On Wednesday, April 9, 2008, as the Toronto Blue Jays took on the Oakland Athletics, attendance was a meager 16,102 at Rogers Center. I was on a first date with a cute girl, a serious baseball fan from Japan. It was her first time going to a Major League Baseball game, and it was my last time watching Dustin McGowan pitch. Normally a 500 level dweller, but looking to impress, I purchased tickets in the 100 level. Our seats were in row 13, aisle 115, right by Mr. Overbay and within decent sight range of McGowan’s new lamb chops.
The brilliance of Harry Leroy Halladay and the hype surrounding Allan James Burnett had pushed the emergence of Shaun Marcum, Dustin McGowan and underdog Jesse Litsch somewhat to the background in 2007. But with each young starter having established himself as part of the rotation that season, the future looked bright, indeed. And so it still was on that crisp Spring evening.
He started strong and struggled a little in the 4th and 5th innings.
“He’s young, but has a lot of talent,” I assured my seatmate.
Not quite a quality start, but a respectable one, walking three and striking out seven, allowing just two runs over five innings in a no-decision. The Jays would ultimately lose 6-3. But despite the loss and some less than culturally sensitive words thrown by hecklers in the direction of the Athletics Hawaiian (and Japanese-American) catcher Kurt Suzuki:
“You’re not even Japanese, Suzuki,”
the game, like every trip to the ballpark, was enjoyable in its own way.
While McGowan didn’t get the win, I did get the girl, with whom I would return to the Rogers Centre when the Jays took on superstar and occasional comedian Ichiro Suzuki and the Seattle Mariners.
She especially enjoyed that game, from where we sat in right field to be closer to the “Hercules” of Japanese baseball.
I likewise would have soaked up every one of 101 pitches thrown by Dustin McGowan that April 9, had I the slightest inkling that it might be the last time I would see him pitch live. All that power, along with his considerable arsenal of pitches, were analysed in poignant fashion at Baseball Analysts.
What hope Jays fans had for McGowan would be somewhat dashed three months later when it was announced he would have season-ending surgery on a frayed labrum in his shoulder. His career, and the hopes it roused, were further threatened when in July, 2009, another surgery was announced, this time on his knee to repair cartilage damage.
The bright lights that once shone upon the right-hander all but burnt out, when, in June of 2010, news broke that McGowan would undergo season ending surgery to fix a torn rotator cuff. In the realm of the ridiculous, the McGowan situation and the possible role the now 29-year-old might play, if he does make a return to the Jays roster this year, is entertainingly measured at Getting Blanked
In terms of his roster status with the Jays, as May 27 bleacher report article indicates, a decision must be made within 30 days of the end of extended spring training, June 8. He would have to clear waivers, in order to qualify himself with a Jays minor league outfit OR……… re-join the Blue Jays and its active 25-man roster in Toronto for the first time in about 1000 days.
The most improved Blue Jay of 2007 was once thought to have possessed the 4th best fastball in Major League Baseball.
His cutter was recently clocked at 95 mph. Not bad for a guy who’s looked deep into the abyss of a baseball-less future.