Is Donaldson the straw that stirs the Jays drink?

By Danny Gallagher
Canadian Baseball Network

Mix in Italian red vermouth, either the Martini or Cinzano brand, with Canadian rye whiskey and you have a concoction called the Manhattan.

Stirred in a cocktail shaker, it’s a drink that I am told is quite smooth, although I have never tried it. What is odd is that corn is actually the main ingredient in a rye whiskey, yet most people refer to the liquor as rye.

Anyway, I’m not sure I like his hairstyle but Josh Donaldson is the Manhattan of the Blue Jays, a silky, smooth mix of daredevil behaviour, enthusiasm, aggressiveness, power and very much a team player.

He shakes up the Blue Jays, goes that extra mile, goes all out in the name of the team. 

Just look at what he did the other night, dragging a bunt trying to get on base. Some of his fellow teammates, team officials and fans may have teased him about it but it was no selfish act.

Some players think it’s beneath them to try and bunt. They think it’s embarrassing or cheap. Honestly. Really, some players think negative doing something like that. Some say it’s a dirty job but somebody has to do it. That’s the kind of thinking that goes on. No kidding.

Heck, there are some major leaguers, who don’t know how to drag a bunt toward first or push a bunt toward third or even put down a sacrifice bunt where you square around and give yourself up. It’s an art form, something I did a lot in my amateur days, although I was more comfortable pushing the bunt toward third.

The detractors will say a slugger doesn’t do this kind of stuff  but what’s wrong with what Donaldson did? He moved a runner over and it was officially called a sacrifice bunt, although he was actually trying to bunt his way on for a hit. It was an act of
Smallball on a night when the Powerball Jays were having a tough time with Indians pitcher Danny Salazar.

Then in what might be the most thrilling play of the Jays’ season so far came Wednesday on a routine popup just beyond the infield hit by Troy Tulowitzki. It was hardly enough to score most runners from third but daredevil Donaldson was off to the plate once he saw the ball hit the glove of Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis.

This was a gutsy play and wouldn’t you know it, Donaldson slid around the tag of catcher Yan Gomes and snagged a corner of the plate to score the run on a safe call from umpire Andy Fletcher. It gave the Jays more cushion on their way to a 5-1 win. It’s the Jays’ Play of the Year so far for me. Oddly, it was the last paragraph in one writer’s game story but it should have been the lead, as we say in journospeak. The play made the late-night highlight reels for sure.

Not only did Donaldson score the run but it gave Tulowitzki an RBI on a play that normally would be an F-3 in the boxscore and count against Tulowitzki’s average. 

Instead, the sac fly doesn’t count against his average. Wanna bet that when Tulowitzki hit that ball he never imagined Donaldson taking off and trying to score. It was so shallow that an infielder caught it. It wasn’t short enough for an infield fly rule but how many players would have tagged up? Not many.

If that play doesn’t solidify Donalson as the American League’s MVP, I don’t know what will. We still have a few weeks to go but that play will be in the minds of writers when they make their MVP selections.

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Danny Gallagher

Danny was born in Ted Lindsay's hometown of Renfrew, Ont. but his roots are in nearby Douglas. He played 27 consecutive seasons of top-level amateur baseball in the senior ranks in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Quebec and thrived on organizing events himself, the major one being the highly successful 1983 Canadian senior men's tournament in Sudbury. He began covering the Montreal Expos in 1988 when he joined the Montreal Daily News. Later, he was the Expos beat writer for the Ottawa Sun and Associated Press. He has written four baseball books, including Remembering the Montreal Expos, which he co-authored with Bill Young of Hudson, Que. Gallagher and Young are currently working on a book about the ill-fated 1994 Expos squad. Gallagher can be reached here: dannogallagher@rogers.com