Ferguson Jenkins was the best Canadian baseball
player ever, until Larry Walker came along. Walker was the best until Justin Morneau came along. And Justin Morneau was the best until Joey Votto came along.
As we stand now, in 2012, the Cincinnati Reds’ Votto is undisputedly the best Canadian player in Major League Baseball and may go down as the best ever.
(Brett Lawrie of the Blue Jays might snatch that label down the road, but that could be a column five years from now — not 2012.)
Votto, a first baseman from Toronto recently signed a 10-year contract with the Reds for a reported $225 million, putting him into the Prince Fielder-Albert Pujols stratosphere of salaries. Prior to putting his signature on that contract — likely the last one he’ll ever sign — there were whispers that he might become a free agent and sign with his hometown Blue Jays, making Toronto fans from coast to coast absolutely giddy.
As a Blue Jay, Votto in Canada would be a super-duper star, with the summertime profile of Sidney Crosby, but he’s doing pretty well in that regard in his adopted Cincinnati, too. Columnist B.J. Bethel of Dayton, Ohio said signing Votto to a long-term contract was something the Reds had to do to convince their fans the team was serious about contending. He’s the Reds’ first bonafide superstar since the days of Barry Larkin and Eric Davis, Bethel wrote.
Now in his fifth full season with the Reds, Votto’s numbers are extraordinary — again. He has averaged more than 30 homers and 100 runs-batted-in per season and he’s on pace through the first third of 2012 for another MVP-type season. He won the National League Most Valuable Player award in 2010, thanks to a statistical season that ranks with anything the likes of Mantle, Williams, Aaron and Mays ever put together — 38 homers, 113 RBI and a .324 average. Flash in the pan? Not in the least. He’s a career .317 hitter and has home-run totals of 24, 24, 37, 29. This year, he was batting .359 through June 17 and was among the NL leaders in all slugging categories. On-base percentage? First. Slugging percentage? First. His numbers through 63 games put him on a 31-homer, 113-RBI pace, numbers that will certainly have Votto included in year-end MVP conversations if the Reds continue to dominate the NL Central Division.
Votto may never be a Blue Jay, but he’ll always be a Canadian favourite.
• Comedy writer Jerry Perisho: “Union Rags won the 144th Belmont Stakes, Saturday. But, it was I’ll Have Another, recently put out to stud, who was grinning ear-to-ear.”
• Janice Hough of leftcoastsportsbabe.com: “ I heard since he’s heading out to stud at such a young age I’ll Have Another was just named the official horse of the NBA.”
• Comedy writer Jim Barach: “I’ll Have Another was pulled from the Belmont Stakes because of an injury and will immediate retire to stud. To which Tiger Woods says ‘You don’t have to retire to do that.’ “
• Comedy writer Tim Hunter: “This just in. I’ll Have Another is changing his name to Bring Me Another Filly.”
• Perisho again: “The Los Angeles Kings won their very first Stanley Cup, Monday. A winner once every 45 years; kind of like Hollywood marriages.”
• Steve Rushin of si.com: “Michael Buffer ushering in the Apocalypse at a monster truck rally would be less bombastic than NBA introductions.”
• Barach again: “A Tennessee man owes child support to 15 women after fathering more than 20 children. When hearing about this the players on the NBA Memphis Grizzlies sent him an honourary team jersey.”
• R.J. Currie of sportsdeke.com: “Sidney Crosby will reportedly be offered a 10-year deal worth $90 million. It’s conditional on Penguins management having their heads examined. “
• Another one from Currie, the king of the groaners: “Mark Nichols, former third for Brad Gushue, confirmed he will throw first stones this season for Jeff Stoughton. That’s today’s lead story.”
• Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times, on the Kings’ Stanley Cup victory: “At long last, Kings. The most popular puck around here is no longer Wolfgang.”
• NBC’s Jimmy Fallon, after the Heat’s LeBron James revealed he’d just finished reading ‘The Hunger Games’ trilogy: “The bad news is he did it during the fourth quarter of Game 1.”
• Headline at SportsPickle.com: “Looting in downtown Newark reportedly unrelated to Devils defeat.”
• Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times: “This just in: Two of the three judges from the June 9 Bradley-Pacquiao fight have just declared the Patriots the winner of this year’s Super Bowl.”
• Perry again: “Golf fanatic B.J. Reichert of Whitehouse, Ohio, has one-year-old twin sons named Jack and Nicklaus, the Toledo Blade reported. Someday the kids will thank their lucky stars that dad wasn’t a big fan of, say, Duffy Waldorf.”
• Greg Cote, Miami Herald: A day after Rafael Nadal won the French Open, “he had a $347,000 watch stolen from his Paris hotel room. If I’m spending $347,000 for a watch, it had better be able to turn back the hands of time.”