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. Holy shit a parkes post

    • WOW.

    • Back in the day, I used to read DJF posts and sometimes try to guess who the author was before checking. Weird thing here was I’d read half the first sentence when it struck me that this wasn’t Stoeten. Sounded like Parkes, I thought, but didn’t really expect that it could be. But indeed it is. Anyway, welcome back.

  2. He always hustled, no matter what-that is what I appreciated. Some loafers we have had over the years could learn from him.
    One of my favorite Johhny mac plays, that , to me exemplified the man, came in a game in Cleveland , I think , in 2008.
    Batting in the ninth inning of a tie game, and leading off, He struck out on a pitch in the dirt. The ball rested at the catchers feet after the block and most batters just stand there and let the catcher tag them out or just walk back to the dugout. Not JM. He ran towards first anyway on the 1 in 100 chance they would F it upand they did. The catcher made an errant throw to first, JM was safe, and he ended up scoring the winning run. Hustle at it’s finest
    Kudos to Johnny MAc-great people

    • JMac – that time when he hit a home run on Fathers’ Day.
      It looked like it really meant something to him.
      Still brings up a lump in the throat for me.
      Class act, Johnny Mac!

  3. Amazing. Great post.

  4. Parkes,you have a gift.
    Nice post.

  5. Great post Parkes, as usual.

  6. Quit being a dick Dustin. Write about baseball like you used to. I won’t chirp you for starting every post by comparing baseball writing to working at pizza hut and eating nothing but.

  7. You’re such a talented writer Parkes…please contribute to this blog more. You can even sneak in the occasional reference to your beloved giants.

  8. Great post in recognition of a great player.

    Wins all around.

    • Agreed. Nice post by the prodigal son.

      Johnny Mac is the best, I really hope he gets into a game this weekend. Might be our last chance to see him.

  9. Ummmm…..what about the farts?

  10. I didn’t believe it possible to admire Johnny Mac anymore then I already do. Thanks for the great post Dustin. I hope one day when the cleats get hung next to his Fathers Day homerun ball he finds his way onto the Jays coaching staff in some capacity.

  11. Parkes, is there any chance you could just start doing all the post? You’re the best, and easily most informed about Blue Jays baseball!

  12. Compassion, eloquence and tact. Where the hell am I?

  13. Day off for rasmus?

  14. I saw him pinch hit for the Angels vs the Yanks last week and was actually surprised to see him on a major league roster still, let alone pinch hitting in the 8th, haha.\

    Anyway, loved the post. Johnny Mac has got to be one of the most lovable Jays in their history. That Father’s Day home run, mang.

  15. And he’s in the lineup!
    Have a good game Johhny, but not too good.

  16. The Angels broadcasters are talking about the Man in White. I don’t know why.

  17. Thanks, Parkes. Great write-up.

  18. Please please please post the 5 questions with Lyle Overbay.

    Just the thought of the “Brian Tallet” answer still makes me laugh to this day.

    Fuck on Parkes!

  19. Eddies sizzling

  20. Excellent post!

    What a treat on a stond Saturday Blue Jays baseball morning!

    Love me some Johnny Mac. His D was so great to watch. What a true treat we had for many years.

  21. Welp, looks like we’re gonna have to score some runs off their lefty shitballer today

  22. Jonny Mac AB.

  23. Calling it now. Stroman will be in the rotation within 2 weeks. Happ will be out.

  24. Happ having a Happ shutdown inning. Ready for Stroman to replace him.

  25. Any reason why the roof is closed today?

    • This organization is run by clowns and it shows in the smallest ways.

      • Are there mechanical issues with the roof? Is there a threat of rain? Find it very odd, seems like a great day to open the roof.

        • There was some sort of spin doctoring about they haven’t finished all their testing yet .. But even 30 minutes before game time the official RC Twitter was saying roof status TBD. So I suspect it’s broken. If I had to guess, within the next couple of years things will be too worn / expensive to fix / etc and they will convert it to a fixed roof. When they talk about putting money into the stadium that’s where most of it will go, not into grass (never happening) or anything directed toward the fan. Just welding things shut so they can keep operating it for as long as possible until it literally falls apart like the gardiner.

    • Pure cheapness. Just sell the team, Rogers.

