Bucs, Tigers capture Canuck fans' interest

* C Russell Martin (Montreal, Que.) and Justin Morneau (New Westminster, BC) assures that the Pittsburgh Pirates are Canada's team this post season. ....  

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By Bob Elliott

Who will Canada cheer for now that 10 teams remain in the hunt for the 2013 World Series?

The other 20 franchises will watch post-season play, like the Blue Jays and the Kansas City Royals who own the longest active droughts.

And the results in a purely unscientific straw poll are in from across the country ...

Think CNN’s John King hitting that big board as the red and blue states pop up each election night.

Our big board is broken, but we managed.

The No. 1 team Canadians will cheer for when post-season play begins at 8:07 Tuesday night at PNC Park in Pittsburgh are:


1. Pittsburgh Pirates.

With Montreal’s Russell Martin behind the plate and Justin Morneau of New Westminster, B.C. playing first, no other team can match the Bucs for Canadian content.

The Bucs also carry plus parts of Alberta, Toronto and eastern Ontario since Jameson Taillon’s parents are Canucks. Taillon had a scoreless start for Canada against Team USA in the World Baseball Classic in March and has relatives in Toronto, Guelph, Cornwall, Etobicoke, Oakville, St. Catharines, Collingwood, Kitchener, Lunenberg, Ont. and Montreal. Taillon’s father worked in Calgary during the WBC,

Martin carries Quebec, Morneau most of B.C., and Taillon, a former first-round pick, has pockets of support across Ontario.

J factor: RHP A.J. Burnett, C John Buck, RF Travis Snider and 3B coach Nick Leyva.

2. Detroit Tigers.

The Tigers were Ontario’s team before the Jays in other parts of the province.

Plus, Windsor’s Joe Siddall throws batting practice to the Tigers.

The Tigers carry western Ontario and other parts of the province in the older demographics for fans who grew up listening to the late Ernie Harwell. 

J factor: Octavio Dotel appeared in six games for the Tigers.


3. Cincinnati Reds

Etobicoke’s Joey Votto is Canada’s highest-paid athlete and coming off winning a fourth consecutive National League on-base average title. Votto has loyalists across the GTA as ex players watch the TV and say “hey, I played against him at Connorvale Park one night.”

He’s the guy from coast to coast kids on sandlots want to grow up to be.

And Votto has a small conclave in Ladysmith, B.C. where his former coach Bob Smyth and wife Kathy now live.

J factor: Cesar Izturis (.209, 0, 11, .530)


4. Boston Red Sox.

Ryan Dempster of Gibsons, B.C. moves from the rotation to entertaining his bullpen mates with his wit.

John McDonald, you remember him, once more popular than Munenori Kawasaki and Jose Bautista at the Rogers Centre, is also with Boston. It hasn’t been decided if he’ll be on the post-season roster.

The Sox have supporters on the coast and in Toronto.

J factor: Mike Napoli (.259, 23, 92, .842), coaches Brian Butterfield and Tory Lovullo, plus manager John Farrell.


5. St. Louis Cardinals

Port Dover’s John Axford works out of the Cards bullpen so he carries the Lake Erie region and his hometown of Ancaster.

Guelph’s Jamie Pogue is the Cards bullpen catcher, so he has family in the Queen City hoping the Cards go deep into post-season play.

J factor: Manager Mike Matheny, coach Bengie Molina and RHP Chris Carpenter is injured.


6. Los Angeles Dodgers

Agincourt’s Ellen Harrigan is director of administration and chief executive assistant of general manager Ned Colletti. Harrigan is a former class-A St. Catharines Blue Jays GM.

GM Colletti is one of former Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke’s good pal and he planned winter trips around the Leafs schedule over the holidays.

The Dodgers also have fans amongst the days from when they send their farmhands to triple-A Montreal as rooting interests were passed on from father to son.

J factor: RP Brandon League (6-4, 5.30, 14 saves), INF Michael Young (.279, 8, 46, .730) in 147 games with the Phillies and Dodgers, LHP Ted Lilly (0-2, 5.09), international scout Bob Engle, former Jays scouting director, who drafted Cy Young award winners: Pat Hentgen, Chris Carpenter and Roy Halladay with the Jays and signed Felix Hernandez with the Mariners.

7. Atlanta Braves

Freddie Freeman wants to play for Canada in the World Baseball Classic occupies first for the Braves. Yet come WBC time he’s stuck behind Votto and Morneau at the first base/DH spots.

Freeman was born in Fountain Valley, Calif. but his parents were born in Toronto and Peterborough before both moving to Windsor.

J factor: RP Scott Downs (4-4, 2.49), RP David Carpenter (4-1, 1.78, 70 strikeouts in 65 2/3 innings), OF Reed  Johnson (.244, 1 homer, 11 RBIs, .653 OPS), INF Tyler Pastornicky (.300, 0, 0 in 20 games), coaches Carlos Tosca and Lee Elia, special assistant to the GM Jim Fregosi.



8. Tampa Bay Rays

Reliever Jesse Crain was born at Toronto General Hospital on of July 5, 1981. Mom Sandy Crain and dad Dan wanted their son to be born on the 4th of July since the Crains had been moved here by their San Francisco-based carpet and drapery cleaners company. Crain pitched for Canada in the 2009 WBC

J factor: SS Yunel Escobar (.256, 9, 56, .698), Kelly Johnson (.305, 16, 52, .715) C Jose Molina (.233, 2 18, .594).


9. Cleveland Indians.

Toronto’s Jason Sinnarajah grew up playing ball at Bond Park. Hired away from Google he runs the Indians business strategy and analytics.

He has a little support.

J factor:Yan Gomes, RP Marc Rzepczynski and coach Kevin Cash.


10. Oakland A’s

Not a lot of fans here ... whether it goes back to Robbie Alomar going deep off Dennis Eckersley in 1992 AL Championship Series or Eckersley, a Red Sox broadcaster telling Blue Jays announcer Jack Morris this summer “get in the Hall of Fame before you talk first” after Morris accused Clay Buchholz of lathering up his arm.

Kitchener’s Dick Callahan is the P.A. announcer at O.co Coliseum.

J factor: RP Jesse Chavez (2-4, 3.92 1 save, 55 strikeouts in 57 2/3 innings).