Former Blue Jays lefty Mike Flanagan, who was Stottlemyre’s mentor at Exhibition Stadium and the SkyDome, had taken his life this week.
“Holy crap, I’m devastated,” he finally said.
Stottlemyre returned Saturday from a trip with his father, Mel Stottlemyre, the former New York Yankee, and Todd’s 6-year-old son, T.J., fishing for walleye on the Spokane River in Washington. They stayed in his father’s camper.
“I’m shocked, just shocked. I’m stunned,” he said. “I’ve got goose bumps running up my arm. You think about people in your life who helped you along the trail. Next to my father at that early stage, Mike Flanagan was right there ... gawd damn. I can see him wearing his No. 46.
“I’m standing here thinking to myself. I wish I could have been there to grab him. What could he have been possibly been going through?”
That’s an unanswered question many are asking.
Stottlemyre said that Jimmy Key, Tom Henke and Flanagan would take him fishing, or for lunch ... “and it wasn’t to fish or eat, it was to learn.”
The right-hander recalled how difficult it was for him to get his first major-league win in 1988. He had a lead in Minneapolis and gave up four runs in the fifth; he walked three in 12/3 innings and was hooked; and he had a 2-1 lead in the fifth and allowed the Oakland A’s to score four runs.
“All through that, Mike was there, sitting in his chair, smoking a cigarette, saying: ‘Todd throwing easier is better than harder.’”
Finally, Stottlemyre got over the fifth-inning hump to win his first game and he remembered it down the pitch counts.
“I’m perfect into the seventh, aside from an error, we’re up 3-0, one out in the seventh and I hit Rey Quinones with an 0-2 pitch. An out later, Alvin Davis hits a ball by Freddie McGriff at first and Jimy Williams takes me out,” Stottlemyre said. “We win, Mike shakes my hand and says: ‘Congrats, 199 more for 200.’
“At the time, I was thinking how hard it was to get to No. 1, but that was Mike. Every message was delivered with a sense of humor.”
Stottlemyre says if he ever tells a story about himself “as a young pitcher, Mike Flanagan is in there some where.”
“I never grew as I did in Toronto, but it didn’t show until after Mike,” said Stottlemyre, who won 69 games for the Jays and 138 overall in his 14 seasons. Stottlemyre started Game 2 of the 1989 American League Championship Series against the A’s. Flanagan started Game 4.
“I’m 24 and I get the ball in front of him. Former 20-game winner. Cy Young Award winner. Who was happy for me? Mike Flanagan,” Stottlemyre said. “He was always rooting, always rooting for a young guy like me.
“When you are young and not doing well, you can feel like you’re alone, like on an island. Mike made sure that I wasn’t alone. You could always count on him. He was always so good at solving other people’s problems.”
The Blue Jays may be Canada’s team.
But who will be Canada’s team in post-season play? Has to be the first-place Milwaukee Brewers.
The Brewers promoted Taylor Green, of Comox, B.C., on Saturday. He’ll platoon at third with Casey McGahee. Green hit .336 with 22 homers and 91 RBIs in 123 games at triple-A Nashville and double-A Huntsville.
He joins the streaking Brewers — 19 wins in their past 22 home games and 25 in their last 30 — who are run by general manager Doug Melvin of Chatham, and assistant GM Ash of Toronto. They have three Canucks: Closer John Axford, of Port Dover, Ont., who leads the majors with 38 saves, Markham catcher George Kottaras, and Green, thew 25th Canadian on a major-league roster this season.
At Busch Stadium in St. Louis, writers, radio and TV types enter the Bob Broeg-Rick Hummel press box. It’s named after the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ball scribes.
The Kansas City Royals named the Kauffman Stadium press box after Joe McGuff, Kansas City Star writer.
The box at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., is named after Shirley Povich, the former Washington Post sports columnist and reporter whose son, Maury Povich, has a TV show.
About 10 years ago, Blue Jays general manager Gord Ash wanted to name the SkyDome press box after Toronto Star writer Neil MacCarl. Ash was turned down by the landlord, Sportsco.
Now, however, the Jays own the building.
It was a good idea then, it’s a great idea now, to name the Rogers Centre press box after MacCarl, who passed away earlier this month.
We’re hearing the bleat, thanks to Hurricane Irene, from players on contenders about makeup doubleheaders, how “it’s tough enough to win one game, let alone two.” As former Montreal Expos manager Bill Virdon used to tell the about his 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates playing 11 doubleheaders, sweeping 10 and splitting the 11th ... The Jays say Newmarket lefty Jake Eliopopulos, whom they drafted in the 43rd round in June, did not return any of their calls before the Aug. 15 deadline. A year ago, he was selected in the 15th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers and in 2009 the Jays chose him in the second ... Heard someone talking about the Jays hosting Tampa. They don’t like that in Florida. It’s Tampa Bay. Like the first time the Tampa Bay Buccaneers visited the Lambeau Field in Green Bay the scoreboard read: Vistors: Tampa, Home: Green Bay. After complaining a Bucs official said “when they come to our place we’ll just put Green on the board.” ... The question isn’t why was is DeWayne Wise back, why did the Jays allow the valuable backup outfielder to go to the Florida Marlins?
Can't quite land Wandy
For a few moments on Tuesday afternoon, word was that the Blue Jays had claimed lefty Wandy Rodriguez from the Houston Astros.
But, it was the Colorado Rockies who made the waiver claim and were ready to take on the $37 million US that Rodriguez is guaranteed through 2014. While the Rockies offered players to complete the deal, they weren’t about to part with pitching prospect Drew Pomeranz, who came from Cleveland in the Ubaldo Jimenez deal, or catcher Wilin Rosario, which were two players Astros wanted.
Rodriguez, 9-9 with a 3.41 ERA for the sad-sack Astros, will likely be on the market again this off season.
Adding up Dawson's damage
Jose Bautista tossed his helmet on to the Rogers Centre carpet on Friday, and then his gloves, after being ejected. It used to be a $50 fine for each item thrown.
One night at Wrigley Field in 1991, we saw plate ump Joe West ring up Andre Dawson on a third strike, which was not even in the same 312 area code. Dawson complained, said the magic words and was ejected.
Dawson headed to the Cubs dugout yelling at West, tossing his helmet, gloves and knee guard. He looked up and saw West with his lineup card out, taking notes:
Dawson: “What are you doing?”
West: “I have to write what you throw on to the field.”
Dawson: “I’ll give you something to write.”
The usually mild-mannered Dawson then tried to empty the bat rat grabbing bats with both hands and tossing them over the screen in front of the dugout. Not an easy task from the sunken Cubs bench.
We counted 13 bats.