  26. Holy shit that Pujols AB made me grab my balls after contact. Phew.

    Also did anyone notice that Burnett immediately grabbed his crotch as if he got kicked there after EE hit his second homer a few nights ago?

  27. That was pretty damn close to a turn off the TV and go outside kind of an inning.

    • Pretty damn close to a time-to-go-to-bed-because-it’s-3AM-where-I-am-and-I’m-not-sure-why-I-even-woke-up kind of inning

  28. Just a suggestion for the title of your next post, Dustin:

    “Why J.A. Happ Is The Worst”

  29. Reanimate Harry Caray’s liquored up corpse, “Lets geth some runth”.

  30. Angels shitballer has shut down inning. Happ still sucks.

  31. It seems to me that the Jays should’ve spent some time with Happ over the winter and experimented with various grips and arm slots; maybe even a new pitch. For a guy who throws 70% fastballs they should be a little harder to hit.

  32. Todd “the Bod” Redmond on in relief.
    Need rum and fireworks to wake the bats.

  33. #GibbyTheBest

  34. 2-1/3. That his last start?

    • Hopefully. Stroman has more talent in his steaming morning constitutional than Happ has in his whole body.

  35. hopefully yes!

  36. When Lawrie comes back, Rogers will probably be DFA’d and Happ will take over Rogers role as the other long relief guy with Redmond.

    Stroman to rotation then and Janssen will be back so pushes all the other relievers down a notch.

    Pretty good timing all things considered.

    • What is the latest word on Janssen’s return?

      • I heard sometime early this coming week. I checked minor league box score, looks like he registered a couple rehab innings already. I’d say no later than Friday.

    • Gonna be a rough couple of days until Jansen is activated. Pen gonna be pretty depleted

  37. Skaggs unfortunately settling in.

  38. We rock a former Cy young winner (Lee), and all stars Hammels and AJ Burnett then struggle against Richards and Skanks?

    Early but puzzling.

  39. Navarro look a lot better running down the line.

  40. Shi Davidi ✔ @ShiDavidi

    Casey Janssen starts on rehab for double-A New Hampshire, throws a clean inning against Portland. Gets 4-3, 9 & G3, 16 pitches, 11 strikes.
    11:24 AM – 10 May 2014

  41. Jesus, that Rod Barajas is such a scrub

  42. Jesus boys

  43. Jays aren’t too sharp across the board today.

  44. This guy is making the Jays bats look pretty goddamn ordinary.

  45. This will wake the boys up…

  46. Dfa a reliever any time now alex

  47. The readership must have turned over.

    Nary a “fuck off Parkes”….even as a term of endearment?

  48. I want Redmond in the rotation.

  49. Cap tipping Blue Jays today.

  50. Greg Sansone @GregSansone

    “We really miss the Phillies.” -Signed, Blue Jays fans.
    12:18 PM – 10 May 2014

  51. Just what I wanted to hear, Skaggs ass pounded in last start with a home run allowed to J.P. Arencibia.

  52. Alright boys, give me a reason for sticking around and watching this entire game!

  53. This Joe Smith guy looks like Aaron Loup as a right-hander

  54. Friggin Johhny

  55. Well after almost lulling me to sleep they are at least going to make a game of it.

  56. At least they made it interesting.

  57. Bummer.

  58. Well fuck.

  59. Post Game conclusion: Fuck you Happ.

    • Happ’s insistence that he’s a starter is, like him, not going to play much longer. Stroman time!

  60. Johnny Mac saved the game there.

  61. Happ to the bullpen please

  62. Why not pinch hit Rasmus? Better chance of a home run, less chance of a DP. And Lind’s just got off the DL.

  63. Get ready for second baseman Brett Lawrie!

  64. So this post about McDonald appears and sure enough, he makes the big play to save the Angels. Way to blow the game for the Jays, Parkes.

    • His familiarity with the turf probably helped him make that play. Not sure Freese would’ve gotten to that. Funny game sometimes.

  65. Happ was Happ, and unlike last start he didn’t get away with it. I think this is basically what we have to look forward to with him. Sometimes the gods of run prevention will be with him and he’ll get some decent results, other times he’ll get lit up like a Christmas tree, but he’ll always be the same poor-command, inefficient pitcher.

