It’s always been easy for me to sit back and dream of being an MLB player. What could be better? Playing a beloved sport on a day to day basis, being cheered on by thousands of fans, and maybe even making millions in the process.
Unfortunately even a dream job like being a big league baseball player wouldn’t be sunshine and roses 100% of the time, and the league has experienced plenty of downsides over the last season and a half.
For the Blue Jays, they finally received the great news that they can play their home games back at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, something they haven’t been able to do since the end of the 2019 campaign. Many of the Jays players haven’t even had the experience of putting on their current uniform in their home ballpark, and even at a reduced capacity next month it’s going to be a special experience.
That said, there’s still a human side to every situation, and The Athletic’s Kaitlyn McGrath offered some important insight from the Blue Jays’ Ross Stripling after a rough start on Monday night. The 31 year old was beaten up by the Red Sox to the tune of six earned runs while recording just one out, and he wasn’t his usual self at all. After the game, he talked a bit about why that may have been.
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McGrath posted several tweets about comments from Stripling indicating that he’d been honest about the personal struggles he’s experiencing with the news that the Jays will be returning to Toronto, even if he’s looking forward to making his Rogers Centre debut as a Blue Jay.
As a player there’s a lot to look forward to about the latest development, especially because it represents an important step toward a return to normalcy. However, the situation is less positive for him as a husband and new father, including a five month old son. Given the new circumstances of crossing the border, there’s a good chance that he’ll be facing an extended absence from his young family.
There are some folks who will quickly say that Stripling is a professional athlete, and this is just something he’ll need to overcome. That much is absolutely true, but we can’t forget that these guys are human beings. For the Stripling family, the five month old is their first child, and young Jaxon had quite the experience when he came into the world earlier this year when his birth coincided with power outages in Texas. You can’t blame his father for being a little reluctant to leave his family behind under any circumstances, but especially during an ongoing pandemic.
The six-year MLB veteran has been a crucial part of the Blue Jays’ rotation this season, and they’re going to need him to continue that type of performance in the second half. Everyone has an off day now and then, and hopefully the quick exit against the Red Sox will prove to just be a blip on the radar.
That said, it’s also a strong reminder that these guys have had to go through a lot to be part of the big leagues over the last two seasons. For some of these Blue Jays who are moving to their third home field of the season, this time in another country, there are a few more sacrifices to be made. Hopefully the Blue Jays can reach their potential in the second half and help make those sacrifices even more worthwhile.