Archive for April, 2011

April 26, 2011

The Daily J.P. Arencibia to Cooperstown Watch, Days 23-25: Messin’ with Texas

Look at what a few runs and solid starting pitching will do.

Jose Bautista went deep again and Corey Patterson swatted a three-run shot during a six-run fifth inning that put an end to the Jays’ two-game skid. Kyle Drabek (2-0) went six innings, allowing three runs and lowering his ERA to 3.30 in a 6-4 win over the tough Rangers (14-8). Refreshingly, Toronto fans didn’t have to sweat out a win for a change.

A few more like this and someone in marketing will have to think about this: Hustle. Heart. Homers. Hallelujah!

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April 25, 2011

Canada Election 2011: Layton upstages Ignatieff at Khalsa Day in Queen’s Park

Jack Layton at Khalsa Day 2011

Orange suits you, Jack. Nice grip too.

It seemed fitting that Michael Ignatieff spoke before Jack Layton on Sunday. Both national leaders attended Khalsa Day celebrations in Queen’s Park for Toronto’s Sikh community and it was clear from the ovations who was the star and who was the opening act.

The applause for Ignatieff was congenial. For Layton, the cheering was loud and, midway through his speech, chants of “NDP! NDP!” rose from the front of the crowd. The scene was a microcosm of what’s happening in the national polls, where Layton’s party is surging hard and running almost neck and neck with Ignatieff’s Liberals, who are collapsing this April like the Vancouver Canucks.

Layton seemed ever-confident and fed off the energy of a crowd familiar with him and his hits: social spending, family-first initiatives, focus on healthcare. “I see a lot of orange here,” he said, noting his party’s colours matched the headwear of many of the 50,000 who came to the park in what’s become the third-largest annual parade in Toronto.

Layton was in his element; Ignatieff came across as well meaning and gracious but appeared more like a guest than a friend. If his campaign does indeed fail, its downfall will be that: He just hasn’t been involved in the community for as long or viscerally as Layton and other politicians.

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April 23, 2011

Canada Election 2011: Finding a true patriot in Kingston

Canadian-Pacific engine in Kingston, Ontario.

That's no ordinary train. It's Canadian history on view in Kingston. (Thanks to Julia Pelish Photography)

[This article about the Sir John A. Macdonald Walking Tour in Kingston was published in the April 23, 2011 edition of the Toronto Star. ]

KINGSTON, ONT. — Arthur Milnes’ hero is a long-dead tavern owner with a drinking problem, penchant for business dealings that end in scandal and a wicked wit. He’s also the father of our nation.

For Milnes, that’s a fact not celebrated nearly enough, especially in Sir John A. Macdonald’s hometown, this tony old city on Lake Ontario that was the country’s first capital. Since 2009, Milnes, a researcher on Brian Mulroney’s memoirs, has offered walking tours in Kingston of sites relevant to Macdonald. He carries a doll of Sir John A., which is a conversation starter for sure, and a passion for Canadian political history that anyone would find difficult to match. His dog, Mr. Pearson, is named after another beloved prime minister and his garden features trees planted by Paul Martin and John Turner.

Along with sharing his deep knowledge of political history, the Queen’s University fellow who specializes in researching prime ministers and U.S. presidents mixes in scintillating stories about our first leader and other politicians, both past and current.

With the nation subjected to yet another dismal election and with voter apathy at an all-time high, the tour proves refreshingly patriotic and reminds us we have a rich political history to cherish. Sitting in the Royal Tavern, which once belonged to Macdonald, Milnes says, “If we were in Virginia, in George Washington’s hometown, and we were in a bar that he owned, there would be tour buses lined up outside of this place.”

Instead, he and I are among only a handful of patrons in a tavern that could easily hold 200. The Royal is an old-time Canadian bar with round wooden tables, chairs seemingly made to encourage slouching and wall paneling that will remind you of some stationwagons from the ’70s. You can hear Robert Johnson on the jukebox, but other than that there’s not a whole lot of charm. It’s our history, though, and that’s something to drink to. There are some photos of Macdonald and the deed to the tavern showing his signature. No clear signs on Princess St. indicate the locale was once his possession. In fact, up until two years ago, there were no signs on the 401 demarking Kingston as the prime minister’s hometown.

sir-john-a-macdonald-monument

Sir John A. Macdonald stands tall in his hometown, Canada's first capital. (Julia took this one too)

Milnes lobbied for action on that front and two striking, blue-hued billboards — one in English, one in French — now appear as you near the city. A journalist and Scarborough native, Milnes also continues to push for more national recognition for Macdonald, including a bicentennial celebration of his birth.

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April 23, 2011

The Daily J.P. Arencibia to Cooperstown Watch, Day 22: John McDonald for prime minister

blue jays at skydome

Should we stuff the ballot box for Johnny Mac on May 2?

This country needs a great leader — why not a guy named John McDonald?

The Jays’ blue-collar second baseman was inspirational on Good Friday, smacking his first home run of the season in the 11th inning to deliver a 6-4 victory over Tampa Bay at the ’Dome. Yeah, it’s nowhere close to building a railway across the nation like his namesake, but considering our options, the 36-year-old from East Lyme, Connecticut just might be the one who gets your vote. He wouldn’t need much to make a move in the polls. (Becoming a Canadian citizen first might be a good idea, though. Or maybe if he just says he likes it here that’ll be enough.)

McDonald’s homer — which came on an Adam Russell sinker that stayed in the middle of the plate — keeps the Jays (9-10) in second place in the AL East. He drove home Juan Rivera who miraculously managed to get a hit. The homer also rewards McDonald’s teammates for playing tough yet again — it was their seventh come-from-behind win of the year — and sends a not-so-bad crowd of 23,192 home happy.