    As for the offence, I cant recall a more demoralizing collection of pop-ups and weak grounders this season. Skaggs wasnt missing bats, but he sure was missing barrels.

  66. Didnt catch the game, but what were the main reasons for the loss? Happ? Skaggs? Poor offense?

    • Only saw the first 3 innings. Happ wasn’t fooling anyone with his stuff tonight, yanked before the 3rd inning. Very Happ outing tonight. Very Happ, Much terrible. Wow.

      • Would happ be in the major leagues if this was a typical “happ” start?? I want Stroman too take his spot but your still a negative idiot

  67. Kris @KennedyMLB

    Daniel Norris 4IP 3H 0R 0ER 0BB 6K, Season ERA 0.55 #Dunedin #BlueJays

  68. I see Happ shit the bed again.

  69. Funny this is another overlooked ridiculous move by AA. Why in the FUCK is J.A. Happ making 5.2 million dollars this season? Lol! That extension was a huge mistake and it’s the only reason he is getting any starts.

  70. I know he’s only a baseball player but I now feel like hill is retarded actually fucking retarded. Who doesn’t know the song layla

  71. Another problem I have, is I can name a scorching hot position player prospect in almost every organization who is ready to step into the majors. Similar to C.J. Cron who has serious pop. Pretty much the only organization lacking this, is our Toronto fucking Blue Jays. Like there is literally not one position player sitting in the minors who can be called upon and expected to do anything. That is a huge problem.

    • Dan Johnson? Gose? Pretty sure we’ve got a good idea of who Pillar, Goins, Kawasaki, and Diaz are, too.

      • LOL! Are you fucking kidding me? Dan Johnson is 35 years old man. Have you seen the numbers the other clowns you listed have produced?

        Wait, you must be joking. I have fallen for sarcasm haven’t I.

      • The guys you listed aren’t prospects, they are what’s called organizational depth. I’m talking Buxton, Taveras, Sano, Baez, Correa, Bryant, Lindor, Russell, Polanco, Springer, Franco, Seager, Pederson, Soler, Sanchez, Odor, Betts, DeShields, Piscotty…all players that will be legit contributing major leaguers. Sure a few of the aforementioned are a few years away, but the Jays have nothing in that sense coming up the pipeline. It’s not good man.

        • So we don’t have near major league prospects like the Astros and cubs and twins? Are you fucking serious we have major league talent something those teams can’t say. Stroman just came up. Be happy about him and stop being a whiny idiot

        • Nay, Pompey, Smith, Davis, Dean, Lugo, Barretto are all fairly well regarded. Some, like Pompey and Nay seem to be climbing the ladder too.
          And that’s considering the AA regime has been fairly pitching heavy with their drafting. But yeah, let’s be a whiny pisspants about it.

        • Also convenient you left out the Dodgers, Cards, Yanks, Pirates, and A’s.

    • Cron looks good right now, but isn’t expected to stick for reasons of plate discipline. The angels really don’t have a very good farm at all. Byproduct of losing so many 1st round picks on free agents.

  72. Also, great fucking article.

    • I wish that deal would have got done a day earlier. He would have fit right in with our gang.

    • This is probably the first solid nail in AA’s eventual coffin as GM of the Jays. Completely dropped the ball in trying to nickel/dime/string out the Santana negotiations.

  73. For those wondering why Rasmus didn’t PH.
    According to Wilner, he has a slight hamstring problem,NOT serious.

  74. Fuck off Parkes.

    Classy, fitting post though.

  75. Happ’s life must be such a mixed bag of emotion. On one hand, he got to the pinnacle of his profession, more money than he ever dreamed, on the other hand, deep down he knows he is a shitbag at this level and the only brief glimmers of success are as a result of dumb luck on balls in play.

  76. Jannsen is back, getz is dfa. But who plays 2b now vs righties? Lawrie? I guess thats ok but fat juan is already starting to cool off. If he keeps struggling, might as well play lawrie at 3rd and get a real damn 2b

  77. Is it too much to ask for our 2nd baseman to hit fucking 200?

  78. Uh, is there another move coming cause the bench just got a little more laughable.
    I guess if Lawrie and Navarro are close to 100 per cent it’s ok, but still.

