? You and Zaun are complete idiots. Pretending like you can just hit a single whenever you want. ANY hit is hard to get. Be glad for the home runs. What part of Grade 2 did you miss?

    • The reason Zaun still has a job is because people like you eat his shit up. Ugh.

  20. Hey, Karen, I just read about the tragic hijacking of Mother’s Day on Jezebel. I had no idea.

    So much for Reyes’ setting an example with manufactured run scoring.

  21. Thus ends the Bautista streak.

  22. Yikes. That was a humping.

  23. Buehrle gonna Buehrl tommorw? Let us pray.

  24. RIP Good vibes.

  25. Remember when the jays were interested in kendrick? Can we revisit those talks?

    • Probably not with the way the Angels are playing!

    • It’s not like the Jays have anything the Angels would want and that would make sense in return for Kendrick anyways. They have a high payroll and are trying to win now. Prospects won’t get it done.

  26. So, when does someone ask AA about the poor quality of his roster management/bench?

    • The Getz demotion is a head scratcher. If Reyes had to leave the game today from that slide, who would of filled in? Tolleson was already playing.

    • LOL no one will because the Toronto media are a bunch of cock gobbling clowns. They just now down when he enters the room and ask a few easy questions to see if they can get him to like them.

    • Santos to the DL.

      Better bring back Chad Jenkins so he can pitch an inning every 6 games.

    • It would be nice if someone from Rogers owned Sportsnet would actually ask some tough questions of the Rogers owned Blue Jays management. Not likely in this media conglomerated clusterfuck of an corporate entity.

  27. At least we all got to enjoy Brett Cecil’s shapely calf muscles.

  28. Hah jpa is still a shitbag

    • .132! 5 for 50! I still can’t believe he has 3 walks.

    • Rangers fans HATE him as much as we do.

      • Jpa is probably out of baseball in a year, he might be a star overseas though

        • They will hate him in Korea too.

        • JPA is DFA as soon as Soto is back for sure.

          • Watched a couple of late innings of the Yu Darvish no-hit bid the other day. JPA actually looked pretty good behind the plate. Quiet glove and nice positioning I thought. It’s almost like someone in the Rangers’ organization must be taking some time to work with him and help him improve his skills.

            • a fact that got totally forgotten amongst last year’s JPA shitstorm is that he actually graded out as an above average pitch framer

              • FWIW, I always thought JP was okay at everything except hitting. Good pitch-framing, okay-ish defense.

                It’s just that he was so, so bad at hitting that it overwhelmed everything else.

      • Rangers fans hate everyone though.

  29. Santos to the DL.

    Better bring back Chad Jenkins so he can pitch an inning every 6 games.

    (I wish this place was easier to post on)

    • Whoopsie.

      Can they bring Getz back because it’s an injury?

      • Nope. I believe they have to wait 10 days.

      • He’s DFA’d; Designated for assignment. I think he either has to be *optioned to AAA, be released, or be traded. IMO they DFA’d him so they could make room for Casey and didnt they also pick up Kenny Wilson? The DFA gives them a few days to sort it out.

        *Getz is still showing options left

  30. Santos on the dl again? Fuck that guy. Him and morrow can just fuck right off this team. The glass bros

  31. pillar? RT@benwag247: Neil Wagner takes the mound. Just activated off the DL today. #bisons #bluejays

  32. Who is the catcher at AAA? We might need to get another one on the Jays.

  33. This Angels team is good. I like the cut of their gibs, whatever a gib is.

  34. Forget Shields. If the jays stink it up, the perception will be that the orgi is a bunch of losers especialllly after the last offseason do nothing mantra and all the BS that went with it. Do you think any agent would believe AA that the Jays are serious about competing FFS? Besides , if he does reach FA, he will get Sabathia type money of about 7/168. That will violate every Jays policy under the sun. FUDGETABOUTIT

  35. Bean Weasel are you hot?

  36. Was that Joe Siddall’s first time in the TV booth? Are the Jays 0-3 with him on the TV broadcast? If so, seems like we have our scapegoat. Can’t wait for Tabler to be back tomorrow.

  37. No sweep by the Angels. This is known.

  38. The 8 man bullpen lives on! #Ninja

  39. My mother in law is a longtime Jays fan and Johnny Mac was her favourite player. For her birthday several years ago, we were able to get tickets behind the Jays dugout so that we could take her to her first ever Jays game.

    Just before leaving for the game, I hastily drew up a sign telling JM that he was my mother in laws’ favourite, and that it was her first ever ball game. My mother in law was super excited just to be at the game, and so close to the Jays dugout. We got to our seats early and saw batting and infield practice.

    As the Jays were coming in from the field, I held up the sign, hoping to get JM’s attention. My mother in law and I noticed that he nodded his head to acknowledge the sign as he went into the dugout. It was a cool little moment that we were talking about when we saw JM pop back out of the dugout with a ball, which he tossed up to us. Fortunately, I was sure-handed that day and was able to give the ball to my mother in law. She was on cloud nine for the rest of the day.

    Johnny Mac, the best.

  40. […] Parkes had a great piece at Drunk Jays Fans on John McDonald and how great he truly was, on a non-baseball performance level that is. Because I […]

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