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April 22, 2011

Canada Election 2011: Queen’s political history scholar discusses voter turnout

KINGSTON, Ontario – Arthur Milnes is about as knowledgeable a historian on Canadian prime ministers as you’ll find. He’s a fellow at Queen’s University and was a researcher on Brian Mulroney’s memoirs. I was up in Kingston recently and he and I got together for the first time in 16 years to talk 2011 Canadian election. He’s engaging, as you’ll see from the video. We’ll have a couple of clips of this interview posted here and you can also find him this Saturday on the cover of the Toronto Star’s Travel section discussing his unique Sir John A. Macdonald Walking Tour. Hope you enjoy and hope we can get more of Art talking U.S. and Canadian politics in the future. Art also knows a ton about American presidents – and has written books on them, as well. He’s headed to Plains, Georgia, to launch his book about Jimmy Carter’s influence on Canada, with the former president on hand.

More 2011 Canadian Election News
Election Debate winners and losers
5 reasons not to vote for Stephen Harper
5 reasons not to vote for Michael Ignatieff
5 reasons not to vote for Jack Layton
Why I won’t vote on May 2

April 21, 2011

The Daily J.P. Arencibia to Cooperstown Watch, Day 20: A homer and a d’oh!

jp arencibia toronto blue jays

J.P. Arencibia homered on Wednesday night.

J.P. Arencibia did his best impersonation of Forrest Gump on Wednesday night, running and running and running. First time around that was great. Arencibia hit his third home run of the season — and first since Opening Day — and trotted around the bases coolly to pull the Blue Jays a run closer to the Yankees in the second inning. Then, after striking out in the fourth, Arencibia walked in the seventh and seemed to get happy feet during the Jays’ 6-2 loss to AL East leaders.

Travis Snider singled to right field and Arencibia went first to third, which would’ve been a great piece of base running if Edwin Encarnacion, who had doubled earlier in the inning, hadn’t been given the stop sign. Encarnacion didn’t go home and Arencibia didn’t pick up the signal. Both Blue Jays ended up on third; Arencibia was tagged for the second out of the seventh. Instead of a potentially big inning, the Jays ended up with just one run — when Jayson Nix singled home Encarnacion — and trailed 5-2 at the ’Dome. They couldn’t replicate the heroics from Tuesday night and fell again to two games below .500 (8-10).

Reliever Frank Francisco, making his season debut, gave up a homer to Mickey Mantle, er, Curtis Granderson in the ninth for the Yankees’ final run.

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April 20, 2011

Sticky in August

sticky-in-august-adrian-brijbassi-short-storyThe time for the affair was now. Carol reaffirmed the fact in her mind as she drove to New York on an August weekend so hot and sticky that to breathe or concentrate became a chore. She wanted it before she turned forty and before she and Greg had kids, which, given that she was thirty-seven, would be soon. The affair, Carol hoped as she sat in midtown traffic congested by steam and bodies drizzled in sweat, would be like the ones she read about in books, with the women perching themselves in place to be approached. The seductions in paperback were quick, the affairs torrid and brief, the men discarded like old dolls, grins intact. Having gotten away with it — or not — the women returned to their sedate lives thrilled with the act. The rare regret had an existence as deep and long as a hangover.

Carol’s affair, were it to happen, would have to be fit in around the convention schedule, a busy one packed with seminars and lectures, beginning with the opening reception and four-course dinner. Twenty tables filled an ornate ballroom occupied by librarians, who, like the books and periodicals they file, were organized by commonality and last name. Carol was seated with seven others from the state’s capital region and, as she expected, the women outnumbered the men. The two males at the table, like most of the others in the room, looked plain and bookish, clearly embedded in mid-career goals for money and respect. Their lack of attractiveness, though disappointing in a basic aesthetic sense, didn’t bother Carol; she was almost certain the affair wouldn’t be with another librarian.

For one thing, she might see him again, at one of these conventions, or worse, one of her colleagues might run across him. He, this would-be lover, would say, “Oh, do you know Carol? Second to the chief librarian in Albany?” and they would make chit-chat and discuss how he knew her and if he were a gentleman he would lie. Librarians were good at spotting lies, though; novels are filled with them.

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April 20, 2011

The Daily J.P. Arencibia to Cooperstown Watch, Day 19: Smackin’ That Mo

Few things in life are sweeter than beating the Yankees. Watching Mariano Rivera disintegrate in the ninth inning just makes victory all the more delicious.

The Blue Jays rallied from two runs down against the major league leader in saves to send Tuesday’s game to extra innings and then pulled out a 6-5 win, their biggest of the season.

Travis Snider, who needed a hit as much as Charlie Sheen, ripped a 1-0 fastball to the right-field gap off of Ivan “No Need to Call Me Super” Nova, scoring Edwin Encarnacion from first base with the winning run. J.P. Arencibia joined the mob as the Jays congratulated Snider as if he had just lost his virginity. It wasn’t far from the case. Snider had been down-right impotent, going 0-for-6 and seeing his batting average plummet to the level of Kate Moss’s weight. But the double in the 10th inning erases a lot of the sting of failure for the leftfielder.

While that’s great for Snider, it was the ninth that the Jays will be happiest about. Mo Rivera entered the game 7-for-7 in save opportunities without allowing an earned run. The Jays (8-9) trailed 5-3 but got to him right away as Yunel Escobar doubled to center field and moved to third on an out by Snider. Escobar scored on a wild pitch that was also ball four to Jose Bautista. Adam Lind followed that walk with a liner into right field that put Bautista on third.

Then it got fun.

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