    • You’d think Anthopoulos would stop being stubborn and DFA Rogers to call up Gose, but here we are. I guess with the rotation shitting the bed the last couple games we kind of need a couple plugs to mop up some innings, but if Hutch goes 7+ innings tonight I’ll be hopeful.

      • I think I’d prefer a righty like Mastroianni or Pillar (if he can play CF) over Gose. Let Gose play full-time. There might still be hope for him as a starter in this league.

        But yeah, fuck off with this 8-man bullpen and 3 catcher thing.

      • It sucks that almost every Happ outing is a crapshoot of Okay or Terrible, still praying for Dusty, but if he piddles out its.not like it was unforeseen, what pisses me off is that leads to almost ZERO margin for error from Hutch, Buehrle, and Dickey if this team wishes to remain in contention.

        If Happ and to a lesser extent Dusty get lit up every second outing and wr have to continually trot out Redmond and Rogers to mop up, the Jays WILL inevitably bleed out enough games to fall out of contention. Because that also leads to VERY small bad days for the offense or defense as well.

        Walking a paper thin margin all season due to lack of depth.

        • Bad starts from Happ and McGowan isn’t indicative of lack of depth. Quality of depth maybe. Even after these guys you still have Redmond, Stroman, Rogers, Nolin waiting in the wings.

          You can’t have all-stars as your rotation backups. Lack of depth happened last year when they were forced to give _multiple_ starts to Ortiz, Wang and co.

          • But lack of depth overall. When you consider the potentially 2/5 of the rotation may regularly be struggling, that gives very little rope for offense to slump (which DOES happen, as you know) or for the occassional defensive error, as there is no other facet of the team that can potentially pick up a slumping offense or an error or 2, unless the SP goes 7 innings of 3 run baseball 3/5 of the time, which is where my concern comes from. That and 2B.

          • So you’re saying we have depth, it’s just no good? Isn’t that kind of recognizing that we don’t have depth?

  79. So…Janssen in ( hopefully not prematurely), OK, and Getz out.
    So, back to the stupid 8 man pen which is fukin nutz. Yeah Getz didn’t show much but Rogers, obviously , and pretty much Redmond are both mop-uppers, we don’t need both unless we intend to emulate the 62 Mets.
    As for Happ, yeah he is not good either, but was deemed better than Romero-shit 13.2m in salary for those 2 POS-ay yay yay.
    Just hope Janssen is ready-the Jays have had a history of bringing pitchers back when they haven’t quite got their command yet.

  80. Weaver typically owns the Jays. We need Hutch and the defense to be on their A-game today.

  81. Good to see Reyes being Reyes like.

  82. Wow Reyes

  83. Fuck you Buck

  84. If Rogers can’t do proper testing on the roof before the season starts, then they’re even more incompetent owners than I previous thought, and I didn’t think that was possible.

    • Honestly, fucking gorgeous weather this weekend. What a shame.

    • Supposedly it is due to the colder than usual spring weather in T.O that they couldn’t do their “testing” as per normal.

      • Yeah, because Canadians are not used to cold air. Whatever the excuse is, it’s poignant.

        • It’s more to do with de-winterizing the dome than de-winterizing the fans. I would imagine that they can’t prep the dome for Spring until the threat of cold/snow is virtually 0, and that really wasn’t the case until about a week ago.

          Also, maybe they can’t prep it during a home stand, which would mean waiting another week of so.

          Damn shame with the beautiful weather, but not likely a result of incompetent ownership.

  85. I wonder how much work it could possibly take to put a decent game threat up on weekends?

    • Even a crappy GT would be helpful. Hate scrolling through yesterday’s comments on the phone or i-pad.

  86. Worrying lack of command from Hutchison at the moment. Hopefully he puts it back together.

  87. Atta boy Hutch

  88. Did something happen to Reyes? Stuck at work

  89. It’s Over! And fuck off parkes.

  90. DId Sloten ever finish his sammich from last year or is he still eating?

  91. Happy mother’s day to all the moms except Parks and Sloten because they gave birth to those two humps.

  92. Nasty slider

  93. Pretty damned impressed with Hutch.

  94. Remember, unsweepable.

    Also, happy Mother’s Day to any mothers here.
    + everyone else should offer their hearty congratulations that I have chosen to eschew motherhood.

  95. This ump’s been a hair fucky in my opinion

  96. Melky is an awful fielder.

  97. Game over

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